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Samhain Publishing

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KTC

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My condolences to all. I wasn't with Samhain, but I know your pain. I had two books with a publisher that closed. It's never easy. (((hugs)))
 

Prisoner24601

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Oh man this is really sad to hear. Just as I'd made a sale to them too. Ah well, it looks like they're going out in a classy way at least and my rights will be reverted to me since they hadn't even started the process of editing yet (at least that's the way the notice reads). Looks like self-publishing, here I come...
 

pinkbowvintage

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My agency just announced this, because many of their authors had books with Samhain. I'm so sorry to everyone this affects. It makes me nervous for the future of indie publishing.
 

gingerwoman

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Can someone explain why Amazon is causing this? What is it in their policy that's causing small publishers to go under?

And do you know anything about Samhain not paying their authors/not returning rights to people for some time now? I've never heard anyone say anything like that, but a friend of mine said that she knows a lot of Samhain authors, and some of them have been complaining about this on FB.

I've always been paid.
I don't think it's just Amazon causing this directly, but the easy access to self publishing, and the explosion of successful self publishing of romance as well.

I find that some of the old timers on here make comments about self publishing that don't always gel with what I hear from romance authors about self publishing. A lot of them have been extremely successful and they completely undercut publishers in pricing.

The thing with EC and Samhain is they were forerunners in using the new technology of ebooks for romance, and were staggeringly successful.

Samhain was the first publisher in the world to have a book that was only available as an ebook hit the NYT best seller list. (It was Maya Bank's Colters' Daughter, and at the time Samahin was putting out the print versions of books 10-12 months after the ebook, so it was only avaible in ebook when it hit the NYT list, which was amazing at that time.)

So you think about it, when all these women wanted an ebook romance they were going straight for these top notch digital publishers, who had a fantastic hold on the market. That hold has been completely torpedoed.

Not only that but Samhain unlike EC had more fair terms. I remember a very popular blogger stating back in maybe 2005 or 6 "well EC takes rights forever, but why would you want to be with anyone else? Why would you mind if you got in with EC? Why would you want your rights back?"

You see how drastically things have changed.

So Samhain had more author friendly terms, and let people have their rights back after 7 years, but again, before the NEW self publishing, do you think most authors wanted their rights back?

Then suddenly that all changes drastically, and they're losing their backlist at a staggering rate. (Yes I think I've seen a few authors complaining that Samhain was dragging the chain about returning some, but I've seen other authors say that they had no problem getting rights back with Samhain. So I guess it's been inconsistent. )

I've been kind of attacked, bashed, and completely misunderstood before by other writers for expressing the slightest sympathy or understanding for publishers (not here elsewhere) but I do see their side of things. I'm not bashing self publishing at all in what I say (something I think was misunderstood about elsewhere.) I think I'm just pointing out some realities of what's happening in the wider picture. Self publishing has been a great thing for many authors, and I really hope it continues to be, it's just crushing the little guy smaller publishers even what was the crème de la crème of middle sized publishers.

Where I think I was also misunderstood (elsewhere) was in expressing my sadness that authors with literally no money to pay for the upfront costs of self publishing, can no longer send a great book to a small publisher and have it blow up, and be able to make money. With the only viable choices being mostly the Big Five or self publishing (hopefully not entirely but it's kind of the way things are heading) it cuts out what was a fabulous option for the poor and struggling.

Problem with the Big Five is that it's a much much slower process than a place like Samhain where I had my first acceptance for a novel in three months, and my second acceptance within 11 days of submitting.

Fortunately for me my personal financial situation has undergone a massive change so that affording editing, cover art, formatting is no longer out of the question.
 
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TECarter

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This is sad. I feel for the authors and anyone impacted by it. I don't read romance really but it's always sad to see a publisher close. Especially one with such a long history.
 

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Where I think I was also misunderstood (elsewhere) was in expressing my sadness that authors with literally no money to pay for the upfront costs of self publishing, can no longer send a great book to a small publisher and have it blow up, and be able to make money. With the only viable choices being mostly the Big Five or self publishing (hopefully not entirely but it's kind of the way things are heading) it cuts out what was a fabulous option for the poor and struggling.

I *could* afford the self-publishing costs but I really don't want to self-publish. There are so many things to think about, and I know I could not handle the stress. And I'm terrible at promo, as evidenced by the fact that none of my books have sold more than 100 copies, so I think there is a high chance I would be unable to recoup any upfront costs.

This is one of those days when I have no idea why I even bother trying.
 

amergina

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I think the key line from the e-mail w/r to "Amazon causing this" is:
We’ve tried to renegotiate terms with Amazon in order to buy better placement within their site and perhaps regain some of the lost traction from the early days but have been met with silence.

