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Drinking the Ellora's Cave Kool-Aid

Reader beware: I am not a writer, I’m just a fed up reader and blogger.

Also, I’m not feeling particularly nice at the moment, as I’m pretty enraged at the utter disregard some people have for the very real risk they put people when they continue to engage an asshole who keeps. doxxing. a person.

A person with a family, the members of which a) have nothing to do with anything, yet b) are put at risk as well. every. fucking. time. that asshole replies to said people.

So if you want measured, impartial commentary, do your blood pressure a favor and go elsewhere.

For those of you following along the shenanigans around the vexatious defamation lawsuit that Ellora’s Cave filed against Jane Litte and Dear Author, some of what follows is old-ish news.

For those just catching up, you can read the Ellora’s Cave tag here at Karen Knows Best for background information on past to-dos (give yourself some time, some of the comment threads are gold), and/or this summary post over at my place.

All caught up? Cool.

Anyway, on to today’s point.


When Jane posted her Curious Cave of Ellora’s Cave post–the same well researched, backed by public record facts that’s the center of the suit–there was a long tail of comments. Once the lawsuit was announced, there were yet more comments.

Among these there were a couple by one Suz de Mello, a current Ellora’s Cave author who, I gather, is getting paid well, or on time, or both, and therefore was not pleased with the tenor of the commentary. Which, predictably, was mostly along the lines of “fuck that noise, never buying/reviewing another EC title again.”

You can find her comments over there by scrolling–a lot, currently comment threads at DA are not numbered. Or you can read them here in their full glory, in screenshot form (click on them to embiggen):

Suz de Mello - I personally have been paid on time


Understandably, she was even less pleased with the response to her own comments:

Suz de Mello flounce


After flouncing off Dear Author, Ms de Mello posted this comment over at the SmartBitches’ post on Ellora’s Cave suing Dear Author (emphasis mine):

I agree with Susana Ellis. I have received all my checks and only a couple have been late.

Please support us by buying our books unless one has specifically asked readers not to do so. We have mortgages to pay, children to feed, medical and other expenses, just like everyone else.

If you have a beef with Jaid/Tina, take it up with her. We get a good royalty percentage from EC and, at this point, boycotting EC hurts authors more than it does anyone else concerned.

If you like the books, buy the books. It’s that simple IMO.

If you feel very strongly abut this issue, visit EC author sites and find the books which are indie-pubbed and buy them. But please don’t shaft us. Matters are rough enough as it is.

Seriously, did you read that line in bold?


Because it’s not as if Jane is being sued in a state that has no antiSLAPP law, which means that as defendant she has to pay for her defense and it’s unlikely she’ll get any of that back. And it’s not as if the suit–on the very last page–sneakily asks her to reveal the identity of anonymous commenters. Gee, whyever should EC care about that, huh? (Hint for those who have trouble reading between the lines: some of those commenters are likely Ellora’s Cave’s authors, editors, etc confirming that they have not been paid, or that their royalty statements are late, or iffy or both.)

From where I sit, it looked as if Ms de Mello didn’t much care what else was going on with EC, so long as she got paid–it’s everyone to him/herself in this world, after all. Other EC authors not getting paid? Oh well. Editors and cover artists being shafted? Oh well. What’s that, readers, reviewers and bloggers being sued by my publisher? Not my problem, keep buying my books from that same publisher, ’cause I am getting my money from them.

Despite such comments, it would seem not too many days later she changed her mind and asked for reversal of her rights, going by her comment on Deirdre Saoirse Moen’s EC Authors Exodus thread.

And that was my cue to let go, right? We can all be rash, self-centered and lack empathy on occasion, just as we are allowed to learn, grow up and own up to our screw ups.


However, in between that comment and now, Tina Engler/Jaid Black has started drumming the “it’s all amazon’s fault!” drum ever louder.

(with bonus screenshot, because things tend to disappear when they prove to be stupid)

My head would meet my desk if I weren’t jaded–this ain’t my first e publisher being a shit rodeo.

