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DellArte Press (formerly Harlequin Horizons)

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

Jersey Chick

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You know, a friend I reconnected with on Facebook asked me if I'd answer a few questions for a friend. I said, sure, tell her to email me.

So she did. And I think she was hoping I'd offer to either read her manuscript, or offer to suggest it to my editor(s) - neither of which I had any intention to do (and made sure she knew that). I took the time to answer her as best as I could.

I didn't even get a 'thank you for taking the time to answer my questions,' response. I never heard back from her. It's not the first time that's happened, either. I don't know how keen I'd be on answering anyone else's questions any more, selfish as that may seem. Maybe that's the wrong attitude, but when I take the time out of my schedule and someone doesn't even have the courtesy to say "thank you"... it doesn't make it something I want to keep doing.
 

jana13k

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I can only answer for myself, and I answer every email I receive. Yes, it takes time, and yes, I work in excess of 100 to 120 hours a week since I also have a day job, but I feel that's what I signed up for. I think a lot of you are mistaken as to how accessible published authors are and how willing they are to share information. I have rubbed elbows with some of the biggest and they are as down to earth as my mechanic.

Gill - I would agree that it's predatory marketing practices IF Harlequin is still including a link to the vanity press in their rejection letters, but all reports so far are they're not.
 

veinglory

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It is great that they aren't linking their legit publishing imprints to it, but they are still doing it. IMHO that is still disreputable.
 

dragonjax

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Gill - I would agree that it's predatory marketing practices IF Harlequin is still including a link to the vanity press in their rejection letters, but all reports so far are they're not.

The problem, Jana, is that in HQ's last open letter to the MWA, the president made it very clear that HQ form-letter rejections would include the reference to DAP. No wiggle room, other than not pinpointing when those revised form letter rejections would start. As someone else previously mentioned, it could be that HQ is finishing up its current stock of form letters, and once those run out, the all new DAP-referenced rejections will come out.

You can't publicly say you're going to do something, and then expect people to think you're not going to do it.

It's really simple: all HQ has to do is have a new open letter, one that says that they have decided NOT to include the DAP reference after all. I'll be one of the first ones to stand and publicly applaud the decision.
 

Gillhoughly

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I think a lot of you are mistaken as to how accessible published authors are and how willing they are to share information.
As one of those pubbed authors, I am willing to help when I can--but they have to write me first.

No one here is mistaken about how helpful most writers are; AW is full of pubbed writers trying to help others--but we are aware that newbies sometimes just don't know enough to ask or even bother to ask or listen when they hear the truth.

But the last thing they need is thinking that DellArte is their friend or a stepping stone to pro publication.

HQN dangled the carrot that if sales are good enough on a DellArte title then one's book could be picked up by HQN.

They fail to mention the average sales for a vanity book is around 75 copies--if that many. I figure it's closer to 10-15 copies, especially for an unknown. Such numbers are not enough to warrant any interest.

HQN's carrot is just as misleading as PublishAmerica claiming books are available in brick and mortar stores. Available don't mean the same as shelved.

HQN spotting a potential high number seller on DA? Yeah, sure. If the book was good enough to be a commercial success, one of the HQN editors should have bought it in the first place.

In the meantime, we just have to keep warning the neos to keep their pockets zipped and keep writing.
 

Cyia

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I can vouch for Gil being a VERY helpful published author. One who's put up with more than their fair share of questions from me, and one who's kept me from making some missteps.

I can also vouch for the fact that had I known who was behind that grumpy avatar before I asked those first questions, I'd never have asked them. No way. No how. I don't usually find people whose names I know on reputation to be approachable. Grumpy people on the other hand, I find quite helpful.

It's a safe bet that most people feel the same way about approaching published authors, especially ones in their genre(s) of choice. They don't want to bother or offend.

There are three other authors on this board who have also been very helpful to me behind the scenes. I knew they were published, but they weren't in genres I'm familiar with, so it was less intimidating.

It's easier to approach a computer and read the information presented. Unfortunately if it's bad information, then you're stuck. If you frequent some of the vanity press threads here, you'll hear a lot about "crab bucket" mentality and how it applies to these publishers. People who've used them - and had bad experiences - will push others toward them so they can share in the misery. Like it's a form of paying dues.
 

jana13k

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Why would they pre-print rejection letters? Do they stamp it with the date and time? I assumed they would alter the date and time and hit print every time a rejection went out. But I've never seen one, so I don't know what they look like.

Anyone on AW got one they can show us a copy of?

