Pub Rants

Exploitation or Empowerment?

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STATUS: Only 205 emails in the inbox now. I’m making headway!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MY EVER CHANGING MOODS by Style Council

So Harlequin is causing quite the furor today. Last week they announced a new ePub imprint called Carina to potentially compete with ePublishers like a Samhain or Ellora’s Cave with royalties of 30% of retail price on copies sold (which by the way, should piss off any Harlequin authors who are being traditionally published by that house as their eRoyalties suck).

Then this week, they announced a self-publishing arm called Harlequin Horizons partnering with Author Solutions (not unlike what Thomas Nelson announced about 2 months ago using Author Solutions as well). Now prospective authors can pay to be published by Harlequin and have access to that Harlequin name.

So here’s my question. It’s quite the revenue machine. Is this exploitation of romance authors who have been rejected by Harlequin but now have an opportunity to “publish” and a possible entry into traditional Harlequin publishing via a strong self-pub sales record (according to the Horizons website) or is this simply another option that empowers authors to get their work out there?

As an aside, I can’t help but think that more books published (and in the marketplace) is not what the industry needs. It already can’t support the number of books currently being published in any given year.


54 Responses

  1. Kerry said:

    In reading your post, it made me think of the baseball farm teams.

    I wonder if this represents the leading edge of a trend where in the monetary risk of developing new talent is mitigated by bringing new authors in as “E-publish”. At first the rejected ones will be in the farm team, then all new authors starting out.

    As they prove there mettle they then graduate to the traditional model.

    As to the question “Is it exploitation?” I don’t think so, not yet. As it stands, writers would get an exposure they might not other wise have and they have no obligation to choose this course. For Harlequin’s part, they have a new stream of revenue.

    As a recovering MBA, I see the potential for abuse where top shelf but new authors can be kept on the farm team for as long as possible to minimize cost or even tying up print rights in the non-compete clauses you’ve written about before to negotiate deals less favorable to authors.


  2. Mary Anne said:

    Your wisdom about the industry certainly far, far exceeds mine. However, I think that it’s time for the industry to open up and let the public decide.

    It seems to me that more choices are better than less choices.

  3. Joe Iriarte said:

    My knee-jerk reaction is to think this is a terrible thing. I’m curious, though . . . if traditional publishers create a revenue stream through ventures like this, might that stream give them more money to spend on midlist authors and on advances and marketing for their traditionally published books? (Not that this would make up for the dishonest nature of the claims they make in the advertising copy I saw quoted elsewhere.)

  4. cynjay said:

    Love some Paul Weller – thanks for the flashback!

    I saw this in PW today and my heart sank. I don’t think that encouraging aspiring authors to self-publish is empowering – it just muddies up an already crowded marketplace. It may sound like snobbery or sour grapes, but if a writer isn’t ready to be pubbed by a traditional publisher, they should go back and work on their craft, not step around the process by doing it themselves.

    Most of the reading public doesn’t know the difference when they pick up a book and books that aren’t well written or well edited discourage readers for everyone in the end.

  5. Matilda McCloud said:

    I think both Thomas Nelson and Harlequin are exploiting writers. It’s wrong. It’s a way to generate more income at the expense of writers who don’t know any better.

  6. Gilbert J. Avila said:

    It sounds pretty damned one-sided. You pay Harlequin to publish your book, they monitor the sales, and if the sales are good enough they MAY pick you up. It’s totally win-win for Harlequin. That also allows the writers to side-step the agents and their screening of patently bad books. If the unlikely happens and a writer is picked up for publication by Harlequin’s commercial imprints, does the contract allow for authors to obtain agents for negotiating equitable terms in their contracts?

  7. Eva Gale said:

    I’ve said all over so I might as well say it here;-) as a business move, for them, it’s brilliant.

    I clicked ont eh Become an Author button and they ask in their drop down menu-are you writing to support books or speaking engagements, a family memoir, writing about a hobby or personal passion, current publisher declined to pick up this new title, out of print books into distribution, writing to help overcome a personal obstacle-I could see that as a recovery story.

