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Harlequin Gets Into Self-Publishing

Got a question/comment about the business of writing or about the publishing industry? Here's your place to post it!

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SarahWoodbury
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Location: Pendleton, Oregon
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Postby SarahWoodbury » Thu November 19th, 2009, 7:37 pm

As an unpublished (yet aspiring!) author, I am split on this kind of thing. Many people just want to see their names on a book, regardless of the cost, and more power to them. Yet, I feel like there is an entire, evolving world out there that, for a lack of a better word, 'preys' on unpublished authors like myself. I have a friend whom unpublished people pay to 'edit' their books, for a significant fee. She used to be a romance editor at a publishing house, actually. There's just so much money to be made on people's hopes.

Then again, better to throw your money away publishing a book and have something concrete in your hand than drive 12 minutes from my house to the local casino and really throw it away!

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu November 19th, 2009, 8:16 pm

This is interesting. Harlequin posted the highest profit of any publisher in a year when many publishing houses tanked. But apparently they, too can see the hand writing on the wall.

Thomas Nelson also opened a self-publishing division this year.

The reason is that they are going to need to keep their people employed in the coming shift, and this is one way to do it.

As to self-publishers preying on hopeful authors, they are merely offering a service. If they imply that the author will, by self-publishing, have the kind of clout that an author with a physical book had in the seventies, then, yes, that smells of dishonesty. But any more, with Print-on-demand being used by big publishers and high school English classes, any would-be writer who has illusions of being widely distributed just because his words are formatted and available as a book, would have to be too stupid to live.

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cw gortner
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Location: San Francisco,CA
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Postby cw gortner » Fri November 20th, 2009, 12:21 am

THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
[B]THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN
[/B]

www.cwgortner.com

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michellemoran
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Postby michellemoran » Fri November 20th, 2009, 1:46 am

Great links, Christopher and Susan. I belong to RWA, and yesterday, they sent this statement out in their newsletter. Basically, RWA has revoked Harlequin’s publisher status.

Dear Members:
Romance Writers of America was informed of the new venture between Harlequin Enterprises and ASI Solutions to form Harlequin Horizons, a vanity/subsidy press. Many of you have asked the organization to state its position regarding this new development. As a matter of policy, we do not endorse any publisher’s business model. Our mission is the advancement of the professional interests of career-focused romance writers.

One of your member benefits is the annual National Conference. RWA allocates select conference resources to non-subsidy/non-vanity presses that meet the eligibility requirements to obtain those resources. Eligible publishers are provided free meeting space for book signings, are given the opportunity to hold editor appointments, and are allowed to offer spotlights on their programs.

With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints.

Sometimes the wind of change comes swiftly and unexpectedly, leaving an unsettled feeling. RWA takes its role as advocate for its members seriously. The Board is working diligently to address the impact of recent developments on all of RWA's members.

We invite you to attend the annual conference on July 28 - 31, 2010 in Nashville, TN, as we celebrate 30 years of success with keynote speaker Nora Roberts, special luncheon speaker Jayne Ann Krentz, librarian speaker Sherrilyn Kenyon, and awards ceremony emcee Sabrina Jeffries. Please refer to the RWA Web site for conference registration information in late January 2010.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Gaylord Opryland!

Michelle Monkou
RWA President
RWA Alert is a publication of Romance Writers of America®,
Last edited by michellemoran on Fri November 20th, 2009, 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Visit MichelleMoran.com
Check out Michelle's blog History Buff at michellemoran.blogspot.com

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michellemoran
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Postby michellemoran » Fri November 20th, 2009, 1:48 am

Given the huge outcry over this, Donna Hayes, the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of Harlequin, just responded with this:

We have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.


I'm curious to see how RWA will respond.
Visit MichelleMoran.com

Check out Michelle's blog History Buff at michellemoran.blogspot.com

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LoveHistory
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Postby LoveHistory » Fri November 20th, 2009, 2:13 am

What an ingenious revenue source! If I had a bit more knowledge of the graphics end I could charge people an arm and a leg to do their books same as Harlequin apparently plans to do. Good grief. Even Lulu's not that expensive.

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Miss Moppet
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Location: North London
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Postby Miss Moppet » Fri November 20th, 2009, 6:17 am



Yes, I like this blog too! They really are smart bitches. :)

I think self-publishing should be available, but authors should be warned that they'll need to make a significant extra investment of money and time if they want to do more than sell to friends and family. This seems even to be true for traditional publishing now.

I think that now Harlequin are not including the Harlequin name in their self-publishing branch, they should reduce their prices considerably. Confusion with the traditionally published Harlequin range would have accounted for quite a lot of sales.

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri November 20th, 2009, 6:01 pm

Contract publishing -- which is a better way to describe what is now called self-publishing and used to be called vanity publishing -- has its own specific niche. Back in the days when all printing was offset, and the setup part the major expense, I regularly participated in publishing annual reports and fundraising books of guest stories for a nonprofit, which was just business, although it was called 'vanity'. And my book on appraising llamas, which I wrote for my farm bank, was strictly small-press. I would have killed, back then, to have the prices and resources available now.

My friend is a contract publisher, but she is a lot cheaper than Harlequin. For a set fee, and more negotiated according to the project, she will take her client's text and pictures and produce a beautiful book for them to sell or share with friends and family. For an additional per-word fee, she will edit and coach people as they say whatever it is they want to say. On average, her books 'sell' between 100 to 500 copies; nobody expects more, and everybody goes away thrilled. She has more work than she can handle, and looking at the prices that other contract presses ask, I'm not surprised.

She's making a decent living at the writing business, which is more than I can say for many other full-time writers I know.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Fri November 20th, 2009, 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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