Hot on the heels of the launch of West Bow Press, Thomas Nelson’s new self-publishing division, Harlequin Enterprises has unveiled Harlequin Horizons, a company that “that offers aspiring romance writers the opportunity to self-publish their work and achieve their goals.”
The official press release is here.
Like West Bow Press, Harlequin Horizons is powered by self-publishing conglomerate Author Solutions, though its standard packages are considerably cheaper–from $599 to $1,599, as opposed to West Bow’s $999 to $6,499. You can also spend up to $3,499 for a specialty package (West Bow’s specialty packages top out at an eye-popping $19,999–are Christian writers richer, or is it just easier to persuade them to part with the big bucks?)
Both West Bow and Harlequin Horizons also give authors the chance to expend sizeable additional sums, such as $11,999 for a premium Christian publicist (West Bow) or a just plain premium publicist (Harlequin Horizons). Interestingly, while several of West Bow’s standard packages and all of its specialty packages include a bookseller return program, with Harlequin Horizons that’s available only as an extra.
Like West Bow, Harlequin Horizons wreaths self-publishing in nebulous, glowing verbiage, extolling benefits and ignoring downsides. With West Bow Press, you can Begin Your Legacy. With Harlequin Horizons, you can Reach the Stars. And just like West Bow, Harlequin Horizons cordially extends the carrot of commercial publication: “While there is no guarantee that if you publish with Harlequin Horizons you will picked up for traditional publishing, Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through Harlequin Horizons for possible pick-up by its traditional imprints.”
Unlike West Bow, Harlequin Horizons bears its parent’s name. And that is making some Harlequin authors quite unhappy.
On the Dear Author blog, a lively discussion of the new venture is summarized here. Authors’ concerns include dilution of the house brand (if low-quality self-published books carry the Harlequin name, the overall reputation of Harlequin may suffer), a loss of prestige for non-self-published Harlequin authors (the perception that “anyone” can get published by Harlequin), new authors spending money on self-publishing in the belief that it’s a path to getting noticed by Harlequin (well, of course; this is one of the new service’s major marketing pitches–no surprise, since Harlequin Horizons is a money-making enterprise), and the choice of Author Solutions as a partner (given the complaints about several Author Solutions brands–one of my blog posts is referenced).
In a followup post, some of these concerns are addressed by Malle Valik, Harlequin’s Digital Director, who reveals that while “Harlequin put its name on the Harlequin Horizons site to clearly indicate this is a romance self-publishing site,” Harlequin Horizons books will be branded HH (not Harlequin), and that “[t]he copyright is not associated with Harlequin.” As to why Harlequin is establishing a self-publishing division, Ms. Valik says,
Bowker reported in 2008 that more titles were published through self-publishing than traditional publishers. Self-publishing is a fast growing and vibrant part of the publishing industry today. Harlequin has decided to provide a romance focused self-publishing business for those that choose to go down the self-publishing road.
In other words–self-publishing is a big business, and Harlequin wants a piece of the pie. As I noted in my post on West Bow Press, the potential for new revenue is large indeed:
In 2008, according to PW, the number of on-demand and short-run titles (the bulk of which represent offerings by self-publishing companies) jumped by 132% (total growth since 2002: 774%), outstripping books produced by “traditional production methods”. Not only does adding a self-publishing line allow a publisher to cash in this trend, it presents the possibility of monetizing rejections. By the same token, the self-publishing service’s connection with a major publisher will be a major attraction for authors–especially if the publisher suggests that it may take the better-performing books commercial.
For the record, I don’t for one teeny tiny second believe that discovering new writers, or giving them a chance to “begin their legacies” or “reach the stars,” plays a major part here. That’s just a marketing pitch. This is about money. Now more than ever, commercial publishers need to shore up their bottom lines–and adding self-publishing divisions is an easy and profitable way to do so.
Harlequin Horizons offers more confirmation of this fact. But what it confirms even more is the ambition of Author Solutions. Over the past few years, Author Solutions has been absorbing its largest competitors. Now it seems to have come up with a lucrative new business strategy that offers even more possibilities for expansion. For that reason alone, I think we’ll be seeing more self-publishing divisions in the coming months or years.
I think Christians tend to fall for sucker plays more because they believe they're working with fellow Christians who couldn't, ethically, take advantage of them. So, when their fellow Christians tell them that something is a must-have, they go for it. Romance authors have been scammed by the best and tend to be a little more skeptical.