And please don't get me wrong, while I have ethical issues with predatory marketing, the capitalist in me also believes totally in a free-market system. The entire reason I jumped off the corporate ladder and left an executive position in corporate America is because of the way the vast majority of companies do business. Very few are NOT taking advantage of some group of people, be it their customers or their employees. At least being a regular employee, I don't have to hear about it.

I prefer they not advertise a vanity press on their rejections or their website, but neither of those will prevent me from writing for them, because I also have bills to pay. I have to figure they are no less or more ethical than any other company I've worked for the past 21 years. Sad, but true.
 

James D. Macdonald

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HQN dangled the carrot that if sales are good enough on a DellArte title then one's book could be picked up by HQN.

I'd like to know exactly how many AuthorHouse books HQN picked up for reprint over the last ... let's say ten ... years.

I'm willing to bet the answer is "none."
 

dragonjax

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Why would they pre-print rejection letters? Do they stamp it with the date and time? I assumed they would alter the date and time and hit print every time a rejection went out. But I've never seen one, so I don't know what they look like.

The very nature of a form rejection letter is that it is a Dear Author letter, without a date, and rarely includes a line for someone to hand write the name of the project. For my first novel, I scored triple-digit rejection letters, most of which were forms, and they all basically said the same thing:

Dear Author:

Thank you for submitting your project. Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs at this time. We wish you the best of luck in seeking publication elsewhere.

Sincerely,
The Editors
That's the damning thing about rejection letters: they are purposefully vague. And when you're rejected, you scrabble for **any** possible meaning out of form letter rejections, thinking that there's really something in there that's helpful.

So when a form letter, after saying that your work isn't good enough for the publisher to pay you (now you're devastated) goes on to say something along the lines of, "We encourage you to consider other publishing options, including Name Of Vanity Press," you may not see that as the publisher saying the book is good enough for you to pay the publisher. Instead, you may consider that referral A) a lifeline (read: you don't suck after all!) or B) the publisher's blessing for you to check out the vanity press (read: the publisher wants me to do this!).

This is why so many authors, myself included, have stated that by putting a referral to its vanity arm in its form-letter rejections, Harlequin is being predatory.
 

Gillhoughly

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I got that SAME rejection letter! Shocking! :D

It was on a quarter sheet of typing paper. Clearly the original had the same message repeated four times and they cut the sheets in half and then half again. A wad of them would be stacked in a little catchall on the editor's desk so she could grab one and slot it into the return envelope with my 50 pages and synopsis.

My copy of the rejection had been Xeroxed so many times it was hardly readable, but I got the message.

Now--if that rejection had suggested that I "explore other publishing options" and given the name of a company, I'd have taken it as a lifeline and grabbed hard with both hands. "Wow, my stuff's not right for these guys, but this other bunch might like it! A trusted publisher with a good reputation has recommended a safe haven for my work! Whee!"

So what if it might cost me some cash? My book would be in stores next to those other books! (Thankfully this did not happen, and I didn't have money to spend for vanity options, so I kept rewriting and resubmitting.)

Dang skippy, vanity sites are not forthcoming with the harsh truth that chain stores simply don't stock vanity and self-pub titles. It cuts into their business.
 

Anon76

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I prefer they not advertise a vanity press on their rejections or their website, but neither of those will prevent me from writing for them, because I also have bills to pay. I have to figure they are no less or more ethical than any other company I've worked for the past 21 years. Sad, but true.

And you should write for them. I do not believe most of us here advocate turning your back on this publisher at your own expense. As you stated, most companies can be unethical as hell.

But...

I will state that if not for a number of dedicated individuals all over the net, this HQ/Author Solutions/Author House debacle would have continued to be lauded as the next best thing since sliced bread. As it was initially.

The original Harlequin Horizons site was a carrot as big as the Empire State Building. The purple prose, the tugging on the heart strings. It even went so far as to state on one page something along the lines of, "why deal with those big publishers who only hold you back and ruin your book with their own editorial vision?" Wow, bite the hand that feeds you much.

And the site did dangle the dream that if the book sold well enough it "might" be picked up by HQ.

But with enough outrage and not letting the issue die, the name was finally changed to Dellarte and the site revamped considerably. HOWEVER, the original public statement that rejected authors would be referred to the pay-to-play arm was never retracted. Nor, did the original statement ever state that their legitimate ebook arm, Carina, would be listed as an option on that rejection letter. In fact, while Harlequin Horizons was originally to have a big old "H" on the cover to show its affiliation to the parent company, Carina authors never got such consideration. Odd, don't you think?

Also, the one name you never found on the defunct Harlequin Horizons site nor will find on the new Dellarte site is...drumroll please...Author Solutions/Author House. Same thing if you go visit that pay-to-play division of the Christian publishing house. It's a business decision to hide behind the name of reputable publishers to garner increased monies for the same crappy services.

