Here’s everything I know about romance writing:
- It’s not my thing.
Which is why I didn’t really know what to make of Harlequin’s recent announcement that they were starting a self-publishing/branded-imprint hybrid called Harlequin Horizons. Fortunately, people like Jackie Kessler know a good bit more than I do about such things, and in a post on her blog today she pulls the wool back quite nicely:
What is the difference between what Harlequin is doing here and what scammer agents do when they reject an author but then steer them to Papa Jack’s Editorial to pay a lot of money to “clean up” their submissions…and Papa Jack is another business owned by that agent? Easy: none.
Read the whole thing, it’s more than worth it. And if you know anyone who has stars in their eyes about this supposed opportunity, make sure they see Jackie’s post.
I also suspect this is only the beginning of such shenanigans. The idea that all of these novice, amateur and un-published professional writers are suddenly going to take advantage of self-publishing tools has got to be making traditional publishers both mental and green with greed. Ergo Harlequin dangles its brand in front of the uninitiated, works a bait-and-switch, and takes a cut. Ugly, but oh-so lucrative.
(By the way, I’d never even heard of the RWA before, but good for them for saying, “No.”)
Update: April L. Hamilton weighed in on this debacle as well, and as always April gets inside the numbers:
For example, as of this writing it costs $35 to register a U.S. copyright online; HH/ASI charges $204 for this same service.
Depressing and predictable at the same time.
Read April’s post. If you’re too busy, read the UPDATE at the bottom, then find time for the rest later. This kind of thing is not going to go away, it’s simply going to become more sophisticated.
(The people at Harlequin are not embarrassed that they’ve been caught red-handed, they’re embarrassed that they didn’t make things so convoluted and obscure that no one could really tell what was going on. Like your cell-phone contract.)
Later update: John Sclazi rips up the remaining shreds.
— Mark Barrett