How things are exposed on Amazon is controlled by Amazon. What goes in newsletters. What's found in searches. The weighting of rankings, etc. And yes, like in brick & mortar stores, publishers can negotiate for better placement/pricing/etc.

Guess what books Amazon is going to weight higher?

Of course, it's not the whole story I'm sure. But it's a piece of it.
 

Undercover

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I'm mortified. I always thought they were a solid publisher. They've been around for years. I'm sad for the authors effected by this, I hope you guys can find homes again soon. I could just cry. It's hard to believe.
 

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I'm mortified. I always thought they were a solid publisher. They've been around for years. I'm sad for the authors effected by this, I hope you guys can find homes again soon. I could just cry. It's hard to believe.

They have been a solid publisher! They just can't compete with masses of self published romance, 99 cent and free (although ironically they pioneered giving the first book in the series free, and doing amazingly with that), kindle unlimited. Amazon insisting on a high price for doing something or other to the algorithms (really not sure at all what I'm talking about re the algorithm issue, but keep hearing stuff like that.) Amazon never bothering to answer emails from Samhain regarding renegotiation. Not having the solid grip on the the romance ebook market they had before it was opened up to ANYONE. Losing all their backlist to authors wanting to self publish etc... etc...

It's only sad, not surprising, and they're trying to do the right thing by ending it now, and not going the EC route.

Please don't get me wrong, I am definitely not saying there is anything wrong with Amazon, or self publishing, or free, or 99 cents, or authors wanting their rights back. I'm just saying these are some of the things that made Samhain's fall a strong possibility.

Since my contract on even my first book with them doesn't end until 2019 not sure how I'll get my rights back, since I think what they said was they can't release rights still under contract as they need their backlist to pay the bills, as they slowly close down. :-(
 
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Please don't get me wrong, I am definitely not saying there is anything wrong with Amazon, or self publishing, or free, or 99 cents, or authors wanting their rights back. I'm just saying these are some of the things that made Samhain's fall a strong possibility.

The scary thing is, if these things made Samhain's fall likely, they also make all small publishers' falls likely, right? I mean, those factors are affecting almost all small publishers...

Or maybe less so in some cases. One of the things I really like about Dreamspinner is how aggressive they are about other rights - audio books, translations, etc. Maybe that will be an important difference? If small publishers want to survive, they have to offer something it's not easy for self-publishers to get on their own. audiobooks are easy-ish for Americans through whatever that Audible service is, but last time I checked that wasn't open to non-Americans, so small pubs are still important for that. And translations can be lucrative--I haven't published a book with DSP in the last year so I'm now making more from translations than from my English titles with them, I think.

I started a thread in the romance forum about the state of publishing, and maybe this post belongs over there more than here. But... if Samhain can fall, what can other houses do to prevent their own fall?
 

veinglory

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I think the key line from the e-mail w/r to "Amazon causing this" is:


How things are exposed on Amazon is controlled by Amazon. What goes in newsletters. What's found in searches. The weighting of rankings, etc. And yes, like in brick & mortar stores, publishers can negotiate for better placement/pricing/etc.

Guess what books Amazon is going to weight higher?

Of course, it's not the whole story I'm sure. But it's a piece of it.

Amazon is a reasonably transparent system in some ways, and ARAT and other software allow people to track how things work. And there has never been any evidence that book rankings are a function of anything but recent and total sales. Yes large presses have some perks but not enough to tip the whole boat as far as I can see.

Per title sales and cover prices are down for romance ebooks almost across the board. Its been a trend for a long time. I just don't see where Amazon is doing much different now than they were five years ago that would crash EC and Samhain, despite their comments. It is not Amazon's job to fix self-pub prices, limit competition, or manage how changing markets impact they publishers that retail through them.
 
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gingerwoman

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Amazon is a reasonably transparent system in some ways, and ARAT and other software allow people to track how things work. And there has never been any evidence that book rankings are a function of anything but recent and total sales. Yes large presses have some perks but not enough to tip the while boat as far as I can see.

I mean I could be totally wrong, but I felt like maybe Samhain books were so low just because the novels were $5.50 in a sea of cheaper romance.

Also I think there are just so many more books on there that things that previously were likely to be high ranking just aren't any more because the competition is fiercer than it was. Romance that used to have a whole bunch of trope key words used to rank high as a matter of course, and now I've seen recent self published books jam packed with popular romance trope words in the title and they're still languishing at 450,000. :cry:
 

Kerosene

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Amazon is a reasonably transparent system in some ways, and ARAT and other software allow people to track how things work. And there has never been any evidence that book rankings are a function of anything but recent and total sales. Yes large presses have some perks but not enough to tip the whole boat as far as I can see.

