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Samhain to Refocus on Romance

Samhain announced a week or so ago that it was closed for submissions. When it re-opens, it will be accepting only romance oriented submissions. I would dearly love to see more urban fantasy romance. The full text of the new announcement follows:

***

When we re-open for submissions, we will be refocusing the company's efforts. To that end, we will re-open to focus only on Romance and all the various subgenres such as romance/erotic romance/erotica as well as the following with romantic elements: fantasy/urban fantasy/science fiction/paranormal/etc…

We have learned a lot in the past year, as well as our two years of operation, and one of the things we've come to realize is that we don't have the resources to do it all, as much as we'd like to. We've discovered that most of the mainstream, non-romance genres don't do as well with us, and we've decided to refocus our efforts on romance. We're still a fairly new company, still discovering who we are, so to speak. We've realized that it's unfair to the authors to continue to contract non-romance genres when the sales aren't there for you at this time.

This is not forever. Once we are more firmly established in the Romance market and have grown it to a certain point, Samhain will begin create additional "lines" for one new genre at a time, after we've done our due diligence and know how to market and expand effectively.

To be clear, we will honor any contracts currently in place for non-romance books or books without romantic elements, though we will understand if any author wishes to be released from their contract and given the chance to take their books/series to another company. However, if you choose to stay with us, please know that we will continue to put our best effort and energy into your book as we would any other book. Again, I know this is going to be a shock to some of you, and we apologize for that. We hope you will all realize this decision was not made lightly or without regret. If you have any concerns or questions about how this will affect you, please let us know.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

37 Comments

  1. TeddyPig
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 12:43:04

    Dang, they are so honest it hurts.
    Love You Samhain!

    ReplyReply

  2. Lorelie
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 12:48:13

    TeddyPig pretty much said what I was going to. That is a refreshingly honest note to hear in epublishing.

    ReplyReply

  3. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 12:50:13

    Name me three who finds it refreshing.

    ReplyReply

  4. ilona andrews
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 13:13:51

    Samhain Romance FTW!

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  5. Karen Scott
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 13:17:33

    Funnily enough, I contemplated doing a speculative post on whether or not Samhain sell anything other than their romance-based books. I’m also willing to bet that their erotic romance books sell better than any other sub-genre, if their top ten sellers are anything to go by.

    It’s been said before, but erotic romance seems to be where it’s at as far as e-books are concerned.

    Dang, they are so honest it hurts.

    Oh Teddy, your bias is showing. :)

    Name me three who finds it refreshing.

    That really amused me for some reason.

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  6. Nonny
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 13:19:35

    I wonder if this affects current anthologies that don’t specify romance as a genre? (Like the psychic powers antho.) Hmm.

    Otherwise, it makes a lot of sense. I bet romance is where they bring in most of their revenue.

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  7. TeddyPig
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 13:36:42

    bias? Oh hell yes, I like a class act.

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  8. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 13:37:35

    LOL! Karen-It didn’t come out right, for sure. *G*

    As the news was going to be public anyway, it’s good they said so up-front. No need for the chaos of speculation when a simple PR announcement can do the job. (I think we’ve had enough chaos this year in epubbing *G*)

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  9. Angela James
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 13:48:01

    I would dearly love to see more urban fantasy romance.

    Me too! We don’t see too many urban fantasies, but we’re starting to see more. In fact, Crissy said to me last week, “you sure do love urban fantasy!” (because I wanted to be sure it was included in what we were still accepting, lol, and was prepared to argue long and hard for it) Actually, a good majority of our editors have great love for fantasy/urban fantasy genres. That’s why I was so excited to get two that I loved for the cat shifter anthology. We need more urban fantasy, more futuristic and more interracial! Genres people ask for but we don’t get enough submissions in.

    On one hand, I was disappointed when we talked about this change, though I agreed with it, because I love the variety of submissions we were getting and I loved that we were open to pretty much everything.

    On the other hand, it’s very difficult to have our energy/resources spread among so wide an array of genres, especially because we get a large number of submissions in genres that don’t sell well, so we’re spending a lot of time there, with little return. It doesn’t make sense, in many ways. So we decided to close submissions, make this announcement, regroup and refine our mission and our plans for when we reopened to submissions. We knew people would be disappointed, but in the end hope they’ll realize we’re trying to do what’s best for the health and growth of the company and majority of authors.

