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.

 

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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. 😉

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.

What Have I Been Up To?

ThePortalGuards_FantasyRomA lot has happened since selling The Light at the End of Judgment and Day (TLEJD) to Mocha Memoirs Press. I’ve already lined up a review tour with Goddess Fish Promotions, who handled the review tour for The Portal Guards. By the way, I can’t recommend them enough. Very professional and they offer one of the most comprehensive list of services I’ve seen in terms of book promotions and tours that fit perfectly with my hectic schedule. I’m also on the lookout for various places to do a guest post or two. 😉

And before I forget, TLEJD’s release date is 3/12/2015, so mark your calendars.

Speaking of my Portal series, the second book, The Underground Portal is complete! I haven’t handed it over to MMP yet because I’m 4,000 words over the limit. I need to perform one more round of edits to see if I can knock some of those words down to something more manageable. But, it’s done and that’s what matters. 🙂 Next stop, a blurb.

I’m working on a couple of things right now, dividing my time between what works and what doesn’t. The Grave at the Edge of False and Prophet is an ongoing project, so no need to worry about me putting that one down just yet. I’m also looking at conventions for this year. A part of me wants to branch out and try new ones while another part of me is asking if it’w worth it. Don’t get me wrong. I like hanging out with readers and writers. But I’m better off spending that money toward promoting what I currently have out and casting a wider net for new readers. So, we’ll see.

Happy reading! 🙂

 

My ConGregate Schedule

congregate alienIf you’re in the Winston Salem, NC area and you’re into Sci-fi and Fantasy, you might want to check out ConGregate. Here’s what my schedule looks like, so stop by. I’d love to see you there. Oh, and I’ll have some swag and some books on hand for signing, too. 🙂

 

 

Project Plans for 2014

I hate long goodbyes, so that’s all I’m going to say about 2013. It wasn’t a bad year. In fact, it was pretty awesome. Of course, if you follow my blog regularly, you probably won’t believe me and I wouldn’t blame you. I’ve done a horrible job at keeping people posted on my happenings. But in case you’re wondering, I’ve been writing like a crazy woman. You’ll understand come June/July 2014. So stay tuned. 😀

One VERY cool thing I have to show for this year is selling my short story The House on the Corner of Brim and Stone to Mocha Memoirs Press for their In the Bloodstream anthology. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about that. It was originally a story meant to be about 80K words, but I could never find the words to finish it. So, I turned it into a short story that left me riveted and excited about continuing my Touched By an Angel meets The Ghost Whisperer series with The Light at the End of Judgement and Day. That’s one project I’ll be working on in 2014.

Also, I sold a second story to Mocha Memoirs Press called Sixth Night: A Fringe Line Novel. It’s a fantasy romance that will be released in 2014. The plan was to turn it into a series, but I wasn’t feeling the “romance” part with the so-called second book. So even though the next book will take place in the Earth world after having passed through the Fringe Line portal, it’ll be more like an urban fantasy with romantic elements. So for now, let’s just call it Fringe Line #2. I’ll come up with a better title later.

I’ll be getting my rights back to Half Breed, my very first book in my Alexa York world. Woohoooooo! I have nothing but great things to say about Double Dragon eBooks, not only because they gave me my first shot, but they were very real from the beginning in terms of setting expectations, being warriors for their writers, and keeping their finger on the pulse of the publishing world. They taught me about the ups and downs of this world and, in a sense, made me want to learn as much as I could about the business of writing. I’ll forever appreciate that. Now what will I do with Half Breed once I get my rights back? We’ll see. 😉 As for Alexa York, I still want to write a third book in her world that will take place after Half Breed and hopefully give readers a two-fer in terms of the release.

Silent Scream (Bittersweet #2) is still on my mind. The difference is that this book will most likely be a Young Adult where Phaedra will be attending college for the first time. It’ll be an interesting world she’ll live in, especially since she’ll need to stay in the Hub-sponsored apartments, if she expects to have her tuition paid for by the unknown.

Keep in mind that none of this is guaranteed because whenever I tell someone about what I’m working on or doing, I tend to lose interest in it. Well, screw that. This is the plan and I’ll muscle through even if it kills me. Although, I reserve the right to always start something totally new. 🙂

Some changes in my writing. One thing I’ll be doing this year is sticking to shorter stories so that I can get through my 2014 Project Plan. That means I’ll be writing anything from 3000 to 60,000-ish words. No more 80,000+ words because it’s too demanding. I find I can get the words out better and faster with less. It also forces me to kick up the pace and keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Will I continue to self-publish or try to sell to publishers? I don’t really know right now. I’ve always liked the idea of being a hybrid author. It’s the best of both worlds in terms of widening my readership. That’s what I want more than anything else right now.

Have a happy and safe 2014, everyone!

Old Stomping Grounds

magic book1 - croppedToday, I did something that I hadn’t done in so long that I forgot how to do it.  I put together submission packages and sent them out.  Yes, I actually queried a publisher again and I’m not done with my submission list yet.

I’m doing what I like to do, which is write.  However, I don’t have any beta readers and I’m not about to pay $50+ to edit a story that’s 13,157 words.  My decision to submit it (and hopefully its sequel) is more of a business decision than anything else. If it’s the right epublisher, they’ll have a larger, more established readership than I have now.  I’m willing to give up a percentage of the $0.35 I’d normally make by self-publishing on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, if it means possibly gaining a larger fan base.  Plus, epubs have the editing and cover art resources that I don’t feel like paying out-of-pocket for.  And no, I’m not a good schmoozer when it comes to rubbing elbows for favors.

