Moving On. Life After Samhain

samhain-logo1Even though I love having an indie press, Samhain was the reason why I decided to be a hybrid author. Even though I wasn’t able to get another book published with them–more so because I hardly write romance anymore–I was able to publish with other amazing companies like Mocha Memoirs Press and Purple Sword Publications. I also don’t believe in putting all of my eggs in one basket. Many financial advisors always tell their clients to diversify their portfolio, so that’s what I like to do with my writing business.

I don’t look at this as an end as much as I do a beginning. This is a chance for ex-Samhainers to really shine, so I hope for their sake they take full advantage of it. Self-publishing has really taken off to the point that the market is flooded. But at least, there’s a place where they can republish those books and perhaps make some pocket change from them. And even better, they get to keep almost all of it. Imagine that! They can get as much as 70% of the profits (if not more), depending upon where they publish and their price point. Again, imagine that!

Now, I understand why those authors might be bitter, too. After all, it also means they have to do all of the work for themselves. They definitely have to have new covers and market until they’re blue in the face. For those of us who are hybrids, that’s nothing new and probably why we’re less affected by Samhain’s closing. It’s a business. Period. That’s why I don’t feel like I’m losing a publisher as much as I’m gaining a new asset in my self-publishing portfolio. I’m cool with that.

So what does this mean for other e-pubs if the one of the biggest games in town is shutting its doors? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m sure some might want to snatch up those authors who have hit the NY Times and USA Today lists, but the rest of us are on our own. I’m sure there will be naysayers who’ll say, “Ha! You see? I knew they wouldn’t last.” Here’s a thought. If Samhain is “winding down”, which I interpret as trying to stay afloat before they head into shore, what’s going to happen to those publishers who don’t have NY Times bestsellers on their lists? How long are they going to last if they can’t meet the low price points of most self-published books? You can say what you want about the quality of those books, but the fact is self-publishing is chipping away at the traditional market. In some cases (i.e. Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking), they’d already redefined it for themselves. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s a good time to be self-published, whether the market is flooded or not. Still don’t believe me? Then take a look at Author Earnings for 2016. These numbers tell me that indie/self-publishing is a major contender for readers’ attentions.

Believe it or not, I’m not trying to sell anyone on self-publishing. Do whatever you want to do. But, I had a very wise author who is not only my friend, but a USA Today Bestseller talk me off the ledge that some authors are probably feeling right now. She was the one who talked to me about self-publishing, so I took a chance. I’m glad I did, too. Even though I haven’t made anything near “rock-star dollars”, I’m happy because my books are doing more than just collecting dust on my laptop.

I’m sure there are those who feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath them. If so, then perhaps you need to make the best of those hardwood floor underneath. Everyone is too excitable in this business and I really hate the drama, the speculation, and the hate that things like this generate. Rather than shout at the rooftops about how unfair it is and feeling duped, authors needs to actually tend to their business. The business of writing and putting a plan in action to take care of their assets. Leave the emotions out of it. Better yet, leave that stuff for your next manuscript. The last thing a customer wants to see is an author whining about how their precious publisher abandoned them. Customers would rather see the results of your hard work.

 

Samhain Publishing is Closing

samhain-logo1…and I’m not the least bit bitter. In fact, while I appreciate the sympathy, if you really want to show some support, buy my books. ūüėČ

If you haven’t heard the news by now, then you’re probably living in a cave. It’s true and hundreds of authors are spreading the news across social media. But the good news is that everyone is handling it just like they should. With professionalism. I’m honored to be associated with such an amazing group of authors.

Samhain has been a really great company. I made more money from them than I have before and I’m only talking one book. They gave me a chance that really blasted my confidence into the stratosphere, past the moon, and well into Pluto’s orbit. I have much to be grateful for, in fact. I’m especially grateful for how Crissy Brashear handled it. With class. Samhain was without a doubt one of the best publishers in the business. Their professionalism has always spoke volumes to me, which is more than I can say for those who prefer to handle their disappointment with vengeance and anger. This will not go down in flames like Triskellion or become an Ellora’s Cave where it’s better to string your authors along into the depth of your madness. Samhain has promised to do it gracefully and has asked us for our patience as they “wind things down.” Given what they had given me during my tenure with them, that’s the least I can do.

