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DellArte Press (formerly Harlequin Horizons)

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James D. Macdonald

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An error in my earlier post:

The major publishers, and the conglomerates that own them (with their associated imprints and lines) are:

Random House (Bertelsmann)
Penguin Publishing Group (Pearson)
Simon & Schuster (Viacom)
HarperCollins (News Corp.)
St. Martin’s Press (Holtzbrink of Germany)
Warner Books (Time Warner)
Harlequin (TorStar)

Warner Books is no longer owned by Time Warner. I am reliably informed that Time Warner sold their book group to Hachette Livre. Warner Books is now Grand Central Publishing and Time Warner Book Group is now Hachette Book Group. Hachette itself is owned by Lagardere.

Thank you.
 

Stlight

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I rememberseeing Vantage and Dorrance ads on TV as a kid and thinking getting published was expensive. My father wrote textbooks. Should I have known better? Maybe, but what I did know was that fiction and nonfiction were two different worlds. I suspect that those ads in my subconscious did leave me with the feeling that newbies had to pay. So it made sense when agents and publishers said that new writers had to help pay for their first book. The thought is deep in the subconscious. It takes awhile to get rid of it.

I was glad to learn newbies didn't have to pay. But I don't remember how I found this site. I'm guessing there are other would be writers, particularly for HQ who rarely venture far from the HQ site and their reading groups. That is what makes the deception so real. For HQ faithful readers - It's HQ, it's like your teacher, your best friend, your mother saying this is what you do.
 

ChristineR

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The only thing that's changed is that POD moves the costs from upfront onto per copy. And that's really not that important in the whole self-publishing scheme of things.

Sure, it's a lot cheaper to make a video than it used to be, but it still was pretty cheap to make radio spots in the bad old days, or take out print ads before that. It's now way cheap to print your church cookbook with Lulu, but before that people were doing it on copy machines, and before that they were using mimeograph machines--not so nice, but nobody minded. Of course they didn't show up on anyone's list of published books, but they were still around. I'm just not seeing where the supposedly incredible change is supposed to be coming from.
 

JulieB

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There is a revolution, but not where some people would like it to be, IMO.

As you pointed out, ChristineR, it's much easier for an individual or small organization to produce a professional looking book for far less cost. The daughter of a friend of mine went to (I think) Shutterfly and made a very cute photo album of her new baby for each of the grandparents. I'm sure she used a template, but the book looked really good and the quality was great. She paid less than $30 for each book, plus the time she spent on design.

If there are enough people still alive to enjoy the family history project that I've been working on for years, I'll probably produce it through Lulu. I know some college professors are using Lulu or AuthorHouse to produce supplementary material for their classes. Even at AuthorHouse's prices the books are less than what the students pay for standard college textbooks. (Says the mom who just paid $100 for a POD college textbook.)

So yes, there is a revolution - but it's not at the mass market level.
 

IceCreamEmpress

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I thought I'd read a post that Bertelsmann sold {its} Xlibris holdings to ASI in January. Thank you for the explaination and noting the WSJ article.

According to Medievalist, Xlibris is now listed as "divested" on the Random House site, but it's not clear to me whether that refers to the transfer of shares to Bertelsmann Digital Investments or to a complete divestiture of shares from all Bertelsmann entities following the January 2009 sale.

Sarnoff's saying "We're very pleased with the sale" could either mean "We're pleased that the rest of the shares have been sold" or "We're pleased that our shares have been sold" and there's no amplification in the press release that resolves the ambiguity.
 

IceCreamEmpress

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I don't think that's quite fair. Harlequin claimed it would monitor DellArte books for success, and also admitted that it would be referring rejected writers to DellArte--but although one can imagine that these two things might intersect at some point, especially in naive writers' minds, that's not the same as implying special consideration for rejectees who paid DellArte.

I think that the connection was very clearly intended to be drawn from the original Harlequin Horizons language:

Titles published through Harlequin Horizons will be monitored for excellence and retail potential for possible pick-up by Harlequin's leading traditional imprints

How can that be meant to imply anything but "If you pay to publish your book with Harlequin Horizons, you will have a second chance with the main Harlequin imprints?"

Agreed that the current language is less deceptive; I had not seen the most up-to-date version of the DellArte site when I wrote that post.
 

CaoPaux

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How very interesting. So they haven't actually changed their line at all, just moved it to a more discreet place...
 

