Harlequin Horizons, a mug’s game

Remember how sad you felt when your neighbor’s son was arrested for dealing drugs out of his dorm room, or your cousin’s boss turned out to be running an investment scam? We typically think, “such a nice person who must have fallen into bad company…” We initially try to rationalize bad behavior. Then there’s Bernie Madoff who had everything and still chose to run the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme. Suddenly, financial desperation or a bad choice of friends is no cause or justification for criminal activities. Such a  choice to step over the line makes us even sadder. Sad for the victims and sad for the families of the victims and the families of the offenders. I feel the same way about Harlequin’s decision this week to launch Harlequin Horizons, a self-publishing business, for romance authors who elect to take the self-publishing route.

Several times a year, we agents get a come-on letter from swindlers who say: “Make money off those authors that you can’t represent. Include our self-publishing offer in your rejection letter and we will send you 15% of whatever they spend with us. We will even write the recommendation letter to include. You do no extra work and can pocket hundreds of dollars every month.” I, and many other agents, toss these letters in the trash or send them around to each other with snarky comments. I know no legitimate, actively selling agent who falls into collecting kick backs for promoting shady deals. We decline because we make money by selling worthy books to real publishers who pay advances and royalties to authors. We know that self-publishing is a mug’s game and the only winner is the fake-publisher. The definition of a mug’s game is “a futile or unprofitable endeavor.”

And this week, one of the best kids in town has stepped out of the spotlight and into the shadows. The funny guy in the Harlequin logo, whose parents own the best run fiction factory in the world, has turned down a dark, mean street. So sad.  What invoked this crazy scheme?  Car thieves make a lot of money, but most parents don’t want their kids to go into auto theft.  Just because writers will spend money to try to get published does not make it OK for commercial publishers to actively take their money. When I first saw the Harlequin Horizons website I thought it was an article in The Onion. Those wags just did a great fake news report on Ford’s New Car: the 1993 Taurus.

Who’s in this game? Author Solutions, no surprise there. According to their website, they hold the brands: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, and Xlibris. Each began as a vanity or POD press to suck money from unsuspecting or unprepared authors by charging authors money to be published. Now these operations are merged. How Harlequin got sucked into this I can’t imagine. Harlequin comes from a good family and has a history of tough but honest dealings in the real publishing business. They don’t need this.

The offer is reprehensible: For between $600 and $1,600 you can pretend to be a published author. You won’t be, really published, because no commercial publisher liked your book well enough to bring it to market. They will just pretend to offer it for sale if you pay the costs. Harlequin’s follow up announcement today, blows even more smoke:

For the first time since figures have been kept, print-on-demand titles outpaced traditionally-published titles in 2008 according to Bowker. Self-published print-on-demand titles make up a large portion of this expanding sector. This is not traditional vanity press publishing; self-publishing is a large and vibrant part of the publishing industry today.

While the number of self-published titles may have exceeded the number of “real” book titles in 2008, the number of actual sales of all those titles to readers is virtually zero. Before they all got swept under the Author Solutions rug, Author House and Xlibris reps told me at a Book Expo that “actual sales of titles average fewer than 100 copies, all of which are bought by the author.” The self-publishing industry ranks as a “bestseller” any book that sells over 500 copies. Self-publishing is an expanding sector because those whose sole mission is to suck money have concluded that it is easier to get money from authors wanting to be published than from readers wanting to buy books. This does fulfill a certain twisted logic. Publishing a successful book requires editorial judgment, investment of resources, dealing with book-selling channels that increasingly demand a bigger share of the cash flow, and appealing to fickle readers. The self-publishing model is sooo much simpler. There’s only one customer, the author, and he or she buys all the books which are never manufactured until purchased. Of course this is a growing segment of publishing; the publisher gets money, takes no risk and retailers are not actively involved

So ask yourself: are you going to buy these books? Will your friends who read and who don’t currently buy enough commercially published books to keep profits up at commercial publishers suddenly start buying and reading books like this? For the same money, you can have a nice day at a spa, modest cruise, resort stay, or fabulous dinner with friends.

