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  1. Twiharder
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    Twiharder Member

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    Is e-publishing impressive?

    Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by Twiharder, Dec 11, 2012.

    I have just today received an offer from Harlequin's digital publishing line. But I don't know if I think that is worth taking. I have tried to find information if agents think e-publishing as legitimate publishing credits, but I just can't find a straight answer. Harlequin is obviously well known, but is does a publishing credit with an e-first imprint something worth taking?
     
  2. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    If you plan to write more than one book, then yes, take it.
     
  3. turnermate
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    turnermate New Member

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    Well it gives you a step into their publishing domain, who says you won't be able to transfer into their print publishing line?

    Good luck!
     
  4. Twiharder
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    Twiharder Member

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    They said that its digital first with print being "possible" but I don't know what that means. 40% royalties on net. small advance. But have you ever seen an agent say they see epublishing credits the same way they see print publishing credits? I sent a few nudges to agents that I have an offer from harlequin's digital line, and asking them if they would like to represent the deal and no one has replied. It makes me think they just don't care about it.
     
  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Why worry about an agent if you have a publisher?
     
  6. Twiharder
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    Twiharder Member

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    My goal is to get an agent. I hope to turn writing into a career and everything I've read and other writers I've talked to all say that you need an agent. I can't help but wonder if my writing isn't quite good enough since I can't get an agent to take me on yet. That's another reason I'm hesitating on the publishing front. Is epublishing just lower standards? I hate to think that, but it's in the back of my mind. I was rejected by many print publishers.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Epublishing is just a format. If you've looked at other ebooks put out by Harlequin's imprint and like they way they've been edited, etc, and you can come to agreement with the contract (you don't have to just sign or walk away, you know), then there's no reason not to go that route. Just make sure you carefully read that contract and understand the terms and their consequences.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    was that 'offer' in response to a ms you queried them about?... or did it come in 'cold'?

    if the former, it may be worth accepting, if the terms are good enough... as for impressing agents, it might help you in snagging an agent who reps harlequin/silhouette romances, but probably won't help much/any to get an agent, if you want to get anything other than that published...

    if the latter, then it doesn't sound right to me...
     
  9. jid
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    jid Member

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    If you're looking to just to be able to say "I'm a published author," then sure, go for it. In my pessimistic mind, I'd translate "print is possible" to "we'll print it if it somehow gets popular enough, otherwise, keep dreaming." Quick search on HQ also claims that,

    You can throw that paragraph on google and see the full article if you wish. Even if they have changed their questionable policy, I'd be very careful around a company that deems fine such a practice.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The reputation of the publisher is more important than the publishing medium.

    Harlequin is certainly a sizable, well-known publisher. Those may not be the most prestigious publishing credits you can get, because of Harlequin's association with formulaic romance novels, but it's a decent enough starting point.

    I doubt you can expect Harlequin to aggressively promote your novel, and that is a definite drawback. With an e-book, they also don't have as much on the line investment-wise, so theymay be more inclined to promote it half-heartedly and let the chips fall where they may.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which division of Harlequin is it? I remember a substantial controversy a year or three ago about Harlequin adding a vanity publishing arm. (Found it; according to someone's blog post in 2009, it was called Harlequin Horizons.) As a result, Harlequin as a whole was disqualified for consideration for certain awards, though I don't know if they were awards that Harlequin cares about, or not. People here probably know whether that whole controversy went away or if the vanity publishing arm is still around.

    So, e-pubishing by a real publisher strikes me as fine. (Edited to clarify: But I have no expertise, so how it strikes me is not that relevant. :)) But I'd make very, very sure that this isn't effectively vanity publishing.
     
  12. Twiharder
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    Twiharder Member

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    It was in response to a submission. The response took about 8 months to hear back.

    Got clarification from another author. Books do go to print eventually. Timeline is apparently spelled out in contract. But digital release first. I'm not looking for "I'm a published author." I'm looking for a real legitimate publishing credit. I want to be published because I'm good enough.

    I was under the impression that Harlequin was one of the largest publishers in the world. Is it not? I see their books in every bookstore, drug store, costco, walmart etc. They're also frequently on the NYT Bestseller lists. One of the reasons I submitted to them was because I thought they were top shelf. Are you saying they're not? I'm not the most discerning reader, but I have read a great many harlequin novels and never thought they were formulaic. You have me second guessing myself.


    Yes, I believe they still have a self publishing arm. But I believe quite a few of the big publishers have that too. I know harperCollins and Penguin have SP arms. In any case, the offer I have is not from their self publishing arm.

