Friday, November 20, 2009

A Publishing Rant

Hello, all.

Happy Friday to you.

Today's post is more of a rant than a post, and it also has to do with the small, intimate world of publishing.

I am working on a book right now. It's a Christian romance targeted for Steeple Hill, which is the inspirational imprint of the Harlequin romance line (in a nut shell).

I only have three more chapters to go, and the first draft will be finished. Then the excruciating task of rewriting begins. I know several authors who LOVE this phase of writing (winking at Carla), but I'm not one of them. I want to get it down right the first time, or as close to the best I can do on the first try. Other authors like to get the "bones" down first, and then build from there, add layers and depth, etc.

But I digress.

A few days ago, the huge conglomerate of Harlequin Enterprises (or whatever their official corporate name is) announced that they will be starting two new lines: Carina Press and Harlequin Horizons.

Carina Press will be a digital publisher only. No print books. The story will be available for purchase and can be downloaded to e-readers, computers, iPhones, etc.

Harlequin Horizons (although I've 'heard' they are going to change the name of the line) will be a subsidy publisher. From what I have gathered, this means the author pays to have the book printed, and then they are in charge of selling the book themselves. Now, based on how many books the author is able to sell, the publisher will be keeping track, and MIGHT be interested in contracting that author for future books under a traditional line (the publisher pays you for your work, and not the other way around).

There are self-publishers out there who do this very thing all the time. And there's nothing wrong with it. If someone has a specific type of book for a niche market, say "Rare Birds of Western Oklahoma", and you're a part of a national bird watching group, you go to regional and national events on a regular basis, you have a monthly column in "Bird Watcher Magazine", and do a weekly webcast on "Birds of the Week" radio, then you have a viable market to sell your book. There's a good chance you're going to be able to recoup your expenses printing the book, and even make a profit.

But if you're just writing the novel of your heart, and you don't have a PhD in marketing and PR, you're going to have a VERY hard time selling your own book.

The RWA (Romance Writer's of America) [which I am not a member of and have no affiliation with] is a HUGE organization (10,000 + members) of published and unpublished romance authors. They have strict rules about which publishers are eligible for perks and benefits with their organization, and they essentially called Harlequin out on this new business venture, and the web has been buzzing with the fallout.

I know several authors who are RWA members AND Harlequin authors. What this show-down is going to mean to them concerns me.

The other thing that concerns me is selfish on my part, but . . . oh, well. What is this going to mean for my chances of getting my book published with Steeple Hill (Harlequin's inspirational imprint)?

Well, number one, I have to write an OUTSTANDING book they absolutely love and must contract right away. That's the first step.

But beyond that, I wonder if the move into self-publishing is going to have an impact on the traditional lines.

Steeple Hill is a traditional line. They pay advances and royalties for the books they contract, and I don't think the fallout from the self-publishing line is going to affect them. But it's going to be interesting to see what happens.

So that is the long, but stilted version of what I've been following for the last few days. And since I know none of you are really interested in this kind of stuff, I'll let you get back to the rest of your day.

Have a good weekend and take care.

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