In this case the term "you get what you pay for" means, you get the same exact people working on your book, but you'll pay through the nose if it's a site linked in name only to one of the big boys.
 

jana13k

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Anon - I totally agree the way it was done at first was WRONG. I still don't want the link on rejection letters or on their website. I feel it's predatory marketing, but unfortunately, that's unethical, not illegal. You see it all over the Internet. I get the spam every day.

And of course AS charges higher prices when they can get a name behind them. No different than paying $60 for a $5 T-shirt just because it has an athlete's logo on it. It's what the market will bear. It's a sale of more than just a T-shirt or a published book - they're selling a dream. And that's where people get into trouble.

My husband got roped into attending a meeting for some new "great business opportunity" by a friend last week and came home with this crap about it. It took me all of five minutes on Google to find multiple federal indictments for the owners and lawsuits started last year by the attorney general of almost every state in the nation. Why? Because "they" claim it's a multi-level-marketing business, but it's really a pyramid scheme and those are illegal. It's a fine, fine line, but how many people do you think rushed up there and paid $299 initiation fee - not for owning a business - not for the product they're selling - but for what they're REALLY pushing which is get rich and have tons of free time. Well, who doesn't want that?

Maybe I was just born skeptical. I don't believe anything until proven. Or maybe it was all my years of forensic auditing that make me think everyone has an angle and that angle is never in YOUR best interest unless it's in THEIRS. But when someone offers me something that seems too good to be true, it usually is. Even now, my agent picks my contracts apart with legitimate publishers and sometimes argues for months over things she thinks are not fair. I wouldn't know where to begin, so ultimately, I suppose many authors without representation are also getting screwed.

I have to say, I don't really understand or see the whole purpose of Carina press. I wondered if they were going to put only new stuff up or use it to re-issue some old stuff from now very popular authors. It's kinda cool now that with e-publishing your backlist never really has to disappear, even if you decide to list it yourself.

So can someone please tell me why the Christian publisher go the vanity press route? Isn't that anti-Christian? I think my biggest pet peeve in life is religious hypocrisy.
 

DeadlyAccurate

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So can someone please tell me why the Christian publisher go the vanity press route? Isn't that anti-Christian? I think my biggest pet peeve in life is religious hypocrisy.

Because doing right is harder than claiming to do right. I've gotten into it with PFNikolai (WestBow Press) on Twitter for being an unethical slimeball. But of course, slimeballs never think they're slimeballs, so he's not fazed.

I'm still boycotting Harlequin, both as a reader and writer (Thomas Nelson, too, but that's not likely to ever come up). If all association with Harlequin is removed from DellArte, maybe I'll change my mind. Maybe.
 

Deb Kinnard

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Nelson went down that path because of money. I'm not privy to any of Thomas Nelson's financial woes, but Michael Hiatt makes it quite clear on his blog that this decision was market/economy driven.

They've also opened up their legit publishing needs quite a bit, as evidenced by the acquisition editors' statements at the ACFW national conference last September. They're considering projects now that they wouldn't touch before, due to "wrong" themes, historical eras, and the like.

I haven't bought anything by Nelson since, and I'm reconsidering sending them my own project they're interested in. I haven't decided yet what to do about this. So far nothing strong is tipping me either for or against.
 

brainstorm77

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Anon - I totally agree the way it was done at first was WRONG. I still don't want the link on rejection letters or on their website. I feel it's predatory marketing, but unfortunately, that's unethical, not illegal. You see it all over the Internet. I get the spam every day.

And of course AS charges higher prices when they can get a name behind them. No different than paying $60 for a $5 T-shirt just because it has an athlete's logo on it. It's what the market will bear. It's a sale of more than just a T-shirt or a published book - they're selling a dream. And that's where people get into trouble.

My husband got roped into attending a meeting for some new "great business opportunity" by a friend last week and came home with this crap about it. It took me all of five minutes on Google to find multiple federal indictments for the owners and lawsuits started last year by the attorney general of almost every state in the nation. Why? Because "they" claim it's a multi-level-marketing business, but it's really a pyramid scheme and those are illegal. It's a fine, fine line, but how many people do you think rushed up there and paid $299 initiation fee - not for owning a business - not for the product they're selling - but for what they're REALLY pushing which is get rich and have tons of free time. Well, who doesn't want that?

Maybe I was just born skeptical. I don't believe anything until proven. Or maybe it was all my years of forensic auditing that make me think everyone has an angle and that angle is never in YOUR best interest unless it's in THEIRS. But when someone offers me something that seems too good to be true, it usually is. Even now, my agent picks my contracts apart with legitimate publishers and sometimes argues for months over things she thinks are not fair. I wouldn't know where to begin, so ultimately, I suppose many authors without representation are also getting screwed.

