I've been waiting since I opened this blog to have a topic come up that really felt important to talk about. And now, it's been handed on a silver-platter, by non-other than Harlequin.

I have endeavored to keep things very flat and even-keeled here on my blog, because I am mindful of my career goals and don't particularly want to jeopardize them. However, when something affects so many areas of publication, it's hard to just sit back and stay silent.

As aspiring authors who work with critique partners and work with RWA, we are 'taught' (for lack of a better term) that we should not settle for self-publishing and/or vanity publishing. We should take our rejections as they come, we should keep our noses to the grindstone and we deserve to be rewarded, financially, for a book written well. Not to mention, within RWA anything self/vanity published won't be recognized.

Now, the number one publishing house for Romance, the granddaddy of them all, is opening a self/vanity branch. Which, on the surface might not be so terrible IF they didn't brand it with the big name, HARLEQUIN.

By sticking that brand name on there -- as opposed to having a branch named just Horizons, who traces back fiscally to the parent company HQN -- several things happen:

a. Authors are being encouraged to use this service -- good business practice. But in return, they have to pay fees they will likely never make back, and particularly not when they only see 50% of the royalties on rights they supposedly own in full. Not good. This fails the author.

b. Books that go through this process are released into the market wearing the HQ name. On the site, it even makes references to people who couldn't get their books published in other means. Translation -- the quality wasn't up to industry standard for one reason or the other. HQ carried the belief of quality in their market. Only, the uninformed aren't ever going to realize the difference. We have people paying to put a brand on a book, that does not meet qualifications. This fails the industry, particularly in a genre where authors already struggle to be taking seriously.

c. Authors who have already worked hard and attained the right to say "I'm a Harlequin author" or "My book was published by Harlequin" now face the immediate question "Self pub or...?"
Shame on you HQ for shaming your authors.

d. And then there's the whole issue of their fees. Frankly, I can think of a four letter word that begins with 'R' for them.

Carina Press I could endorse. But Horizons? The whole concept makes me quite literally sick to my stomach. I don't want aspiring authors falling into well-written promotional traps invetned to pad a bottom line. I want pre-published authors to succeed. To know the respect that comes with having a legitimate publishing house buy your book.

And for all the editors that work for HQ who might stumble on this... know that nothing here is any sort of reflection on your work or my feelings for you personally. I have a sneaking suspicion there's a whole bunch of HQ editors who would like to see this Horizons venture go away -- though they aren't in any kind of position to likely discuss any of it.



3 Responses so far.

  1. Claire,

    You've summed the issues nicely. It will be interesting to see how it all falls out.

    Congrats on the rave reviews for "Seduction's Stakes"

  2. This is the third post so far just this morning I've read discussing Harlequin and their self-publishing venture. All I know is that I'm glad I don't have a contract with HQ at the moment because there might possibly be a revolt of biblical proportions from authors for this bold move.

    So, I agree with Heather... it'll be interesting to see how everything goes.

  3. I agree with the revolt stuff. What I heard on this subject, prior to RWAs positioning is that they were pretty disgusted. Granted only a handful ever speak up in situations like this. But usually one can guarantee there's more than just the vocal minority when it comes to 'politics'.

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