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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Uh oh! Harlequin Drama?

Hello Fellow Writers!

There's some drama brewing in the romance publishing industry. Harlequin, as you know, is a publishing company that I love to bits. I read most of the books they publish, and I am planning on submitting my novels to their Silhouette Desire line.

So what's the drama? Well, it looks like Harlequin has made the decision to open up another line just for self publishing. They called it Harlequin Horizons. This immediately upset so many people that they decided to change the name to DellArte Press.

From author NK Jemisin, here is an excerpt of a post about the issue. Read the whole article here.
And although Harlequin has already announced that it will be changing the new division’s name to something without “Harlequin” in the title, how much do you want to bet they’ll still make heavy use of the brand name in marketing the service to aspiring writers? A most unromantic seduction.
This impacts more than just the romance genre, as the MWA has clearly realized. For one thing, however great the potential financial gain in the short term, reputable publishers cannot be permitted to get into the business of exploitation — not without consequence. That hurts the whole industry in the long term. For another, fantasy writers like me who write “fantasy with strong romantic elements” (according to RWA) often attempt to sell books to romance publishers; Harlequin runs LUNA, one of the better-known romance/skiffy fusion imprints. If one of the juggernauts of the industry has decided to dilute its own brand like this, that cuts down on the number of places I can sell future titles. After all, how long will it be before “I’ve got a book out with Harlequin” becomes as meaningless and laughable as “I’ve got a book out with Publish America?
Hopefully it won’t come to that. I guess we’ll have to see.
ETA: Ask and ye shall receive: SFWA has declared Harlequin a non-qualifying market for membership purposes, and issued its own statement in opposition to Horizons-or-whatever-they-call-it.
Well, I think Jemisin hit the nail on the head by saying that Harlequin authors are worried that if Harlequin has a vanity press in addition to it's regular publishing lines, people will be confused and think all Harlequin books are self published.

Carol Thomas from Examiner.com has been following this all very closely. Here is an excerpt from her article. Read the whole article here.
Participants in the ongoing discussion being held on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website defied the prediction made yesterday, November 19, 2009, by the Nora Roberts Examiner. The group did indeed regain its focus on the consequences of Harlequin Enterprises' decision to enter the self-publishing arena with its currently named Harlequin Horizons division....
The Smart Bitches discussion also picked up a more recent development. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America has prepared its own "Statement on Harlequin’s self-publishing imprint." This statement was issued after Harlequin Enterprises CEO Donna Hayes announced yesterday that Harlequin Horizons would change its name in response to the concerns of its writers. Consequently, the SWFA statement contains the view held by that organization's president, Russell Davis, and its Board of Directors as to Harlequin's most recent action:
SFWA does not believe that changing the name of the imprint, or in some other way attempting to disguise the relationship to Harlequin, changes the intention, and calls on Harlequin to do the right thing by immediately discontinuing this imprint and returning to doing business as an advance and royalty paying publisher.

As quoted on Examiner.com here, Harlequin Enterprises CEO Donna Hayes said:
"Most importantly, however, 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."
Wow! I'm very interested to see how this all unfolds.

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

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