All Romance EBooks Pulls a Fast One: What You Can Do To Fight Back

pirates-bill-davenportI was at work yesterday afternoon when I got the email from All Romance Ebooks announcing they were closing their doors effective 12/31 and offering a paltry ten cents on the dollar in royalty payments to authors in lieu of the expected fourth quarter payment.’

Because I was at work, I quickly scanned the email (not noticing a significant typo of a date that gives the company a loophole with regards to making even the minuscule payments offered) and cursed. I immediately pulled my self-published titles from their website, and hurried to my publisher to see what they intended to do, as all of my Dreamspinner titles were posted on ARe as well.

I then made a post spreading the word:

  1. Readers should no longer buy anything from ARe, as authors were not being paid for their works.
  2. I’ve pulled all my titles for sale on the All Romance website in advance of their 48 hour notice of closure. The good news is that currently you can get all my Dreamspinner titles on sale at their own website until 12/30–which includes my new release, Holiday House Swap. As for my non-Dreamspinner titles, Fool’s Gold and A Summer Fling are still available on Amazon. Fool’s Gold is back on Kindle Unlimited, and A Summer Fling is permanently free. I hope to place A Summer Fling into KU once I make sure it is not available in any other markets besides Amazon.

Dreamspinner made the following announcement on Facebook last evening: In response to All Romance eBooks closure notice: If readers pre-ordered Dreamspinner titles on ARe then you will not be able to download them upon release. If rumors are true, ARe will also not refund pre-orders. Therefore, Dreamspinner offers to fulfill readers’ pre-paid Dreamspinner pre-orders from ARe. You need to forward the ARe receipt to contactATdreamspinnerpressDOTcom and the customer service department will be sure you receive the eBook at no additional cost to you. Thank you.

Kudos to Dreamspinner! This is one of the reasons I love working with this press.

But the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Though ARe called themselves a publisher, they provided no cover art, no editing, no formatting. They were a retailer only and their entire catalog was digital. Where did the money go? They were paying us out of a percentage of books already sold. How could they not pay us what was owed?

Then too was the shady practice of giving no advance warning of impending closure, of failing to notify anyone until the last day of revenue for the quarter had been wrung out of writers, publishers, and readers alike. Why then, were they offering ad space on their website just the week before–and saying it was almost sold out? You don’t just wake up one morning and decide your business is bust. I almost bought one of those pricey ads and I know other people who have. They aren’t being offered any means to get refunds.

Once the news spread, the website kept crashing as writers rushed to remove their titles and reader to download books already purchased before the ‘cloud’ vanished. People were left with ebucks that didn’t work and gift cards they didn’t know if they should spend or not, while the available titles dwindled sharply.

areMore questions have been raised, particularly in light of the extremely poor and insulting offer made to authors to accept a 10 cents on the dollar payout or NOTHING. Meanwhile, ARe posts a business-as-usual Tweet and nothing is said on their Facebook page, either. Most ironically, the banner on their Facebook page, which I saw when I went to leave a review about their shady practices, advertises “No Doors Closed.”

I can tell you, some of the author responses to this tone-deaf and out-of-place Tweet were priceless, even as the anger and worry came through loud and clear. I didn’t have a lot of independent sales on ARe at this time–I’d only recently moved Fool’s Gold off KU and over to wider distribution. But to be paid a handful of dollars when I’m owed hundreds is jaw-dropping. However ALL my Dreamspinner titles were on ARe as of last evening. Every story I’ve ever written. So I can only sit back and hold my breath to see what happens when DSP’s lawyers battle for what we’re owed. At least I have the power of an ethical and reputable publishing company behind me. I can only imagine how terrible it must be for authors who were counting on the fourth quarter royalties to make the mortgage payment or electric bill.

For the most complete summation of the extent of fraud perpetrated by the management of ARe–and more importantly, what you can do to prevent them from getting away with this scott-free, please check out this valuable post: Publisher All Romance: Closing Hits New Low in Stealing from Authors. The details in this post are jaw-dropping. If these allegations are true, then criminal charges need to be filed.

I’ve seen many readers ask what they can do to help. The first is don’t buy any more books from All Romance. Download the purchases you’ve already made. Seek out those real publishers, like Dreamspinner, who’ve offered via proof of receipt, to honor ARe’s fraudulent sales of pre-ordered books. But most importantly–leave book reviews. I don’t think readers have any idea just how much book reviews matter in visibility and discoverability in an increasingly discouraging and hard market. It doesn’t have to be much–but a short piece as to why you loved the story while you rate it is a big, big help.

Thank you.

Authors: Even if you decide to take no further legal action, please consider filing an internet crime report, copying and pasting your email from ARe and any pertinent information.

14 thoughts on “All Romance EBooks Pulls a Fast One: What You Can Do To Fight Back

  1. Ebucks ARE working right now. Don’t know for how much longer. I only had about $7 (and, dammit, the book I wanted to order has been pulled) but you *MIGHT* be able to use any funds you had…

  2. Well said, Sarah. Like you, the more I read about this the angrier I get – and I’ve been lucky in that I’m owed very little. I earned almost nothing through ARe for my indie books and probably only small amounts for those published through DSP and Wilde City., unlike friends like you owed $$$ . But this is infuriating me. The sheer chutzpah of stealing from us… I swear, even if all they owe is a dollar, I want that dollar not a dime.

    Dear lord, I want 2016 to be OVER.
    Anna Butler recently posted..A Winter’s Tale – Happy Holidays, EveryoneMy Profile

  3. I yanked all my titles from ARe in January, I believe. I was tired of selling for two weeks, then making no money at all. This isn’t on ARe; it’s how it worked for me on their site. But in light of what happened, I’m glad I had nothing there. I’m out no money at all.

    However, I am cognizant many, many authors are losing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, and I am deeply sympathetic to their position. ARe screwed them, and most writers don’t have the wherewithall to go after those lost royalties. 🙁
    Theo Fenraven recently posted..White Collar: After Paris 7My Profile

  4. I guess the only lesson to be gleaned from this is check the addresses of anyone purporting to be a publisher or a distributor. Clearly these are sham sites. I bet this corporation was set up in Florida while the CEO lives in California for a reason. Not a good reason. Like class action lawsuits are nearly impossible to file. Corporate fraud laws benefit the corporation. Stuff like that. This stinks.

    • ARe was originally a partnership and one owner lived in FL, the other in CA, and it was business-ly more advantageous to file the LLC in FL. Plenty of online-only businesses have virtual addresses.

      That doesn’t excuse anything Lori James has done, but that particular part isn’t the scam

      • No, having a virtual address in a different state doesn’t necessarily make you dishonest. But different states have different laws governing LLCs, and it has been suggested this was a major reason for choosing a FL address.

  5. I bought one of those pricey ads and guess what, they charged my credit card for the first installment on 12/4…my birthday. Happy birthday! I was told authors who purchased ads would receive the monies back by Wed of next week. I can only hope they do the right thing but I have already placed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General, called my bank and attained a lawyer! I’m not settling for 10 cents on the dollar for the money they owe me for the 4th Qtr…no way!
    Tory Richards recently posted..New Release!My Profile

    • Good for you! Unfortunately, I’m discovering there are reasons why companies set up LLCs in FL–lots of loopholes! Do you have the link for the FL AG to file a complaint? Would love it if you could share.

    • Thanks for sharing, Deborah. Some authors were able to delete their titles as well–but then the delete option disappeared from the website. That is a questionable action as well.

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