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DellArte Press (formerly Harlequin Horizons)

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

veinglory

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So what do you suggest - that every Harlequin employee resign their positions in protest?

Of course not. I am just saying that what Harlequin does is Harlequin's problem. As a reader I don't care about the internal structure or exactly shose idea it was. That isn't my problem.
 

jana13k

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Of course not. I am just saying that what Harlequin does is Harlequin's problem. As a reader I don't care about the internal structure or exactly shose idea it was. That isn't my problem.
And that's exactly at the crux of it. Only writers know and are angry over what is going on. Readers will continue to buy and go on their merry way. So nothing can be done about it except through the BOD that voted for it, but I cannot imagine that any editors who works 100+ hours a week producing quality copy was happy about the thought of the Harlequin name on something anyone was willing to pay several hundred dollars to publish.

I know a lot of people put down category as sub-standard writing, etc. I hear it all the time, but the reality is, it's not easy to sell to them, so the standards are there for a legitimate sale. As a former CFO, I can also tell you that I stepped down from my position over business decisions made by the owner that I was expected to implement. But it happens every day. And my stepping down didn't stop them from making unethical business decisions. It simply allowed me to continue sleeping at night.

It's a crappy position to be in as an employee is all I'm saying, because there is no good alternative, especially in this economy.
 

veinglory

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Well, I am not and never will be a Harlequin author--but I was a regular customer of theirs. Do I think my choice will impact them economically? Of course not. But I was only commenting on my own perspective of their culpability as a publisher. I may feel sorry for their authors and staff, but I cannot support what they are currently doing/not doing as a publishing entity and brand. It wil also be going in the comment section of the next Harlequin reader panel survey they send me and as my reason for rejecting the next free book they offer me via that program.
 

jana13k

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vein - Then I guess you won't be reading my recently sold Harlequin Intrigue. I don't agree with vanity publishing, although I tend to take a buyer beware approach, but business is business and I see my deal with Harlequin as a business move. How they choose to handle their other business isn't my problem unless it effects me. And even then, I don't pretend to think I have any voting power.
 

veinglory

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Of course. And anyone who has a manuscript suitable for Harlequin would be crazy not to send it to them. We all just do what we see as best--and as a self-publishing advocate I choose not to buy from them anymore. I donlt think it needs to be painted as a black and white issue or a mean/kind issue. We place out work where it will make money, we buy brands we feel good about--and vice versa. A personal choice is just that.
 
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jana13k

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We place out work where it will make money, we buy brands we feel good about--and vice versa. A personal choice is just that.
Which is exactly why I don't read the newspaper or listen to the news. It was SERIOUSLY cutting into my shopping life. LOL Ignorance is often definitely bliss.
 

jensoko

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While I agree that RWA has done some backpedaling from their original stance, the Harlequin name was removed from the venture and it appears that (so far) the press is not being recommended along with rejections. I think the main reason RWA backpedaled was not for Harlequins benefit, but for the benefit of over HALF their published authors that are published category authors. Removing Harlequin from the equation at RWA leaves all those legitimate authors who are working their tails off producing legitimate work out in the cold based on something they can't control.

There is no winner here.

But there is a big question here (disclaimer, I'm a longtime RWA member who's been a local chapter bomem for more years than I can remember and I love the org's positive influence on aspiring writers, HOWEVER, I'm not blind to it's faults, either, and one of them is clearly in play here)--and that question is what, exactly, are the Harlequin legitimate line authors missing out on by HQ not being legitimized in some fashion by RWA?

They miss out on a chance at the RITAs, achieving PAN status, and maybe some sort of free nosh at RWANational, amirite? At least, those are the big ones.

RWA doesn't have the power to de-author-tize the authors in HQ's legit lines (and neither does it have the correlative power to de-author-tize anybody who publishes anything in any fashion). It begs the question then, is it a within-RWA status sought out by so many RWA members that suffers if HQ is not brought back into the fold in some way, and if so, what benefit to a writer's career does that status confer, and is it worth the effort to strive for it.
 

jana13k

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But there is a big question here (disclaimer, I'm a longtime RWA member who's been a local chapter bomem for more years than I can remember and I love the org's positive influence on aspiring writers, HOWEVER, I'm not blind to it's faults, either, and one of them is clearly in play here)--and that question is what, exactly, are the Harlequin legitimate line authors missing out on by HQ not being legitimized in some fashion by RWA?

