I suppose no one can say writers' organizations have no power! The MWA has offered this statement on Harlequin's self-publishing venture:
"...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."
And Harlequin, according to the "Bookmaking Blog", blinked in the face of the disapprobation of the Romance Writers of America:
"Harlequin boss Donna Hayes said, "It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change. As a leading publisher of women's fiction in a rapidly changing environment, Harlequin's intention is to provide authors access to all publishing opportunities, traditional or otherwise.
Most importantly, however, we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us."
Changing the name. Hmmm. Will they stop referring rejected authors to the vanity press arm of their company?