Sunday, December 7, 2008

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Nobody Does It Better: Samhain Publishing

Since 2006, Sony has sold 300,000 digital readers (thanks to Nathan Bransford for the link). Not only that, but customers have purchased “three million books” from Sony’s library. Throw in Amazon and the Kindle and what have you got?

A whole lotta people reading ebooks, that’s for sure.

Erotica sales are behind many of those numbers, but this post and its subsequent one are about our favorite niche market sub-genre, science fiction romance. When it comes to longevity and publisher loyalty, niche market books are frequently best served by small presses and, increasingly, epublishers.

I had been stalking following the comments of Samhain Executive Editor Angela James for many months, even before The Galaxy Express chugged along through the universe. So when I discovered that futuristic romances, space opera, steampunk, and cyberpunk are some of the genres that excite her, I knew I’d be inviting her aboard. Therefore, I’m delighted to present the first of a two-part feature on Samhain Publishing.

But first, a word to our aspiring SFR authors:

Agents as well as editors of traditional print publishers turn down good stories all the time. Yours might even be is probably one of them. Despite rejections numbering in the double digits, you can wait it out, hoping to land an agent/publishing contract in the future.

But even then, the Powers That Be might still decline your story.

Right now, the rejections are happening because urban fantasy and paranormal romance are all the rage. That, and historical romances are on the rise again, edging out SFR. Or all the slots are taken (tight market). Or not enough writers are submitting them to increase the odds (oh, the horror!).

Please do continue to submit your work to NY houses and agents, but consider adding Samhain Publishing to your list. Acceptance is not a shoe-in, and you’re still competing with agents and established authors. Additionally, the story and writing must shine and also fit Samhain’s needs.

I dutifully acknowledge the technological and financial monkey wrenches in this picture (meaning lack of affordable ebook readers, common formats, sufficient memory, etc.). Epublishing is still evolving, erotica dominates the landscape, and economic downturns don’t help either.

But with exciting mergers happening and in light of Samhain inking a deal with Kensington, how long should a niche market aspiring author wait before sailing the waters of a well-regarded epublisher like Samhain? Two years? Five years? Ten or twenty? There are challenges associated with being ahead of the curve (for any genre) but the risk can pay off if you’re in it for the long haul. As a fan of science fiction romance, you know a thing or two about that.

And if you think it’s challenging now, what about when Samhain is the next Tor, Berkley, or Ace of epublishers? What then?

There’s also another important reason to consider Samhain: Going green is good for the environment.

Thanks for considering my thoughts on the matter. And I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m suggesting Samhain for your submission lists. Below are a few links to introduce you to the world of Samhain, and so for the answer, read on:

* View a potpourri of posts by authors and editors at the Samhain Weblog.

* Visit Samhellion, the “author newsletter for Samhain Publishing.”

* Read Mandy M. Roth's Samhain Publisher Spotlight with Angela James in which Ms. James discusses her publishing background, day to day editorial duties, and the importance of a platform for fiction authors.

From the above interview, I learned that Angela James and her staff have attended multiple conferences and conventions including EPICon, BEA, RT, RWA, NJRW, Chesapeake Bay RWA chapter’s fall conference, RAW, the Georgia RWA conference, DragonCon, Celebrate Romance, the Kingsport Women’s Expo, and the Lori Foster event. Whew!

Dear Author has a feature titled Interview with an Editor Series: Angela James, Samhain Publishing.

This is the famous one—you know, wherein Angela James states “I specifically am still on the hunt for a great space opera (a western flavored space opera is my dream), something in the cyberpunk/steampunk genre, and a fast-paced action-adventure romance. I've been asking for something like those since we opened our doors, and I suppose I'll keep asking until someone comes through for me!

Here’s another hot quote from the Dear Author feature, one that underscores why aspiring SFR authors should seriously consider submitting to Samhain:

Because of the nature of epublishing, which allows us to publish a book not because it's hot right now, but because we love it, we don't have to worry as much about trends as NY publishers. It's one of the advantages of epublishing. We can publish not just what the majority of readers enjoy, but also what there's a smaller market for, and do it because we love the book and want to see it get a chance to reach readers.

Need another hint? On Samhain’s Submissions page, you’ll find the inclusion of “science fiction with strong romantic elements.”

Courtesy of Smart Bitches comes the Interview with Angela James, Executive Editor of Samhain Publishing. It reveals “…the inner workings of Samhain and ePubbing…”; her passion for Alpha males and first person POV; and that regarding submissions, “…there’s a continued dearth of futuristics and really good science fiction and fantasy….”

Hmmm, I’m sensing a pattern here.

CoolStuff4Writers also hosted an interview, with lots of great information about what to expect during the submission process.

At Magical Musings, Angela James steps up to the mike and discusses the qualities Samhain looks for in authors.

In another must read interview, author Stacia Kane (aka December Quinn) gets down and dirty with Angela James with questions related to “revenue targets” and annual publication goals. Ms. James also weighs in on the issue of authors pursuing traditional print publishers vs. epublishers.

Being an informed author is vital. Dear Author also partnered with Ms. James for an in-depth presentation on What Authors Should Look For in an E Publisher.

There’s also a Samhain Café readers loop to join.

I also intend this post as a siren call to SFR readers, informing them of a potentially potent source for these stories.

Aspiring authors, I and a host of other SFR fans want to read your books!

NY isn’t releasing enough for our rabid appetites and yet Angela James has been pretty “vocal” about her interest in acquiring such stories. If I hear wind that Samhain is behind the next wave of science fiction romance books, I’ll follow, and many romance readers and bloggers are already on the ebook bandwagon.

Now check this out: At her Nice Mommy-Evil Editor blog, Angela James is featuring a Holiday Hell Contest currently and through December 12, 2008. Up for grabs are loads of books, gift bags, and two Kindles! Beat a path on over there, posthaste!


Samhain Giveaway


Thanks for coming along this tour with me. Next up, an interview with Angela James, and an introduction to a few of her authors penning out of this galaxy adventures....

Joyfully yours,

Heather