They miss out on a chance at the RITAs, achieving PAN status, and maybe some sort of free nosh at RWANational, amirite? At least, those are the big ones.

RWA doesn't have the power to de-author-tize the authors in HQ's legit lines (and neither does it have the correlative power to de-author-tize anybody who publishes anything in any fashion). It begs the question then, is it a within-RWA status sought out by so many RWA members that suffers if HQ is not brought back into the fold in some way, and if so, what benefit to a writer's career does that status confer, and is it worth the effort to strive for it.
While I am not a big contest person, for some authors the RITAs represent the ultimate, so it costs them there. If you are a PAN member you have access to better workshops, better loops and different industry information than PRO members do, so the difference may be large for some there.

Also, probably 30-50% of the workshops at RWA are hosted by category authors. If the publisher no longer has status with RWA, then those authors may also loose the ability to conduct workshops at conference.

I just see no reason to punish the authors. That's like punishing a child for something their parent did. How does that help the situation?

And those things I mentioned matter a lot to many. Besides which, if you're denied all those things as a category writer, then why be a member at all? And then where would RWA be without half their membership?

It's a business decision, pure and simple.
 

Terie

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I just see no reason to punish the authors. That's like punishing a child for something their parent did. How does that help the situation?

The purpose of the RWA and other author organisations is to support authors *in the big picture*.

For example, I'm with a mid-size publisher and my advances don't qualify with SFWA as 'professional' level, so I can't join the SFWA at the professional level. By your argument, this hurts me as an author and therefore is wrong.

But I disagree. What the SFWA is saying is that publishers should pay higher advances than my publisher pays. So even though one could argue that it 'hurts' me as an individual author, I support the SFWA's position because, *in the big picture*, their stance is better for me as an author.
 

jana13k

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Terie - In "general" I agree, BUT Harlequin's pay is not at issue, and I don't see that they're hurting "real" authors at all. Real authors would never pay for publication. I know others think I'm harsh for saying so, but tell me any business that one should open without bothering to do thousands of hours of research beforehand?

The purpose of the RWA and other author organisations is to support authors *in the big picture*.

For example, I'm with a mid-size publisher and my advances don't qualify with SFWA as 'professional' level, so I can't join the SFWA at the professional level. By your argument, this hurts me as an author and therefore is wrong.

But I disagree. What the SFWA is saying is that publishers should pay higher advances than my publisher pays. So even though one could argue that it 'hurts' me as an individual author, I support the SFWA's position because, *in the big picture*, their stance is better for me as an author.
 

Cyia

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Terie - In "general" I agree, BUT Harlequin's pay is not at issue, and I don't see that they're hurting "real" authors at all. Real authors would never pay for publication. I know others think I'm harsh for saying so, but tell me any business that one should open without bothering to do thousands of hours of research beforehand?

Plenty of people who get sucked into "pay to play" publishers think they have done their research. It's a common misconception that you have to pay to get published, so it's not a red flag when a publisher asks for the writers to put up their own cash.

And some of those people are exceptionally talented authors who think they're putting their stuff on even ground with every other commercially published author out there.

Using my own experience as an example -

Until recently, I wasn't able to get online regularly. I had a one hour window maybe once a week at the library to do all of the research I could. That time was all I had to send off queries, etc, too.

Thankfully, one of the first links I found was here, but it's not like that for everyone. When you put "American Publishers" into Google, you get vanity publishers front and center and a newbie without inside information has no idea how to tell those from any other - especially if they're associated with a very well know publisher.
 

Selah March

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...And then where would RWA be without half their membership?

It's a business decision, pure and simple.

I believe only 10-20% of the RWA's membership is pro-published. Half or more of that number may be pubbed by Harlequin.

The RWA makes most of its money from the dues and conference fees of unpublished members, many of whom will never publish at all. If every Harlequin-pubbed RWA member walked away from the organization tomorrow, they'd take a hit, but they wouldn't fold.

However, if every member who ASPIRED to be published by Harlequin walked...

I dunno. It seems disingenuous to state that your mission is to serve, protect and support authors who are pursuing a career in romance fiction, and then cut a deal giving benefits to a company that's preying on newbie authors who are pursuing a career in romance fiction.
 

jana13k

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But if the Harlequin name is no longer on the vanity press, and rejections are not directing writers to the vanity press as an alternative, then where's the foul? For all we know the parent company of Avon may own a vanity press. Some businesses are buried in so many layers of legalese that it's almost impossible to penetrate them.

