Sorry, Virginia, there is no...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Last week a friend of mine on Facebook posted the link to a blog which truly upset me.

Yeah. I’m going to give you the link in a minute. I don’t want to send you running off yet.

This blog tells the cold, harsh truth about what authors for Harlequin really make on each book sold. It was something I know I needed to read, but something I wish I hadn’t. The small royalties that are paid out for books that took months to write are shocking and sad. Of course, now I understand why my friend (and others I know who write for Harlequin) still have a ‘day job’.

The reason it upset me so much is that since I was about thirteen, my dream has been to write for Harlequin. Seriously. So, finding out that they weren’t exactly paying their authors well was a bit like finding out there is no Santa Claus. Now, I’m not dumb (ditzy from time to time, but not dumb). I never imagined that Harlequin authors were rich. I do understand the concept of overhead and costs and seeing as how the books retail for less than $5, I knew there wouldn’t be a huge amount left over for the author. I just had no idea how little there actually was.

So what am I going to do about it? There really is no way to make a difference in royalty rates—especially since I’m not even published yet. I know one person can make a difference and all that, but let’s be honest. I don’t want to be a part of the downfall of something I have worshipped for so long. So what then? Will I stop buying the books? Am I going to stop trying to write for them?

No and no. And here’s why:

First off, I am not a Harlequin hater. I love to read Harlequins and their authors deserve sales. So I will continue to buy the books. As far as my dream to write for them; it has sort of evolved in the past year since I’ve been taking my writing more seriously. I am still writing romance—loads of it aimed at the Harlequin American Romance, Intrigue, and Medical lines—and I still want to be published by them. Being published by them would also give me a bit of validation. I still remember the days when self-published works were met with scorn. But I’m starting to see that Harlequin isn’t my only option.

 I also write magical realism and I desperately want that published, as well, but I plan to do that through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. In recent months, KDP has proven to be the quickest, easiest way to get your story to readers—no romancing agents and praying for a publisher to bite.

At some point in the last year, I decided to try for Harlequin, build a name and reputation, and then release my MR. To some extent, I still have the same basic plan. Reading that post has, however, made me think twice about putting all of my romance into Harlequin’s slush piles. I will have worked very hard on each MS by the time they are ready to be released into the wild and if Harlequin decides they aren’t quite right for their lines, I will not retire them to a trunk. I’m going to polish them up and put them on Kindle. Why not?

OK, I won’t torture you anymore. The link to the ‘Harlequin Fail’ blog post by Ann Voss Peterson on Joe Konrath’s blog:

I’d love to know your thoughts, especially if you have experience either publishing with Harlequin or KDP. Or if you are like me—aspiring and unsure of which path to take. Anyone else sad to see Santa go?


  1. I have always dreamed of writing for Harlequin too. It was disappointing to say the least. To be honest, I would still write for them. Being published by them, even making little money, would build you a good fanbase for if you eventually decide to publish with someone else.

    1. Yeah, I agree. My only concern with going indie is building a fan base. I do not write quickly, so I don't have as much time to network and promote. At this point, though, it seems the fan base is really all they offer. I wonder how much of that is down to author efforts...


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