The romance writing world is all a buzz since Harlequin Enterprises announced it has opened a vanity press and will add a blurb to all it's rejection letters telling authors that they could still self pub under the Harlequin name. In a brave and interesting move, Romance Writer's of America has announced that Harlequin is no longer a recommended publisher. The reason for this move is that RWA is first and foremost an advocacy group whose purpose is to advocate and educate working (in their terms "career") writers. Vanity presses exploit writers and this one is even worse because they hold out the Harlequin name as a carrot. Vanity presses have a purpose-if you want to publish a work for the family- a family history or grandpa's memoirs or a cookbook of favorites. But if your goal is to be a working writer, then you should never, never pay-not an agent not a publisher. Instead you should be paid and hopefully well for the hard work that you do.
Please note that their is a vast difference between vanity press and e-press. I think Harlequin's jump into e-press is an interesting and legitimate move in this changing environment. But never, never pay someone to publish your work unless you're doing it as a Christmas present.