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Samhain Publishing

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

brainstorm77

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I also noticed the cover issue in that line.
 

Haunted_October

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IIRC, Don was the only editor on the horror line.

The covers on that line were always below the quality of the Romance line. If Samhain wanted to push those books and promote them, they could have started by hiring a better cover artist/artists and at least put them on par with their romance covers.
 

veinglory

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It made me wonder if they used the same artists rather than artists experienced with the "language" of horror covers. Or whether as a smaller genre there is just not the depth of artists available for horror. One has to remember romance is about 50% of all fiction so far more people are upskilled and ready to cater to that niche.
 

Aggy B.

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I just find their horror covers to be not as well made. It's not only a question of not knowing the language/imagery, they simply don't have the same polish or quality.

Which was/is an issue I intended to talk to them about should they make an offer. But I may be waiting for a while before I hear anything.
 

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I just find their horror covers to be not as well made. It's not only a question of not knowing the language/imagery, they simply don't have the same polish or quality.

Which was/is an issue I intended to talk to them about should they make an offer. But I may be waiting for a while before I hear anything.

The Leisure/Dorchester line was not exactly known for its wonderful horror covers. Then again, people bought them when they saw them in the stores, so they did their job. Also, when I did a Google Image search for Leisure horror, the cover images were better than I remembered. :) Still, when the Leisure line was on its last legs, I remember a lot of the covers being just... meh? Maybe it was just me?
 

Katharine Tree

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Which was/is an issue I intended to talk to them about should they make an offer. But I may be waiting for a while before I hear anything.

FWIW they're a week past their 16-week reply window, on a book I submitted to them. Seems things are churning slowly there.
 

Weirdmage

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Not sure if this matters to anyone:
Some pretty well known Horror authors that I am Facebook friends with stated outright that don was the reason they signed up with Samhain.
One said that Don had been let go as "A coust-cutting measure".
Not sure letting an editor who brings authors go is really good for business.
 

Captcha

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I think in terms of good business, it has to come down to the bottom line, eventually.

How long was Don at Samhain for? If they gave that approach to business a reasonable amount of time to work (and things move pretty fast in e-publishing) and they were still losing money or not selling books, then they have to make a change. Right?

And, honestly, if they actually fired this guy? It sounds like it's because he refused to do what they asked him to do. So they said something like "we need you to have a more active social media presence because that's part of our marketing plan, and the current marketing plan isn't working" and he said something like "no". Which is not really something most employees can say to their employers without consequences.

I think we tend to use different standards when we're judging publishers and other organizations engaged in "artistic" pursuits. But publishers are still businesses. Sure, they should be socially responsible, but they still have to make money or they'll be in big trouble, and so will the people they've signed contracts with. As a Samhain author, I'm pleased to see them looking after the bottom line and making decisions they think are in the best interest of their company, because as an EC author, I've seen what happens when owners make decisions based on emotion and ignoring financial reality.

Was this the right decision? I'm really not sure - I don't have the insider information I'd need to even begin to have an opinion, and I don't have the years (decades?) of experience as a publisher that would help me make a wise decision. But overall? Publishing is a business, not a clubhouse. It's great this guy was popular with authors, but if his line wasn't making money, something had to change, and if he didn't want to be part of the change, then I guess he was the change.
 

Aggy B.

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If he was being asked to do something Samhain thought was part of his job and he refused to do it... yeah. It makes sense to let him go.

I'm just... curious about the decision to let go of an editor that was drawing authors in, when there are other options that they perhaps should have tried first. Like upgrading their covers so they don't look like they're coming from a cheap ePub. (Again. The romance covers are quite slick so it's obvious they are capable of finding cover artists to do good work. They just aren't producing it on the horror side for... whatever reason.) And, if it's correct that they are moving someone from the romance side over to the horror side... that doesn't sound smart to me. There's a reason editors have favorite genres and tend to acquire and edit in those genres rather than just acquiring and editing any book. An editor that is not very familiar with Horror will have greater issues with finding good material because they won't know the tropes, the tone, the voice that horror readers want. (One wouldn't expect a horror editor to suddenly start acquiring romances, right?)

[This is actually an issue I had when submitting to Carina. They would ask for things saying they were looking for SF or Fantasy or whatever, but when the rejections would come they invariably said "There's not enough romance."]
 

Captcha

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Are their horror covers really that bad? I'm not a great judge of these things, but I looked at https://www.samhainpublishing.com/books/horror and they seemed okay to me? A few I didn't care for, but to be honest, there are a few of their romance ones I'm not crazy about either.

Maybe it's a problem with the drawn covers? Most of the photo-based ones looked fine to my untrained eye. But are drawn covers maybe more common in horror, since it's often dealing with creatures that don't like to pose for pictures?
 
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Deirdre

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Samhain added a horror line in 2011 (link), and market conditions have definitely changed since then.

As a guess, they did some hard looks at the numbers and probably couldn't afford to keep Don full time without more promotion for the line.

Like other genres, horror goes through boom and bust cycles, which I used to be more attuned to (even though I'm neither a horror reader nor writer) because of writer friends who were writing more horror. My guess is it's currently a tough market, at least for Samhain.