    I just don't know if epublishers in general are have lower standards. I feel like a lot of people I know who couldn't get agents or major publishing deals all managed to find epublishers to take them on. Of course, none of them were with a major publisher's digital imprints, but part of me wonders if even major publishers have lower standards for their digital lines since the cost to produce is so much less since they don't have to print 20,000 copies.

    I was thinking about Harper Voyager, and how they had an open submission period a couple months back. It made me think that maybe they were going to lower the quality of work they accept which was why they let unagented authors submit. I haven't heard if anyone has been picked up by harper voyager, but I am looking forward to seeing the quality that comes out.
     
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Have you yourself looked at the quality of Harlequin ebooks? Perhaps that will answer your questions better than us.

    My guess is they do not think your book is good enough for initial print but has merit, and sales figures from the ebook will determine the value in going physical.
     
  14. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    ePublishing can be just as impressive as print publishing. It just depends on the publisher. You've been offered a contract by Harlequin's digital imprint? Let me start by saying, way to go! Seriously, good job. You should be happy. Harlequin is one of the most well known and respected publishers on the planet. It enjoys steady growth and dedicated readers. There is nothing sub-par about what you've got. As for their history with eBooks, they've sold enough to get some of their titles on the NYT best seller lists (I'm talking about eBooks here. They've gotten countless print books on the NYT bestseller list), and many of their eBook authors have won major awards. They spend serious money editing and designing the books.

    I will have to disagree with some of the posters who suggested that perhaps the press doesn't have faith in your work, and that is why they're offering you a digital contract. I will guess that you submitted to the digital imprints because many of Harlequin's print lines are not open to unagented submissions. So, you shouldn't be surprised that you've been offered a contract for the line you submitted to. Digital lines are, as you noted, not uncommon with major publishers. It's a business move. They offer higher royalties, promote the titles and sell foreign rights, and if the books get popular, they send them to print. There's nothing shifty about that process. You need to think of publishers as businesses. They're in the business to make money. Reducing costs and risk is a good way to maximize earnings. But it's because of that that I'd want an agent on my side.

    If I were you (since you clearly want an agent), I would look up agents who have made deals with Harlequin's digital lines, and send them queries mentioning the offer you have on the table. I think contracting agents who have already dealt with the imprint would be your best bet for securing an agent to represent more of your work.

    Good luck, Twiharder, but honestly, be happy. You have an offer from a major press. Whatever you decide to do, you should be confident in your ability to write well enough to get attention. Lots of authors never get to where you are.
     
  15. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I think that ePublishing is an ideal way for publishers to take a chance on new authors (which can only be good news for both writers and readers). Print publishing is expensive and risky. I think there will be more of this, and I welcome it. If they are helping with publicity, etc I say go for it. There are more and more ebooks in the NYT best seller lists (it is not a second rate media anymore). If it is a hit as an ebook they will print it anyway.

    Well done!
     
  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    ePublishers aren't inherently 'worse' than other publishers. They're a 'branch' of indie publishers - smaller publishers than the Big 5, and often more willing to work with new authors and without agents. So an epublisher imprint of a large publisher should not be automatically considered inferior. Check out Editors and Predators, and/or google the imprint and see what others are saying about it.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...it may be large, but it's not well-respected in the literary world, as pb romance novels are not well thought of other than by their millions of afficionados, who have traditionally been bored housewives who seek only a temporary 'escape' from humdrum lives [that's the common perception, so don't get mad at me for merely repeating it, please]... overall writing quality has generally been substandard compared to mainsteam and genre works by the best writers and the plots formulaic...

    i don't know about frequency of their titles on the nyt bestseller lists, unless there's a category just for 'romance'... i seriously doubt they compete in mainstream and genre fiction...

    as for being formulaic, one need only take a look at the plotting and character guidelines to see how rigid the requirements are that their writers must agree to follow... if this has changed over the years since i checked them out, i'd appreciate being brought up to date...

    the bottom line is that your career as a writer will not be well served by having an e-book put out by harlequin, unless pb and e-book romances are all you ever want to write... as a writing mentor, i would caution mentees to not mention being published by harlequin when querying agents, unless they state in their info that they rep writers of same...

    you should check out the 'harlequin' and 'harlequin enterprises/horizons' 'not recommended' listing on p&e, before going any further...
     
  18. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    Well, you might want to head on over to the NYT bestseller list and check it out (and no, they don't have romance subsection). Harlequin has 12 titles on the best seller list right now. Including one at #16 for eBooks.

