fbpx

Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

SIGN UP FOR SNEAK PEEKS OF MY NEXT BOOK + NEWSLETTER-ONLY UPDATES.

IWSG: Don D’Auria and Samhain Publishing

Yesterday I received a most upsetting email. It was from my editor Don D’Auria, explaining that he had been let go from Samhain Publishing.

Samhain’s community of horror authors were in shock for the rest of the day, reeling from a complex mix of emotions that had one thing in common – they all sucked. What would happen to Don, we wondered, and what did this mean for Samhain’s horror line? And for our books?

For those who don’t know, Don D’Auria is a big name in horror publishing. After Leisure books folded, Samhain hired him to create their horror line. Don obliged, bringing a stable of wonderful authors along with him. The man’s eye for talent is so well known and respected that even the likes of Jack Ketchum have said that if you’re published by Don, it’s a guarantee that other editors will like your work as well.

But that’s not the reason we’re so loyal to Don. The plain truth is that he’s a good, gentle, straightforward man in an industry that is often cutthroat and cruel. I couldn’t ask for a better first publishing experience than the one Don and Samhain gave me. He was always in my corner, patiently answering my questions and walking me through the process. His encouragement helped me believe in myself and my writing again.

So yes, I’m angry about what happened to Don. I’m also sad and concerned, both for him and for all the awesome writers he acquired.

However, I realize I don’t know the whole story. I don’t know why Samhain made this decision, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them. They’re trying to sell books, and for whatever reason, they decided this was the best course of action to take. I may not agree with them, but I’m not a publisher. As upset as I am, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and seeing what happens. What else can I do? I know Don will land on his feet – he’s too talented not to.

Just when I thought things were bad as they could get, I saw that one of Don’s authors was calling for people to boycott Samhain on social media. Not only will this hurt Samhain authors – the very writers whose careers Don helped build – it will also hurt the great people who work there. Samhain isn’t some huge, faceless corporation. When you write for them, you’re on a first-name basis with all the people who work so hard to promote, package, edit, format, and distribute your books. And I can honestly say that everyone at Samhain has been awesome to me. This isn’t a black-and-white issue, where one side is good and the other evil–it’s more complex than that.

I may be biased, but I think the best way to show support for the work of Don D’Auria is to support his authors, who are already hurting. It’s bad enough we’ve lost our editor. What good will killing our sales do?

You can check out Samhain books here. Thanks so much for reading. <3 If anyone else has gone through this, or even if you haven’t, words of advice and encouragement are greatly appreciated.

The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

Photo credit: Snipview

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

55 Comments

  1. Lisa S.

    So sorry for you and Don. He seems like one of those people who truly care about their staff. I’m sure a talented guy like him will land on his feet.
    I’ve been laid off before, and it always boils down to one thing…money. The economy is still very unstable (look at all the big local stores like Target and Future Shop closing).
    Good people like Don always resurface with a new and exciting adventure. Good luck to him!

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m sure he will find something amazing, and we will all support him when he does, just like we’re supporting him now.

      There’s lots of talk about horror not selling, but I refuse to believe that. Hollywood is nuts for horror stories…there has to be something wrong with the way we market horror books.

      Reply
  2. Samantha Bryant

    Oh dear! What a situation! I hope it works out as well as it can for both Don and you.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Samantha. Me too. Don is a great man. Can’t say enough good things about him.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie Scott

    How heartbreaking. And confusing. I’m sorry.

    I’m sure you’re right that there’s another side to the story, but since you don’t what that is, I can imagine how hurt you feel.

    I agree with you that a boycott of the publisher only hurts the authors. If anything, direct correspondence and inquiries should be made to the publisher if other authors want answers.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Stephanie. I appreciate the kind words.

      Some of us–especially our writers’ liaison–have been talking to the publisher, but there are no clear answers yet. I suspect there never will be.

      Reply
  4. Deb

    I can’t imagine. I see it a lot from writers I follow who’ve had a similar experience with agents suddenly not being there, so they have to find a new agent. It’s a scary situation, and I think you’re taking the right route at staying neutral as a party outside of what happened.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Deb. Yes, having to get a new agent isn’t fun. I have that issue to deal with as well, but for other reasons.