Whew! After reading this, I am unsure of publishers in general and after reading many books from Harlequin which should have been proofread before publishing, I have to say, No one is perfect! I have written 10 manuscripts, researched many publishing companies and am still uncertain if I want to trust anyone with my material. A lot of the comments here are off-putting and extremely hard on an unpublished author's psyche. I love to read and I love to write. Perhaps I should forget publishers and just type these stories up and sell them on the street corner, after I mail myself a copy (for a copyright). That way I can really say "I'm a Vanity Publisher"! Then I won't cause a "real author" to feel that I'm ruining their reputation by asking their publisher to take a look and see if my poor scribblings would constitute a "real book"! Question, are publishers "schemers" "taking advantage of people who want to feel good about allowing others to read their writings" or are they reasonable people who want to help someone to get ahead? I would like for people to read what I wrote but not have the big authors throw rotten egg verbiage at my attempts to entertain and teach! I don't suppose I'll ever get an answer to my query but we are all human beings wanting to excel somehow! I guess that is "VANITY"!
I published a book through Author House and I have sold enough copies to make a very small profit. I did this through my own marketing and sales efforts. Author House frequently offers me marketing packages, but they are quite expensive and actually promise little, in my opinion. Writers, you will probably do better marketing your books yourselves.
We who are or have been writers definately need new legilsation to protect us from so very much scamming that is out there. My beef is against Xlibris publishing company. "A leader is self publishing" they call themselves. Having blindely published two books through them I see they are sit up in a way as to lead a writer beleive that he /she is entering into a business that is honest only to be let down in the end; after having spent thousands of dollars to be let down with reports of no sales and innocent acts. We don't know if the advertising that we pay for is ever really delivered, if books are sold and we are just not getting credited for them, or just what those people are doing with our money. There is far too much that doesn't make sense at Xlibris and as Judge Judy always says, if it doesn't make sense than it's not honest.
I plead to any and all writers who have published through Xlibris and feel as I do, to please report your complaint to the Indiana Attorney General's office ( he dept of consumer protections)
by Bob Phillips
I am a member of Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and there are several POD authors in our group. They make money, they own their ISBN's and their books are listed on Amazon, B&N and Etc book seller lists as well as Abe books and other book distributor catalogs, so isn't a POD a whole lot different than a vanity pub that prints of X # of books and ships them to the author??
In response to the previous comments, you're right! Published authors should create a new system. Maybe this time it will be one that doesn't involve giving the brunt of the risk for YOUR "business venture" onto the shoulders of whatever publisher decided to pick you up. The business model for traditional publisher's is ridiculous, not to mention outdated. Line it up with any other current business model and the differences are obvious. Good luck authors, and prospective future self-PUBLISHED authors also.
I think the claims floating around the internet that self-published titles at WestBow Press, Harlequin Horizons, or any self publishing imprint with ties to a large, traditional publishing house, won't review and accept self published author into their houses, is ridiculous. I am well aware of several titles at Thomas Nelson right now, at acquisitions, to potentially receive publishing contracts. It would make absolutely no sense not to give these new authors the opportunity to achieve this goal. Also, I think it's just greedy, as a traditionally published author, to complain that a self publishing imprint would "strip you" of the prestige you previously maintained. This simply gives author's who want to see their work in print the opportunity to do so. Times are changing, more so in the publishing world than any other. Get used to it or get out of the way.
Wow. What a fascinating thread! I'm writing a blog post to link to this editorial.
Donald James Parker
Author of Reforming the Potter's Clay
Harlequin Horizons is now DellArte Press.
I am the co-founder of a Canadian association called The Word Guild, which is for Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. We have over 350 members. I'm also an author in both the mainstream and Christian areas.
In Canada, there are very few Christian publishing options (partly due to the many books flooding us from the US). Consequently, many people are self-publishing. Some are vanity published (and think they are then "published"); others are what I call independent publishers, meaning they own the ISBN, hire layout people and editors, etc. etc.
Over the last few years, we have become very concerned about the rush to get books published by any means whatsoever – often vanity of course. We are trying to educate people, and we have several levels of membership and have instituted a screening process.
I was horrified by what Thomas Nelson did. And now Harlequin. All I can say is Author Solutions must have an amazing sales team.
I think there are two factors that need to be addressed.
One is that many people here have simply given up on ever getting published by the traditional publishing industry. It's a bit of a maze – way too hard to make inroads and get known.
