My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Normally, I don’t really post about this kind of stuff since I figure most of you who read my blog probably read the same industry blogs as I do.

If so, I’m sure you’re very aware of the whole Harlequin furor. Agent Kristin Nelson explains it best on her blog, so I’ll just summarize. Harlequin announced the launch of a new vanity publishing line called Harlequin Horizons.

Yes. A vanity press.

 And you know how those are often frowned upon in the publishing world. Publishers Weekly also has an article here that summarizes it.

Unfortunately, this is creating some serious backlash in the romance realm.  As Kristin Nelson posted about today, RWA has basically said that Harlequin is no longer an “eligible” publisher, since they now have a vanity press arm of the company. They’re still allowed to come to the conference and whatnot, but they will not be able to have conference resources (like editor appointments, promotions, etc) So…that also means that any author published by Harlequin and any of the dozens of imprints is knocked out of line for a RITA award, since they don’t recognize a subsidy/vanity publisher.

At least, that’s what I’m getting from the brief announcement.

While I understand RWA’s standpoint on this, I wonder if it was more of a knee-jerk reaction. There are many very legitimate imprints of Harlequin– from Harlequin Historicals to Steeple Hill–just go to their website to see all of them.

Kristin Nelson posted the announcement by RWA on her blog today but I’ll also post it here as well:

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®,

So, what does this mean for the tons of authors who are published by all the different imprints of Harlequn? Does that equate them to a “vanity press” now? I think it’s wrong if it does. While I understand RWA is making a point here, and I get their stance on vanity presses, I don’t think they should extend this to all of the Harlequin imprints that are in fact legitimate. And I think RWA will be alienating a HUGE segment of their writers if they completely disregard novels published by any of the other Harlequin lines.

I would think this may also have repercussions on agents submitting romance author’s manuscripts for publication. If all of Harlequin imprints are seen as illegitimate in the publishing world, that’s a significant amount of publishing doors closed for authors hoping to see their book in print traditionally.

Do you think I’m reading into it a little too deeply? I hope I am! I’m also hoping that things will be more clear after the dust settles.

Anyway, what is your opinion on this?

Comments on: "Shockwaves in the Publishing World" (10)

  1. Thanks for this — I had no idea!

    I’m not sure how I feel about this right off. On the one hand, a vanity press does cheapen the Harlequin name. But on the other, not ALL of their imprints will be subject to the vanity press, ie: someone couldn’t just say that Harlequin History published their book (I think…that’s what I gathered from it, anyway). So while Harlequin in general would become an iffy name to be thrown around in the industry, it would still have legitimate books being published.

    • That’s my thoughts. I’m saddened that they are cheapening their name by this though.

      And I’m really hoping that RWA reconsiders other imprints–I feel that they are affecting a good number of their members by saying what they have about Harlequin. I understand why they feel that way and they’re making a point by doing it; I just wish they may reconsider about what this may do to a good chunk of their members.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this. I lost a little respect for the company, but they do have to make money. This seems like an alternate way to do it. It could hurt their traditional publishing earnings though. We’ll have to see what happens.

    • Same here. I am also a little concerned that agents won’t want to pitch a prospective author’s book to any of Harlequin’s imprints which could severely affect the already slim number of books published each year. I hope that doesn’t happen–if it does, then we might see more and more people using self-publishing.

  3. I have been following this and yeah it seems kind of self defeating in a way.

    • Trying to be positive about this; hoping that things will work out for the best eventually. We can’t do anything but wait until the dust settles.

  4. I think RWA is great to protect their authors, but I hope some kind of truce can be reached because the fact is that Harlequin imprints are completely legit. There has to be some sort of balance here.
    I still can’t believe they’re starting a vanity press. Self-pubbing would be more respectable than a vanity arm. *shaking head*

  5. Thanks for this information. I managed to miss this totally. My first reaction is that writers stand to lose the most.

    I wonder if it wouln’t have been better to identify the self-publishing arm with another name other than Harlequin.

    It seems a shame that the RWA would paint all the authors with the same brush, lumping them together with those who chose to self publish.

    I can only hope some sort of compromise is reached.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

  6. Author Solutions published 13,000 titles last year. Titles that vary in content and quality. Titles that perhaps didn’t quite fit a publisher’s existing lines. Those books already exist, but are the readers buying them?

    And if not, why? (IMHO they aren’t. 2,500,000 copies were sold of 13,000 titles. That first number sounds impressive, right? But divide that down to the average number of copies sold per title = 192. Depressing.)

    Those books I spoke of are no different than the products readers will receive through Harlequin Horizons. Because these are Author Solutions products, not Harlequin products. Products designed to lure in writers, not readers. (13,000 packages sold to writers at a base price of $599 multiplies out to $7,887,000. Cha-ching )

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