I am super excited to welcome Angela James, Executive Editor from Samhain Publishing to Hooked on Romance today. Angie has offered some great insights in her interview, but don’t be afraid to chat it up and ask her more questions! This is your chance to learn firsthand what's happening in e-publishing, what the perceived outlook is, why you may want to consider digital publishing for yourself, and much more.

Angie is traveling, but she will pop in and out through the day as her schedule allows.

We will also be giving away 3 free eBooks from Samhain through the day. The details are at the bottom of the post. So let's get on with it!

~ Angie, thank you for spending some of your valuable time with us at Hooked on Romance today. I’m trying to decide what it says that I spent almost as much time on these interview questions as I spend figuring out the plots of my stories. LOL

Thanks for asking me to be here. I love interviews because I’m always curious to see what the questions will be. Looks like you’re going to make me work at these answers, after all the time you spent on the questions!

~ I started to keep this completely focused on business, but we here at HoR are easily entertained authors. So for a bit of entertainment...if you were a nail polish what color would you be and what do you think that says about you?

I’d be the OPI color: I’m Indi-a Mood for Love. It’s a bright pink, sassy color and the name of it is so perfect for me, as both an editor and avid reader (and lover) of the romance genre.

~ You have become a strong voice working to give value and credibility to a part of the romance industry that is sometimes frowned upon or misunderstood. Long before I knew much about Samhain or e-publishing, I knew who you were. Can you give us a little bit of your background and tell us how things (impressions) have changed since you first started working with Samhain? What changes would you still like to see happen?

My background is so not in publishing unless you count reading romances since the fourth grade! My mom was an English teacher and passed on her diverse love of reading—and her love of romances to me. I’ve always loved books and words so it’s no surprise to me that I jumped at the opportunity to become a proof reader for Ellora’s Cave back in 2004. At the time, I was working as an occupational therapist in a psychiatric hospital—a job I loved—but it was exciting for me to be able to get into publishing in some way. From there, I started working with some authors, to help polish their manuscripts and writing. My association with EC had come to an end and I’d just opened my own editing business when a few author friends told me Crissy (Christina Brashear) was opening her own publishing company and was looking for editors. They recommended me to her, I did a test manuscript for her and the rest, as they say, is history. I was the first editor she hired and eventually she realized my mad skills and made me executive editor.

As to how things have changed, I always tell people there could not possibly be a more exciting time to be involved with digital publishing than now. When I started reading ebooks just six years ago, so few people knew about digital and no major publishers were doing it. Just the past year has seen an incredible emergence of interest in digital from readers, publishers and industry experts. If you could see the goofy smile on my face right now as I type this, you’d know just how much I love this time and that digital is growing so quickly.

I’m excited and proud that people believe I’m a strong, positive voice for epublishing and digital publishing because I believe so strongly that this format is the future. No, print isn’t going to disappear, but digital is going to keep growing, if the publishing industry as a whole can find its way past its digital growing pains. I will eagerly bore anyone for hours who’s willing to listen to me espouse the evils of DRM, the benefits of standardized formats like EPUB, and what a traditional publisher can do to make a splash and a successful digital program.

~ It’s a dirty word, but I’m going to ask about the economy. It’s apparent that brick and mortar stores and many publishers in New York are struggling under the weight of the economy. How is e-publishing holding up?

I can’t say that we haven’t seen the effects but much of that has been in our print line. Digital publishing’s business model seems to have been created especially for economic circumstances like this and our sales are still going strong, as is the company. We still watch the publishing industry/news because we’re still invested in having a print line, but our digital side has been largely unaffected by the economy and, in fact, we have seen growth in some digital outlets.

~ My first book sale was to Samhain on March 16th. Since, I’ve fielded many questions about the company, how they operate, and e-publishing that I think I’ve done a pretty good job of answering. There still seems to be one prevailing misconception that overshadows the other questions – “So you sold to Samhain. I didn’t know you were writing erotics.” After explaining that while my stuff is hot and sensual it is not erotic, I encourage people to check out Samhain’s site where they can see that Samhain does in fact publish all genres and heat levels of romance. What do you think will need to happen to change people’s perceptions?