    And like I said on Romance Divas there is a vacuum in pupblishing right now and HQ is stepping in to shore up thier next 60 years. Well all have to wait and see how it goes. I for one and pretty interested on who the first takers will be and how it will go for them.

  8. Suzan Harden said:

    When I saw that announcement this afternoon, all I could think was WTF is publishing coming to?

    What happened to the adage ‘Money flows to the writer, not away from them?’

    E-books I get. This? *walks away, shaking head*

  9. Anonymous said:

    What a scary development!
    I shudder to imagine the consequences of this. Will this be a ‘dumbing down’ of being a Harlequin published author? Are there any standards of writing required? Any editing?
    The mind boggles.
    Sherry Weddle

  10. Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said:

    I’m a big, big fan of self-publishing, but this smells a lot like some predatory vanity publishing to me.

    Fiction is so tough to market, and romance even more so… I can’t think of any real self-published success stories out there for that genre, although for non-fiction, I can think of 10 right of the top of my head– myslef included!

    I think this is a bad thing. It seems like a way to part authors from their money.

  11. Cam Snow said:

    So, I just read their website, and although many people call it exploitive, they are providing a service to people. Everyone who is SERIOUS about writing a novel and getting it traditionally published has done their homework and knows about self-publishing… we wouldn’t fall for it. But for some, who just want so badly to get their work out there, it provides a from of self-satisfaction… something they can brag about over lunch. “Hey, I jsut published my first book?”
    “Yeah, it’s available on Harlequin’s website or on amazon, barnes and noble, etc. You know E-publishing and POD are the future.”

    Anything that increases the revenues of the publishers is a good thing in my opinion – they need it! The one thing I couldn’t find is if all the revenues go to the author or if it is royalty based.

    I would bet that Harlequin doesn’t make hardly anything after the initial fee, so it’s not as lucrative as a successful book is for them.

    We call it exploitation now, but what if Dan Brown or John Grisham or Stephen King announced they were going to self-publish their next book? I’m actually surprised a few mega-name authors haven’t done that yet to reap the massive benefits.

  12. Anonymous said:

    I think this is exploitation pure and simple. I don’t think this is any benefit to authors. This “service” is very expensive, there are much cheaper self publishing companies out there. This one is an assisted self publishing company aka vanity press. They are using the Harlequin name as a hook for the uninitiated.

    As a business move if all you want to do is make money hand over fist. Then yeah it’s brilliant – Publish America proved that one. I think that Harlequin if they cared about their brand would have been better advised to keep this thing away from the Harlequin name until it had proven how it has performed.

    I feel sorry for Harlequin authors who will now be irrevocably linked with self/vanity publishing and poor quality control.

  13. Anonymous said:

    I think one has to be very subjective on this topic, after all, Harlequin is a business. But…
    Vanity publishing. The author digs out of their own pocket with very little sales due to underactivity of promotion.

    The remuneration is very little up against what the author has to pay up front. It is after all, vanity publishing.

    As for me, I think it’s a huge crush on the name Harlequin. And what about those already published with this company, will their sales drop due to the other vanity pubs.

    The list is endless of what ifs, and what could be’s.

    Harlequin is a business, so therefore due to the recession they probably think that this is a way to increase funds. For the publisher, not the author.

    Just Me. 🙂

  14. Anonymous said:

    Harlequin and the editors of its many imprints has a long history of exploiting writers…they’ve been desperate to find writers who will work for basically nothing for decades.

  15. Anonymous said:

    I don’t give a shit. 99.9% of the authors who go this route will be writing un-traditionally-publishable crap. These books aren’t really gonna be ‘in the marketplace.’ Doesn’t affect me in the least.

    Harlequin does an amazing job, but they treat book publishing like magazine publishing. That works for them; their business model isn’t the same as other houses.

