Publisher spices up novels

Amanda Garrett

Stow company produces erotic, fictional novels

Patricia Marks, chief executive officer of Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc., flips through photos of models the company has used for its calendars. The photo in the foreground shows Marks posing with the models.

Credit: Andrew popik

Got Sex?

This not-so-subtle question is emblazoned on T-shirts, Mardi Gras beads and even condoms at the Stow headquarters of Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc. Ellora’s Cave, a romance novel company, publishes both e-books and paperback novels that blend traditional romance novels with erotic fiction.

“All our novels have the essential elements of romance,” Chief Executive Officer Patricia Marks said. “There has to be a good plot, character development and a happy ending. Our novels also have sex –— it’s explicit, and there’s a lot of it.”

Ellora’s blending of genres has proven extremely popular. The company sells 40,000 e-books and more than 10,000 paperback romance novels a month.

Crissy Brashear, chief operating officer and publisher, said Ellora’s books are popular because they don’t condescend to women.

“Women don’t need euphemisms for sex, they know what sex is,” Brashear said.

The hot and steamy goings-on have spiced up the lives of desperate housewives everywhere, said Brashear.

“We have people who e-mail us and say that our books saved their marriage,” she said. “We’ve even had people name their children after characters from our novels.”

Ellora’s Cave publishes works from more than 100 genres that range from novels about the paranormal and vampires to more traditional historical romances. Ellora’s books can be downloaded into five different computer formats, and several of the company’s titles are sold at Waldenbooks and Borders book stores.

The company was founded in November 2000 by Marks’ daughter, Tina Engler.

At the time, Engler was a single mom on welfare, who enjoyed reading romance novels. Eventually, Engler grew tired of the flowery language and decided to try her hand at writing one of her own.

After being rejected by several publishers, Engler, using the pen name Jaid Black, decided to put her work on the Internet. The company took off from the beginning, and it has grown from a one-person operation to more than 20 employees, Marks said.

“We keep growing so fast it’s hard to keep up,” she said. “We’re looking for a new building because we can’t keep all of our equipment and employees in the same place.”

Ellora’s success has been a wake-up call to the publishing industry, Brashear said.

“People in the literary side of publishing have always looked down on romance novels as the red-headed stepchild of the industry,” she said. “Because Ellora’s Cave is erotic romance, they looked at us as the bad seed of the red-headed stepchild. But when they began to study the sales figures and see how successful we are, they woke up and smelled the coffee and let our books into their stores.”

Contact news correspondent Amanda Garrett at [email protected].