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Harlequin News: Writing Contest and Explanation of Its Reorganization

Entrants into the contest portion of the conference will experience the path a professional writer undertakes from the genesis of a story idea all the way through to the publication of a novel. Participants will initially be asked to submit a first chapter accompanied by a maximum 100-word pitch. An online vote, open to the public, will narrow the field down to 25 contestants who, along with three “wildcard” entrants selected by Harlequin, will then be required to submit a finished manuscript. Harlequin and Mills & Boon editors will select three finalists whose manuscripts will be judged in an online vote, again open to the public, and a winner will be named and awarded a publishing contract to write a series romance novel for Harlequin/Mills & Boon.

For more information please visit soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com.”Pres Release

Harlequin reorganized this year and apparently it has caused some confusion amongst people about what it means. I’ve heard some crazy rumors from Harlequin eliminating one of its single title lines to Angela James leaving Carina Press. I asked Craig Swinwood if he had a response to these rumors and this is what he said:

1)     What does the Harlequin re organization mean?

In May Harlequin reorganized a number of departments within North America. The primary goal of the restructuring was to better serve our readers. Included in the reorganization was the merger of our print and digital marketing and sales groups. Initially, as digital emerged, two distinct groups were warranted. However, with the growth and popularity of digital reading (and the overlap of customers reading both formats) we feel our readers are better served with a single marketing and sales group focused directly on them. Our goal has always been to “serve customers however, wherever and whenever they want great reading entertainment.” This restructuring, creates synergies which, in turn, leads to a better customer experience regardless of format.

2)     What does the Harlequin re organization mean for the digital component of Harlequin, in particular Carina Press?

Harlequin has been involved with digital-first publishing for over a decade—long before the term “digital-first” was introduced. Our original, free, online reads have been available on Harlequin.com during that time and remain so today. As ebooks grew in popularity it was a natural progression to extend some of our existing print publishing programs into digital-first initiatives, such as Nocturne Bites and Historical Undone. Just over two years ago we launched Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, Carina Press.

We’ve been very pleased with the growth of Carina Press and the feedback from the authors. In fact, the recent organizational change includes an even greater commitment by Harlequin to Carina Press. These changes include additional dedicated editorial and marketing resources focused on the growth and success of the Carina Press business. In addition to Carina Press, we will continue with and investigate other digital-first opportunities for Harlequin.  Let me add that Angela James has been an incredible asset to the Carina Press business and, as Executive Editor and valued spokesperson, has been a key driver in Carina’s success.  Angela will continue to play this key role and now, with a marketing team headed by Farah Mullick, our director of digital-first marketing, will have more resources at her disposal to ensure Carina Press’ continued success.

3)     The separation of Carina Press seems deliberate, but is it to help create its own distinctive identity or to allow Harlequin to shed it easily if it is not successful? (In other words, why isn’t it Harlequin Carina Press?)

Let me reiterate, Harlequin is committed to Carina Press. Dedicating additional resources to Carina Press underscores our commitment. From the very beginning, we felt it was important for Carina Press to have its own identity. This independence allows Carina Press to publish a broader parameter of editorial, exploring many new genres such as science-fiction, gay & lesbian romances, steampunk and more. From its launch, Carina Press’ motto has been “where no great story goes untold” and we believe it has lived up to that credo. . We are thrilled with how far Carina Press has evolved in such a short time and look forward to accelerated growth and success.

4)     Any thoughts on the future of DRM at Harlequin?

The most popular question of the year! Harlequin has long been a leader in the digital space, which included launching Carina Press over two years ago without DRM—a first for any major publisher. The thinking was that in the highly competitive digital-first space it was requirement to remove DRM. Furthermore, we were interested in understanding what the impact of removing DRM would be—including upon reader behavior. At this time, Harlequin remains committed to DRM for our publishing programs outside of Carina Press and continue to watch and learn from a non-DRM Carina Press.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

8 Comments

  1. Carolyn Jewel
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 11:16:38

    The thinking was that in the highly competitive digital-first space it was requirement to remove DRM. Furthermore, we were interested in understanding what the impact of removing DRM would be—including upon reader behavior. At this time, Harlequin remains committed to DRM for our publishing programs outside of Carina Press and continue to watch and learn from a non-DRM Carina Press.

    There’s just so much wrong with that statement that I want to cry.

    Why and how is the digital first space any more competitive than some other digital space? Competitive how and where? That makes no sense.

    If they’re looking at other digital-first publishers as competition that’s just bass-ackwards. If you want to dominate the market, you don’t do it by looking at other vendors who are doing it wrong except as an example of what not to do. You look at what the consumer wants and give them that.

    Has it occurred to them that the digital first space is highly competitive because readers don’t want DRM at all?

    Great. Harlequin is not taking the opportunity to actually be competitive across ALL their digital offerings regardless of whether there is a print book or not. THIS is why traditional publishing is broken.

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  2. Patricia
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 12:13:05

    I wish Harlequin would share some of the information they have presumably gathered in the two years they have already had to “watch and learn from a non-DRM Carina Press.” This kind of statement-that-doesn’t-state-anything is very frustrating.

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  3. Keilexandra
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 13:07:07

    I bought an ebook recently from Carina Press (which I didn’t realize was associated with Harlequin, until now) even though it was a bit pricier than Amazon, because it was DRM-free. Another book I attempted to buy direct from the publisher, but it was limited to UK sales, so I ended up buying from Amazon and manually stripping off the DRM myself. It’s a principle thing for me.

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  4. Courtney Milan
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 13:19:21

    The way I translate that last bit about DRM is this: “Angela James is pretty savvy, and she insisted we had to have DRM-free ebooks for Carina and so we totally caved because otherwise we were afraid we wouldn’t get her. But we still think that non-DRMed books are of the devil, and so even though all evidence may support her assertion, we’re ignoring it.”

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  5. Christine M.
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 13:37:46

    @Courtney Milan: This.

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  6. LG
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 14:15:04

    For me, it’s mainly a principle thing, but I refuse to spend any money on DRM’ed books. So I buy Carina Press e-books whenever they look interesting to me, and I buy Harlequin only if it happens to show up in my local grocery store. If Harlequin books completely disappeared from the store, I’d maybe keep track of one or two authors via Amazon orders, but that’s it.

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  7. Kathryn
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 14:47:17

    @Courtney Milan: I like your translation.

    I also want to point out that Harlequin is not the first “major” publisher that has DRM-free imprint. That would be Baen Books–and it is not just an imprint of Baen–it’s all their digital books.

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  8. Beth
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 19:21:24

    @Courtney Milan:

    I think you nailed it!

    ReplyReply

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