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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Welcome, Cris Brashear from Samhain Publishing

Please say Hi! to Christina Brashear, the powerful force behind Samhain Publishing. 

Bio:     I came, I saw, I conquered. Or was conquered. It’s a toss up.”
Christina Brashear, as the President and Publisher, is the driving force behind the inception and growth of Samhain Publishing, Ltd. She can be reached by email through: publisher@samhainpublishing.com
Blog: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/news (I’ll be launching in the coming months a personal blog the url will be: www.betterthanphychotherapy.com. It’s for fun.)


What made you decide that you wanted to start your own publishing company and what motivated you to get involved in the romance industry?

I loved my job. When my time at the previous company for which I worked was over I realized I didn’t want to leave this industry and all the wonderful authors with which I worked and played. I just couldn’t see going back into the corporate world of an IT department or computer operations. When your job makes you happy, do what you need to do to keep doing it! Also, I didn’t have a choice; the authors said I had to start a publishing company.

As for the romance industry specifically, who doesn’t love romance! Romantic fiction is about emotion, a kind of study of our society and how we live in our time. If you want an idea of what was like for the merchant class in the Victorian age, read a Jane Austin book. Of course, with all fiction, you take it with a grain of salt as we write how we want things to be not always the way they are, that’s why it is fiction. Reality can be harsh and when I read fiction, ninety percent of the time I’m going to go for a romance book because I want to read about how people feel and how they come to a happy conclusion as their lives together are launched.

For me, it’s also a study of the human condition through entertaining means. How does this slightly broken person overcome the adversity they suffered to connect with another slightly broken person and reach a point where they accept who they are and can move forward. I love reading a well crafted characterization and the journey from alone to a pairbond.

Can you describe what you do as part of being the owner/publisher of Samhain?

I answer a lot of questions. The buck stops with me, so I have to be available to all departments for decision-making or assisting with their deciding what direction to take. I like to hire people who are smarter than me, give them the tools they need to do their job and then be their sounding board and provide direction as needed.

Really, when I think about it my job mainly consists of looking out for the interests of the authors who have entrusted their work with Samhain. What are the best deals for marketing, advertising, audio rights, translation rights, print production, digital and print retailers and distributors? I have to look at everything and make judgments on the viability of a new relationship or evaluate an existing one to make sure it’s still the best for the authors’ works. I review our publication contract and make adjustments every few years so that we are keeping up with legal language the changes in the industry bring. We have to make sure that the copyright for the works are as protected as they can be. I also am the oversight for distribution of money. Samhain pours the majority of its minor share back into the company and my job is to make sure that it is spent in the most effect way to bring in more sales and new customers.

I also travel. A lot! I love hanging out with authors and some seem to like to hang out with me, too. ;) I tend to vent aloud what-if concepts that spark storyline and plot ideas. I also feel compelled to feed authors, so you can usually count on a meal if it’s that time and you’re orbiting me.

Since I’m from an IT background, I tend to lean heavily toward the latest and greatest in software. I believe computers should work for me and not me for them. I like to find software that does as much of the routine work as possible, so that the team has time to focus on more important matters, like connecting with customers, developing strategies to expand sales, and how to make the authors happy.

Also, I am usually the one who heads up the new website development. I’m really excited about the new site that launched in October. While it’s a little bare-bones at the moment, it’s a powerful platform that we can build out a fabulous system that will be like an iceberg; so little seen up top, but so much down below. I’d wax on about the plans, but I think people just get bored. Kind of like when I start explaining the royalties process, eyes glaze over. :-/

What's one important thing you've learned about your job as you became more 
 involved in it?

The same thing that I’ve learned with every job: it’s all about the customer service. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a “real” customer, the type from whom you are hoping to receive money or the type that’s the concept of treating your coworker like a customer. If you treat everyone you encounter as if they are a customer, you get what you give. You get what you give—if you’re dismissive and rude, you are going to get that in return and who wants to do something for someone like that? I look for a way to say yes when ever possible. If it can’t be yes, then I look for an alternative solution. I don’t like to say no, no is a stop and you can’t grow and expand when you’re constantly stopping.

How do you handle complaints/negative feedback from readers/authors?

I have a really deep pond. :-O

Seriously, I take their complaint into consideration, after culling away the emotion usually accompanying the feedback. What can I do to fix this or make it more palatable? How can I make this situation better for all parties? Where are we failing the reader or the author and how can I make it right for them and Samhain both?

The hardest thing for anyone in customer support to do is learn how to ignore the emotion that comes through from the frustration the customer is experiencing. It can come in the form of passive aggressiveness to outright belligerence. Learning to really understand it’s not personal, it’s not about you, can time some effort, but once you reach that nirvana, you’re like Teflon and can wade into any situation and find a way to resolve it.

What do you consider the best way for an author to do promos?

It varies from author to author, from genre to genre. And it’s yet to be discovered. There is always something new on the horizon. The next great thing, way to connect to another human being, is just around the corner.

