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This week’s dilemma is as follows:

You’re an author and you’re a member of a writing organisation that aims to provide advice and support to its members re all issues publishing-related.

You learn from your organisation that they have delisted a major publisher due to said publisher being in contravention of one of their rules. They’ve opened up a vanity press/self-publishing arm. You aren’t published with this particular company, but had hoped to one day be published by them.

The writing organisation is up in arms, the authors are thoroughly disgusted, and you feel that it’s a really bad idea, and you’re very vocal about your annoyance.

You submitted a manuscript to the company in question a while ago, and they finally come back to you offering you a three-book contract with a healthy advance

What would you do? Would you take the contract, even though you don’t agree with their new venture, or do you stick to your principles, figuring that you’re better off waiting for other offers to come through?

What would you do??


  • jane
    December 11
    12:37 pm

    I take it this is harlequin we’re talking about here? I would take the contract. It isn’t a choice. There is one publisher of series romance, if I refuse the contract there is nowhere else that I can publish my books and make a decent living. As for waiting for something better to come around I would need to complete rewrite my novels from 55k to at least 85k, that’s not something easy to do. Not to mention I’d have to find an agent to submit to publishers. Harlequin is one of the few major publishers that allows unpublished authors to submit direct. The other major romance publisher I can think of has been getting reports of non payment of royalties. Also Harlequin publishes more than 50% of the romance books published each year.

    I don’t see that I’m compromising my principles. I don’t like what they are doing and I will go out of my way to warn folks about their vanity arm but they are pretty much the only game in town if I’m writing series romance.


  • I take the contract.

    When you write series romance, you’re writing a specific type of story-they tend to be shorter books, aimed at a specific audience and other publishers aren’t looking for those books. You can go the epub/smaller press route, but that’s not as profitable and it’s not an option for some.

    Even though I’m aggravated by HQN partnering with AS, I get the feeling it was something they had no choice in-I think it was done by their parent company. I don’t think HQN is some big evil entity, although I do think they made a bad judgment call with this.


  • Take the contract. I don’t have to agree with every facet of a business in order to *do* business with them. Would it change my stance on their vanity publishing deal and my disgust at them referring the slush pile rejects to it? Nope. Do I care enough to refuse to do business with them and lose out on a lucrative contract? Hell no.

    I don’t think that’s hypocritical. Like I said, I don’t think I have to approve of every single thing a company does in order to work with them successfully. I don’t approve of a few things some of my current publishers do, but the benefits outweigh the issues. That’s the same case here.


  • Take the contract. Of course. Yes, as Jane says, I will warn beginners away from their vanity arm. But I will-and do–contract with their regular publishing side, which *is* the only game in town for series. And even if I was writing mainstream romance or women’s fiction, frankly, their regular programs are really good and they do know how to develop authors.

    As time goes by, well, I do find the whole vanity issue darkly ironic. At first, I was all over HS about it. But now I’m thinking if a beginner is so dumb and unimformed that she would make a choice like that, well, let her. Or maybe she’s not dumb and uninformed. Maybe she knows she’ll never get a legit contract and she wants to hold her book in her hand. And she’s willing to pay for that, bigtime, instead of taking a little time and study and figuring out how to do it herself. But anyone who wants to go on to get paid doesn’t want an ISBN created for a book that’s going to sell a hundred copies, max. It’s just not smart to pay to publish.


  • Take the contract–and what Jane and Shiloh said.


  • What Fae and Shiloh said.

    Right now I’m looking at some medical procedures coming up next year, without insurance to help out due to a pre-existing condition. Now I could be gung-ho about principles or I could consider do I want to be a total burden to my family? May sound hypocritical, but I’d prefer working to pay my medical bills. I know several people who think Wal-Mart is the Evil Empire, but work there in order to have a roof over their heads and put food on the table. This doesn’t make them hypocrites. I just can’t see declining a decent offer and holding off for a better one if it means putting your family through needless hardship.


  • I’d take the contract. Although I don’t agree with their self-publishing/vanity side, that’s not where I’m aiming and it’s not where my future releases would be published. Though a lot of authors are not happy about the move, Harlequin is still a leading and respected publisher of category romance. AS long as I get my check in the mail, I’m happy (and so is my agent)


  • Kay Webb Harrison
    December 11
    7:47 pm

    I formulated my answer before I read the other comments, so none of them influenced me.

    I would so take the contract, have it thoroughly vetted by a good lawyer, and, with her/his approval, sign it. If it’s a choice between a professional organization and success in my chosen field, I would choose success. You have to pay dues to be part of a club; they don’t pay you. Even if I don’t approve of all the publisher’s policies/practices, I would sign the contract–provided that the firm had an over-all good reputation.

    NOTE: I am not an author, nor an aspiring one.



  • Ebony
    December 11
    9:55 pm

    I would take the contract. I’ve worked in the corporate world for years and I don’t agree with all of their business practices so I doubt I would agree with all of the publishers either.


  • Rosemary Laurey
    December 11
    9:58 pm

    Who would turn down a three book contract? (ie job security for a year or mpre). I really can’t see this as a dilemma.


  • Chantal
    December 11
    10:56 pm

    I`d take the contract. No question about it.


  • Anon76
    December 12
    6:24 pm

    I’d take the contract. The shiny side of HQ still provides good income and reputable services.

    The downside is, I’d continue to voice my disagreement with the dark side of HQ, meaning the Author solutions venture. And that would probably cost me my three book contract from the shiny side.

    At least I pray I would have the backbone to stick to my guns. It wouldn’t be that difficult for a pub house to shuss out my info, even if I post as Anon76. And truthfully, the ability to make my mortgage payments would weigh heavily in how much backbone I could muster. LOL


  • “you feel that it’s a really bad idea, and you’re very vocal about your annoyance.”

    No, I wouldn’t take the contract. If I don’t agree, all the $$ in world are not going to change my mind.


  • I’d go over that contract with a fine-toothed comb. I’d probably take it, because at the time of submission, the skeevy practice hadn’t yet started, and I submitted in good faith of above-board business and industry practices. Although, TBH, I doubt they’d offer multi-book and heavy advances at the same time as they’re attempting to grasp at all the monetizing ideas (good or bad) they can get their fingers around. I’d fulfill the contract but wouldn’t submit again, and I’d do so fully prepared to accept the consequences of my decision, come what may.

    The organization, while having my best interests at heart for the most part, would factor in only tangentially to my decision–its purpose is to educate and advocate, but not to make my decisions for me. As long as the money, exposure, and professional advancement benefits outweighed the negatives of being associated with the legit side of something with a shady rear end, it’d still be an acceptable career move.


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