Saturday, November 21, 2009

RWA Recognition and Harlequin

For several years (it seemed), Billie and I tried to get RWA recognition. When Hearts Across Forever was released, I didn't understand why Oak Tree could not be a recognized publisher.

Yesterday and continuing today, there has been a great stir because the RWA Board has removed Harlequin from the publisher approved list. The turmoil all came about, as I understand it, because Harlequin has decided to open a self-publishing line for authors whose books are turned down by them. The new line, which RWA considers vanity publishing, will not be edited unless the author pays a big amount for that service as well as the cost of publishing the book. On top of all that, they are saying that Harlequin will get 50% from the sales.

For years, Harlequin has been the major player in romance publishing. When I first started writing, Harlequin and Silhouette were the two top companies to which authors aspired. Soon after, Silhouette was bought by Harlequin, making that publisher the romance giant.

That RWA took such a strong stand against what Harlequin decided to do surprised me and a lot of other authors as well. It will be interesting in the world of publishing to see what comes from all of this.

Mary Montague Sikes
Night Watch


WS Gager said...

It will be interesting to see the fall out. I've been a member of RWA for three years and have considered dropping my membership because of their policy on authors must receive advances to be considered published. I believe that model will change and has changed with the advent of e-publishing. I have the same issue with Mystery Writers of America and have the application and check written but haven't yet sent it out. This issue will be a key I believe to whether RWA will survive. RWA has alienated a lot of its members with recent changes to contest qualifications and arduous rules that chapters must follow without returning anything of value to members and chapters. Time will tell and it will be interesting to watch.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

RWA isn't the only one to take a stand, MWA and the Science Fiction organization has too.

It's because they are planning to have writers pay to be published by them even though it's under a different brand--but it's still Harlequin.

BillieJohn said...

Interesting developments...The last time I looked at RWA's requirements, it seemed as though OTP could qualify by documenting sales through the book distributors (wholesalers like Ingram and BT). I recall that Monti and I talked about it, and decided that the prize was not worth the paperwork shuffle.

Maybe I should take another look at many OTP authors are impacted by this?

As for MWA, my understanding is that their big hang up is the POD issue. Supposedly they are excluding any title printed POD. IMHO, they will be forced to change or see their membership erode.

Since OTP doesn't do SFFP (except for paranormal romance) I don't think that one is an issue.

Holli said...

I emailed MWA to ask what their issue is with POD and the reply was a bit of a run around the issue, with the letter ultimately concluding that their criteria works for them. And here I was thinking it was arbitrary.

The funny thing about the whole thing is that keeping out POD writers doesn't offer any guarantee the writers that are allowed in are going to be any good or that writers are going to necessarily be treated any better.

I've read many a book published by large houses that qualify under MWA and truly suck. So as a quality control argument it fails.

I've also heard of authors who didn't get what they were promised in their contracts or who were dissatisfied with the way they were treated by their large publisher, so the argument that the MWA is somehow protecting writers by keeping out POD publishers and consequently POD writers also fails.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

The big houses are also using POD as a means to print their books. The big issue is small presses don't do big print runs--for obvious reasons.

The MWA ruling does affect some mystery cons as far as the author being able to be on a panel. Bouchercon and LCC have both said they are using MWA guidelines and then allowed small press authors to be on panels.

Mayhem in the Midlands doesn't let self-published authors on panels.

Bottom line with all this mess is the whole publishing industry is changing.


Monti said...

Here's a link to a real good summation of the Harlequin mess:


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

On my own blog I've posted Epic's stand about all of this--a tad different than everyone else's.