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Where the hell is EPIC?

I’ve read about RWA getting alot of grief this past week for discriminating against small presses however, I think it is patently clear that the reason for the 2007 change in RWA policy regarding recognized publishers (making it more author focused) is to protect its authors from unscrupulous small presses (including epresses) who start up one day with no business pplan, inadequate funding, lack of knowledge and take authors for a ride. In wake off the Triskelion banktruptcy, it seemed that RWA tightened its definition of subsidy/vanity press to encompass any contract that requires author involvement in the publication of her book. This has kept out legitimate epresses like Samhain but also prevents access to its members from other, less legitimate presses.

RWA is not an organization that is well suited to address the concerns of epublishing. I don’t believe that the individuals who run RWA or who are currently on the board have a clear understanding of the business of epublishing. Importantly, I want to note that RWA is not remiss in its inability to carve language that would include legimate epresses and keep those that are not. Rather I think RWA is focused on serving the authors who aspire to have print published careers. There is nothing wrong with this.

EPIC, however, is an association dedicated to epublishing. On its front page, EPIC states:

EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection, is a professional organization for published and contracted e-book and print authors. It was established to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing.

Even though E-Publishing is a relatively new venue, there are many readers, writers, and traditionally published authors who believe this is one of the major marketplaces of the future. EPIC exists to help professional writers learn more about the best publishing opportunities on the Internet and to provide networking opportunities for exchange of information about promotion and market growth.

In the past year, when we have seen more than one epublisher show their ass online and more and more authors being taken advantage of, I have found myself asking where the hell is EPIC? If EPIC, an association dedicated to epublishing can’t make a stand regarding the epublishing industy, what use is it other than to pat itself on the back and give questionably meaningful industry awards.

Here is why it should be EPIC’s business to protect e authors, even those that are not members.

The continual showing of incompetency, unscrupulousness and general asshattery of epublishers shines a negative light on epublishing as a whole. If New Concepts, a standard bearer in epublishing, has totally dropped its efforts to edit, it is hardly a step away from Publish America. Let’s have a short run down of just a few examples, no?

  • Whiskey Press charges authors a $90 setup fee for print books. Per the comments WP does not charge for printing books outright. Instead an author must either sell a certain number of ebooks or buy the ebooks herself to see her book in print.
  • New Concepts admits that it doesn’t do any editing.
  • Twilight Fantasies closes its doors after six months.
  • Mardi Gras publishing goes out of business and the owner opens a new epress to peddle her own books just a few months later.

Emily Veinglory lists approximately 60 epublishers on her site but would only recommend about five of them (back in December 2007). Emily is obviously do a great service (for no compensation) but one that I think an epublishing organization like EPIC should provide. Instead, its focus is on its awards and the pay services for editing that are recommended through its site.

I find it ironic that EPIC can identify qualified individuals to help you edit your book but not help you decide where to submit it once its all polished and pretty. In fact, it seems that EPIC is more interested in peddling other pay services than actually providing a resource for authors to find out more about the epublishing business. A standard contract is of minimal help when you sign on with a company that has no business publishing books. Where is the information about what to look for in an epublisher? What questions should an author ask? What information should be expected?

Everytime there is a NCP or Mardi Gras Publishing or Triskelion or whatnot that falls on its face in a blaze of un-glory, it gives ammunition to those who believe that epublishing is nothing more than a step away from self publishing. It hurts legitimate houses and legitimate authors. It tarnishes epublishing within the eyes of editors, industry folks, and ultimately readers. Readers become reluctant to give their credit card information to a house that cannot act professionally.

I believe in the doctrine of self help and that authors who don’t do enough to protect themselves warrant little pity when taken for a ride. But sometimes unless there is information readily available, unless some organization with greater power than individual author takes a stand for those authors, self help cannot be obtained.

What is the purpose of EPIC, if not to at least protect the reputation of epublishing. Because the more that the epublishing industry’s image is tarnished, the less those EPPIEs have any relevance to readers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

104 Comments

  1. Erastes
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 06:10:08

    I have to say that I agree. As a director of an author’s association I try and do what I can for authors. Write letters, ask questions and the like, and me and several of my peers have been looking at EPIC for a while and asking “What do they DO?” This question has been raised before on this and other forums, and it still hasn’t been answered.

    I added up the membership fees and the fees they earn for the EPPIE nominations, and it’s a disgustingly huge amount of money – where is that money being accounted for, publicly? What is being done with it? (other than running EPICon?) What do they, in fact, DO?

    It says:

    It was established to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing.

    But then they say:

    Please note that EPIC does not endorse, grade or otherwise investigate and “recognize/approve” publishers, in the manner of some professional organizations. These publishers are members of EPIC and have the option of posting a listing here

    Which is jaw-droppingly… staggering. I’ve removed publishers from the EAA for behaving badly, but it seems that all EPIC want to do is list people.

    The fact that they listed a plagiarised book on their awards rather sums them up, too. They said “oh we don’t READ all the entries”… which – again with the jaw-drop.

    How do they judge ‘em then, if they don’t read them? This would be a great criteria for other awards.

    “Oh, we don’t bother to read everyone’s theories – we just give the prize to the most popular of them.” (Mr Nobel)

  2. Nora Roberts
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 06:11:50

    Thank you, Jane.

  3. rae
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 07:52:35

    You know EPIC seems to bear a resemblance to one of those money making cults – to find out what they do, you have to pay them money. And once you’ve paid them money you still don’t know everything they do.

  4. Karen Scott
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 08:05:24

    You forgot Ocean’s Mist Press and Silk’s Vault.

    Apparently, the owner of OMP, Noemi Whatsherface still hasn’t paid the outstanding amount that she owes her authors, and even when Ocean’s Mist Press was open, the organisation was a mess to say the least. Shoddy editing, books not being released when scheduled, the owner having at least five pen names (I still don’t get that), authors not being paid, the works.

    Rumour had it that the website went live for a while, and she was still trying to sell books, even after closing.

    When they opened, I remember telling an author who was contracted there, that I wouldn’t be giving my credit card details to them anytime soon.

    Also, I think it’s a little galling to discover that apparently she has since been contracted by the likes of Loose-ID.

    I know this is business, but personally, I think this reflects very badly on the publisher, PR-wise.

    That woman blatantly shafted many of her authors and got away with it.

    As for EPIC, they are little more than cheerleaders of whoever fills its pockets the most. Biggest bunch of wasters I’ve ever come across, and their current leader Brenna Whatsherface hasn’t done anything to dispel that opinion.

  5. Marilyn Meredith
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 08:08:19

    I’m a member of Epic and have been almost since they began. I am not a romance writer however, I write mystery. I’ve been with good and bad e-publishers–the ones I’m with now are terrific. Mundania, Hard Shell Word Factory, Treble Heart Books, Tigress Press.

    I’ve also been with big paper publishers who were less than honest also.

    As for the contest, I know that every entry is read. I’ve been a judge ever since there’s been a contest. We don’t judge in categories we’ve submitted an entry in. Not having read every book published, how would a judge know if something has been plagarized or not?

    No matter what you might think of Epic, it is a great support to its authors, but it isn’t the publishing police.

    Marilyn

  6. Jolie du Pre
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 08:35:34

    Jane,

    I enjoyed your article very much. I’ve spoken out about Ocean’s Mist Press and how they have cheated authors on EPIC’s Yahoo list. EPIC does not encourage this. They would prefer that people report bad ebook publishers to places like Preditors and Editors and the like.

    Adrienne, owner of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, takes a different attitude and approach. For example, if she posts a call for submissions from an editor and a publisher, she will state if she is skeptical about the reputation of the editor or publisher. She has been in the business long enough to know how to protect erotica writers. After she gives a warning, we can then decide if we want to submit to the editor and publisher or not. She’s not afraid to do this and I appreciate it.

    I will say that EPIC’s EPICon is an excellent conference for writers of ebooks and EPIC does provide good information for writers of ebooks, so I do think the organization is valid if you are a writer of ebooks.

  7. Alessia Brio
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:01:29

    [W]here is that money being accounted for, publicly?

    Well, there was recently an annual conference at which there was a business meeting. Attendees (and one doesn’t have to be a member to attend the conference) received a detailed financial report with a line item accounting.

