Pub Rants

Category: publishers

Game Changer

STATUS: I’m not at the office late. That’s news!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT by R.E.M

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should have heard the news by now. Apple had released its new tablet PC called the iPad. Think bigger, badder iTouch.

Just in case you just crawled out from under that rock, here’s a link to get you up to speed.

Most folks in the industry see the Apple announcement as a game changer—a company big enough and nimble enough to give Amazon a run for its money in terms of being the dominant player of eBooks.

As agents, the electronic rights playing field is literally shifting daily. (Ah, where did those sleepy days of just doing book deals go?)

One can imagine that The Goog will not be too far behind…

What this all means for the future is not entirely clear and I’m actually not going to speculate in this entry.

What I do want to say is this. This is the first time I’ve had to do a major shift in a negotiation literally mid-stream because of a news announcement.

In short, previously publishers have sold books to an entity like Amazon wholesale. In other words, the entity has bought a certain number of “books” in bulk at X discount. Then an entity like Amazon takes the ebooks and makes them available at a price they deem (which has been $9.99).

Apple’s announcement is changing the way publishers will be doing business moving forward. Instead of buying wholesale, Apple is saying “hey, we’ll simply be a portal for you to sell your books and we are going to ask for a 30% commission for the privilege. You get to keep the other 70% (with the main caveat that the eBook not be priced over $14.99)

On the heels of this news, Amazon announced a similar structure.

I see all of you are starting to do the math in your heads. Why should an author be stuck with a crappy 25% of net amounts received in this kind of deal?

Why do we need one lump catch-all royalty at all?

Some other random thoughts as I contemplate the massive changes publishing is going to undergo in the next five years.

1. eBooks are unreturnable. There would be no need for a publisher to hold a reserve against returns on that format. Language should be inserted in the contract addressing just that.

2. Will advances go the way of the dinosaurs? If so, what will become the main factor for choosing one “publisher” over another?

3. Will publishers finally update the royalty statement accounting periods? If eBook becomes primary format, there is no need to be 6 months behind (so as to account for returns according to publishers) in the generating of statements and the paying of royalties earned. There is no reason not to do this monthly.

And these are just a few things that immediately pop to mind…..

Q&A continued

STATUS: You don’t even want to know how many eggnog chais I’ve had this week.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CAN’T WRAP THIS by MTV video

Richard Curtis says the unmentionable. Where would publishers be if agents split off electronic rights away from the print rights sold to publishers? Amazon did just fly out a bunch of agents to corporate headquarters and no one there is talking on or off the record about that discussion. Now before you get too excited, the likelihood of this possibility for a debut or midlist author is slim—for now. But I know Richard is preaching to my choir…

And even though it’s not Friday, this video cracked me up so much I had to share it ASAP. Enjoy.

And now back to some Q&A so I can get my nose back to the grindstone.

Peggy Asked:
What do you think of sites like Authonomy.com from Harper Collins (where authors can upload chapters of their books in hopes of getting discovered)? Do would-be authors take any risks uploading to a site like this? Do you think their books are any more/less likely to get a traditional publishing contract if sections of their works have been posted on a site like this? I know how you feel about vanity publishers, but I’d like to get an agent’s take on forums/sharing spaces like Authonomy or even Deviant Art and other such websites.

I personally don’t have a problem with writers participating in Authonomy (sorry don’t know much about Deviant Art so can’t really comment on that at the moment) but in general, I do think a manuscript that’s good enough to get attention through Authonomy will probably be good enough to get notice from agents.

Authonomy looks a little different from the Penguin sponsored contest via Amazon Breakthrough Novel where the winner of that contest is pretty much stuck with the boilerplate Penguin contract (which trust me, is not in a writer’s favor). It looks like at Authonomy, writers can still negotiate if HarperCollins shows interest and maybe even get an agent on board for that discussion. I don’t see a downside. I wouldn’t post my entire work there but chapters are fine.

It’s actually kind of smart. HarperCollins is using the general readership to read through the slush pile and vote for the works that are worth their looking at as, according to the site, the editors look at the most popular entries.

Anonymous asked:
Hi! My question is this: Do you see spies being a popular trend in YA? Also, should we quit on the vampire stuff for awhile and write more classic fantasy? Which do you think would sell better at the moment?
I’m the agent for the very popular New York Times bestselling Gallagher Girl series. I’m thinking I might have a biased opinion on whether I think spies are a popular trend in YA. Grin.