ChristineR

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To be fair, they obviously created the DellArte site with a find and replace, and it's a holiday in the US. They even had DellArte on the Horizons site for a while. They were caught unawares, and are now catching up, so let's wait and see if they get around to the rest of the offensive language.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Sarnoff's saying "We're very pleased with the sale" could either mean "We're pleased that the rest of the shares have been sold" or "We're pleased that our shares have been sold" and there's no amplification in the press release that resolves the ambiguity.

It could also mean "with this sale our return on investment is likely to increase."
 

IceCreamEmpress

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It could also mean "with this sale our return on investment is likely to increase."

Yes, absolutely. I honestly have no idea how to find out whether Bertelsmann still owns any shares in Xlibris or not; their main corporate site was not helpful on this at all. Maybe I will call the US office on Monday, since my German, though good enough for poking around the website, isn't up to a conversation this complex.
 

victoriastrauss

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I think that the connection was very clearly intended to be drawn from the original Harlequin Horizons language:

Titles published through Harlequin Horizons will be monitored for excellence and retail potential for possible pick-up by Harlequin's leading traditional imprints
How can that be meant to imply anything but "If you pay to publish your book with Harlequin Horizons, you will have a second chance with the main Harlequin imprints?"

I agree, that's exactly what it implies. I just don't think it equates to implying that "special reconsideration" would be given to previously rejected submissions. That would suggest that Harlequin rejectees would have an advantage over writers who came to DellArte on their own--when in fact the come-on is a sales pitch aimed at everyone.

(And while I'm sure that many customers will come to DellArte through rejection referrals, even more will not. Writers don't need a Harlequin's or a West Bow's inducement to spring for pricey self-publishing packages; the Internet is chock-full of people proclaiming that expensive self-publishing is the wave of the future and the best way to start a writing career.)

- Victoria
 

IceCreamEmpress

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I agree, that's exactly what it implies. I just don't think it equates to implying that "special reconsideration" would be given to previously rejected submissions.

I don't see how that doesn't follow from the Harlequin Horizons text, presuming that the website text would be reproduced in the rejection letter and/or that the rejection letter would refer rejected submitters to the website.

That would suggest that Harlequin rejectees would have an advantage over writers who came to DellArte on their own--when in fact the come-on is a sales pitch aimed at everyone.

I see I didn't make my point clearly. I was objecting to the text as a hypothetical part of the rejection letter, either directly or indirectly.

Here's my take on what might happen, back in the "Harlequin Horizons" scheme:

A) Writer submits MS to Harlequin.
B) MS is rejected, and the rejection letter instructs them to submit to Harlequin Horizons, and either the rejection letter says

Titles published through Harlequin Horizons will be monitored for excellence and retail potential for possible pick-up by Harlequin's leading traditional imprints

or it refers the writer to the website, where they read the same thing.

It's hard for the writer to take that in any other sense than "If I pay to have this published, I'll have a second chance with Harlequin."

This falsely implies a special consideration over all other rejected manuscripts, not over all other pay-to-play published manuscripts.

I agree with you that the rejected submissions to HQ have an exactly equal chance of being picked up by HQ as all the other DellArte books, which is zero.

The deceptive implication of "special reconsideration" is that the DellArte book has a greater chance of being picked up by HQ than does any other rejected submission to HQ.

 

Deb Kinnard

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Empress & Victoria, I see HQ picking up maybe one or two DA titles in the first couple of years after inception, just to prove that it works as they say it will.

Of course, they may never pick up another...but they can yell that it's all TRUE and they never had any intention of doing otherwise.
 

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When/if they do pick up a DA title to (re)release as a bonafide Harlequin book, I wonder if they'll refund the author's original "investment" or just offer the usual advance--or no advance at all. After all, it's essentially a reprint at that point, right?
 

Deb Kinnard

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I'm not sure if that qualifies as a reissue, if both the original and the second contract are with the same house. Muddy water, this. Maybe some of the more seasoned pros can weigh in.

I doubt it'll happen often enough to become generally known, other than to the couple of authors eventually affected.

Or, conversely, I could see how they might "reject" an author known to them, invite her to sub to DA, conveniently "forget" the fee and then say, "Look! Famous Author Jones, whose novels we usually publish, went the DA route for this out-of-the-box book!"

Thus "proving" it's legit...

If I sound skeptical, there's a good reason. And if I can visualize these possible moves, imagine the sorts of things they might visualize, who have more at stake and more business familiarity than I do.

Le sigh.
 

Terie

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If I sound skeptical, there's a good reason. And if I can visualize these possible moves, imagine the sorts of things they might visualize, who have more at stake and more business familiarity than I do.