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  10. Ciar Cullen
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 14:30:41

    Hey, I just blogged about wondering what I’d try my hand at next. Guess I won’t venture out of romance right now ;o)

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  11. Jennifer McKenzie
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 15:25:35

    Samhain has shown, once again, that being proactive in this business is how to survive.
    Rather than wait until the finacial responsibility puts huge pressure on the company, they adjust to fit the market.
    It shows a business that can thrive in a volatile market.

    ReplyReply

  12. clara bow
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 16:49:12

    I am so glad to hear *somebody* is open to futuristics (well, from unpubbed writers, anyway). This post makes me want to chuck my agent search and submit my science fiction romance and fantasy romance to Samhain right now. I almost can’t believe the company doesn’t get many of those submissions (as well as the others you mentioned). Wow.

    At any rate, good luck with your new direction!

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  13. Sheryl
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 16:51:00

    I totally *heart* Samhain for stepping up and saying this. It’s better that they do it now than spread themselves too thin like some publishers and try to publish *everything* and end up with nothing in the end.

    I’m not sure if what I write counts as romance, but darn it… I’d be thrilled to be picked up by Samhain – they’re exactly what a decent publishing company should be!

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  14. Bev Stephans
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 16:59:14

    Right from their inception, I thought that Samhain was a class act. This just verifies my opinions.

    Interestingly enough, I purchased one of their mainstream e-books and I hated it! I’m not going to specify the book because I don’t want to embarass anyone but in my opinion it was a stinker! I did not post a review for that very reason.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what the future will bring. I like most romance, especially western and shape shifters. As far as I’m concerned, vampires are passe! Get out the wooden stakes and crosses and shove them into the sunlight. LOL

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  15. Angela James
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 17:07:43

    I had a question and I wanted to make a clarification:

    Nonny asked above about books that aren’t romances but have a romance in the series. That is fine with us because we’d consider that romance or with romantic elements.

    That goes in line with my clarification, we’re not doing just romances, but also some genres with romantic elements (fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy) and books that would be considered to have romantic elements with a satisfying conclusion to a trilogy or ongoing romance in a series (satisfying = not tragic for our purposes)

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  16. Charlene Teglia
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 19:33:29

    Go Samhain. I’m very glad to see this refocusing! Especially since I lorve to write urban fantasy and futuristics. *g*

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  17. Emma Petersen
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 20:14:11

    Can anyone tell me what urban fantasy is? When I first heard of it, I thought of authors like Jim Butcher and Rachel Caine but now I see a lot of books being labeled as urban fantasy.

    And as for the interracials, I’m really surprised Samhain isnt getting very many of them.

    Either I’ll be waiting for subs to reopen, I seem to keep missing you guys. Who knows. Maybe by the time they reopen my werewolf series will finally be done.

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  18. Patrice Michelle
    Dec 27, 2007 @ 20:36:03

    Urban fantasy is morphing and changing, it seems.

    Some books are straight Urban Fantasy, like Jim Butcher’s books.

    Then there are books that are either Urban Fantasy with romantic elements or Paranormal Romance. The way I differentiate the two types is…if the focus in the novel is on other elements in the storyline more than the romance, then it’s UF. For instance, Patricia Briggs’ “Mercy” series is UF with romantic elements whereas Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changling series would be considered Paranormal Romance.

    It sounds like what Samhain is looking for are both types of stories, but romance needs to be in there somewhere, even if it’s not the center focus of the book.

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  19. Mrs Giggles
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 04:50:05

    Or, if we want to be really cynical, “urban fantasy” is what you get when you base your style and storyline template after those of JR Ward, Christine Feehan, or Sherrilyn Kenyon. Don’t forget to draw out the series for as long as you can!

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  20. Angela James
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 08:35:18

    Or, if we want to be really cynical, “urban fantasy” is what you get when you base your style and storyline template after those of JR Ward, Christine Feehan, or Sherrilyn Kenyon. Don't forget to draw out the series for as long as you can!

    Oh, I wouldn’t agree with that at all. For one thing, I think LKH had one of the original urban fantasy series (though I would agree the series has been drawn out far too long at this point). But also, there have been some really talented urban fantasy authors like Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews and Lilith Saintcrow who I think can write circles around those authors (now I’m waiting for indignant fangirls of aforementioned authors to come and strike me down with lightning and caustic words), and whose style and storyline have nothing in common with theirs.

    When I think urban fantasy, I most definitely don’t think Feehan, Kenyon and Ward. Do you really think of them as urban fantasy, Mrs. G?

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  21. Nora Roberts
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 09:28:46

    Very classy. I expect no less from my MD BFF.

