Sunday, November 22, 2009
Freshly Squeezed Drama, Second Helping
For those not following this modern economics/public relations/social media lesson tweet by tweet or post by post, here is the bare minimum of what took place further to events in Apprentice Writer's previous post.
The Boards of Directors of the romance writers, mystery writers, and science fiction writers groups were unanimous in making pubic their strong and swift rejection of Harlequin's decision to open an arm (variously described as self-publishing and vanity press, depending on the speaker) for writers whose work was not up to Harlequin's regular publication standards.
Some of these organizations implemented immediate consequences regarding future recognition of Harlequin authors, some extended a deadline by which they hoped to hear from Harlequin about steps it might take to modify the new venture.
Harlequin issued a statment in which it expressed surprise at the negative reaction, and subsequently announced its decision to remove the Harlequin name from the venture.
For some blogosphere commentators, this was acceptable.
For others, it was too little, too late, considering two ongoing sore spots: Harlequin's original plan to include a reference to the service in standard rejection letters, and Harlequin's original fee structure for the service which are described without exception as much higher than industry standards. As of this blogpost, Harlquin does not appear to have made further public statements regarding these aspects.
Perhaps further developments will be handled behind closed doors, now that the initial storm has passed. Or perhaps this week will see further steps and counter-steps reported in the media.
Until then, Apprentice Writer passes on the following thoughts, shared by people with a helpfully enhancing point of view:
- According to an author-friend with background in Fortune 500 companies: when a company is working on an innovation, everything is very hush-hush and it simply does not occur that input is invited as this would ruin the scoop. Rather, the company anticipates which groups might have concerns, prepares responses dealing with those concerns, and after it unveils its innovation, expects that those groups will approach them and thereby bring about a discussion to lead to mutual satisfactory solution for both. According to this business practice, Harlequin would have expected writer groups to approach and consult behind closed doors, in theory leading to a happy (or at least, tolerant) faces all around.
But the writer groups didn't play it that way. Whether or not that was a good thing is for each onlooker to decide. Apprentice Writer's highly unscientific survey says opinions seem pretty much fifty-fifty on this.
- According to a friend 'on the inside', it seems many layers of employees at Harlequin had no idea this was in the works. That may include editors, and certainly the company's published authors, of which those tied to the Harlequin Historicals line were arguably the hardest hit since their double H logo could be and was easily confused for the Harlequin Horizon one. Something they could have warned upper management about.
- According to L'esprit d'escalier, the breakdown of fees is worth a very close look. For anyone thinking of making the leap to publication and interested in specific figures of what it can take on the road to get there, this is essential reading. Really, Gentle Reader who is also an Aspiring Writer - go look at this.
- The single item EVERYONE agrees upon:
Holy jaw-dropping numbers, Batman! How did they come up with these figures???
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