Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Harlequin Horizons

Dear Author

Friday Midday Links: MWA Breaks Up With Harlequin

Explicit sex is hard to write well and even if you do write it well, it means you are just packaging up pornography for women. Also, bla bla bla, romance books are killing romance bla bla bla. All according to this   article by Alan Elsner.   I don’t plan to comment over there because Alan Elsner doesn’t like explicit sex in books and no comment, no matter how articulate will move him from his convictions.

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The Stalker’s Notebook wrote about genre labels and how restrictive they can be, particularly in the store. On the internet, however, with “tags”, readers can use as many labels as they like to help group books together. The more meta the data, the more helpful to the reader, and the better able authors are able to sell their books to the right audience.

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According to the Bookseller, a UK publication, many industry insiders say that ebooks will harm brick and mortar retail bookselling and while people are reading digitally, only a small percentage are actually buying them.

The results showed that though 44% of respondents had read a book digitally, only 19% had bought one. The majority of respondents said that e-books should be priced at the same cost as a paperback book (30.1%), or cheaper (53.6%).

“The high price of e-books is the main obstacle to their takeup,” said one respondent. “Readers can’t understand why the online versions of bricks and mortar shops sell ebooks at higher than paperback prices.”

The entire article is worth a read.

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Digital Manga Publishing announced that it hard partnered with Harlequin to bring Harlequin’s romance manga available online.   What I found interesting wasn’t the deal but the rent to own business model of DMP.   Apparently you can “rent” a book for approximately 72 hours and if you rerent it, you are also granted ownership.   I find this pricing model very interesting.    Another reader, Blue Tyson, pointed me to this article about subscription pricing for music.   Apparently an entry fee and small per song charge yields higher revenue than individual uniform pricing.

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Lori James of All Romance EBooks shared some of her insights as a retailer of romance digital books.   DRM clearly inhibits sales as only 3% of sales at her site are for DRM’ed ebooks.   It’s another article that I thought was really fascinating although I do wonder whether anyone though Microsoft was a player in ebooks.   Hasn’t it always been Adobe?

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MWA has delisted Harlequin as a recognized publisher.   The two were in talks since the announcement of Harlequin Horizons now Dell Arte Press but could not come to a resolution.   Lee Goldberg has an explanation of MWA’s position and Harlequin’s lengthy response. In Harlequin’s response, it notes that ITW and NINC have taken a different approach than the one taken by MWA.    Goldberg excerpts from the MWA rules this passage:

…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.

I’m still curious how HarperCollins/Authonomy/CreateSpace fits into this because while Authomony is free, HarperCollins solicits for CreateSpace through it.   Authonomy’s blog post today is how participants can get published with HarperCollins.    RWA is having a special board meeting in January.   Will it follow MWA’s lead and end up with a very, very abbreviated RITA ceremony or will it adopt the hands off approach of ITW and NINC?

Dear Author

Wednesday Publishing Links: Horizons Becomes DellArte Press

The much maligned Harlequin Horizons (which authors and readers had begun to refer to as HarHo after what I presume to mean that some one is engaging in prostituting herself) has transformed into DellArte Press. It has essentially the same look and feel but there is no mention of Harlequin anywhere. Even the contact person is located in Indiana.

I can’t see any mention of Horizons or DellArte Press over at the Harlequin boards (but I also confess to not being very familiar with these boards and could have totally missed it).   There is no word whether this will pacify the writing organizations.   To use Chicklet’s terminology, it appears that Harlequin will be participating in some form of publisher cash for service program in fact, but no longer in name.

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Choire writing for the Awl describes the new publishing venture that Talking Points Memo has undertaken.   TPM, one of the largest, oldest, and most visible liberal blogs, has been responsible for breaking quite a few stories in the last couple of years.   It has hired a publisher.

This publisher will be responsible for making the publication hum and grow. The first duty in the listing is “audience growth.” This is what a publisher should do: ensure the ongoing financial success and growth of his or her publication. Instead, what we have now in the media industry are publishers who believe their duties include dictating the editorial mission on behalf of a business principle. This is when publishers go wrong and, generally, is when they should be taken out back and shot.

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Teleread has a piece on how to get a bargain ebook reader.   It recommends both the high end which is buying a subscription to the Globe & the Kindle Dx or heading off to eBay for a sub $50 PDA.   PDAs with a 3.5″ screen or larger can be   a good reading device.

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Nathan Bransford takes a look at the economics of publishing.   Lynn Viehl had shared that she was paid a $50,000 advance and earned an additional $24,517.36 in profit after taxes.   It was estimated that the gross revenue for the publishing was $450,000.00.   Bransford points out that the profit for the publisher takes into consideration all of the expenses and that bestsellers make up for the majority of books that don’t make any money (or may actually lose money for publishers).   Of course, for authors to get a greater chunk of the profit, they’ll have to move away from the traditional publishing model.

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Edan Lupicka writing for The Millions points out the hazards of giving out awards because of gender or ethnicity.   It’s demeaning to those groups of writers whose talent and skill should speak and be judged for themselves.   (Via @glecharles).   But Lupicka isn’t certain on how to erase gender or race bias but lamenting the lack of diversity amongst winners of prestigious awards can lead to awards given on something other than merit or somehow diminishing the work of the author based on gender or ethnicity.

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Persona Non Data tackles the issue of publishing and pricing. It’s a pretty fascinating article and I definitely recommend interested parties take a look.   PND was in the airline industry and each seat had a different value.   Books are not priced differently but are subject to a band of pricing.   PND then goes on to talk about researchers of the music industry and students’ sensitivity to price:

The authors also experimented with a subscription type model that had a fixed price component with a per-use fee, and this model appeared to be more effective at maximizing revenue and value for both retailer and consumer.

Google Books is based on a subscription based model.   The key to an author’s increased revenue from subscription based models is volume. In other words, from a pool of subscribers, the author gets revenue by virtue of being in the pool from a large number of people who would have never bought her book in the first place.   Depending on the subscription price, this has real interest to me as a reader.

In self publishing setting, authors could set up coops to have effectively the same result.