Thursday, November 19, 2009

RWA Removes Harlequin From Conference-Benefit Eligibility

Harlequin recently added Carina Press, an E-publishing arm, and Harlequin Horizons, a vanity publishing arm, to their massive publishing umbrella. In response to the vanity arm, RWA has responded by removing Harlequin from eligibility for conference resources provided to non-vanity, non-subsidy publishers. From the RWA Alert made public yesterday:

"With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints."

(Full text available at the RWA Website for RWA members, or you can check out E-Reads for an editorial on the matter, which includes the full text of the RWA Alert. You can learn more about Harlequin Horizons from Harlequin's Website.)

This does not directly affect E-pub Carina Press, but is aimed at Harlequin Horizons, the vanity portion. While I have heard (read: not confirmed) that Harlequin has stated Horizons is a completely separate entity, RWA seems not to be buying that. The portion of HQ's information page regarding Horizons that looks, to me, to be the sticking point is:

"Titles published through Harlequin Horizons will be monitored for excellence and retail potential for possible pick up by Harlequin's leading traditional imprints."

This seems then to be a new way for potential HQ authors to get face time with a Harlequin editor. An intelligent marketing move for Harlequin, who will have more options for making profit and picking up good authors, however, RWA will not endorse a vanity or subsidy publisher. Since the two are linked, HQ has been denied access to those resources mentioned in its Alert.

Harlequin is a giant in the romance industry--the biggest romance publisher in the world, in fact. This may have huge impact on the way RWA classifies its eligible publishers, maybe including E-pubs. Fallout remains to be seen, and there are some widely differing opinions on whether or not this is a good move. I'm still forming an opinion, myself. Carry on, y'all.

EDIT: Check out this editorial on the topic at Jackie Kessler's Website, explaining in detail why she feels this is poor sport on Harlequin's part. Great article with detailed analyses of the problem at hand!

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