You can always invest in your own development as a writer or treat yourself to a reward.  I think most romance authors, published or not, have too much self respect to fall for this.

Update: Here’s a link to the RWA response.

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43 Responses to “Harlequin Horizons, a mug’s game”

  1. FranW says:

    It doesn’t end at the $1600. Have you seen the marketing that authors are encouraged to buy from Harlequin? Editing for around $6000. An email ad blitz for $12,000. A book trailer for $20,000. This isn’t chump change.

    And it’s not about self respect. It’s about not realising that this ain’t how it’s meant to be. Tens of thousands of authors have fallen for other vanity scams like Publish America — they all honestly, truly believe that new authors have to pay to get published, or that a vanity published book is a foot in the door of commercial publishing.

  2. I have no idea why Harlequin has gone this route. They’re profitable, they have a variety of legitimate imprints and hundreds and hundreds of profitable books. I’d call it greed, but that might be too tame a word to describe it. Frankly, there’s likely a business reason they went this route though for the life of me, I can’t imagine what it could be.

    I suspect this will taint the Harlequin brand. Most author blogs and forums like Absolute Write are rightly PILING on the ridicule out of this move by Harlequin.

  3. Sue Collier says:

    I agree with you: This is a bad idea for Harlequin. They are taking advantage of naive wannabe writers who might as well toss their money out the window since the likelihood of their books reaching readers is nil.

    But you are lumping together genuine self-publishing with subsidy/POD “self-publishing.” And there is a big difference between the two.

    A hybrid of the typical “subsidy” press and POD, these companies call themselves “self-publishing companies” or “POD self-publishers,” and they offer more choices to authors at better prices than the typical subsidy companies. They might advertise that customers can use their own cover designs or set their own price.

    They are usually inexpensive. What that means, unfortunately, is that they frequently attract bottom-of-the-barrel literary talent. Plus, with such low up-front investment, the authors themselves dive in head first, often without professional editing, typesetting, and cover design. Although the hybrids sometimes offer these services, they may be less than satisfactory. The result of this low-cost approach is frequently a poor quality book that sells few copies. These companies are trading on the good name of self-publishing to make their companies appear to be a legitimate option for authors.

    In true self-publishing, authors assume all responsibility for all aspects of their books—and they keep 100 percent of the profits. They also own their book’s ISBN and copyright; they pay for and make decisions about editing, cover, size, price, and printing; and they can use a wide variety of sales channels, including the Internet as well as all routes available to traditional publishers. Self-publishers know up front that they will be responsible for marketing, promotions, and publicity. Self-published books that sell extremely well may be noticed by traditional publishers, who might want to buy the rights from the author/publisher (*What Color Is My Parachute?* and *The Celestine Prophecy* are two such titles).

    Geniune self-publishing can be a good idea for speakers, entrepreneurs, business professionals, and other nonfiction writers with a niche market. Sensible author/publishers realize they probably won’t achieve NYT best-seller status, but with a well-edited and well-designed book, and a well-thought-out promotions plan, a book can be an important marketing tool.

    As for Harlequin: The overcrowded self-publishing field is already chock full of poorly done books that very few people read (thanks, POD “self-publishers”). It’s a shame. And I certainly hope it’s not a continuing trend.

  4. writingtofly says:

    Great response. I’m not a romance writer. I’m one of the hordes that will occupy the query-lines and slushpiles when my manuscript is finished, but I want to be accepted by a real publisher as a good writer, acknowledged by peers as a competent novelist. This is just to capitalize on broken dreams, shattered hopes from those close to giving up. It is similar to approaching sick persons and try to sell them snake oil that will cure them, if they only sign a check.

  5. Ros says:

    The RWA link doesn’t work for non-members. You can find the whole text of it at Dear Author.

