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That Romance Novel Plan

Some days, I would forgive anyone who said that the publishing industry was one of the most poorly run businesses in existence. As one of the examples that could warrant such a comment, there is the latest plan by Harlequin in which their rejected authors can go and, well, basically pay for their work to be published:

Author Solutions has teamed up with Harlequin to form Harlequin Horizons, a new imprint for self-published romance authors. The imprint will recruit writers in two ways: authors whose manuscripts have been rejected by Harlequin will be made aware of the Harlequin Horizons option and authors who sign with Author Solutions will be given the opportunity to be published under the Harlequin Horizons imprint. According to an Author Solutions spokesperson, the imprint will offer special services aimed at the romance market, including unique marketing and distribution services. All services are on a pay-for-service basis.

Author Solutions will handle all aspects of the venture, although Harlequin Horizons will exist as an imprint of Harlequin, and the publisher will be able to monitor sales and sign authors to a traditional imprint.
This is the second deal Author Solutions has signed with a major publisher. Earlier, it reached an agreement with Thomas Nelson to publish self-published authors interested in reaching the Christian market under Nelson’s WestBow imprint. The Author Solutions spokesperson said additional agreements with other traditional houses are in the works.


In response to it, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) released this:

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®,


Which is fair enough, and hopefully the backlash will continue--I don't know if this is more than a slap, since really, it's just one conference--and put a stop to something that only adds another layer of work and frustration and economic struggle to an author.

It makes you wonder about the mentality behind this doesn't it? How poorly must Harlequin think of their authors to begin such a plan? I'm not a romance author but even I could feel the slight by a company there, one which appears to both belittle an author's intent to make a career from their work, and to also place the contribution of the author at what one could argue as the bottom of the totem pole in getting creating a book. It almost says, that if you write a book, self publish it, and it gets enough to read it then you will be graced by people who will help package and sell your work and allow it into book stores.

Quality doesn't seem to come into it.

(crossposted)

Comments

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lyndarama
Nov. 19th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
Since when has quality been a major concern of the romance publishing houses anyway? Most of them have been providing extremely detailed author guidelines for years, which amounts to little more than a Choose Your Own Plot for budding writers: add handsome swarthy foreigner (check) and other essential stereotypical elements (exotic locale: check, frustrated, unappreciated hausfrau or nubile virgin: check) and you're in.

Besides which, Matthew Reilly proved that self-publishing can lead to mainstream success, so why not anyone else?

As long as the publishing houses do as little work as possible, and spend as little money as possible, they're happy.
nick_kaufmann
Nov. 19th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
Woohoo! I love the RWA's response! It's basically turning the tables on Harlequin and doing to them what Harlequin is doing to authors by saying, "Sorry, you're not invited to the conference, but you can still come if you pay us for your space." Awesome!
deborahlive
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
If my understanding of the scope and importance of the RWA National Conference is accurate, this is huge.

Good for RWA!
cassiphone
Nov. 19th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
This move by RWA also I think renders Harlequin's entire list (and their authors) ineligible for some pretty major prizes. It's all very interesting.
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