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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Harlequin, RMA, SFWA and MWA Have Love Spat

A few days ago, I ran a tongue-in-cheek post about Harlequin's deal with Author Solutions to produce a self-publishing romance imprint called Harlequin Horizons. Publishers Weekly now reports that Romance Writers of America rebuked Harlequin for this move and threatened a sanction affecting Harlequin's ability to enter their publications in RWA's award competitions. What RWA finds agregious, apparently, is that the similarity of the imprint's name to their pro imprints would likely confuse consumers about professionally written and self-published stories.

In Publishers Weekly's follow-up article, Mystery Writers of America and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America also weighed in, with the MWA threatening to bar Harlequin writers from membership and awards and the SFWA warning that the self-publishing authors should be made aware that:

"...books in the program will not be distributed into brick-and-mortar bookstores ensuring 'that the titles will not be breaking into the real fiction market.'”

The SFWA also threatened to bar Harlequin writers from membership.

Harlequin could not ignore these huge threats to their own prestige and to their stable of authors and renamed the imprint, DellArte Press. SFWA argued that a name change was insufficient and that Harlequin should completely disassociate itself from the self-publishing program.

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