  6. Eden Glenn says:

    Wow. I am still filtering all this information and understanding what it really means. Change often upsets the establish culture of any organization. Though, how do we as writers resist being swept up in negative change or change that is not going to be beneficial to us as individuals and to us as authors in an industry?

    I am unpublished so you have to consider that frame of reference for things that I might say. We are all in different places in this wonderful journey as writers.

    When I was a newbie writer and the burning ‘story to tell’ out paced any sense of craft or ability, I had a desperate desire to be PUBLISHED. At that juncture I don’t think I really understood what ‘to be published’ meant. The mecca, gold of the Gods, be-all end-all goal of my existence was to be PUBLISHED, whispered with sufficient reverenced awe.

    Thank the writing Gods, I found and joined RWA and a local chapter. Some years down the road in my story telling journey I realize an objective that will be much more satisfying is to be published well. To have produced a work of sufficient quality and craft that it will stand the test of agents, editors, publishers and hopefully the consumers in todays competitive market place.

    The education that my local chapter has given is invaluable. The understanding that the time and resources used are invested in my own professional development as a writer and for growth of my craft abilities represents time and money dedicated to myself as an asset in ownership of my business of writing.

    I don’t have all the answers. The answer for me certainly may not be the solution for everyone. However, I believe that if we must influence the adoption of a cultural ‘norm’ not to simply publish, but to publish well. The result of adopting this concept will not only give us the power to hold together for our own benefit but the viability of an industry as a organization. Also that standard can provide the stability to salvage some of those impressionable young writers in the early steps of their own journey that haven’t seen beyond the place of desperately desiring to be published at any cost.

  7. Darynda Jones says:

    Your metaphor for what Harlequin has done is absolutley perfect. It kind of floors me that people will pay a vanity press to print their manuscripts, and why? To say they are published? And Harlequin Enterprises, a company I have long admired for what they’ve done for women and writers in general, is making it sound so wonderful and acceptable.

    I am just a tad befuddled as to why they did this. Yeah, the money, but it does nothing to up the professionalism or standards of the industry. And the romance industry has had to fight tooth and nail for the respect and validation it has now. It seems like a step in the wrong direction.

  8. Patricia Kay says:

    Bravo. I agree with every word. Today, for the first time in my long career, I am ashamed of one of my publishers.

  9. [...] Agent Ashley Grayson This entry was posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009 at 4:56 pm and is filed under Industry, Links to more interesting people than I, RWA, Romancelandia, blah blah blah. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  10. I’m curious how many agents will rethink submissions to Harlequin. They’re still a viable route for publication even though an arm of the house is now a vanity press. But do agents foresee issues popping up within the traditional lines because of this terrible decision? Also, does RWA’s relegation of Harlequin to non-eligible status have any effect in your eyes?

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been reading author responses for the past two days, but I’ve really wanted to see what the industry pros think about Harlequin’s new venture.

  11. Jianne Carlo says:

    Terrific analysis. Loved the introduction.

  12. Kathy Crouch says:

    Where does this leave teh authors that are signed with Harlequin? Where does this leave the industry? As mentioned above if you want to be published that badly go with a POD or self publish. There’s only 1 author I ever bought from a POD and only because it was a relative, :-) .
    This is confsuing but again why they think they need to do this is horrible. Somewhere I read it’s their parent company TorStor(sp?) that chose this step. All I know is the stuff is in the fan now and as a unpublished newbie I knew I didn’t want POD and now I see this.

  13. anon says:

    know no legitimate, actively selling agent who falls into collecting kick backs for promoting shady deals.

    Objective Entertainment
    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73790

  14. Chrissy says:

    Wow. Madoff. THAT’S THE ANALOGY! Genius.

  15. [...] analysis of Harlequin’s letter to its writers, a Smart Bitches discussion, an a literary agent’s analysis. Between Twitter, the web, and my desire to become educated, I spent much of yesterday glued to my [...]

