Saturday, July 28, 2012
SPOTLIGHT ON SAMHAIN - RWA 2012
Q - What are the heat levels of the books at Samhain? Genuinely open to all heat levels - from swinging from the chandeliers to a sweet kiss.
Q - Is there a specific sub-genre you are looking for? We like to maintain diversity on our list. As far as sales go, contemporary does well, but we do have a lot of it, so it can take longer to get released. We don't like to compete our authors against each other. Western contemporary is doing quite well. We have a lot of editors who love sci-fi romance. You don't know what the next big trend is.
Q - What is the submission process? We ask for a query and a full synopsis, attached as a rtf or word doc. We prefer a full mss, but if you'd rather do just a few chapters, that is okay too. We try to respond within 12-16 weeks. After 12 weeks you can ask for a status update if you're concerned. You get an auto response that your email was received.
Q - Last year you were very transparent about sales and how well erotic romance was doing well. Has that balanced back out with non-erotic novels? The answer is crazy complicated. Some books come out and do very well, others struggle. Author name recognition, cover art, cover copy, advance buzz - there are a lot of variables. How much and someone who submits potentially earn? It varies. For writers who have a regular schedule of releases with Samhain, but are not NYT bestsellers. Low selling is under 1000 copies, and tends to be authors with only a book or two with us. Midlist is anything from 1000-10000 copies. High selling range is everything above that. Erotic has the highest possible range because in some ways, that is where digital started and authors have built a career. In 2011, 20% earned 10K or more. 3% earned over 100K.
Q - Should the writer know which editor to target, or should they send to the submissions address and hope for the best. Put that in the query letter, but use the submission address. You never know when editors are closed to submissions.
Q - How do you determine what goes to print? Anything over 50K will go to print
Q - What is the sweet spot with number of releases per year? 2-4 per year. Doesn't have to all be novels. Readers like variety. One of our highest selling authors only has one release a year. There is not a lot a publisher can do to build you if you only give them one book. Your front list sells your backlist, and your backlist is what really makes you money.
Q - Do you do promotional pricing? We do freebies, especially with series. We're always open to trying different things.
Q - What international markets are you in? We can sell to all markets we can get to through distribution. Working hard on translation rights internationally, and building a presence in foreign markets.
Q - Who writes the warning labels? Some authors love to write them, some editors love to write them. When it comes to warnings, content comes first so if there is anything in the book that might be a trigger, that is the most important thing. Being funny comes second.
Q - What do you see as the future of sci-fi romance at Samhain? Would like to see more of it. Sales are lower than paranormal and urban fantasy right now, but you never know what is going to hit next. No current plans as a separate line, but there is room within Samhain Romance. Sci-fi with romantic elements is great too.
Q - Is there a royalty structure different between digital and print? Most publishers offer a lower royalty percentage on print because it has a higher cost to publisher. Our royalty percentage is off list, not net.
Q - When do rights revert back to authors? Ask for lifetime of copyright, but there is a standard 7 year term.
Q - How long does it take from submission to release? At least 8 months. Edits are expected to turn in everything 90 days before release In January this becomes 120 days. Contracts can take a while, so can revisions and edits. Right now we're booking into 2013. Preorders are what is getting books on the NYT lists. The longer the book is for pre-order, the higher it seems to land on the list.
Q - How many writers do you actually have? Around 600 in total 400 US, 150 had a release in 2011
Q - What is the interest in YA? We currently do not publish YA. We want to wait until we can do it right. It is such a popular, competitive market. New adult works for us.
Q - Do you do audio books, how do you decide which to release? Just signed out first audiobook deal - Maya Banks Colters Woman series to Audiogo.
Q - Do you do anthologies? We tend to release stories digitally by themselves, and then bundle things that go together for print. Tend to be a collection by one author. Takes about 12 months after the last release. Occasionally our editors will put out a call for things they are interested in putting together.
Q - What types of romantic suspense are you looking for? The traditional market seems to have tightened for it, so we're getting lots of great submissions. The market is strong for action/adventure. There is strill room for mystery lit.
Q - For a new author, what is the marketing expectation? We don't require anything, but if an author is interested in marketing they partner with their editor for that. Authors are their own advocate, especially for things that are new and different from what we've already done. The most important thing for an author is an updated, easily navigable website with a complete booklist. Don't do social media unless you like to. No one is interested if you aren't. No one follows you for review or Amazon links.
Advertise in RT every month, they go to PW, Library Journal, RT for review every month. Sponsoring events. Jumbotron ad was the big splash this year.
We work hard to bring the Samhain brand because that brings readers to new authors. The highest visited page on our site is our new releases page. By being part of the Samhain brand, you're taking advantage of the recognition of bestsellers like Lorelei James, Vivian Arend...
Q - Overall estimate of the acceptance rate 8%, but that includes authors already within Samhain. Probably 3-5%.