We are living in the world of The Onion. After opening the week announcing Harlequin Horizons, the pay-to-be-published venture, and getting called on it, the Big Romance Publisher shot itself in the other foot yesterday by responding to the RWA response by saying:
“we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.”
Harlequin employs lots of literate people who understand things like character motivation and the credibility of prose. How then, did they write this stuff? The wording is clear and concise but understanding the context is lacking; it’s like publishing a romance novel with no romance. It addresses all the superficial text of the issue, without grasping the point: the business operated by this venture would not be an acceptable career for the hero of an Harlequin Romance. Changing the name for what you are doing is not going to make the activities acceptable. I’m sure any mystery author could spot the problem: rationalize everything during questioning but don’t let go of the game.
If this slackness in business catches on, we will shortly see announcements like these:
- Miss America no longer pole-dancing under her title. While reigning as the symbol of purity she will be Miss America; while dancing, she will use the name Fifi La Boom-Boom.
- Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi operations relaunched as The American Pretend Funds: “We realized the public is unlikely to send money to Madoff With Your Money 2, but the Madoff business model is too good to let go so we changed the name. American Pretend Funds isn’t about being rich, its about imagining being rich. We help people pursue their dreams. We have to keep the dream alive.”
To quote that old saw, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”
Thanks to novelist John Barnes for the Miss America line. Read about John’s new novel Tales of the Madman Underground here.
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