Samhain Responds.

From Angie James’ blog, and from multiple forwards to me, the official statement from Samhain:

Yes, Samhain will lose recognition after conference. It doesn’t change
anything for our business or with the deal with Kensington, nor our IPS
print program. We’ll still pay royalties on time and do business as usual ;)
For us, it means we can’t do publisher type things at nationals next year.
Perhaps someday things will change and we’ll be back at RWA, doing editor
appointments and so forth, but until that time, we continue on as always.
RWA is an organization for authors to network and learn from one another. As
the guidelines have been set up, removing our recognition doesn’t take away
your ability to utilize it as such and the benefits of RWA remain for those
authors who wish to enjoy them.

Of course it’s disappointing to us that RWA is unable to accommodate small
presses at this time, but it’s understandable that they must do what they
believe is best for the authors and the organization.

However, it’s my belief that the allure of epublishing is our ability to
sign a wide variety of books and genres without a huge monetary risk.
Offering even 1000 dollars advance would remove our ability to do that. Our
gain from being approved is not as significant as our gain from being free
to take on books because we love them, not because they’ll earn out their
advance. Once we enter into the world of larger dollar amount advances, we
become a publisher who can’t take the publishing risks that we do now, never
knowing what will hit and what will not so much.

I know it’s important to some authors that their publisher be recognized and
that there will be some who are disappointed by the way things have gone and
choose to seek publication elsewhere, and that saddens me because at the
heart of things, I think we’re a pretty damn good publisher. We’ll move
forward from here just as we would have had we been able to keep
“recognition”. Nothing changes. Samhain will remain the same publisher next
week, when the policy goes into effect and we’re no longer “recognized” as
we are this week.

Permission to forward granted

Angela James, Executive Editor
http://www.samhainpublishing.com

I went to the RWA Online chapter hoe-down (thanks for the invitation Mel!) tonight and heard all about this decision from several very upset and hurt e-published authors who feel like their legitimacy as authors in this organization has been stripped away. They are of the opinion that the real reason was to shut out erotica, because the RWA doesn’t like it. I don’t think that’s the actual reason, but they were feeling the slap from both a business and a genre perspective.

However, other folks could see what RWA was trying to do – if your advance is less than 1k, are you a “professional author” or are you a hobbyist? If the RWA is positioning itself to be a professional writer’s organization, is excluding based on a minimum balance of advance necessarily the right step? Or has RWA done itself some damage with the ‘you were in but now you’re not’ policy change?

More importantly, as a writer, does this policy affect your decision of who you’d like to publish with? And if you’re an ePub, does this policy change stand in your way? Or, like Samhain, is it business as usual?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ann Bruce says:

    RWA recognized or not, writers, IMO, are going to submit to publishers that have it together.  The writers’ goal is to get their words in front of an audience—and to make money doing it.  And, really, do readers care?  Do readers even know if a publisher is RWA recognized or not?

    I didn’t know what RWA was until about 2 years ago—AND I DIDN’T CARE.  As a reader, I do not go to my bookstore and say, “Oh, that looks good.  But, wait!  The publisher isn’t recognized by RWA.  I can’t buy it!”

    Really, it all seems silly.

  2. 2
    Teddy Pig says:

    Nah, means I refuse to join an scam I mean an organization that has no clue what a Vanity Press is.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanity_press

    I think they should really look up a term before opening their collective yap maybe even review a wiki article or two on the subject.

    Oh sorry, god forbid anyone running the RWA can actually use the internet.

    They honestly want people to take them seriously? How?

  3. 3
    Angela James says:

    I feel obligated to say that we haven’t received official word yet that we’ve been …unrecognized? Uneligible? We are here at RWA and no one has tried to contact us either way. So we’re just going by what they’ve said in the meetings (which we couldn’t attend since we’re associate members, unfortunately).

    Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, anything could happen, right? Maybe we’ll discover we’ve been miraculously exempted.

    And may I say how horrified I was to see that my post created a smiley face on the Smart Bitches blog. Isn’t that against the member bylaws?

    Last…I’m at RWA, Sarah and Candy are at RWA and…we haven’t met! What’s up with that?

