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eff off

…Comes courtesy of Mrs Giggles:

At this point, I’m hoping that Harlequin will come out with its own statement – “Yeah, yeah, delist us, whatever, LIKE WE CARE!” – so I can watch the lulz that results and laugh.

Man, I totally feel the same way. I would love for Harlequin to tell RWA, MWA, and all the other WAs to fuck right off.

Giggles is right, HQN will go on with or without the MWA and RWA, because guess what, writers are more desperate to be published, than they are to be accepted into author cliques, and that’s pretty much all that the RWA seems to be. One big fat clique, where if you mind your Ps and Qs, you might get a merit badge, and an invitation to the ball.

I’ll be impressed when authors who insist on bitching about the self-publishing/vanity press ding dong actually start leaving HQN on account of their principles and all.

But I’m guessing that’s not going to happen any time soon. Not unless they’re offered a better contract at least.

As far as I can tell, the RWA needs Harlequin more than Harlequin needs the RWA, and they should just stick to their guns and ride this thing out.

Bullying tactics annoy the shit outta me.

72 Comments »


  • Nora Roberts
    December 11
    9:44 am

    Karen, no it’s not conjecture. It’s conclusion based on literally years and literally countless examples I’ve personally read–or begun to read. It’s both of those applied to more contacts from people looking for–as Shiloh mentioned–the shortcuts, who believe I can or would help them cut through the time, effort, channels and get their book published. People who send me their mss, or send me letters or emails with their synopses–and explain that they can’t find a publisher or agent to accept them.

    I can’t think of one single instance when the reason they can’t get accepted, or went to vanity press wasn’t because: They. Can’t. Write. Not just that they need a little more editing or polish. Or even a lot more editing.

    Vanity press is a sucker’s game, and there are plenty of suckers. I’m personally disappointed that Harlequin would go into this kind of business, and will certainly tell anyone who asks me what I think about vanity press.

    Still, since they’ll be mining their rejection pile, I expect they’ll get plenty of business.

    And now honestly, what do I have to be afraid of? I’ve been publishing successfully for 30 years. I’m not afraid of change. In 30 years in this business I’ve dealt with plenty of change.

    When a crappy e-pub tries to take advantage, has lousy business practices, etc, this blog is one of the forums for getting the word out, and generating discussions that help point the way to solid e-pubs, gives reasons why potential authors should avoid the crap. When you post a column exposing one of those fly-by-nights that’s not hysteria, it’s not wailing, it’s not hanky-waving.

    We now have a major publisher venturing into an area many, many, many writers object to, and which major writers’ groups object to. Whether or not you agree with our reasons for objecting, we have reasons. And we’re laying them out. That’s not hysteria, it’s not wailing, and it’s not hanky-waving.

    Certainly there are those who see this as simply a change, or the evolving face of publishing’s future. I think you’re wrong. I certainly hope you’re wrong, but that’s not out of fear. I think my position in the business is pretty solid, and if after 30 years it all went tits up for me, I’d be okay. I’ve had a really good run.

    But I love books. I love writing them, I love reading them. I love discovering a new writer and watching her career evolve. With vanity press, my chances of discovering–from my own personal experience with same–are pretty much nil.

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  • dear nora
    can i send u a book to read?

    ReplyReply


  • Anon76
    December 11
    4:22 pm

    Nora said:

    “When a crappy e-pub tries to take advantage, has lousy business practices, etc, this blog is one of the forums for getting the word out, and generating discussions that help point the way to solid e-pubs, gives reasons why potential authors should avoid the crap. When you post a column exposing one of those fly-by-nights that’s not hysteria, it’s not wailing, it’s not hanky-waving.”

    THIS

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  • Karen Scott
    December 11
    6:42 pm

    But it kinda is hanky waving and mass hysteria, much like AmazonFail was, when people swore they’d never shop there again, but as soon as it became inconvenient, they went back. And that’s how I see this situation.

    With every single one of my Publishers behaving Badly post, I’ve done my bit by refusing to buy from them, whether it be NCP or the now defunct Mardi Gras.

    RWA did what they had to, but I don’t think they could do anything else, however most of the people who are against HQN’s venture with the vanity press peeps will keep buying their books (if they read them in the first place) and would happily take a contract off them.

    It’s like being disgusted with a boyfriend because he’s a Klan member, but still dating him because he has lots of money and a great car.

    If it really bothers the naysayers that much, then as a reader, stop buying their books, and as an author refuse their contracts.