This is a misconception that we’ve battled from the beginning. I believe part of that comes from the fact that the most well-known epublisher is an erotic imprint. Part of it is because many of our covers, even the non-erotic romance, are still sexy (because they sell so darn well). Many people just seem to think the e stands for erotic. I think word of mouth will do a lot to change this, and as new readers find the digital market, they won’t come in with those same misconceptions since they’ll be coming from a different perspective—where digital is all genres, all publishers.

~ In my three years as an RWA member, I’ve learned a lot about writing, publishing, and promotion. My time spent preparing for the day that I sold a book helped keep my head grounded in the business side of things when I received the email from Lindsey wanting to buy my book. In the few weeks as a Samhain author I’ve only dealt with a small portion of the Samhain team, but I have learned invaluable lessons that make it apparent that there is nothing “small” about the way the team at Samhain approaches publishing.

Lindsey’s patience answering questions, Crissy’s and Tiffany’s speed and efficiency with dealing with the contract, Marty’s welcoming attitude and willingness to help or answer any questions about public relations, the webmaster’s efficiency in getting a new author’s bio posted to the website, the marketing plan from Lisa, and the numerous yahoo groups with great classes, support, and files jam packed with information makes it easy for a newbie author to slowly get their feet wet without feeling too overwhelmed.

I don’t have any personal experience with other publishers, so the things you offer your authors may be standard. Can you tell us if they are? And from your side of the book, what makes Samhain different and why might an author consider starting their career at Samhain?

While I think there are other good digital-only publishers out there, of course I think Samhain is the best. I don’t know the complete inner workings of any other epublisher out there, but I think what we offer is unique in many ways. While we’re not the biggest epublisher out there, we bring to the table a business-oriented approach, a great reputation not just within the epublishing community but within the publishing industry as a whole, both digital and traditional. We have dedicated marketing, editing, art, formatting, print and administrative staff. We’re invested in developing the company in a variety of ways and we never stop searching for ways to improve. In addition to all that, we’re enthusiastic and passionate about the books we publish. Everyone who works at Samhain does so because they genuinely love it, love books and love publishing.

~ I know that I am forgetting some important stuff. Do you have any last words for our readers?

People often ask me questions about epublishing and I ended up writing a series of articles that have been published in various places, but which I’ve now posted on my personal blog. I think they’re a good overlook of epublishing (widely biased by my own opinions, of course!) You can find them here on my blog.

~ Here are some helpful links to see what is happening at Samhain, or how to submit to them.

Twitter – follow the editors

Samhain readers, what do you love about Samhain books? Is there something that you aren’t seeing that you would love to see?

Authors possibly considering Samhain as a home, what would you like to know that Angie and I haven’t covered? Do you have questions about Samhain? Questions about e-publishing?

And for the contest... Up for grabs is ANY Samhain eBook. You have 2 ways to be entered in the giveaway drawing! Because we know that people have lives and day jobs, we're going to leave the contest open until midnight (Central Time) tonight. I will announce the winners tomorrow and arrange delivery of the prizes.

Option 1: Visit Samhain, spend time on the site, and come back here to tell us one thing you found that they didn’t expect.

Option 2: Scope out the Samhain offerings, come back here, and tell us what book caught your eye and why.

Chat it up! I look forward to seeing your questions.

Naughty Nikki D

Comments (48)

On April 9, 2009 at 10:27 AM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Angie, I recently saw this pop up in a yahoogroup. Can you give us an idea of if this is an ePub industry wide number, if you've seen the same thing, or any other thoughts?

"eBook sales are skyrocketing as we head into 2009. Reported eBook sales figures for January 2009 alone grew by more than 170% over January 2008."

On April 9, 2009 at 10:30 AM , Stephanie said...

I just visted Samhain's website and I have to say that right off the bat Howling For My Baby by Beverly Rae caught my attention. The blurb is fun and that photo is spectacular! Can't wait to read this puppy...er...wolf.

On April 9, 2009 at 10:52 AM , Kathy Fawcett said...

I visited the site and learned Samhain's contract does not require a right of first refusal on your next book.

On April 9, 2009 at 11:05 AM , Jax Cassidy said...

Thanks for blogging with us Angela. When considering an e-publisher, it's nice to know that Samhain is so professional and such a well-structured company. I have enjoyed a lot of the ebooks from your list and it's one of the places I'd love to eventually submit to. Great answers!

