Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

For years, as I worked at learning the craft of writing, I've been told "money should come TO the author, not the other way around". The advice was that authors should beware of agents, editors, and 'publishers' who ask for money from the author in order to do those things (editing, printing, marketing, distributing) that a 'regular' publishing house normally does. I always listened carefully to these warnings.

Recently, various blogs and newsletters have stated that the business of publishing is changing. Ebooks, electronic readers, print on demand abilities have started to warp the traditional methods of the industry. The economy, rising costs and so on have been hard on publishers. Still, I never imagined the next step would be what I've been hearing about this past week.

Word has spread that Harlequin – a well-known Publishing House of romance novels – has introduced a new 'imprint', one that – if I understand correctly – requests payment for such things as editing services, printing costs and so on. Of course, Harlequin declares this is a wonderful opportunity for fledgling authors to learn the business and obtain some exposure of their work. You know, back in the day, purveyors of 'snake oil' medicine claimed it was a wonderful product, too.

Response from the authors' groups has been less than enthusiastic. If I remember correctly, the Romance Writers of America informed Harlequin that continuing with this imprint as it was conceived would seriously jeopardize Harlequin's standing as an approved publisher. The Science Fiction Writers of America voiced a similar warning, and the Mystery Writers of America just simply removed Harlequin from its 'approved' list. (I can't swear those details are correct; I was still in a bit of shock. I suggest you do your own research on the subject.)

Bummer. Two of my first three novels are romances, and removing Harlequin from the list of possible markets leaves a mighty big hole.

See ya next week. Maybe a big turkey dinner will make things look better. Trudy

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