    There hasn’t been an outcry from its membership over its fiscal management. I suppose, however, that being accountable to one’s membership isn’t enough for those who believe an organization should embrace those who don’t even deign to support it.

    It’s quite easy to stand outside and point fingers at an organization for what it is or isn’t doing, stomp one’s feet over the injustice, or just shake one’s head in wonder. It’s quite another to lead by example or work for change from the inside. I don’t see any other organization doing the former or the perpetual naysayers doing the latter.

    I say the same to those who slam RWA.

  8. Teddypig
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:26:04

    Quoting their President Brenna Lyons

    EPIC is, simply put, an information clearinghouse (and yes…we do pass information on the lists (and off list, if someone asks) about what publishers are having problems and what authors can do about it…just as we pass information about what rights publishers have when dealing with an unscrupulous author, because that happens too, and we aren’t going to exclude the needs of the publishers), a networking community, a support network, and a professional organization.

    Yeah, and that is their President!
    As we all know all these Publisher problems were all caused by those nasty naughty unscrupulous authors. So far as someone wanting to support ePublishers and writers between EPIC and RWA I seriously think I will try SFWA. Not that they do much better but they seem to be more concerned.

  9. Ann Somerville
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:28:34

    Alessia, what did you say EPIC was doing about shoddy e-publishers again? I missed it in all the rage about those horrid non-members.

    They would prefer that people report bad ebook publishers to places like Preditors and Editors and the like.

    Yes, because naturally the flagship organisation for epublishing would be the last place an author would turn to for information about a potential epublisher. I wonder why anyone would ever think otherwise? One shouldn’t pay fees and expect that kind of thing. How outrageous and naysaying of people to do that.

  10. Karen Scott
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:39:56

    I will say that EPIC's EPICon is an excellent conference for writers of ebooks and EPIC does provide good information for writers of ebooks,

    What information do they provide? Anything along the lines of ‘How to tell when your publisher is shafting you?

    the ones I’m with now are terrific. Mundania, Hard Shell Word Factory, Treble Heart Books, Tigress Press

    Who? Apart from Mundania, who I’m not so fond of anyway, I don’t recognise any of the others.

    There hasn't been an outcry from its membership over its fiscal management

    The last time this was discussed, it seemed that people tended to just leave, rather than complaining, same as they do when they get shafted by their e-pubs I guess.

  11. Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr.
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:49:01

    One point of clarification: Whiskey Creek Press does not charge their authors a single penny. They now absorb the $90 setup fee charged by the POD printer – the one that formerly was paid by the author if they chose to have printed copies. WCP is celebrating their fifth anniversary of continued growth. Let’s get the facts straight and stop rehashing ancient history.

  12. Karen Scott
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:56:45

    Let’s get the facts straight and stop rehashing ancient history.

    Christopher, it’s hardly ancient history, they only decided to absorb the costs when it was highlighted on my blog recently.

    Oh by the way, New Concepts Publishing are in their tenth (+) year of continued growth.

    Just sayin.

  13. KM
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:03:21

    I ask myself these questions on pretty much a daily basis. I wasn’t going to renew my membership for a second year, but I was signed up to judge the SCHMEPPIES, so I did. And I wish I hadn’t.

    Perhaps the reason why they refuse to hold publishers accountable is because the current president is an employee of one questionable publisher? Accountability may prove a problem.

  14. Jane Toombs
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:06:13

    I am a charter member of RWA and was published before I joined. Until RWA there was no organization for romance authors. I joined EPIC shortly after I began writing for epublishers as well as NY pubs. EPIC has never promised any of us that the organization was intended to vet publishers in the same way RWA tries to do, so I do not expect it to. I know some of the officers in EPIC personally,and have first hand knowledge of how much time they take away from their own writing for no pay to keep the group on track. We members do have access to financial statements and to imply we do not is dead wrong. I do fault RWA for taking so long to recognize epublishing was the future, but they finally did, and are having a rocky road determining which epub is sound and viable and which not. For the record “Jane” is wrong about Whiskey Creek Press charging a set-up fee. I write for them and they’ve stopped doing that. They have put other requirements in place, such as buying a certain number of your own books, but the fee is no longer in effect. Yes, NCP (I also write for them) did say they don’t edit the mss. they choose to buy. The implication was they chose only those which, to their mind, did not need editing. But, hey, I wrote many books for Kensington and only once did an editor (who subseqently left them) ever edit any of mine. (For the record, I strongly believe in editing.) I’ve survived the demise of three down-the-tubes epubs, so have learned to be more careful. I did not expect EPIC or any other organization to “save” me from this disaster, just as I didn’t expect RWA or my agent to “save” me from the disaster of three diffent NY pubs that bit the dust. In this bunny eat bunny world authors are at risk. From another Jane

  15. Teddypig
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:17:07

    They have put other requirements in place, such as buying a certain number of your own books, but the fee is no longer in effect.

    So no fee but Whiskey Creek Press still requires the writer to fork over money. How Vanity of them!

  16. J.C. Wilder
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:18:33

    I was a charter member of EPIC and left around the second year. As far as I can tell, they provide no benefit to authors, epublished or not. Basically it is an organization to pat each other on the back and say ‘good job’ – which RWA won’t do. After RWA came down on epublishing eight years ago (or so) EPIC was born – a feel-good place for unappreciated epubbed authors.

    As for the EPIC conference? The bookfair consists of EPIC authors buying other EPIC author’s books. I know several people who attended and they only went once.

  17. Barbara B.
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:20:42

    Jane Toombs said-
    “For the record “Jane” is wrong about Whiskey Creek Press charging a set-up fee. I write for them and they've stopped doing that. They have put other requirements in place, such as buying a certain number of your own books, but the fee is no longer in effect.”

    Awesome.

    Despite various comments by EPIC members, I still can’t quite figure out what the hell EPIC does. Anyway! I’m just hoping that Brenna Lyons isn’t even now busily composing one of her truly epic yet essentially meaningless comments. Her comments here last year were the literary equivalent of a filibuster.

  18. Jane
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:23:10

    Ms. Brio and others, you misunderstand the point of this article and that is if EPIC doesn’t stand up against unethical publishers, the epublishing industries reputation will continue to decline. This is particularly true when more and more mainstream publishers are providing e content and e content that used to be the bailiwick of traditional epublishing such as erotic/erotica.

    At some point, the GLBT arm of epublishing will likely be absorbed into some epublishing ventures by mainstream publishing. And I have just a greater trust with mainstream publishing. I’ve yet to see an editor come online from Harlequin or Berkley or anything like the things we have seen epublishers say. The actions of some epublishers are tarnishing the industry.

    If you look back in our archives, you will see that Dear Author has been an ardent fan of epublishing. We still are. But I have become increasingly disenchanted with the industry and have drawn back from buying books from houses that have even a whisper of scandal attached because so many times those whispers precede huge outbreaks.

    I’ve been less than impressed with Phaze’s own public representation and all the unprofessionalism that occurs online further seeds the idea that epublishing isn’t a professional and doesn’t deserve to be treated with the appropriate grativas.

  19. Bernita
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:24:13

    “put other requirements in place, such as buying a certain number of your own books,”
    I’m sorry, but I would consider that a fee.

  20. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:41:56

    Hello,

    I’m a member of EPIC as of this last year. I have to say, although I feel your rhetoric to be unnecessarily inflammatory at times, somewhat harsh with regard to EPIC, that you made some valuable points. I do think the e-publishing industry needs policing. A lot! I do think EPIC could be a major force in this and should be. I don’t agree that it is just a self-serving organization, since as a newer member, I’ve received a lot of valuable information from other EPIC members. And many of the member authors are themselves victims of these failed e-publishers.

    Could more be done? Of course. Should more be done? Certainly. But all of us, Preditors and Editors (which I heartily support), EPIC, and all the rest, including this website, should try our best in this regard. Much more does need to be done.

    And although I did find this article somewhat over-the-top in its criticisms of EPIC, I do believe it had many valuable points, things to consider. Criticisms can be tough to take, especially harsh ones, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value.

    And yes, Brenna Lyons can be long-winded at times in her letters. But then, so can I. I do wish though, that the officers and board of EPIC would be a little more open to change, to suggestions, instead of immediately getting defensive and discounting the source as of no value. We could do more.