Secondly, we live in an instant society. Getting a book published in traditional ways can take years. A vanity press can get you a book in two or three months. I recently saw a ms that could have been spectacular with the right editing and so forth. Instead, it was popped into a vanity mill and is out now "as is." The author will likely never know what might have been. The primary concern was "I want it now."
Someone asked re Christian writers. I'd say that in general, many of them are more gullible because they are doing this more as a ministry than a business venture. I've signed at least one horrendous contract myself. And I have independently published 8 books, including the Canadian bestseller, Hot Apple Cider.
I don't know what the answers are. As an author myself (11 published books), I don't even feel I know what to do next. Or why. As someone trying to lead others, I feel very frustrated. It's all murky and kind of dismal.
But one thing I believe, and that is that it's time the good authors stopped simply following the system and started working together to create a new system.
You know, I think someone should hit Harlequin Horizons with another ATLANTA NIGHTS.
Yeah, and that’s the problem. Author Solutions published 13,000 titles last year. Titles that vary in content and quality. Titles that perhaps didn’t quite fit a publisher’s existing lines. Those books already exist, but are the readers buying them?
And if not, why?
Those books will be no different than the product they will receive through Harlequin Horizons. Because these are Author Solutions products, not Harlequin products. These are products for writers, not readers.
LifeWay is an interesting case – they're more of a retailer / wholesale that added a publishing division for a couple books they wanted to sell. In some ways, that makes their partnership with AuthorSolutions all the stranger – were they planning on actually selling the books?
Asterling: I honestly don't know who you've been talking to so I can't address their situations. I have an agent, have signed several excellent contracts, have received very nice advances for each of my books, and have found my publisher to be very "professional." My newest novel is already being promoted in this country and in several others, and it won't be released until June of next year. Several Barbour authors have done quite well. In fact, I'm thinking of one author in particular who has sold over 4 million books and has made the NYT's best seller's list. Sounds pretty "professional" to me.
I'm not saying every Christian publisher is like mine or that CBA publishers don't fight the same dragons all publishers do – but I felt you tried to paint ALL CBA publishers as unprofessional. That is not only unfair but incorrect.
That was no blanket statement, Nancy. I have known several people who published both fiction and nonfiction books with several different Christian publishers who published them without agents and signed away rights that they didn't realize were important at the time. I know others who were offered small flat-fee payments, and again, signed away all rights. Being treated "beautifully" isn't the same as "professionally," also. Of course there are secular publishers that are beasts, and everyone must look after themselves, but I just reviewed Christian writers organizations and could find none with any type of emphasis on professional qualifications or standards of any type for membership. The first one that comes up on Google doesn't seem to be a real writers' organization at all. It seems to be a service that pushes manuscript critiques, conferences, and "self-publishing."
Asterling said: I've never gone into Christian publishing, but friends I know who have, are treated worse than even those working for the lower-end publishers in the non-Christian publishing world.
Huh? As a Christian author, I have no idea what you're talking about or who you've been talking to. I write for Barbour Publishing and they treat me beautifully. Much better than any secular publisher ever did. Making a blanket statement like that is ridiculous.
Anyway…many Christian authors are concerned about TN's new venture as well as Harlequin's foray into self-publishing. This situation will be interesting to say the least. I see rough waters ahead!
(Hi, Victoria! Waving hand!!!)
I think there is a grave misunderstanding between self-driven self-publishers – or micropublishers and what this proposal represents, which is costly vanity press services specifically marketed to individuals who have submitted work unsolicited to Harlequin. Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher, and their service appears to be not only extremely expensive, as Victoria pointed out, but also using marketing techniques akin to those used by high-end financial services companies (i.e. private brokerages), high-end "matchmaking" services, and people selling caskets and other special "after life" accoutrement. I've never gone into Christian publishing, but friends I know who have, are treated worse than even those working for the lower-end publishers in the non-Christian publishing world. So it does not surprise me that the aspiring, naive and very enthusiastic Christian writers are easily taken in by this scheme. As a long-time, highly successful publisher, it breaks my heart to see Harlequin even considering traveling down this sad, sordid road that just takes money from people with good hearts and not a lot of experience.
From Richard Curtis's E-Reads blog, Harlequin's reaction to RWA's action. Not surprisingly, they are dismayed.
And this is interesting:
Most importantly, however, we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.
No, they are not on our list.
Thanks for posting that, Lee. More comprehensive than the RWA statement.
Is Thomas Nelson an MWA-approved publisher?
The Mystery Writers of America, a proud sponsor of Writer Beware, released a statement today regarding the actions they are taking in response to Harlequin's business ventures aimed at aspiring authors.