If authors are really worried about what happens next, they might want to do like a bunch of authors have been doing for a while. Form a publishing coalition (I’m game!) with other authors and start your own company where you can create your books, republish your abandoned books, and cross-promote the hell out of each other. After all, readers don’t really care who you publish with. They just want a good read.

Two Submission in Less Than a Week

Yes, I’m very proud of myself. ūüôā Both The Underground Portal (Portal book #2) and Strained (Alexa York book #3) have been sitting on my back burner for a little while, but not because I ran out of steam. It’s been a whirlwind for me and my family over the past two months.

It all started in March when it was time to start looking for a new job in Charlotte, NC. I had found one and accepted their offer. Not only that, but we were in the middle of moving to a safer neighborhood, too. Low and behold, another job opportunity came knocking. I didn’t think much of it because I thought the interview went “okay”. Well, it went better than that. They had given me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

So, I packed up my family for Greenville, South Carolina. Woohoooooooooooo! ūüėÄ

Of course, I had traded the stories in my head for To Do lists. We had to move twice in less than six weeks. For the Greenville leg, I had two weeks to find us a place to live (taking into account good schools and safe neighborhood), find movers (Moving Help by Uhaul saved our lives), pack (I love my mom), and still put in the last five days at the old job.

Like moving to any new city, you need time to settle in. We’ve been doing that for a 1.5+ months and it’s been okay, so far. Slowly, I’ve worked writing back into my schedule while at the same time, doing some experimental promoting with The Light at the End of Judgment and Day and Stricken.

And through all of that, somehow, I managed to get those two manuscripts off to my amazing publishers, Mocha Memoirs Press and Purple Sword Publications. Whew!

Hello, Greenville, SC! :mrgreen:

Women In Horror Month with Mocha Memoirs Press

WomenInHorror_2015_AMocha Memoirs Press is celebrating Women in Horror month and I couldn’t be prouder than to be a part of that. To celebrate, they’re posting Teasing Terrifying Tuesday blog posts and Frightening Friday blog posts every Tuesday and Friday this month. Check out the amazing authors scheduled below and be sure to tune in.

Teasing Terrifying Tuesday
02/03- Alexandra Christian
02/10-Rie Sheridan Rose
02/17-Sumiko Saulson
02/24-Carrie Martin

Frightening Friday

02/06-Selah Janel
02/13-Amy Braun
02/20-Marcia Colette <–That’s me! ūüôā
02/27-TBD
Please feel free to retweet @mochamemoirs.

Happy Birthday, Mocha Memoirs Press!

HB balloonsI had no idea Mocha Memoirs had been in the business for four years. For most ebook companies today, they’re lucky enough if they survive their first year. Kudos to MMP!

So what does this mean for readers? Some really good stuff. Like discounted books and the chance to win a gift bag filled with MMP books and other goodies. Make sure you check out their website today!

Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my. Where are we headed?

I survived StellarCon and had a blast.¬† OMG–I am so going back next year, as long as they’ll have me.¬† And as long as I’m on the topic, MystiCon was fun, too.¬† It was smaller than StellarCon, but definitely had some very cool programming.¬† I loved all of my panels from both conventions.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for¬†the¬†Traditional pub, e-pub, indie-pub, oh my.¬† Where are we headed?¬† panel.¬† But since I couldn’t, I thought I’d bring my views here to my blog.¬† And keep in mind,¬†the majority of us were readers before we were writers.¬† So, this is a topic that pertains to both.¬†

First, I believe the more technologically savvy readers are, the more likely they’ll be the ones to decide who will rise in the publishing world.¬† If you don’t believe me, think about cells phones.¬† Once the technology improved and the prices lessened to where everyone could afford one, they took off.¬† Some seemed to be more connected to their fancy phones these days than the one that’s plugged into the wall at home.¬† It’s only a matter of time before ereaders do the same.¬†¬†And even though there are¬† many readers who love the tactile feel of the paper between their fingers, are they really interested in paper or the actual story?¬† Sorry guys, but I buy a book for the story.¬†

So where does that leave readers who¬†cling to¬†the paper?¬† Right where they are now.¬† They’ll still be able to hold a book¬†in their hands (though their choices will lessen) and here’s why I say that.