We're fiction writers...we can't help it! :D

The scenario I envision is that they take someone in their stable of writers, give her a new pseudonym, have her go with DellArte (and, as you say, conveniently fail to collect any fees from her), then pick up her book for one of the actual Harlequin lines. And thus declare that the claim they're monitoring DA's successful books is 'legit'. And, of course, lure even more naive hopefuls into going with DA.

Nah, I'm not cynical or anything.
 

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As far as the "rejected book makes good" thread idea--I know people who aren't writers, or only peripherally interested in writing for publication, don't know the ins and outs of publishing. They don't know how an agent works, they don't know how submitting works, or what an advance is...but every one of 'em knows that JK Rowling was rejected by a bunch of publishers, and that James Patterson's first book was rejected 26 times, or that Stephen King logged 30 "no's" before scoring a "yes."

Guess where they all place themselves?

I've been submitting for publication since 1996 and I still have the occasional gotcha fantasy that something I wrote that received a rejection letter would be picked up elsewhere and take the world by storm, causing the rejecting editor or agent to swoon against his or her desk, biting knuckles and in general, rue-ing the day they so callously rejected my genius (and that is about the time the Wet Dead Salmon of Reality knocks me back out of fantasyland...still, I dream).

And at Harlequin, I personally know of at least one writer (an RWA chapter member) who became a Harlequin author after several submissions, and who then was asked by her editor to re-submit some of those old rejected works. So that doesn't entirely put it outside the realm of possibility that something previously rejected by Harlequin (and their legendary database of submissions that logs everything they've ever gotten from anyone) would be picked up.

However--I do believe that DA or HqHo is playing this up as far too much of a selling point. Once again, taking a longshot and playing it up to sell dreams.

And yes, I do believe they are intentionally misleading. Publishing is a weird business. Where else in retail does a store's entire stock exist on consignment? Where else in manufacturing is generating the sheer waste of massive production runs (stripping) somehow more profitable than adopting a just-in-time manufacturing process (or really, *any* sort of lean manufacturing principles)? And where else is the R&D department (aka authors) independently contracted at a pittance and not paid until after everyone else gets a cut?

Publishing's a weird animal, and nobody wants to talk about money or numbers, so it's not at all shocking that even an author who's attempted to do homework could get caught up in one of these schemes.
 

MickRooney

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Publishing is a weird business. Where else in retail does a store's entire stock exist on consignment? Where else in manufacturing is generating the sheer waste of massive production runs (stripping) somehow more profitable than adopting a just-in-time manufacturing process (or really, *any* sort of lean manufacturing principles)? And where else is the R&D department (aka authors) independently contracted at a pittance and not paid until after everyone else gets a cut?

Publishing's a weird animal, and nobody wants to talk about money or numbers, so it's not at all shocking that even an author who's attempted to do homework could get caught up in one of these schemes.

What an incredibly powerful and laser-sharp assessment of the publishing/book retail industry this is by Jensoko. Indeed, much of which I have argued for years. Commercial publishing and book retailing truly is operating in a vacuum of isolation, outside of the normal business practices and parameters.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Commercial publishing and book retailing truly is operating in a vacuum of isolation, outside of the normal business practices and parameters.


Do not think for a moment that the very smart business folks who run major publishers haven't thought of, and already tried, all the clever-jack ideas that are about to be proposed.

Book publishing is a set if counterintuitive interlocking systems that are very, very efficient at one thing: Putting books into readers' hands.
 

Medievalist

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Do not think for a moment that the very smart business folks who run major publishers haven't thought of, and already tried, all the clever-jack ideas that are about to be proposed.

Book publishing is a set if counterintuitive interlocking systems that are very, very efficient at one thing: Putting books into readers' hands.

It's not like they haven't been beta testing and improving the process since the fifteenth century.

I've yet to see anything proposed that hasn't already been tried.

I'm braced for the brilliant idea of publishing by subscription--because that's what happened after the English and Flemish presses abandoned "bespoke printing" as the way to go.
 

CaoPaux

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You should also understand how Thor Power Tool Company changed inventory control before you blame publishers for all the world's ills.
 
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Medievalist

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Commercial publishing and book retailing truly is operating in a vacuum of isolation, outside of the normal business practices and parameters.

Speaking as an investor--no, it's not. There are specialized databases used by publishers, booksellers, agents and libraries. Bookscan and Voyager, for instance, provide all sorts of data about trends, specific title sales, and retailers and publishers.

There are 10Qs and stockholder meetings.

There are white papers by think tanks like RAND and by research firms like McKimson and Forrester Research.

Just because you don't know it, or know where to look, doesn't mean the data isn't out there.