So Harlequin Horizons.
I debated on whether I should post about this. But sometimes I just can’t be silent. This is one of those times.
I’m not with Harlequin. I have no dog in this fight. I’m not aspiring. I’m not interested in self-publishing or vanity publishers (this is an example of the latter). I’m not looking to sell anything at the moment. I have enough work to be going on with for quite a good while. That makes me pretty impartial, inasmuch as I can be.
A traditional publisher going into vanity publishing bothers me. But here is why I am particularly bothered. Go and read the verbiage in the press release. Add that to the descriptions of the packages. Go on, read some of it. I’ll quote some for effect:
“The Booksellers Package is designed for authors who desire to leave a lasting legacy in the form of a hardcover book. A hardcover book shows the world that you are a serious author ready to make your mark on the writing world.”
“Have you always dreamt about being the center of attention at a book signing event featuring you, the published author? If so, then the Marketing Plus Package is for you.”
If those bits don’t set off warning bells, I’ll be really surprised. It’s not about whether someone chooses to self-publish or go vanity press. It’s about the expectations within those parameters. Between the packages and the press release, Harlequin is painting a vivid picture of what it will be like for those who go this route.
Every author believes in herself. She has to believe she’ll make it someday. So she looks at Harlequin as a better option because of the name. The price is a little higher, sure, but so many benefits! She’ll pay this money up front, but she’ll make it up in contracts. It’s actually like a shortcut out of the slushpile. So much better than waiting and querying!
But how many people is this going to be true for? How many Christopher Paolinis will be discovered in the HQN “reader slush pile”? And how many more may have kept on slogging without that false hope? How many would never have done this if not for Harlequin’s name?
And that, in a nutshell, is my objection. Comments welcome.
ETA: This is not even the biggest problem. New information has revealed that in each HQN rejection, the author will receive a reference to the Horizons program. We’re told this is okay because the authors will have to “opt-in.” Yesterday, I predicted something like this might be in the works, and if it was an agent doing this to rejected clients, we’d all be screaming bloody murder. In what world is this okay?
Romance Writers of America’s mission and purpose is to advocate for the professional interests of career-focused romance writers and, despite recent changes within Harlequin Enterprise, we have not wavered from that mission. RWA does not have any professional partnership or collaboration with Harlequin Horizons, including its self-publishing marketing package.
The Board of Directors and Executive Director took the necessary steps to remove mention of RWA’s Romance Sells catalog from the Harlequin Horizons Web site.
I am hoping this is not the end. I am hoping this is the first step.
Still more ETA: HQN is claiming that this is an author-facing brand. That is, you can trust them with your book because they’re HQN. but you’re not actually going to get any brand association for your money. So don’t worry, paid authors, your brand won’t be diluted! I’m not alone in thinking this is rather a lot of double-talk and less than reassuring.
On royalties: The content is completely owned by the author. Royalties are 50% net from both eBooks and print.
Even more ETA, the fun never stops!! “An author called the number listed on the HarlHo site. She got a representative who sounded like they were reading a script who advised that, ‘with your book available, other editors in New York will read it. You may receive offers from publishers such as Harper Collins and Random House. And
Harlequin Horizon will field these offers for you.'”