by Marcia Talley
President, Sisters in Crime
The mission of Sisters in Crime, Inc. is to support the professional advancement of our members, and not to comment on business decisions made by publishers. Nevertheless, the Sisters in Crime board feels obliged to let our membership know how we stand on the recent decision by Harlequin to partner with Author Solutions, a subsidy/vanity press, and to promote these services to aspiring authors via links on its website.
It is our job to educate our members, to make sure that they enter into publishing agreements of whatever kind with their eyes wide open. Harlequin Horizons, by whatever name, is a vanity press, and like all vanity presses, provides editorial, marketing and publishing services to authors for a fee. As such, it relies upon payments and income from aspiring writers to earn profits, rather than sales of books to actual readers.
After researching the market and taking her goals into consideration, a Sisters in Crime member may make an informed decision to self publish, but should also be aware of the consequences.
Presently, self-published writers do not enjoy the same benefits as traditionally published authors in Romance Writers of America (RWA), Mystery Writers of America (MWA) or Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), nor will they qualify for literary awards sponsored by those organizations. More than likely, self-published writers will not be assigned to author panels by conference coordinators. Self-published books are generally not carried in brick and mortar stores.
If those benefits are not a concern, then self-publishing may be the right choice for a writer seeking a creative outlet. If so, there are dozens of subsidy/vanity presses which can provide the same services as Harlequin Horizons, some at considerably less cost.
We urge members to research those companies carefully, comparing services, quality and price before making a decision. Do not assume that because Harlequin Horizons is affiliated with Harlequin that choosing Harlequin Horizons to print your self-published novel will improve your chances of being published by Harlequin's more traditional advance and royalty paying divisions.
Read the official RWA, MWA and SFWA statements here: http://tinyurl.com/yz5n6cb