(reblogged from The Digital Reader)
The romance publisher Ellora’s Cave has moved on from trying to silence book bloggers with a SLAPP lawsuit; now it is reportedly making threats against the Romance Writers of America.
The RWA is the leading writers association for the romance genre. While it has no legal authority, it does have considerable industry clout. It can sanction publishers for violations of the RWA’s Code of Ethics for Industry Professionals, and has done so in the past when publishers cheated authors out of royalties or otherwise tried to exploit authors (Harlequin and DellArte Press, for example).
Throughout Ellora’s Cave’s ongoing financial problems, the RWA has been pressuring the publisher to pay authors overdue royalties or release the authors from their contracts. The RWA has banned Ellora’s Cave from conferences and forbidden the publisher from contacting RWA chapters to recruit new authors.
Ellora’s Cave has been turba non grata with the RWA since September 2015, but matters took a turn for the worse this week.
Author Kellie Jamieson has revealed on Facebook that Ellora’s Cave is making legal threats against the RWA. On Thursday she published part of a notice which she says the RWA sent out.
RWA has repeatedly contacted management at Ellora’s Cave to demand payment to authors. RWA has also requested that the publisher revert rights if it is unable to pay authors in full. The response we received was a letter signed by Steve Mastrantonio, attorney for Ellora’s Cave, in which he states, “any premature comment by RWA that Ellora’s Cave is in breach of their agreements is reckless, false and Defamatory.” Mr. Mastrantonio asserts that Ellora’s Cave is paying authors as it should, and “any false comments by RWA to harm his clients reputation will be dealt with in a forceful manner.
In light of Ellora’s Cave’s lawsuit against the Dear Author book blog, that is not a legal warning so much as it is an outright threat, an attempt to silence the RWA through legal intimidation.
Update: I have confirmation from a second source. The RWA really did inform its members that it had been threatened by Ellora’s Cave.