Harlequin, the legendary romance publisher, has joined forces with Author Solutions, a vanity (self-publishing) press. In response, the Romance Writers of America has declared Harlequin no longer eligible for the benefits RWA provides.
RWA is an excellent writers' organization, devoted to good business practices and promotion of its members' work. This decision is a courageous and responsible one. The ranks of vanity presses have been growing quickly, and these companies absorb a lot of aspiring writers' money, and provide very little in return.
The letter from the Romance Writers of America to its members is reprinted on Making Light. It says, in part: "With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints."
No-advance publishing is not the same as publishing which charges money to the author. Often arrangements are reached between publishers and writers (even some Big Name writers) to publish a book without an advance, in exchange for a high (usually fifty per cent) royalty rate. But paying to have your book published is not being published; it's being printed. Harsh, but true.
It bears repeating: Money goes to the writer, not from the writer.
You can read the whole letter here: http://www.nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/011896.html