Author Jackie Kessler has done an excellent analysis of Harlequin's self-publishing venture…and all the reasons it's deceptive and bad for writers. It's a must-read. She quotes extensively from the Harlequin Horizon's FAQ. This particular excerpt infuriated me:
"1. What is Harlequin Horizons?
Self-publishing is one of a suite of publishing options an aspiring author can choose from these days; with the launch of Carina Press we can provide the flexibility of a digital-only press, and Horizons offers a self-publishing option.
It is a partnership with Author Solutions – they provide the self-publishing services, we provide our brand name and we make authors we have rejected aware of this service."
8. What’s going to happen with the slush Harlequin currently receives?
We will continue to welcome unsolicited manuscripts from aspiring authors.
All standard/form/template rejection letters will include a short note about Harlequin Horizons as a self-publishing option for the aspiring author.
So their editors are referring aspiring authors to their own self-publishing house. This is reprehensible and unethical conduct …exactly the kind of predatory publishing practice that the MWA's rules are designed to discourage.
It doesn't matter what Harlequin ultimately ends up calling their self-publishing program…what matters is how they conduct business. There needs to be a total separation in every way between the editorial side of Harlequin and their for-pay ventures.
They are mistaken if Harlequin thinks that simply changing the name of their self-publishing venture solves the problem.