Interview with Heather Osborn, Samhain Editorial Director
Heather Osborn is the current Editorial Director for Samhain. The current romance Samhain publishing schedule is 4 to 6 a week. They don’t anticipate changing this release schedule as more books flooding the market would likely canabalize their existing sales.
They will be launching their Retro Romance line in December. A few of the authors they have signed to the line include: Debra Mullins, some of her older Avon historicals; Patricia Hagan, an 8 book historical saga; and Karen Kaye, Native American historicals. These books will not be modernized but they will be recopyedited with brand new covers.
All the covers from Samhain will have front cover branding by logo in the bottom right hand corner. Samhain Romance, Retro Romance, and Horror will all have their own logos. A new website will be launching to highlight all three “lines”.
Less than 50% of what they publish is erotic romance. One of their better selling print books is “Come Rain or Come Shine” a collection of kisses only sweet romances.
The explosion of digital publishing has allowed them to publish nearly anything. Heather would love to see authors submit traditional regencies.
They plan to launch a new line every year so that in five years, they will have a YA line, a science fiction/fantasy line, a mystery line. However, they don’t want to grow too large, too fast. The next line that they launch will likely be a science fiction/fantasy line in 2012.
The Retro line has escalating royalties. 30% off the third party cover price for the first 5,000 copies 35% and 40% off the cover after 10,000 copies sold. They recognize that the book has been polished before them.
Heather believes that Lorelie James will be their next NYTimes author.
They don’t see raising prices. Their price points are $2.50 to $6.50. They are thinking about lowering prices for the backlist such as reducing the first book in the series to $.99. The free giveaways have been very successful for them. For example, in the beginning of September, they had a free giveaway that lasted two weeks. In the first two weeks, they had 100,000 downloads. In the following two weeks, they had 30,000 sales of the same book.
They prefer to feature authors in the free giveaways who have an extensive backlist and are still publishing with Samhain. They also try to avoid giving multiple promotions for one author. They do 36 giveaways a year at the free price point.
They have seen a huge rise in the popularity of straight contemporary romances set in a small town.
Heather is looking for paranormal romance, steampunk, and contemporary romance with no babies.
Nook is surging, trending in growth in the same pace that Amazon did. Amazon is two years ahead of the nook. Nook is about a third of the Amazon sales and Kobo is about a quarter of what nook does. Apple is growing but very slowly.
They will continue to provide as many formats as the readers demand. They tried to stop offering the RocketBook format but received many emails objecting to this.
They are focused on third party sales. It was a big commitment to be a retailer and Samhain’s strength is in publishing, not retailing. They don’t care where the reader buys the book. The new site will have links to outside sales vendors so that the reader can either buy the book direct from Samhain or follow a link to their favorite etailer.
The cover art is much more important because that is the first interaction with the title. At least to get the reader to click on it and read the blurb. The blurb is designed to hook the reader. They are seeking out new cover looks and try to match the cover to the content.
Netflix is a no:
I asked whether they would ever be interested in offering a subscription access or Pandora like access to their books. They don’t think that a subscription like the Netflix model is fiscally responsible.