The author loops and chat rooms are buzzing with the recent annoucement from the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) about removing Harlequin and all of its imprints from a list of approved publishers effective immediately.
What's the big deal?
Well, here's what Publishers Weekly noted in a recent article:
"By de-listing Harlequin, MWA is barring all Harlequin authors from using their Harlequin books as a basis for active status membership. No Harlequin book will be eligible for Edgar Award consideration, although books published by Harlequin under contracts signed before December 2, 2009 may still be the basis for membership and will still be eligible for Edgar consideration."
The catalyst for all this change was Harlequin dipping its publishing toe in the waters of self-publishing and while changing the name of its self-publishing venture from Harlequin Horizons to DellArte Press appeased most of the concerns of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the MWA hasn't been as flexible.
Again, what's the big deal? Well, I'd like to say you the reader be the judge but that's not how the publishing world operates, especially with regards to distribution. Now, DellArte (and other so called vanity presses) asserts at their website (http://www.dellartepress.com/) that they have access to these distribution channels for those who publish with them but only time will tell how affective this proves to be. There are issues of promotion, built-in readers through their traditional publishing channels based on the Harlequin brand, book signings, return policies and so much more. I hope someone out there who publishes with DellArte Press contacts me and lets me know as I'd love to do a follow-up blog on their experience.
Another issue - and the one I hear the most - is the lack (real or perceived) of editorial oversight in the world of self-publishing, especially with regard to fiction. Most people in the publishing world from those who work in it to the writers themselves believe that having an editorial process provides a layer of quality control that produces a better final product - the book itself.
Again, I'd like to say you the reader be the judge and perhaps that is more attainable than ever before but, again, only time will tell. I do think that the sands are shifting, however, because there are more and more self-published writing contests and even many self-published authors that have gone on to be published by traditional publishers and even have their works made into movies.
So, let me say that you the reader and you the writer be the judge and that this is a topic that I will be watching very carefully. I'd love to hear from everyone out there about their thoughts on this topic. But, above all else, readers keep reading and writers keep writing.