Posted by Patrice Wilton | 10:57 AM | , , , | 15 comments »

Good morning readers and writers,
As almost everyone knows, Harlequin has once again rocked the publishing industry. Only this time not in a good way. For those who have been buried under a rock, the nitty-gritty is that Harlequin has launched a vanity press, named Harlequin Horizons, which gives new writers false hope and expectations. The author has to pay up front and from what I have heard the amount is substantial, and must split the profits, if there are any, 50/50. This is unheard of in self- publishing. As if that news in not unsettling enough, RWA took a very aggressive stance by declaring Harlequin and all its imprints to be no longer a recognized publisher. This of course has serious repercussions for all the wonderful authors who write for Harlequin, including Mira and HQN best selling authors.
It's a sad day in the publishing world for everyone concerned. Harlequin has been around for something like 70 years and has built a strong, reputable name in the romance market. Who could even think of a romance novel without thinking of Harlequin? They have now stated that the new vanity press will no longer carry their name, but they might have to distance themselves completely. The fall-out from all this is still yet to be seen.
It is also a pity that this all happened within a week of a new, exciting adventure called Carina Press which is perfectly legit and a very good opportunity for new writers, and for those who wrote something out-side the box and needs a good home. Let this new development with Harlequin not alter the fact that Carina is innocent in all this, and the other imprints, recognized or not, are still known for publishing quality work.
Would love to hear your views.


  1. Mary Marvella // November 24, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

    Patrice, I was wondering when one of us would post about this new twist. I do feel there will be some back-peddling and adjusting on all sides.

    I really don't object to a business finding ways to make more money, but this smacks of high end vanity press. Maybe the $$$$ will give us better "self-published" (not) books.

  2. Patrice // November 24, 2009 at 1:09 PM  

    Hi Mary,
    Yes, I was surprised that no one jumped on this. Such a huge topic of interest, and what a shocker!
    Sad in any case. Hope it gets resolved soon.

  3. Beth Trissel // November 24, 2009 at 1:48 PM  

    Well written, Patrice. I've been following the furor and entering into some of the discussion over all of this. I agree with you that HQ has made a major error and we haven't seen all the fallout yet.
    Too bad they couldn't have stuck to their other new launch which will probably be negatively affected.

  4. Judy // November 24, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

    Lots going on with the decision Harlequin has made. I'm still waiting to see what the fallout will be but from what I believe is a bad decision, evidenced by the reactions of RWA, the Mystery Writer groups and the Fantasy Groups. I'm glad people are speaking up.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // November 24, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

    As I said on Facebook, it felt like a death in the family. Harlequin has been a part of my life for better than 40 years! Long before I even thought of becoming an author, I loved Harlequin Books. I almost grew up on them, and my daughter did grew up on them. I guess, it felt like such a betryal that I was waiting to awaken and discover it had all been a bad dream. To me, the logical solution that they should have thought of was to have the mother company Torstar form the partnership with the vanity press leaving Harlequin out of the loop. It is unseemly for Harlequin to use their slush pile for this venture. I grieve for my lost innocence, Harlequin, Oh, Harlequin what have you done?

    Sorry, guys, told you I was grieving!


  6. Mary Marvella // November 24, 2009 at 6:20 PM  

    Scarlet was moping Sunday!

  7. Patrice // November 24, 2009 at 7:13 PM  

    Oh, Scarlett,
    I do feel your pain. It is a shocking, unbelievable, and sad situation indeed. I can't believe that Harlequin should have been so misguided as to do something like this. But I believe they are strong enough to survive.

  8. Pamela Varnado // November 24, 2009 at 8:28 PM  

    This is very distressing news. I pray they work things out. I have confidence they will.

  9. Mona Risk // November 24, 2009 at 8:43 PM  

    HQ has already announced that the new line will be called Horizon without the Harlequin name showing on it. They will not promote or sell books for Horizon. So why would any writer go with Horizons?

  10. Scarlet Pumpernickel // November 24, 2009 at 8:54 PM  

    The way I understand the plan was if you sent in a manuscript to Harlequin to the slush pile and they rejected it they would include in the rejection information about Horizon. This could be confusing to a newbie leading them to assume the offer of publication was coming from Harlequin.

  11. Carol Burnside // November 25, 2009 at 11:32 AM  

    One of the problems with this is that the terms 'self-publishing' and 'vanity press' are being interchanged when they are not the same thing at all.

    Self-publishing has it's place. There are people who wish to have their books printed up at their own cost, to give to relatives (a history of family, for instance) or a group who sells a self-published recipe book as a fund-raiser. There are other reasons, but the big difference from a vanity press is that the author(s)get all proceeds from the sales of these books.

    In a vanity press, the author pays all the costs to have his/her book produced, yet still gets bilked out of a portion of the royalties by the company printing the book when they had no costs associated with producing it.

    Please note the use of the word 'printing' rather than 'publishing' because it is also a more accurate term.

    Regarding Harlequin's venture, I too am disappointed in a company I've thought of as principled and a producer of quality fiction.

  12. Carol Burnside // November 25, 2009 at 11:33 AM  

    Just to clarify: I didn't mean 'this' in reference to the original post, but 'this' as the venture that Hqn has entered into. They label it as self-publishing when it is actually a vanity press.

  13. Scarlet Pumpernickel // November 25, 2009 at 3:44 PM  

    I agree with your analysis of this situation. I can only hope that Harlequin will divorce itself from this and leave it to it's mother company Torstar to run this venture. I have many, many friends who are published by Harlequin and I feel so distressed for them.

  14. Mary Marvella // November 25, 2009 at 9:03 PM  

    Thanks for adding your excellent 4 cents!

  15. Mary Ricksen // November 27, 2009 at 4:29 PM  

    Hi Patrice, sorry I wasn't here to comment.
    I'm still on the post about this new press. I'm with MM.
    I think people already knew about this, there has been a lot of posts on TWRP about it. And FRW too!