  4. 4
    Ann Bruce says:

    And one more thing: Is it just me or does the entire situation feel a little high-school-ish?

  5. 5
    Teddy Pig says:

    I thought the smiley face was a nice touch.

  6. 6
    Arin Rhys says:

    Though, its seems as if RWA doesn;t really know where its focus is. If it wants to be this professional organization then why do they have a lot of unpublished authors? And, if they want to serve unpublished authors then they aren’t they getting the terms right? This sort of thing might confuse a newbie into thinking that Samhain is on the same level as Publish America so it doesn’t matter where they publish because its the same. RWA has to figure out wheres it going!

    I could understand if they designated epubs as small press as they are paying markets (albeit small payments), but vanity press? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Honestly, it just makes RWA looks bad.

  7. 7
    Deanna Lee says:

    Yes- RWA Recogniton was a long term goal for Cobblestone Press.

    Board members come and go- so will this policy.

    It’ll be business as usual and our plans for print and the future won’t be altered by what the RWA has put out there.

  8. 8
    Caroline says:

    The main problem I have is that an advance is a poor indicator of well, anything. A friend’s Ellora’s Cave releases regularly outsell her Berkeley release. And yet because Berkeley gave her a couple thousand dollars as an advance they’re somehow more professional than EC? I think not.

    And as Paula Guran points out on the Juno blog, almost no one NY or otherwise pays 500$ for every story in every anthology. (Quotes from PG’s blog: “pays all authors participating in an anthology an advance of at least $500…” Hello? I think it also kicks out Random House, Simon & Schuster…you name it. That’s right, folks, IF they stick to this and IF it means that every anthology a publisher publishes pays at least a $500 advance for every story, there is not a single major publisher that will qualify with the possible exception of Harlequin.)

    The whole thing is just stupid.

  9. 9

    The problem isn’t making it harder for presses to qualify; I’ve been an advocate of that for some time. 1500 mm paperbacks is a really low number of sales for a publisher to make, and for a publisher to have RWA’s recognition or eligibility or whatever, a writer should be able to make decent money and expect a leve of professionalism.

    The problem is the wording of the new rules which equate epublishing to vanity presses; that’s what hurts. The board claims (apparently) that’s not what it meant, which almost makes it worse. A group of writers who don’t understand the difference between the words “primary” and “exclusive”? Who apparently did no research at all on how epublishing works before making this decision?

  10. 10
    Gail Faulkner says:

    RWA is for authors. Why are they the body who governs anything about publishers? Seriously? E-published authors are still a minority in this Old School Sorority. That will change.

    The print publishing industry is being forced to change by the “new fangled” e-pubs, but that’s only because they are following the money. RWA seems to be currently run by people heavily invested in resisting the changes to today’s publishing landscape. Of course they will fight back with any means available. Change is always painful.

    This is just another growing pain for E-publishing. It’ll pass in one way or another, but it certainly isn’t a blow to the heart of E-publishing. It’s barely as hiccup to a revolutionary industry exploding on the publishing landscape.

  11. 11
    Laura says:

    I have to comment on this statement:

    “However, other folks could see what RWA was trying to do – if your advance is less than 1k, are you a “professional author” or are you a hobbyist?”

    Since when did the amount of money you make decide if you are a writer or not? Let’s say you sold a short story to an e-publisher and unfortunately, it didn’t make enough money to pay your cable bill. Sorry, but I think that still counts. An editor looked at your work, decided it was good enough to have people pay money for, and paid royalties for it.

    To me, a hobbyist would be someone who writes for free. They post stories on their websites for friends and family to enjoy.

    RWA is ignoring the growing popularity of ebooks and wants to stick to their antiquated ways. Fine. I don’t think the impact to writers will be that significant. As long as readers still frequent Samhain, Ellora, Cobblestone, etc. And as long as literary agents still recognize ebooks as publication credits when reading query letters, writers will be fine.

    Getting their work read and published is a significant accomplishment and life-long dream of many writers. Do you really want to associate yourself with an organization that looks down at that accomplishment?

  12. 12
    Kris Eton says:

    I think the RWA was pissed at Triskelion’s fall from grace and felt embarrassed they had deemed them a ‘legitimate’ RWA-approved publisher. So, they decided to make the rules so stringent that no epubs could qualify.