“No, authors, it’s not that you are not getting paid because we suck at managing the business and prefer to throw thousands of dollars at lawyers to file vexatious lawsuits against–duh!–lawyers; and we are firing personnel and cutting down necessary expenses such as oh, I don’t know, promotion not because we truly suck at running a business in the current changing environment. No, no, all our problems are because amazon is teh eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.”

(Again, for the tone deaf, the above paragraph is my interpretation of TE/JB’s blatherings, not a literal statement made by her. Oh and Tina? Interpretation = opinion, which is protected speech.)

And what do you know, Ms de Mello is now writing such things as this: Is amazon a threat to our First Amendment rights?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Can someone rational explain to me what the fuck does the fact that amazon is a big business that takes every advantage to increase its market share and reach–just like Walmart and other big corporations–have to do with the First Amendment? How the fuck is amazon preventing Ellora’s Cave, or TE/JB, or Suz de Mello, or anyone else, from speaking their piece? Isn’t she exercising her freaking right to free speech right there, with that piece?

So please do enlighten me, how are these two things even remotely related?


And before the “you don’t understand” comments come down: hate amazon all you want, I don’t give a rat’s turd.

I am not a vendor there, I do not have affiliate links at my blog (hint: this space here is paid for by Karen Scott, and those links on the sidebar? Yeah, nothing to do with me.)

My loyalty as a consumer is to my wallet and my convenience, not a company or a brand, and I’m smart enough to fucking shop around, so don’t give me any of that “you are so misguided, can’t you see the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil that is amazon?”

Because the answer is, yes, I see the threat of big business and that has fuck-all to do with why Ellora’s Cave is circling the fucking drain and even less with the fucking First Amendment.


The vexatious defamation suit filed by Ellora’s Cave against Jane Litte and Dear Authors?

The demand to learn the identity of anonymous commenters at Dear Author?

The implied threats to doxx EC authors who don’t keep their mouths shut, whether they are paid or not, whether those authors are within their rights–per fucking EC’s own contract–to receive reversion of the rights?

The continuous threats by the sockpuppet twitter account that by supporting Jane in any way we are all party of the suit and subject to pay Tina Engler and Ellora’s Cave damages if Jane loses (which, fat chance)?

All those things are very much related to Ms de Mello’s and my right to free speech.


  • Some time, I owe you an adult beverage or the equivalent.


  • […] morning’s post is over there, and it’s rather harsh and foul-mouthed. (Yeah, like I’ve been such a demure lady over […]

  • Hellen
    October 15
    11:14 am

    Since she pays double for her tea because she isn’t smart enough to shop around I don’t believe the rest of her arguments make any sense.

    If Amazon discounted her books more than other sellers I’m sure she would whine about that.

    I’ve seen plenty of other authors with a good attitude that I can buy from.


  • Julaine
    October 15
    11:49 am

    I thought to be a writer one had to know how to read. One thing I KNOW she hasn’t read is the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. If she had even given them a cursory glance she would know that her or anyone else’s issues with Amazon have NOTHING to do with the first Amendment.

    I have come to the conclusion that Ms. deMello is either a moron or she is such a mindless sycophant that she is just parroting her leader’s rambling. Someone who also seems to have failed her middle school Civics glass. Amazon is a huge corporation because they figured out how to service a need the public has, plain and simple. While that may be detrimental to businesses who want to keep doing things the old way it is hardly evil let alone illegal.

    In Ms. Engler’s frantic attempt to divert blame for her failing business she is casting around for scapegoats. For anyone attempting to curry favor with her, beware. In my opinion, her behavior indicates things are going to get much uglier before this whole sorry mess is over. When things get tougher she will continue casting around for someone, anyone to blame and I doubt she will have any qualms about throwing even her closest supporters under the bus.


  • Mirtika
    October 15
    4:34 pm

    I actually went to her blog and wrote a ridiculously long response (politely, very courteously) that essentially said NO, it’s not a first amendment threat and I buy my Twinings at Publix cause it’s cheaper than Amazon. Back when Amazon had Twinings at a good price, I bought it from them. Hey, I comparison shop. Apparently, she needs the mini-course on how to comparison shop online and locally.