    But we all know that’s not going to happen don’t we?

    And judging by the yeses on today’s dilemma (and thanks to the ones who have been truthful), the outrage doesn’t stretch to not taking money from them for a contract.

    And since, the No-Way-Jose peeps will carry on buying HQNs books and submitting to them, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest working towards a way of making Vanity Press less dirty.

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  • Nora Roberts
    December 11
    7:03 pm

    Why, seriously, why, should any of us in the publishing business try to find a way to make vanity publishing more legit? What in the world would that do for us?

    Harlequin’s commercial publishing is still what it is–the only game in town for series romance. I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to give up their livelihood because the publisher has decided to start up a vanity press. And I’d certainly advise everyone NOT to spend their money with that arm of the publisher.

    Readers aren’t going to boycott a publisher like Harlequin. Boycott a small, fairly crappy e-press? Sure, why not? There are other venues to purchase good e-books from good publishers. There are no others for purchasing category romance.

    It’s just not the same thing.

    I don’t like some of Amazon’s practices–and have said so. I’ve never threatened to boycott them mostly because I think that’s a futile gesture. And I continue to shop from them because there are a lot of other things I like about them.

    There are probably a lot of companies and businesses that have areas or practices I don’t like. But I’d be unlikely to boycott them–it would completely depend on the circumstances.

    RWA did what it had to do–which isn’t bully tactics, and since you agree they had to do it I don’t understand why you’d also consider what they did bullying. But RWA is not banning Harlequin from attending the conference–they just have to pay their way. It is not banning its members from submitting to Harlequin, or to DellArte for that matter. It’s simply following its standards, and informing its membership.

    Writers have to make a living, just like everyone else. I imagine there are scores of people who work for companies who have certain interests and practices they don’t like, object to or disapprove of. But you know, you’ve got to put food on the table and pay the bills.

    Really, Karen, I think it’s amazingly unfair to basically say don’t complain, don’t express disapproval or even outrage about this specific business venture unless you intend to ban this publisher as a writer looking for a contract or as a reader looking for a book.

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  • Karen, I think you’re just a teeny bit off base here:

    “With every single one of my Publishers behaving Badly post, I’ve done my bit by refusing to buy from them, whether it be NCP or the now defunct Mardi Gras. . . .And judging by the yeses on today’s dilemma (and thanks to the ones who have been truthful), the outrage doesn’t stretch to not taking money from them for a contract.”

    There’s a big difference between not buying a book for a few bucks and turning down a contract worth thousands when you have a family to provide for. Come on . .

    Call it hanky-waving or histrionics if you will. All RWA, MWA, SFWA, NINK and other writer orgs are trying to do is express their strong disapproval of the vanity press business model. They are not asking their authors to go starve in the streets. Harlequin isn’t out there shooting babies in a back alley for God’s sake! Its history is strong, reputable, and respected in the romance community. Even while we “wave our hankies” as authors, we understand this. Writers are merely expressing their opinion and that opinion is “Writer beware!” of vanity publishing. We don’t want to bring down Harlequin and its writers. Why in heaven’s name would we? I think our reaction as professional writers is in proportion to Harlequins decision to go vanity. And, yes they have every right to do so–we understand that, too.

    Nuff said, I guess . . .

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  • I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest working towards a way of making Vanity Press less dirty.

    But that would on the vanity publisher…and they aren’t going to change because they LIKE making the money hand over fist.

    I also think there’s a far cry between dating a racist pig because he’s loaded and agreeing to a business agreement with a company that has an arm of business you don’t care for. Now if that arm of business catered to racist pigs, child porn, drug dealers, different story.

    Now if HQN stopped paying their authors royalties? Hell, yes, I’d say boycott them. If they started taking rights from their authors? Yes, I’d say boycott them. but that’s not what this is.

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  • Karen Scott
    December 11
    8:07 pm

    So basically EC,HQN are still a great company, and in the great scheme of things, this issue isn’t actually that big a deal? I agree with you.

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  • Karen Scott
    December 11
    8:17 pm

    Nora, Shiloh, all I’m hearing from you guys is, ‘yeah this is bad, but actually it’s not that bad’ and I totally agree with you.

    ReplyReply

  • I do think it is a big deal. But I don’t think an author should make a decision, or feel pressured into making a decision, that will affect her livelihood.

    And again, I suspect HQN kind of had this foisted onto them and they are just having to deal with it.

