First of all, I know there are a few aspiring writers who read this blog. So to you I say, please don’t do this. There are no shortcuts, there are no easy answers, and this isn’t right. This is a travesty. So don’t get sucked in, because I won’t say nice things about your work.

Harlequin has started what is a vanity press for aspiring romance writers. The marketing copy is pretty alluring all right, and the photos of the two pensive young ladies writing their novel by hand (and one is sitting by the ocean!) is a soft-porn idea of what writing is really like. Harlequin is selling the fantasy of being a writer.

So what is a vanity publisher? A vanity publisher makes its money by charging the writer for their book, instead of paying a writer for their book. Writers end up with hundreds of copies of their work and they have to go out and sell them. What ends up happening is that these books end up in the writer’s basement or garage, and the writers are thousands of dollars in the hole.

The fact that Harlequin has jumped on this bandwagon proves that it’s pretty lucrative. But the fact remains, the books that come out of vanity presses are, for the most part, crap. They are written by amateurs who stroke their ego by saying, “I’ve published a book,” without putting the hard work in to learn the craft. So what a Harlequin customer is paying for is a prettily bound, well-made, book of bad writing.

There’s only one law of publishing, and that is: Money flows toward the author.

Don’t pay to be published. Work at your craft, polish your words, do the hard work that comes with respecting what you do enough to not sell it or yourself short. If you’ve got the chops, you’ll get there.


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