Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Markhat Interrupted

Penguinline | - Cartoon Girl Working on Notebook

Well, folks, the other shoe has dropped.

February 28th of 2017 will be the last day Samhain Publishing offers any titles. After that, all the Markhat titles (except WAY OUT WEST) will go dark -- on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Itunes, everywhere.

Samhain officially ceases operations on the 28th. 

Rights reversions of the Markhat titles begins right after that. So I will retain ownership of the series, and will be free to do with the titles as I will shortly after the 28th.

So, all that said, just what will I do?

Beats me. I have several options open, which are:

Shop around for another publisher.

Self-publish all the titles myself.

Go hide in a damp hole, learn to gnaw on raw fish, and make a gollum sound when short furry strangers approach.

Frankly I'm leaning toward the third option at the moment. Damp caves are relatively cheap to own and maintain, and I already have the Gollum look down pat. Seriously, you've never seen me in a tattered loincloth, I can DO this.

But assuming I decide to remain part of polite society, I must choose between options one and two.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Finding a publisher relieves me of the time, work, and expense involved in getting new cover art. Of marketing. Of file conversions and distribution and a host of other practices required to put out a book.

But it also means finding another publisher. That will take months, and could very well take years, and might never happen at all.

Yes, the Markhat books did sell. Pretty well, at times. But modern publishing isn't just a jungle anymore -- it's a freshly-nuked radioactive mutant feral jungle, where each and every one of the surviving publisher-beasts is concerned not just with sales but with enormous sales. I know too many awesome mid-lister authors who are starting GoFundMes because their books got pushed into near-oblivion and the authors can't afford a five-hundred-dollar roofing job anymore.

Too, the time factor comes into play. A year from now, people will just scratch their heads and ask 'Markhat who?"

Which brings us to self-publishing. I can do that. It allows me to set my own prices. Package and brand the series as I choose. Pick my own cover art, my own look. 

Which is all very well and good, until one considers the cost of all that.

The Markhat books have been extensively edited by real professionals. I won't need to go through that process again. Even so, there will be costs. Cover artists don't work for free (nor should they). I could buy back the old cover art, but buying back ten covers even at reduced rates isn't going to be cheap.

So that's where I am with the series right now. There are a number of hard decisions to be made, and there will be an interruption in availability of the titles no matter what I do.

That's life as an author. I wish this was television, where every author is a fabulously wealthy lady or gentleman who travels about solving crimes or having adventures, but reality just looks at us writers and says 'Shut up and eat your Ramen Noodles, loser.'

If you're a Markhat fan, you can help by telling anyone who might like the series to snatch it up RIGHT NOW. Maybe by the time they're done reading them I'll have new books out, somehow.

If you're a publisher sitting atop stacks of cash, you can help by emailing me. Really, that would be incredible, and I won't even bring my loincloth to signings. 

Although I've always said I'd never do this, I'm seriously considering a Kickstarter or Patreon or GoFundMe page of my own now. Just out of curiosity, how many of you reading this would consider kicking in 20 bucks or so? And would anyone think I was making a mistake even asking for help?

I would like to close by thanking Samhain Publishing for all their support through the years. They were great, and I'll miss them.

Mamas, don't let your kids grow up to be writers.


  1. Hey, Frank, I'll give you $40 at least on Kickstarter or wherever. Sign me up!

  2. I realize I'm nobody - well, a fan, if that counts? but still, nobody :D - but for the last year I've been helping on the back end as my wife navigates self publishing. I will readily admit that it can easily go either way, but in my experience it hasn't been that scary. If going direct to everywhere sounds daunting, maybe check out one of the distributors; Draft2Digital is the one everyone knows of, but Pronoun Publishing is the newest kid on the block and they're very easy to use (as well as being affiliated with Macmillan). 10-15 minutes of filling in forms will get you into all the big name storefronts. Covers don't have to break the bank, and the ability to control all your own pricing and everything else can be a blessing.

    I'm sorry to hear about Samhain - and believe me, I'm snatching up the Markhat titles I'm missing and telling everyone to do the same! - and I totally understand wanting to hiss in a dark cave. I hope you don't, though! We'd all be missing out on great books if you did.

  3. I would chip in. I love your books, and definitely want to see more. I've already purchased all of your books, or I would go buy them right now!

  4. I would *definitely* chip in...either via Kickstarter or I'd just show up at your house with cash and cupcakes.

  5. I'd kick in, too, Frank. We love your work and so appreciated the time you spent with Savanna last year. She's turning out books faster than I can edit them. And cover artists are definitely hard to find! Maybe we should start a side gig that offers cover art and editing only...seems to be the 2 most expensive things to get at good quality. Anywho, best of luck to you in the switch, and keep us posted.

  6. Count me in.

    Also, isn't the file conversion for all these platforms already done for any existing books? I understand you might need to get new cover art, but I'd think 90 percent of the work has been done.

    Anyway, anything to keep the books coming.

  7. Patreon ftw! I'd happily sign up.

  8. I'm in too! Love all the books and gofundme etc. are excellent platforms. But I agree with the other posters about self-publishing. I have a good friend who is self-publishing and making a go of it enough to retire from her day job and frankly, her books aren't as good as yours...but I do love her drive :-)

  9. I really like your books, and would totally contribute to a kick-starter campaign. My favorite series is definitely Markhat. Would love to know more about Darla's background...