What affect has digital have on your sales?
L.F.: The changing landscape has been huge for us. Even though we've always been a digital-first publisher, print outsold digital for us for several years. A few years ago the digital boom flipped that, and now we by far sell more books in digital. I think we're past the boom at this point - sales seem to indicate steady growth more than exponential growth - but new devices and retailers' increasing interest in the space have continued to bring in new readers.This I found fascinating and encouraging, as a writer and reader. This shows to me a balance of both worlds.
How does your company address piracy issues?
L.F.: For the most part, we don't. The problem with DRM (Digital Rights Management, the way of encoding files to prevent sharing) is that most pirates can break it, meaning it only ends up being a hassle for paying customers who want to read their books on another computer or device. Our priority is on accessibility of the files for our paying customers, so we sell our books DRM-free from our site, and give readers a virtual bookshelf to redownload their book in any format, at any time. We feel that pricing our books competitively and making them accessible are the best deterrents to piracy.
This I found made sense--because trying to chase the pirating is very difficult, especially overseas. The fact that your goal is access--appeals to me'
What can new authors do to make themselves valuable to you?
L.F.:Write more books! The more titles we have from an author, the more there is for readers to enjoy - and the more incentive for us to promote. Series tend to be big sellers in romance, and digital readers (used to getting what they want when they want it) can be voracious. Sometimes even novellas can be a great way of putting the series back in front of readers and generating more interest.
Ah, writing! You're right the bottom line is get your stories written and out there. I will keep that in mind.
What ways are readers finding your authors?
L.F.: We hope readers are finding them wherever they look. We distribute widely to all major - and some minor - digital retailers, so our books are in front of readers wherever they're looking to buy. We utilize social media and advertise in many venues - from romance blogs to an ad on Times Square in New York City. Plus we use cross-promotional excerpts in the back of our books to help our readers reach new authors, and Samhain books often show up in each others' "Customers Also Bought..." algorithms. We work hard not just to promote individual authors, but to promote the Samhain brand as a whole - if customers know they can trust our brand for quality books, it means all our authors reap the rewards.
An add on NYC Times square, I have to admit--that's cool. I know I'm drawn to Samhain.
What is the one question no one’s asked and they should?
L.F.: Well, this is a good one! Actually, romance writers are a pretty savvy bunch, so I always get great questions in interviews and on panels. The most popular questions, though, tend to focus on how to sell to a publisher (trends, submission requirements) or how to sell to readers (marketing, print distribution). Yet a major facet of navigating a writing career is working with an editor and a publisher, and some of the most common complaints I hear from authors have to do with difficulties in these relationships - particularly communication. So I also encourage writers to also ask questions about what the working relationship will be like - what an editor's editing philosophy is, how the publisher communicates information, who authors go to if they have problems. Matching styles and setting clear expectations on both sides of the publisher-author relationship goes a long way towards not just selling a book, but building a career.
Communication--I agree with that. I am taking notes on this, because that is my goal--build a career.
How does NaNoWriMo affect submissions?
L.F.: We definitely see an increase of submissions after NaNoWriMo each year. It's great that it gets so many authors motivated to up their word count and finish their projects - some of our authors even participate. Our advice, though, would be to be sure your NaNoWriMo project is fully edited before you submit. We get a lot of submissions the first week of December due to author eager to share their finished work, but many of these submissions could use a little more polish.
Ah! That is a good to know. I think there is a new program from NaNoWriMo creators that use December as the month to edit and polish.
For Fun: Favorite Beverage?
L.F.:Water. And if I can find it, Peach Fresca.
I used to love Fresca, and I've never tried Peach--now I want to!
Thank you for this wonderful interview! I hope that I have the opportunity to speak with you again.
This concludes my current round of Agent and Editor interviews. I plan to do another series after the first of the year.