Here it is:
Recently, Harlequin Enterprises launched two new business ventures aimed at aspiring writers, the Harlequin Horizons self-publishing program and the eHarlequin Manuscript Critique service (aka "Learn to Write"), both of which are widely promoted on its website and embedded in the manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints.
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is deeply concerned about the troubling conflict-of-interest issues created by these ventures, particularly the potentially misleading way they are marketed to aspiring writers on the Harlequin website.
It is common for disreputable publishers to try to profit from aspiring writers by steering them to their own for-pay editorial, marketing, and publishing services. The implication is that by paying for those services, the writer is more likely to sell his manuscript to the publisher. Harlequin recommends the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service" in the text of its manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints and include a link to "Harlequin Horizons," its new self-publishing arm, without any indication that these are advertisements.
That, coupled with the fact that these businesses share the Harlequin name, may mislead writers into believing they can enhance their chances of being published by Harlequin by paying for these services. Offering these services violates long-standing MWA rules for inclusion on our Approved Publishers List.
On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service," notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list. The steps outlined at that time included removing mention of this for-pay service entirely from its manuscript submission guidelines, clearly identifying any mention of this program as paid advertisement, and, adding prominent disclaimers that this venture was totally unaffiliated with the editorial side of Harlequin, and that paying for this service is not a factor in the consideration of manuscripts. Since that letter went out, Harlequin has launched "Harlequin Horizons," a self-publishing program.
MWA's November 9 letter asks that Harlequin respond to our concerns and recommendations by December 15. We look forward to receiving their response and working with them to protect the interests of aspiring writers. If MWA and Harlequin are unable to reach an agreement, MWA will take appropriate action which may include removing Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Edgar Awards.
We are taking this action because we believe it is vitally important to alert our members of unethical and predatory publishing practices that take advantage of their desire to be published. We respect Harlequin and its authors and hope the company will take the appropriate corrective measures.
"HH is not a scam. "
It's telling authors they will see their books on bookstore shelves, and that they will be the stars of their own book signings. It's waving the promise of possibly being published by the real Harlequin under their noses.
It's also using the Harlequin name while its representatives are busily telling everyone it has nothing to do with Harlequin.
You may not consider this a scam – probably because people will pay and get the books they were promised – but it's deceptive and dishonest.
And I am adamant in believing that this is *not* a self-publishing business. It's vanity publishing, marketed in an identical way to all other vanity publishers. You're doing self-published authors a real disservice by conflating the two
Publishing has changed over the last several decades from a printing-centered business to a distribution-centered business. The only real reason that one should endeavor to get published by one of the big houses is because of their ability to get you into the distribution networks. Hence, I tend to look at things not in terms of self-publishing or vanity publishing, but it terms of whether or not a particular publisher can get you into the distribution networks so that your book will show up in the bookstores. Since neither self-publishing nor vanity publishing does that, I consider them both a waste of time and money.
One little point, that I see already getting confused –Harlequin Enterprises now has TWO lines with a painfully similar identification logo.
HH = Harlequin Historicals (one of the traditional category Harlequin lines –this is a new medallion logo they have added to front cover in recent months)
Hh = Harlequin Horizons (the vanity/subsidy press recently launched)
How they can legitimately think there won't be brand dilution is beyond me, when the biggest difference between these two brands is whether or not a letter is capitalized?
Someone needs to get their head out of the sand over there.
Ann Somerville said,
I consider your conflation of vanity publishing, which is a fraud on the reader, and self-publishing, insulting in the extreme.
If you have no ISBN number, the issue of ownership doesn't come up. So let me revise my statement once again: If SOMEONE ELSE owns your ISBN, you are not self-publishing.
I don't mean to insult anyone. I've expressed my personal opinion, which I will always be honest about if asked. But in writing about these issues, I try to use non-inflammatory language, so I won't be sidetracked by constantly having to defend my words (as opposed to my observations or positions).
So I will continue to use the term "self-publishing" or "self-publishing service" to describe companies like Lulu, Infinity, BookSurge, and any of the AuthorHouse brands, and the term "vanity publisher" to describe a fee-based publisher that presents itself not as a self-publishing service, but as a "real" publisher.
This Harlequin venture is vanity publishing, and playing to the delusions of the inferior author. It's a scam, and needs to be shown plainly as such.
HH is not a scam. It's a bad idea (my opinion again) couched in misleading language, and will unfairly benefit from its association with a major publisher, which will doubtless entice many inexperienced writers to spend money on the probably fruitless hope of being "discovered" by Harlequin. That doesn't make it a scam.