    I believe there was a time back in the day when Harlequin had a rep for formulaic fiction. Perhaps some of their lines still do (I don't know, they're a big company with several imprints). But if you go to publishers marketplace you will see that top agents and agencies deal with harlequin all the time. In fact 150 deals have been made between agents and Harlequin in the last 12 months, 17 of which were +6 figure deals.

    ETA: Just wanted to add that I still think writers need representation no matter what press they're dealing with. So I hope you can leverage this offer into a representation agreement, Twiharder.
     
  19. Twiharder
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    Twiharder Member

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    Thanks for the information everyone. Lots to think about. If HQ wasn't very well thought of, would all those agents swhibs123 mentioned deal with them? I am leaning towards accepting the offer, but I want to be excited and with so many mixed opinions, I'm having a hard time getting there. I did see that there is a lawsuit over digital royalties and a lot of HQ authors are not very happy about their pay. But if it's a foot in the door and an experience working with a company that gets their books out there, maybe it's not a bad idea. I tried to look up on that publishers marketplace site so I could see which agents dealt with HQ, but I couldn't see it. I fear I am running out of time to accept or walk away. Do you think they will pull their offer if I ask them if I can have a bit more time to consider their contract? I looked up their rating on predators and editors and it looks like only their self publishing imprint is "not recommended" but neither is Penguin's and Harpercollins'. The other imprints don't say "not recommended."|
     
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It could be an interesting test to see how much they value or want the book. If they really want it they'll be happy to wait, but if they don't really care they'll ditch the offer. May not be worth the risk though.

    This could also be really bad advice.... ;)
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I see it, there's a difference between a publisher's literary reputation and its business reputation. I'm quite sure that Harlequin sells a lot of books and makes a lot of money, but McDonald's also sells a lot of hamburgers and makes a lot of money. It's legally and honestly earned money, so why shouldn't there be agents who help with it?

    But If you're a cook who has ambitions to work at the French Laundry someday, you're probably not going to put your McDonald's experience on your resume, however honest and respectable that work is. I've assumed that if you have ambitions to be a Serious Author someday, you won't point to your Harlequin credits. I may be wrong, but that's my impression.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i did... here's the current listing... there's not a single harlequin on the 'print & e-books' bestsellers list and only a single harlequin on its 'also selling' list, which does not = 'bestselling'...

    'mass market pb' has only 2 out 20 bestsellers from harlequin... and only 3 in the 'also selling' list...

    http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/combined-print-and-e-book-fiction/list.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/mass-market-paperback/list.html
    so, can you please post a link to the list you are getting your info from?

    chicken freak...
    thanks!... you said it for me...
     
  23. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    I had this big long post written, but then I thought, you know what, misconceptions are easy to correct if people care to correct them. So I’m not going to waste my breath if people don’t want to put in a bit of legwork. So instead, I’m just going to address Twiharder.

    Twiharder, you obviously can write. You have an offer from a press that produces top quality stuff. You have done something many writers will never be able to do, and you should be pleased. There are some real objective ways to determine if a press cares about its product and if a press has the ability to get their books in the hands of readers. The most obvious way is to read their books yourself and form your own opinion. But another way is to see how they perform against their peers.

    A two second Google search turns up this article and the points made therein are easily verifiable. Here’s a link:

    http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/278896-1351882923-harlequin-tops-new-york-times-bestseller-list-takes-six-of-top-ten-spots.html

    Since I was under the impression that links were prohibited on this site, it might be removed by a mod. But since mammamaia's links remain, perhaps they're okay after all. That said, if it disappears, just Google how many Harlequin titles have been on the bestseller list in 2012? You'll discover that over 100 Harlequin titles have been bestsellers just this year. HQ has titles consistently in the top 10 spots, and quite often, in the #1 spot.

    Whatever you decide, Twiharder, I wish you good luck. I hope you manage to get an agent to help you negotiate the deal.
     
  24. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was always under the impression that it was up to the person making the statement to prove it, not expect others to do it for them. But maybe I'm mistaken.
     
  25. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    What do you mean? Mammamia said:
    I pointed out that not only do they, they do so extremely well. I proved that by pointing to the NYT bestseller lists, and then again by pointing to the other lists too where they've been on it with over 100 titles just this year.

    She said,

    I pointed out that the top agents deal with harlequin all the time. In fact, I even proved it by showing that 150 deals were made with harlequin in the last 12 months.

    I have proven my points over and over. Mammamia hasn't proven a single point she made. She's only made comments that demonstrate her opinions. Show me an agent blog where they say, don't tell us about deals with harlequin.
     
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