      Reply
  5. Diane Burton

    How sad. As you say, we don’t know the whole story. Still, it sucks to lose your editor.

    Best wishes,
    Diane IWSG #92

    Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it does. Thanks, Diane.

      Reply
  6. Crystal Collier

    That’s rough. I’ve worked with some fabulous editors, and to lose one when you’ve got such a great relationship? Yikes! Here’s hoping things go well with the new editor.

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m not sure there will be a new editor for me, Crystal. At least, not there.

      I have a huge amount of loyalty to Don, and I’m not sure Samhain is the place to publish my next books. I will, however, continue to support and promote The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave.

      We’ll see what happens.

      Reply
  7. VR Barkowski

    I’m so sorry to hear about, Don. For whatever reason, cutting editorial staff seems to be the current trend in publishing (see Berkley/NAL). Whether this is a symptom of restructuring, cost-cutting, or both is open to debate.

    I agree boycotting the publisher is not the answer. What benefit is there in punishing the authors?

    VR Barkowski

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for commenting, VR. I agree. I think when people are angry, they often lash out (especially on social media) without really thinking of the consequences.

      The author who started the blackout is a good guy who loves Don too. I think we all feel so helpless that it’s tempting to do SOMETHING. We just have to make sure it’s the right thing.

      Reply
  8. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    Good for you for thinking about all the others sides of the story, and for acknowledging that few things are black and white. Hang in there!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Madeline. Human nature is too complex to just label one side “bad” and the other “good.”

      Perhaps my journalism training is helping me stay neutral, even as I grieve.

      Reply
  9. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    Very sad!
    Boycotting that publisher’s books won’t accomplish anything. Except hurt the authors. Maybe Don will step in and tell them not to do it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Alex.

      He has stepped in, thankfully. I think it was just a knee-jerk reaction to do something to support Don that could have gotten a lot worse.

      Reply
  10. Chrys Fey

    I’m sorry to hear he was let go and hope things work out for all involved. You’re right that boycotting Samhain is not the solution. Supporting Don and his authors is the best thing to do.

    Reply
    • JH

      Agreed, Chrys. I’m sorry too.

      Thanks for your kindness.

      Reply
  11. Anna

    I’m sorry for your loss. I agree that any public negativity will only hurt careers. Remember every publisher/editor/agent has a list of undesirables that they will never work with. And if he is half the man you say he is, he won’t want this for any of you.

    Anna from Elements of Writing

    Reply
    • JH

      No, he doesn’t. I know he’s tried to reach the author and put a stop to it.

      The last thing we want to do is come across as a bunch of crazy vigilantes. In big publishing, editors come and go all the time. It’s heartbreaking, but whoever said business was fair?

      Reply
  12. Olga Godim

    That’s so sad to lose your editor in such a way. But I agree with you – a boycott is not an answer. Perhaps, everything will resolve for the best, and if not, there is time enough to make decisions when you know the whole story. Anyway, keep writing and don’t let the politics of the publishing world keep you from your keyboard.

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome to my blog, Olga! That is very sound and wise advice–thank you.

      I appreciate the kind words.

      Reply
  13. Nadine Feldman

    Wow. It’s tough to have to say goodbye to such an important part of your team. I had a few shaky moments with my editor a few months ago (I’m indie, but we’ve worked together for a long time), and I was really nervous about possibly losing her. When you click with someone, it’s a big deal.

    Best of luck to you and everyone at Samhain for a smooth transition.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Nadine. I’m so happy people understand why this is such a big deal.

      I’m glad you were able to work things out with your editor. It’s probably even more important for indie authors to have editors they trust.

      Reply
  14. Michelle Wallace

    Sorry to read about this.
    As you mentioned, it’s a complicated issue – not straightforward at all.

    My hubby always says, if people do not know the facts of a situation, they should always bear in mind that there are 3 sides to a problem: there’s he said, she said and the truth in between.

    Reply
    • JH

      I agree, Michelle.