I can say that more paper is thrown away after conferences than tchotchkes give-aways. All the money authors spend on cards and bookmarks and whatnot just makes me sad. I think it’s better to spend the money on one good item that someone is going to keep with them and have in their line of sight long after the event is over than it is to spread it out over cardstock and paper items which are sacrificed for room in the suitcase for books and get left behind for the hotel room service person to discard. Also, all the dead trees make Samhain …er me sad.

I’m still trying to learn how to make to-do lists. And to actually check them. I have to accept I am not going to remember all the things I have to do and I have to be more diligent about making lists and looking at them. That’s a recent realization about my job.

Chats. How important do you feel it is for authors to take part in chats on loops or at other romance sites?

I can only answer in concepts and theories as I haven’t interacted in social online settings in years and am not up on how well attending these types of events are. If they are well attended by a base of readers, it’s great. If it’s just buddies or fellow authors supporting each other then it’s a waste of time. Your time is more valuable than money, spend it wisely. Authors do need to connect with the readers who enjoy their work and who want to learn more about them. Authors also need to connect with new readers who are looking for the style books they write to expand their reader base.

I do advise be aware of how you might be perceived, as it has been my experience from observing poor behavior and the consequences that follow, it’s best to maintain an online personality, an author persona, that is benign and fun but doesn’t hit any hot buttons. It goes back to the treat-everyone-as-a-customer philosophy: don’t argue and don’t engage in a no-win. No-wins are debates that could alienate simply because your position isn’t inline with their position on any given topic.

Don’t give you away, keep the up a mystique like the fantasy life people dream authors live, you know the bon-bon-eating, feather-boa-wearing, writing-from-a-huge-canopied bed, castle-dwelling author persona for the public. Keep the real you private for your own sanity and safety. Most author write under a penname so they can have that level of distance, but I have seen so many crossing those lines in my years in the business and it frequently does not end well. Leave them wanting more.

If you can do that, and find sites that have people who want to engage with authors, it’s a great way to introduce your work to new readers and to interact with the loyal readers.

Please add anything else you feel is important.

Write because you love it. Write to please yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s how we learn and grow. Speak well of yourself, shut down the negative voices in your head. Take a walk. Drink more water. Smile, we’re only here for a little while.

Pleased add your bio and the place online where people can find you:

Christina Brashear is a veteran of digital publishing, having begun working in the industry at the turn of the century. As President and Publisher, Christina is the driving force behind the inception and growth of Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

Christina’s goal when founding Samhain Publishing was to establish an author-friendly publishing company where literary artists can express their creativity in a safe environment where they receive professional editing, help from a supportive marketing and promotions team, and a business-oriented operations team to handle mundane tasks. This allows authors to flourish by focusing on what they do best: writing.

As a voracious reader herself, this was not done out of altruism, but so these wonderful stories concocted in the fertile minds of creative people would come to fruition and be available to Christina and others like her who enjoy non-standard takes on traditional tropes.

Christina is always open to ideas and suggestions and can be reached by:
Twitter @crissyb65
Visit SamhainPublishing.com and find something great to read!

Facebook, Twitter, etc.


15 comments:

Lynda Bailey said...

Awesome interview! Cris, thanks so much for spending a little time with us today. ;)

Cara Marsi said...

Thank you so much for the interesting and inspiring interview.

Melissa Keir said...

Wonderful interview. It's great to know more about the person behind one of the best selling publishing houses!

Rose Anderson said...

Great interview. I read and write romance with happy endings for that very same reason. Thanks for joining us today.

Lynne Connolly said...

I've been with Samhain from the beginning, and the company has been inspirational to me. Crissy is at the heart of the company, and her energy has helped to make it the success it is.

Tina Donahue said...

Great interview, Cris. I love being a Samhain author. You guys rock! Awesome editorial and marketing support. :)

Paris said...

Loved the interview! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight with us today.

Gemma Juliana said...

Chris, thanks for visiting RB4U today. I've wondered about Samhain, and am delighted to know more about you, since you are the engine that drives the train.

Carly Carson said...

Thanks for the interview. It's fun to hear from one of the pioneers in ebooks.

jean hart stewart said...

interesting and informative to the nth! Thanks for being here today.

helenafairfax.com said...

Thanks for posting this interview. I've read and loved many books by Samhain authors. It was great to get to know more about Chris and the Samhain publishing house, and I loved the comments on how to make best use of time and interacting with others online. Great interview!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

A very interesting interview. Good advice and information.

Marianne Stephens said...

Thanks for being here at RB4U!

Polly McCrillis said...

Cris, having the IT background your do is a major boon for your company. Your authors are fortunate to have someone with experience and knowledge of technology and an interest in keeping up with new innovations and methods to promote their products. Great interview, thank you!

Jeanine said...

Very interesting interview. Thank you.

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