Frankly, I don't care if people call HH vanity publishing. But if you're going to do that, you have to be consistent. That means you must call all self-publishing services vanity publishers, and reserve the term "self-publish" for true DIYers, who do everything themselves, on their own.
I'm a novice jumping in where I probably shouldn't…nevermind. From what I read, Victoria wrote very clearly about the issues presented. I think attacking the blogger (as a couple did, others hinted at) is a form of 'vanity publishing' that says much about these commenters, and, by extension, the books they write….not good, not good…
@Love Romances and More Reviews
All of the contact information (physical address) on the page is for the Bloomington, Indiana address for Author Solutions.
Given that,I cannot imagine that HQN will have little to do with the line other than promote it and funnel their works to the publisher.
I live hear AS, and I know most of the bookstores (Indie) grumble about them. Most of their authors have a very hard time convincing stores to carry physical copies of their books. If a store agrees to a give a book shelf space it is usually on consignment.
I have seen some people draw comparisons to Xlibris, but this is very different. This is AS and HQN using the guise of traditional publishing to get authors who are rejected to purchase publishing services.
I find this to be dishonest. I am also disturbed to find HH buttons on just about every eharlequin how to write page.
I do not have a problem with self publishing, I do have an issue with vanity houses. From my own experience, I have found their product to be below par.
As a consumer I find the HH logo confusing. Having visited the various blogs–the HQN mouthpieces have contradicted themselves because that logo *is* branding. They cannot have it both ways.
When I purchase a particular brand name, I expect certain things. Not a vanity press title, that has seen little proofreading (never mind substantive editing).
Those packages also do not reflect that you will need to pay, out of pocket, for every book you give away, sell, or place in stores.
Victoria — RWA's statement: "RWA does not have any professional partnership or collaboration with Harlequin Horizons, including its self-publishing marketing package."
was in response to early HnHo marketing statements that the HnHo titles would be advertised in _Romance Sells_, an RWA marketing publication which specifically excludes self- or vanity-published titles.
I understand that HnHo's claim to _Romance Sells_ advertising has subsequently been removed.
Modean Moon (An upset/irritated/and generally agitated FORMER Harlequin author.)
I thought they called is "assisted" publishing which surely (tongue in cheek) must be better than "vanity" or "self-published". What concerns me is while on the one hand it will give many (hundreds or anyone with the money to spend) the chance to say "I'm published" how many books will really be sold? Enough to make back the initial investment? It would surprise me if most people do.
And if Harlequin's editors have that much time on their hands they can "edit" these "assisted" books, what will happen to their in house author's?
Thank you for answering my question. I've kept up with several of the discussions going on and there wasn't a hard and fast decision on if this imprint was vanity, subsidy, or self-publishing.
Vanities are known for misleading jargon. Anyone who read more than a paragraph would agree the rosy gloss on Harlequin Horizon's site was definitely misleading.
And I think RWA had to make that stance. Their bylaws didn't not make room for exceptions. Their bylaws in the future, I don't know.
Victoria, there's a whole bunch of self-published authors who don't *use* ISBNs because they don't need to have their books sold in bookstores – namely ebook authors, and those like me whose print books are sold through Lulu, but not *published* by Lulu.
I consider your conflation of vanity publishing, which is a fraud on the reader, and self-publishing, insulting in the extreme. I do not vanity publish, and I don't pretend to anyone that my self-pubbed books have been through any formal process other than what I bring to bear on them.
This Harlequin venture is vanity publishing, and playing to the delusions of the inferior author. It's a scam, and needs to be shown plainly as such.
RWA had to take that stand, as it's what their by-laws say…still I'm glad they didn't try to make any exceptions. Agree with Anonymous 8:08–it will be interesting to watch this.
Michael, my language was imprecise, and I apologize. What I should have said was "Strictly speaking, I consider all self-publishing services to be vanity publishing. If you don't own your ISBN, you are vanity publishing, in my opinion."
I thought I implied that by putting "self-publishing" in quotes, but clearly I didn't.
I consider what you are doing to be true self-publishing.
To be honest, I have bowed to what you call the bogus self-publishing label not just because I think it's fair to distinguish between straightforward fee-based publishing services and fee-based publishers that try to pass themselves off as "real" publishers, but because it's a less incendiary way to talk about the issue. I discuss these services a lot, and I just don't have time to defend myself against angry writers who think I'm dissing them by calling them vanity-published.