  16. Arianna says:

    Thanks for an agent’s input. Glad agents also have bad feelings about this venture. May Harlequin see the error of their ways. Rock on, RWA!

  17. [...] and everyone and their agent has an opinion about it. Funnily enough, it all seems to be the same [...]

  18. Nancy Naigle says:

    The good news is . . . the choices are still ours. I won’t be self-publishing no matter who wants to hang their hat on that storefront.

    With the state of the economy and the promise of continued economic headwinds I won’t be pointing fingers at anyone that is trying to keep their business model flexible enough to sustain whatever directions the publishing industry might take. I guess it’s a something for everyone approach. It’s different, but who are we to say it’s right, wrong or just a cutting edge approach to sustaining results in tight times.

    The choice is yours which path you take. Be smart, make goals and work to achieve them. Don’t waste time speculating or worrying — it won’t make any difference except to keep you from your own dreams.

    Have a good week — no fretting.
    Nancy

  19. Wendy Warren says:

    Thank you so much. Your analysis eloquently explains the problem with Harlequin’s justifications for taking this route.

    Next February I will celebrate my 18th as an author published with Harlequin. I am so grateful for my career. Grateful for the people with whom I’ve worked. But, as I wrote on a loop, I feel, today, as if I work for the company that came up with “Draw Winky.”

    If there is any lemonade to be squeezed out of this lemony move, I’ll welcome it. But I think Harlequin needs to take a much longer look at its pros and cons list.

  20. jane says:

    I have no idea why Harlequin has gone this route. They’re profitable, they have a variety of legitimate imprints and hundreds and hundreds of profitable books.
    @sean

    There is speculation that Harlequin went this route under heavy pressure from their parent company Torstar , who are heavily in debt and apparently close to bankruptcy. Torstar lost over 200 million dollars last year and has been performing poorly this year. Harlequin by contrast has been flourishing.

  21. Lee says:

    For anyone who’s interested, MWA has this comment:

    On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the “eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service,” notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list. The steps outlined at that time included removing mention of this for-pay service entirely from its manuscript submission guidelines, clearly identifying any mention of this program as paid advertisement, and, adding prominent disclaimers that this venture was totally unaffiliated with the editorial side of Harlequin, and that paying for this service is not a factor in the consideration of manuscripts. Since that letter went out, Harlequin has launched “Harlequin Horizons,” a self-publishing program. MWA’s November 9 letter asks that Harlequin respond to our concerns and recommendations by December 15. We look forward to receiving their response and working with them to protect the interests of aspiring writers. If MWA and Harlequin are unable to reach an agreement, MWA will take appropriate action which may include removing Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Edgar Awards.

    (I can’t find a direct link for it, but it was quoted on Making Light by J.D. Rhoades, a MWA member.)

    Also, SFWA has issued a statement: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/11/sfwa-statement-on-harlequins-self-publishing-imprint/

    Summary: While there are no restrictions on the Nebula Awards other than “members nominate and members vote,” from this point forward no Harlequin book, from any line, will be eligible to count toward the requirements for SFWA membership.

    Make no mistake — what Harlequin has done here is not “self-publishing” no matter how many times they use the phrase. Between the rapacious pricing, the writer-gets-less-than-half-the-profits contract, and most of all the kickbacks, this is vanity publishing pure and simple.

  22. Anna Taylor Sweringen says:

    Thanks Sue for your comment on the difference between genuine self-publishing and these subsidy/vanity scams. A friend of mine has self-published devotionals she developed for the shut-ins of her church. They’re beautifully designed and well-edited. I don’t remember what company she went with, but she was in control of every aspect of production. Other churches in our area invite her for readings and buy them for their congregants.

    Maybe someone in house looked at Harlequin’s critique service and took the Wall Street leap, i.e. “If someone will pay $60-$200 for a critique with no guarantee of publication, why not see if we what else we can get?”

    It’ll be interesting to see what the whole story is when the dust settles.