    And aren’t there already a few sites where writers post novels, and other writers rate them, and the publisher then has the ‘option’ of looking at the highest rated books? How’s that working out?

  16. Aimee said:

    I think it’s exploitation any time you sell a dream to someone without informing them that reality bites. That’s what Harlequin and TN are doing.

  17. Anonymous said:

    I think this is a terrible business idea. Harlequin’s most valuable asset is its brand. It has loyal customers who are used to a certain level of quality. Now there will be books out there slapped with the same Harlequin brand, but without the same level of quality. Customers may buy a few, think they stink, and stop buying Harlequin altogether. The average book buyer/reader doesn’t know anything about subimprints. They’ll just think, “Wow, Harlequins aren’t as good as they used to be.”

  18. Anonymous said:

    What Harlequin is planning to do is vanity publishing, not self-publishing. Vanity publishing has been around for many years so there’s no gap in publishing that was empty and is now being filled. Based on the history of vanity publishing, this is not a way to give authors a chance at publication because there is no real distribution just as there’s unlikely to be any real editing or other production values in the finished vanity product.

    Dave Kuzminski, P&E

  19. Anonymous said:

    Have ya been to a that CBA trade show thingy, RWA nationals or even just haunted writer’s boards lately? Self pubs are here to stay and many of them determined to go that route for whatever reason. the alternately pubbed are pretty assertive about the virtues of their publishing form. I think Harlequin is just picking up on a trend that has been going on a while and will continue to grow.

    One way to look at it is that at least they are upfront about it, maybe by making this available they are saving some poor writer from a PA situation.

    Me? I don’t think I’d do it. I don’t think I could afford to pay to be published. Heck, I can barely afford to be PAID to be published ;).

    More books? I shudder.
    Good or bad, I see the reason.

  20. Amy Sue Nathan said:

    Authors crave validation and now they can pay Harlequin for some of that.

    I always think the time and money aspiring authors spend on self-publishing should be spent on perfecting their craft/novel and a good freelance editor.

  21. Amy Dawson Robertson said:

    I agree with cynjay. I think, too, that since the quality of self-published titles can be very uneven it seems like a risky move on Harlequin’s part. Your average reader, I suspect, is not up on the minutia of publishing, the various imprints, etc. If a reader stumbles across a bad book with the Harlequin name on it, they might begin to think twice about the brand.

  22. Gordon Jerome said:

    Never, ever, pay someone else to publish you. The entire concept is a horrid rip-off.

    And the term self-publishing is not accurate. Self-publishing is just that–you become the publisher. When you pay somone else to publish you that’s called subsidy publishing or vanity publishing. It’s always a rip off.

  23. Ellen said:

    I’m less worried about rejected writers being exploited than about the way this damages the reputations of the proud, successful, talented, hardworking authors who have already been published by Harlequin.

    I think this was a terrible decision. If I was a Harlequin author I’d be furious.

  24. Nicole Chardenet said:

    I’ll put aside my negative view of Author Solutions specifically and treat it as though it was just a general POD company.

    Self-pubbing, for better or for worse, is going to become the only option for good authors (see Kristen’s entry yesterday) who can’t get a fair shake in trad-pubbing. However, I think that any agent or publishing house that takes on an established self-pubbed success should offer greater royalties (and an acquiring agent accept less than her customary cut, at least on the successful self-pubbed book) since the author will have done all the work and effort into making it a success. I mean, if trad-pub is going to be that lazy, y’all should get paid less. Just my NSHO.

  25. Joseph L. Selby said:

    How many people click on the About link, that’s the question. That’s where they tell you everything you need to know, if you’re calm enough to understand it. If this is the door to your dream coming true, I doubt you’ll quite understand what they’re saying.

    It’s a print on demand service that you’re paying for. Books are available for purchase online only. You’re paying for the Harlequin name on your book, else you’d go to some place like Lulu. I think Harlequin just became the new Publish America.