RWA's statement means that Harlequin is no longer eligible to participate in the National Conference held in July. No editor appointments, no spotlights, no comped attendance for the editors. Harlequin is welcome to show, but they must now do so at their own expense.
This is not good news for the conference, as that's always been a major draw for attendees.
It also means that Harlequin authors won't be able to sign books at the huge charity booksigning, and that all Harlequin/Silhouette books *may* end up being ineligible to enter the RITAs next year.
Good for RWA to make a strong stand, but the ripple effects are huge for this…
Victoria Strauss said…
"Strictly speaking, I consider all "self-publishing" to be vanity publishing. If you don't own your ISBN, you are vanity publishing, in my opinion."
I don't understand.
I consider myself to be a self-publisher. I operate a one-person publishing company and I am now preparing my sixth book. I own the ISBNs, hire editors and designers, purchase photography, and handle marketing and publicity.
Under your rules, since I am self-publishing, I am vanity publishing; but under your rules, since I own the ISBNs, I am not vanity publishing.
Would you care to try again to explain what you mean?
You seem to have accepted the bogus "self-publishing" label that the vanity presses have adopted, but you have no terminology for what I call "real" self publishing.
Michael N. Marcus
author of Become a Real Self-Publisher, http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661742
Kristin Nelson has posted the full text of RWA's statement.
Boy. Never piss off romance writers.
What does that mean, exactly?
"With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources."
And I think it's the same one Ann Aguirre posted. Sorry about that.
Check comment #127 at the Dear Author discussion. The RWA has posted a statement.
More heated discussion from the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog.
RWA has responded to HH on its website. Seems to me there's no reason why this shouldn't be a public comment, but annoyingly, one cannot see it unless one is a member.
Ann Aguirre has posted RWA's response to HH, which reads in part: "RWA does not have any professional partnership or collaboration with Harlequin Horizons, including its self-publishing marketing package."
Interesting that they specifically disavow the marketing package. Like liquor in restaurants, marketing packages are a major profit center for self-pub services, since they charge a lot for something that costs them very little.
Apparently Harlequin will be referring rejected authors to HH. Big surprise. That's one of the main benefits of adding a division like HH–you can monetize rejections.
Melissa Blue said,
You don't consider this imprint a vanity publisher?
Strictly speaking, I consider all "self-publishing" to be vanity publishing. If you don't own your ISBN, you are vanity publishing, in my opinion.
However, I do think it's fair to make a distinction between relatively straightforward publishing services like Lulu or Infinity, which can be somewhat misleading in their verbiage but don't try to conceal the fact that they are pay-to-play, and companies like Tate or American Book Publishing or any other pay-to-play outfit that wants writers to believe it is actually a publisher, not a publishing service. "Self-publishing service" is a non-threatening way to do that, and doesn't get me flak every time I use it (unlike "vanity publisher").
I actually think that Author Solutions is veering close to the deception line in its recent efforts to re-brand itself as an "indie publisher," and I think that West Bow's and Harlequin Horizons' websites–which in my opinion are less transparent than they ought to be, and present self-publishing in an overly rosy light–reflect that ethos. Which is a bad thing all on its own, independent of the question of whether commercial publishers ought to dabble in self-publishing. (Jane Smith's post on HH has some interesting suggestions about how commercial publishers could add a self-pub option in a more ethical way.)
In a related thought: the self-publishing bubble has got to burst some time. It doesn't seem reasonable to expect that it will go from peak to peak indefinitely (any more than the housing industry did).
I find your distinction based on having an author having their own ISBN number fascinating. I do have those. Does that imply to you a more serious effort? On what do you base your opinion? I’m sincerely interested. Thank you.
Dear Harlequin Horizons,
Yes, there are TONS of vanity press books, also tons of self-published books.
It doesn't mean any of them sell a single copy.
The only ones making money from most of those books are the printers.
You are offering VANITY publishing, so don't try to kid us with that "self-publishing" crap or the hooey that any HH customers are a "possible" for HQ publication.
— sign me, pi$$ed off at your short-sighted greed.
PS: You suck dirt and your mom dresses you funny.
Pretty cool. Awesome idea!
Victoria, this is being discussed all over the writerly internet: it might be the future of publishing but that doesn't make it right. And despite Harlequin's presentation of it as a self-publishing scheme, it reeks of vanity publishing to me.
(I blogged about it this morning, so beat you; but admit that your post is far better than mine. As usual.)
You don't consider this imprint a vanity publisher?