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  22. Jane
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 09:55:11

    I think one of the seminal urban fantasy works is Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks. But, yes, I think UF was made popular by Laurell K Hamilton. Sookie Stackhouse series is a derivative of UF but UF necessarily implies, by label, that it take place in an urban setting. Many times I think urban is conflated with contemporary.

    Anything that seemlessly blends (or attempts to blend) an urban real world setting with mystical aspects seems to fall under UF for me. To some extent, I suppose Mrs G is right is categorizing Feehan, Kenyon, Ward, et al under the UF umbrella although I have always seen the focus of UF on the world building and the conflicts are driven largely by external forces rather than internal emotional ones.

    I think that those authors who write UF with romantic elements do a much better job of blending the elements than writers of romance with UF elements. Some of my favorite UF authors right now include Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews.

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  23. Mrs Giggles
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 09:56:33

    Labels, to me, are convenient but not really useful. Angela, I honestly don’t know what exactly is the actual definition of urban fantasy anymore because the term has been used so loosely, I only have an inkling that it is set in an urban setting.

    If Samhain wants to publish some kind of urban fantasy that is closer to the likes of the authors you’ve mentioned, that’s really great. But I suspect that for most people out there, “urban fantasy” is synonymous with “sassy tough heroine + vampire/werewolf mysterious enemy-turned soulmate + (if vampire boyfriend) magical soulmate telepathic bond sex/(if werewolf) pheromone-driven sex working in sync with the phase of the moon + magic sex to elevate super powers + lots of angst on the boyfriend’s part”.

    But like I said, I’m cynical, probably too much so to imagine that it’s all about the story, heh.

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  24. Patrice Michelle
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 10:14:58

    Angie, I think the other authors you mentioned have great world building and could be considered urban fantasy, but since the focus of their stories are on the romance, with a definite HEA at the end, that’s how I place them in the paranormal romance category in my mind.

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  25. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 10:38:06

    I think one of the seminal urban fantasy works is Emma Bull's War for the Oaks.

    You are so completely right. War for the Oaks is one of the best UF stories every written. Jane, have you read the Diana Tregarde books by Mercedes Lackey? That was another well done UF, IMO.

    As to the Ward/Feehan/Kenyon, eh, I’m not so sure I could call them UF, either. UF generally isn’t about romance. Now I love when somebody can blend them well, but it doesn’t happen that often.

    Ward/Feehan/Kenyon all strike me as paranormal romance.

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  26. Charlene Teglia
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 10:58:26

    I’d call Ward/Feehan/Kenyon paranormal romance. But now the lines between paranormal romance and urban fantasy are blurring. To me the big difference is still whether the romance is the center of the plot or not. (Or at least equal to the action/adventure plot) If I pick up a book labeled romance, I expect it to be at least half about the romance. *g*

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  27. Angela James
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 11:17:02

    Patrice, I’m going to have to disagree with your statement. To the best of my remembrance, there’s no romance at all in Ilona’s book, and I don’t think Lilith’s Dante series can be considered romance or a HEA (I do admit to saying that without reading the final book in the series yet, however), though it has definite romantic elements it’s not driving the books, and that particular series is what I had in mind when I mentioned her (some of her earlier books are definitely romance).

    We could debate on the Patricia Briggs’ books, but again, the focus isn’t on the romance, I don’t believe. It’s not what drives the story. Maybe Jane will weigh in with her thoughts, but to me, that’s like saying Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is romance, except Patricia Briggs doesn’t drag out her “which guy will Mercy choose” storyline (thank God). To further clarify my thoughts, other authors that come to mind for me are Kim Harrison and Keri Arthur. While all have elements of romance in their books, the romance isn’t the focus, nor are the stories driven by the romance.

    I guess I’m not really sure how you can say that those authors I previously mentioned have a focus on romance in their stories or a HEA–and Ilona doesn’t have any romance at all which makes your statement that much more puzzling to me.

    Mrs. Giggles said:

    Labels, to me, are convenient but not really useful. Angela, I honestly don't know what exactly is the actual definition of urban fantasy anymore because the term has been used so loosely, I only have an inkling that it is set in an urban setting.

    But like I said, I'm cynical, probably too much so to imagine that it's all about the story, heh.

    I agree with you about the labels and the urban fantasy definition. It’s obvious from this discussion of just a few of us that it’s not easy to pin down. And, okay, we’ll just agree to agree that you’re cynical. I’m cool with that ;) I do think, though, that while there are plenty of books called urban fantasy that do fit your description, there are also plenty that don’t and it is a shame that it’s become targeted like that in not just your mind, but I’m sure others as well.