    Also, frankly, I myself am a little curious as to what EPIC really does, even as a member. The forum is excellent for exchanges of views, awards are nice, but really, what else do we do? Isn’t it supposed to be mostly for authors rather than publishers? I’d honestly like to know, too, as a member. Why shouldn’t it try to protect us as authors? Maybe it can’t “save” us, as one person said here, but it could help try! It’s a tough publishing world out there. Authors need all the help they can get. But again, I think EPIC does have value. It could have more, in my personal opinion — much more.

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  21. DevonM
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 10:59:16

    They have put other requirements in place, such as buying a certain number of your own books, but the fee is no longer in effect.

    So how many books is a Whiskey Creek Press author expected to buy? Because this could run into some money, way more than the $90 setup fee they were charging. What if an author can’t afford to buy X number of books? Are they relegated to e-book only and never get their book in print? I don’t see this as a step up for Whiskey Creek authors. It sounds to me like they’re required to put out even more money than before if they want to see their book in print. Now, what was the definition of a vanity press again? If Whiskey Creek thinks they’re dodging the vanity label with this, man, have they ever missed the point.

  22. Jane
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:00:28

    I have to say, Rob, I don’t think DA has any obligation to report on, ferret out, talk about epresses at all. We don’t tout ourselves as being an organization that is devoted to epublishing. We are 6 readers. That’s it. Nothing more.

  23. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:10:04

    If that’s the case, if you claim no obligations in this matter, then couldn’t EPIC say the same thing and rightfully so? That it’s also not such an organization, just as you are not, to do that? How can they be castigated for this if their organizational charter doesn’t include such, any more than your our website does? Let’s be fair about this. If you live in a glass house and claim immunity, then let’s not throw “verbal” stones at others.

    We could all help. That’s the truth. In fact, I think the article about EPIC helped. But why stop there? If it is such an important matter, why not more articles on your site about such publishers? And if it isn’t something you “do,” than maybe you shouldn’t expect other organizations to “do” it either? Aren’t their own restrictions just as valid as yours are?

    I mean, if as readers you feel so thoroughly able to comment on EPIC, which does not publish a single book, then how is that so very different than commenting on e-presses that do? As readers, wouldn’t commenting on publishers be more appropriate than just some authors’ organization? Wouldn’t EPIC be as far out of your purview as that subject?

    No; if you can comment so heartily on one (EPIC) then I think you can comment just as easily on e-presses, and in as much depth. Picking and choosing? I don’t think so. All or none; that’s the way it should be. Otherwise, you folks run the risk of just sounding bitter, as having vendettas. I don’t believe that to be true, but I can see how it could be perceived as so. Comment all you will on EPIC, if you choose, but don’t say it isn’t in your purview to comment on other subjects, such as e-presses. I don’t buy it. One rule for all.

    Just a thought.

  24. Nonny
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:14:17

    But DA isn’t an “organization,” it’s a readers’ review blog that sometimes posts about what’s going on in the industry. I think there’s a HUGE difference between that and what is supposed to be the primary organization for e-book authors.

  25. Teddypig
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:14:44

    Rob,

    I don’t think DA is professing…

    It was established to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing.

    EPIC does and they continue to provide no voice.

    It’s a simple question of false advertising.

  26. Gennita Low
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:21:28

    Ummm, because Dear Author–six readers–isn’t representing any epublishers or charging anyone for membership, perhaps? Duh.

  27. Maya Reynolds
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:22:48

    Good for you, Jane, for initiating this dialogue.

    Putting aside EPIC and RWA for a minute, I suspect a lot of the problems within e-publishing result from two issues: (1) the grass-roots origins of the industry. Even the largest and best-respected e-pubs were mostly started by writers seeking an outlet for their own work; and (2) the desire of most writers to see their books in hard copy. This puts financial pressure on e-publishers who want to keep the authors who are selling books on their site and who are clamoring to have their books published in print as well. The e-publisher may not have the business skills to balance the risk of a print venture against their desire to grow.

    The major differences between New York and the present e-publishing industry are intent and practices.

    By intent, I mean New York is clear about the goal: to make money. Conflicts of interest such as the publisher’s desire to see his/her own work released simply do not pop up very often when you are part of a corporation reporting to shareholders every quarter.

    By practices, I mean fiscal expertise and competency. Many e-pubs begin in someone’s kitchen where, with a laptop and a website, a person with some computer skills can go into business in days. Because you can do it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it.

    I know people who have simply taken on multiple pseudonyms, put their own work out there and then sent emails to lots of user groups talking about the wonderful new e-publisher in town. Impatient and inexperienced writers flock to these new sites and learn the hard way about things like poor contracts and reversion of rights.

    What an organization–be it EPIC or RWA–could do for writers is establish a list of criteria that would help the writer sort through the wheat and chaff to figure out if this or that e-publisher is in the publishing business for real or simply trying to maintain a credible face while promoting their own work.

    I’m convinced RWA (I can’t speak for EPIC; I’m not a member) has the best interests of writers at heart. However, IMHO, they need to make a REAL effort to have e-published writers or people knowledgeable about e-publishing on their board to lend some expertise so they don’t keep making missteps when it comes to poorly crafted rules.

    Just one writer’s opinion.

  28. Mrs Giggles
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:30:57

    But why stop there? If it is such an important matter, why not more articles on your site about such publishers? And if it isn't something you “do,” than maybe you shouldn't expect other organizations to “do” it either?

    Is this another version of the tedious “let’s see how well you do that before you dare to criticize other people” argument?

    You miss one important point, Rob. Dear Author, as a romance-oriented blog run entirely by volunteers, do not have the same resource as a professional body like EPIC. EPIC has the authority as well as the resource and the power to change the industry for the better if it chooses to do so. So why doesn’t it?

    It’s odd that an organization with a vast network of members, many of which are key players in the industry, put more priority in maintaining a poetry page on the official website rather than to actually do something more actively to clean up the industry.

  29. Karen Scott
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:33:58

    if you claim no obligations in this matter, then couldn’t EPIC say the same thing and rightfully so?

    What a daft comparison to make.

    Dear Author is a reader blog, sweetie.

  30. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:36:05

    There is a huge difference between a readers’ blog and EPIC, no doubt about it. But then, isn’t there just as big a difference between a readers’ blog and e-presses? If you feel free to comment on one so easily (in the “industry”) then what’s stopping you from commenting on the other. After all, isn’t a blog site all about opinions? Why so restrictive? Why so one-way? EPIC as an “organization” or e-presses as “organizations” or “industry?” What’s the diff??? Inquring minds want to know!

  31. Karen Scott
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:40:02

    There is a huge difference between a readers’ blog and EPIC, no doubt about it. But then, isn’t there just as big a difference between a readers’ blog and e-presses? If you feel free to comment on one so easily (in the “industry”) then what’s stopping you from commenting on the other. After all, isn’t a blog site all about opinions? Why so restrictive? Why so one-way? EPIC as an “organization” or e-presses as “organizations” or “industry?” What’s the diff??? Inquring minds want to know!

    Lord have mercy.

  32. Bernita
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:43:27

    Rob, perhaps you haven’t noticed, but DA has commented on certain publishers in the past and will probably continue to do so.

  33. azteclady
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 11:46:18

    Rob, I’m baffled.

    EPIC is a professional organization that garners monies from its members, with the stated goal of helping said members. That’s public knowledge.

    Dear Author is a privately owned reader blog which collects no monies from whomever happens to read the articles.

    Conversation and discussion on a wide variety of topics is encouraged here, but to leap from that to “why doesn’t this blog do more (i.e., what EPIC should do)?” is rather… hmmmm… what’s the word I’m looking for here? Rather illogical.

  34. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:01:15

    I have to say, after seeing responses to my posting, it looks as if your website is just as defensive as EPIC has been about all this! Criticism, you don’t take either! You come up with every excuse, Dear Readers, to justify why it isn’t you concern/problem, whatever, but what’s wrong with EPIC is! How convenient! Well, it seems we all live in glass houses. And despite your small size, not being a “paid” membership organization, blah, blah, blah, excuses ad infinitum, even just one posted message on the subject might help authors and thus indirectly readers — ya think?

    EPIC isn’t the U.S. govenment either (although you act like it is somehow). It doesn’t have that kind of power. Perhaps you don’t have EPIC’s power either, in fact, certainly. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make some small effort to make things better, or are you somehow “above” all that? Come on, people! You don’t accept EPIC’s excuses in this matter, and neither should anyone else accept yours! If you are so small, so unassuming, as to be so completely helpless in helping the industry, than why exist at all? That’s what you ask about EPIC.