I can't speak to the covers except to say that I do my Samhain book shopping on their site, and sometimes their horror covers put me off buying romance books because it kinda made me not in the mood. So in that sense, they were effective. ;)
 

hikarinotsubasa

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This is unrelated to the horror line and only marginally related to cover art... but those of you who are published with Samhain, who wouldn't mind sharing a bit of your experience confidentially, could you PM me? Author to author, much appreciated. Thanks <3
 

Captcha

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This is unrelated to the horror line and only marginally related to cover art... but those of you who are published with Samhain, who wouldn't mind sharing a bit of your experience confidentially, could you PM me? Author to author, much appreciated. Thanks <3

I honestly have only good things to say, so I don't need to go to PM - but you can PM me if you have questions.

I've found Samhain's editing good (not great, but I've had trouble finding great editing anywhere but Riptide, so possibly my standards are not industry standards), and I've found them responsive to me as a writer (ie. their editing comes as suggestions and they're open to discussion, they're very responsive and collaborative about cover art, they support my marketing efforts but don't dictate to me, etc.). They've been professional in their communication and their bookkeeping. Sales with them are comparable to sales at my other preferred e-pubs, which makes them much better than my non-preferred e-pubs.

I don't submit to them exclusively, but I certainly plan to submit to them again. I've been very pleased with my experiences there. (For the record, other e-pubs I've worked with and therefore use for reference are Dreamspinner, Riptide, Entangled, Loose Id, Liquid Silver, and Ellora's Cave).
 

thethinker42

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Echoing Captcha. My experience has been almost entirely positive. I butted heads with an art director several years ago, but that situation was resolved (and the person is no longer there). I love my editor (have worked with her on about 25 books since 2009), my sales are solid, I've been able to negotiate contracts without issue, etc. In the past, I've also worked with Amber Quill, Loose Id, Dreamspinner, and Champagne Books, and now divide the vast majority of my submissions between Samhain and Riptide.

So, thumbs up from me for Samhain.
 

gingerwoman

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He had just accepted a book of mine before he was fired. I was really looking forward to working with him.
From the email send out by the head of publishing I think it may be wrong for people to be using the term "fired" It seems he was let go, because they couldn't afford to pay him what he was worth any more, when the sales of horror hadn't been what they needed to be.

Horror seems to still be predominately a print genre, and Samhain has always been one of the strongest digital first publishers out there.

I believe they published the first book to ever make the NYT best seller list that was at the time available as an ebook only. Samhan does print, but it is POD.

Romance has done well in digital for a long time, and the experiment in digital first horror, apparently hasn't panned out the way they had hoped so far.

So yes the impression I was given from the email to authors, was that it was purely a cost cutting measure that they needed to make at this time. Not that that isn't a great shame, but there is vastly more competition in the digital market now, obviously.

I could be wrong but I think the publisher's email was misinterpreted by a blog or two, and that she didn't mean that the laid off horror editor "should have done more social media." I read it as the publisher simply reminding all Samhain authors to do social media, and saying Samhain would put effort into social media for the horror line going forward. I think she was trying to reassure horror authors that Samhain would still be working with and for them.
 
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triceretops

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Forgive my ignorant take on this publisher, but I did not see any line for SF or fantasy. I couldn't find it on their website. I'm asking why they decided to take on a horror line, when SF and fantasy notoriously outsell horror. Horror is a truly tough genre to write and even sell. I mean, I always thought horror and westerns just didn't do that well (no negative declarations about those genres and writers). Romance has kept their sails full and their massive ship speeding along. I can't understand why they went 180 degrees and burst open a horror line. I mean, if you're a horror reader and fan you go to DarkFuse or the others that specialize in it.
 

Deirdre

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Forgive my ignorant take on this publisher, but I did not see any line for SF or fantasy. I couldn't find it on their website. I'm asking why they decided to take on a horror line, when SF and fantasy notoriously outsell horror. Horror is a truly tough genre to write and even sell. I mean, I always thought horror and westerns just didn't do that well (no negative declarations about those genres and writers). Romance has kept their sails full and their massive ship speeding along. I can't understand why they went 180 degrees and burst open a horror line. I mean, if you're a horror reader and fan you go to DarkFuse or the others that specialize in it.

Western markets go through boom and bust cycles too, but they've been longer ones.

What you say about both western and horror is true for all genres at various times—maybe not romance as a whole, but there have definitely been boom and bust cycles in contemporary, paranormal, etc.

Generally, when a publisher adds a fundamentally different line, it's because they found someone they thought could make that line viable. In other words, they acquired Don because he made a case that there was a market for digital first horror and it fit into Samhain's vision. That Samhain kept it going for four years suggests it was successful for a while, just maybe not strong enough as of right now.

Also, Samhain does publish science fiction and fantasy in the context of romance. Here's a book in a paranormal series that I really liked. Here's one that's both science fiction and western, after a fashion.

So they do already publish sf/f, it's just within the bounds of the basic romance plot (HEA or at least HFN).
 

ShaunHorton

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So, I just finished my first novella from Samhain's Horror line.

Honestly, I'm not impressed in the least. If that's a good example of the work they published on a regular basis, I can understand why they might have considered putting someone else in charge and editing.
 

Haunted_October

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So, I just finished my first novella from Samhain's Horror line.

Honestly, I'm not impressed in the least. If that's a good example of the work they published on a regular basis, I can understand why they might have considered putting someone else in charge and editing.

Did you work with Don, or someone else?
 

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