Posted On June 22, 2011 by Print This Post

Samhain Publishing Takes Center Stage

It may seem that authors have a choice of “either/or” when submitting their books: either you submit to a print publisher or an e-pub. Samhain Publishing‘s Managing Editor Lindsey Faber explains why they offer both options, and what that means to an author.

With the sudden explosion of ebooks, everyone wants to be in the digital game and numerous publishers are working out how to carry their print success into the digital market. But Samhain Publishing, as a digital-first publisher, has always put digital, well, first.

The great thing about ebooks is they’re cheaper to produce, so you have less upfront investment, and faster to produce, so you can respond to trends faster. Plus the process of getting books into brick-and-mortar stores—working through sales teams, distributors, printers, and booksellers—can be painfully slow, so we can get the digital book out the door and making money all while gearing up for the book’s print release.

Print and digital can be very different—different models, different distribution, different trends, different audiences—but when it comes to marketing, we’re still facing the same question: How do we reach readers?

For Samhain, some of the answers are pretty basic, and apply equally to digital and print.

Distribution

It may sound odd to consider this a marketing strategy, but readers don’t buy books they can’t find. Getting our book into every possible venue, available in every possible format ensures that readers stumble across our books no matter where they like to shop or how they like to read.

Our digital books are available in the most popular venues such Amazon Kindle and BN.com, independent venues including Fictionwise and All Romance eBooks, and numerous smaller online retailers that we reach through our digital distributor, Ingram CoreSource. Plus, our digital titles are available in all formats, DRM-free, to customers from any country in our store: http://store.samhainpublishing.com.

Our print books are distributed through Ingram Publisher Services and found in Barnes & Noble, Borders, and independent stores. Everyone’s all agog over the Kindle audience because it commands such a huge market share, but to us, no venue is too small—each sale means reaching a new reader and customer.

Branding

Digital readers are brand-conscious—the fly-by-night nature of some digital publishers made them a wary audience, so they developed loyalty to those publishers they could trust for a quality, consistent product, including Samhain. We continue to build on that brand in all our marketing efforts. Marketing Samhain benefits all our authors, because it makes readers more willing to take a chance on a Samhain book. This has carried over to our print program—the early success of authors such as Maya Banks and Lorelei James made booksellers more willing to try other Samhain authors.

Free Books

Everyone likes to get something for nothing, and readers can be cautious about putting their money toward unknown authors. Samhain has had huge success with our ebook freebie program, which allows free, limited-time downloads of our books on Kindle and Nook. It gives readers a chance to discover new authors risk-free, and consistent spurs new sales for our authors. But free books aren’t an exclusively digital strategy either. We often give away print books at conferences and as part of promotions. We’ll be giving away 1500 books at our Publisher Signing at RWA next week.

Of course, there are a million different ways of marketing print and digital books, and Samhain’s approach is multifaceted. Rather than make this blog any longer than it already is, I’ll let you ask me what you want to know. I’ll be happy to take questions on any topic—print vs. ebooks, marketing, Samhain, or anything else.

Thanks for the opportunity to visit!

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Do you read a combination of ebooks and traditional books, or are you strongly in favor of one over the other?

On Friday, June 24, Star Publishing editor Theresa Stevens returns with her monthly column on writing craft.

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Bio:


A lifetime love of reading and a master’s in literature taught Lindsey Faber that she enjoys nothing more than reading great books—and then analyzing the heck out of them. Now she puts these skills to use as Managing Editor for Samhain Publishing, helping talented authors achieve their vision and make their books even better. She’s thrilled to be a part of Samhain, where she’s able to combine her love of great stories with her passion for technology.

Lindsey resides in Cincinnati, but her laptop and a love of travel keep her on the go: to quiet corners of coffeehouses, industry conferences and—when she really needs to get away—Paris, France.

You can follow Lindsey on Twitter.

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17 Responses to “Samhain Publishing Takes Center Stage”

  1. Hi Lindsey,

    Welcome to RU! Thanks for the peek into Samhain’s process.

    I’ve noticed some publishers giving away (or reducing the price dramatically) Book 1 of a series to help boost interest in soon-to-be-released Book 2. This happened to a friend of mine and she became a NYT bestselling author under the e-category. Even though she’s a bestseller, she’s still conflicted by the thought of giving away her book or selling it for 99 cents.

    Have you come across this with your authors?

    Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | June 22, 2011, 4:40 am
    • Thanks so much for having me here, everyone. It’s always a thrill to be able to talk about my favorite subjects – Samhain and digital.

      Tracey, ebook pricing is definitely a controversial issues for authors and even for publishers. We’ve seen the amazing results of offering free or deeply discounted books, but I’m not sure anyone in the industry is ready to commit to $.99 or $2.99 as the standard price for ebooks. These special prices are a great tool for getting attention to an author or spurring sales to a series in the short-term, but making it work long-term is trickier. And if *every* book has this pricing, there won’t be any way to use pricing to help authors stand out.

      Plus, lower prices can mean lower earnings for authors and publishers. That’s not greed – we all have to make a living, and authors who aren’t making enough to live on may look to other jobs instead of writing. I think the key to this pricing issue will be finding a price point that’s affordable and attractive to readers, but profitable and worthwhile for publishers and authors.

      Thanks for a great question!

      Posted by Lindsey Faber | June 22, 2011, 8:41 am
  2. Hi, Lindsey!