    Maybe, if you are so helpless, you shouldn’t bother with anything at all? No; excuses from EPIC don’t cut it, but then neither do excuses from you either! Again, fair is fair! And no matter what size your group may be, paying or not, it doesn’t stop you from commenting on what you want, so how about commenting on e-presses too? What’s stopping ya!

  35. Nonny
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:03:58

    It has nothing to do with glass houses, Rob. It has to do with the fact that you’re comparing apples to oranges and expecting it to make logical sense. It doesn’t.

  36. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:10:06

    Duh, yourself, darling! Stating the obvious doesn’t carry the argument, or the day. If you feel free to comment on one organization, then feel free to comment on the other, or all. What does a paid membership organization have to do with it in any case. Nothing, of course. Facts are still facts. That’s all I’m saying. And try not to get personal. It’s really just rude — duh?

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  37. Barbara B.
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:16:24

    Another mouth breather.

  38. Gennita Low
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:20:45

    I think Dear Author is doing a good job highlighting topics that readers perceive as problems within the genre in both epublishing and print publishing. Bringing up a question about support from an organization (the assumption that the names, be it Romance Writers of America or Electronically Published Internet Connection, are about romance WRITERS and electronically-PUBLISHED) about its role in protecting its members from bad contracts and bad publishers make both writers and readers more educated and knowledgeable.

    I’m always interested in the business and Dear Author offers a forum from which I learn more from all viewpoints, including from authors who know about the subject. Coming here and saying, “Well, that’s not what we do, so frack off,” is not conducive to a discussion at all, the way I see it. It’s also a very telling answer, so if I were a writer looking for advice about e-publishers, I’d know where not to look.

  39. bamboozled
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:22:17

    one also has to wonder about the honesty of an organization that has the President also working as the Senior Editor for Mundania, a publisher within the ranks that has had problems paying royalties on time and so on. Not to mention the EPIC webmaster is one of the head honchos for Mundania. Conflict of interest? Nah…

    EPIC may have started off as a well-intentioned organization but has pretty well turned into a masturbation forum. Now it’s all about collecting entry fees and membership fees and making sure they all tell each other how great they are despite publisher members treating their authors like crap.

  40. Jane Litte
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:26:40

    I would argue that reader blogs such as Dear Author, Smart Bitches, Karen Scott, Mrs. Giggles, Emily Veinglory (she’s a writer though) have done more to inform aspiring authors about predatory epresses than many other organizations other than Romance Divas.

  41. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:27:39

    Not in your opinion; no. But it does. Online groups are the same, despite window dressing. And these excuses are getting so old. Bad old EPIC! No excuses for it’s behavior, but Sainted Dear Readers can do no wrong? Come on! And this isn’t about anyone doing “wrong.” It’s about all of us doing more right! Apples and oranges — that’s pathetic. I was a school teacher and beyond the third grade, that became a trite comparison. Doing good, whether through comments, blogs, websites, whatever, is doing good! It isn’t fruit salad!

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  42. Gennita Low
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:28:27

    Stating the obvious doesn't carry the argument, or the day

    Sure it does. Some people are blind to the obvious.

    Example:

    Facts are still facts

    See? I mean, not see?

    Duh.

  43. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:34:06

  44. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:34:24

    I’ll grant you the conflict of interest scenario. I agree. I agree with much you say. But I don’t get flattery from fellow authors there, nor do I wish it. I just want it from reviewers! That’s what counts. That, and sales figures. So, although I respect your opinion about EPIC, please don’t lump us all together. Some of us are just trying to get established in the writing world. Some of us are just authors trying to sell their books. We have no other agenda. And although some or even many may be in a mutual “masturbation” society, I’m not one of them . So, please be fair.
    You don’t know me. So, don’t throw me in with some crowd of your choosing without getting to know me. I wouldn’t do that to you! Honest!

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  45. Bernita
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:36:12

    “if EPIC doesn't stand up against unethical publishers, the epublishing industries reputation will continue to decline.”
    “At some point, the GLBT arm of epublishing will likely be absorbed into some epublishing ventures by mainstream publishing.”
    And that might be a true prophecy.

  46. Alessia Brio
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:36:29

    As has been noted, Rob, comparing DA to EPIC is an apples-oranges thing. I do believe DA provides a valuable service to both readers and authors. I believe the same of EPIC. Yes, both are all-volunteer efforts. However, there is a difference. DA doesn’t have to answer to its membership. EPIC does, and that is accomplished in the form of election of officers and retention of a membership to subsidize its board-approved activities. The same is true of RWA or any other collective that advocates for a segment of an industry.

    Could EPIC do more? Of course. So could DA. Should either? In EPIC’s case, it’s a matter of implementing the stated desires of its membership (which is another aspect of that business meeting I referenced earlier). In DA’s, it’s entirely arbitrary. That doesn’t devalue either.

    There are obviously, just per the comments here, those who feel EPIC should take certain courses of action. It remains to be seen what those voicing such opinions are willing to do to bring about the change they desire. Personally, I don’t have much regard for those who do nothing other than point out the flaws of others.

    Be the change and all that jazz, eh? Peace …

  47. Jolie du Pre
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:40:25

    Well, I’m back.

    I’ve been a member of EPIC for a couple of years. They do collect annual membership fees, but so what? They offer a valuable service for people who are interested in ebooks.

    Brenna Lyons is one of the most intelligent women I’ve ever met, and is woman I greatly respect. One of the reasons I remain a member of EPIC is because Brenna became president. As a writer of GLBT erotica and erotic romance, I know that Brenna Lyons respects what GLBT authors do and is interested in protecting our interests. She is not homophobic. She respects erotica. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for some of the leaders of author organizations out there. One of the reasons I created GLBT Promo, a promotional group for GLBT erotica and erotic romance, is because of my frustration with what I saw.

    I don’t join or remain with organizations that don’t benefit me. EPIC does. EPIC provides excellent information for authors interested in ebooks and it also provides an excellent conference for ebook writers.

    Literary erotica writers have traditionally been print authors. I’m still firmly established in print and will remain so. But authors like Debra Hyde are making the switch to ebooks.

    I will continue to write in both the print and ebook markets and I’m happy that EPIC exists for the ebook market.

    Jolie du Pre
    Author of lesbian erotica and erotic romance and owner of GLBT Promo

  48. azteclady
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 12:40:53

    Not that I think it will change anything, but hey, I’ll about pointing out the obvious.

    Rob, let me try to explain to you why a logical person won’t compare DA to EPIC: they are entirely different entities. Like this:

    Readers do not sell anything to authors, nor are we trying to sell anything to authors–or other readers, or publishers. Dear Author, being a reader blog has no professional responsibility to do squat. Whatever they do, they do because they care, but they are not obligated in any way to do it.

    With me so far?

    Authors, on the other hand, want to sell books to readers. Publishers want to sell to readers, and in order to do that, publishers need authors. Ergo, publishers in general would do better by having a reputation for being ethical in their treatment of authors whom they publish, and (in the case of selling online) for being safe for readers to give their credit card information to.

    EPIC claims to be a professional organization whose aim/goal is to provide a strong voice to e publishing. What for? Well, gee, lemme see… to sell e books to readers.

    So, wouldn’t it make sense that EPIC would have a better reason–read, as stated in their own words–to give a good damn about epublishing standards (or lack thereof)?

  49. Briefs « Urban Fantasy Land
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:04:34

    [...] over at Dear Author discusses the lack of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection) presence in the e-book [...]

  50. Bernita
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:07:30

    May I say , gently, that the person who introduced the trite glass houses-and-stones platitude perhaps should not object to the use of the apples-and-oranges cliche?

  51. Robin
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:10:14

    Rob, I’m starting to wonder whether you’re trying to derail the discussion, because I can’t imagine that you are confused about the myriad differences between a reader blog and a professional author organization. But even if we were to entertain any similarity in mission or responsibility, I’ve only seen the reader blogs step up and comment on the epublishing disasters, which is strange because I’d think that EPIC would be right there, either trying to tamp down the flames, reassure its member authors, or offer some big picture clarity. That they haven’t is the impetus for Jane’s column, as far as I can tell.

