Friday, November 20, 2009

Publishing Debate: Harlequin Horizons

Or as I like to call it, Poo Storm 2009!

There's been a lot of drama in the publishing world this week surrounding Harlequin's announcement that they are opening their own vanity press, called Harlequin Horizons, and offering it to rejectees from their slush pile.

There was helpful info posted on the Writer Beware blog summing up the announcement and potential controversy, then the agents began posting fervently, keeping us in the loop!

Agent Kristen Nelson first asked if this was "Exploitation or Empowerment", then clued us in yesterday that the RWA had laid down some smack, letting everyone know that Harlequin was no longer recognized as a real publishing house because of this recent move. Yesterday, she filled us in on a letter from Donna Hayes, the Harlequin CEO, announcing that they were removing the Harlequin name from the vanity press due to all the hoopla from their authors (no kidding,) and that they thought the RWA were being jerks.

Janet Reid, the Query Shark herself, was also in the middle of the action, announcing the first signs of the approaching poo storm, revealing how pissed off she is that Harlequin seems to be preying on newbie authors, and then further endearing herself to authors everywhere by telling Donna Hayes to stop blowing smoke and basically either fix it or go take a long walk off a short pier.

Rachelle Gardner chimed in today with a rant on the quality of literature (which I totally agree with), and asking her readers their thoughts on vanity publishing as the wave of the future.

Even sci fi author John Scalzi threw his hat in the ring, discussing RWA, the MWA and SFWA all stepping in to chastise Harlequin.

Needless to say, this whole thing has made me feel like I'm taking crazy pills. I mean, seriously, Harlequin? I don't even want to know what their poor authors must be thinking.

So, my question for you is: What do you think of all this?

Exploitative or smart business move?


Yunaleska said...

This early in the morning I don't really have thoughts on the issue, but thank you for setting everything out clearly. I haven't checked the links but I did want a summary of the situation.

Michelle Gregory said...

so Harlequin has just added more fuel to the debate over traditional publishing over "self" publishing. interesting.

my thoughts? poorly written stories get picked up by publishing houses on a regular basis and the public eats them up, esp. romance of the type that Harlequin publishes. i know - i've read many of them. that's not to say that all Harlequin/Love Inspired stories aren't top quality, or that all formula romance stories are bad. it depends on the author.

on the other hand, good stories don't always get picked up by publishing houses when they should be. it all depends on whether or not the pub. house thinks the book will sell and there's no accounting for the public's taste or reader trends.

i know i'll probably get some flack for this, but i think anybody who writes has the right to publish their work. if it's bad, hopefully no one will buy it. if it's good, hopefully someone will buy it. but as i've stated above, there's no accounting for reader taste.

case in point - the Eragon books. C. Paolini self published the first book and it was so well received that a big pub. picked him up. now that he's famous, i think the quality of his stories has diminished significantly, yet his books are still very popular and he has many fans.

i look forward to seeing what other readers here have to say. there will never be an easy answer.

Tere Kirkland said...

Hmmm, yeah, I had high hopes for the new Harlequin Teen imprint, but after this, I'm not sure what to think.

Thanks for the links, maybe they can help me make some sense of this.

Have a great weekend!