    It would have been very easy to tweak the rules so that a Triskelion problem would not happen again. Say that the publisher has to be in business for at least 5 years. Say that at least three books or ten books or what have you must sell a minimum amount. I don’t know. There were better ways to do it then to lump epubs into the vanity press category.

    I think it makes them look very out-of-date and uneducated about the modern world of publishing. And that is very sad for their 9000 members. If Samhain struck a deal with Kensington, doesn’t that say something about their legitimacy?

    Wasn’t there a report last year from the Romantic Times convention that publishers were swarming around the Ellora’s Cave booth? That they were extremely interested in getting a larger foothold in erotic romance? If the publishers are interested in epbus, then shouldn’t RWA?

    Eh, guess I’ll just be glad I never joined…

  13. 13
    Mel-O-Drama says:

    Sarah,

    So glad you joined our hoe-down and had yourself some vittles and got an earful. We’re good about expressing our opinions over in our neck of the virtual world.

    Honestly, I see both sides of the coin here. RWA’s mission: Romance Writers of America is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.

    I think what the BOD was trying to do is say we want our writers to get paid what they’re worth. We want them to get PAID…and requiring a $1000 advance or having at least a $1000 earn out isn’t such a bad thing. We’re writers. We want to get paid. We should get paid. We’re not doing volunteer work…people who have careers get paid.

    However, the vanity pub/epub wording is unfortunate and wrong. And that is why there is such a huge stink. The epub writers should be angry at being compared to a vanity press. They feel like they’re being told they are no longer legitimate and not professional. And whether or not that was the BOD’s intention, it’s what happened. I get it. I would be angry, too.

    Damn it’s too early for me to be commenting. I need my coffee.

  14. 14
    Carrie Lofty says:

    From what I understood at the AGM, the Board will determine on a pub by pub basis the fates of each company’s eligibility. The examples one Board member gave regarding the means of distribution they would look into when determining eligibility including online sources such as Fictionwise. It doesn’t have to be in print, necessarily; it just has to be third party. So Samhain, EC, and Loose ID in particular are closer to the cusp than any other epub and would be evaluated on a deep level via sales records to determine how the majority of books are being sold.

    Again, from what I understood, the Board would look at this closer in the next month and post on the website examples of who made the cut and who did not, AND WHY. For each one. Believe me, these cavaets are the only reason the crowd at the back settled down. The Board did not close the door entirely, at least not at the AGM.

  15. 15
    just a reader says:

    Maybe the term “vanity press” isn’t the one that RWA should have used. Maybe they should have flat-out said “author mill.” Lumping EC, Samhain, and Loose Id in with some of the more embarrassing examples of what passes for “publishers” tarnishes the ones who do employ good business practices.

    I can’t say I blame RWA for wanting to attract as much legitimacy as possible to the romance genre. EC, Samhain, and Loose Id are NOT vanity presses. Once again, RWA has alienated more of its (paying) membership by starting a tacky, inappropriate hue and cry… something that will only attract negative PR.

    ::mortified::

  16. 16
    Selah March says:

    Mel: However, the vanity pub/epub wording is unfortunate and wrong. And that is why there is such a huge stink. The epub writers should be angry at being compared to a vanity press. They feel like they’re being told they are no longer legitimate and not professional. And whether or not that was the BOD’s intention, it’s what happened. I get it. I would be angry, too.

    December: The problem is the wording of the new rules which equate epublishing to vanity presses; that’s what hurts. The board claims (apparently) that’s not what it meant, which almost makes it worse. A group of writers who don’t understand the difference between the words “primary” and “exclusive”? Who apparently did no research at all on how epublishing works before making this decision?

    What they said.

    Other than that? I couldn’t give a ripe…well. It’s too early to be that vulgar, isn’t it?

    Suffice to say the RWA needs authors—as a group—a whole lot more than authors—as individuals—need the RWA.

    And they should take the time to proofread shit before they send it out for general consumption. Skip the pre-conference pedicure, double-check that the high-priced lawyer you hired wrote what you meant him/her to write.

    Accountability. It’s a good thing.

  17. 17
    Teddy Pig says:

    Here’s one to da bitches yo.

