Yesterday Samhain Publishing announced that they will be closing their doors as of February 28th, 2017. They had initially thought they would have to close their doors last year, but then after closing their physical offices hoped that maybe they could hang on. Sadly it has turned out that wasn’t meant to be.
What does this mean for you the reader? If you have ever bought any books directly from Samhain, you need to ensure that all your purchased books are backed up from their system into your library by the end of this month — as of March 1st you will no longer have access to your library online. Samhain books do not have DRM so you should be able to sideload your copies onto your computer and devices fairly easily. (Or if you have a Kindle device/account, you can email them to your Kindle account.) If you bought your books from a third-party vendor like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you don’t need to worry; they won’t disappear from your accounts. But if you have a favorite author’s book you’ve been meaning to buy but kept putting off, the Samhain versions will start disappearing from the vendors as of March 1st. (Some stores take longer than others to remove their digital copies but don’t leave it to the last minute.) Print books will still be available as long as the bookstores still have some in their inventory. Once they’re sold out, those versions will not be reprinted.
What does this mean for Samhain’s authors? Well, Christine Brashear has promised to give us back the rights to our books starting March 1st, so many of us are facing decisions as to whether to self-publish our titles or to find another publisher who might be interested in acquiring an already-published book. (Many publishers don’t.) Either way it means getting new blurbs/back cover copy, new cover art, and getting the books reformatted for digital and/or print. So some may be unavailable for a while. And some authors may decide not to put them out there at all. It’s a lot of work, and with the industry in the flux it is, it’s disheartening to have to throw thousands of dollars into self publishing a book and not break even for years, if ever. (No, that’s not an exaggeration.) Especially since some authors have upwards of 30 books reverting to them. That’s a lot of investment of money you may never see returned. And for that reason, I ask that if you do find a book you wish to purchase is unavailable, check with the author for their plans for re-release. Please do NOT turn to a pirate site.
What about my books? I am lucky. I only have two books left with Samhain — Deliberate Deceptions and Hidden Heat, the last two books in the Hauberk series. Since I have already self-published the first books in the series when the rights reverted to me last year, I most probably will self publish these too. But perhaps another publisher might be interested. You never know. There are lots of decisions and discussions going on in behind the scenes here. If I do self-publish them, I will make them available both in digital and print, like the first two, and I will include Perfect Proposal in the back of Deliberate Deceptions (since that’s the order they’re supposed to be read in) as a special treat for those who buy print books still. (Do you buy books in print still?)
In the meantime, I’m sad to see Samhain close its doors. They bought my first and second books (Private Property & Personal Protection), and published my first short story too (First Night). Even after my original editor left them and went over to Carina, I continued to publish with Samhain with Deliberate Deceptions and Hidden Heat. But this industry is tough and fluctuates month to month. Readers are flooded with many more books to choose from so it is hard to get your single book to be seen amongst the thousands of books releasing each week. The publishing world has changed in the past ten years as self published authors fought for exposure so now many readers expect books to be given away for free, or for 99 cents, not remembering (or not caring) that books can take months or even years of labor to produce just on the author’s side, then there are cover artists to be paid, developmental editors, copy editors, formatters, blurb writers, and a ton of other behind-the-scenes people who toil away unseen, that most of us cannot afford to just give our work away or to have it pirated on the scale it is these days. But I will salute Ms. Brashear. She is closing her business down with class, making sure her authors are paid and their rights are returned. The way it should always be done but sadly often isn’t.