Sunday, 22 November 2009

Harlequin Vanity Press

My critique groups are buzzing with the Harlequin Enterprises announcement that they are going into vanity press, where an author pays for everything that a publisher should do for you if your work is accepted.

Harlequin is partnering with Author Solutions, who own other vanity presses eg. iUniverse, AuthorHouse. Vanity publishing isn't new, Random House owns 49% of Xlibris. Amazon owns CreateSpace, and Smashwords is a self publishing company partnered with Barnes and Noble, and keep 20% of an author’s sales.

Horizons charges - sorry 'Packages' are as high as $1,599 – and that doesn’t include editing, marketing, publicity, etc. They send you five author copies, or more depending on how much you pay, and then - not only do they own the ISBN, they also charge 50% of the proceeds of sales of the book you have paid to have published.

It's hardly surprising that the advent of personal computers and the internet have created more authors than ever before, and agents have their work cut out sifting through the slush pile mountain to get to the gems hidden inside.

I cannot help feeling this undermines Harelquin's existing authors who have gone through a rigorous selection process and run the gamut of re-writes, edits and revisions to get published by Harlequin? Now it seems you don't have to do all that to be a Harlequin author - you simply write out a cheque.

Does this also mean Harlequin will monitor sales and move Horizon authors who are selling well to one of its print lines? That would be an interesting, and fair assumption, but don't sales depend upon marketing? Will rejection e-mails from Harlequin now be accompanied by a sales pitch?

What does the RWA say? Go and take a look here: with a thank you to Ginger Simpson for the link.


India Drummond said...

I was just reading about this yesterday! I wonder if this means that Carina, their new digital only line is also a vanity press? They don't pay advances, but rather offer a higher royalty %.

I'd considered sending them my book, but after hearing about this controversy, I'm really not sure if I should!

Anita Davison said...

Watch this blog, India. I thought I would even things out with a post about Carina too - it's up this morning