By now word has gotten around the internet that All Romance Ebooks (ARE) has closed. If you sell there–and they had been one of the vendors I recommended as an alternative to Amazon–by now you’ve gotten the email. If you haven’t, or you want to read it, check out this excellent post by Joe Hunt.
As an author, I won’t lie. I’m pissed. Back in October 2015 when I had to send a DMCA notice to ARE to remove Water Lust, a book published by Ellora’s Cave that they neglected to take down, I mentioned that EC wasn’t paying authors, and as a vendor with a good reputation within the book world wouldn’t they want to remove EC’s books so as to avoid any taint from associating with them? The reply from the owner was basically that they pay EC and what EC did with the money was between me and them. They would, of course, comply with any court order to turn over sales reports, but otherwise I was shit out of luck. (The addition of the word “shit” is mine for emphasis.)
Look, I understand that they undoubtedly were making a lot of money from EC. They were in a tough spot. However, given the very public lack of payments from EC this clearly wasn’t a single author crusade. It was a big deal, one that was splashed all over numerous blogs. Had ARE made the business decision to remove EC’s books from their website, I think it would have greatly enhanced their position. Who knows? Maybe it would have improved their financial situation as authors who are readers too flocked to buy from a site that stood up for them.
Or maybe the owner of ARE is cut from the same cloth as the owner of EC.
Fast forward fourteen months. Now it’s I who am shit out of luck with them. You see the terms of their letter state that they will only pay me 10% of what they’re owed. Or I can take my luck if they are “forced” to file bankruptcy. I just checked my fourth quarter earnings. Keep in mind that frankly I’ve been out of the writing game personally for a couple of years. I don’t even have my huge backlist on this website yet. So there hasn’t been any promo. This is mostly people who discover me from other authors. My total that I should receive is $123.56. There’s a joke between hubby and myself about my math skills. But sadly, he confirmed that even I could do this one in my head. We’ll see if I even get my $12.36 “settlement” that I would in no way have agreed to. They say they’re shutting down as of 12/31. I say let’s wait 2 days and see. Because well we’ve heard the “we’re closing” song and dance before, and yeah with that company as well as with this one, if/when it proved to be false, it killed a hell of a lot of good will.
So there are questions. What happened to all the authors who paid for 2017 advertising? Where did the book sale money go? Did they not protect their vendor’s percentage in the same fiduciary way that a publisher should protect the royalties due to an author?I am still a huge proponent of self-publishing. What happened here is outright theft from hardworking authors and publishers. I’m sure the owner feels bad about closing the company, but I also wonder if she felt bad enough to make sure they had an after Christmas sale, but this wasn’t a decision made overnight.And I’m so sorry for my fellow authors who make so much more from that site. I know missing that $100 will hurt me like hell. For them? It could be catastrophic.