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International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

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More Ways Harlequin Horizons Will Rip You Off [Nov. 18th, 2009|10:24 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
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So I visited the Harlequin Horizons website to see what services they offer for your money. Most of it is the usual: editorial services, internet marketing, advertising. And then I found this.

Harlequin Horizons charges $20,000 for a "Hollywood" style book trailer!

$20,000!

Seriously, this is just looking worse and worse. Always remember, folks, money flows to the writer. Anything else is just a scam designed to separate you from your hard-earned cash.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: nihilistic_kid
2009-11-18 03:42 pm (UTC)
Well, given the sinking ships and horses and floating coffins and abs and whatnot, our trailer should cost at LEAST $20,000.

You'll have to play Muddy though. The good news is you won't have to shave!
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 03:43 pm (UTC)
They'll need to create a whole new Oscar category just to honor us!
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[User Picture]From: livia_llewellyn
2009-11-18 04:43 pm (UTC)
Ha. You spelled Razzies wrong.
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[User Picture]From: temporus
2009-11-18 04:02 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'd just read about Harliquin Horizons and was thinking how odd that a legitimate publisher was getting into the self-publishing biz, and effectively allowing people to ride their good name while doing it. (For whatever value of good the name Harlequin has, as I don't read romance, I don't know. But as a non-romance reader it is one of the few romance publishers I *can* name off the top of my head.)

But that...just ick. I mean, yeah, if you self publish, odds aren't really in your favor to just break even with it. Something like this? Man I'd hate to see someone take out a loan thinking that they'd make that back with a "great trailer". I know book trailers are the new hip thing, but do we even have any data that shows they work at all?
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 04:10 pm (UTC)
Harlequin is pretty much the biggest name in romance publishing, at least in the U.S. They're pretty much synonymous with the genre at this point. Clearly, though, they're in dire financial straits and have decided this is a way to make money quickly with zero risk. Apparently, no one told them that "your novel isn't quite right for us at this time, but we'll publish it if you pay us to" isn't how respectable publishers operate.

As for book trailers, there's no indication that they affect sales on their own, but like all advertising they can be part of a cumulative effect that eventually gets consumers to decide to try a product. The problem is, there are so many book trailers out there now that they lose their specialness and get lost in the crowd. Also, most of them are on YouTube, and who goes to YouTube to look up random book trailers when there are thousands of videos of cats falling off of televisions to watch instead?
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[User Picture]From: barbarienne
2009-11-18 05:06 pm (UTC)
I don't know that Harlequin is in dire financial straits. I would suspect the exact opposite, actually, at least in comparison to other publishers. They specialize in the one field of book publishing that's proven to be largely bulletproof. It would take a special kind of fiduciary misconduct to hurt their bottom line. Were you just opining as snark? (Sorry, having trouble reading tone this morning.)

Apparently, no one told them that "your novel isn't quite right for us at this time, but we'll publish it if you pay us to" isn't how respectable publishers operate.

-->If I had to guess, I would suspect it's similar to the situation that gave us...gah, I can't recall, but one of the Big Five very briefly started a vanity-publishing service a few years ago, offering kickbacks to agents who referred authors to them. It lasted about ten minutes before the collective outcry caused them to close it down. It was covered on Writer Beware's blog.

Which is to say, there are many people who work in the upper decision-making echelons of publishing who came into the industry at that level. They have plenty of business experience, but very little publishing experience. This drives them to make decisions that would be rewarded in another industry, but which in publishing are decried for the scurrilous predatory actions they are.
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 05:10 pm (UTC)
Nope, I didn't mean it as snark. Being in dire financial straits was literally the only excuse I could think of for Harlequin to do something this ridiculous in order to make fast money!
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[User Picture]From: barbarienne
2009-11-18 05:29 pm (UTC)
I know, it does seem like that must be the reason, doesn't it? Except that really, you're underestimating the power of human stupidity. Only logical people would do something this dumb for a sensible reason like "saving our financial ass." This venture has plain and simple dumbass greed written all over it.
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[User Picture]From: jonquil
2009-11-20 04:47 pm (UTC)
The word on the street (romblogs) is that Harlequin's parent, Torstar, is indeed severely hurtin' for money, and Harlequin their only profitable subsidiary.
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-20 04:49 pm (UTC)
Interesting! Thanks for the tip!
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[User Picture]From: txtriffidranch
2009-11-18 04:28 pm (UTC)
And what's sad is that you'll see legions of wannabes who'll yell at you for pointing this out. Yes, Harlequin is feeding off the desperation of those wannabes and their pathetic hopes at being published. I say this at the risk of being particularly callous, but I also figure that Harlequin will be doing them a favor, when they discover that the money they spent on pursuing a writing career would have been better utilized by throwing it into a tree mulcher. The ones with potential will take this as a very expensive learning experience, and they'll take the time to research what they should do in order to get published. The others, well, they'll keep going anyway, until they can't borrow any more money from spouses or parents to feed their dreams of being A Professionally Published Author Person.