As for your other questions about whether to quit on the vampire stuff and write classic fantasy, I really can’t answer that without having looked at your work. Perhaps you are a stronger writer in classic fantasy than in urban fantasy. If that’s the case, you have your answer. However, if your vampire take is wholly original, then it can probably still work. As to what will sell better at the moment is wholly dependent on how good the manuscript is.

Anonymous asked:
My question is: can we send our queries to you before the 18th or should we wait until the New Year? Since you guys are in a crunch, I don’t know if that’ll affect how you read the queries…like if you’re rushing to get everything done, would you be a bit more impatient while reading a query sent to you in the next few days? Just wanna know…
We are reading all queries up to 5 pm on Friday. Dec. 18. After that, all incoming queries will get the auto-reply that we are closed until Jan. 4, 2010.

I find that if you really want a certain agent to rep you, this time of year is not the time to be querying (although I know a lot of writers have great stories about landing their agent during this holiday time).

For me, I just need the break. I really do. We are always behind in terms of reading and replying to queries. We live constantly with the thought that there is more work then we can really keep up with. It makes such a difference to believe that we are caught up for 3 weeks—even if it’s an illusion. I know some agents are still reading (Nathan mentioned he would be as he’s afraid to lose out on something good) but I don’t care if I miss out on something great. This is for my mental health and renewal. Smile.

If I were you, I would wait until Jan. 4 and then send away. We’ll be rejuvenated and excited to get back into the game. January is probably THE best time to query us.

Dreamstate asked:
What to do about those dreaded “Didn’t love it enough” rejections? Should the writer response be persistence, querying with the belief that someone will love it enough. Or after 3 or 4 such responses, should the writer be looking at revising, albeit in the absence of any guidance from said rejections? I would be so grateful for any words of wisdom from you!
Only 3 or 4 responses! Surely you jest. I wouldn’t worry until you’ve gotten at least 20 rejections on your sample pages. When you’ve hit that, then you might want to think about revising, working with your critique group, making it stronger, and following any feedback you might be receiving. Once that is done, go out full bore with it again. If you are still getting 20 to 30 “didn’t love it enough,” then you might revise again or keep trying. I wouldn’t be giving up on those sample pages until you have 200+ rejections.

Anonymous asked:
My question is, since you and Sara both have the same email address to send queries to, should I address my query to both of you? Or just pick one? (both of you rep what I write, YA)

You can address to both us of or if you think it would work specifically better to one of us versus the other, then you can address directly. Hope that helps!

Authors Guild on RH’s Rights Grab, Q&A continued

STATUS: It’s obvious that I need to rule the world. I couldn’t BELIEVE that the judges dismissed FACE from the Sing-Off. Are they nuts? Not to disparage the other performers but FACE is doing something different with a cappella. Surely an audience might like to see more of what they can do. Now it’s just the same old same old for the remaining groups with the exception of Nota (who were outstanding). Go and buy FACE’s new album Momentum anyway. Take that Sing-off.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I’m getting an early start to my blog or I’m just going to get buried. I was very happy to see the Author Guild speak out. In a message to members, they basically rejected RH’s argument that its older contracts that grant rights to publish “in book form” or “in all editions” is a grant of electronic rights.

RH politely disagreed with their stance. Surprise I know. Put on your boxing gloves. Here we go.

But back to Q&A.

Anonymous asked:
Ask them – are mid-list authors dead in the water? What do you expect from mid-list to say yes to future projects?

I don’t believe that midlist authors are dead in the water but it also depends on where they are in the midlist. There are different levels—the consistently-selling midlister versus the midlister who is now having declining sales for each subsequent project.

If the author is a solid seller, publishers are still buying new projects—however, they may be offering less money than they have in the past or they are sticking with the same terms as previous contract. There’s not a lot of negotiating leverage for the midlist author.

In order to say yes to a future project from a midlist author (looking to change representation), I would have to believe that the new project or proposal is strong enough to bump the sales numbers or will take the author in a new, stronger direction from which the author can build.

Anonymous asked:
I was wondering if you have ever fallen in love with a manuscript and then never found a home for it?
Sadly yes. It always amazes me when I’m not able to sell a project. There’s obviously something wrong with the editors. Grin.