Of course, if worse comes to worse, self-publishing is always an option, if things don’t pan out like I hope.  Honestly, I’m not that jaded when it comes to epubs as much as I’m with NY publishers, and that’s because of ridiculous contract clauses make me grind my teeth.  With epubs, there are more freedoms and author input.  Plus, I haven’t had any bad experiences with any of my epubs who started out as epubs.  Yes, I had to italicize that for a reason.  😉

Writers have so many options these days that it’s a great time to be a writer, as Dean Wesley Smith and JA Konrath would say.  In the end, I’m doing what’s best for my business and hoping it pays off.  If it doesn’t, all is not lost.  There is definitely an upside to playing both fields.

So in case you’re wondering what this story is about, it’s a fantasy romance that takes place in an alternate world of witches, elves, and vampires.  Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone decided to shelf this in paranormal romance because of the hero.  I’m fine either way.  I just hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.  Eventually, I’ll share the details, but I’ll wait until I get good news to go with it.  Although, I guess the best news of all is that it’ll be published no matter what.

Yeah, it’s a great time to be a writer.  🙂

No 2011 Recap Here

Everyone is talking about 2011 recaps on the blogosphere.  I’m not because I don’t care to recap 2011.  It’s not that it was a bad year.  In fact, it was better than I expected.  I’ve had tons of fun starting up Dusk Till Dawn Books, watching my little one grow to an astounding two-years old, and seeing my day-job career hit heights I never thought possible.  My gut is telling me that 2012 is going to be an equally amazing year for me, so let’s forge ahead already.

Of course, there are a few things that need to be said about 2012.  🙂

Let’s start with the 2011 tablet/ereader purchases.

If you’re like me, you’ve received either an ereader or a tablet for Christmas.  I’m expecting this to arrive at my local Walmart any day now.  🙂  Since my hot water heater shafted my plans to get a Nook Tablet, I started perusing the cheaper tablet line.  I can’t afford–and refuse–to put a lot of money in a something I haven’t had any experience with.  I’m betting I’m not the only one either.  So once we’ve had our experience and have a better idea of what we want, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of ereader and tablet purchases increase.  The more the word gets out, the more confident people will feel about getting one themselves.

As for paper, again, I said back in this post that paper isn’t going anywhere and I stand firm on that.  Paper books will lessen just like the selection of authors to choose from.  Advances are shrinking for unproven authors and those sitting on the mid-list.  Agents and editors will scavage from the ebook successes that have hit lists on Amazon and Barnes and Noble to find their next client.  Of course, that’s going to cost them because those of us who are going indie or self-publishing aren’t stupid.  We know our bargaining power better than ever.

I have a feeling that readers are going to love the numerous choices they have these days.  They don’t care who the publisher is the format the book is published in.  They care about the story.

What kinds of stories readers wanting in 2012?

Your guess is as good as mine.  I don’t think paranormal is going anywhere anytime soon.  Yes, the market is crowded and a story needs to “stand out”, but standing out is in the eye of the beholder.

I wouldn’t be surprised if horror found a new audience with the whole zombie thing.  I don’t think people are into splatter for the sake of splatter or grossing out for the sake of grossing out.  People are smart and they want smart horror.  No more cars that won’t start, dying cell phone batteries as the killer is after their victim.  Oh, and if the idiot victim trips and falls, she deserves to die.

I think things like women’s fiction and contemporary romances are going to only get better and be in more of a demand.  They say erotica is flat right now, but I don’t foresee it staying that way.  Historicals have been a nice discovery for me this year, as well as YAs.  But, I think the demand for YAs will start to deflate because there is just too much right now.  Teens grow up and want more grown-up books.  Even my love for YA books has dropped off substantially because I want that more grownup read.

My hope is that sci-fi will take off.  I love sci-fi, but it’s hard for me to find stories that match the incredible story lines like Firefly, Star Wars, or ET.  I’m a huge Stargate fan, though not with Stargate Universe.  I’d love to find something that grabs me by the throat like Blade Runner or Road Warrior had.  But like I said, I just can’t find it.  One of my favorite movies of all time: Aliens.  I’d give ANYTHING to find something like that on the bookshelf.  So that’s why I say it’s my hope that something will emerge this year that will take readers by storm the same way Stephanie Meyers Twilight did.

What about audio books?

Honestly, I don’t have clue.  I haven’t invested enough time in researching that market yet and not sure I want to at this point.

So who’s going to win the ebook race?  Traditional, epubs, or self-pubs?

It’s easier to tell you who’s not going to win and that will be traditional.  They’re not going to lose either, but they’re late to the race and have a lot of catching up to do.  And, if they don’t do it right, then they will fail.  Epubs are going to be fine because they know what they’re doing and have been for the last 10+ years.  As for indies, we haven’t reached the cusp of our potential.  More mid-list authors are moving toward indie/self-publishing because they’re being dropped by their publishers.  Fans still want their stories, so they’ll answer the call and make more money than they could’ve ever imagined.  They’ll move away from their horrible 6% ( I think that’s what it is) royalty rate once they realize 70% is so much better.

Marcia, what will you be doing this year other than writing?

I’ll be trying to figure out ways of promoting Dusk Till Dawn Books as a whole and not as a book at a time.  That’s how other pubs like Samhain and Loose-Id do it and it’s worked very well for them.  Well…finding good books has, too.  😉

What kinds of hopes do you have for 2012?