Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Goodbye Harlequin Horizons, Hello... DellArte Press???

Okay, so Harlequin Horizons has been renamed. It's now, as the post title says, DellArte Press. Gone is the HH logo that reminded just about everybody of the Harlequin Historicals imprint. Gone are the links from (every single one of ) eHarlequin's pages to Harlequin Horizons. However, I don't know that they have also done the right thing and removed their reference to submitting to DellArte from their rejection letters. I hope so, but I don't know and as far as I know, no one in the general public knows either. If that's wrong and someone does know, please correct me, or steer me to where I might find it. I'm up to my eyes in projects right now, not to mention I've a house to clean since I'm doing Thanksgiving. I'll try to find something to confirm or correct, but in the meantime...

Now, the question becomes, does it really matter that Harlequin took these steps? Does it change the fact that it is in partnership with Author Solutions on a vanity publishing venture? Will it matter where RWA, SFWA, and MWA are concerned?

I don't know, as I've yet to see any indication that it changes Harlequin's standings within these organizations. I'm sure the various boards are discussing it - or soon will be, considering it's Thanksgiving week - and decisions are most likely forthcoming in the near future.

As for me, I don't really know just how I feel about it. A lot hinges on that line in Harlequin's rejection letter. You know, the one referring the rejected manuscript to the vanity line. That is just sleazy, as far as I'm concerned. If I were on the receiving end of that letter, I'd submit it anywhere but DellArte, just on principle.

But if that line is removed, it makes it a little less clear to me. True, it is still a vanity press, but... If Harlequin isn't steering rejected manuscripts toward DellArte, that removes some of the conflict of interest, in my opinion. If Harlequin is truly distancing themselves, then it really is no different than when Random House owned 49% of Xlibris (and made certain to distance themselves from Xlibris at the same time. But it's moot now, as RH no longer owns that 49%, either.)

So, it's time to hurry up and wait, to sit back and watch as it continues to unfold. I should be returning to my usual posts after the holiday - but I will definitely keep as much on top of this as possible. I don't envy RWA, SFWA, or MWA's boards having to muddle through all of this.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Don't OD on the turkey!


Jackie said...

Totally agreed about the rejection letter. The DA promo there has got to go, otherwise it's still unethical.

AstonWest said...

Personally, a publisher that owned a vanity press, as long as they didn't try to direct, victims to the new press or affiliate themselves with it at all, is a pretty good business decision.

There will always be those who are more than eager to plunk down their money to get their book published...even knowing all the facts. Some of them might even be happy with the sheer fact they're "published."

So, if a publisher can bring in that money and fund the other (non-vanity) half of their business with the proceeds...wouldn't that be good for the rest of us who are still trying to get in on that side?

Kim said...

I suppose if the publisher keeps far away from the vanity arm (meaning doesn't steer rejected authors to it) and doesn't run it the way a sleaze would (**coughcough PA coughcough**), then I don't have a problem, either.

Anonymous said...

I found this link interesting. This individual decided to contact Dellarte and recieved an automated response that included a piece of information that is no longer listed on the site (unless I missed it somewhere.)

It seems the carrot is still being dangled, but in a slightly different way.

Quoted from the computer generated response:

“Publishing with DellArte Press offers several advantages:
Discovery Opportunities – Titles published through DellArte Press will be monitored for possible pickup by DellArte’s traditional imprints”

Lee Goldberg said...

MWA Delists Harlequin

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, MWA

Kim said...

Thanks for the update!