I have to say, I don't really understand or see the whole purpose of Carina press. I wondered if they were going to put only new stuff up or use it to re-issue some old stuff from now very popular authors. It's kinda cool now that with e-publishing your backlist never really has to disappear, even if you decide to list it yourself.

So can someone please tell me why the Christian publisher go the vanity press route? Isn't that anti-Christian? I think my biggest pet peeve in life is religious hypocrisy.

Carina was just a way for them to publish what they wouldn't before under the HQ name. They now take horror and m/m plus other stuff. I guess they wanted to get their foot into that e market and saw the potential for making money with it.
 

jana13k

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Carina was just a way for them to publish what they wouldn't before under the HQ name. They now take horror and m/m plus other stuff. I guess they wanted to get their foot into that e market and saw the potential for making money with it.
That's interesting, brainstorm! I didn't realize they were branching out from their usual genres. Cool.

I'm afraid I have so little time that I don't keep up with much that doesn't directly effect me. Oh well, one day when I win the lottery. LOL
 

brainstorm77

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That's interesting, brainstorm! I didn't realize they were branching out from their usual genres. Cool.

I'm afraid I have so little time that I don't keep up with much that doesn't directly effect me. Oh well, one day when I win the lottery. LOL

Yeah with Carina they appear to be branching out into everything.
 

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One thing I haven't yet seen mentioned (after 47 or so pages, LOL!) is the fact that aspirees can and do perform much research, but unless and until you know what you're looking for, the top sites that come up are vanity publishers.

Aspiring authors can spend hundreds of hours researching how publishing works...but these predatory presses spend thousands of dollars (gotten from other snookered wannabe-bestsellers) advertising, SEO optimizing, and buying the veneer of legitimacy any way they can.

Understand I don't have too much of a problem with RWA's solution--I get why they did what they did, and it was the best solution they could come up with to please most of the members most of the time, and even opened them up to be slightly friendlier to the epublishing model. It still let Harlequin off easy, though. I can't imagine that if a smaller press had done this that RWA would have gone out of their way to change policies to accommodate that smaller press, and that's what doesn't sit well with me, along with HQ's refusal to state that they won't send out reference letters to DAP with their rejections to any author. Even though, functionally, unless they have access to RWA's rolls (and I sincerely hope they don't), they would have to avoid sending the ref to anyone, just in case they were a member. But how hard is it for somebody at HQ to come out and say, "Yeah, we won't refer people to the crooks down the hall, mmkay?"

And I can honestly say that I think the RWA decision will have positive effects on down the line, for smaller presses and presses trying new things with publishing. It also gives RWA the ability to move into a more modularized approach towards the practices of the major publishers. Maybe we'll see some pushback on things like ebook pricing or holdbacks.

Like others, I don't have a problem with someone either intentional, or intentionally refusing to see reality, choosing this path. The sad fact is that so many people don't understand that this is the path they're taking. They think they're taking the same path Nicholas Sparks took, or -insert bigname author here- took. Enough people so that the predatory presses are aware and *actively seek to obscure the realities of the majority of their authors' experiences.* That's my big problem. Unless you already know what to look for--and sometimes where to look--you're being intentionally lied to. That, to me, isn't capitalism. And just because it isn't illegal doesn't mean it isn't ethical and doesn't mean we can't scream loud and long and make it as unacceptable a practice as possible.

My original question two or so pages ago was focusing on the idea of PAN membership being a career goal in itself, but that's probably tangential to the DAP discussion. :)
 

Gillhoughly

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All an aspiring writer needs to do to find a legit publisher is to go to a bookstore and look inside their front pages.

Then they can go online and check for guidelines.

They likely won't find vanity or scam publishers.

That's how I found my first publisher, and this was long before the Internet. I happened on a title similar to my work and grabbed it with both hands.

I got into publishing to sell books, not join any organization. They have a place an purpose, but it is disappointing to all that RWA wimped out.
 

jennontheisland

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Carina was just a way for them to publish what they wouldn't before under the HQ name. They now take horror and m/m plus other stuff. I guess they wanted to get their foot into that e market and saw the potential for making money with it.

And yet there's not a single Harlequin trademark "H" anywhere on the Carina site.

But they had to be forced to take it off of Horizons/DellArte.
 

brainstorm77

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And yet there's not a single Harlequin trademark "H" anywhere on the Carina site.

But they had to be forced to take it off of Horizons/DellArte.

That's weird now that I think about it. That never even came into my mind:Shrug:
 

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