On April 9, 2009 at 11:31 AM , Melissa said...

Not a writer, just a reader....but I gotta tell you, I've noticed SO many books that I've loved are either dedicated to you or give mention of you.
Thanks for finding these great reads and giving readers like me a chance to get out hands on them!!
LOL, I always think this woman must read an AMAZING amount of queries and stories to find so many great ones!!

On April 9, 2009 at 11:36 AM , Kristen Painter said...

"Mad skills." You're funny.

On April 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM , Angela James said...

Thanks so much, Nikki! I am in the snow-covered depths of North Dakota with my family but I'll check in a few times today and tomorrow to answer questions.

"eBook sales are skyrocketing as we head into 2009. Reported eBook sales figures for January 2009 alone grew by more than 170% over January 2008."

I have two thoughts about this. First, I can't say for sure what our growth is, though I think it wasn't quite as dramatic as that. I think most epublishers have seen growth in the past year. I mention in my interview that this year has been a big one for digital growth, and with that comes new readers. So we reap the benefits of that. But I think that those ebook sales and the growth reported is so dramatic because so many traditional publishers are now selling digital. So that growth includes books that have never before been offered in digital. I'm not sure I explained that well, but basically any time you have something new, with new outlets, and new providers, you're going to see amazing growth.

Hi Jax, thanks for the compliments! I hope you will consider submitting to us someday.

Melissa, wow, thanks so much, your words are a tremendous compliment! I'm always flattered when my authors mention me in their dedication, it's special to me and it's nice to know they think I've done something worth mentioning :p

On April 9, 2009 at 11:40 AM , writermomof5 said...

They all look wonderful; the cover art is exceptional but what most struck me was the 'warnings'. Loved em. I think I'd like to read TALNUT.

On April 9, 2009 at 11:41 AM , Angela James said...

Now, Kristen, surely you're not suggesting I DON'T have mad skills? ;)

On April 9, 2009 at 11:43 AM , Jennifer McKenzie said...

"Immersed" by Liz Craven caught my attention. That cover is gorgeous.
And Mima's book too.
I love the Sci Fi/Fantasy offerings at Samhain.

On April 9, 2009 at 11:44 AM , MarnieColette said...

1) What I noticed first about Samhain Website is that it is easy and user friendly and that is a huge plus in my book!!! Having genre and categories that actually break out paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy and urban fantasy is rare - usually they are lumped together.

2) “Immersed” by Liz Craven - I am dying to get this book.

Thanks Angela for giving such a great interview and introducing me to another new site HookedonRomanace.

On April 9, 2009 at 11:45 AM , Lisa F. said...

Great interview!

It's been my experience that Samhain publishes quality books. I've never read one from there that had lots of grammatical errors or was advertised incorrectly. I like how the subgenres are easily recognized so the reader will know what they are getting. And there are some NY published authors writing for Samhain also!

On April 9, 2009 at 11:54 AM , Kimber Chin said...

Should I ask the dreaded trend question? Nah, better not. (grinning)

Is there a type of manuscript you wish you saw more of (crossing my fingers for contemporaries with businessmen heroes)?

On April 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM , lillie_80 said...

I'm going to go with option number 2 here, since I've spent so much time shopping over there, I'm not sure I could find anything I didn't expect *g* Bound By Desire - Mackenzie McKade looks great! I've read her books before and she has never disappointed. Of course, that hot cover doesn't hurt.
My favorite thing about the Samhain site is how user friendly it is. With so many e-publishers, you have to know exactly what book you are looking for to find it. With your site, I can know the title, the author, or just the subgenre and still find it easily without having to wade through hundreds of other books that just don't interest me. Thanks for all the hard work that you and your staff do!

On April 9, 2009 at 12:12 PM , Lisa J said...

Samhain is a great place to buy books. I love the site and find it very easy to use. My favorite part is the e-book shelf holding my books to be downloaded for me.

Also, some of my favorite authors, Jaci Burton, Shiloh Walker, Bianca D'Arc, and etc. have books at Samhain. I have also found a lot of new authors (like Dana Marie Bell)just by looking around and trying a book.

On April 9, 2009 at 12:28 PM , booklover1335 said...

