Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On The Horizon

Yesterday the romance publishing world (or at least my little tweet corner of it) went into a bit of a tailspin with the announcement of Harlequin going into the self-publishing business with the launch of Harlequin Horizons (see site here). There were arguments a plenty and plenty more over if this was a good decision for Harlequin and if self publishing is a respected option at all for writers (Check out Smart Bitches post and comments here). Interesting on both sides but the initial anger is upsetting to me.

Now I’m not going to give an opinion, ok I’ll give something (I can’t resist). I’d like to be traditionally published. It’s a dream of mine. I’d love to be published by a house like Harlequin or Avon or Berkley I could go on and on here and I’m not ready to give up on that dream (some dark days maybe) despite many years of work, numerous manuscripts and countless rejections.

But let's play What If for a moment here. What if you’ve been this close for so long and the playing field keeps getting smaller and smaller? Or what if what you write doesn’t fit into any box that said dream publisher is looking for? Or what if they already have your box ticked off? Maybe the slot is already filled for that African America romance or interracial romance or they don’t publish any of what you write. Then what? Do you keep submitting? Change what you write or take a chance on self publishing to get your work out there? Notice I’m not saying have fame or fortune here.

Now I know the argument of the good stories will someday get published and it’s just a matter of time. Or the one about the reason that most manuscripts get rejected is because they are not up to snuff and I do think that’s true for the most part. But I also think there are those few gems that may never get a chance because they don’t fit into any open box on that special given day when the stars align for subjective publishing dreams to come true.

Honestly, I don't know my final thoughts on this. It makes my dreamy writer head spin but all that said. Here is my question for you:

Do you have an opinion on self/vanity published fiction books? Have you read any lately?

Please all you non-writers speak up. I want to hear from you too.


P.S. Update please go to Smart Bitches blog to read comment from Harlequin's Malle on the subject here. I do think there are many sides to a story and breathing through is key.


Keri Stevens said...

I've bought three self-published books. In all three cases,I bought because my friend/relative hand-sold me their book and I couldn't/wouldn't say "No." The publisher/brand was irrelevant.

Harlequin's going to make and not lose money on this deal. Authors in the brand will be fine as a whole. Whether individual authors feel that their cachet as a Harlequin author is diluted, I don't know, but my buying Cousin Lula's memoir about the dog that got run over (and led her to Officer Charming) won't stop me from picking up Patricia McLinn's latest--or yours either.

Paula said...

I think my biggest concern about major publishing getting into the self-pub biz should I put this? The thought of them having a monopoly on what was considered an alternative worries me.

Unless they are doing it in a way where they're truly monitoring quality vs. just using it as another revenue stream - I'd rather they keep their focus on finding good books to publish traditionally.

I chose the tradtioinal route because I write YA. And the amount of resources (financial and otherwise) it would take to sell the books out of my car and via the internet didn't feel worth it. Not to mention internet sales are tough since teens don't have credit cards.

Still, I think it should remain a viable option.

I'll admit I'm very cautious about the self-published books I read. And unfortunately I haven't had much luck when I read one. There always seem to be glaring quality issue.

Ina in Alaska said...

I have bought a couple of self-published works. In Alaska there are some authors that do interesting works based on our unique life up here (not talking about Going Rogue here.. eesh...) One very interesting self-published book, written by one of my tennis friends (a retired MD, in her 80s now and an Alaskan pioneer) is about Cap Lathrop, who built a glorious art deco theatre (4th Avenue Theatre) in the 1940s. This book was so very interesting. The 4th Avenue Theatre still stands (it is down the street from our law office) and is a local treasure but is in trouble...has been bought by a San Francisco couple who may turn it into a Hard Rock Cafe (or similar). The interior is just spectacular and would be a shame to see it go.... you can Google it... 4th Avenue Theatre....

I wish all of you in this area success in this new economic climate. Businesses are seeming to search for new ways to stay afloat any way they can. xoxo

A Day That is Dessert said...

I've never bought a self-published book - not opposed to it, just haven't, for whatever reason. It's an interesting idea.

I wish you success with your writing, whatever happens in the publishing world.

Netti said...

I have bought self-pubbed books... most are people that I know from a social networking site, or one of my local Authors. Our store also carries some self-pubbed titles to help promote some of our local Authors... having said that, I disagree with what HQN is doing. *shrug* and understand why the Authors are in an uproar.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

My brother self-published a memoir. Basically, he's not David Sedaris (though I'd like to respectfully disagree ;-) so he knew the possibilities of mass publication were slim. He wrote a series of short stories over several I think it was a matter of he had the content, so why not (vs. intentionally writing to self-publish...that was really an afterthought to him).

Basically, I guess I think it gives authors -- particularly those with niche audiences -- an opportunity to get their work to print that they otherwise would not have. Also, given the blogging and social media networking, there is more opportunity to self-promote than ever before which could make it win-win (assuming self-published means the author stands to get more $$ off the sale).

Jeez...could I have a longer comment?


Joyce said...

I haven't purchased a self-help book. The last book I did purchase was Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet" only because I'm making the transition to not eating meat.
Kwana I look forward to the day you complete your book. I will continue to believe the day will come, no matter what puplishing company is around. xoxo

Ondo Lady said...

Call me a snob if you like but I regard a published author as someone who has had their book published by a professional publisher. Anyone can self publish and therefore anyone does so out goes the quality control. Yeah I know that there are some crap books out there that are getting some serious love from big publishers but we don't all get it right. At least with book publishing we all know that there is a long process that has to be adhered before a book hits the shelf.

Mizwrite said...

I agree with Paula. I think the publishing industry is going through a huge shift toward more "people-powered" reading (in newspapers as well as book pubbing) -- which gives writers more power, really. And it gives readers the ability to choose what they like, rather than what's handed to them.

But, like Paula, I worry that major publishers moving into this realm just means taking that power back again.

Kwana said...

Thanks so much for all your comments on this today. Much appreciated.

Kristin said...

I don't have a problem with self-publishing per se. If someone chooses to go that route - and they are well aware of the pitfalls - then that is their right. I do have a problem with HQ directly marketing this program to aspiring romance authors. HQ is (or was who know if they changed their mind) going to include information about Horizons in its rejection letters! So they're saying 'you're book isn't good enought for us to pay you for it, but we'll gladly let you pay us to print it (though not distribute it) and then we'll take 50% of your net profits. Then they dangle the carrot saying they will be "monitoring" the Horizon sales and might (MIGHT) discover that the book they previously rejected is actually good enough to publish after all.' It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Liek preying on the dreams of people who might not know enough to know that you DESERVE be paid for your work, not the other way away around.

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