  23. Fantastic analogy and best explanation I’ve read to date.

  24. Christine says:

    I went to the website. The women who write for the Vanity Press must be vain as they look a whole lot tidier and prettier and YOUNGER than I do. But I am working on my craft, improving my stories and investing my meager amount of dollars in ongoing, professional development; not lipstick and makeup.

    Out of curiosity, I emailed them to ask how much the HH books sold for and about my potential earnings. Their reply was nebulous at best. The most I could garner from them was I’d make maybe 20% (this of course without additional expenses to bump up the costs of the packages). Now I ask you, why would I pay someone to be their *lady of the night?*

    Ridiculous.

    I do have one notion: should I not make it to the big leagues by the time I am 90, I will publish all my naughty little adventures on line, for free, and do it as a serial just to embarrass the kids and grandkids. At least I’d have fun with my stories and I wouldn’t waste the aforementioned inheritance on frivolous expenditures.

  25. Chazz says:

    My first job in book publishing was at Harlequin. I had some romantic ideas about publishing. In the first week I talked to a upper middle-grade exec in the cafeteria who was curious how I ended up there.

    “I just really want to work in book publishing,” I said, shrugging.

    “Well, Harlequin isn’t really a publisher,” he said. “We’re a book packager.” I think he felt sorry for me.

    They have always been a huge cash cow for Torstar. Now that they’re doing this, it’s easier to understand his comment. The editors take the job–and themselves–very seriously. However, the corporate culture doesn’t respect the books or the writers. They are widgets. (And the nice carpet isn’t for the editorial floor mixing with those widgets. The thick carpet is for the real executives. That’s a sign. When I later worked for other publishers, carpet distribution was much more egalitarian–if they could afford carpets.)

  26. [...] “The offer is reprehensible.” via Ashley Grayson Literary Agency Blog [...]

  27. Romance Reader says:

    Harlequin just ruined its name. I feel sorry for the legitimate Harlequin authors because now their names will be tied to scam and low quality. As a reader, well, I just no longer trust Harlequin. Now they are going to pry upon their slush piles to prop up their filng parent company? Tacky, sleazy and predatory.

  28. [...] like Teddypig and industry blogs like Galleycat blogged about the deal. Agents like Janet Reid, Ashley Grayson  and Jennifer Jackson offered their opinion, as did editors like one from  Juno Books. [...]

  29. [...] For more on this venture and the response to it, you can click below on these links for comments: Ashley Grayson Agency Jackie Kessler (Hilarious by the way!) Dear Author Harlequin and Author Solutions Press Release [...]

  30. D Gary Grady says:

    To echo what Sue Collier and others have said, what Harlequin is offering is *not* self-publishing and should not be so mislabeled. With true self-publishing an author acts as his or her own publisher, expenses are reasonable, and there’s nothing at all wrong with it, any more than there’s something wrong with a garage band making music CDs for their fans. In contrast, a vanity press / subsidy publishing operation is a scam to separate naive writers from hundreds or thousands of dollars in return for false hopes and some boxes of books.

  31. Kathi Macias says:

    As the author of thirty books and one who continues to publish regularly in the traditional publishing world, I feel qualified to comment on this topic. I chose to self-publish a book a few years ago simply because it made more sense to do so. I needed the book quickly (by self-publishing I got it in thirty days!), wanted to maintain control (I have been able to make content changes since the original publication), and because my primary source for sales on this particular book is selling it at conferences where I speak/teach I wanted to earn more money per book than I would traditionally (I average $3–$6 per sale on this self-published book). Do I have to do most of my own marketing for this self-published book? Absolutely. But I do that for my traditionally published books as well. Since making the decision to self-publish this particular book several years ago, I can look back and say that not only do I not have any regrets at having done so, I would do so again in a heartbeat.