    It sucks that it happened with a company that’s already got what looks like a shoddy rep-a search on Author Solutions or one of their other houses, like Author House, will show a ton of writer sites warning writers away from them. It sucks that when this decision to explore new ground (for them) was done with a company that happily charges double what other places do, without offering any real benefit over those companies (my opinion of course).

    Do I like it? No. Do I plan on buying any books from DellArte/Author Solutions? Big FAT no. I have no plans to help line their pockets more. Will I buy from HQN? Sure, if a book appeals to me.

    Do I hope HQN will find a better way to do this? Oh, hell yes. Changing the name to Dellarte does help, for me, because they aren’t going to be catching the attention of as many aspiring writers who go to HQN to get submission info. Removing the links to Dellarte from HQN’s website helped.

    If they make the decision to stop referring their rejected books to Dellarte, I’d be downright thrilled-AND I’d probably be happy to just dislike Author Solutions/Author House/Dellarte and I’d be a lot less disappointed in HQN. Do I expect it? I dunno.
    There are business minds making these decisions and I suspect a number of those minds involved in this decision don’t care about writing, craft, writers…they just care about $$.

    But I’ll also continue to discuss this ‘assisted self publishing’ crap, vanity presses, self publishing, author house, author solutions, dellarte press, HHZ as much as I can.

    The only way to improve the ‘rep’ of vanity published houses is if we can get them to stop sticking it to their writers. They won’t.

    So the next best thing is to inform writers and hopefully, that will keep some writers from falling into that mess. (my opinion). Minimize the impact, so to speak-shrink their pool.

    One way writers can accomplish that is by discussing it. Loudly and often. 🙂 And it’s working to some extent because when you do a search on Author Solutions, some of the top results are to sites like WRITER BEWARE and the various blogs that have been posted on this.

    If any writer worth her salt does some research, she’ll hopefully see that Dellarte/Author Solutions is probably not the best option, even if she’s open to self publishing. So the writers who are discussing this, as a whole, are accomplishing something.

    (edited)

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  • Damn it, I just had an epiphany. Well, a realization. 😀

    Karen, the thing is… to YOU, and to a lot of readers who have no desire to write, this isn’t going to be a big deal. At this point. I do think that if it becomes a ‘pay to play’ game, it will affect readers, because they’ll be looking at decreased quality in their pool of reading choices- vanity presses and self pubbed books don’t insist on editorial work, and that’s where a lot of self pubbed/vanity pubbed writers try to save money-they skip the editing fees.

    But right now, no, this isn’t going to be a big deal to you.

    For writers, though, it’s a different story. We’ve been in that seat, where we’re struggling to reach our dreams and we know how hungry we are for it.

    I started out in this business knowing JACK. I submitted my first book at 19 and it was to HQN. If they had ‘suggested’ this in the rejection letter, dangled this shiny carrot in front of my face when i was struggling, back before I started to learn the ropes, would I have accepted? It’s entirely possible.

    I might have taken a stupid bite of that shiny carrot. I might have, and when not much of anything happened, I might have given up.

    If I had tried a short cut instead of persevering, would I be where I am now? I don’t think I would. I might have even given up, especially if I dropped a lot of money and then only sold a handful of books.

    So if a writer goes this route and it doesn’t work for them, if they give up… those are voices we may never hear. I don’t want that. I don’t want to see a writer get strung along and then left high and dry, with nothing but a big-ass payment to a vanity press and some books she bought herself. It can happen. It has happened and with this press, I believe it will hapen again.

    Because I care, it is a big deal to me. Which is why writers are discussing it. You may not see our side of it, but it is there. You may not understand our side of it, but it would be nice if you could respect our concerns…even if you don’t understand why we’re so upset.

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  • You know it’s a *big deal* to writers, Karen. And by comparing it to shooting babies in a back alley, it was not my intent to minimize HG’s venture into vanity press. It matters to writers everywhere. And again, I think the professional writers’ organizations, who basically believe money should flow *to* the creator, are doing what they can to make this belief known.

    And, seriously, I would hope those determined, hard working writers who submit to Harlequin and find a chirpy note on their rejection letter referring them to Dell Arte, where they can pay to play, will read the subtext, “You’re not good enough for us to pay you, but you’re good enough to pay us” and be mad as hell. Because not only is it insulting, it’s a much bigger putdown than a straight, “No, thank you.”

    I have no idea why I’m harping on this. I think I’ll go back to my garrett now. One thing for sure, you have stirred things up, so thank you for that! Stirring is a good thing.