      While this is a very sad situation, I don’t think my publisher is evil – far from it. I am not getting out the pitchforks and torches, not for this or anything else.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
    • Jayna

      Artlcies like this just make me want to visit your website even more.

      Reply
  15. Ula

    Sorry for the loss. In an ideal world we’d get to work with wonderful editors and publishers forever. Hopefully everything will work out. Often things seem bad and then something better happens. So here’s hoping that’ll be the case in this situation.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Ula. I *so* hope you’re right!

      Reply
  16. Toi Thomas

    What a sad and crazy reality to face. So sorry for you and him. He seems to be taking it well and looking to the future. Talent and skill will always find an opportunity and I wish him the best.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Toi. I really appreciate your kindness. I have no idea if Don is reading all these posts, but if he is, I’m sure he’d appreciate it too.

      Reply
  17. Birgit

    Boycotting is not a good thing because it does nothing to the publishing house. I have no idea why but the word “restructuring” comes into my head and I hate that term. So many people are told this by companies they work for and have given their all. In a place where creativity should be a huge focus it seems very cutthroat and as, always the bottom dollar is what speaks. Once the dust has settled, I am certain he will prevail and you will find yourself , with him, at a new publishing house

    Reply
    • JH

      I hope you’re right, Birgit. And I agree, this is the publishing version of “restructuring.” Or at least one of them.

      I was crushed when I heard about Don’s dismissal, and I’m still not happy, but I know he is meant for something bigger and better. The man is an icon.

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. This month has been crazy!

      Reply
  18. Matt Manochio

    Great post, Holli, and thank you for reading mine. SHP has always been good to me. I have no desire to bash the company, even though I’m sickened to see my editor let go in such a way. I’m going to continue to purchase Don-edited SHP books (your novella is on my Kindle). And I’m proud of my work with Don and will continue to try sell my own. Personally I disagree with this who blackout business. Yes, it’s a way to register disapproval over this move, but it also doesn’t help the company and its writers. I look at this way, I’ve done what I wanted to do at SHP (two novels and a novella). I have nothing in the works with them, nor will I unless/until I fully understand the logic behind their post-Don plans. Even then, I’m iffy. Publishing is an awful business (not as bad as newspapers), and what happened to Don is part of it. But there are bigger and better publishers out there, and I hope to land with one. So I’ll be starting my next book soon, and who knows, maybe I’ll be pitching to Don at his new home, because he will find one. Keep on keeping on.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Matt. I’m so touched that you took the time to respond to my post. And thanks for buying my book! I’ll definitely return the favour–easy to do, because your book was already on my list.

      We seem to be on the same page, down to the blackout and the shock over Don’s leaving. I too hope to follow him to his new publisher, whomever that might be.

      I get the sentiment behind the blackout, but I think it was misguided. Just one of those rash decisions that can do more harm than good. Thankfully, I think all of Samhain’s authors avoided it like the plague. If other people want to do that kind of thing, fine, but if we do it, it looks bad.

      Publishers have to make tough decisions all the time. Who wants to work with an author who throws a public fit over their business decisions?

      Reply
  19. dolorah

    What a horrible situation. I hope it all works out for everyone affected.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Dolorah. Me too!

      Reply
  20. Lexa Cain

    I know a bunch of publishers that folded in the past few years and their authors suddenly found their books no longer on vendors, so you can take comfort that your book is still for sale. Others have had it much worse, including when Noble Romance, which had several horror authors nominated for Bram Stoker awards, went under.

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh for sure, a publishing house collapsing is another animal altogether. I’ve had friends who’ve gone through that, and it isn’t fun.

      But I’m still going to mourn my editor. 😉

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. This month has been crazy!

      Reply
  21. Stephanie Faris

    So sorry you’re going through this! My agent left her agency about a year after I signed with her. We had two choices–go with her or stay with the agency and go with a different agent. I stayed with my agent and went to a new agency. However, when your editor leaves, aren’t you usually assigned to a different editor? That happened to my fellow S&S authors Jen Malone and Gail Nall–they just moved to a different editor–AND their previous editor went to HarperCollins. They were both able to get books with HarperCollins, too–so best of all worlds!

