It's just a matter of seconds before another writers organization takes a stand. :)
Any day now!
Amazingly, I didn't see any statements from the Authors Guild or the National Writers Union on this topic.
I doubt Harlequin cares much about SFWA's opinion. Dunno bout MWa. The question is, will Rwa cave?
It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change.
"Author Solutions" isn't a publishing model, it's a way to get people who want to be writers but can't sell a novel to pay for the privilege based on a vain hope that they'll buck the trend and make enough profit in books (with heavy kickbacks to AS on every copy sold) to make back what they spent. In short, it's a scam.Here's what a Harlequin flack had to say. First, why is Harlequin launching a self-publishing business? Bowker reported in 2008 that more titles were published through self-publishing than traditional publishers. Self-publishing is a fast growing and vibrant part of the publishing industry today.
Yes. There is a large supply of suckers. Basing a business model on fleecing them is lucrative.
And as part of the marketing program, HH is offering to spam ten million people for only $11,995
And here's more by dear Malle as the conversation seems to be going around in a circle with those who believe self-publishing/vanity publishing is evil and should be outlawed and others who see it as another choice for writers. You know where Harlequin stands!
Nice hyperbole there. You can tell Harlequin is circling the wagons. The bit about them providing financing for RWA? That's a threat. It's "back down or we'll pull out on you." I hope RWA chucks them out on their ear.
I hope so too, but certain business realities might get in the way of that. I'd like to see them stand strong, though.
RWA isn't a corporation with shareholders to answer to. If Harlequin started trying to bully SFWA, for example, I know some of the people on the board there, as well as many members. They'd hit back as hard as they could. I don't know that RWA will back down, but if they do, the people responsible can be called to account by the membership.
"Harlequin was very surprised and dismayed"
They were surprised?? Who vetted this decision for them? Winos? Kangaroos?
Torstar needs more money, so corporate thinks, "How can we make money off of the slush pile? Oh, I know, we'll start changing authors to publish their silly little novels! Bwahahahahahaha!" And because corporate is so far removed from the day to day realities of publishing and what the reaction will be to such a decision, they hand it down from on high and make the lowly editors, who probably don't support the decision, field all the angry phone calls.
So yes, winos.
I know that what you are saying is true. It bothers me that there are plenty of legitimate ways to make money off of slush pile authors, from seminars, classes, "how to write for our genre" books, reviews, paid editorial assitance, a real Harlequin mentor/penpal, secret areas of the web site, whatever. This idea is just So Freaking Dumb I can't believe that a room full of people weren't shouting "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR GODDAMN MIND?! WE'LL BE LAUGHED OUT OF THE PUBLHSING INDUSTRY!?" when the first fool brought it up.
After some thought, I'm kind of wondering whether or not this is actually a symptom of financial desperation. Maybe they simply got this idea because they saw the bloated self-publishing market and wanted in on the money?
It's just plain wrong, regardless.
If they wanted to start a vanity press, it's slimy, but go ahead. The stupid move was trying to attach their name to it. Like "The New York Times, now printing any story anybody sends us!"
Brain seizure. How could they not see this coming?
Vanity publishing is not an emerging business paradigm within the industry. Instead, it's an age-old scam that preys on the hopes and dreams of aspiring writers, and does nothing for them in return but cause heartbreak, grief and the arrested development of their careers. When a writer pays a company to publish his or her book, it's not publishing, it's printing, and that's only a sliver of what real publishers provide.
Someone should spraypaint this in the street in front of their offices, so they can see it from the top of the lonely tower.
When a writer pays a company to publish his or her book, it's not publishing, it's printing, and that's only a sliver of what real publishers provide.
Great followup to Yog's law:
"Money should flow towards the author"
Or Yog-Sothoth's law:
"I am the doorway!"
Authors Solutions does have professional editors, developmental editors,ghost writers, book doctors, proof readers, copy editors, and line editors. The author can choose these services or not. Borderline books can become very good books under the tutelage of professional editors. Yes, the author pays for these services but no one is forcing them to. There is no reason though that an author who publishes with Author Solutions has to have a shitty book unless they choose to ignore all the professional advice they can choose to receive for a price.
I think of it as "cheaper than going to university with one on one attention and advice."
Ignoring the Harlequin stuff, there are lots of books that SHOULD be published as vanity or self-published because the subject matter is so limited that a big house would never pick it up.
Just my two cents worth.
I didn't know you weren't in the HWA anymore!
With all due respect, you cannot ignore the Harlequin stuff. It's kind of the point. Harlequin's idea was to tell its rejected authors that they could essentially still be Harlequin authors under a different imprint if they paid serious money for the honor. And no reputable publishing house should, or would, ever do such a thing.