  26. Christine said:

    As an aspiring author who has been requested, rejected, is awaiting more news from an agent with her full–well, I am not happy. Not happy at all with the latest news coming out of HQN. I’m targeting category romances/short fiction. I’ve worked very hard to hone my craft from that first MS to now the fourth. (don’t let my comment editorial mistakes fool you LOL). I see every rejection or contest result/comment as an arrow pointing me to improve my craft. And I have. I worked hard and I have a contest finalist in the prestigious MAGGIE. A year ago the same book did not final and I took the words of advice to heart. I applied them.

    Now, if I have deep pockets, I could go the other route and just bypass all the angst of rejection. But I refuse. If you, the agents, and the publishers, don’t think I am worth backing, then why am I going to waste my money trying to sell my work? I don’t want to tarnish MY OWN NAME with an inferior book out there. I want to build my name up.

    When Carina Press came out, I was a bit excited. But then I thought, feels like a farm team. Now this next move, while brilliant in many ways for HQN, makes me feel like it’s super minor leagues. I’m already investing my money, time and talent on learning my craft and entering prestigious contests as well as paying my RWA dues and dues in three chapters.

    I am disappointed by this latest move, but I refuse to sell out my characters. E I can see as a possibility in the future. Vanity Press? No. Why should I incur all the risk for them? That’s nuts.

  27. Laurel said:

    I don’t know what to think about this. It seems disingenuous on the part of Harlequin, especially when so many books aren’t ready for prime time but the writers want so badly to be published.

    On the other hand, in any other career I can think of some financial investment is necessary at the inception. Even for a “first job” you need some education and business clothes. Starting your own business is always a financial risk with no guarantee of success. In other artistic arenas some money must be spent to gain exposure. You pay to exhibit art, record a song, etc. in the hopes that you will sell your work.

    The biggest question is how much money will Harlequin allow a writer with too much ambition and not enough talent to spend. And really, is it their job to care?

    At first blush, though, I don’t like this concept.

  28. Anonymous said:

    I would have waffled between “exploitation” and “enh” but according to Harlequin’s newest communication, they will be pushing their self-publishing house on their form rejection letter.

    I strongly disapprove.

  29. C. Patrick Schulze said:

    In my opinion, Harlequin is simply moving with the times. Let’s hope they do so with success.

    The industry is changing, has changed, and the competent business adapts to that change.

    After initially experiencing as yet unknown growing pains, the industry will settle into a new, more efficient form of publishing. What it will become is yet murky. Still, business has adapted to new ways of doing things since the beginning of commerce and will do so in this case.

    My caution to Harlequin is that pioneers catch the arrows.

    Exploitation? Maybe, but no more than the exploitable are taken advantage of now. Quality companies will work with diligence not to do so, while the snake oil peddlers will, as always, prey on the ignorant.

    The music industry went through a metamorphic change a decade or so ago. The publishing industry is now facing the same basic influence of technology. It’ll all shake to the ground in time.

    Will this alter the landscape by creating a deluge of poor quality writing? For a while, it presumably will. However, there is no substitute for good writing and that will not change with technological advancements or the landscape of changing business models. The best writers will rise to the fore once again.

    Fear not. Adapt and embrace and success will follow.

    C. Patrick Schulze

  30. Kristen said:

    The thing that strikes me is this is dumb for Harlequin in the long run too. They’re selling out and ruining their name in the process.

    How many self-respecting authors want to be associated with a self-publishing company? I wouldn’t, and I expect I’m not alone. The more this “Harlequin Horizons” gets out, the more people are going to stay away from Harlequin.

    And yes, I consider self-publishing exploitation, because many new authors don’t realize how much it can damage their future noveling career. I nearly got sucked into it myself, and I know people who did fall for it. It’s disappointed to see that Harlequin may become another Xlibris.

  31. Kelly Bryson said:

    The last post was “really good may not be good enough”. What if you’re that realy good author? Shouldn’t there be a way to publish? Or is it open enrollment in the school of hard knocks?