Rebecca Knight asked:
Hmmmm. My question for an editor would have to be what direction they think e-book pricing and the royalty structure is going to go in the next few years.
Actually, individual editors have no idea. All changes to eBook pricing and royalty structures are set by corporate policy. In fact, in negotiations, they have to toe the party line.

From my perspective? I think eBook pricing and royalty structure is going to be a huge battle. Publishers are seeing squeezed profit margins and they are clearly on notice about how third parties such as Amazon are controlling the perception of what pricing should be for eBooks (with their $9.99 price point or lower).

On Mike Shatzkin’s blog, he speculated that the publishers’ decision to delay the e-book versions of some major upcoming titles isn’t “a battle to rescue hardcover books from price perception issues caused by inexpensive ebooks” so much as it is about “wresting control of their ebook destinies back from Amazon.” I don’t disagree. His insights are worth reading.

Because of fear, publishers are all jumping on board the 25% of net bandwagon because they have no clear idea of price points and discounts that would be needed to stay with a 15% or 25% of retail model.

Who loses out the most right now? Authors. Unless they contract directly with eBook providers such as Amazon or Rosetta Books (see the stories on Stephen Covey’s deal with Rosetta and the Pat Conroy deal with Open Road). However, that’s probably only profitable (right now) for clearly established authors who have a backlist and control of those eRights. A debut author is not going to be in the same position and if that debut wants a traditional print publisher on board as well, then they will have to acquiesce to the electronic royalty structure being offered.

Agents aren’t stupid. We know that this 25% of net crap is not good now and it’s not going to be good 5 to 10 years from now and we might be stuck. (Just as the 7.5% trade pb royalty rate hasn’t change in 20 years although the publishing model for trade books has shifted significantly). If we have leverage, auction situation, we get more. When that’s not available, what is the likelihood of that debut author or midlister walking away from a traditional book deal over eRoyalties when the current percentage of sales done electronically is not even 1% of the total book sales overall? And yes, I know this is going to change drastically over the next 5 years but the agreements being done right now are creating the “standard.” However much we disagree with them and warn authors that it’s not to their advantage.

May you live in interesting times. Rather sounds like a curse right now.

RH Gets Brazen!

STATUS: We are in the final days. Ack. Such a list of things to accomplish!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN by Dave Brubeck
We interrupt this Q&A to give you an announcement.

And here I thought Simon & Schuster was brazen in the summer of 2008 when they tried to drop off the crucial 4 lines of their Out of Print clause. Random House has that beat hands down with their recent pronouncement that by default, electronic rights belong to them via their definition of what is a “book” for any backlist title still in print.

From the letter they sent to agents:
“The vast majority of our backlist contracts,” writes Dohle, “grant us the exclusive right to publish books in electronic formats. At the same time, we are aware there have been some misunderstandings concerning ebook rights in older backlist titles. Our older older agreements often give the exclusive rights to publish ‘in book form’ or ‘in any and all editions’. Many of those contracts also include enhanced language that references other forms of copying or displaying the text that might be developed in the future or other more relevant language that more specifically reflects the already expansive scope of rights. Such grants are usually not limited to any specific format, and indeed the “form” of a book has evolved over the years to include variations of hardcover, paperback and other written word formats, all of which have understood to be included in the grant of book publishing rights. Indeed, ebook retailers market, sell and merchandise ebooks as an alternate book format, alongside the hardcover, trade paperback and mass market versions of a given title. Whether physical or digital, the product is used and experienced in the same manner, serves the same function, and satisfies the same fundamental urge to discovery stories, ideas and information through the process of reading. Accordingly, Random House considers contracts that grant the exclusive right to publish ‘in book form’ or ‘in any and all editions’ to include the exclusive right to publish in electronic book publishing formats. Our agreements also contain broad non-competition provisions, so that the author is precluded from granting publishing rights to third parties that would compromise the rights for which Random House has bargained.”

Oh really now. I have a feeling that many agencies and the Authors Guild are going to disagree with this interpretation.

My agency hasn’t been around long enough to have to confront this (as digital rights were already addressed in any RH contracts I’ve done in the last 7 years) but that’s not the case for many agents I know who have been doing this 20+ years.