    Amazon, I had typed out and then erased, actually supports the 1st Amendment, because folks who had books in them that never saw the light of day due to the trad pubs rejections now had a brave new publishing world where anyone could upload their books and sell them. They could write love letters to Obama or hate letters to Obama, erotic poetry, romance novels, Christian devotionals, Muslim meditations, Sufi prose poems, science ponderings, whatever the hell they wanted….and publish it.

    So, I’m not very impressed with the question as she posed it in the blog and tweet. It kinda made no sense. :::shrug:::


  • @Deirdre Saoirse Moen: Thank you? 😉

    Also, may I share the awesomesauce that is Courtney Milan? Why–other than her posts on the lawsuit, that is–you may ask. Well, see her tweets today, starting with this one:

    Some of us laypeople called it when TE/JB published the post, but now…
    :evil 😀 :

    Edited to add: good thing I already took screenshots of that TE/JB posts, ’cause I have this feeling it’s gonna go “poof” any time now.


  • I love Publix. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

    Anyhoo, in every publisher implosion we’ve seen lately, there are always a few loyalists (usually the higher-paid, better-selling earners) who will either openly support the publisher and try to shout down (politely or not) the naysayers, or who will go deathly quiet on the matter, publicly and privately.

    We always hear the line, “ShHHHHH! You’re making it WORSE!! Hush so they can FIX it and we’ll get PAID!”

    But it NEVER gets fixed. And the authors NEVER get paid. (Noble, Silver, etc.)

    What’s that line about people who don’t remember history, and all of that?

    Doxxing is evil. Pure and simple. And I’m sorry, but any publisher who makes threats, veiled or not, to reveal company information like that at the potential risk of ruining their authors? Even if I was getting paid, I’d be asking for my rights back, because that’s a publisher who cannot be trusted.

    Side note: I STRONGLY recommend US authors set up LLCs for their writing. (You can do it yourself, cheaply, at LegalZoom.com, among others.) Use THAT information for your publishing if you have extremely sensitive reasons for protecting your pen name. And (consult your tax preparation specialist, yadda-yadda) you can reduce your tax burden by running stuff through the LLC. No, it’s not a bullet-proof way of protecting yourself, but it can add a layer. Use a PO box and a burner cell for contact information. Make sure to register your website using the anonymous option, or use the LLC’s information. Because, I strongly suspect even if (hopefully when) EC loses this case, other small presses who go tits-up will jump to those kinds of tactics to try to cow authors into silence.

    And, frankly? That’s sickening to me. And it’s no wonder so many authors are now resorting to self-pub instead of small indie presses, especially when shit like this starts happening.

    Thank you for emphasizing how much of a free speech issue this is, and what a red herring the Amazon arguments are to the bottom line: a publisher is suing a blogger for stating facts. Instead of a lawsuit, they should have posted any facts they have to refute DA’s assertions and welcomed an author audit of their books. Unless…

    Oh, wait a minute… It’s RIGHT on the tip of my tongue…


  • @Tymber Dalton: I may be remembering wrong (since right now I can’t find *where* I read this) that EC requires in their contract that authors use their real names along with their pseudonyms?

    Why would a publisher need that information, I wonder? A cursory search tells me that authors can get a TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) issued under their pen name that the publisher can use for tax purposes, so…

    Yeah, also right on the tip of my tongue.


  • Amazon threatens my first amendment rights the same way WalMart does. Huh.

    Strawmen created to hide the fact that EC is doing the nosedive as publicly as possible.

    But I have a theory that JB/TE is done with EC and wants to close the company down. She’s always talked about other ventures and she said at one point she signed contracts for something else… I think this is just her way of nailing the coffin shut.

    My two cents.


  • @Azteclady, yes, EC does require that on its contracts, but the contracts I’ve signed with Cleis Press and Circlet do as well. I imagine it’s because for the vast majority of authors, their SSN is their tax ID number, and the contract is made with the author, so you need to know their legal name.


  • @ReeCroteau: But the thing is, if I understand correctly, you don’t need to use your SSN for this, even if you have one.