    I’ll admit that I find it strange that dues paying members of an organization that purports to represent professional epubbed authors can find so many ways to excuse its absence. Because regardless of what it *has* to do, wouldn’t it seem logical that the one organization that claims to support epubbed authors would be a presence in so many incidents that sully the reputation of epublishing as a whole? RWA may not always give much credence to online discussion, but that can’t be the case in epublishing, since the venues are basically one and the same.

    Ultimately, I don’t care what the technicalities of EPIC are, whether they’re offering detailed financial statements to those who attend the board meetings, or doing the baseline work of reading every entry in a book contest. All of that is de minimis, IMO, in terms of what a professional author organization should be and do. Why would any organization want simply to conform to baseline standards when there are so many opportunities to represent its dues paying members in the most distinguished, respect-generating way possible?

    That doesn’t mean that EPIC has to “vet” publishers, but geez, what about publicly representing itself as a safe harbor for its authors and taking some sort of public stand on these increasingly embarrassing messes? Because if the general goal of an organization like EPIC is to promote epublishing, all of these ridiculous situations we are seeing in various epubs (and New Concepts was a surprise to many, many readers, I think) are accomplishing the exact opposite. If not EPIC, then who? I mean, isn’t this exactly why e-authors need a professional organization, want a professional organization, and are willing to pay dues to that organization? Even if this isn’t EPIC’s “assignment,” even if they don’t want to come out in condemnation of these epresses, they could sure as hell acquire some extra credit, both as an organization and a representative of epublishing, simply by showing a public presence and concern for their authors and for the industry. Why wouldn’t they want to do that?

  52. Angela James
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:12:00

    Everytime there is a NCP or Mardi Gras Publishing or Triskelion or whatnot that falls on its face in a blaze of un-glory, it gives ammunition to those who believe that epublishing is nothing more than a step away from self publishing. It hurts legitimate houses and legitimate authors. It tarnishes epublishing within the eyes of editors, industry folks, and ultimately readers. Readers become reluctant to give their credit card information to a house that cannot act professionally.

    So true. Something I feel more and more strongly every time this happens. It’s difficult not to feel like the uphill road we’re traveling just keeps getting steeper.

    Emily Veinglory lists approximately 60 epublishers on her site but would only recommend about five of them (back in December 2007). Emily is obviously do a great service (for no compensation) but one that I think an epublishing organization like EPIC should provide. Instead, its focus is on its awards and the pay services for editing that are recommended through its site.

    I’m going to speculate that even if EPIC were to decide this next week to take on the task of “approving” publishers, it’s not something that would be easily done. If the president of EPIC is a senior editor for a publishing company, isn’t she going to want that publishing company on the list? If some of the most active members are not only authors but also publishers, owners and editors for other publishers, won’t they want their press there? Everyone on the board and in the membership will have their own publishers they’ll champion, their own agendas and in some ways, the idea of EPIC creating that list scares me more than I think it’s a good idea, because I think it would be difficult for people there to be truly objective.

    Certainly, if I was on the board or a member, I’d fight tooth and nail to make sure my publisher was not left off. It would be like the senior editor of Pocket, the publisher of Kensington and the owner of Avon, myself and Raelene Gorlinsky of EC all being on the RWA board and/or part of the voting membership and able to make decisions about which publishers are “okay” for authors to submit to. Not many would be comfortable with that, I would guess.

    I think there’s too much intermingling of authors/owners/publishers/editors (sometimes one person carrying multiple of those titles) to create even a reasonable separation.

  53. Sara Dennis
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:20:09

    Every time this conversation comes up, it makes me want to find like-minded people and start *another electronic publishing organization. I don’t have the time or the organizational skill to do something like that, but I would certainly like to be a part of one.

    Though I have not always agreed with the decisions RWA hands down, and have had to do some scrambling, at times, I remain a member of the RWA, despite not yet having a book in print. I have served on my local board. I’ve served on National committees.

    I would gladly get involved in an organization that seemed willing to step up and take an active role in discussing electronic publishing and publishers, answering questions, giving advice, etc. to epublished authors. I did join EPIC, hoping it was such an organization. What I saw on the mailing lists was not the above, so I didn’t renew, nor will I be going back.

    It’s all well and good for EPIC to state that the organization is meant to be a strong voice in and for epublishing. Good intentions are wonderful things, but without the follow through, they amount to nothing. EPIC does not meet it’s stated intent, in my opinion. And epublished authors really do need an organization that does.

    *Another because EPIC certainly is an organization with an interest in electronic publishing.

  54. Robin
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:21:34

    I think there's too much intermingling of authors/owners/publishers/editors (sometimes one person carrying multiple of those titles) to create even a reasonable separation.

    So is EPIC, then, best compared to an industry lobbyist? Or at the very least a publisher’s organization more than an author’s organization? I keep wondering why authors would want to be paying dues to an organization that is helmed and run in such a way that the various messes in epublishing go unaddressed by an organization that purports to an organization for authors. And while I can certainly understand an author’s organization not feeling comfortable vetting publishers, the total silence still strikes me as somewhat baffling, especially given the spill-over to epublishing as a whole from these various epress disasters

  55. Lauren Dane
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:23:31

    My beef isn’t that EPIC exists – it’s that if you call yourself a voice of something you should do more than have a contest and a conference. Or at the very least just say “your membership fees are for the purpose of the conference” and be done with it.

    I keep seeing members mention “service” EPIC provides but they never say what that service is. What do they do? This is a serious question that never gets answered. They don’t advocate for ebook authors, they don’t get involved when those authors get screwed over, they don’t provide any actual watchdog or advocacy funtion so what, then, is their “voice”

    As for providing excellent info, what is that? Their boilerplate contract is woefully out of date. The legal information their president has been giving out is incorrect (and by the way, it’s illegal for non lawyers to practice law for that very reason) and when the messes of the last few years have happened and the roof falls on ebook authors, where have they been? Yep that’s me pointing out flaws. But judgment is what keeps the average human being from eating glass and walking into traffic for no apparent reason. Judgement is a good thing in some cases.

    But you know, I’m not a member so I’ve made my choice. My only real issue is calling yourself a voice for something when you aren’t. In the end, as an author, you make your choices.

  56. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:38:25

    At this point, I don’t really care. What a vicious bunch! Quick to attack, and too quick to defend. Reminds me of EPIC, which believe me, I’m not crazy about either. Whatever happened to fair-mindedness? When is it okay for total strangers to start saying “duh,” to someone else? To call people “mouth breather?” Do you have any moderators at that site? Rude beyond belief. And not productive in my opinion. What? Couldn’t they come up with a reasonable response so they resort to such base and pathetic tactics? Oh, I’ll refrain from further posts. Your group wants a rubber stamp of their opinions, not an open-air discussion. When they get that, they get insulting. And if you remember, I agreed with almost everything in the article, and even that wasn’t enough to satisfy them! Oh well! But for God’s Sakes, don’t talk about other groups when it’s so patently obvious yours (not matter what kind of “apple” or “orange” it may be, is just the same! But then, I supose your group will…

    Best Regards,

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  57. LostSoul
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:41:23

    and don’t forget that when authors are LOOKING for a publisher, the sign that the publisher is part of EPIC tends to give it an air of respectabliity that may not be true… you assume (insert joke here) that if it’s a part of an organization that there’s SOMETHING or SOMEONE keeping them on the straight and narrow.

    so authors sign up, get ripped off either by lack of royalties or books never being released or publishers crashing and burning and EPIC stands by and shrugs and says “well, we don’t DO that sort of thing…”

  58. Teddypig
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:43:39

    No EPPIE for you Dear Author… Not yours!

    Heh, Now I know why Brenna keeps winning.

  59. azteclady
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:49:21

    Call me a cynic so and so, but I notice that besides contributing nothing to the discussion topic, Rob did manage to post his email address and website more than a few fair times.

