Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Putting a Face on Harlequin

Harlequin recently announced they were going into the vanity publishing business, with the formation of a new venture between Harlequin Enterprises and ASI Solutions to form Harlequin Horizons, a vanity/subsidy press. The discussion of this, and how it will affect the ability of authors to be members of professional organizations, and eligible for awards, is all over the web. Responses are summarized very well here. Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have all issued statements, as has Sisters in Crime. On a personal level, I have to respect the different organizations that are speaking up on behalf of authors.

All of these organizations are dedicated to protecting the rights of authors. They point out that a vanity press does not benefit authors, and because of that, Harlequin is endangering the rights of their authors to belong to any of the organizations mentioned above, or to be eligible for the prestigious prizes given out by those organizations. All of this information is summed up online, and the site I linked to gives excellent information and responses.

But, let's put faces to Harlequin. If Harlequin continues in their venture (and coming days will show if they will or not), these authors, if they were starting out today, could not join the organizations, if their only published works were through Harlequin. They can continue to belong, but any future books they publish with Harlequin will not be eligible for awards.

Mira is an imprint familiar to many readers of this blog. The Mira line is from
Harlequin. Hank Phillippi Ryan's Charlie McNally mysteries are published by Mira. Her debut novel, Prime Time, was the winner of the prestigious AGATHA Award for Best First Novel, a RITA Nominee for Best First Novel and Best Romantic Suspense, a DAPHNE Nominee for Best Romantic Suspense and RT Reviewers Choice Award Winner and TOP PICK. Now, her next book, Drive Time, would not be eligible for any RITA awards, if Harlequin persists in their plans. It would not be eligible for Edgar awards, either.

Jason Pinter's books are from Mira. His Henry Parker series would not be eligible for Edgar awards. Here's just a few authors whose books are published with Mira: Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs, Alex Kava, Kat Martin, Pamela Morsi, Emilie Richards, Heather Graham, Brenda Novak, Rick Mofina, J.T. Ellison, Michelle Gagnon, Kate Wilhelm.

The Luna line would be affected by the statement from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. These are books by Catherine Asaro, P.C. Cast, Mercedes Lackey, and Diana Palmer, among others.

And, of course, there's Harlequin itself. Can you imagine my holiday books without a romance by Holly Jacobs? Can you imagine the RITA Awards given out, and Debbie Macomber, Linda Lael Miller, and Diana Palmer are not eligible?

As I said, go to the earlier website, and read about the controversy. Or, put Harlequin Horizons in Google, and find out what the issues are. They're discussing them all over the blogs. I just thought I'd take a slightly different angle, and mention the authors who will be affected, in some way, by Harlequin's decision. I just wanted to put a face on the issue.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Good point, Lesa. There are writers whose careers would be badly affected--and readers who would miss them!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks so much, Lesa. Yes, it's very--distressing. I just have to figure that cooler heads will prevail, and that it'll all work out. Somehow. Reasonably and fairly.

I'm starting my next book Sunday. Just moving forward. And we'll see where it goes.

Again..thank you for your very thoughtful perspective. (As usual!)

Lesa said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. I understand that Debbie Macomber will continue to have books published. But, I also know how the awards assist with author recognition. I can't imagine Macomber, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kate Wilhelm, Jason Pinter, not able to win awards if they continue to publish with Harlequin.

I just thought I'd point out to readers that Harlequin's decisions affect the authors, and the readers.

Lesa said...

Hi Hank,

I agree with you. I do think it will all work out in the end. But, I don't think the people at Harlequin thought they'd get the reaction they are receiving from their decision.

Good luck with the new book!

Jason said...

Hi Lesa -
Thank you for your kind words of support. I don't know any authors who write in order to be recognized for awards, yet it is a true honor to be considered for them by readers and peers. I'm not speaking for all Mira/HQ/Luna authors, but my only hope is that my books will be judged fairly and on the same level as other authors. There are some wonderfully talented writers affected by this--including Hank!--many of whom have worked hard to bolster the very organizations that are now turning their backs on them. I'm thankful that Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers--the two organization I'm most active in--have been very reasoned in their response. I wish other organizations had given their members the same considerations.
Jason Pinter

Lesa said...

Hi Jason,

I know none of you write to be recognized with awards, however, the awards do bring you additional recognition by readers and reviewers who might not have otherwise known about your works, or paid attention.

Yes, I've seen the statements by MWA. I haven't seen the ITW response. I think everything will turn out OK in the end. I hope so!

caite said...

I have read so many scathing write ups on the internet about this decision by Harlequin that you really have to wonder what they were thinking. Is it all about money? Do you destroy the reputation of a company to make more money?

It seems so very short sighted.

Michelle Gagnon said...

I'm actually blogging about this today over on TKZ...thanks, Lesa!

Nancy Naigle said...

Most of my favorite authors write for MIRA ~ as you scan my bookshelf there are a lot of stars on the spines of my keepers.

I know Harlequin embraces the wonderful authors that write for them and I have to believe that the publisher and organizations will soon come to an agreement that is a win for everyone.

At the end of the day -- it's still about writing wonderful books that get into the hands of readers, and Harlequin does that. I'm not sure the readers care one way or the other about the author orgs or other business ventures the pubs want to pursue.

Fingers crossed and high hopes that it all shakes out to a win-win.

Lesa said...


Not being on the inside of Harlequin, or any of the other organizations, it sounds like money to me. But, what do I know? That's just how it appears to those of us who are outsiders.

Lesa said...

Hi Michelle!

I'm on my way over to read your blog now. Thanks.

See you Thursday! I'm looking forward to meeting you.

Lesa said...


I'm with you, hoping for a win-win. Let's hope it won't be too long!