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And Tina Engler fully recognized that the concerns some women face when buying erotic novels mean that she would also not be likely to buy Romantica® at the corner independent bookstore or news stand, and certainly not in a shop selling sex toys. However, this has nothing to do with her not being anxious to read such material.
Engler understood that electronic marketing, then in its infancy, provided the perfect vehicle for distributing a highly desired product the buyer could not purchase in a store. She returned to college to learn how to create an effective web site, how to establish an e-commerce business, and generally how to lay the foundation for what has become Ellora's Cave.
Engler has made Ellora's Cave state of the art to assure access by anyone who has learned of the company and its books through friends or the website – ellorascave.com. The books can be downloaded on every type of e-reader. An estimated 6,000 titles are available in English, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Tagalog, German, French, Thai, Italian, and Turkish. Nine or ten new titles -- novellas or novels -- are unleashed every week.
The e-book business as the primary vehicle for selling books which women are more comfortable buying in private seems obvious today. And the idea that other forms of sales would provide a healthy market for more traditional books – hardbacks, paperbacks, anthologies – also seems logical. But when Ellora's Cave was in the earliest stage of development, before Engler became a multi-millionaire and sold enough books to make her more prolific writers extremely rich, there was hostility within the romance publishing industry and questions about how effectively the buying market could be utilized.
"When I first started you've got to understand there wasn't hardly even any e-book companies let alone erotic romance. But then we were also fighting within our own industry for recognition as being legitimate. And I got so tired of 'oh, you're not a real writer because you're not RWA (Romance Writers of America) recognized. You're not in paperback. You're not...' And here I am making like 20,000 times what they are.
"All right. I'm sorry. I'm a writer. Whatever. So you had to fight with that whole legitimate thing. It was just like a lot of growing pains that anything new goes through; a lot of the old guard in romance just didn't want erotic romance in there, anything to do with that."
Trying to understand at least some of what was happening, Engler said, "I think they (the old guard) were just afraid they'd be replaced. To be honest, I mean I'm not going to get into too much stuff, but it's cattier than the cat walk. I'm not going to name any of the names but some of the women are pretty vicious. It's really sad, you know, because you would think that the women would want to help other women. Noooo. You always are going to have people who are unhappy no matter what, but the vast majority of our authors love us. They stay with us because they love us. Even if they go with New York, they stay with us."
Ellora's Cave takes the time to help their newer, less experienced writers with not only their writing but also their marketing. There are book publishers that are legitimate – no fees, no vanity publishing, cooperative with marketing help – that actually make a meaningful portion of their sales to the author.
Ellora's Cave recognizes that the more books a writer has to her credit, the more money both the writer and the publisher will make, especially since royalties on e-books are approximately a third or more of the selling price compared with a graduated royalty schedule for traditional hardback books that top off at around 15% of net. The authors are further encouraged by the EC staff to treat writing as a business, producing a stream of books that will bring regular income to everyone.
Joey Hill is the type of author Ellora's Cave has made extremely successful. She is a delightful woman in her mid-40s living a non-traditional lifestyle except in one important way. She has long known that writing books is a business. She knows that the more stories she can have available for purchase, the greater her income. She understands the publishing term "backlist" which refers to books that have been for sale for a period of time, remain in demand or can have demand renewed through a fresh marketing effort. You have to write to sell. You have to promote all that you've written to make the most money from the work.