Sunday, November 29, 2009


Those of you who are romance authors know what this is about. For others, let me explain that Harlequin--the premier romance publisher in the world--has just announced they're going into the self-publishing business.

In other words, they plan to solicit authors to pay them to print their books., just as other self-publishing companies--such as Author House, iUniverse and XLibris, etc.--do. Like those companies, dozens of which have proliferated since print-on-demand technology made it possible, they will charge an author anywhere from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars to publish their book in either hard cover or trade paperback. Those books get no editing and no promotion, and some companies charge the authors hefty sums to buy copies of their own books.

A few years ago ago a woman asked me, "Don'tall authors have to pay to get their books published. I was surprised then but not anymore. And now the biggest publisher of all has stooped to that level. Why, when Harlequin is already #1? The word "greed" comes to mind. Or is it jealosy that, when they see so many companies charging authors to get their book in print, they decided to join the crowd rushing to exploit them?

Whether you've been writing for thirty years (as I have) or thirty days, you need to know certain things. Publishers are in business to make money, and the traditional way to do that is to hire editors to read submitted manuscripts and decide which ones to publish based on their belief they can sell sufficient copies of said book to print, ship, advertise and pay the author for having written it. Remember, without authors writing books, publishers have no business. Today, ads by self-publishing companies offer to publish any book for a price, and a beginning writer may think that's the way it's done. But, as a reader, do you really want to spend money for a book that might have been (and probably was) written by a total amateur, which has never been edited (or even looked at) by a professional editor?

Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers have all announced that--if Harlequin charges authors to print their books--they will no longer be granted "eligible publisher" status with their members. I hope the pressure being applied by these associations will convince Harlequin to back down. There are far too many badly-written books out there now, and Harlequin will only damage its reputation by adding to the pile.

1 comment:

  1. >>Harlequin--the premier romance publisher in the world--has just announced they're going into the self-publishing business.<<

    Harlequin is going into the VANITY publishing business, not self-publishing.

    Just as no one can eat lunch for you or take medicine for you, no other person or company can "self"-publish for you. The words just don't make sense.

    A "real" self-publisher establishes a business, hires editors and designers, purchases photography, owns ISBNS, obtains LCCNs and copyrights, chooses a printer, and promotes the books.

    That's very different from paying for the services of a vanity press.

    Michael N. Marcus
    author of Become a Real Self-Publisher,


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