I am a newbie to Samhain, and only started going to the site during their holiday giveaway, and free short novellas. Needless to say it is now site I regularly visit.

I was drawn to the Lorelei James books,and would love to win one-Tied Up, Tied Down.

One thing I would like to see added to the site is a link to their top 10 bestsellers, both in print and ebook. If there is such a link I did not see it :(

On April 9, 2009 at 12:45 PM , Raonaid Luckwell said...

I have to second/third/etc what others had said about the site being user friendly and easy to navigate.

I like when you go to the main page, they have the new releases right there for you to go over. Then, if you are in a particular genre, it's grouped off to the side to browse over ones that you are thinking about getting.

My Lady - Shiloh Walker caught my eye

On April 9, 2009 at 12:57 PM , Jenn said...

1) Samhain publishing site is very user friendly. I didn't realize how many ebooks there are out there in the romance genre.

2) I would love to get ahold of Maiden Flight by Bianca D'Arc. It looks like a very interesting series and I would love to start from the beginning.

On April 9, 2009 at 1:16 PM , Gail said...

I love the Samhain's site, it's so easy to use. I never have a problem finding books I want;-) I've bought a few ebooks from them and I've loved them all!

Angela, great interview and info. I love your 'mad skills' comment. Good for you!

If I have to pick one book I'd like to read it would be: My Lady, by Shiloh Walker

On April 9, 2009 at 1:25 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

How sad is it that I can't narrow down any one Samhain book I'd want to add to my list? I'll take it as a sign that they know what they're doing. :)

And why have all the questions I had for Angie vanished now that I know she'll be around to answer them? ARRRGH

On April 9, 2009 at 1:28 PM , Jeanne St. James said...

Since I've been to Samhain's site many, many times, I'm not sure there is something that will surprise me. The site is very well done.

The book that caught my eye was: “You'll Be the Death of Me” by Stacia Wolf.I especially love the Chinese Crested that's on the cover! That dog is adorable.

Thanks for the interview, Angela, it was great!

On April 9, 2009 at 1:47 PM , Anonymous said...


Can you tell us how much money an e-pubbed author can make?

On April 9, 2009 at 2:01 PM , SabbyH said...

I didn't know until I visited the website that they publish Chick-lit and Young Adult books.

On April 9, 2009 at 2:02 PM , Cathy M said...

Love the selection of stories that Samhain offers, I can always find a book to suit my mood and my budget. Going through the Coming Soon pages, I discovered that Sanctuary Lost by Moira Rogers is coming in June.

Also that you have a link for Breast Cancer Awareness on your home page.

On April 9, 2009 at 2:59 PM , Ella Drake said...

One of the many things that draws me back to Samhain is the selection of SFR/Futuristic that I can't find elsewhere. Keep 'em coming!

On April 9, 2009 at 3:35 PM , Anonymous said...

Angela how many books does a Samhain author sell on average? And what does Samhain do to promo an author?

On April 9, 2009 at 3:55 PM , Bonnie H. said...

awesome interview! thanks for the info - and check it, I didn't know Samhain did Urban Fantasy - sweet!!!

On April 9, 2009 at 5:29 PM , Angela James said...

@Kimber: Is there a type of manuscript you wish you saw more of (crossing my fingers for contemporaries with businessmen heroes)?

I actually just recently did a call for contemporary romances! I do like contemporaries w/businessmen heroes. Makes me think of category romance which I really like!

I always wish for more futuristic romances (can someone write Firefly in novel form, please?), as well as urban fantasy w/romantic elements. And I'm a fan of the uber-sexy menage (and more) books.

@booklover: One thing I would like to see added to the site is a link to their top 10 bestsellers, both in print and ebook. If there is such a link I did not see it On our sister site, My Bookstore and More, you can see the top ten sellers for the last three weeks. For a long time, it was only Samhain books sold there, but now it's other publishers as well, so maybe we'll have to think about doing something on the Samhain site in the future. Thanks for your input!

On April 9, 2009 at 5:33 PM , Angela James said...

@Anonymous Can you tell us how much money an e-pubbed author can make?

No :P Because it varies based on the author, what kind of promo they do, the genre they write, the epublisher they write for, what kind of backlist they build and whether their writing has mass appeal. I did a survey of epublished authors last year and money made in one year varied from a few dollars to $170,000. Big spread!