  60. Robin
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 13:53:35

    But for God's Sakes, don't talk about other groups when it's so patently obvious yours (not matter what kind of “apple” or “orange” it may be, is just the same! But then, I supose your group will…

    Rob, why do you keep referring to commenters here as a “group.” We’re only a group in the most literal sense — that is, as a collection of comments on one post. I know you don’t realize how offensive some of your comments were, but ultimately I think the response you got came from what some perceived to be an accusation based on a misperception — that people commenting here — or the original blogger — have some responsibility to epublishing or e-authors or ebooks. You seem to have persisted in that assumption, which I think has amped up the frustrated responses to your comments. Which, after a time, starts to sound like either an intentional taunt or an unfamiliarity with reader blogs like this one and an unwillingness to see the difference. I won’t defend some of the more personally directed comments you’ve gotten, but I also don’t understand where you’re coming from in terms of characterizing the commenters and bloggers here as any kind of “group” resembling in any way shape or form a professional author’s organization. So to be honest, I don’t know how to discuss some of your points because they proceed from IMO a misstatement. In other words, if you equate EPIC with a reader blog, then I don’t know how a conversation would proceed from there, except as it has, going round and round the differences in perspective on that point.

  61. Gennita Low
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 14:02:52

    What Lauren said. Thanks for putting it better than I could. I bow. She is my Duh Queen.

  62. Barbara B.
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 14:25:18

    Rob Shelsky said-
    “To call people “mouth breather?”

    I’ll apologize for that comment, Rob Shelsky. I’m sorry. It was very rude. Also immature. However, your comments are incredibly illogical. I consider that a factual statement and make no apologies.

  63. Michelle
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 14:37:28

    Well I don’t think posting his website has done him any good. I can’t see that his discussion on the matter has earned him any new readers. But I guess some people do believe that even “bad” publicity is better than none at all. But I could be wrong and traffic on his site may go up, but whether that would correspond to increased sales remains to be seen. I guess it boils down back to the “mean girls” followed by “mindless sheep” following Jane blindly along.

  64. Tracey
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 14:50:24

    I agree with you, Lauren.

  65. Janet Cornelow
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 15:09:56

    Maybe you should recheck your facts. Whiskey Creek Press does not charge the author anything to set up their paperbacks. Things change and if you are going to comment, you need to check your facts.

  66. veinglory
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 15:14:17

    As Angela says, the intermingling is an issue. Of the three presses I recommend most often, I write for two of them. This is hardly a coincidence but still an issue. I just added a red flag to a listing of a press I also publish with, something that doesn’t exactly make me comfortable. The whole enterprise has probably gained me as many enemies as friends….

    I feel the advantage of a group would be that the listing could be more a majority than a consensus, not resting on any one person. Committees frequently act this way and although it does not always work perfectly they can have far greater legitimacy than a list by one person. They will, no doubt, also lead more quickly to law suits sucking up membership dollars for legal defenses.

    I must say that putting out some information to help authors seems, to me, to be the single greatest need in the industry from an author’s point of view. I think it could be done more effectively, more accurately and more impartially by some kind of guild than by any one person. I don’t know if it is EPIC’s job but it would be good if some collective took it up. At least with Piers, P & E etc opinions of various individuals can be compared.

  67. Angela James
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 15:43:48

    So is EPIC, then, best compared to an industry lobbyist? Or at the very least a publisher's organization more than an author's organization?

    I don’t see it as able to be compared to an industry lobbyist, either. A publishers’ organization, definitely not.

    Maybe a social networking organization for epublished authors, a place to exchange information but not as act a type of watchdog organization because it’s not set up in a way that makes that feasible? I’ll probably offend someone with that answer, but I don’t actually say it in a derogatory manner because I don’t think being a networking organization is a bad thing, and I think it would actually go better for EPIC in some ways if they redefined themselves to clarify it that way.

  68. Karen Scott
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 16:57:44

    Call me a cynic so and so, but I notice that besides contributing nothing to the discussion topic, Rob did manage to post his email address and website more than a few fair times.

    The very same thought did cross my mind, because I couldn’t understand how anybody could be so obtuse, unless they were doing it on purpose.

    On the other hand, I may just be flattering him, he may be just as dumb as he appears to be.

  69. Shiloh Walker
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 17:19:56

    If that's the case, if you claim no obligations in this matter, then couldn't EPIC say the same thing and rightfully so?

    Rob, the problem with that line of thinking is that EPIC claims to be the ‘voice of electronic publishing’. But they aren’t really a voice if all they do is offer support to each other and information. A voice has to do more than pat people on the back and offer editing services.

    I imagine EPIC is useful to some of its members. I say some, not all, because I spent exactly one year in EPIC and got nothing out of it. I know I’m not the only one who has felt it was a waste of money joining.
    But I am aware that some people get a lot out of EPIC.

    It’s sad, though, because they could get more.

    It truly is a shame that those who run EPIC don’t realize that they are, or at least that could be, in a position to do something really amazing for the epublishing community. Especially right now. Ebooks sales skyrocketed over the past year. With the release of the Kindle and the Sony Reader, more and more people are checking out ebooks, and more and more people are checking out epubs. The potential for growth within epublishing is amazing right now.

    Having an organization in place to help guide authors away from the unscrupulous, help inform on new epubs that show a lot of potential, could only HELP the epublishing community.

    The DA is a reader blog. More, even though it’s one of the most professional blogs I’ve seen, it’s not done by people within the epublishing community. They fund this blog with their own money, out of a love for reading. It isn’t their responsibility to do anything more than what they choose here.

    But EPIC is an organization that asks people for money in order to join. They claim to be a voice. I’d think it would do the industry a world of good if they would actually BE that voice, a voice FOR the industry, not just a place to discuss their sales, their awards, and find somebody to edit their work. If they’d grow with the industry, I’d consider rejoining. But they are still stuck on doing what the same old, same old.

    Things have to grow. If they aren’t growing, they are dying.

  70. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 17:51:57

    Such lovely people! When they can’t win an argument logically, they resort to the worst forms of name calling. In any case, I sign my name to everything I write. As should we all. And I include my email and website as a matter of course, as do most authors. (Many also add blurbs.) Never though, I won’t be a party to such a group that resorts to name calling.
    Honestly, isn’t that beneath you?

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  71. Ann Somerville
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 17:57:19

    Rob, it’s not name calling to say that your comments are devoid of sense, logic or manners, or that your involvement in this discussion has contributed nothing but confusion and attention whoring.

    Name calling would be to say you’re a fuckwit.

    [No, that's not beneath me. I live in the gutter, and stare at the stars. How's the view from that pile of gauno from which you gaze down upon us lesser beings?]

  72. Alessia Brio
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 17:58:18

    Alessia, what did you say EPIC was doing about shoddy e-publishers again? I missed it in all the rage about those horrid non-members.

    Actually, Ann, I didn’t say. I addressed one part of one comment. I didn’t claim to be the voice of the Voice — nor did I “rage” or call anyone “horrid.” Those are your words, not mine. I am just one member, and I’m not serving in a leadership capacity at this time. I’m merely sharing my observations.

    It’s clear that some folks have very fixed ideas about what the Voice of ePublishing should be vocal about. Oddly enough, they seem to be the same people who have essentially said the equivalent of: “I’m very dissatisfied with the current administration, but my vote in the 2004 election didn’t go my way. So, I don’t think I’ll bother to vote in 2008 either. It’s pointless.” *shrug* How is an organization supposed to respond to that? EPIC is, as I’ve said, accountable to its membership — as every non-profit, board-governed organization is.

    I’ve seen EPIC be vocal about quite a bit to advance the epublishing industry: from outreach to young people via the New Voices program, to e-reader demonstrations, to a presence at all major conferences/conventions, to presentations about all aspects of epublishing. There is an entire indie/e-publishing track at this year’s RT, and from the session descriptions, it looks very interesting.

    If the organization doesn’t suit your needs, change it.

  73. Ann Somerville
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:01:50

    If the organization doesn't suit your needs, change it.

    No, I choose to ignore it. Since you pretty much say it’s been ignoring its members’ wishes since 2004.

    I've seen EPIC be vocal about quite a bit to advance the epublishing industry

    Today is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone from EPIC take part in any of the many conversations I’ve read about epublishing. It might be active, but it doesn’t seem to participating where the hot debates are happening.

  74. veinglory
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:05:21

    EPIC might consider a survey of members and former members to see what they feel their collective ‘voice’ should be used for.

  75. KM
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:13:11

    That would be nice, Emily, if EPIC gave a flying rat’s ass. Sadly, it doesn’t. Aside from the Schmeppies and their little EPICon, they do nothing but pat themselves on the back.

