Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harlequin vs. RWA

Jackie Kessler nailed it:

I'm pretty danged proud to be a member of Romance Writers of America right now--they've dropped Harlequin (HQ) from their recognized publisher list because of HQ's Harlequin Horizons vanity publishing venture.  Science Fiction Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America have followed RWA's lead.

The news is all over the blogosphere and fiercely Tweeted right now, and it's not showing to Harlequin's benefit.  Even the New Yorker is giving its two cents, and yeah, not so hot for HQ.

FWIW, I don't have a problem with self-publishing, nor do I even have a problem with vanity publishing.  They all have their place.  But if an agent did what HQ is doing, he or she would be drummed out of AAR.   RWA is an author advocate organization.  They can't go against their bylaws and mission and look the other way when even Harlequin--the world's largest romance publisher if not the world's largest publisher--does something detrimental to authors' interests.

And I've gotta say, even if you were determined to pay someone to publish your books, you could do it far, far less expensively than with Harlequin Horizons.  Less than half price, or so I'm told.

From what I understand, Torstar, Harlequin's parent company is seeing losses in the millions; Harlequin is the only company under Torstar that's seeing a profit and a healthy one at that.  I have no beef with any company making good money; I'm a capitalist at heart.  But I wonder if Torstar is pressuring Harlequin to go the vanity publishing route to so as to make more money to bail out their other failing companies.  Seems to me it's a sure way to kill the goose that's laying the golden eggs.  If one of your companies is failing, you either do what you can to fix it, or you drop it.  You don't go compromising the name and quality of the successful company to shore up the failing one. 

Harlequin's still a good publisher with which to publish your books--advances, international distribution, etc., are okay.  But not as a vanity publisher--not with the Horizon imprint.  The money should flow to the author; the author shouldn't have to pay to be published.