Angela how many books does a Samhain author sell on average? And what does Samhain do to promo an author? My above answer actually applies here, too. It does depend on the genre, the author's popularity, promo and backlist. We have authors who have slowly built a following and now sell very well. But some books sell maybe only a few hundred copies. Some sell thousands.

To answer the promo question, rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to direct you to our FAQ page with the answer on it.


On April 9, 2009 at 5:36 PM , Angela James said...

I think I caught all the questions so far, if I missed you, yell!

I always see readers say how much they love the futuristic/sci-fi section, and I see it again here. You guys, I DO TOO! It's one of my favorite genres and so few authors write in it/submit in it. Anyone that has a book in that genre is always welcome to email me directly :P

I also saw someone mentioned our warnings. We're proud of those because they're unique to us (though I've seen a few publishers following in our footsteps) and readers notice and comment on them. I really love that they show a sense of humor and fun, while letting readers know what to expect in the book.

Keep the questions coming, if you have them!

On April 9, 2009 at 6:15 PM , Jan said...

Aloha Angela,

Thanks for taking the time to chat about epublishing and Samhain. I, too, was under the impression that Samhain was more about erotic romance and was suprised to find that your company even offers young adult fiction. Who knew? While I'm just starting in to the whole e-reading, I'm just happy to know that both romance book and ebooks sales are up and surviving the recession. Of course, I'm not surprised because as a "romance slut", when under stress, I always reach for a wonderful romantic story be it paranormal or mystery or contemporary along with some chocolate to whisk me away to another world! So thank you and Samhain for giving us, readers, great stories to keep us sane amidst our real life stresses.

On April 9, 2009 at 8:21 PM , Chudney Defreitas-Thomas said...

I'm looking forward to Deidre Knight's release of "Butterfly Tattoo"
It shows that Samhain is open minded and will to publish different stories.

On April 9, 2009 at 8:24 PM , Angela James said...

Butterfly Tattoo is SUCH an amazing book. I hope everyone checks it out when it releases later this month.

On April 9, 2009 at 8:34 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

WOW! This has been an active place today. I love it!

I may be biased since they were the first to buy my book, but I love Samhain. Oh wait, I loved them before that too. Probably why I spend money with them.

They are diverse in their offerings. I think we just need o all do our part to spread the word about that. There seems to be a place for every genre of romance at Samhain.

did that sound like rambling? It's been a long day after little sleep and I still have tons to do before stopping. LOL

On April 9, 2009 at 8:42 PM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...


One of the conversations on Lindsey's group recently was about marketing and promo that her authors have had success with. I wonder if any of your authors have mentioned anything specific that they felt worked very well for them.

On April 9, 2009 at 8:46 PM , Amy S. said...

I was on the coming soon page and saw this was coming soon. Tooth and Claw by Annmarie McKenna. It sounds so good! I love Samhain books and I really love the warnings posted there.

On April 9, 2009 at 8:53 PM , Kwana said...

Great interview. So hard to pick one. NEVER THE SAME looks great.

On April 9, 2009 at 9:36 PM , Angela James said...

That's an interesting question, Nikki. I think that promotion that works is actually individual to each author. For one thing, some authors are better at other things that others (whether it's blogging, social media, chatting, hanging out on groups, giving people promo items in every day life, etc). There are so many promo ideas out there, I think each author needs to find what they enjoy (as much as you can enjoy promo), what they're good at and what they're willing to invest time (and money) in and go with that. I also think not being afraid to try new things, or brainstorm new ideas doesn't hurt either!

On April 9, 2009 at 11:29 PM , Caffey said...

Loved reading your interview Angela and getting to know you and all you've done to get where you are today. Congrats

1. I finally read what Samhain means! I never thought to figure it out and now makes so much sense for picking that title for this site.

2. I was in the coming soon pages, I absolutely love that section! And I love how you have so much a variety of books out and that too you have historicals and westerns! Some places I don't see those much and they are my favorites! These caught my eyes: Tame Horses Wild Hearts by Alison Paige, Buckling Down by Moira Keith (And a bunch there with similar covers that I for sure plan to get) and then too a release I must of missed somehow: Duality by Renee Wildes and Warrior Woman” by Lyn Mangold. I've recently been reading Fantasy Romances of yours at Samhain and now love this genre. That's one thing I love about the books too, more new to me authors to read as well as genres.