    It’d be rather difficult to be an impartial voice of epublishing when everyone in high levels there are intimately involved with one certain publisher (one that has proven to not be above board themselves).

    Really, the whole thing is a shame and a waste of servers.

  76. Rob Shelsky
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:36:20

    Now with this letter I can’t argue at all. It is all, sadly enough, very true. And, I have seriously questioned my membership in EPIC as a result of this. So what can I say? You are right as far as I’m concerned. It’s a sad thing, though, isn’t it? EPIC is so afraid of lawsuits, it simply seems hamstrung as far as taking any action on anything sometimes.

    Rob Shelsky
    Author
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~robngeorge/

  77. LostSoul
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:37:48

    I expect part of the deafening silence might be because it *is* a holiday weekend and people are with family and stuffing themselves into a food coma…

    … or the parties involved feel that it’s beneath them to respond to such a request. Meanwhile, submissions go unread, edited books are years behind in being released and royalties are late… except for those chosen few that suddenly leap to the front of the line.

    yep, EPIC is doing their job all right. $30 to get membership and another $30 to submit your book for the award… and extra for teh cover artist. And then the convention. Love to see where the money’s really going – ’cause it’s sure not going to promote epublishing or anything that the general public knows about!

    and for the presence at RT – that’s laughable.

    they may do more damage to epublishing than the death of these companies in the long run… and RWA comes out ahead as being the voice of reason in not choosing to recognize some of these.

    ps. dunna forget that Piers Anthony has money invested in Mundania… so take that for what you will…

    :P

  78. Beckiann
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 18:47:19

    I’ve been a member of Epic, but I must say I get more useful information from Romance Divas, Dear Author, Emily Veinglory, Peirs Anthony and Preditors and Editors when it comes to the health of an epublisher. What projects EPIC takes on don’t seem to be the projects I personally need.

    Plus the above sites are completely free.

  79. Ciar Cullen
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 19:06:19

    I was an EPIC member a few years back, didn’t think it was doing much of anything, quit. In a pique over recent RWA stuff, I joined again, hoping this time to get involved, etc. Got the virtual smack-down from Ms. Lyons on the member loop, and had that deja-vu all over again feeling (as if I were back at Triskelion, where I first met Brenna and where virtual smack-downs were the blue-plate special). I think there are folks who are members of EPIC who would really like to make things better and make a difference, but the regime needs a shake-up.

    And Rob, I don’t know you, and have no agenda here, but these folks at Dear Author are beholding to no one, as they host an entertainment reader review site, not an organization devoted to enhancing author causes. That they sometimes comment on those, because they publish what amounts to an editorial newswire, still doesn’t make them beholding to anyone or anything. They could turn this into a cooking blog tomorrow and while we’d complain, it would be their right. EPIC could not do the same without returning membership dues. There is a tremendous difference, you lost that argument. Nothing personal.

  80. L.E. Bryce
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 19:46:48

    Could someone please give me a definitive answer as to what the problem is with Mundania/Phaze? It can’t possibly be simply that a few of its 200 writers also post to Literotica. If there’s something going on business-wise, that I don’t know about, I’d like to know, but otherwise I just want to put out there that I don’t like feeling penalized as an author through association.

    Off now to look at some LOLcats.

  81. Jenna
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 23:56:06

    Ann – I think Alessia was referring to the current Bush administration in regards to the vote not going their way. EPIC votes yearly.

  82. Ann Somerville
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 00:00:03

    I think Alessia was referring to the current Bush administration in regards to the vote not going their way.

    Oops. Still, there’s plenty of evidence from the comments left here by unhappy former members that my point was valid even if my inspiration was borked!

  83. Teddypig
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 00:39:29

    LEB,

    So far from just the conversations at both Karen and Mrs Giggles blogs it seems the Mundania/Phaze authors as a group were pretty rabid.

  84. Sarah McCarty
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 07:33:26

    Personally, I think RWA and Epic suffer from the same issues. They have no clear cohesive goal and or purpose so year to year they have nothing to build on and therefore year to year tumble from one flailing effort at reform to another. So pretty much, neither organization does much more than collect dues, run a conference and contest, and argue about the best road to respect. While both orgs have some info for beginning authors, the failure to establish a purpose pretty much renders them irrelevant to the careers of their members. They may function as a social network (Though MUCH less now for RWA as the internet has provided a more immediate cohesive, responsive community) but not much more. In my experience with RWA, at least, they are the absolute last source to have any information and it is rarely timely. Ie, online piracy. This issue is more than 4 years old. The original pirated books were always the majority scanned print books. RWA was made aware of it 4 years ago (That I know of but likely were informed of it earlier too but I can date multiple reports to them ) They just recently made a statement on the subject as if *Gasp!* they were just made aware of it.

    I just don’t find this kind of belated posturing impressive. Nor useful as I’ve already been dealing with the issue for years as has a huge amount of published membership. I suppose it’s good that RWA is finally making statement, but to me, as a published author, it’s about as relevant as a “did you know” alert that they now make computers one can use in their home.

    I’ve been a member for twenty years. At first I stayed because I thought once I was published it would have more relevance. Then out of habit. Then out of nostalgia, but now, even that doesn’t warrant the cost. It’s a shame because I always thought RWA should have a point and should be an integral part of a romance author’s career in some manner other than just a line item on the tax form, be it in timely market information, industry trends (clarifying- it’s not a trend if it’s come and gone before reported on) etc.

  85. Shayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 12:00:27

    Yep, LEB, you’re being penalized cuz some other authors act like ass hats. So you must be one too. Don’t feel too bad, I am too. *snickers* And you can see how seriously bad it upsets me. Damn near suicidal, I am.

    As soon as RWA stops insisting they are the Romance Writers of America is the time EPIC should stop claiming to be the voice of epublishing. Both make claims they have no right to. Live with it.

  86. Nora Roberts
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:12:16

    I’d like to point out that RWA was founded and took that name in 1980-81–years and years before e-publishing was even thought of. I really don’t see why an organization should change its name, 28 years after inception because it hasn’t yet figured out how to handle a relatively new and still evolving area of publishing that suits and serves everyone in its membership. And often those who don’t belong to the organization at all.

    I have disagree that RWA has no right to its name.

  87. azteclady
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:18:36

    The RWA and whether it has a right to the name, makes me think of the World Series in baseball. One country, two organizations, but it’s the World Series. Gee, should they also change the name since now baseball is played in multiple other countries around the world?

    Please.

  88. Kalen Hughes
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:47:51

    As soon as RWA stops insisting they are the Romance Writers of America is the time EPIC should stop claiming to be the voice of epublishing. Both make claims they have no right to. Live with it.

    By this logic the American Medical Association has no has no right to their name, nor does any other professional organization.

    RWA is most certainly an organization comprised of professional peers, working for the betterment of said members and the genre in general. If the RWA “vision” doesn't tabulate with your own, then find-’or found-’another organization.

    I had thought that his was what EPIC was, but clearly my understanding of EPIC's purpose was erroneous.

  89. Maya Reynolds
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:50:37

    I think of RWA the way I think of my mother. I love and admire both even while they irritate me.

    It aggravates me no end that my mother refuses to check her e-mail for pictures of grandchildren, etc.

    It also aggravates me that RWA is not taking more proactive steps to educate itself and its members about e-publishing. They are doing themselves and their constituency a disservice–at the same time they make pronouncements about an industry they do not fully comprehend.

    There are tons of knowledgeable people in e-publishing whom I’m sure would be willing to answer questions and help raise the level of awareness–Raelene Gorlinsky, Angela James, Alisa McKnight along with lots of other smart e-pubbed authors.

    I personally think that RWA needs to think about developing a strategy for educating itself and its membership on e-publishing: whether that be a workshop for the board, or a designated board member or something . . . anything.

  90. Shayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 13:59:49

    I had made that remark in association with RWA supporting Romance Writers published by New York Houses, and against being a generic term for all romance writers. A tongue in cheek comment about both sides, one being RWA and the other EPIC.

    Most of the commentary made on issues like these are no more than comments. They do no good to the primary problem. Which would be my point.

    I would personally prefer to see RWA stay out of epublishing, and remain what they are. But that is just my opinion.

  91. Angela James
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:04:02

    I personally think that RWA needs to think about developing a strategy for educating itself and its membership on e-publishing: whether that be workshops, or a designated board member or something . . . anything.

