Harlequin Horizons… yep, that.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest scandal in the literary world, here’s it in a nutshell.

Harlequin entered into an agreement with Author Solutions to stick a vanity press branch off of their publishing tree. If you get rejected by Harlequin, you’ll get a nice referral to Harlequin Horizons in your rejection letter.

*waits for that to sink in*

Yes. It sucks. Greatly.

The referral isn’t to a free service to help you improve your writing, oh no – it’s to a vanity press that will take THOUSANDS of your dollars to PRINT a copy for you. Something, btw, that you can get done for FREE at lulu.com or pay much less for at other places. But, this is HARLEQUIN, thus it has a much more glamourous shine to it than those other places.

But crap is still… well, crap.

Needless to say, all hell has broken loose. The RWA, MWA and SFWA have all dropped or censured Harlequin, pulling them off their lists of eligible presses for membership. And there’s still serious movement afoot as to how this is going to turn out.

Now, I hear you say… what’s wrong with a vanity press?

Absolutely nothing.

*puts up hand*

Selfpublishing and vanity publishing are perfectly valid ways of printing your work. If you’re a poet, if you’ve got a cool family history, if you’ve got that local area cookbook you’ve been dying to get into print – these are great things to go that route with.

Quick definition: Self-publishing – YOU go and buy a block of ISBN, YOU arrange for the printing, YOU get to do the distribution, YOU own the company. Vanity press – YOU do NOT own the ISBN, the company does. THEY will print copies up, but YOU still don’t own the company. Depending on how much work you want to put into it, both are valid ways of getting your work into print.

But. This. Is. Not.

Not if you want to sell fiction. Not if you want to be a romance author. Not if you even want a bound copy to give to an agent. (HH says this in their promo. NO agent will look at a bound copy of your manuscript. It goes directly into the trash and you’ve used up your first publishing rights. Harlequin should and DOES know better.)

Be aware of what’s out there. Don’t make a bad decision based on a name.

Victoria Strauss has some excellent posts up on Writer Beware here about this topic.

Just be careful out there.

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