    Jane said: Anything that seemlessly blends (or attempts to blend) an urban real world setting with mystical aspects seems to fall under UF for me…although I have always seen the focus of UF on the world building and the conflicts are driven largely by external forces rather than internal emotional ones.

    Me too.

    As an interesting aside, I learned this week that we can argue all we want about definitions, but it doesn’t really matter what we think is urban fantasy or not because, in the coding system for booksellers/bookstores, there’s no such genre. The coding is very limited and urban fantasy doesn’t exist, so it has to be called something else. So that’s why some get shelved in romance and some get shelved in fantasy. It depends on what the publisher codes it in as.

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  28. Patrice Michelle
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 12:03:15

    Patrice, I'm going to have to disagree with your statement. To the best of my remembrance, there's no romance at all in Ilona's book, and I don't think Lilith's Dante series can be considered romance or a HEA

    Sorry for the confusion, Angie. I wasn’t referring to Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews or Lilith’s books. I was referring to Ward, Kenyon and Feehan when I said their books fall in the paranormal romance category in my mind (due to the fact they focus on the romance and have an HEA). I should’ve given their names. Patricia Briggs books, in my mind, fall in the UF with romantic elements category because the focus of her books aren’t on the romance per se. That said, I DO enjoy the romantic elements in her books very much! She blends it well.

    To me, in the end, the labels don’t really matter either. I enjoy both genres equally.

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  29. Angela James
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 12:11:15

    aha! That makes much more sense to me. Thanks for clearing that up!

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  30. DS
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 12:33:33

    My first introduction to UF was the Bordertowns series, shared world anthologies where the worlds of Faery were impinging on the urban mundane world. It was subtitled at one point Where Magic Meets Rock and Roll. Will Shettley was involved and Ellen Kushner and (I think) Charles de Lint. I don’t know if Lackey’s later co-authored Urban Fantasy books were actually spin offs from that series or simply used the same premise. MacAvoy’s Tea with the Black Dragon and Twisting the Rope are usually included under the UF umbrella. Some of Josepha Shermans fantasies also fall into that group. But the emphasis wasn’t really on vampires, werewolves, etc. as on Elves, Magic and traveling between worlds were two theme that were used a lot. Music was very important, folk, rock and roll or fusion.

    When LKH’s first books came out they were generally considered horror “lite” with all the references to dead bodies and necromancy. Dresden’s books fell rather easily into UF. Some of Gaiman’s work and Simon Green seems to have fallen across the horror/UF divide.

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  31. Keishon
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 12:50:27

    LKH wasn’t always considered UF, but then the labels for her books have stretched all away across to be Romantic Fantasy. Go figure on that one. I love Patricia Briggs. She does write circles around LKH. Her fantasy world is pretty solid as is her characterization. Holly Black is another great author in the UF genre for YA. I am sick of vampires and werewolves but those two authors seem to write about such mythical creatures as being apart of the social fabric of reality, having the same strengths and weaknesses of their human counterparts. I don’t know, but I do enjoy and prefer UF novels. I am always looking for a new writer in that genre to squee over.

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  32. Dayna
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 13:37:50

    DS: Thank you for mentioning de Lint (I always do…I love his work) He, in my mind defines the UF genre. As a result, I find it hard to see Vamps and Weres lumped in as UF…they seem so steeped in their own mythos that they need their own genre, whatever it might be.

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  33. Cookie
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 14:29:56

    Name me three who finds it refreshing.

    Talk about sarcastic, huh Sarah?

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  34. Barbara
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 17:27:23

    As to the Ward/Feehan/Kenyon, eh, I'm not so sure I could call them UF, either. UF generally isn't about romance. Now I love when somebody can blend them well, but it doesn't happen that often.

    Ward/Feehan/Kenyon all strike me as paranormal romance.

    Feehan I would say is still paranormal romance but I think Ward and Kenyon are heading towards Urban Fantasy.

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  35. Sarah McCarty
    Dec 28, 2007 @ 17:28:53

    Cookie- I wasn’t being sarcastic. I meant I was the third who found it refreshing.

    *sigh* I miss the old go back and edit feature.

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  36. Jules Jones
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 06:40:14

    Well, I’m glad to see that urban fantasy with romantic elements is still of interest, because I’ve got one in progress right now, and was thinking of Samhain as an obvious place to submit it once it’s done. Nearly had a heart attack when I caught up on Dear Author this morning…

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  37. Cookie
    Jan 01, 2008 @ 14:39:28

    Okay-Sarah Just thought that it came across that way.
    No harm done.

    ReplyReply

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