    Reply
    • JH

      Hopefully your agent situation worked out! That could be a tough decision to make, depending on the circumstances.

      We have been assigned a new editor, but of course there is only one Don. Hopefully I’ll be able to work with both editors once Don lands at a new place. It’s difficult to explain to those who haven’t worked with him or who don’t know of his legend, but he truly is one of a kind.

      For me personally, the main difference is that I didn’t have to sell Don on my work. He’d already expressed interest in three of my books and was just waiting for me to send them over. In that way, it feels like I’m starting from scratch again.

      Reply
  22. Raquel Byrnes

    Dust ups and changes can be super stressful especially where our writing is concerned. I think you are handling things well by just staying calm and waiting to find out more. Emotion based decisions can sometimes lead us wrong. Hang in there!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Raquel. I really appreciate the kind words and support. It means a lot to me.

      I’ve learned from experience not to make rash decisions. They usually only make things worse.

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. This month has been crazy!

      Reply
  23. Doreen McGettigan

    I am so sorry. My publisher fired its entire editing department and moved editing to the Phillipines. I loved my editor and had the best first book experience. I just went through the production process of my second book and it has been a nightmare. I have been so upset. Needless to say I will be looking for a new publisher for my third book.

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh no, Doreen, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry to hear it. When will people realize they get what they pay for? Can you follow your former editor, assuming she’s still editing?

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. This month has been crazy!

      Reply
  24. Jemiah Jefferson

    I just read about this situation today, and indeed, I hope to lend my support to the writers orphaned by Samhain’s decision. As someone who was first edited by Don – and to this very day, unfortunately, never edited by anyone else – and for whom the collapse of Leisure/Dorchester sent me into a multi-year panic attack from which I probably still haven’t recovered, I feel you and I hope for the best for your future. I hope we can both acquire editors who believe in us and our work in the way Don did. Solidarity!

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome to my blog, Jemiah. Thanks for commenting. I really appreciate the kind words. I can’t even imagine how devastating the collapse of your publisher must have been. In so many ways, that’s worse than losing an editor.

      I have high hopes and confidence that Don will land somewhere else. Then we can both follow him. Until then, don’t give up – keep submitting and fighting the good fight! Solidarity!

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. This month has been crazy!

      Reply
  25. Shannon Lawrence

    People are quick to call for boycotts of various things. I hope he finds a great new company, and that Samhain and their authors come through this okay.

    Reply
    • JH

      Too quick, in my opinion. Why not at least let the dust settle and see what happens before gathering the mob with pitchforks and torches?

      Thanks for the kind words, Shannon. Much appreciated!

      Reply
  26. Gabi Porcz

    I have heard nothing but positive words about Don from the time he was with Dorchester and lately with Samhain. He strikes me as someone with whom it is not only a pleasure to work with but also someone who is totally proficient at what he does.
    I have read Brian Keene’s thoughts on what has happened and even though I am by no means a businessman, I wholeheartedly agree with what he has to say.

    Needless to say, I will be sticking by the authors and not the publisher.

    Do NOT….repeat, do NOT let this faze you in any way. I appreciate it is extremely upsetting, but once you have made the arduous climb up the proverbial mountain, it will be smooth sailing with more enjoyable landscapes to behold on the other side.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Gabi! I really appreciate the kind and encouraging words. Don is amazing to work with, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity. We’ve kept in touch since he left Samhain, and I suspect he will have good news for us soon.

      As for Brian, I appreciate where he was coming from, but it’s very difficult to support Samhain’s authors without supporting their publisher as well. As Samhain has now folded, it’s a moot point, unfortunately.

      Reply
  27. Doug Hirt

    Wow. Just went searching for Don on Google to see where he was now. Don bought a slew of books off of me and he is indeed a great editor to work with. I started with Don when he was at Doubleday and followed him through a couple publishers to Dorchester. But since I didn’t write horror, we lost track of each other. I’m going to have to track him down now. Thanks for the update.

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re very welcome, Doug. As far as I know, he’s still a free agent.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.