Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spotlight on Samhain Publishing

Many erotica and romance readers who are devotees of ebooks have heard of Samhain Publishing. Since 2005 the digital-first publisher has excelled at serving this voracious audience with ebooks and paperbacks.

Quick Facts for Authors:
  • Samhain attracts debut authors alongside "Big 6" authors looking to publish between New York releases. 
  • They accept unagented submissions and they also play well with works represented by agents.
  • They publish everything from novellas to novels (12,000 - 120,000 words), and often have calls for anthologies. 
  • Historically, if your book is over 50,000 words, it goes to paperback about six-months(ish) after the digital release. Works of less than 50,000 don't typically go to tangible copy.
  • Their Retro Romance imprint is available to authors who have the digital rights to romance books spanning the last thirty years (let's hear it for the re-issue of the mullet!).
  • Contract wise, Samhain has been leading the industry in "fair" ebook royalty pay long before there was a cross-genre rebellion. Sorry, no advances, just reasonable % . (This is not an excuse to skip reading every word in their contract or neglect to negotiate that which you feel necessary. Don't be silly.)
  • Editorial quality is akin to a traditional publisher: some are awesome, some ... have opportunities for improvement. Like many epublishers, their content and copy editors are freelancers/contractors. Again, awesome parts and not-so-great parts.
  • Cover art has vastly improved from the days of Poser and Photoshop Disasters. They're competitive with the big houses, though at times too reliant on stock photos.
  • They are considered an international publisher and are involved in the international markets (their most recent trip abroad was to the Taipei book expo).
  • Marketing and promotions isn't Richard Castle type of worldwide author book tours, but they do more than newsletters and social media. They're often sponsors of conventions. They also have a core-audience of readers who are devoted to the publisher's brand (aka people who shop often on the publisher's website). Oh, and if you happened to be in NYC earlier this year, you may have spotted their ad on the jumbotron at Times Square.
  • Distribution is pretty typical for ebooks (AmazonB&N, FictionWise, etc.) and their print distribution is through Ingram.  

Back in the autumn of 2011 this romance publisher did something extremely peculiar -- they launched a horror line.


Yep. I know. It's like an episode of Grimm or Supernatural where you think it's going to be all smexy time and then the hot dude ends up face-first on a whirling table-saw. Horror is admittedly an odd path for a romance publisher to take. Lest any self-respecting horror or thriller author fear their book of gruesome boogeymen is going to be destroyed by an editor with a penchant for m/m/f BDSM with a HEA of Three Men and a Baby; rest assured, when your characters die in a deluge of flying offal, they're not coming back as a sparkly vampire.

When Leisure Books shuttered, Samhain hired Leisure Horror's executive editor Don D’Auria to launch Samhain Horror. The man's been in the scare-the-shit-out-of-you business for more than fifteen years. As testament to the seriousness of this horror/thriller imprint, one of their authors, John Everson, is nominated for a Bram Stoker award. Not too shabby for an imprint that's been around for less than two years.

Don't worry, Samhain may have its roots in romance, but there are no clinch poses on their horror covers. Most of their horror covers are pretty damn awesome. 

Does Samhain Horror have the reach and the dedicated audience of the romance-side of the house? They're working on it.

Disclaimer: I have not published with Samhain. Sure, I know folks who have. Gripes about this publisher seem to be limited to usual author-publisher differences (editorial changes, cover art, personality clashes). If they're hiding golems and gremlins in their processes somewhere, I haven't seen any streaking across the writers groups or over the Web.

So, dear Word-Whore readers, there is your spotlight on digital-first publisher Samhain Publishing.

Fan Samhain Publishing on Facebook        Follow Samhain Publishing on Twitter

Fan Samhain Horror on Facebook             Follow Samhain Horror on Twitter

Naturally, choose your partnerships wisely in all aspects of your life 
...and always read the fine-print.


  1. Some interesting facts here. Thanks, KAK!

    I think every publisher has at least one author that will gripe, when the fault probably lies with the author. No one forced them to sign the contract!

    1. You're right, Stacy. It's a business. Every business has great moments and ones you'd rather not repeat.

  2. I have read a handful of Samhain published books and enjoyed them. I agree that the cover art has improved over the years.

    And I didn't know about the horror line. Since you laid to rest my worry about any sparkly vampires...I have to check this out!