RWA Has Spoken

You recall the RWA craziness that was going on a few months back with Harlequin, right?  The new self-pub arm that delisted them as an Eligible Publisher?  Well, this is the newest hand-down (via the Hot Sheet) from RWA to its members.  It should come at no surprise:

Taking into account emerging trends in publishing that may offer opportunities to writers, the task force recommended that RWA adopt methods used by other trade shows and conventions and to shift its method of evaluating publishers as a whole to evaluating publishers by divisions, imprints, or lines.

Given the Harlequin Ho-rizons (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) thing, it doesn’t take a crystal ball, a tarot card reading and some tossed chicken bones to know that RWA was going to break down the recognition–excuse me, I meant “Qualifying Market”–criteria by imprint.  They didn’t have much of a choice, considering Harlequin, their star publisher, pulled a Bernie Madoff on them with their new self-publishing venture. 

So what does this mean for publishers?  Well, RWA already speculated on that, too.

Under this revised method, RWA will extend invitations to a wide pool of publishers. Invitees may only represent their non-subsidy/non-vanity publishing programs (imprints, divisions, or lines) at RWA’s conference. Space for spotlights, workshops, and booksignings will be allocated to lines, imprints, or divisions that best meet the requirements for “Qualifying Markets.” This new process of evaluation will likely increase opportunities for small presses and e-presses that previously have been excluded.

I especially like that last part, so I bolded it.  🙂  Anyway, if this is what truly happens, then it’s a good thing.  I could be wrong, but it sounds like RWA is opening their eyes to epublishing.  But on the other hand, it also sounds like RWA is giving Harlequin an excuse to exist in their Qualifying Market schema. 

Can you see where the arguments are going to unfold?  I can.  😈 

First, outsiders are going to say that RWA is filled with a bunch of saps who can’t live without their glorious romance publisher.  Second, other organizations are going to stand their ground until Harlequin dumps Dellaharte, -core, or whatever they’re calling themselves and not give in like the saps.  Third, some epub authors are still going to find beef with this because it took a giant like Harlequin for them to get their proper recognition by RWA.  Fourth, RWA isn’t ripping into Harlequin for referring rejected authors to their vanity press stink locker.

In the end, you can’t please everyone.  It’s a lesson I had learned a long LONG time ago.  You’d think everyone else would, too.  But alas, that’s not the case when the cats bear their claws.  The most you can do is the best you can and hope you won’t crap bricks in the process. 

Personally, I don’t feel one way or another about this because an organization can’t put a value on my writing.  If I didn’t feel that way, I would’ve joined PAN (their published-author network) a while back.  But that’s just me.  Anyway, let’s face it.  Until we really know what “Qualifying Markets” means and entails, it’s too soon to make assumptions and start a heatwave across the blogsphere about this.  Everyone needs to chill. 

What do you think about this latest decree?  If you don’t belong to RWA, then what would you like to get out of a writer’s organization?


17 thoughts on “RWA Has Spoken

  1. I don’t feel one way or another about this because an organization can’t put a value on my writing.

    I agree. As for the latest decree, I’m not concerned about it. It doesn’t affect me. ‘ll probably delete all the emails about it. I’m more concerned about our lousy health care system.

    • I’m more concerned about our lousy health care system.

      I hear you, Edie. While this is “somewhat” important, there are bigger things brewing in the world. Unless publishing comes to a crashing halt and becomes extinct tomorrow, what RWA and Harlequin do really isn’t that big of a deal these days.

  2. Marcia, I have seen a couple of conversation threads from people who have recently been rejected by Harlequin, and none of them received a referral to Dellacourte Press in the rejection. So I think RWA has acheived that, and they forced Harlequin to change the name of their vanity publishing venture. What it comes down to is do you make life hard for quite a few members, when you’ve won the main sticking points? They managed to nix the rejection referrals and the harm of associating the Harlequin name with the vanity publishing arm. Because the bad guy here is not Harlequin itself but its holding company, I think they probably took the fairest road they could – not punishing members published with Harlequin for something they had no control over, but still managing to effect changes in their Harlequin published authors’ best interests. It’s a pragmatic compromise.

    • Good point, Michelle. It was HN’s holding company that pushed this decree. How is RWA going to fight a battle with them when they obviously don’t care about what writers’ organizations think? They’re trying to save their bottom line and what better place to do it than the place that’s making money.