I say that if the lines are no longer blurred between the two, then I can't see the problem with it. It's simply another business that Torstar owns, not Harlequin.

I still contend that anyone spending even one dollar on a business venture should be talking to people who've done it before them. Join writer's groups - that's why they exist. To keep new writers from making foolish and costly decisions. Maybe it's because I come from a business background and an executive position, but I think people should spend hundreds or thousands of hours researching something before jumping in with two feet. I think too many are impatient and think it's easy, so they jump the gun.
 
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DreamWeaver

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I still contend that anyone spending even one dollar on a business venture should be talking to people who've done it before them...I think people should spend hundreds or thousands of hours researching something before jumping in with two feet. I think too many are impatient and think it's easy, so they jump the gun.
I think you're absolutely right about people being too impatient. On the other hand, I find also find it believable that most authors looking for a publisher don't define that search in terms of a business venture. My best guess would be most new authors think of finding a publisher as a step in joining a profession. How is that different? Sort of the difference between a person who goes into medicine for the money, and choses the specialty with the highest average income vs. a person who goes into medicine for non-monetary reasons such as altruism, self-fulfillment, or because they simply can't imagine doing anything else.
 

jana13k

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I think you're absolutely right about people being too impatient. On the other hand, I find also find it believable that most authors looking for a publisher don't define that search in terms of a business venture. My best guess would be most new authors think of finding a publisher as a step in joining a profession. How is that different? Sort of the difference between a person who goes into medicine for the money, and choses the specialty with the highest average income vs. a person who goes into medicine for non-monetary reasons such as altruism, self-fulfillment, or because they simply can't imagine doing anything else.
I think it's different because likely the person practicing medicine as a regular GP has no expectation for winning the Nobel Prize for medicine. But people who go with vanity publishers seem to think their books will be in bookstores, Walmart, grocery stores and somehow a bestseller. It's a pipe dream, and a very naive and costly one. Also, the regular GP STILL spent an average of 8-10 years being educated before he could practice. How many writers spend even 8-10 months researching the profession before they rush out the doors with their manuscript?

The bottom line is that although writing may be a passion for the writer, it's still a business for the publisher, and it does everyone a lot of good to always keep that in the forefront of their mind. If someone only wants to publish for their own benefit, then pay away, but if the expectation is that they will be considered the same as someone that has "Berkley" (for example) stamped on the side of their book, then they are sadly mistaken.
 

veinglory

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I want the business of Harlequin to be selling romance novels, not over-priced, misleadingly advertised self-publishing packages. That is why I have traditionally had a lot of respect for Harlequin, and very little for Authorhouse.
 

Cyia

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But people who go with vanity publishers seem to think their books will be in bookstores, Walmart, grocery stores and somehow a bestseller. It's a pipe dream, and a very naive and costly one.


You're assuming they know it's a vanity press. A large number of people who sign with outfits like this don't. They think they're involved with a regular commercial press. They think they're starting where every writer - including the majors - started. They think they're going to be in stores because, as far as they know, all publishers put books on shelves in stores.
 

Gillhoughly

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I get the same question every time I do a signing.

"How much does it cost to get published?"

It didn't used to be like that. You'd read a writing magazine and get the idea from the start that writers get paid for their words. A trade magazine would announce "So-and-so got a 6-figure deal from such-and-such."

That's what inspired me to write. I could make a carload of cash yanking words out of my head. Sweet!

I was about 10 or 11 and knew writers got PAID.

But now newbies don't bother reading a library's 808 section, or even a "For Dummies" book. They google "publishers" or click on a google link, and find more vanity houses than true advance-paying houses. Casual researchers from the get-go think paying to publish is the norm when you're starting out, then you "work up" to getting an advance.

It doesn't help when the vanity sites throw scares into the newbs about how editors will destroy their "voice" or the rights to their words will be signed away.

WE know that's a lie, but it's scary to the inexperienced.

Advance-paying houses have specific guidelines for submissions, which intimidates the gratify-me-NOW newbies. That's too much work!

OTOH, the vanity sites are sympathetic, enthusiastic, and full of supportive optimism to any visitor and promise that their "voice" will be heard.

