Monday, August 04, 2014


It is now official. Harlequin is part of the HarperCollins family which is a part of NewsCorp which is owned by Ruper Murdoch and he's rich so he must know what he's doing, right?

At its last statement of earnings, Harlequin reported a decline in revenue, a decline that has been ongoing. So Mr. Murdoch must believe that his company can turn things around and get Harlequin back up there to the top of the romance novel genre.

Maybe all that's needed a good shake-up. The market's face has changed a bit since Harlequin first appeared.

Unlike other publishers, the imprint was open to submissions from authors who followed the precise guidelines. Harlequin was, and still is, very much a specific brand providing a particular product that never varied. Manuscripts of a certain length. Plots of a certain arc. No sex or plenty of sex, depending on which given unit of Harlequin the author was submitting to.

And next to no money for the effort.

While Harlequin was running the show its way, the world of digital publishing evolved and the people who once hoped to write for Harlequin found that they could write for themselves, and with some promotion, sell their own works to the very readers that they would have reached via Harlequin. But without having to give Harlequin a cut.

As a unit of HarperCollins, Harlequin will continue to operate out of Canada but will the staff remain unchanged? Not likely, if NewsCorp is after turning things around and restoring the brand to profitability.

What could attract writers who now do it themselves? Better marketing, perhaps, or a bigger slice of the profits, but it's hard to give more when the corporation is getting less. The self-publishing crowd can offer much lower prices with the middle man cut out of the picture.

For HarperCollins, there is Harlequin's global reach that offers it an expanded opportunity to get HarperCollins books out there. It won't just be Harlequin books getting hyped, but similar titles from the parent company. So does HarperCollins want Harlequin for its distribution network, or for its iconic label?

Both, possibly. Only time will tell.

Hopeful authors will keep an eye on the submission requirements while monitoring the many options available for self-publishing. HarperCollins may find a way to sweeten the deal and attract the authors who don't find it quite so attractive these days when there are so many other suitors available.

No comments: