I was completely shocked on Friday to find a Facebook post/share from one of the most respected of small presses, Samhain, announcing they would be closing their doors within the year.
Shock is actually a mild word to what I felt: sadness, anger, despair, and fear.
Sadness of course because Samhain, as I said, is one of the class act small presses that had been around since before I came onto the writing scene. In fact, when I was making initial inquiries about presses to submit to, Samhain was set out as one of the best to send your work to. They published quality work, treated their authors with joy and respect (still showing in how they’ve choreographed their demise to give the most benefit to their authors—including continuing to pay them royalties): if your work was accepted by Samhain, it meant something in the writing world.
Anger and despair because I still had hopes of becoming a Samhain author, which dream now will never be realized, along with countless other authors. I feel robbed in a way of the opportunity. I am angry at myself for not pursuing them with other works in the hopes of getting to work with their excellent staff of editors, illustrators, and graphic designers.
But most of all, I am frightened of what Samhain’s closure foretells for the small press. For they are not the only small press to have closed their doors in the past year. From February 2015 until now, Crescent Moon Press, Musa Publishing, Amber Quill Press, Breathless Press, and now Samhain Publishing have all closed or are in the process of closing their doors. And these are only the ones I know of. I’m sure there are more.
What does this foretell in turn for authors, especially new authors who need the small press venue if they don’t have an agent or a Big Five contract, or aren’t ready to self-publish? Granted, there are still a long list of small presses alive and kicking out there, but should we take time to read the handwriting on the wall? Many different factors went into the closure of these small publishers, but I’m suggesting we look long and hard at those factors to see if a pattern emerges.
Forewarned is forearmed the old adage says.
Goodbye, Samhain. “We hardly knew ye.”