Contrary to some beliefs, print-first/traditional publishing won’t die a horrible death.¬† They will only keep those authors who they know will sell out of their advance.¬† After all, they’re in this for the money and they’re losing it with every author who hasn’t proven themselves as bestsellers.¬† That means publishers take less chances than they are now and offer fewer advance dollars.¬† Again, they’re not going out of business.¬† Just decreasing their print runs–no thanks to the Borders demise–and their offerings.¬†¬†

This is assuming those publishers embrace ebooks the right way (lesser prices) and they pay their authors a %40 royalty rate.¬† The more traditional publishers concentrate on ebooks, the more there’s a chance they’ll see their bottom line strengthen.¬† Ebooks will give them the revenue they need to keep authors in print and their lights on.¬† After all, ebooks have increased 135% in sales¬†this past year¬†and it keeps getting better.¬† Mass market, hardcover, trade paper, etc.¬† They’ve all gone down.¬† Granted ebooks are still a small part of the market shares, I have a feeling it won’t be like that for much longer.¬† Not when people care about their bottom line as much as the publishers do about theirs.¬† ūüėČ

Epubs¬†who got it right from the get-go or have taken time to earn their reputation, will¬†be around for a LONG time.¬† In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they become major players in the publishing world.¬† They’ve been at this game for a while and know the ins and outs.¬† Even better, they adapt way faster than a traditional pub can.¬† When I first came onboard with Samhain, it seemed Chrissy Bashear¬†was¬†working¬†left and right to get our books available in every format and outlet¬†possible.¬† Her willingness to seek out new opportunities has yet to slow down.¬† It took how long for NY to catch on?¬† Epubs have been at this business for years, so they know how to sell an ebook.¬†

As for indie pubs, I have no doubts they’ll survive simply because it’s our world to do whatever we want.¬† We take our work to the readers and don’t look back.¬† There isn’t an editorial review board or¬†a¬†marketing board to go through.¬† No senior editor or an agent involved.¬† It’s all about the writer having direct access to their readers.¬† I think it’ll only get bigger, with traditional and e-pub writers getting into the mix.¬† Indie authors are already forming groups to cross-promote their books and make sure they reach as wide an audience as possible.¬† If anything, this will become the largest field with the most choices available.¬† Now will they be good choices?¬† I can’t say.¬† It’ll depend who decides to go the extra miles of hiring competent editors, cover artists, and getting honest/constructive feedback.¬† It’s a reader’s oyster as much as it is the writer’s.¬†

Personally speaking, I still haven’t taken my eye off NY because they have the massive distribution channels that indie pubs don’t.¬† I see them as the ultimate marketing tool for my indie-published books.¬†¬† When I’ll dip my toes in those waters again, I have no idea and it’s not really my focus right now.¬†¬†I’m concentrating on building Dusk Till Dawn Books.¬†

Agree or disagree?¬† I’d love to know everyone else’s thoughts.

Publishing Blocks

There’s been so much talk in the news these days regarding¬†Dorchester going epub¬†and Amazon upping their payouts to self-pubbed authors¬†who publish their books in Kindle.¬† In the last few days alone, I must have visited a dozen websites with everyone spouting pieces of advice and their predictions for the future.

