controversy in romancelandia

How fun!  I love a good controversy because I usually learn more about the issue from all the differences of opinion infused with solid facts.

I want to be a published romance novelist.  Harlequin is the leading global publisher of romance novels and my first choice.  Their Superromance line is my favorite and my #1 target for publication.  It’s fascinating to me that this past week, in the world of publishing, Harlequin is being hit hard with controversy directly from the organizations that represent a large majority of Harlequin authors.  It’s primarily about what’s called a new self-publishing option for romance authors who have been rejected for publication in any of Harlequin’s imprints.

If you’re interested in anything about the world of publishing, Jackie Kessler has a very informative article about the current controversy and explains it well.  ( linked thru Janet Reid) The best part is Jackie’s insights regarding self-pub and Vanity Presses.  Basically, who makes the money and who has the rights, publishers or authors?

Kristen Nelson has posted that Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America both have the same opinion about Harlequin’s latest ventures.  Nora Roberts also provides some clarity.

There are some points I find fascinating about this.  Harlequin mentions that this self-pub imprint is like Thomas Nelson Publishers began with their West Bow division, which a friend recommended to me for publication of my memoir.  But I had already researched LuLu.com which is one of the original self-publishing models and feels a lot less Vanity-Pub, as it grants the author more rights and profit for less money.  Now I can’t help but giggle at the thought of TN authors who may be members of RWA or MWA getting a new perspective on this self-pub (or Vanity?) division of TN.  I wonder if any Christian Authors associations have challenged TN on these same issues.

Self-pub should not be confused with e-pubs.  Harlequin also just announced last week that they have a new division called Carina Press which is their new e-pub line, but won’t be associated with Harlequin books currently available in e-format.  E-pubs were the big publishing controversy most of this year.  :)

The most important thing to me in all this controversy is Harlequin is a global company and authors submit to Harlequin from all over the globe.   While RWA and MWA are attacking Harlequin on behalf of their membership, these amazing organizations are really looking out for the rights of all authors around the globe who are not blessed with such dynamic and determined Board of Directors.  Their objective is to prevent publishers from profiting from aspiring authors with empty promises.  Publishers should be investing in great stories, and promising authors, worthy of a readers time and the publishers imprint and logo.

Many organizations like RWA, MWA and AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives) are very vocal in the ethical practice of not charging authors reading fees or expenses.   Those that don’t comply end up listed as Preditors.  So if all these publishing professionals are concerned about not taking advantage of writers dreams to be published, it makes sense that they are incensed at a new publishing model of empty promises for a lot of cash, from a major publisher.

The sad part of this controversy is these new business practices are creating stress for tons of authors, editors and agents who really had nothing to do with it.  The only plus to this whole controversy is most of the global community of romance readers will not be affected as the books they love to read will continue to arrive on bookshelves.

Personally, I hope this all gets straightened out soon.  I was dreaming of going to the RWA National conference in Nashville this summer and being an insider as a Harlequin Author, wearing a First Sale ribbon.  It sure won’t be as much fun if Harlequin isn’t there, or recognized as an approved publisher.

About Terri Patrick
Writer of Romance and Memoir. Life is an adventure, take that journey.

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