    (Also, I deleted the duplicate comment)


  • Karlyn
    October 15
    6:32 pm

    Honestly, I am starting to think Ms deMello might know who is behind the Pubnut troll, as both fail miserably with logic and common sense. How can anyone logically believe that Amazon’s pricing model and search algorithm are protected free speech?!! They may suck and even hurt vendors at times, but dear Lord they have NOTHING to do with the first amendment. This is just one more twist where a small group of authors believe they have special RIGHTS over Amazon’s business model. It’s embarrassing.


  • Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I wandered through Amazon to look at rankings for Ms. DeMello’s EC titles. Sales rankings from ~300k-1.5M, so I doubt she’s one of EC’s best-selling authors. One would hope not, anyway.


  • @Deirdre Saoirse Moen: She could well be, because apparently EC’s amazon sales are for shit.

    Warning: what follows is hella catty, so view it with a very jaundiced eye, okay?

    I remembered but couldn’t find a comment regarding Ms de Mello being the first person to congratulate TE/JB for something or other–you can see it here, but I’ll get a screenshot as well.

    So now I’m wondering if between her claims of being paid really high royalties (percentage wise) and being friendly (sycophant) with TE/JB, made a difference when it came to checks received from EC.


  • jesb
    October 15
    9:33 pm


    There’s the piece I’ve been missing! I started down this rabbit hole from hell last week out of sheer boredom and nosiness. Since then, I cannot look away. I have no skin in this game. I only know a handful of EC authors, all of whom are getting paid as far as they’ve said.

    So I read, and I read, and I read, with no real concern for who turned out to be the liar liar pants on fire.

    I saw..and read…all the court docs. Found all the posts that backed most of DA’s claims. To be unbiased and fair, the one post about JB’s Security detail and reporting to interpol was indeed an addendum to a post directly below it addressing online stalker weirdos. Though DA was hardly the original source of that rumor, so I highly doubt that she could be accused of malice for repeating it. Aside from that, and with the exception of one thing, I saw with my own eyes JL’s proof of every last item stated in the original article. If she doesn’t, I know where she can find it all. There were a few people who 180’d about not getting paid, but I know for a fact that one person (If that person can be believed, and I trust that they can) has yet to get paid. The only thing I couldn’t find was her bragging about spending. Well, hello, Martha! I live in California and I’m well aware how much it costs to live in Venice and West Hollywood and her giddyness about being able to live there (considering the stupidly high rent rates) in the face of her company being in obvious distress, seems like bragging about extravagant spending to me. So yeah, for all you pilot fish circling Uranus (or her anus, or whatever) you might want to start paying better attention. I don’t know Karen, Jane, Jade or most of the people involved in this and really had never heard of EC having troubles, but I know bullshit when I smell it.


  • And here is the screenshot of Jane’s screenshot of TE/JB crowing about moving to West Hollywood.


  • jesb
    October 16
    1:38 am

    @AztecLady: That’s the one I saw. The only part of the puzzle that I couldn’t find the link to. I’m no lawyer, but I think any jury would be able to see that there’s really no denying Jane has proof of everything she reported. But I guess that doesn’t matter anymore because apparently, they’ve re-aimed their righteous arrows of truthiness toward Amazon. The shit’s starting to make my tits itch.


  • @jesb: The “let’s blame amazon for everything that’s wrong here” song started well before Ellora’s Cave filed the suit against Dear Author–remember the letter from EC’s CEO Patty Marks? That was in mid-August.


  • jesb
    October 16
    4:10 am

    True, but her tone seemed more wait and see then. The one I saw today was a real call to arms and a sort of sketchy, we should all band together and go after the real villain, plea. Very crafty, a Die Vur Zhun.


  • Amarinda Jones
    October 17
    8:35 pm

    So, my understanding of this mess is that Amazon is to blame for everything and there are always suck holes in every dying company who kiss up hoping their specialness will somehow save them. And this? “We have mortgages to pay, children to feed, medical and other expenses, just like everyone else.” Guilt trips are tacky.


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