Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vanity Fair?

This week the big news in publishing is Harlequin. If you are a Harlequin author or know one then the amount of emails in your inbox this week about the future of publishing, Harlequin style, will probably have topped 500.

Every major blogger in the industry has commented on the situation and every one of them has had record comments wading into the fray. (Read Jane Friedman for an objective overview)

Harlequin is a HUGE publishing company. Last week it launched an e-publishing arm Carina Press.

One of the first of the big publishers to do so...showing they were forward thinking etc etc (Harlequin have always been innovative and the Romance authors are amongst the most business savvy writers you will ever meet.)

This week however Harlequin stuffed up. They launched Harlequin Horizons...their vanity publishing arm.

So if we are looking at purely business, they have the staff, they have the resources, why should they select the best manuscripts...why not just charge the writers fees to publish their book and split the royalties....

The backlash from the authors and writers associations has been huge with Harlequin changing their Harlequin Horizons website hourly and today abandoning it altogether for a different name. They are definitely trying to distance themselves from their vanity publishing mistake...unfortunately...the mud is sticking.

If your manuscript gets rejected by Harlequins regular imprint you have the chance to still get published provided you pay for everything up front.

Now if you self publish you are in total control of the whole process. You own everything.

If you vanity publish, someone else takes control over the process because you don’t have the time or the will to do it yourself. You pay all the bills but you don’t fully own the finished product as the publisher takes a cut of the royalties.

So if your book takes off (a rare thing with vanity publishing as the publisher has no incentive to market your book because they have already been paid their fee upfront, so it’s all down to author marketing making the difference) the vanity publisher then takes the credit and a chunk of the royalties...and you paid all the bills....

You have to go into this with your eyes wide open and that is the Harlequin authors concern, along with the devaluing of the Harlequin brand. (After all they have standards don’t they?)

The authors (and agents) are right to be mad...(actually mad is rather mild for what is happening out there.)

At the beginning of this week Harlequins new imprint Horizons was promising that the books would look the same and be bought everywhere that you could buy a Harlequin book. There would be no difference... now they are trying to drop Harlequin altogether from the imprint...aware that they have blundered.

And while everyone is feeling sorry for the Harlequin writers out there...the Christian writers got caught as well in the same sort of horror story....who will be next?


pic is a pair of vanity could kick with them, throw them, see if they fit, choose one over the other...lots of associations with the post...


Fifi Colston said...

Fascinating- went and had a look at the now renamed site and for $1599 USD you can get your book printed on demand with 25 free copies, editing and marketing. The editing costs .077 per word so on an average novel of 60,000 words thats $4620, then marketing,$2,279.00 for a book trailer, $475 for a web site then more for the hosting, a book signing kit for $360, plus design services for a great cover which no price is given for but you can call to discuss...
So you could pay around $10,000 USD to get your previously unwanted m/s into your friends and relatives hands.
Talk about preying on the deluded.

Maureen said...

aah yes,about the editing, they are promising a minimal edit of 1700 words in the package...which 1700 words noone knows but if it is the beginning chapter that would be about the first five pages...
The marketing is web only...if you want actual book marketing you might need to buy shelf space in bookstores...

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