Squishy feelings

So, for those of you who haven’t heard the news: Harlequin opened a self (vanity) publishing arm. In response, RWA knocked them out as an eligible publisher. This has all kinds of implications for me, as an author who writes for a Harlequin imprint, and for other authors, and for RWA, and for romance publishing, and so forth.

How do I feel about this?

I feel like my best friend just kicked my dog.

21 thoughts on “Squishy feelings

  1. My mind is still boggling over it all and how it affects me, to be honest.

    Sorry it feels like your best friend kicked your dog. It just…sucks. :(

  2. I hate this whole thing. I need time to understand it all, but the implications for so many authors are huge. The implications for RWA are huge. At the moment, I don’t understand why RWA didn’t just label only that arm of HQN as an ineligible publisher since the pub models of the other imprints fall under eligible guidelines. I think perhaps given more explanation and understanding, the members might rise up and demand that.

    If you start a petition, let me know.

  3. I’m sorry Courtney. What scares most people is that other publishers will follow. Just sucks for all harlequin authors, and really for everyone in the romance industry. Do you really think they’ll go through with it? I just keep thinking it will all die down, fall apart, hopefully. How could they not realize what this would do to their reputation? I just can’t believe that a company that has been as strong as it has for so many years would do something so drastic and not realize what the outcome would be.

  4. Well I am just a reader, but if I were you I wouldn’t stress about it overmuch. From what I understand they can still attend the conference they will just have to pay addl fees right? And after all Harlequin is still going to promote their books and they will be all over the stores…and getting the book out there for sales is what is important. Harlequin is huge and doing well. They obviously know how to promote the books they publish so that readers like myself can find them….and most of us readers could really care less what RWA is or what they do for an author.

    Of course this is just from a readers perspective, not an authors and I am sure there will be some repercussions from this decision and for you as an author…but these things always seem to work themselves out somehow.

  5. I feel terrible for the Harlequin writers, Courtney. You have my sympathy. But Harlequin sure didn’t seem to leave RWA much choice on this one. By establishing a vanity press – and that’s what it is, regardless of what Harlequin wants to call it – they are clearly in violation of RWA by-laws. We can’t possibly support a model that is based on money flowing from the author to the corporation.

    I hope RWA is able to work through ways to mitigate any harmful effects this decision will have on Harlequin authors.

  6. A Harlequin editor just asked to see one of my books. I have no idea how this change in status would affect any possible offer I might (or might not) get, but it’s something my agent and I are going to have to talk about if we come to that bridge, that’s for sure.

  7. Vanessa, it’s not clear from my post, but I agree with you–which is precisely why I feel like my dog’s been kicked by my best friend.

    Not good for the dog. Not good for my friend. Bad all around.

    Most of the reason I’m feeling blue is summarized by Sherry Thomas here: http://www.sherrythomas.com/blog/2009/11/18/a-sinkful-of-blood/

    It’s not about the personal effects on me, which I don’t care about–it’s about what this might mean for the future.

  8. I think Sherry’s reference to Lance Armstrong’s bio is right on – it is a sinkful of blood. Harlequin is, sadly, probably a harbinger of things to come. Hopefully, though, writers will be able to come together, both informally and in their professional associations, to work toward positive outcomes in the publishing industry. Of course, many people – you included – have already been trying to do that.

  9. Hey Courtney, this whole thing has left me feeling fraught. And the ones I feel for the most in this whole thing are the Harlequin authors who are the innocent bystanders in all of this, like you. You have no control over what business decisions Harlequin makes, but you’re affected nonetheless. I hope RWA can figure out some sort of compromise that will protect you authors.

    Off to read Sherry T’s blog, though I’ve got a feeling it’s going to depress me.

  10. What upsets me most, as a reader, is that from now on, whenever I want to support an author who writes for Harlequin–and many of my favourites do–I’ll feel bad about supporting Harlequin. I don’t want to stop buying books from authors I love, but this has totally destroyed my love of Harlequin as a company. I have no faith in them anymore, and that’s a horrible feeling. I think it must be so much worse for the authors. My heart goes out to you guys.

  11. Lynz, one of the reasons I’m upset is that Harlequin actually is very good to its authors–and even its potential authors. I know many, many people who have gotten encouraging rejections with offers to resubmit from Harlequin editors, some of whom have gone on to publish.

    (And not to make it about me personally, but Harlequin has really been tremendous at supporting me as a debut author–much more so than I see in the run-of-the-mine case.)

    I think that this is going to make some people think ill of Harlequin editors who are by and large a truly awesome bunch. And it makes me feel ill not just for the Harlequin authors, but for all the Harlequin employees who had nothing to do with this decision, who really, really love books and are truly, tremendously excited about their authors and the books they publish.

    It’s one of the reasons why this just makes me so sad–because “Harlequin” to me is not just an undifferentiated corporate mass.

  12. That’s exactly how I’m feeling too, Courtney. I just landed a 2-book deal with HQN that I’m thrilled about. Everyone over there has been wonderful and welcoming, and I’m so excited to begin the whole process.

    But now, when I get my contract, I won’t even qualify for PAN status because the rules state I’m writing for a vanity pub.

    I’ve been so sad these past few days, and I feel badly for those awesome people at HQN. I hope it gets resolved soon.

  13. Laurie, congratulations and welcome to HQN! It’s a wonderful place, and I can’t wait to read your books.

    I’m really hoping that we can find a solution that works for everyone here. I’m really happy that positive steps have been taken: the links to Harlequin Horizons have been removed from eHarlequin, and I think they’re going to remove the name “Harlequin” from the brand, which I think will help reduce the potential for misbehavior. My guess is that there is negotiation going on behind the scenes, and I hope that reasonable minds prevail.

    I’m hoping that this works out well in the end. I’ve been fairly vocal in my feelings that RWA needs to embrace the digi-publishing model; I think that this will really make people sit back and think about the method that RWA uses going forward to approve publishers. RWA approved a task force to go forward on the question of new business models, and I hope that they take a good hard look at all models that benefit writers–not just the traditional ones.

  14. Courtney–this really bums me out for all the wonderful Harlequin authors and editors. You all will “pay” for the corporation’s greed. I realize business is about making money, but it’s also about integrity. I believe Harlequin will eventually make this right–and they’re still my target publisher.

    (*waving* hello to my sister, Laurie London above…)

  15. CM, I know the shock for you as a debut author and for all their other authors must’ve been terrible. However, I’m convinced that the RWA-HQN chess game has just begun. They’ve each made their first & second moves, and now the ball’s in HQN’s court.

    The only thing authors, readers, and bloggers must not so is to let discussion of this venture to die down. Both parties have shown themselves to be willing to listen to the people’s voices, so we have to continue to give them everything that’s needed to keep the issues front and center.

  16. Holy chronic RWA adrenaline rush, Batman.

    Things barely calmed from Horizonsgate, now the Jane/DA exclusion furor.

    In my former life as a ‘pure’ reader (without writerly aspirations),I had no idea of the gladiator sport that publishing really is.

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