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.
Thanks for the info.
I usually buy my Samhain titles at other bookstores such as ARe and Kobo. I tend to forget I can buy directly at their site. (I guess that’s a holdover from when they sent you to the other site to buy and I always had trouble logging in.)
Samhain is one of my overall favorites, as far as the number of authors they have that I enjoy, their price points, and books I’m unfamiliar with that prompt me to take a second look (by which I mean, Samhain books generally have lovely covers – if I’m browsing, rather than searching using a list I’ve put together after reading reviews, covers have a LOT to do with how I intially perceive a book). Plus, I love that new releases are discounted when you buy through the Samhain site. Otherwise, I’m like Library Addict, I buy through ARe. The only thing I haven’t liked about Samhain is that I’ve noticed that their newer releases, or at least the ones I’ve gotten, have really tiny font, which forces me to go all the way up to the maximum font size on my Nook just so I can stand a chance at reading them comfortably.
The font size is stupid tiny lately, I agree.
Also, the editing seems to have gone downhill. LJ’s Chasin’ Eight needed both better content editing and copyediting. Has something changed, or are the editors afraid to cut stuff from a star author’s book?
@Ridley I noticed the same. It might be the pace with which they’re turning around books for publication. The Samhain brand has become a trusted one for me and part of it is knowing that if I get sucked in by a cover and cute “warning” I’ll get a quality read.
Launching a SF and F line sounds great. Fascinating interview … esp wanting traditional regencies (I’m a huge fan of Joan Smith’s).
Thanks so much for the great interview. I’ve been really enjoying these insightful interviews with the publishers. Keep them coming, please.
I have always loved the covers of Samhain publishing.. they are always very appealing to the eyes. Thank you for the interview
>>>The font size is stupid tiny lately, I agree.
Is that what it is?? I thought I was just hitting that age :). But then how does that explain the fact I have to take my glasses off to crochet, too… *laugh*
I’d like to cruise the website but, honestly, I find Samhain to be extremely awkward to navigate. I don’t care about their blogs and that’s the first thing I’m forced to deal with. To get to new releases for LGBT, I have to guess and click and guess and click because the genre isn’t readily available. I know if a book has a girl on the front that it isn’t m/m but other than that, it’s a lot of clicking.
Or, if I go to the LGBT section (after clicking multiple menus to get away from the bloody blogs), I have to guess which ones are actually released versus which ones are coming soon because the release dates aren’t readily available.
I just find the redesign completely awkward and I’m beyond annoyed at the blog as the greeting rather than the books.
Thus, if I buy a book from Samhain, I’m certainly not buying from there. To be honest, I don’t even look at their website any longer when I used to look at it on Tuesday right around midnight to see which new books had come out. If I buy a Samhain book, I’m buying it from elsewhere and unaware it was from Samhain until I see the logo as I was reading.
I buy lots of Samhain books because they are so reasonably priced and usually quite good. I’ve found some great authors through their free promotions. For example, this month they are giving away Lauren Dane’s first Chase brothers book and I discovered Meg Benjamin through a free book a year or two ago. They are one publisher that seems to really get the whole digital thing and I appreciate that and want to give them my business (unlike the Agency publishers whom I avoid like the plague).
@JenM: Possibly a silly question, if I’ve just repeatedly overlooked it somehow: Where on their site do they say what’s free this month? I had heard they offered free books but had assumed that that went away, because I could never figure out where they were, and now I’m seeing it mentioned here. So, they must be somewhere – is it just something you stumble upon?
Whatever happened to Samhain’s acquisition of Linden Bay Romance? There was a bit of fanfare, some plans for expansion, then nothing. Any news on that front?