The only thing I’m certain of is all eyes are on Dorchester right now to see if they’ll sink or swim.¬† From what I understand, they’ve been sinking for a while anyway.¬† Many think this new model of theirs won’t matter.¬† But¬†I see it like a new pair of shoes.¬† You need some time to break them in, but eventually you’ll decide whether they’re worth the pain of squashed tootsies¬†or not.¬† If you loves those shoes enough, you’ll stick with them.¬† Otherwise, they go.¬† If Dorchester cares enough to ride out the blisters and whelps they’ve accrued, they might actually succeed.¬† Only time will tell.¬† And just as a side note, I have no problem with Dorchester or their new model.¬† It’s been working well with places like Samhain and Elloras¬†Cave for a while now.¬† The only difference is Samhain–I don’t write for Elloras Cave, so I don’t know–will actually keep their people abreast of their business affairs.¬† Dorchester might want to make note of that, assuming they have any authors left.¬† Bridges have been burned so bad, that the fires are eating up the hillside.

Publishing has been wavering for a while now.¬† Ever since the economy bellied up, everyone has been hurting.¬†¬†Advances are getting smaller¬†and it’s harder to sell to New York.¬† My friend¬†Edie Ramer¬†shared an article about Steve Coker, the founder of Smashwords that has had me thinking about my own writing career and what I want to do with it.¬† Reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog hasn’t helped either.¬† I can’t help but wonder about the place I’m at in my career right now and what it means with regards to the future of publishing.¬†

Let me be blunt.¬† I’ve been seriously rethinking my NY¬†goal long before the Dorchester upheaval.¬† I’m talking since the beginning of the year while I was on maternity leave.¬† While it’s great to be with the publishing giants, will they be there when I arrive?¬† I bet that has crossed the mines of anyone who just recently received a Dorchester contract in the past month.¬† Don’t get me wrong.¬† I want¬†NY.¬† That’s where the money is and that’s where I’ll be in a better place to live out my dreams of writing full-time.¬† But I’m worried if that dream will come to a horrible end at some point because NY will either be too late to adapt or won’t adapt at all to the ever-changing market.¬†

Now let me be blunt about something else.¬† I like being with my small publishers, too.¬† Not because I’m making millions of dollars or anything.¬† ūüėܬ† Yeah.¬† Right.¬† But at least I know what to expect from them.¬† There isn’t the pressure to make NYT or USA Today’s bestseller lists out of fear that my midlist-self will die a horrible career death.¬† I’m not saying it’s impossible to make those lists.¬† I’m just being realistic.¬†

If Dorchester succeeds, you’ll see more ebooks and POD trade paperbacks by more NY pubs in the coming years.¬†¬†Indie publishing will continue to¬†grow, too.¬† Advances will probably go down while royalties go up.¬† As for agents, I have to wonder if their jobs will become obsolete.¬† After all, you don’t need an agent to submit to an epub, which are on the brink of becoming a major force in their own right.¬† Small presses who have nothing to lose, might win because many of them have been embracing more ebooks, having small print runs that do less damage to their bottom line,¬†and POD for when that print run runs out.

Oh, and as a¬†side note, I wouldn’t mind indie-publishing a book or two, but I my hangup is I don’t want to go at it alone.¬†¬†I’d¬†prefer¬†to do it with a group of authors forming our own publishing “group” where we critique each other’s manuscripts before agreeing to publish them.¬† Also, we agree to put up a certain amount of our own “starter” cash toward promotional expenses for said company until we can afford to peel some money from a reserve.¬† I’m talking ad space in popular places, along with hiring an artist to do all of our book covers and ad designs.¬† We’d have to make sure everyone is getting properly paid for their book(s), but I don’t mind pocketing $7.50 from each of my $10 books while $2.50 goes back to our company.¬†¬†

Okay, so as you can see, I’ve thought about indie-publishing a lot.¬† ūüėܬ† But look at the bright side.¬† We get the editing our books need, we hire a good cover artist to handle all of the artwork for less of the upfront fees that usually kills us all anyway, and we might be able to hire a promo company to handle a chunk of the word-of-mouth.¬† ūüôā

My last thought: all writer’s should know something about the business side of publishing.¬† You’ll need it now more than ever whether you have an agent or not.¬† The face of publishing is changing and you can either ride the wave or it’ll plant your face in the sand.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  Care to share yours?