And speaking of an agent who has been doing this for a long time, Richard Curtis gives some insight on this RH rights grab via his blog E-Reads.

New Line At SMP

STATUS: It was 5 degrees walking to the office this morning. Can somebody remind me why I live in Denver and not San Diego?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS by Run DMC

When I was in Arizona over the Thanksgiving break, I gave a talk to a group of writers. One of the participants asked me about the new line over at St. Martin’s Press and did I know how much sex was going to be allowed in the romance for that line targeting older teens and twenty-somethings.

I didn’t have an answer as I had only just seen the press release and didn’t know much else about it.

But now I do. When I was in New York, I had a chance to meet up with Dan Weiss (who is heading up this new line) and his assistant S. Jae-Jones (known as JJ). I can now answer this question.

First off, you need to know who Dan is. I know he’s not going to take offense at my highlighting that he has been around the publishing block a time or two. You either love Dan for bringing you the Sweet Valley High books back in the early 1980s or your loath him for being responsible for that series. Grin.

Dan was the owner of 17 Street Productions book packaging—a company he sold to Alloy Entertainment several years ago. (Note: Alloy Entertainment is the packager responsible for bringing you the Gossip Girls and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants among other things.)

So what I’m saying is that Dan has been in the biz for a good long time and he particularly knows publishing for young people. So when he decides to start a new line to deliberately target older teens and twenty-somethings, he knows a thing or two about it. JJ is his assistant. Being a smart, twenty-something who knows her way around the internet and how this target audience uses this medium, she and Dan make a good team.

But back to the original Arizona question that started this entry. How much sex is going to be allowed in the romance?

Well, this new line at SMP is not a romance imprint per se—which is what I think that participant thought it might be. They are more a line for publishing smart, upmarket fiction for this target audience where sex and relationships are simply part of the question. In other words, it’s not so much about the happily-ever-after, which is the focus for a romance, nor is it about the sex—explicit or otherwise. It’s more about the story that will speak to older teens and twenty-somethings. Think Emily Giffin’s SOMETHING BORROWED, Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP, Nick Hornby’s SLAM, and even GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING in some respects.

Now the biggest issue for this new line, and we discussed this, is where the books will be shelved. Considering that there are numerous books that cross-over, it would be an issue easily solved if Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Independent Bookstores could shelve a copy of the book in two different places. Alas, they don’t do that. Right now, the system is set up so a publisher is forced to choose where to shelve it.

If this line is targeting older teens and twenty-somethings, you can see the potential problem—where to put these books so they can be found by the target audience. Does it go in the teen section or in the general fiction?

For the above examples, all of them were shelved in general fiction. Did older teens find the above books? The goal of this new SMP line is to make sure they do for the books they decide to take on. They also want to do creative things with the electronic book.

All in all, an interesting proposition for them to specifically go after this niche.

Harlequin Horizons Debacle Revisited

STATUS: Dashing out again in about 15 minutes.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COME BACK AND STAY by Paul Young

Sorry for the blog silence. I left my hotel around 8 in the morning yesterday and didn’t arrive back until after 10pm. Sure, I could have done the blog entry via my iPhone but I really can’t see me “thumbing” in a whole entry.

On Thursday, I stopped by Harlequin to talk with several editors there. Now I realize that this whole Horizons business was a corporate decision made at the Toronto headquarters and they probably didn’t even bother to tell the editors in New York before they did it but I still voiced my negative opinion about Horizons now called DellArte. Now one editor did try out the spiel about how publishing houses need to shift models in this bad economy but I wasn’t having any of that.

I said vanity publishing was predatory—plain and simple and that needed to be understood. That Harlequin had a reputation that they are now putting in jeopardy and that the writers organizations had every right to speak out strongly as their whole purpose is to protect writers.

And speaking of, Mystery Writers Of America issued a statement today. Here it is:

Dear MWA Member:
The Board of Mystery Writers of America voted unanimously on Wednesday to remove Harlequin and all of its imprints from our list of Approved Publishers, effective immediately. We did not take this action lightly. We did it because Harlequin remains in violation of our rules regarding the relationship between a traditional publisher and its various for-pay services.


What does this mean for current and future MWA members?

Any author who signs with Harlequin or any of its imprints from this date onward may not use their Harlequin books as the basis for active status membership nor will such books be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration. However books published by Harlequin under contracts signed before December 2, 2009 may still be the basis for Active Status membership and will still be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration (you may find the full text of the decision at the end of this bulletin).