      Punishing the many to make a point that has already been made is done. Now, it’s time for damage control and that’s what this looks like. Not to mention, that’s RWA’s job. They’re an author advocacy group. Now if other organizations want to be hard-nosed about it, then that’s them. If RWA wants to be the softy (and I’m sure that’s what others are thinking), then that’s them. The bottom line is I don’t think a bunch of legit authors who have put in their blood, sweat, and tears, should be punished for something that’s out of their hands. Yes, Dellacorte-arte-whatever sucks, but Mira doesn’t. Neither does Luna or Silhouette Nocturne for that matter. Where’s the fairness for them?

      There comes a point when you have to put authors first. Not published, aspiring or otherwise. I think this is about as close as RWA can get to doing that.

  3. I am not surprised. I actually expected something like this, considering how eerily quiet everything went after this HH deal broke loose. There was just a short burst of rage and indignity aaaaand then morals gave in, the wicked got what they wanted and probably people will burn in hell.

    • the wicked got what they wanted and probably people will burn in hell.

      😆 I love the way you phrased that.

      I don’t know if the wicked necessarily got what they wanted. The big conglomerate got what they wanted, which was a vanity press. Harlequin authors got what they wanted, which was not to be tied up with scandal. RWA got what they wanted, which was not letting their legit authors (and future authors) go down in flames.

      At this point, I’m curious to see what other orgs are going to do. I have a feeling it’ll be a while before they recant their stance. If we’re lucky, perhaps they’ll put in a addendum that says if you’re a part of the vanity press, then walk the other way.

        • That’s just it. According to their “decree”, Della-whatever won’t be part of their Qualifying Market. At least, that’s how I’m interpreting it. Right now, RWA has taken down their publishers listings and are probably in the works to revamp it.

          And if you’re a purist on the matter, then I happily stand with you. 🙂
          Vanity/subsidy and self-publishing ventures should not be accepted as Qualifying Markets. That’s like saying you can buy your way to acceptance. If they want that, then vanity/subsidy and self-authors need to establish their own organization just like e-pubbed writers have. Their is called EPIC.

          • Mhm, yeah. I agree… I shall say just this: can we organize just one lynch mob? Pretty please… I want a good old fashioned witch hunt too. With inquisition and everything.

            Whatever happens, though, I hope that it works itself out for the best.

  4. I’m a little surprised and I’m no RWA member. I don’t do romance even though some friends tried to get me to join. I’m more of a HWA gal myself. Or SFWA. 😀 This will effect those organizations too I’m sure.

    • I’m a little surprised

      I’m not. RWA wants to save their golden child and they don’t want to persecute the legit authors who’ve worked hard getting to where they are. In my mind, this was the best solution, although I would’ve preferred they either stuck it out or forced them to drop Della-whatever. Unfortunately, RWA doesn’t have enough clout to dictate standards in the publishing industry.

      In the mean time, I’m sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out what HWA, SFWA, MWA, and everyone else has to say about this.

  5. I think RWA struck a fair accord with Harlequin. What else could they do? The good news is that it opened up recognition of e-pubs; a win-win.

    Frankly, I’m with Edie. It doesn’t affect me (because I don’t plan on submitting to the romance market), and there are many other things in the bigger picture of life that I’d rather worry about. (Health care, my dog’s illness, will Syracuse continue their winning streak, etc.) 🙂

    • Syracuse is on a winning streak? Wow! 🙂

      It’s definitely a win-win situation that opens the door for many of their authors whether they’re pubbed by NY or not. Not perfect by any means, but it is what it is and I’m okay with that. I would’ve been REALLY upset had they never taken any action at all. Sure, it means more work in terms of going back and identifying qualifying publishers, but at least it shows they care about our interests (traditional pubbed, e-pubbed, etc.) enough to make it happen.

  6. Could be that RWA is taking this opportunity of a shake up to address the e-pub industry while at the same time handling the whole subsidy/vanity question. Two birds with one stone … and all that. Hey, if it helps get e-pubs the recognition they deserve, I’m all for it.

    • Amen, to that! Epubs are here to stay and not all of them are fly-by-night publishers out to make a buck. Some are quality publishers who want the same things that NY wants. One of the great things about this move is that it means Carina Press, which would’ve pushed HN into the Non-subsidy/Non-vanity bracket had it got lost in the mayhem of Dela-whatever, will also be substantiated as a legit publisher. Like we didn’t know it was already. Humph.

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