Friday, November 20, 2009

Mystery Writers of America Vs. Harlequin

Mystery Writers of America is threatening to remove Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, decline future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin, and to declare books published by Harlequin ineligible for the Edgar Awards.

MWA members received this email last night:

"Recently, Harlequin Enterprises launched two new business ventures aimed at aspiring writers, the Harlequin Horizons self-publishing program and the eHarlequin Manuscript Critique service (aka "Learn to Write"), both of which are widely promoted on its website and embedded in the manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints.

"Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is deeply concerned about the troubling conflict-of-interest issues created by these ventures, particularly the potentially misleading way they are marketed to aspiring writers on the Harlequin website.

"It is common for disreputable publishers to try to profit from aspiring writers by steering them to their own for-pay editorial, marketing, and publishing services. The implication is that by paying for those services, the writer is more likely to sell his manuscript to the publisher. Harlequin recommends the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service" in the text of its manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints and include a link to "Harlequin Horizons," its new self-publishing arm, without any indication that these are advertisements.

"That, coupled with the fact that these businesses share the Harlequin name, may mislead writers into believing they can enhance their chances of being published by Harlequin by paying for these services. Offering these services violates long-standing MWA rules for inclusion on our Approved Publishers List.

"On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service," notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list. The steps outlined at that time included removing mention of this for-pay service entirely from its manuscript submission guidelines, clearly identifying any mention of this program as paid advertisement, and, adding prominent disclaimers that this venture was totally unaffiliated with the editorial side of Harlequin, and that paying for this service is not a factor in the consideration of manuscripts. Since that letter went out, Harlequin has launched "Harlequin Horizons," a self-publishing program.

"MWA's November 9 letter asks that Harlequin respond to our concerns and recommendations by December 15. We look forward to receiving their response and working with them to protect the interests of aspiring writers. If MWA and Harlequin are unable to reach an agreement, MWA will take appropriate action which may include removing Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Edgar Awards.

"We are taking this action because we believe it is vitally important to alert our members of unethical and predatory publishing practices that take advantage of their desire to be published. We respect Harlequin and its authors and hope the company will take the appropriate corrective measures.

This e-bulletin was prepared on behalf of MWA's National Board of Directors."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Will TFA Really Reappear?

Tonight at 6:30 PM, The Famous Author is scheduled to end his long seclusion. Lost somewhere in the Chianti wine district of Italy, TFA sent word yesterday that he will in fact show up for the Sisters In Crime, Tri-State Chapter panel discussion on short stories. He says he's looking forward to it.

If you're a SIC member, go see for yourself tonight at the NY Public Library, Muhlenberg Branch, 209 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10012.

Ask TFA for a glass of Tuscan red.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where Am I?

As a fictional character, it's hard to travel without the writer taking you, of course, but the other day, The Famous Author got carried away himself and decided to kidnap me to Europe. More specifically, Florence (Firenze) and Venice (Venezia) with Financial Guru Corkface. Some financial crisis thing, which frankly, I'm sick of talking about. Corkface has been hot on the Big Capitalist Circuit since he accurately predicted the collapse of mortgage-backed securities. I say, who cares? I don't have any money and couldn't spend it if I had it.

Anyway, where the heck am I? Florence or Venice? I snapped this shot out of TFA's zippered computer case.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kidnapped!

After a week-long disappearance, The Famous Author showed up this morning to whisk me away. He says we're off to Italy and the Second Annual World Emergency Financial Conference with Corkface. I'll try to provide updates, maybe get a few hot tips.