  32. Lisa said:

    I was opposed until I read the comment above that suggested the reveneue from self-pub titles may support traditionally vetted authors.
    More choice for readers (in theory) and more money to support the publishing industry seem like good idea to me.

  33. Angelia Almos said:

    I have to say don’t share the whole sky is falling feeling that many people seem to with Harlequin’s new venture. If anything, I’m intrigued and curious to see what comes of it. But I also come from a different expectations. I’m one of those authors that self-published my nonfiction book through AuthorHouse (who Harlequin is partnering with to do this) and was able to get a traditional publisher to pick up my book for the following editions. I also realize this was nonfiction, not fiction, and the general opinion is it is easier to do that with nonfiction. So, I’m curious to see what comes of this new venture.

  34. David Kubicek said:

    The trouble is, maybe the novel was rejected because it’s not ready for publication. Unfortunately, many new writers don’t know that their work isn’t publishable. As a former editor I’ve read lots of unpublishable stuff (don’t even get me started on the story I received in which all the characters were named after the Beverly Hillbillies). If they have the money to self publish, a lot of this stuff would end up on the market. That can’t be a good thing.

  35. Anonymous said:

    Kristin, why do you think all these changes in publishing are happening and do you think they can work or do you think they might eventually have a negative effect on the industry as a whole?

  36. Tia Nevitt said:

    I liked new e-book publishing imprint. But I can’t help this self-publsihing division will cheapen the Harlequin name. Whenever I get review requests, I won’t be able to automatically assume that it’s gone through traditional publishing routes. I’d have to check the imprint.

    And I know you are annoyed when I see such language in your posts. My, my!

  37. Anonymous said:

    I’d say it’s exploitation, big time. Pay to be published by Harlequin and then if your book does well, Harlequin gets your profits, too?

    What the hell?

    Why don’t they just crawl into your brain, scrape out whatever creativity is there, and purge your wallet of any green bills while they’re at it?

    Not to mention, what does that say to the authors who have published at Harlequin the traditional way? That their accomplishments don’t really mean anything, because anyone can have the Harlequin name now?

  38. John said:

    Another question: Will those writers who have payed to pub with Harlequin be able to claim they’ve been published in the traditional sense? Because now we’re talking about a “reputable” publisher and not Publish America and their ilk.

    Word verification: pubeld – Harlequin’s new version of publishing. Combo of “published” and “pummeled”.

  39. Joe Iriarte said:

    Laurel, beginning writers make financial investments! In addition to my computer, paper, and toner, there’s all the books on craft I’ve bought, the conferences I’ve traveled to and paid to attend, and so forth.


    I don’t share the concern that there is now going to be a glut of crappy books “out there.” These books aren’t going “out there”! That’s the reason subsidy publishing is such a rip-off for people who want to become financially successful authors, right? Harlequin won’t put these books in stores. The stores won’t have any interest in them. These books will only be available for purchase off a website, in general. Therefore, these self-pub books won’t crowd anybody’s traditionally published books off the shelf.

  40. Xandra Gregory said:

    This move trashes self-publishing (a viable option for authors who go into it, eyes wide open and fully cognizant of why their works aren’t suited to more common venues like trad or e- or small presses), and as an author, I could never fully trust a rejection from Harlequin ever again.

    Every book they acquire through their traditional lines is a risk to some extent. They’ve just removed that risk and turned it into a revenue stream where the author not only assumes all risk, but actually pays for the entire production of said book (at a grossly inflated rate, and then only receives “royalties” instead of all monies generated from sale minus expenses). Then, if by some miracle, sales are “good enough” (whatever that is), they can swoop in and “acquire” you traditionally (for just about free!) after your first publication rights are gone (sorry, kids, but virgins are worth more).

    So let me ask, if it is a risk for Harlequin to accept your novel, and a revenue stream for them to reject it (and cheerily encourage you to go the vanity-pub route), what do you think they, as a business, are going to find it more profitable to do?

