Sunday, November 29, 2009

Harlequin puts on the Evil Clown Mask

Holy Moly, do interesting things ever happen when you're off doing something else!

I just popped into (onto?) some of my favorite writing forums and message boards, only to be confronted with the Harlequin Horizons thing.

What is this thing?

Romance giant Harlequin is putting out a new line, called Horizons. That itself odd (publishers run new lines all the time), but the details?

Harlequin has partnered with Author Solutions (that's vanity press AuthorHouse, guys) and this ENTIRE line is going to be pay to play.

Hoo Boy!

For only $1500, give or take, any writer can now say they've been published by Harlequin, regardless of whether that manuscript is publishable, or even functionally literate. (That's the beauty/horror of vanity presses, innit?)

Of course, these books will not be on the shelf at your local bookstore - like any other vanity printed manuscript, all sales are left up to the writer.

Which is a HUGE stain on Harlequin's reputation. Do they want to remain a legitimate publisher, or become yet another vanity press?

Update: Apparently the backlash was violent enough that HH changed it's name to DellArt press. Smart move guys - I bet the RWA would have had fits about a thousand vanity press writers claiming Harlequin publication!

For more conversations about the entire mess:

For the vanity site:

They also seem to have taken a cue from other vanity presses by using a name that could be confused with a standard publisher (Dell) which is still incredibly underhanded - but at least Harlequin gets to try and dust off its reputation.


Even the New Yorker got in on the scent of this rat:


  1. RWA is in an uproar. As a member I received this email last week.
    "With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints."

    They've booted Harlequin as an RWA recognized publisher for taking advantage of their own slush pile! Way to be proactive!

    Honestly, the asswipe who wrote that New Yorker article is lucky if he doesn't end in a lawsuit because the book links provided were to a traditionally published H author, not vanity press.

    Still not sure what the author gets outta the money they dump on the vanity press. No editing offered, don't get the H logo or distribution. The $600 package gets the author 5 books. So in order to break even, hmmm, carry the 1... ;-)

  2. The NYT article really does drive home one of the points though - the general public won't be discerning one line from another, and that was one of the dangers - turning a reader off to the entire publisher from buying one vanity book on Amazon.

    Nope, nothing but the association. Which made it particularly slimy, especially with the wording heavily implying that the vanity books would get the same 'deal' as all of their published books. I think they would have ended up with extremely pissed off writers on both sides - those who honed the craft, and those who felt cheated.