Although Harlequin no longer offers its eHarlequin Critique Service and has changed the name of its pay-to-publish service, Harlequin still remains in violation of MWA rules regarding the relationship between a traditional publisher and its various for-pay services.

MWA does not object to Harlequin operating a pay-to-publish program or other for-pay services. The problem is HOW those pay-to-publish programs and other for-pay services are integrated into Harlequin’s traditional publishing business. MWA’s rules for publishers state:”

The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors self-publishing services, literary representation, paid editorial services, or paid promotional services.

If the publisher is affiliated with an entity that provides self-publishing, for-pay editorial services, or for-pay promotional services, the entities must be wholly separate and isolated from the publishing entity. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publishing entity must not refer authors to any of the for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to manuscripts submitted that were edited, published, or promoted by the for-pay entity.

To avoid misleading authors, mentions and/or advertisements for the for-pay entities shall not be included with information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising by the publisher’s for-pay editorial, self-publishing or promotional services, whether affiliated with the publisher or not, must include a disclaimer that it is advertising and that use of those services offered by an affiliate of the publisher will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted for publication.”

Harlequin’s Publisher and CEO Donna Hayes responded to our November 9 letter, and a follow up that we sent on November 30. In her response, which we have posted on the MWA website, Ms. Hayes states that Harlequin intends as standard practice to steer the authors that it rejects from its traditional publishing imprints to DellArte and its other affiliated, for-pay services. In addition, Harlequin mentions on the DellArte site that editors from its traditional publishing imprints will be monitoring DellArte titles for possible acquisition. It is this sort of integration that violates MWA rules.

MWA has a long-standing regard for the Harlequin publishing house and hopes that our continuing conversations will result in a change in their policies and the reinstatement of the Harlequin imprints to our approved list of publishers.

Frankie Y. Bailey,
Executive Vice President,

MWAMWA’s Official Decision: That because Harlequin’s for pay publishing business violates MWA’s rules for approved publishers, MWA takes the following action: First, Harlequin shall be removed from MWA’s list of approved publishers upon the adoption of this motion; Second, that all current active status members of MWA whose status is based upon books published by Harlequin shall remain active status members; Third, that MWA decline applications for active membership based upon books published by Harlequin pursuant to contracts entered into after the effective date of this motion; Fourth, that books published by Harlequin pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the adoption of this motion shall be eligible for the Edgar® Awards, except that books published by DellArte Press shall not be eligible for the Edgar® Awards regardless of when such contract was entered into; and Fifth that books published by Harlequin pursuant to contracts entered into after the adoption of this motion shall not be eligible for the Edgar® Awards.

MWA’s Executive Vice-President, and her or his designates, are directed to continue discussions with Harlequin in an effort to reach an agreement that would allow for Harlequin to be an approved publisher according to MWA’s rules. This e-bulletin was prepared by the MWA national office on behalf of the MWA National Board of Directors.

I have been told that Harlequin is still have dicussions with RWA over this matter.

Good but I don’t necessarily see Harlequin abandoning this appalling business path with Horizons/DellArte. I think the lure of easy money is too strong.

Things You Don’t Want to Learn While In New York!

STATUS: Back at the hotel for 30 minutes before I need to run out again.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COME BACK TO ME by David Cook

I mentioned in our November newsletter a couple of weeks ago that Sara and I just absolutely loved a submission that came our way, offered rep, but alas the author went with another agent (as there were many agents interested).

I heard today that the project sold at auction for some money–with tons of houses bidding on it.

Ack. Hate that. But you know what? We tried for it; we were in the game. We loved it. Obviously lots of people agreed.

And for all of you, this is good news. This means Publishers are willing to step up to the plate for projects—something I was rather worried about as of late.

But truthfully, I wish editors hadn’t told me about it. Ignorance can be bliss…

LOL!

These Little Town Blues

STATUS: Turning in for the night.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THAT’S LIFE by Frank Sinatra

Are melting away…

Can you guess it? Your intrepid blog reporter had to pop to New York City today to take care of some business so I’m here all week. I’ll try and dig up the dirt and serve it up. I’m interested to know what questions you readers would be dying to ask if you could meet with editors.