  41. Diana said:

    Speaking as a reader who loves to read, I think it’s a bad idea for both the publishing industry and writers. Harlequin may find that in the long run the end up losing money.

    How many poorly written books through the self-publishing line will a reader buy before losing their trust in the entire Harlequin line?

    For the writer who doesn’t get the entire process of editing and polishing the work, it could be damaging to their future reputation. There are several bestselling authors in several different genres whose novels I will no longer buy, because the quality of their work has gone down (rambling dialogue, pages and pages of description, pages of infodump). If, as a reader, I buy one of these self-published Harlequin books and it ends up being very poorly written, then that author goes on my don’t-buy- anything-they-have-written list.

    I don’t think that they thought this one through, very carefully.

  42. cynjay said:

    Nicole said: “Self-pubbing, for better or for worse, is going to become the only option for good authors (see Kristen’s entry yesterday) who can’t get a fair shake in trad-pubbing.”

    I don’t agree that a good writer can’t get a fair shake. If a good writer is getting rejected, they need to go back, work on the book and make it one that can’t be resisted by an agent or editor. Happens all the time. If your writing is amazing and your story is strong, you’ll get picked up by a traditional publisher. Agents and editors aren’t there to turn you down, they’re there to discover great books.

    I’ve been accused of being overly dramatic, but I see this as a lot like someone who really, really wants to wear green scrubs and be a surgeon. Unfortunately, they can’t get into medical school. Now Harvard comes along and offers to sell them a nice shiny diploma that looks exactly like the one real doctors get when they graduate. Pop that diploma on the wall, open up your doors and poof – instant doctor. May look like a doctor and sound like a doctor, but I don’t want that person performing open heart surgery on me.

  43. Anonymous said:

    If people really don’t see the difference between self-publishing through Lulu (or some equivalent) and vanity publishing through AuthorHouse with a Harlequin brand attached to it, they’re not paying attention.

    Might the future of publishing involve a lot of people being self-published? Possibly. Does that mean that every single route to being self-published is ethically and morally equivalent? No, it does not.

    Writers need to not let their sometimes reflexive defense of non-traditional publishing options cause them to ignore the many ethical failings of Harlequin Horizons. Paying $600 or more to get a Harlequin brand on your book is not empowerment, it’s a scam.

  44. Sarah said:

    I’ve read your blog for awhile and never commented before, but this post struck a chord with me.

    My big question after reading the press release is: what type of “unique distribution” will Horizons provide? Will they offer spots in the major chains provided the author pays the space fee?

    Having worked on the sales rep side of the business, I would agree that this industry does not need more books hitting the market in an uncontrolled fashion, which in my opinion means without a plan for distribution. One of the things that I have always admired about the Harlequin romances lines is the space they command in stores. Target, grocery stores, the chains have dedicated space (which I’m sure they’re paying quite a bit for) for Harlequins.

  45. AM said:

    With traditional publishers adding ePubs and self-publishing divisions, I think I now see a strategy that will determine the future of the publishing industry.

    I wonder how many ebooks a new author will have to sell through the self-publishing division to be picked up by the traditional division.

    How long before the norm requires new authors to pay to publish an ebook through an established publisher-retailer, receive only the standard ebook royalty, and then, sales – and only sales – will determine whether the book is picked up by the publisher’s other division.

    I think Kerry’s baseball analogy is appropriate.

    I fear that new authors and mid-list authors, bumped back to the minors, will be forced to compete in the open arena (through self-marketing) for sales. The days that we could access the traditional publishing by querying agents will seem tame in comparison.

  46. Anonymous said:

    They may not put the books on the shelf, but they will promote them on Amazon and B&N. The website says:

    “Authors who publish with Harlequin Horizons will have their books available for purchase from the Harlequin Horizons online bookstore and available at more than 25,000 retailers worldwide, including and While the scope of distribution is not nearly as extensive as the parent company’s breadth and reach, Harlequin Horizons provides authors the opportunity to reach readers on a global scale through the Ingram Book Group.”

