I think what is most remarkable about this video is that it contains actual photos of Earth and space, not computer generated graphics. Mind blowing and beautiful.
Q: I’m a reader and I’ve heard about Harlequin Horizons but I don’t know what it is or what it means for me.
Harlequin Horizons is a vanity press where aspiring authors pay to have their books published and put into stores, whether it is a physical retail location like your local Borders or it is online retailer like Amazon.
Authors using this service may or may not have their books professionally edited. Some authors who are self published have very high quality standards like self published author Moriah Jovan whose epic romance books aren’t well suited for traditional publishing. Other self published authors or authors who use a vanity press will not put as much care into their books as Ms. Jovan. Therefore, the quality that you read from books published through Harlequin Horizons can be very uneven.
Q: What do you mean by traditional publishing?
Harlequin is not the publisher, the author is the publisher and therefore solely responsible for the quality of the content. In traditional publishing, authors go through a rigorous vetting process. First, their works must make it past a person called an agent. The agent then has to sell this book to publishers. Only a very small percentage of writers become published authors through this route. The hope, of course, is that through the traditional publishing process someone is weeding out the poor quality books or improving on the quality before the story gets to you, the reader.
Through the vetting process, however, books that publishers don’t seem commercially viable can be excluded from publication. Some writers become frustrated with this and turn away from traditional publishing.
Q: I am a writer who wants to be published. Is Harlequin Horizons right for me.
Traditional Publishing Route
Only you can answer this. If you want to make a career out of writing, the traditional path is through acquiring an agent and selling to a print publishing house such as Harlequin, Random House, Penguin, and the like. Some writers cannot sell to these publishers because their books do not conform to the guidelines of a traditional publishing house, whether it does not conform for quality reasons or some other concern. Not all publishing houses offer the same advantages in terms of ability to market and sell your book. This is true for agents as well. You will need to do hard research when shopping for an agent.
Digital Press Publishing Route
Another path to making a career out of writing is through digital publishing. Under the digital publishing model, you do not get an advance but in exchange you get a higher royalty. (If you don’t know what these terms mean, please educate yourself by reading up). As with anything you need to do your research to ascertain what are the most reputable digital publishers out there.
Self Publishing Route
A final path to making a career out of writing can be through self publishing. Self publishing is where you, the writer, controls all the aspects of your work and you sell directly to the public or through retailers. There are many self publishing programs out there.
Vanity presses are for the self publisher who wants to pay someone to do the work for them. Vanity presses can be a costly and non profitable form of publishing for a writer.
Please do your research before committing to a venture like this. It is possible that self publishing or vanity press publishing is the right solution for you, but you must do your research. Do cost comparisons. Sit down and figure out how many books you would need to sell to make your investment worthwhile and the likelihood you can sell that number of books.
Some of the commenters also have important information regarding self publishing and vanity press publishing and the dangers therein.
I couldn’t resist the wordplay for the title. In any event, it appears that authors really are unhappy with the announcement of Harlequin Horizons. I’ve heard that some published authors are asking for the RWA board to examine whether Harlequin should be a recognized publisher.
Essentially it appears that Harlequin is lending its name to a self publishing venture that will be sourced by AuthorSolutions Inc. My guess is that Harlequin will use this to monitor sales and move authors who are selling well from Horizons to one of its print/digital lines. HarperCollins UK does this with Authonomy but it isn’t a profit making venture, yet.
As I see it authors have three basic complaints:
- dilution of house brand
- possibility of unsuspecting authors spending money on the chance of getting the notice of Harlequin.
- the choice of POD partnership.
Dilution of House Brand
This one is the most understandable to me. Harlequin Horizon books are labeled with the Harlequin brand (although we don’t know what the badging will look like). If a number of works in circulation carry the Harlequin brand and the quality declines, one assumes that the Harlequin name brand also declines.
Authors also refer to this as a loss of prestige (which is not the same as brand dilution in my opinion). Essentially saying that you are published through Harlequin can become ubiquitous, thus reducing the personal cachet to an author.
I have a much harder time with this argument. People who have written books and then want to pay to have their books published are somehow chum for the sharks of vanity press. I’ve seen people use the words “prey” and “predator” in reference to the vanity press. Essentially a person pays a vanity press for everything that a publisher should do for you if your work is accepted. Is business model making victims of people who want to be published but cannot get accepted by traditional or digital publishers?
Another way of asking it would be is Harlequin required to be paternalistic to non published authors? Or is there something just so offensive about the business model of vanity presses?
Random House has a self publishing interest in Xlibris. It owns 49% of the company. I haven’t heard that Random House is preying on innocent writers. Amazon owns CreateSpace, a vanity press. On the digital front, Smashwords is a self publishing company in which Smashwords keeps 20% of an author’s sales. Smashwords is partnered with Barnes and Noble.
I only point out these other relationships so that I can get to the core of what is the complaint about the Harlequin Horizons endeavor. I understand the brand dilution thing. I’m not so sure I follow on how HH makes victims of authors.
San Diego publisher, Ed Johnson, promised non published authors that he could make their dreams of being in print, a reality. For $5,700.00 an author could send their book to be printed through Johnson’s press. The books, however, never materialized. Emails went unanswered and phone calls unreturned. The website is no longer operation.
Johnson says that the firm has just gone out of business due to the challenges that effect any small business. Unfortunately, about 40-50 aspiring authors who had paid thousands of dollars were left with nothing to show for it. Johnson operated at least two publishing ventures, the first was one Simon & Northrup in 1998. It’s corporate offices were at 3333 Midway Drive in California. Simon & Northrup went belly-up when the California Secretary of State suspended its articles of incorporation in 2004. This didn’t deter Johnson. He began a new publishing venture in 2005 called Martell Publishing housed at the same Midway Drive address.
There’s more to this horrific story including how an office manager was forced in editing position and that there are no recorded published books from Martell Publishing and only 27 from Simon & Northrup. It’s clear that e published authors aren’t the only eyes to fall prey to a slick talker.