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Monday News: Author learns hard lesson about copyright for images;...

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.

Dear Author

Harlequin Horizons, What’s In It For You

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.

You can read more about vanity presses at Writer Beware blog or visiting the forums at Absolute Write or Romance Divas.

Some of the commenters also have important information regarding self publishing and vanity press publishing and the dangers therein.