For my first night in town, I headed over to the Egmont USA launch list party they were hosting at their offices. I figured since I was here and I’m rarely here for NYC parties, I’d stop by to say hello to Regina and company.

So what happens at a Publisher party? Well, you write your name on a name tag. You hold a glass of wine. You nibble some cheese. You chat with the editors and you connect with a bunch of agents you happen to know who are also there. In fact, the number of agents present far outweighed the number of employees at Egmont!

For the agents, I chatted with Holly Root, Barbara Poelle, Dan Lazar, Ginger Clark, Scott Hoffman, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, and Eddie Schneider (just to name a few).

As for yesterday’s post, I might as well ‘fess up. I actually think the author is lovely and the project did go to an agent friend of mine so I’m happy to give it a plug. The author knows I was really torn on that project when I passed. I also knew about 3 weeks later when I kept thinking about it that I was going to regret passing on it. Such is life. Every agent I know has at least one story like this.

The project was SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater.

Grin.

Free

STATUS: And here I said I wouldn’t be blogging again for the holiday week. I couldn’t help myself.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT by R.E.M

Yesterday I posted my blog entry rather late at night. This morning when I woke up, realized that there was something else that was hugely bothering me about Hyatt’s post and his accusation that agents would see vanity publishing as a threat.

He makes the rather naïve and short-sighted assumption that an agent’s only job is to act as a conduit between publisher and writer—that our sole purpose in life is to limit the access between aspiring authors and publishing professionals.

In other words, he’s playing off the assumption of what new or uninformed writers might believe about agents.

My job as an agent is to protect the author. Period. And as an agent, I do that in so many ways—fighting hard for fair contract clauses that protect and benefit the writer is just one small example.

If I didn’t embrace this position fully, that my job is to protect, I wouldn’t have spent the last four years devoting countless hours to this blog which freely distributes crucial information about the publishing industry to any writer looking for it.

And for no fee whatsoever. This info is free—in every sense of the word.

Oh, I’m working myself up to quite a rant this morning….I’m going to check my blood pressure now.

Horizons Is Not Remotely Like Harper Studio Or Vanguard Press

STATUS: Heading off for Thanksgiving Break. I won’t be back to blogging until Monday. Seems like bad timing with all that’s going on but don’t worry. We haven’t heard the last of it yet. If I hear any breaking news, I’ll try and update the blog.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

Today, Thomas Nelson Publishers joins the Harlequin hoopla in a ridiculous blog post. Ashley and Carolyn Grayson posted their response—to which I whole heartedly agree. I find it laughable that Hyatt believes that agents are speaking out against the ripping off of writers via vanity publishing arms because we see “self-publishing” as a threat.

As many commenters have already noted in my blog comments section, vanity publishing and self publishing are not the same. A distinction that Hyatt does not seem to understand. I suppose he also believes that venerated writing organizations such as RWA, MWA, and SFWA, all of which have a long tradition of helping and protecting writers, are similarly trying to keep the status quo by vehemently speaking out against such blatant ripping off of writers.

I also want to make this distinction.

When I spoke to an editorial director from Harlequin last week, the editor mentioned that “several other publishers were doing it.” The only difference was they didn’t announce their vanity publishing arm.

Incredulous, I had asked “like who?”

The editor could not respond with a list of names.

I’m wondering if the editor was erroneously comparing Harlequin Horizons to a legitimate publisher such as Vanguard Press or Harper Studio.

They are not remotely the same.

At Horizons, the writers are forced to pay for their work to be “published.” And forced to pay for “marketing” or anything else from a fee-oriented “menu” of choices. The writer foots the entire cost.

At VP and HS, the publishers pay for publication. The authors are not out any money from their pockets. Vanguard and Studio also commit a certain percentage of monies to the marketing/promotion as part of the plan. In lieu of the advance, there is an equal split of royalties between Publisher and Author.

And another key factor, at VP and HS, the books are available for wide distribution via traditional sales outlets just like a traditional publisher.

None of these things are true at Harlequin Horizons (or whatever they are calling it now).

And the most egregious part of Horizons? The fact that Harlequin planned to refer rejected authors to this option as a “viable” alternative.

As RWA, MWA, SFWA have all pointed out. That’s not legitimate publishing, it should not be advertised as so, and it’s just plain wrong.