Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nov. 19

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.


  1. This is a huge change. I don't think I ever did learn; did RWA take out ALL of Harlequin as a recommended publisher or just their self-publishing corner. If they reject the entire enterprise, this is going to affect lots and lots--and lots--of authors, espcially PAN members. Wow.

  2. Sound advice, Nancy. Back in the early 1980s, when I was still struggling very hard to become published, I remember asking Ray Bradbury about vaniety presses and about agents who demanded to be paid before representing a writer's work. I still have Ray's letter in response:

    "Never, ever, in any way, ever pay anyone to read or publish your work. They should be paying you. Always and always. I can't say that strongly enough. Run away from such people and places--very fast! And never look back. You'll never regret it."

    Harlequin sure has a lot of nerve. Who need 'em?

  3. Linda- yes, all H/S divisions have become de-listed.

    Martin, Thank you so much for sharing Ray Bradbury's words. They are so very true and so very important.

  4. I've been following this saga with interest. I think Hqn's move into e-publishing is a good one (Carina looks set to be an interesting new kid on the block), but I do have difficulty with the thought of paying someone to publish my own book (unless, as you say, it's as a gift)