  32. Vicky says:

    Interesting to read all the opinions here, most against the new deal with AuthorHouse and Harlequin. Without getting into all the gritty details of the deal, I’d just ask everyone here to think about ridding your life of the “I’m better than another writer simply because I’ve been traditionally published” and replace it with the thought, “I’d like to support other writers, no matter where their book is published, because I know they have a dream just as I do.” We may take different roads to reach our destination, but it doesn’t mean taking a certain road to a dream makes you a better writer, person, or mentor than the person who chose to take an alternate route. Thanks for considering my input.

  33. Ed says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience here. The key to your success is your combination of: experience, mastery of several crafts and a well thought out business purpose for self-publishing. That can work.

  34. Ed says:

    As Kathi just noted, an author with experience, and a business purpose can self-publish to self-satisfying results. The furor over these vanity presses is that they hijack the “author’s dreams” for their own profits.

  35. Mike Johnson says:

    Before deciding to go with AuthorHouse — 4 books ago — I sought counsel from 4 other published authors. They had been published traditionally, old-fashioned self-publishing (via Bookmasters) and POD. One had been published both traditonally and vid POD. Then I thought about my age — 59 as I was working on my first book — and asked myself: do I want to spend perhaps two years searching for an agent who might want to represent me and who then might take a year or two to connect with a publisher which then might take another year or more to get the book out? Given my untamed Type-A personality and my goal of writing multiple books, the idea of being 65 or so before my first book was published was decidedly unappealing. Back in the 1970s I spent 6 years as a senior editor at a national business magazine and so was reasonably confident in my editing skills. Additionally my wife began her career as an editor. My editorial backstop is a woman who is extremely skilled as both a copy editor and proofreader. Feedback — positive media reviews and a torrent of emails and snailmail — from readers has me feeling positive re my decision to go with AuthorHouse. Question: Do I ever wish that my books had been published traditonally? Yes, but I’ve no regrets about going the POD route. Chief reason: feedback from readers that has served as a continuing dose of nourishment for the soul.

  36. Chris says:

    These comments reflect many sentiments—apprehension, intolerance, concern, vision, and outrage. No doubt they are well-intentioned, yet it seems we may have lost the plot. Many of us are writers, published and unpublished, who have taken various paths to attain our goals. Others are agents, publishers, or interested individuals who help writers reach those goals in various ways. All have a stake in the issue, yet in our haste to condemn a new concept we have forgotten that publishing, as with any other industry, must adapt. Adaptation requires trying new things—stretching the boundaries of the old ways to include new methods.

    The publishing world is changing or, rather, change is being thrust upon it. It is becoming less exclusive and open to a wider field of participants—more writers, more diverse readers. The expanding field of e-books is leveling the playing field. Anyone can publish an e-book, price it low, and sell it cheap. There are more people able to publish than at any time in history. The loss of exclusivity threatens some of us and encourages others. It means we must share the realm—this realm we have fought so hard to gain entrance to–and that is a concept many cannot accept.
    Why do we write? For notoriety? For money? For membership in an exclusive club? For the right to contend for a certain award? Or do we write because we love to share information, ideas, magical realms, tragic experiences, or compelling romances? Do we write because our readers long to escape into a good story—to take a journey only we can orchestrate? There are many ways to make money. There’s only one way to provide good books, and that’s to write good books.

    This is not an exclusive club existing for the benefit of its members. This is a passion shared by many, many people on both sides of the page. Some want to safeguard the ‘purity’ of literature by allowing only those favored few to provide it. While that is understandable, the concept of what constitutes ‘literature’ has always been open to interpretation. Granted, many indie books should not have been allowed outside the author’s basement, but some have been as good, and even superior to, books with a more recognizable logo on the spine. A great book is a treasure regardless of how it reaches the readers’ hands.

    I admire any writer with the perseverance, patience, and dedication to break into the difficult arena of traditional publishing. I also admire the independents with the courage to put their work out there anyway, to shoulder all the duties and responsibilities of promotion, editing, and design. To take all the risk. Whether they produce the book themselves or sub-contract a subsidy publisher is completely, utterly irrelevant, though some folks just love the term ‘vanity publisher’, as it implies the author’s work is only worthy in his/her own mind. How very narrow-minded of them.

