So yesterday was a bit of gut shot to the romance community as a whole, and to myself as an individual. In case you missed it, Samhain Publishing announced that they are beginning the process of going out of business.
Click here for the official letter, if you haven't read it and want the details.
Samhain is a well-run company that has always treated their authors with respect, and I have enjoyed my time as one of their authors. I adore my editor, Christa Soule, and my cover artist, Lyn Taylor. When I chose to begin writing m/m romance, Samhain was my top choice publisher, and I screamed for joy when Cost of Repairs was accepted by them. Seven books later, I was prepared to stay with Samhain for the long-haul.
Except the universe had other plans.
It's devastating to see a company with such a rich history fold and go under. But it's also heartening to see them do it with dignity, class, and in a way that makes sure authors continue to get paid.
And getting paid is why I had a panic attack yesterday when I first learned of this news.
At the end of last year, I made the decision to give up my full-time, benefits-paying retail job in order to write full-time. My collective royalties had surpassed what I made at that job, and I was no longer happy. Anyone who's worked in retail for any substantial length of time knows it can suck at your soul. I love the people I worked with and the company I worked for, but I was determined to give this full-time author thing a shot.
And one of the things that gave me great comfort (and most definitely influenced my decision to leave my day job) was knowing I had a steady paycheck every single month from Samhain. I loved that they paid monthly, instead of quarterly like my other publishers. Learning that steady, monthly income was no longer guaranteed terrified me. I'm a single person, who lives alone. I depend on myself to pay rent, bills, and food. My cats depend on me to keep them fed and in kitty litter.
Now this doesn't mean that I'm going to suddenly need to find a new day job, or that I'm going to end up in financial ruin. I didn't quit my job without having a plan in place. But the landscape of how I imagined the next few years look like has been dramatically altered.
Samhain will continue to sell current titles for an unknown amount of time, and they will publish books that are finalized and ready to go. Some of my fellow Samhain authors seem super-eager to get their rights back on their backlist titles, but I'm glad to let my books remains on sale for now. I have every confidence Samhain will pay me (and my fellow authors) for every sale made until the day they take them off the market. So please, don't let their winding down scare you away from purchasing the hundreds upon hundreds of awesome books they have for sale. This isn't just a sales pitch for my stuff, but also for my fellow authors being affected.
So knowing I'll still get those monthly checks for a while helps. It gives me time to plan and to think about what's next for all of the characters populating Stratton and my fictional version of Harrisburg, PA.
The Heart As He Hears It (Perspectives #3) will still be published on April 19th in ebook, paperback and audio. Y'all still get Jon and Isaac's story, and I'm super-happy about that.
But after that, I'm sad to say that Perspectives is an orphaned series. I had every intention of submitting a Perspectives 4 to my editor once she returned from her sabbatical--that is obviously not going to happen now. And it's unlikely that another publisher would pick up the fourth book in a series.
What about self-publishing, you ask? I don't know. At the moment, I have other deadlines, plus the re-issues of Prodigal and Frozen, and the heroes of P4 simply aren't burning a hole in my brain.
I will miss one of my favorite first-round edit quirks from Christa, though. She tried to guess at who would be the next hero, or hint that she wanted this particular character's story. It was always so encouraging, knowing that even two-scene side characters were engaging enough to require more.
Besides Perspectives, I also have a finished book that is now orphaned. Fractured Hymns, my gay inspirational romance, will be reverted back to me. I have cover art and a blurb (which I'm kind of glad I never got around to sharing last week when I received the final files), but we never got to the editing stage. And honestly, the lack of editing this close to a September release date was starting to nibble at the back of my mind as bizarre, when at this point we should have been on copy edits, at least.
I'm not sure what to do with Fractured Hymns. It's a standalone romance, absolutely, but it does spin-off from a character you met in Foundation of Trust, Ethaniel Shockley. Plus emails from Owen. I may submit it elsewhere. For now, until I officially have the rights back and decide what to do, that book is off my 2016 release calendar.
But it's not all sadness. I still have two fun new series to debut this year! Come What May (All Saints #1) in May, and Body Rocks (Off Beat #1) in June. Steady Stroke (Off Beat #2) is scheduled for October, and All Saints #2 should come out in the fall, as well. So yay for new books!
The landscape of romance publishing changed yesterday, and everyone who worked for Samhain is feeling the effects. We'll continue to feel them as we go forward, everyone finding new footing. New opportunities. Facing new challenges. But the great thing about the romance community? We're doing it together. We all recognize what we're losing: quality romance books from a kick-ass publisher who consistently put their authors first. And we're commiserating together.
We're also celebrating together. Celebrating amazing coworkers and relationships we forged thanks to Samhain. Celebrating a publisher that is going out with dignity. Celebrating authors and readers and cover artists and editors and ROMANCE.
Because romance, no matter what color of the rainbow or end of the spectrum, is a beautiful, beautiful thing.