Sometimes I do want to let the lemmings wander over the cliff. It means less competition for me, but in good conscience, I put on a game face and explain Yog's Law to them and send them to the library & AW and hope for the best.
 

Stlight

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Before I was connected to the Net, before AW existed, in the mid- 90s, I lived in the largest city in my state. I joined the largest writer’s group in my state. The first suggestion made was that I hire an editing company to make my work better. The president of the group owned the editing company. That was the best advice of the professional writers’ group.

Ten percent of Nothing hadn't been published then.

I didn’t pay for the editing, I couldn’t afford it.

Random sampling of the Net puts the availability of the information that a new author must pay to be published to be about equal to that that you should never pay.

Research doesn’t always tell you everything.
 

jana13k

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Then why not email a published author? I answer email from writers and readers every day and am more than happy to direct people to where they need to go. I never said listen to a bunch of random people on the internet. I said "get it from the horse's mouth."

But I give up. Some of you are dead-set on seeing them as victims. I'm not. We'll never agree.
 

veinglory

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Have you read the websites of predatory self-publishers like Authorhouse. The newbs may be naive, even stupid, but Authorhouse is preying on them. Just like Poetry.com once preyed upon me back when I was a teen. Fortunately my peers here offered me sympathy and good advice.
 

Gillhoughly

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Then why not email a published author?

Because that's just too simple and obvious.

And intimidating.

I recall sending a short story to a couple people who edited Star Trek anthologies back in the day, thinking they might put it in their next book. They were fans just like me or I'd have never done anything so daft.

There was no information of how they worked their magic to get into print, none, and it never occurred to me to ask for publishing guidelines from the house because I didn't know such things even existed.

I didn't know ANYTHING about how publishing worked.

Now--which such information everywhere and emails addies all over the place--you'd think people would know better, but they don't. Certainly the vanity and self-pubbing ads muddy the waters for neos.

Some of you are dead-set on seeing them as victims.
In this case, yes. Publishing's respected granny is telling girls to take themselves to the brothel across the street and pay to get work. If HQN IS sending newbie writers who don't know any better over to DA, then that is totally wrong.

DA can operate and charge whatever they like, that's their business, and anyone choosing to use them ain't my affair.

But DA's website looks like the HQN website, and it's all to easy to conclude that one's very special romance will be on racks in stores right next to the HQN titles. There's no declaration on the DA site to state that's never going to happen. If there is, it's in the fine print.

Yes, some of the people are genuine victims being misled. Until some self-entitled, impatient idiot with more money than sense proves otherwise to me, I give them all the benefit of the doubt and will warn them away from HQN's disgusting conflict of interest.

JulieB sent me a link to Konrath's blog post today.

He's talking about self-publishing rather than vanity publishing, but thankfully points out that the real money for newbies is selling a book to a house, not going out on one's own.

If a terminally smug lemming absolutely insists on jumping off the cliff, then let 'em go. Sometimes that's what it takes to get through to some, and even then it might not work.

My look out is for the writer who's in the same spot I was back in the day--someone who wants to sell a book, but has no idea how. These days it's just too easy to be misled. Teaching them about Yog's Law usually does the trick, though!
 
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Cyia

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And don't forget that those bright and shiny vanity presses that claim they aren't have PAGES of "published authors" crowing about how easy XXX is to work with. So, a newbie thinks they have seen the opinion and expertise of published authors.
 

DaveKuzminski

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Then why not email a published author? I answer email from writers and readers every day and am more than happy to direct people to where they need to go. I never said listen to a bunch of random people on the internet. I said "get it from the horse's mouth."

But I give up. Some of you are dead-set on seeing them as victims. I'm not. We'll never agree.

And how long are you willing to be a resource that's on call for every question? Please keep in mind that even if you only get one percent of the newbie authors this year, that same amount of newbies will be asking next year. It's a renewable resource, after all. You're not. You'll get tired eventually and shut off the answers so you can get some of your own writing accomplished. That's why sites like this are important. It concentrates the answers down to those that are accurate and gives the newbie writer a site to look for rather than guessing whether the writer he wants to contact will help or not. Even then, how does he know that the author's page he encountered is a commercially published author rather than one who knows nothing or next to that because he was vanity published or worse. After all, the person he contacted might even be running a vanity operation.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away