    RWA is a Joke

    Hit me
    Going, going, gone
    Now I dialed RWA a long time ago
    Don’t you see how late they’re reacting
    They don’t wanna come or they come when they wanna
    So call the morgue quick and embalm the goner
    They don’t care ‘cause they get paid anyway
    They teach ya like an ace it’s just writers they betray
    I know you like to party with those no use people
    If your career is on the line then you’re fucked today
    Late comers with the late coming stretcher
    That’s a body bag in disguise you betcha
    I call ‘em body snatchers quick they come to fetch ya
    With an autopsy ambulance just to dissect ya
    They are the kings ‘cause they swing the reputation
    Lose your arms, lose your legs, to them it’s just a complication
    I can prove it to you just watch the celebration
    It all adds up with those sad nominations

    So get up get, get get down
    RWA is a joke in this town
    Get up, get, get, get down
    RWA board wear a fool’s crown

    RWA is a joke

    Everyday they ain’t never coming to protect
    You can ask my man right here with the broken contract
    He’s a witness to the job not being done
    He was just a victim in a Triskelion hit & run
    Was all a joke ‘cause they always jokin’
    Your career is a token and it’s your own problem when it’s croaking
    They need you to be a pawn and pay their dues
    RWA is a joke but the jokes on you
    I’d call a cab ‘cause a cab will come quicker
    The publishers get on the list and call it a flea flicker
    The reason that I say that is ‘cause they
    Flick you off like fleas
    They be laughing at ya while you’re crawling on your knees
    And to the strength so goes the pace
    Thinking you are first when you really last place
    You better wake up and catch that clue tighter
    Cause RWA is not for the eBook writers

    So get up, get, get get down
    RWA is a joke in this town
    Get up, get, get, get down
    RWA board wear a fool’s crown

    RWA is a joke yo

    *With much props to Public Enemy*

  18. 18
    JC Wilder says:

    RWA recognition, PAN status and fifty cents won’t buy a cup of coffee. I’ve been in this business for ten years and this is a rehashing of the scuffle three years ago which was a rehashing of the scuffle six years ago…you get the picture.

    Very few readers know or care about RWA, they only want to read a great book. Having RWA ‘recognize’ a publisher or an author is, IMHO, a vanity issue – everyone likes to feel ‘validated’ but validation isn’t accomplished by those around you telling you who YOU are.

    If you get a check, fan mail, contracts and EDITS (GUH!) then you’re a writer own. Own it.

  19. 19
    Mel-O-Drama says:

    Teddy,

    I know you’re being funny, but I do feel like I have to defend RWA slightly here.

    I joined this organization in 2001 with the knowledge that I wanted to write romantic fiction but with the training toward Lit Fic. RWA welcomed me as a lowly unpublished writer. They have all sorts of education available to the upubbed and because of them, I have learned so much. I sold to Harper Collins this year and I can honestly say, I wouldn’t be anywhere near ready to be published if it weren’t for RWA.

    It’s a flawed organization, as is any organization run by humans. They fucked up when they compared epubs to vanity presses…but they are one of the only professional orgs who welcomes unpublished authors.

    I, for one, am very glad they do.

  20. 20

    For me it’s going to be business as usual.  I’ll retain my RWA membership because I get benefits from RWA even if they don’t recognize my current publisher.  And when it comes time to contract for my books, my question won’t be “Are they RWA recognized?” but will be, as always, “What’s the best option for me in terms of increasing my sales and recognition?”

  21. 21

    …and that’s the moment that December fell a little in love with Teddy.

  22. 22
    KellyMaher says:

    For me, business as usual.  I’ve got a tiny little goth girl in me crying to be let out to ignore the world and its opinions of me ;)  I long ago decided that while PAN membership would be nice, it’s NOT THE REASON I WRITE.  If I ever do get the pink ribbon, it will be because it’s a secondary effect of SELLING MY BOOK.  I’m going to spend the next year re-evaluating my membership, whether I can continue to afford it and if the benefits I get out of my chapters are worth the expense of the national and chapter memberships.  As of this moment, I am planning on going to the conference in San Francisco (my mom’s already hitching a ride with me :) ).  I’m due up for renewing in August.  My self-worth as a writer doesn’t need to be validated; I just need to see a return on my investment in my chosen professional organization.

