Now I know several of you likely to be reading this are writers, either already published or aspiring to get that way. Among you, I know that several are specifically involved with the romance genre or the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre. So you’re probably already aware of the huge debacle that’s exploded across the publishing blogs the last couple of days about Harlequin opening up a shiny new vanity publishing imprint.
I posted earlier this week about another new Harlequin venture, Carina Press. Which I thought was pretty awesome. Harlequin’s new vanity imprint? Not so much.
Here are a whole bunch of links expounding on the brouhaha:
- Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware (which you should be reading if you’re not already) gives an overview of the situation and why it’s of deep concern
- Pub Rants, the blog of agent Kristin Nelson, brings the news of the Romance Writers of America issuing a very strong statement against this, and what they’re going to do about it
- Making Light chimes in with news of the RWA statement and much discussion in the comments
- Smart Bitches Trashy Books addresses the issue, and a whole heckuva lot of heat about self-publishing vs. vanity publishing can be found in the comments
- Author Jackie Kessler does a breakdown of the concept of Harlequin Horizons and explains exactly why the various stunts they’re trying to pull are bad
- Writer Beware posts a statement in from the Mystery Writers of America, also strongly against this development
- Kristin Nelson breaks the news that Harlequin is now backpedaling on the “Harlequin Horizons” brand name on the imprint but no word yet about whether further retractions will occur
- Most relevant to my interests as an SF/F author, SFWA weighs in with a very, very strong statement of their own
- Inevitably, Fandom Wank has put up a post since there’s some sideshow wankery involved, featuring a flamewar in the abovementioned SB thread, and a very snarky article from the New Yorker
My take on the matter? Well, initially I was going to say that I didn’t really have a horse in this race, since I’m an SF/F author, not a romance author–but pointed out and quite correctly that actually, any writer of fiction has a horse in this race. The reason for this is that if Harlequin actually pulls off doing this imprint of theirs, it’s highly likely that other big NY-based publishers will follow suit. As Writer Beware calls out, a couple already have, although they’ve apparently taken pains to be less obvious about it in their branding.
And, the big sticking point for me is that according to the spin that was going around the Smart Bitches thread from a Harlequin rep, they will be including in standard rejection letters an upsell to the vanity imprint. Which essentially means that an author who comes to Harlequin via traditional publishing routes and who gets rejected would be getting told “we don’t think your book is good enough to be a Real Book, but if you pay us enough money, we’ll humor you and print it anyway!”
This goes against the unshakeable law of writing: money flows to the author. Always.
So yeah, this is huge and the furor is still ongoing. I’ll be very, very interested to see what Harlequin does now that they have not one, not two, but three professional writers’ organizations angry with them.