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23 November 2009 @ 08:10 pm
first e-books, now vanity publishing  

Last week (the week before? very recently, anyway), Harlequin Books–the parent company which publishes my Walker Papers novels–decided to try to take a chunk out of Ellora’s Cave profits and open Carina Press, an e-book-only press for…well. Smut*.

This past week, Harlequin has decided to jump on the vanity press wagon. They’ll edit and publish your book for the bargain price of something like $6K, and then they’ll take 50% of the royalties on a book that’ll never go into the bookstores. I could rant, but author Jackie Kessler does it so well I’ll just link to her, and then follows up with Harlequin’s response after the Romance Writers of America said, “Sorry, we can no longer consider Harlequin a legitimate publisher,” and the Science Fiction Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America echoed them. Anyway, it’s a big mess and I’m absolutely agog that somebody thought it was a good idea**.

*Don’t get me wrong. Smut sells fantastically in e-book form. I’m in no way slamming it. If I were going to write erotica I’d almost certainly look at Ellora’s Cave as the first market. I’m just sayin’ that’s basically what they’re looking to sell.

**I really can’t actually believe anybody at Harlequin *did* think it was a good idea. Apparently HQN’s parent company needs money, and I can see somebody at *that* level deciding it was a good idea, but holy beans.

(x-posted from the essential kit)
dancinghorse: angryUFOdancinghorse on November 23rd, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
The thing is, you can put your book on lulu or cafepress, get a nice professional package, and in lulu's case if you list them as "publisher" they will put you on amazon and Ingram. You pay nothing but the printing cost of one "proof" copy that you need to check so you're sure the book looks the way you want (which will cost you, for the most part, $10-20 including shipping). You then get a percentage of sales off the site and amazon, which is similar to what a publisher does. And if you pay for your own copies, you pay printing and shipping costs only, and you can sell them for any price you want.

That's self-publishing. Sure, you can pay them for various services, but the costs are in the order of $75 for a listing on additional sites besides amazon, a couple of hundred for cover design or interior design, and so on. Except for the listing service, most of these things you can do on your own with basic photoshop skills and a PDF converter.

Seriously, if you just want to see your book in print, lulu or cafepress or Kinko's will do it for you for 'way, 'way, 'way less than Harlequin is asking. And get it out to more readers, too.

Harlequin is charging authors what it would pay them if they were accepted for its legitimate lines, then taking a cut of any sales above that. It's pure scam, and utterly evil, because it turns the whole process inside out.