On April 9, 2009 at 11:53 PM , Kytaira said...

Colter's Woman and Amber Eyes by Maya Banks. I have to concur with others. The site is very easy to use, easy on the eye, and filled with GREAT books!

I had to chuckle at the Save the Ta-Tas ribbon. Very effective!

On April 10, 2009 at 9:03 AM , ms bookjunkie said...

I didn't realize that Handyman and Mexican Heat were Samhain titles until I came across them on MBaM! (Not that I knew much about most of the DA BWAHA nominees anyway, I was picking and voting blind.) I think you should do a bundle of the DA BWAHA nominees like Harlequin did of theirs. I would have totally bought them. (And I will one day, right now I'm letting my Visa cool off a little. *g*)

I have to say, I really appreciate the quality of Samhain's ebooks. Not to mention the convenience of the instant gratification of my wants…which is why my card is taking a break! LOL!

On April 10, 2009 at 10:26 AM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Thank you, Angie for taking time to be with us. I for one learned a lot and am thrilled to be associated with Samhain. I know Crissy has a lot of things planned for the company and I look forward to see what happens.

On April 10, 2009 at 10:29 AM , Anonymous said...

Speaking of changes, I heard that DCL Books will be added to Samhain's site. Is that Dark Castle Lords? What does that mean for Samhain authors and readers?

On April 10, 2009 at 10:35 AM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

All right! I've been chatting with fellow blogger Jax, counting commenters and having her pick numbers for the winners, and the winners are...

9, 14, and 21, which translates into:
Sabby H

Congratulations!! Email me at nikki@nikkiduncan.com with your email and book choice if it wasn't mentioned in your comment. Thank you for chatting with us.

On April 10, 2009 at 10:43 AM , Naughty Nikki Duncan said...

Anon @ 10:29, I think that if Samhain is adding books to their site, that is likely the MBAM site which is where the books are actually purchased from. This may be my optimistic outlook (I have a friend who picks on me for always looking for the bright side of things), but I think that more books offered on the MBAM site is in the end better for both the authors and the readers.

1. Readers can buy more of their selections in one place and will therefore be more inclined to shop at MBAM.

2. More shoppers on MBAM could mean more sales of Samhain books.

Yes, I can see where Samhain authors would be concerned with the additional offerings impacting their chances of being on that Top 10 Best Sellers list, but at the same time wouldn't that also encourage an author to step up their game both in writing and promo? Sure, it's inconvenient to have to compete more directly with other digital releases, but in the end it's not very different from a brick and mortar bookstore where each book has to be at it's best to get picked over the one beside it.

On April 10, 2009 at 11:54 AM , Angela James said...

@bookjunkie: Our current shopping cart doesn't allow for "bundling" but we're working on updating that option. I think BooksonBoard was talking about doing a bundle with our DABWAHA books.

@Anonymous: Samhain is a publisher, not a retailer. We don't sell any books directly, we only publish them. My Bookstore and More is a separate company from Samhain.

Since I work for Samhain and not My Bookstore and More, I don't always know exactly what's planned for the store, but if you visit that site now, you'll see that it sells books from a variety of publishers, not just Samhain, so it's very possible other publishers will and are being added.

I know that some authors are concerned about not having a "Samhain only" outlet for sales but that's not my area of the business so I can't make much comment on it, I'm sorry.

On April 10, 2009 at 3:56 PM , Heather Massey said...

Great interview!

I'm a fan of what Samhain offers as far as science fiction/futuristic romance. In particular, I really enjoyed Karin Shah's STARJACKED and Ann Somerville's INTERSTITIAL.

Looking forward to more!

On April 10, 2009 at 4:07 PM , Jax Cassidy said...

Wow, we still got a crowd in here. Congrats to all the winners!

I do love the gorgeous covers and look of the website. It's visually appealing.

Angela - I suppose I need to get off my butt and write something to submit. I am so used to writing novellas and shorts that I totally hate writing a synopsis. Now, blurbs, I think I'm pretty good at. I will make it a goal to submit this year :)