If you follow many romance industry blogs, you're probably sick to death of hearing about Harlequin Horizons by now. It seems the denizens of Romancelandia have been talking of little else this week.
If you haven't heard, here's a quick primer: Harlequin Enterprises opened a new line called Harlequin Horizons. Unlike their other lines, like Harlequin Presents or Harlequin Blaze, this new line is a pay-to-play vanity publisher - instead of the publisher paying you for the right to publish your work, you are paying them to put it into print (just don't expect it to be stocked in bookstores).
Several aspects of this new enterprise caused a kerfuffle in the writing community. Brand dilution, preying on uneducated aspiring writers to monetize their slush pile, and the misleading verbiage on their sales pitch were all brought up as concerns by writers far and wide. (The thread at Smart Bitches was one epicenter of the discussion if you'd like to see various arguments re: HqHo. They were creeping up on 600 comments when I posted this.)
Romance Writers of America responded by announcing Harlequin was no longer considered an "eligible" publisher according to their definition of such, Mystery Writers of America threatened sanctions & Science Fiction Writers of America jumped into the fray with a statement of their own. Harlequin has now announced that they will be changing the name of Harlequin Horizons (perhaps because there is already a Horizons line in France?) to something less closely tied to their brand.
I'm sure there are still many developments to come and I predict that when everything shakes out, the effect of Horizons will not be as drastic as it originally seemed. Or maybe it'll be more drastic. What do I know?
My question for you is this: if you were a writer interested in publishing with a Harlequin line and you received a rejection letter which included a referral to a Harlequin vanity-publishing company asking you to pay hundreds of dollars to have your book printed, how would you feel? Would you be tempted? Insulted? Would it impact your willingness to submit to Harlequin again in the future? As a writer being targeted by what some are calling predatory business practices, would you feel preyed upon? How do you think Harlequin Horizons will impact Harlequin's reputation in the long run, if at all? Anyone care to speculate?