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The Harlequin Madness

So if you've been following this drama of epic proportions over at Harlequin, you may be a tad confused over what it all means. Self-publishing? Good? Bad? Should traditional publishers get involved?

I'll admit, when I first read about it on Kristin Nelson's blog, I wasn't quite sure what it meant. I went on to read what Nathan Bransford had to say, and Jennifer Jackson, and Rachelle Gardner, and of course, The Shark Herself. All interesting stuff.

But I was still confused. (Call me stoopid.) Then I stumbled onto author Jackie Kessler's post, and behold, the light shineth from the heavens. Seriously, if you're wondering just what has unfolded over at Harlequin over the past few days, Ms. Kessler has summed it up in a very helpful (and hilarious) way.

My opinion, at the moment? Vanity publisher. Traditional publisher. No in-betweens, combos, mixes, or anything of the sort, please. I understand that traditional publishers are having a really tough time in our current economic situation. But guess what? So are writers. Being a writer is tough, making real money as a writer is next to impossible. Why should we take on more of the financial load? No one at Harlequin is forcing writers to do this, of course. But encouraging aspiring novelists to take this "opportunity" (via rejection letter) is, in my humble opinion, slightly evil.

What are your thoughts?

ETA: Newest development –SFWA has also announced that Harlequin sales will not qualify for membership with their organization. To quote their post:

Until such time as Harlequin changes course, and returns to a model of legitimately working with authors instead of charging authors for publishing services, SFWA has no choice but to be absolutely clear that NO titles from ANY Harlequin imprint will be counted as qualifying for membership in SFWA. Further, Harlequin should be on notice that while the rules of our annual Nebula Award do not expressly prohibit self-published titles from winning, it is highly unlikely that our membership would ever nominate or vote for a work that was published in this manner.
ETAA (Um, the extra A is for again): After spending a few joyous hours learning more about this, I wrote a rather epic treatise with the facts I discovered (including how much getting my first novel published via Harlequin Horizons would cost me) on my blog. Check it out if you're interested. There's a cookie in it for you.
Michelle Schusterman

Michelle writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who'd buy a "groove matters" bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). She is the author of middle grade series I Heart Band - 2014, and The Kat Sinclair Files - 2015 (both from Grosset).

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  1. Wow. I'd read a few articles on it, but none that had outlined all the fees they would charge for services.

  2. I think they should've spent their time and money on e-publishing. Less cost involved and the author at least has a chance to make money without paying for publishing.

  3. I agree entirely, Michelle (including the part about being oh so confused as to what was going on at first!)

  4. Tara - yes. It seems like both the newspaper industry as well as the rest of the publishing world are just trying to delay the inevitable with ideas like this Harlequin one.

  5. Michelle, you should link to your personal blog post in this post here -- it's very informative, especially the breakdown of fees.

  6. I hate that they are basically preying on writers who aren't good enough for HQ by making them think if they spend $2-10,000 they have a better chance at being "discovered."

    It all leaves a bad taste in my mouth and is such a conflict of interest I can't even believe it. If they want to be a vanity pub, so be it, but referring their rejections there is just wrong imo.

  7. Being a huge addict of the Harlequin Blaze line, it sucks that the authors might suffer from the decision they've made. Being a self-pubbed author, I understand how it's gotten a bad rap. It's not for everybody. And I can tell you I didn't spend $30,000 to have mine published. Granted, I was in a hurry to see my books in print, so it worked. But I'm going traditional with my YA series.

    I just don't understand the stigma of "If you haven't been published traditionally, then you're not truly published." A lot of famous writers started out self-pubbed, so it can't be all bad.


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Item Reviewed: The Harlequin Madness Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Schusterman