Dogged by reports of conflicts with authors, struggling digita- first publisher Samhain Publishing announced today that owner Christina Brashear is returning to the company and taking up the role of Publisher.
As part of Brashear’s plans to take Samhain back to its roots, the current publisher Lindsey Faber is set to depart the company and take on a consulting role, while Heather Osborn will transition from being editorial director to freelance editor.
Launched in 2005, Samhain Publishing was one of the very first of the new publishers that came into existence with the rise of ebooks. With a catalog of 2,500 titles from 600 authors, Samhain has developed a reputation for quality romance, urban fantasy, and related genre titles, but lately there have also been worrying complaints from authors.
There haven’t been any rumors about financial issues, but in May 2014 Dear Author reported that authors were having problems getting Samhain to revert the book contracts to the authors.
The publisher was in general described as being unresponsive to queries, and they had also recently started using a new boilerplate contract which reserved copyright over a book’s metadata (title and other technical info about the ebook) to Samhain. While it might seem unimportant at first, that new contract clause could make it more difficult for an author to subsequently republish an ebook.
All in all, Samhain was showing signs of being less willing to let go of old ebooks when the contracts were up:
Perhaps the final straw for some authors was that when the reversion was requested, a new contract was sent to the authors that would bind them to additional terms along with the original contract signed. Samhain asserts that this language could be negotiated as it was the result of an overzealous attorney designed to protect Samhain’s rights. However, a reversion of rights is a contractual right. A request to get the right to that work returned to the author should not be met with new contract demands (unless there is more money involved).
This blogger hopes that Brashear’s return will resolve these issues, but that awaits to be seen.