Harlequin’s Dirty Laundry Flapping in the Wind

Today Joe Konrath has a guest blogger, Ann Voss Peterson. She has some fun (as in awful) stories about writing for Harlequin, and why she’s gone indie. The comments are filled with more accounts of pathetic royalties, shady accounting, evil contracts. Passive Guy also picked up the post.

Here’s Ann’s story:

So why can’t I afford to write for them any longer?

Let me share with you the numbers of a book I wrote that was first published in January, 2002, still one of my favorites. My life-to-date statement says this book has sold 179,057 copies so far, and it has earned $20,375.22. (bold text by Joe) That means the average I’ve earned is a whopping 11 cents per copy. If you use the cover price to calculate (the number used in the contract), which was $4.50 at the time of release, I’ve earned an AVERAGE of 2.4 % per copy.


The horror stories shouldn’t be surprising to any romance writer who’s paying attention, especially now that many are self-publishing and speaking out, no longer terrified of being black-listed.

But seeing so many come forward today in such popular (and male/mainstream) publishing-centric blogs will make an impact. If not on the company itself, then on the writers currently under contract and the aspiring newbies.

I’ve never written for Harlequin, but I’ve been a member of RWA since 2007 and their presence there is ginormous. The organization couldn’t exist without it.

Which may be one reason RWA is dragging its feet on the move to digital. Self-published digital.

Big changes, getting bigger. I’m glad to have the chance to write directly for readers.

(Which I’m doing as soon as I finish this post. The Geek Who Loved Me, in which Mark from Love Handles gets his happy, will be available in June!)


Is this what published authors have to look forward to?

So many warning signs that getting published the traditional print route isn’t the holy grail.

Sarah at Smart Bitches is trying to get the word out about the hell some former Dorchester writers are going through. They’ve got their rights back to their books, but online vendors are still selling them anyway, with any profits going to the original publisher or outer space.

Even with a great agent, fans, and the law on their side, these authors are being screwed.

Then you read about Joe Konrath flying solo and smiling, and you really have to wonder why you should be sending out query letters.

Why try to get a seat on a sinking cruise ship when there are an unlimited number of little sail boats floating around and a big breeze picking up?