    Will Amazon and BN shoppers see the Harlequin brand and think they are buying an edited Harlequin romance? I see a lot of reader disappointment coming with this.


  47. FranW said:

    This isn’t self publishing, it’s vanity publishing.

    The author pays HH $600 – $1500 for a package. HH owns the ISBN. The carrot is dangled — if your book sells well enough, we *might* want to sign your next book with the real Harlequin. The author asks herself, what is needed to sell lots of copies? Marketing and promo, of course, and a quality product. So the author pays HH $7000 for editing. Then $12,000 for an email marketing blitz. Then $20,000 for a book movie trailer to be made, which an agent will look at and *might* show to a Hollywood producer. (No, I’m not making those prices up.)

    HH lets the author think she’s been published through Harlequin, but they will very carefully make sure the Harlequin name does not appear anywhere on the book.

    And HH retains 50% of the net profits. So the author’s royalty will be around one dollar per copy.

    Is she going to sell forty thousand copies and break even? If she goes with the basic package, is she going to sell six hundred copies and break even?

    Or will she consider it a worthwhile investment in her career? After all, HH is selling the vanity-pub idea on the premise that having a *bound, published copy to send literary agents* will help the author get agent representation. And we all know how agents just *love* receiving paperback (or hardback) copies of vanity published books in the mail.

  48. Divertir Publishing said:

    I recently declined to publish an author’s manuscript. It wasn’t because the manuscript was poorly written. Rather, it was because I felt I could not do an adequate job marketing the book given the genre.

    As a new publisher, I currently plan on publishing no more than 6 to 12 books a year. This decision is based mainly on available resources. I’ve been giving some thought about what to do with manuscripts like the one mentioned above. One option I’ve considered is to assist authors to self-publish. The big difference between what I am considering and what Harlequin is doing is that I am a firm believer in the rule that “Money should always flow to the author.” Maybe in this instance a better way to say this would be “Money should only flow from an author to a publisher after a book is sold,” meaning that a publisher who assists authors to self-publish should be satified receiving a portion of the profits. I think it would be important for the assisting publisher to ensure that a quality manuscript has been produced (unlike the case of some of the of the vanity publishers mentioned previously). The author would be responsible for most of the actual preparatory work and marketing. The obvious advantage for me would be the ability to publish more than 6 to 12 books a year without an impact on quality.

    I do believe the only way to guarantee that an author is not exploited in this type of situation is for a publisher to not require any money up front and to not charge for services associated with this type of effort.

    Feel free to tell me whether you think this idea is revolutionary or whether it times for me to be committed.

  49. Allison Brennan said:

    Laurel, writers DO invest in their career before they sell a book. They buy a computer or typewriter; they join a writers organization like RWA; they take classes online or through a college; they buy books and read, read, read. They may enter contests for feedback, or get involved in a critique group.

    But writers should not PAY someone to have their book published. Money flows TO the author. Period. Business expenses are not the same thing as paying to have your book printed. Before I sold, my writing expenses were between $300-400 a year. That was mostly for paper, toner, postage, RWA membership, and one book: SELF EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS. My expenses are much higher now, but I also have 12 books in print. But my expenses still don’t exceed, or even come close, to what I’m paid, and I’ve always believed that an author should allocate only a percentage of their advance on self-promotion. Because honestly? Writing is a cheap profession. Most everything is done on email. You need a computer. That’s about it.

  50. Dawn Chartier said:

    I can see why HQN is doing e-book. Kensington and others are selling e-books as well.

    But, the self-publishing? Like everyone else said, money should flow to the author.

    On the other hand, sometimes you have people who only want to write that “one” book, and thats it. Then I can see why you would pay some one to print it out for you.

    But, most authors like myself can’t stop at one…

    Lets hope this works out for all writers, agents and publishers.
    Crossing my fingers that the future looks bright…

    Dawn Chartier