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:
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!
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?