Per title sales and cover prices are down for romance ebooks almost across the board. Its been a trend for a long time. I just don't see where Amazon is doing much different now than they were five years ago that would crash EC and Samhain, despite their comments. It is not Amazon's job to fix self-pub prices, limit competition, or manage how changing markets impact they publishers that retail through them.

As distressing and disheartening as this situations is, it is a bit odd for Samhain to drop Amazon into their letter as if pointing the finger. By naming Amazon seems to be noting the blame is on their hands (and noting that other retail sites are doing better than Amazon creates a contrast against it).

I agree that Amazon and its ranking and efforts aren't fully to blame. Amazon did bring about a change in the publishing industry, but if that's for the best and if Samhain closing is evidence of a bad turn or not I'm not totally sure.

I mean I could be totally wrong, but I felt like maybe Samhain books were so low just because the novels were $5.50 in a sea of cheaper romance.

The whole battle between more expensive vs less expensive/free books has always interested me. Every time I look on Amazon's best seller ranking I see the cheaper and more expensive books mixed in, and sometimes with that big best seller topping them all at $10+. So I'm not entirely sure if cheaper books are the reason why more expensive ones flop or sink publishers. You also have to look into brand following, because personally I would gladly pay $20+ for one of my author's favorite books, but I'm apprehensive to pay $0.99 for an unknown regardless of review score. I've also followed publishers to new authors because I've liked their tastes.

I've also seen some reports of self-published writers noting that since lowering their prices they see less sales, and raising their prices see better as if pricing notes better quality to the reader.
 

kristin724

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This is really upsetting. Good luck to all with them.

I agree it isn't totally necessarily Amazon, but the ease of self publishing in general. The shrinking of the top publishing houses has pushed out midlist and smaller presss while the rise of self publishing has also pushed out the audience and author base of e publishing. With the squeeze at both ends, what was once respectable mid and small e publishing companies that were there at the beginning ten to 15 years ago are caught in the crunch. I find it quite ironic. We saw this happen with big box bookstores and to an extent big blockbuster films and the lack of mid and indie movies in cinemas. I just didn't think it would happen so hard in e publishing. I'm shocked all the biggies that fought to forge e publishing are no in a wait being eaten alive by the children of the platform who have gone on to self publish instead.

I like self pub for certain publications, but I also like the idea of respectable small houses, and the big or go home success is nice too. Pity that if you want to e publish or remain smaller now you have to roll the dice with a start up or toddler aged e press that now has to struggle to do what this biggies had done while directly going up against places like Amazon.

Hope I'm making sense, we've seen some of the writing on the wall for awhile now but that doesn't make it any less said. At book events and writing seminars I've always said there is enough room for all kinds of publications and you can pick and choose whatever is right for your material, but in the last 5 years alone that has really changed.

ETA: This really feels like the old dot com kind of bubble burst now. I mean. Where are the mid and small press folks who can't crack big but don't want to or don't have the business skill to self pub supposed to go? The market is really flooded with too many books and I am shocked to hear myself say that but sorry to say it isn't all quality. I'd rather have the middle of e publishing with some restraint and respectability than a self pub free for all and the same ten big house books over and over in your face. I feel like the wrong pubs and authors are getting pushed out by this. I feel like newspapers of respectable journalism closing because loud mouth social media is doing better. Oh boo.
 
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gingerwoman

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As distressing and disheartening as this situations is, it is a bit odd for Samhain to drop Amazon into their letter as if pointing the finger. By naming Amazon seems to be noting the blame is on their hands (and noting that other retail sites are doing better than Amazon creates a contrast against it).

I agree that Amazon and its ranking and efforts aren't fully to blame. Amazon did bring about a change in the publishing industry, but if that's for the best and if Samhain closing is evidence of a bad turn or not I'm not totally sure.



The whole battle between more expensive vs less expensive/free books has always interested me. Every time I look on Amazon's best seller ranking I see the cheaper and more expensive books mixed in, and sometimes with that big best seller topping them all at $10+. So I'm not entirely sure if cheaper books are the reason why more expensive ones flop or sink publishers. r.

In romance though, which was where Samhain used to be really big, it's more distinct than other genres. And what you see now in the romance best sellers on Amazon is a lot of cheap books plus the odd $9 book from Big Five publishers, or the somewhat more expensive ebook from big name authors self publishing.
 

kristin724

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Cheap is a good way to put it.

Which would you rather buy:

Dress at the Dollar Store

Dress at Target

Dress at Macy's


Well, you can't afford Macy's and the Dollar Store one looks the cheap price, so the Target one is nice for the price. But Gasp! Suddenly what if there were no Target choice in the middle? Now you are stuck with a Macy's state of mind wrapped in a Dollar Store dress. It is not a good look, readers notice, and pass on by. Skipping the diamond in the rough because all cheap Dollar Store dresses must be one and the same stink.