  23. 23
    Brenna Lyons says:

    To be honest, RWA is more an organization for unpublished authors than published ones. Almost 80% of their membership is made up of unpublished authors…or was when last I checked the stats.

    I hear the complaints every day. The published authors are having problems with losing their support system they had when unpublished, because being published forces them out of those programs, even if they want them. The RITA won’t recognize erotic romance and erotica with categories. And so on…

    In fact, the whole “changing the definition of subsidy/vanity” to fit our agenda is not new for RWA. They tried it with ‘trade paperback.’ They’ve also tried it with ‘erotic.’

    Until RWA National gets it’s head out of the sand and stops tripping over its own feet, it’s a hindrance to indie/e authors…and most probably to erotic authors. Instead of wasting time trying to change RWA into something it seems so vehemently opposed to becoming, I’ve penned my own opinion of the subject at
    http://brennalyonsden.blogspot.com/2007/07/why-indiee-authors-do-not-need-rwa-sfwa.html

    Even the erotic authors, who are also complaining about RWA need a banner to stand behind. Unlike Maya Reynolds, one of the founders of Passionate Ink Chapter of RWA, I don’t necessarily think the guidelines Passionate Ink have are the banner to rally to. The ones I posted on EPIC lists have met with approval so far. Perhaps it’s time to take back what the industry IS and let RWA sink in denial or swim in the rising tide.

    Brenna Lyons

  24. 24

    I think the RWA was pissed at Triskelion’s fall from grace and felt embarrassed they had deemed them a ‘legitimate’ RWA-approved publisher. So, they decided to make the rules so stringent that no epubs could qualify.

    And should a print publisher experience similar misfortunes, what then? Ban all publishers altogether?

  25. 25
    Shayne says:

    I’m rather happy everybody got booted out of RWA.

    And if RWA is supposed to be an organization for unpublished authors. They’re doing a bad job. Some of those new authors are probably interested in getting into epublishing. And instead of steering those budding authors into the right channel, RWA blasts epublishing.

    Way to go RWA, keep up the good work so the rest of us can keep ignoring you. Never change, I like you the way you are. Stupid.

  26. 26
    Brenna Lyons says:

    LOL! Oh, I agree, Shayne. National is not being fair and unbiased at all, which is a disservice to members. It’s a good thing the chapters are more reasonable, in some cases.

    Brenna

  27. 27
    Shayne says:

    I would love to join one of the chapters I heard about, but unfortunately that requires membership in the main body of RWA. Something I can’t get my conscience to get my hand to part with my money for.

    I’m not too happy about the RWA and gay and erotica stance. This last one with epubs sealed the deal. I was one of those waiting on the fence post to see if joining RWA would be a good thing for me. They answered my question already.

    Thus I joined EPIC. *winks*

  28. 28
    Gail Faulkner says:

    I’m an epublished author. Every agent I’ve queried has requested a submission. The one NY publishing house I’ve pitched so far asked for a full immediately.  I was considering joining RWA. Even printed the application and filled it out. Now I have to ask myself, why would I spend that money?

    RWA is doing an excellent job of alienating a huge class of freshmen authors. They will be fine without us, in the short term.

  29. 29
    Shayne says:

    Oh, and as the owner and senior editor of Erotic Dreams, my goal is to stay away from RWA.

    Every epub starts out selling from their website until they build up enough to branch out into fictionwise, etc. Even if RWA changes the wording of their phrase that upset everybody from primarily to exclusively, they are still doing a serious disservice to epublishers.

    Even the biggies started out that way, and just because the newbies start out that way, doesn’t mean they won’t be the biggies of tomorrow.

    A good publisher (or one trying to be to become a publisher), whether NY or epub, will NOT require the author to pay for edits, paper, whatever. They don’t require the author to do all the advertising work, etc, etc. Starting out by selling on their website has nothing to do with it.

    Can’t say I see much good even if RWA does reword their snafu.

  30. 30
    Bernita says:

    “And as long as literary agents still recognize ebooks as publication credits when reading query letters, writers will be fine.”
    Laura makes a vital point.

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