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  • Nora Roberts
    December 11
    8:59 pm

    Then, Karen, you’re not hearing–me at least–correctly.

    It is that bad, imo. But it’s also legal. I think it’s a very bad venture on many levels, but Harlequin is also the only venue for a certain type of book, and writers who write that type of book need to, and have every right to, publish with them.

    Readers have every right to read whatever books they want by whatever authors they enjoy, by whoever publishes them.

    Do I think Harlequin sucks? No, I don’t. I think their move into vanity publishing sucks–but they didn’t consult me.

    Do I think Harlequin should be beaten to the ground for starting this arm? No, I don’t. But I also believe RWA, MWA, SFW, etc are absolutely correct in no longer recognizing them as a publisher who meets the standards of their organizations.

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  • Why, seriously, why, should any of us in the publishing business try to find a way to make vanity publishing more legit? What in the world would that do for us?

    Why, Nora? So authors can become just like those freaky, anatomically…intriguing guys who post vids on YouPorn where they anally violate themselves. Sounds like a fun time to me–sign me up!

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  • Karen, the thing is… to YOU, and to a lot of readers who have no desire to write, this isn’t going to be a big deal.

    You’re right of course, I am mostly looking at this from a reader’s point of view, but for me the following still stands:

    1. This venture wont cause the sky to fall in, HQN will still publish traditionally, and Jane Average Reader will still have a plethora of quality books to choose from.

    2. Average Jane Reader wont automatically assume that HQN have started producing crap books, because they wont associate Dellarte Press with Harlequin.

    3. Supermarkets generally like to to purchase stuff that sell, so if the books are as crap as you say they are, Walmart will probably not be queuing up to buy them, thus ensuring that ‘real’ books are still front and centre.

    4. RWA is a lightweight ladies club – Sorry Nora, that opinion isn’t going to change any time soon.

    5. Vanity Publishing is here to stay, especially if as you say, batshit crazy writers with delusions of grandeur have the money to spend.

    6. The Vanity Publishing modle has the potential to be improved upon.

    7. A fool and their money are easily parted, so those who pay to play have nobody to blame but themselves.

    8. This hooha will be old news in two weeks time, and it wont be such a big deal in the future.

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  • amousie
    December 12
    3:34 am

    But it kinda is hanky waving and mass hysteria, much like AmazonFail was, when people swore they’d never shop there again, but as soon as it became inconvenient, they went back. And that’s how I see this situation.

    I don’t shop at Amazon any more. But that’s my choice. There are more people like me who made the same choice even if you don’t know about them.

    It’s like being disgusted with a boyfriend because he’s a Klan member, but still dating him because he has lots of money and a great car.

    Burn, baby, burn. Not a great analogy. I expected better.

    . This hooha will be old news in two weeks time, and it wont be such a big deal in the future.

    To you maybe. But it’s a big deal to the publishing business model. We’ll just have to see how it all shakes out and which other publishers follow Harlequin’s lead.

    So since the world is supposed to end in December of 2012, maybe we should check before the end of days.

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  • Karen Scott
    December 12
    6:22 am

    @Mousie My analogy was brilliant actually, the principle is the same, pinching one’s nose, with one hand, and holding on tight with the other.

    Now you aren’t going to have the last word, I can ensure that, so let’s agree to vehemently disagree and move on. Ok? Good.

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  • amousie
    December 12
    1:55 pm

    I didn’t realize we were playing a game. I thought we were discussing a topic we disagreed on. My mistake.

    Your analogy actually wasn’t that good.I was serious about that part.

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  • amousie
    December 12
    5:12 pm

    http://www.ninc.com/blog/index.php/archives/publishing-printing-or-scam

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  • Anon76
    December 12
    6:05 pm

    Posted with permission from the Absolute Write forum dedicated to the DellArte venture, author James Macdonald.

    There once was a girl from Nantucket
    DA took her book called The Bucket
    It sold near and far
    From the trunk of her car
    But as for the bookstores, Nuntucket.

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  • @Amousie, I was also serious about ensuring you don’t have the last word. The thing about engaging with anons, is that it’s far easier for me to delete you, than commenters with actual identities.

    And yes, my analogy was brilliant.

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  • […] Best Comment of The Day Re The Harlequin Press Whoopsy… (I disagree with karen’s view on this, but many of the comments are well worth reading if somebody is trying to investigate self publishing/vanity publishing/ ‘assisted self publishing’. […]


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