I hate how normally the cream rises to the crop but in this case, it is the idea of making money self publishing something that could be sub par is what is rising while the middle respectable is what is sinking. I like a lot of self pub books and authors, but the huge money makers and quality books are very few and far between in comparison to the thousands of drivel on Amazon that even they can't control attempt though they might.

Ah, this is just all really depressing news that I really did NOT need today.
 

Kerosene

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The market is really flooded with too many books and I am shocked to hear myself say that but sorry to say it isn't all quality.

Funny you say this because this is what I was thinking when I thought about the battle within Amazon. The same issue has been coming up with video game developers; there's so many indie developers, so many games out on the market, and not many ways for things to just sink into oblivion. Many great games simply go unnoticed because there's other shit being packed in with them. Digital content is very easy to store and sell that retailers have very little reason to simply remove them from their websites, so when a reader goes venturing for something new it gets hard for them to sort through anything. It starts to become a gold hunt.

If there's nothing to drain the barrel, the cream won't have a moment to float to the top and eventually the barrel will overflow. Goddamn, I just saw Kristin said something similar.

Here's a game developer on the subject: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/Dani...d_enough__releasing_an_indie_game_in_2015.php

Here's Totalbiscuit talking about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4F-zdpFb9I

In romance though, which was where Samhain used to be really big, it's more distinct than other genres. And what you see now in the romance best sellers on Amazon is a lot of cheap books plus the odd $9 book from Big Five publishers, or the somewhat more expensive ebook from big name authors self publishing.
Yeah, especially as you've noted with many books that incorporate all the common and buzz tropes being able to push to the top.
 
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gingerwoman

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Mind you HM Ward advised authors the other day on her blog not to start super cheap and think that's going to make it easier to sell books, she says it isn't, and if you start cheap you can't do promotions.

At least with Samhain I would get three figure checks in the first few months after a release because of the Samhain brand, and sales on the website itself, and I just don't know if that would happen with self publishing for me or not. My first few months checks with my second novel were half what they were with my first book with Samhain though, and I did see the writing on the wall.
 

kristin724

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My main work is for film websites so I see this in the movie industry more and more. People think the big blockbuster films make huge amounts of money because they must be so great. Pity is they are not, they just have the right prices and play at the maximum amount of times in the max amount of theaters. A family of 5 buying 3d to see a movie two or three times adds up.

Trouble is that pushes out the smaller made films from cinemas, ergo they don't play in as many cinemas, don't sell as many tickets, and therefore don't make enough money to be viable enough to studios to bankroll when they loose money on them. $300 mil movie can make back its $500 mil plus to cover profits and marketing. A $50 mil movie in half as many theatres won't make back its 50, plus profit shares, plus sometimes double that on marketing. Studios won't take a chance on the smaller film next time.

Irony is, I've seen dozens of great, excellent, superior films made for sometimes as low as $1 mil compared to only one, maybe two blockbusters that I've even bothered to see at the movies. The answer for the small production houses is to do a combination on demand or video release with a limited theater run. It blurs the line between a picture being technically a box office flop because well look, it had great video sales. Video releases aren't edited to two hours or less to fit a max cinema showing, either, and thus aren't so, well, empty because their creative input remains intact rather than cut by the studio.

Sad part is that this is driving a major wedge in the movie viewing public, to the point that only popcorn flicks are generally at the cinema and now so called art house indies can only be found with alternative sources. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to see a movie at the cinema, but it never shows near by because it is limited release.

This segregated system is only perpetuation itself. And you know who is winning? Television. Network, cable, and new streaming platforms are making shows that cost as much as $100 mil and are reaping the viewer rewards. There are more films being made and released then ever before but box office numbers are down, even for the wannabe 500 mil pictures, sequels, and franchises. Why? Because people can stay home and see better shows. Badonkadonk. TV put money into something of quality, people have the choice to watch, everybody wins. Remember how cheap and crappy the reality tv dominance was - and how that is when the huge billion dollar movies started breaking records? Now there are more scripted shows being produced than ever before and more money is coming tv's way. Of course, the irony is that things like piracy are now becoming a problem for when people don't have HBO but want to watch Game of Thrones.



Apologizes if this is all so long winded and seemingly off topic. But...does any of this sound familiar? I thought so.

And hi ginger, ladies, all. I don't post often, but well, this is just dejecting.
 

Deirdre

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The scary thing is, if these things made Samhain's fall likely, they also make all small publishers' falls likely, right? I mean, those factors are affecting almost all small publishers...

Some of the super small houses are all virtual, and I think that is a huge benefit in this current climate. I think what we're seeing being squeezed is expensive physical offices. When Samhain announced that they weren't going to renew their office space in May, I kind of figured that there would be some kind of scaling back. I just didn't expect this much, and not this soon.
 

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