AS may, for all I know, do a very honorable and honest job. That they are rather expensive is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser for me, but in a capitalist society, I'm not going to begrudge someone charging what the market will bear.
The problem here is that HQ is channeling authors to them. Instead of saying, "Sorry, your book is not appropriate for our needs, best of luck to you," HQ is saying, "Sorry, your book is not appropriate for our needs, and by the way, you could just go print it yourself with this outfit that will give a portion of the proceeds to us as thank-you for the referral."
HQ has a clear and obvious conflict of interest. Professional publishers make money from consumers by working in partnership with writers. HQ is treating writers as revenue sources, but pretending it's a partnership.
...there are lots of books that SHOULD be published as vanity or self-published because the subject matter is so limited that a big house would never pick it up.
-->Absolutely. However, precious little of this is fiction.
"It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change"
A friend of my family self-published a science fiction novel and sold it out of the trunk of his car at the university. Thirty-years ago. In Mexico. What's new and cutting edge about that? There's been printers willing to do the job for ages. Hell, I have a copy of a friend's thesis at my house, hard-cover bound and everything.
Sometimes I see this commercial late at night from a self-publishing firm. What's really bizarre about the commercial is how dated it is. It looks like it was filmed in the 80s, including a guy with those huge glasses you used to see back then.
Donna Hayes says, "It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change."
Donna Hayes gets caught doing something wrong and seedy and is rightfully getting yelled at. Instead of showing contrition, her response basically is, "I'm sorry you feel that way." What chutzpah!
2009-11-21 08:20 am (UTC)
I think Nick's right: "Torstar needs money" is the basis of the decision.
Within its own area of expertise, Harlequin usually knows what it's doing. Torstar, on the other hand, is run by newspaper people, most of whom have no bleeping idea how book publishing works, but are unaware of their own ignorance.
"A remarkable degree of ignorance about how publishing works" is pretty much what it would take to think this is a good idea.
I'll grant that ASolutions markets the services of people whose job titles include "professional editors, developmental editors, ghost writers, book doctors, proof readers, copy editors, and line editors." If the author pays market rates for them, the total can exceed the advance the book would get if it sold to a conventional publishing house.
It's no use saying that no one's forcing the authors to purchase these services. Authors in the acute stages of rejection and desire have impaired judgement. They also don't have enough background knowledge and experience to figure out what a bad deal they're being offered.
I don't think you have to diminish the agency ("impaired judgement") of rejected authors to agree they're being scammed. Anybody can be scammed if they (A) want something and (B) have inadequate information.
People want badly to be published. People want badly to be Hollywood stars. People want badly to get rich running their own businesses. That doesn't mean they have impaired judgment, that means they've got (possibly unrealistic) passionate dreams.
2009-11-22 08:09 pm (UTC)
A rose by any other name . . . in this case a thorn
Even with Harlequin changing the name of their subsidy imprint (it's not a self-publishing one), it's still theirs, so the heat and restrictions from the RWA and SFWA and whoever else should still apply. They're just sneaking into doing it in a different way.
The HWA just stepped in as well:
HWA asks that Harlequin acknowledge that the imprint does not represent a genuine opportunity for aspiring authors to hone their skills, because no editors will be vying for or editing the manuscripts. HWA supports the basic principal that writers should be paid for their work, not pay because they aspire to write.Edited at 2009-11-23 06:45 pm (UTC)
The HWA does not believe that changing the name of the imprint in an attempt to disguise the relationship with Harlequin, changes the intent. We call on Harlequin to discontinue this imprint immediately. If this matter does not find a positive resolution, the HWA will take appropriate action, which may include removing Harlequin from the list of HWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Stoker Award.
The Horror Writers Association
It's extremely embarrassing, or should be, that HWA can't spell an important public announcement. "The basic principal" indeed. And their threat "If this goes on...." is significantly less meaningful than RWA's, MWA's, and SFWA's "You're a vanity press until you change your policy."
It's good that HWA is releasing a statement on the matter, even if it's several days after everyone else did. However, I'm confused as to the threats HWA is making. They don't have a list of approved publishers (though I'm told one may be in the works, which I think is a good idea) and they've never before disqualified vanity press titles from Bram Stoker Award eligibility. In fact, I find the wording of HWA's statement to be suspiciously similar to those of SFWA and MWA, as if HWA used theirs as a boilerplate. Which is fine, I guess, but probably not the best way to go about it, in my opinion.
" and they've never before disqualified vanity press titles from Bram Stoker Award eligibility. In fact, I find the wording of HWA's statement to be suspiciously similar to those of SFWA and MWA,"