    I think RWA has made steps to do this by forming a task force about epublishing, as well as accepting workshops about epublishing for Nationals. Stefanie Feagan could probably speak much more intelligently on this than I, but I think she’s felt run off from these conversations before because of the hostility towards RWA and the “old woman” board.

    Sadly, I can’t say that I blame her because saying anything positive about RWA in posts like this often seems the same as setting yourself up as a punching bag. In a way, it would be no wonder if RWA was feeling disinclined towards epublishing because, as a whole, we have not always represented ourselves well in the face of our frustration, anger, disappointment. We cannot demand respect, we must earn it.

    However, I do believe they’re trying to understand about epublishing, but I don’t think huge changes occur overnight or even in a year.

  92. Shayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:07:30

    Kalen,

    Actually the AMA would be quite fine since they recognized doctors graduating from a multitude of colleges. Not doctors who graduate from only one college. A distinguishing difference, but again the comment was made tongue in cheek. I really don’t give a damn what RWA or EPIC calls themselves or says or does.

  93. Nora Roberts
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:19:51

    Angela, I agree with you–and thanks once again for being so fair and balanced.

    I’ll add that I recently read a blog where the RWA membership was described as old white women who were sexual prudes and homophobic. As a charter member, I was really offended. It’s very hard to take that sort of insult. I wish some wouldn’t go to such extremes because it automatically raises the defenses and blurs–sometimes buries–the issue.

  94. Shayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:21:33

    And being very blunt here–With the closures and problems of epublishers, both new and old, I’ve taken the lesson that no matter who your epub is, they can go down the drain. Next year or in 10 years. I have three and at this point have just decided to mosy on into mainstream for the time being.

    I don’t really believe organizations can help all that much except with the aftermath of what to do. RWA recognized the problem and decided not to deal with epubs. Smart move actually.

    I really don’t believe there is much EPIC can do. Other than post an occasional warning about this, that or the other. And tell authors flat out that no matter how confident you are in your publisher, tomorrow might be a different story so guard your ass if you can and expect it.

    Coming down on either RWA or EPIC is simply a waste of time unless you are in those organizations.

  95. LostSoul
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:25:06

    but isn’t the problem then that if RWA or EPIC or MWA or the Mickey Mouse Club or any other organization won’t stand up and try to help aspiring authors out… who will?

    it’s fine to say that a budding author should network and connect and do all the paperwork before signing a contract, but as we’ve seen – you can have a company that’s been around for years suddenly turn around and be so nasty that the mind doth boggles…

    some organizaton needs to step up to the plate and stand for those authors who don’t have the inside information or the connections to avoid bad publishers. RWA may not be the best at the moment but it’s sure a heck of a lot better than EPIC which seems to be nothing more than a group of publishers shaking each other’s hand while putting the free one into the pocket of the author and getting out the wallet.

    as Dr. Phil would say – who’s gonna be the hero?

    kinda obvious that EPIC ain’t even in the room…

    :(

  96. Angela James
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:26:45

    Angela, I agree with you-and thanks once again for being so fair and balanced.

    I'll add that I recently read a blog where the RWA membership was described as old white women who were sexual prudes and homophobic. As a charter member, I was really offended. It's very hard to take that sort of insult. I wish some wouldn't go to such extremes because it automatically raises the defenses and blurs-sometimes buries-the issue.

    Oh shoot, I hope no one thought I was actually calling the board old women. That’s why I had it in quotes, because I saw that same comment and that’s what I was thinking of.

  97. Maya Reynolds
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:29:53

    Thanks, Angela. You make good points.

    I was reacting to the recent flap about “author chargebacks” in the Tsaba contract. That felt like the same kneejerk reaction we had at Nationals last year when the definition of a subsidy or vanity publisher was rewritten to include “publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site.”

    Stephanie: Come back and talk to us. We’ll play nice with other children. Promise.

  98. Nora Roberts
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 14:30:25

    My BFF in MD, I certainly didn’t think you were calling anybody old women. The blog I read was crystal clear re the old–among other things–and had, basically, the entire membership ready for transportation to the retirement home.

  99. Maya Reynolds
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 15:13:22

    And I certainly wasn’t calling MY mother an old woman. She’d slap me into next month!

  100. veinglory
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 17:37:38

    Shayne, I’ve heard you say that about epublishers many times now. I’ll lay down $50 right now that in 5 years Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, and Loose Id will *all* still be trading. I think the dangerous category here is not releasing in e-book format, it’s being a one-person garage-based business.

  101. Shayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 19:29:18

    Em, I think that’s the second time I mentioned being cautious about epublishers. They might not be around in a few years. Since I’m still with one of them and considering another at some way away future point, I’d tend to think they’ll be around a while as well. However, in light of current happenings, you still never can tell.

  102. Shayne
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 19:30:38

    Could be third. Still sure I haven’t said it much because it hadn’t occurred to me until the New Concepts debacle.

  103. Anne Douglas
    Mar 24, 2008 @ 20:35:36

    I recall my mother telling me that if I dug the hole, I’d better be able to get myself back out of it. On that same principle I can’t see why I’d be expecting any low cost organization I choose to join – short of an actual union or organization with a high cost to join – to fight my battles for me.

    For $30/yr dues at EPIC, I personally find the concept of lawyering up the organization and trying to police the industry pretty laughable. But not because I’m disagreeing with you on the point of WHAT exactly does EPIC do, I have indeed asked myself the same question, but because the organisation to my eye is just plain not capable to do as Jane suggests it should do as it stands currently.

    Now, if EPIC dues were the equivalent of the RWA dues (a rough calculation by going to the RWA site this afternoon is $190 for me to join the organization and the chapters appropriate for me, although to be fair and compare like to like as $100 as EPIC doesn’t offer separate chapters), and they had the volume of authors/aspiring authors attached to EPIC(666 *eek*) as what the RWA (9500+)does then, yeah, would I be expecting more bang for my buck, but even then, RWA’s $100/year won’t go far. There is also the RWA’s 30? years (I can’t find an exact amount of time on their website and am just going by the above comments of people saying they were RWA members in ’80/’81) to EPICs 10 (although I’d hazard that only the last 4-5 years would be of most relevance as author membership grew and technology became more obviously available.)

    Now, when my husband was a Chartered Accountant he had to pay thousands in fees to be a part of that organization, with the expectation that indeed, the organisation had a certain amount of sway in the industry, was involved in policing said industry, were there for clients shafted by one of their members and there for those members shafted by their clients.

    Can anyone expect any organisation to offer that kind of expectation for $30 or even RWA’s $100? Personally, no – and it wasn’t an expectation I had when I initially joined EPIC. I also cannot understand how anyone primary author organisation can police an industry that has very little regulatory guidance to begin with. Even the mighty RWA can only ‘police’ those authors and publishers that agree to perform to their stated guidelines for admittance to the organisation, and even then only as it pertains to ‘Romance’ publishers. EPIC is not a Romance only organisation, and from what I see (and I am firmly in the romance sector of the industry, I have little to no exposure to other genre of ePublishing) the recent closures have mainly been to do with Romance – which makes sense considering that is primarily what I understand Dear Author to be all about. (And why I read everyday :) )

    I’m not a rabid EPIC fangurl, although I am currently a member. I’m also not a member of the RWA, so any comparisons I’ve made have only been garnered from looking through their websites. But I am an eAuthor who has mulled over this post for the last two days, cringing at another blog brouhaha over ePublishing. Logically, I know Jane’s opinion isn’t an attack on ePublishing in general, but still I cringe at how many readers (not authors) have yet again been turned from the market, when indeed there are many stable publishers functioning no differently – ie very successfully – than their traditional publishing counterparts in NY.

    And, although I have no personal experience of it, I’m sure there are many ‘traditional’ publishers who have done all the same things as the recent rash of ePublishers, where authors have been left hung out to dry, and having to use the same advice my mother gave me to find their way out of it.

    Ps – and because I have no idea, does the RWA – or any other author organisation not related to romance – offer an available to the public listing of good/bad/so-so publishers? (Serious question, I want to bookmark them if they exist).

  104. E-publishing… aaaaargh! Part 1. « The writing life of Nadia Williams
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 05:14:24

    [...] E-publishers are apparently not regulated all that well. [...]

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