Besides, I look at it this way. Yes, it's a scam, but remember twenty years ago, when repeatedly rejected writers decided that the path to fame was to publish their own magazines instead? Remember the indulgent, obnoxious, and flat-out unreadable zines being grunted out by people whose sole qualification for becoming a publisher, such as it was, came from being rejected by Asimov's? What about the fun of having editors sit on manuscripts for months or years because they were too busy focusing on the newest shiny object to catch their attention, such as weekly issues or video magazines on CD-ROM? Remember the days of writers and artists being arbitrarily cut from the masthead or capriciously re-edited, just because the contributors were getting more fan mail than the editor/publisher? Compared to the days of New Pathways and Pulphouse, I kinda like the current system, because now all of those wannabes will spend their time writing books nobody will read, and they'll leave the rest of us the hell alone.
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 04:31 pm (UTC)
I fully expect to be yelled at. I'm used to it. Whenever you tell writers the truth about something they really want to believe in that's actually bad for them, they yell. Or rather, some of them do. Posts like this are for the ones who listen instead.
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[User Picture]From: livia_llewellyn
2009-11-18 04:42 pm (UTC)
YOUR JUST MEEN! WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA?!?!
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[User Picture]From: sinboy
2009-11-18 04:55 pm (UTC)
I doubt people who'd yell at you read this LJ. You'd have to actually post about this somewhere in a more open forum.
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 05:06 pm (UTC)
You'd be surprised who finds their way here, and then anonymously posts their indignation!
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-11-18 05:46 pm (UTC)

More Ways Harlequin Horizons Will Rip You Off

Most people don't toss around cash like its going to spontaneously combust in their bank accounts. So most people will look into self publishing all around before taking the big leap. So they should at least logically know what they are getting into even if not emotionally. And for the people who would be crazy enough to get a loan to do it, hopefully they wont be able to get one :)

But most is not all. And although I don't have a problem with a company trying to make a quick buck, doing it in a rejection letter seams cancerous to the hole system. Next thing you know they will start advertising at funerals.

Great article.

-Plucky
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 05:55 pm (UTC)

Re: More Ways Harlequin Horizons Will Rip You Off

Thanks, Plucky! However, I do have a problem with a company trying to make a quick buck when it's on the backs of the naive or the hopeful. It's predatory at best, and the more people who can be warned away from it, the better.
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[User Picture]From: burger_eater
2009-11-18 09:46 pm (UTC)
I'll shoot and edit that trailer for $19,500!
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-18 10:10 pm (UTC)
Your prices are so low you're practically giving it away!
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[User Picture]From: burger_eater
2009-11-18 10:22 pm (UTC)
VOLUME VOLUME VOLUME!
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[User Picture]From: jeffstrand
2009-11-19 03:07 am (UTC)
I'll do it for the exposure!
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-19 03:26 am (UTC)
Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
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From: godofchickens
2009-11-19 01:34 pm (UTC)
"Seriously, this is just looking worse and worse. Always remember, folks, money flows to the writer. Anything else is just a scam designed to separate you from your hard-earned cash."

Except, of course, any teaching courses, bootcamps, etc, taught by Nick Kaufmann.
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[User Picture]From: nick_kaufmann
2009-11-19 01:43 pm (UTC)
That goes without saying.
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