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Harlequin Self-Publishing Imprint Sparks Controversy

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November 26 – December 3, 2009 Edition Harlequin Self-Publishing Imprint Sparks Controversy

TORONTO (AUTHORLINK NEWS, November 23, 2009)–Harlequin, the world’s leading publisher of romance novels, has raised a firestorm over the launch of its new self-publishing imprint, Harlequin Horizons, in conjunction with Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), the world’s leading self-publisher. Aspiring authors can now pay $599 to have their work published under the imprint.

In its announcement, Harlequin touted the self-publishing venture as “an accessible opportunity for emerging authors to bring themselves to the attention of the reading public.” But the move has caused outrage in the writing community.

The Romance Writers of America said it will bar Harlequin from favored-publisher privileges at next year's national convention, and the Science Fiction Writers of America issued a statement saying that  no titles from any Harlequin imprint would qualify for membership in SFWA. " Mystery Writers of America also indicated it might take similar action, but will give Harlequin a month to answer questions, according to a statement on the SFWA site.  

Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO of Harlequin Enterprises, issued a statement today expressing disappointment that Romance Writers of America first approached is members over the issue rather than "allowing Harlequin to respond or engage in a discussion about it with the RWA board."

In response to the controversy, Ms. Hayes announced that "we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately."

Ms. Hayes said that “It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change. As a leading publisher of women's fiction in a rapidly changing environment, Harlequin's intention is to provide authors access to all publishing opportunities, traditional or otherwise.”