    I dabble in many creative fields; writing, illustration, songwriting and performance. As such, I have occasion to find myself among writers, artists, and musicians. One might imagine they would be similar–they are all creative people–but it’s the writers who demand to see a pedigree before they will accept a fellow writer. Musicians are by far the most welcoming. They love to play together, to try new forms of music, to share what their fellow musicians are doing, and to cheer one another on. I don’t understand why that is, but I do know one thing: writers would do well to take a lesson from them, because the traditional model is in need of a makeover.

    The good news is that there are enough appreciative readers to go around. The bad books won’t survive. The good ones will. The deluded writers (those who don’t understand basic proofreading, let alone editing) will learn some hard lessons. If they are dedicated they will adapt. If not, they’ll fall by the wayside along with the ‘failed’ musicians and artists. At least they will have seen their work in print, which is enough reward for some. It’s not our place to deny them the opportunity.

    As I read these comments, many of which are filled with outrage on behalf of the poor, deluded, unworthy writers whose dreams will be hijacked for money, I cannot help but wonder whether some of the concern lies not for them, but for the ‘exclusive club’. Writers have worked hard to attain that distinction and they deserve esteem, but we need to play together. Yes, some indie authors are talentless, deluded, and hopeless. Others are willing to develop their talents, to polish their skills and manuscripts, to seek editorial help, and to produce a product of quality. The market is stacked against them yet they persevere, and their reasons for ‘going indie’ are their own.

    Good books must be written, and good stories deserve to be shared. I’m a self-taught guitar player, but the ‘real’ musicians will jam with me anyway. Each of us lends talent to the circle. Why can’t writers do the same?

  37. SK says:

    You’re a snob.

    The publishing industry as we know it is scared to death of what’s happening with outfits like Smashwords and CreateSpace. An author CAN get published and distributed widely and actually make money. Without paying exorbitant amounts of money to folks like Harlequin. I made $25,000 last year off my self-published works alone. Not exactly the “zero” you claim as a self-pubbed author’s profit.

    Harlequin is just ahead of the game in anticipating what’s coming – really, what’s already happening. They’re trying to corner the market early and set a precedent. They’re scared of self-pubbed authors taking – oh my god! – ALL of their profits!? They want a cut of that pie, as usual.

    I imagine you, as an agent, don’t like the idea of a self-pubbed author making money. They don’t have to give 10% to you… or anyone else.

    Finally, the ARTIST is actually most if not ALL of the money their work merits. Finally. This isn’t a crime – royalty paying publishers are the criminals.

    This is a revolution!

  38. Ed says:

    Hi SK:
    Thanks for the comment. Your point is well made but omits several key issues in self-publishing. The successful self-publisher, such as you, must serve a market well so that buyers will order the book. I strongly suspect you are Selena Kitt (http://selenakitt.com/), an author of erotica. As such, the mainstream publishers, distaste for the genre channels all interest to you. Nothing wrong with that, but the typical self-published author is not focused on an audience but on themselves and self-publishes to get attention. Self-publishing in various forms can work for authors with rare, highly focused, or topically driven content. Self-publishing a mystery, romance, or fantasy, is much harder because there’s so much already. The vanity presses appeal to the impatience and frustrations of beginners with the sole goal of charging fees. Not a good thing.

  39. Darci says:

    As an aspiring romance writer and diehard Harlequin reader, I heard through the publishing grapevine that DellArte’s first release is a Christian women’s fiction. It received excellent reviews. I’ll believe it when I read it.

  40. You know, I gotta tell you, I truly relish this webpage and the great insight. I find it to be refreshful and quite clarifying. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyhow, I felt it was about time I posted a comment on Harlequin Horizons, a mug’s game Ashley Grayson Literary Agency Blog – I just wanted to tell you that you did a nice job on this. Cheers dude!

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