Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Harlequin Horizons Provides Self-Publishing Option

Yesterday, Harlequin announced yet another publishing venture – a self-publishing arm of their company called Harlequin Horizons. Just two weeks ago Harlequin announced their launch of a digital-only press called Carina Press.

Each of these new venues comes on the heels of some tough times for book publishers in this current economy. Many of the larger publishers have skinnied down their author lists, re-thought their lines and imprints, and cut some of their editorial staff. In the meantime, Harlequin has enjoyed a steady increase in sales.

This latest announcement embeds Harlequin into three of today’s publishing business models – print publishing, digital publishing, and self-publishing.

Print publishing has been Harlequin’s mainstay since the company’s inception. Print plus digital options were offered via their website several years ago.

With Carina Press’ development, Harlequin moved into a publishing model that planted its roots approximately ten years ago, when small electronic presses began experimenting with digital publishing. This alternative way of publishing has now become a viable option for many authors.

Self-publishing, a model that has been around for years, is coming into its own. Options exist for authors to buy a package to publish their books; Harlequin Horizons falls into that category. Other self-publishing options offer cost effective ways of self-publishing with little money put upfront. Amazon’s CreateSpace is an example. The latter is largely due to the creation of a publishing method called POD or print-on-demand. With POD, publishers need not be concerned with a warehouse full of books, large print runs, and costly overhead. Books are published when they are ordered.

Self-publishing has carried somewhat of a stigma.. Many would say if you chose self-publishing, you weren’t really published. In this age of technology, however, the tables have turned. Self-publishing can and is a viable option for many.

Harlequin Horizons, a joint venture with Author Solutions, is targeted toward the romance and women’s fiction genres, and offers pay-for-service packages. A team of professionals assist the author in putting together a book package for a fee. Harlequin Horizons will be an imprint of Harlequin.

Whether an author chooses traditional print publishing, a digital publishing press, or self-publishing, is totally up to the author. The author knows where they are in their career, how they want to move their career forward, and what steps to take to do so. It would be unwise to omit exploring all of the options.

The future is here and it’s fast shifting. As much as this shift is changing the landscape for publishers, it is changing for authors. I predict that the focus for many authors will move from writing and acquiring a publisher, to writing, choosing a publishing option, and selling the book – with a large emphasis on the latter. No longer is the question, “will someone publish my book?” but now, “how will I publish the best book possible and how will I market it to sell?”

Why marketing? Because with more publishing options comes more books hitting the shelves (virtual and otherwise). When there are more books for readers to choose from, a book (or author) has to stand out in order to be bought. Writing the book is only half the battle. Marketing can make a difference it the book’s success.

Part II – Book Marketing in the Digital Age

Coming Soon!

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