And then they went insane…

It seems that today the romance novel world is getting a shake up. Harlequin, that famous romance publisher, has decided to open a division that would be for self-publishing. Basically labeling themselves (and unfortunately the core of their authors) as a vanity/subsidy* press.

In my daughter’s words “Uh oh.”

Uh Oh indeed. It’s all the news the agent blogs are buzzing with including over at Janet Reid’s place and Kristin Nelson’s blog. RWA (Romance Writers of America – the association for romance writers) has pulled Harlequin from it’s site as being an approved publisher. Thereby Harlequin published authors are no longer elegible for a RITA, one of the romance industry’s top awards.

This just screams insane in my opinion. Why would the biggest romance publisher do something so stupid? When most people hear the words ‘romance novel’ they think trashy and hence Harlequin because they are known for being the type of books you hide under your bed or in a box and never tell anyone you actually read. Hence why I have no intention of being labeled as a ‘romance writer’. But the numbers don’t lie, these books sell and sell extremely well.

But this could get very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

For more info on the reason this is a big deal go here – Jackie Kessler

*vanity/subsidy publisher – from wikipedia – a publishing house that publishes books at the authors expense, basically self-publishing.

11 thoughts on “And then they went insane…

  1. I did not know that!I am one of the few (I guess) who does not read romance novels. What kind of writer would you like to be labeled as? What is your favorite genre to read and what is your favorite genre to write?

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  2. I write women's fiction/general fiction/chick lit (If you have to label it). I love to read almost anything – chick lit or general fiction, literary novels (favs include Amy Tan, Elin Hildebrand, Jenna Blum, Pascal Mercier, Leo Tolstoy).My fav to write would probably be labeled as womens fiction or chick lit. But I like stories with a dramatic twist.

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  3. I'm confused. How does opening a vanity division of a publishing house render the entire publication list ineligible?Furthermore, why does it matter if a book is self-published or not?

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  4. Well, anyone can publish a book – look at lulu or CreateSpace. If you write it you can pay to publish it -whether its crap or not. So it basically takes those of us who are working to do things the right way – via agents and actual edited, print worthy writing and saying it doesn't matter. Harlequin will slap their Horizons imprint on your 'work' for $600 and you can claim to be pubbed by HQ. There's no selection involved. Its stated so much better over here – Kristin Nelson -Then this week, they announced a self-publishing arm called Harlequin Horizons partnering with Author Solutions (not unlike what Thomas Nelson announced about 2 months ago using Author Solutions as well). Now prospective authors can pay to be published by Harlequin and have access to that Harlequin name.So here’s my question. It’s quite the revenue machine. Is this exploitation of romance authors who have been rejected by Harlequin but now have an opportunity to “publish” and a possible entry into traditional Harlequin publishing via a strong self-pub sales record (according to the Horizons website) or is this simply another option that empowers authors to get their work out there? My thoughts: they are telling authors who want to get out of the slush pile to self-publish and maybe then HQ's other divisions will pick them up. Which is crap because no respectable house is going to touch a self-pubbed book. Which misleads new writers with no experience to know better that this isn't the way it works. Janet Reid – In one fell swoop Harlequin just diminished the Harlequin brand name.And worse, what they're telling unagented authors is the only way to get noticed in the slush pile is to pay $600+ to get your book printed first. from comments:The RWA Board had to remove Harlequin from their eligible publisher list because of the “non-vanity, non-subsidy” clause. Harlequin's move is going to have some serious repercussions for both the company and their writers. Basically it means that RWA removed Harlequin because they now are letting people pay to have their work printed and use HQ's name. RWA has the policy that any publisher that will be listed with them must be a non-vanity/non-subsidy publisher – which HQ can no longer claim because of this new division. It just kills creditablity for those now to claim they were pubbed by HQ, because which division was it? Vanity Horizons or one of their other divisions which now becomes mired with was it or wasn't it self published. I let my RWA membership lapse so I can't access the rules on thier site anymore but they are very non-vanity – as should any writer with a shred of self-respect. Self pubbing is NOT the way to make it in the industry.

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  5. Veddy interesting. I am a fan of romance. Actually, I am a fan of most book genres. Chick. Pop fiction. Literature. SciFi. And lately, YA is my thing.But this new division, and the reaction by RWA…I wonder if they are going to have many big names jump ship. Like Susan Mallery. Or Gena Showalter. Or others that I cannot think of…

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  6. but but but that totally lowers the significance when you walk into say a highschool reunion and say “I'm a published author” cause everyone else with enough $$ can say “oh yea me too, how much did it cost you?” NOT good!

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