The sad news that Samhain Publishing will soon be closing its doors spread across the publishing and writing world like wild fire yesterday. To say the news was a shock would be an understatement. In fact when I first heard about it I was in denial until I saw the official letter Samhain sent out to it’s author’s yesterday:
We prefer to go out gracefully and not get to the point where our overhead compromises our ability to pay the authors’ royalties. That’s would just be wrong. We want to stay on the high road and keep your respect. This company was started with the purpose of providing a safe and friendly house for authors to publish and begin or expand their career. If we have to end, then we shall do so in the same manner.
My heart goes out to all of the authors, editors, and other staff members who are now parting ways. Sadly publishers closing isn’t unusual, but for one as well respected and known as Samhain, this is a harsh blow.
The one silver lining to this situation is that Samhain seems to have thought through this wind down and has communicated it’s plan for a “wind-down”. They don’t plan on closing their doors right away, not even within the next six months. According to the announcement:
- Titles that are completed and ready for their launch will be published on schedule, or an adjusted schedule.
- The authors whose titles aren’t finalized as of today will have the rights reverted back to them.
- Titles that are already published will continue to be sold in all of our sales channels and we will continue to promote them through social media.
- Royalties will continue to be processed as normal on our regular monthly schedule.
- The editors and artists are freelance and we encourage you contact them to work with you on your self-publishing ventures.
I’m sure over the coming days, the email Samhain sent out will be examined and picked apart by people with a lot of publishing experience. However, what immediately jumped out to me was Samhain’s disclosure of their terms negotiating issues with Amazon.
This has not been a decision made lightly. The recent sales numbers are not providing any hope for recovery and none of our efforts have been successful. For the last two years we have tried many and varied types of campaigns to promote your titles and have had no success in reaching the new customers we need to thrive. Each month that goes by our sales continue to shrink and it would be disingenuous to keep contracting new titles.
We’ve tried to renegotiate terms with Amazon in order to buy better placement within their site and perhaps regain some of the lost traction from the early days but have been met with silence. Other retail sites are trying, but the sales have never risen to the level of Amazon and are declining as well.
I have a bad feeling, that this won’t be the last time we here about the Amazon impact an small publishers this year.
You can read the full announcement here.