    I was at a writers meting a couple weeks ago where a rumor was circulating that Samhain is moving away from an emphasis on erotic titles. I wasn’t sure if this was true or not, but given the growth of ebooks, it makes sense that readers would be influencing new trends as they shift toward buying a greater variety of ebooks. Are erotic titles still the hottest-selling genre at Samhain, or are there other genres that are catching up?

    Thanks!
    Jamie

    Posted by Jamie | June 22, 2011, 5:40 am
    • Hey Jamie, Thanks for stopping by.

      That rumor has reached me, too. The thing is, Samhain has always published books with a range of heat levels – less than 50% of our offerings have been erotic, and this continues to be true. So I don’t think we’re less or more focused on erotic – we continue to look for great romance stories of all kinds.

      But I think the distinction is that the digital audience used to be more erotic-focused and our erotic authors tended to have better sales and grow their careers more quickly (though there have always been exceptions). Now devices like the Kindle, Nook, and iPad are making ebooks more mainstream, and there are a lot more readers who prefer non-erotic titles. So we’re seeing a lot of growth in our mainstream sexy titles, and more non-erotic authors taking off. Some of our highest selling books overall are not erotic.

      Basically, the growth in digital offers new readers and new opportunities for all genres and heat levels, so we’ll still be publishing great romances of all kinds. To us, it’s alway all about the story.

      Posted by Lindsey Faber | June 22, 2011, 9:01 am
  3. Morning Lindsey!!

    Great to have you here! I think it’s great you do both print and ebook, I’m certainly not ready to give up my print books yet. =) Have sales picked up in that area? Have you noticed any difference in sales of ebooks since you offer print as well?

    Thanks for posting with us today!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | June 22, 2011, 6:53 am
    • Hey Carrie, Great question.

      The industry is changing very rapidly. For years, event hough we’ve always been focused on digital publishing, the majority of our profits came from print sales. That’s finally flipped – now digital far outpaces print.

      Some of our bigger-name authors continue to see print growth, but with so many bookstores facing financial problems, it’s harder to get them to take a chance on new authors than it used to be.

      So there’s definitely a big move toward digital, but I don’t think print will disappear. The print model will just evolve as well, relying more on print-on-demand and online orders.

      Posted by Lindsey Faber | June 22, 2011, 9:18 am
  4. Hi Lindsey,

    My book was bought by an e-publisher. It has been a positive experience. Do you find, since the popularity and competition of e-readers, more submissions?

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | June 22, 2011, 7:22 am
    • Hey Mary Jo, Always glad to meet a fellow e-pubber. :)

      We’ve definitely been inundated with submissions lately. I think the growing popularity of ereaders and the way word is spreading about how much money there is to be made in digital – and the appeal of monthly payments – definitely has more authors considering it as an option. Our agented submissions are way up, too.

      Posted by Lindsey Faber | June 22, 2011, 9:21 am
  5. I don’t have a question, Lindsey, just a thank you to Samhain and to you for introducing me to an author who has become one of my favorite contemporary authors ever–Meg Benjamin.

    Posted by Janga | June 22, 2011, 7:28 am
  6. Hi Lindsey – Thanks so much for explaining how things work at Samhain! I’m so sorry I missed the Samhain presentation at my RWA chapter meeting last month – I was out of town. :-(

    I really like the new look of your book covers!

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | June 22, 2011, 8:22 am
  7. I hear Samhain is going to publish a line of horror stories. Will you be looking for mystery and thrillers, too?

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | June 22, 2011, 8:24 am
    • Thanks so much for inviting me to be here, Becke. I’m really enjoying it! And thanks for your kind words on our covers. We have a really fantastic art department, so I’m constantly amazed by their output.

      We are now acquiring for our new horror line, which will launch this fall. We’ve always had ambitions of becoming a general publisher, but we found early on that the digital audience for genres besides romance just wasn’t there. The Kindle, Nook and iPad have really changed that, so we’re looking forward to branching out to other genres, but we want to be sure we do so responsibly, knowing how to acquire the right books and reach out to new audiences. So we’re hoping to launch a new line every year or so, and mystery/thriller is definitely on the horizon.

      Posted by Lindsey Faber | June 22, 2011, 9:29 am
  8. Hi, Lindsey. Thanks for hanging out with us today. Would you please tell us a bit more about your print program? Do all of your titles go to print or only some of them?

    A couple of my pals are published by Samhain and they’ve said wonderful things about the company.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | June 22, 2011, 11:11 am
    • Hey Adrienne, I’m always glad to hear that our authors are happy, so thanks.

      All of titles go to print so long as they are 50k words or more. There’s no sales requirement or anything – we’ve found that digital sales and print sales don’t necessarily correlate, and as I said in the blog, it’s important that our books reach as many readers as possible. Shorter works often go to print in collections or anthologies.

      We distribute through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, so our print books are readily available in stores like Borders, B&N, independent stores, and libraries. Not every book will be in every store, of course, but our sales reps try to arrange to have authors’ local stores carry their titles, and books can be easily ordered for booksignings.

      Posted by Lindsey Faber | June 22, 2011, 2:52 pm
  9. Lindsey – Thanks so much for visiting with us today and answering our questions about Samhain. I hope we can do this again sometime!

    Posted by BeckeMartinDavis | June 22, 2011, 6:48 pm

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