Brian Moreland is one of the bright new talents unearthed by Samhain Publishing. He was gracious enough to give us his personal perspective on what Samhain means to not only him, but the genre as a whole.
Samhain Horror came to me at just the right time in my career. I had already published my first novel, SHADOWS IN THE MIST, through Berkley/Penguin. They passed on DEAD OF WINTER because it’s a historical horror novel that takes place entirely in 1870. My editor told me Berkley doesn’t publish historical novels that date pre-World War II. So I had to find a new publishing house. My agent and I were trying to find a good fit that would help take my career to the next level. I had finished DEAD OF WINTER in November of 2009 and was eager to sell it to a publisher right away. But that year, publishing houses were shuffling their editors, and the book industry was highly unstable. My agent was afraid my book would get bought up and then lost in the chaos, so she told me “let’s wait it out.” It was tough to do, because I had eager fans asking when my next book was coming out. My agent and I held out from submitting my book for over a year. I’m glad we did, because I was ready and waiting for the right opportunity.
In January of 2011, my agent told me that Leisure Books was dissolving their horror line and that their veteran editor, Don D’Auria, had moved over to Samhain Publishing to start up a brand new horror line called Samhain Horror. Don planned to start the line in October 2011 and was looking for submissions. My agent sold me on Don, saying he was a legend in the horror business. I hadn’t heard of him, but I did a little research and discovered that he had been the editor for many of my favorite authors—Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Ronald Malfi, and Jack Ketchum, to name a few. On his blog, Brian Keene wrote a post about how much he loved working with Don D’Auria. I flipped through a dozen books by Leisure authors and read the Acknowledgements. Again and again, I kept seeing Don’s name being praised, many describing him as the nicest editor to work with. That sealed the deal for me, so I told my agent let’s submit DEAD OF WINTER to Don at Samhain. The timing was perfect. We submitted within two weeks of Don starting his new job. Less than 30 days later in February, my agent called and said that Don loves DEAD OF WINTER and wants it to be one of the first books to release in October. I was so excited I called half the people I know with the news. Then I went out and celebrated over a cheeseburger.
Shortly after signing the contract, I was contacted by a woman who told me she was my “liaison” to Samhain Publishing. If I had any questions about royalties, contracts, publishing dates, or anything, I could contact her anytime. That was the most personal service I had ever been given by a publishing house. They even sent me a birthday card.
Working with Don D’Auria has been a dream. Like everyone says, he is the nicest guy and an icon in the horror business. A few months after my book deal, I attended the 2011 World Horror Conference in Austin, Texas. While there I saw a cool flyer for Samhain Horror that had my name on it included among Ronald Malfi, Hunter Shea, and Ramsey Campbell. I wondered who had put out Samhain Horror flyers on the lobby table. Turns out Don D’Auria was attending the convention. I had no idea he’d be here. We tracked each other down and met for the first time in person. Don treated me to lunch at Pappadeux’s, and we talked about Samhain’s long-term goals for the new horror line. The more he described his marketing campaign and his vision for my career, the more confident I felt that I had chosen the right publishing house. The next few months I worked with Don on editing DEAD OF WINTER. It was a very smooth process. Don is very diplomatic in his style of editing. He made some great suggestions on how to improve my novel while keeping most of the book intact. The editorial took me less than a day to correct and send back. I even got to offer my ideas for the cover design, which doesn’t typically happen with large publishing houses. The art director and illustrator implemented all of my ideas and came up with a great cover.
At Berkley, I had to wait over a year to see SHADOWS IN THE MIST in print. With Samhain, my second novel released eight months after we concluded the book deal. I was fortunate to be chosen among six authors to roll out the new Samhain Horror line. The best thing that has come out of releasing with a group of fellow horror authors is that we’ve been like a band of brothers helping one another promote our books. I’ve brainstormed marketing ideas with a few of them. I had a blast doing a radio show with Hunter Shea, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi, and Jonathan Janz. We’ve helped each other get book reviews and interviews in magazines. I interviewed several “Samhainers” for my blog (http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com), including Frazer Lee and W.D. Gagliani.
Samhain Horror has done a fantastic job marketing, getting my book cover in magazines like Fangoria, Famous Monsters, and even on a digital billboard in New York’s Times Square. With big publishers, I’ve had to do all the marketing myself; only the celebrity authors got to benefit from advertising. Samhain Horror’s parent company, Samhain Publishing, is one of the fastest growing e-book publishers in the business. And they heavily promote their authors. When I got back the rights to SHADOWS IN THE MIST last November, I immediately signed a new book deal with Samhain to re-release my World War II supernatural thriller in September of 2012.
With Leisure Books gone and the Big Six publishers focused on YA vampire romance novels, I see Samhain Horror as one of the front runners to be the next big horror publisher. Here, new authors can get their big break. And readers can discover a mix of fresh new horror talent along with new works from established authors. As one of Samhain’s contributing authors, I definitely feel like I’ve found a home to publish my books for years to come.
Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of historical horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels are Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist (available September 2012). He also has two thrilling short stories available for Amazon Kindle: “Chasing the Dragon” and “The Dealer of Needs.” Brian loves hiking, kayaking, traveling, and watching sports. He lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://brianmoreland.com/ or on Twitter @BrianMoreland. Brian’s blog for news about his books: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com