Friday, February 26, 2016

Samhain Publishing Shuts Down

Experiments in Terror

The news of Samhain Horror Publishing, in fact Samhain Publishing as a whole shutting down has spread like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook. Those of us who are on the inside, authors in the horror genre, for instance, weren't suprised at all.

My only surprise was that the romance line wasn't doing well.

Samhain Publishing has been around since 2005. I have several friends who have written romance for them for years. Samhain didn't really become known for horror, although they published it, until Don D'Auria came aboard. His presence enticed former Leisure authors and others to submit to Samhain and if this were the nineties, everything would have thrived. It was the perfect plan.

But we're in 2016. That plan didn't work. It had nothing to do with the calibre of authors. Nothing to do with Don's fantastic work. Nothing to do with all of the rest of the great team at Samhain including the President.

It's a weird wacky world we're living in.

It's a wild west.

Publishing and readership is mutating by the minute like an out of control virus.

No one knows what's going to happen or how to adapt.

Grab a surfboard and ride the wave.

It's quite funny when you think about it, how within even my own publishing career, people were bemoaning the handcuffs of the traditional houses. There was and always has been small press, micro press, etc. but somehow, more authors in speculative fiction began to turn to them.

However, most authors took a traditional path to publishing. We wanted to be on best sellers lists, go to publisher parties, do book tours, talk shows, and all of that. Advances could pay the bills for a month or for a couple of years so who didn't want to have that? Writing a book was actually like a real job. You had some freedoms but you also had to tow the line, whatever that meant.

Some authors didn't like the control of publishers and even agents over their careers. As I said, there have always been entrepreneurs and rebels. But now, technology has changed everything in so very many ways, that publishing books the traditional way is becoming archaic; slow, expensive, wasteful, controlling.

Smaller presses give authors and artists more control because there are less chefs in the kitchen.

Self-publishing gives authors and artists complete control over every step of the process. Some authors aren't up to wearing all those hats, they want to just write. And that's fine, too.

Savvy, prolific authors have always published with more than one house. My own career has about a dozen publishing houses, perhaps more. It's a fool's game to be with only one house. Your entire career rises and falls with their ship.

I look back on some of the publishing houses that fell while I was with them, or was one of the last authors published by them.

Darktales Publishing
Neon - Imprint of Orion
Blue Moon - Thunder's Mouth - Vivid Video
Leisure Books
Samhain Horror

There were a couple of anthologies and magazines that died while holding one of my accepted stories as well.

If I wasn't old enough to know how history repeats itself, I would feel cursed. But I don't. This is how it is. This is how it's always been. Businesses come and go.

I suspect most of my horror counterparts have diversified in recent months, if they hadn't before Don was abruptly fired. I have no idea what will happen to authors' carers on the romance side of Samhain because I've never published romance with them. I know a lot of people have long-standing careers and most of the ones I know also publish with other companies. But I suspect many don't. I would say to them, "Fear not! You're an established author with a fan base, just self-publish those suckers and reap the rewards!"

We're in the Wild West. We can control our own careers.

Of course I'm sad Samhain has to shut down like this. I obviously saw the writing on the wall long ago from the inside so have been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My new series, Witch Upon a Star is not with Samhain, in case anyone thought it was. I have four Samhain horror books and they will continue to be for sale indefinitely and after that, I'm not sure, so if you've been wanting to read them, better do it now in case the rights get tied up or something.

I wish the best for the staff and freelancers who relied on Samhain to pay the bills. I hope we all land on our feet.


  1. This was a sad occasion, but you are right. Diversify if possible, and keep writing.

  2. I'd been planning to diversify, but it was great to know Samhain was there and was already a fan. I feel like my security blanket got ripped away.

    But most of all, I'm heartbroken for the wonderful people who worked at Samhain, and hope they find new homes for their talent sooner rather than later.

  3. I'm with two other presses and do self-pub so its not such a blow, but I feel bad for my fellow authors and the great staff at Samhain.
    "Toe the line" is an idiomatic expression meaning either to conform to a rule or standard, or to stand poised at the starting line in a footrace. The most likely origin of the term goes back to the wooden decked ships of the British Royal Navy during the late 17th or early 18th century. Barefooted seamen had to stand at attention for inspection and had to line up on deck along the seams of the wooden planks, hence to "toe the line".