There’s been a lot of outrage over Harlequin’s recent announcement to launch their own self-publishing branch, Harlequin Horizons. (Here, here, and here, to list a few; other links included in these posts.) In short, Harlequin is encouraging rejected authors to pay them to publish their work, instead of Harlequin paying for it.
All the outrage is earned; this is detestable. There’s one other aspect no one I’ve read has picked up on: This will hurt those authors who would have qualified for Harlequin contracts before the new policy. It’s right there in the press release:
“While there is no guarantee that if you publish with Harlequin Horizons you will picked up for traditional publishing, Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through Harlequin Horizons for possible pick-up by its traditional imprints.”
This essentially allows Harlequin to establish its own farm system, at the author’s expense. Never again need they take a chance on a new writer. Make her pay for the privilege of having to publicize and hand sell her own book. Harlequin can then cherry pick the few who are successful and have established a reputation for doing the publisher’s work for them, while pocketing the author’s publication fees from the vanity project.
This is worth watching, as it bodes well for no one.