DellArte Press (Harlequin Paid-Publishing) – Reviewed [CLOSED]

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In future months, that is—beyond November 2009—authors who drop by the DellArte Press site will probably be oblivious of the furore which occurred when romance publisher Harlequin decided to sign up with Author Solutions and utilise them to development a paid-publishing services. Harlequin is not the first, nor will they be the last. Author Solutions already provide a partnership association to run Thomas Nelson’s WestBow Press as well as providing similar services for Accent Press.
Straight away the DellArte site strikes a perspective author as being clean, crisp, well presented, and certainly big on words like ‘dreams’ and ‘aspirations’. We should be familiar now with this author solution services speak, after all, DellArte is run by the same company who now own such illustrious author solutions services as Xlibris, Trafford, iUniverse and AuthorHouse. In fact, looking through DellArte Press’ web pages, I’m sure I recognise some of those aspiring authors used in many of the advertising graphics. Seems, Author Solutions may have had a strong hand in the design and presentation of this site—so it makes sense the male and female models are the same!
When Harlequin first launched this self-publishing service (their description), they called it Harlequin Horizons. It was a huge error of PR and marketing management. It left Harlequin open to a backlash that was heavy and swift and publishers’ organisations were quick to let Harlequin know they were trading on the Harlequin brand to mislead authors into thinking they were getting more than they were. Make no mistake, DellArte Press offers nothing more than the average author solution service and Harlequin has no more affiliation with their self-publishing wing than Pepsi has with Coke Cola. Harlequin has suggested they will monitor self-published books which prove successful with a view to acquiring them for their traditional publishing imprints. Take such promises with a pinch of salt and know, at best, DellArte Press titles will have no more than a casual and curious eye of Harlequin editors looking for potential acquisitions.
Harlequin has not entirely dropped the Horizons name. You will find it in one of DellArte Press’ publishing packages ranging from $599 to $1599.

Basic Book Publishing Standard Package $599

Horizons Standard Self-Publishing Package $799 Self-Publishing Aspirations Standard Publishing Package $999 Book Publishing Marketing Plus Standard Package $1,199 Self-publishing Booksellers Standard Package $1,599
Basic Standard Publishing Package More Information Horizons Standard Publishing Package More Information Aspirations Standard Publishing Package More Information Marketing Plus Standard Publishing Package More Information Booksellers Standard Publishing Package More Information
ISBN Assignment
Complimentary Author Copy
Softcover Format
E-Book Format, including Amazon Kindle & Sony Reader
Channel Distribution to 25K Retailers including Amazon.com
Free Paperback Copies 5 5 15 20 25
Author Volume Book Order Discounts
Personal Assistance & Customer Support
Standard Book Interior Layout
Standard Cover Creation
Enhanced Cover Design
Google & Amazon Online Book Search
Editorial Review of Manuscript
Standard Publicity Program
Book Signing Kit
U.S. Copyright Registration
Hardcover with Dust Jacket Format

 

The above packages pretty much follow along the lines of AuthorHouse packages with an editorial review not kicking in until the author parts with $1000 and not sign of a hardback unless the author goes for the top package at $1599.

“The Editorial Review is not a full manuscript edit, nor is it a replacement for the Dellarte Press full range of editorial services. Rather, our trained editors take a portion of your work—typically the first chapter or about 1,700 words—and give you a sample edit. The sample edit is designed to pinpoint areas that need improvement and give you, the author, constructive comments, areas that could be strengthened, and a general overview of your work.”

“Pique the interest of editors across the country with a professionally scripted press release about you and your book. Our writers will create a single-page news release and send it to a list of 100 targeted media outlets based upon your book’s topic. Radio stations, television stations and newspapers are all included in our comprehensive media database. You will also receive a copy of the media recipients for your records.

 

Additionally, should someone from the media request a review copy of your book we will send your press release, a complimentary copy of your book and notify you of this request.”

“In the Enhanced Cover Design package your book’s cover will create a unique cover according to your ideas and industry standards. Instead of relying on templates as used in our Standard Cover, your designer will create an original cover by incorporating your photos, graphics and ideas.”

In short, the editorial means Jack Shit, and is merely an invitation to spend more money on editing services with Author Solutions, and the enhanced cover simply means DellArte Press will use the materials you supply at your effort and expense!
Further services available here.
According to DellArte Press, royalties are 20% on the net price (after discounts to retailers). Here is an example from their site.

“A retailer places an order for your book through Ingram Book Company, a wholesaler.

Ingram, in turn, purchases your book from Dellarte Press at a 48 percent discount (our standard discount to wholesalers). Ingram then resells the book to the retailer.

 

Your royalty on this sale of your softcover book will be calculated as follows:

List Price – 48% Discount = Net Sale x Royalty Rate = Royalty Earned

$15.95 – $7.66 = $8.29 x 20% = $1.66″

Not the worst I have ever seen from an author solutions service, certainly far from the best. Their example suggests a retail price above average for a paperback. This is in line with print on demand technology and the relayed mark-ups from the provider/service.
The most intriguing part of DellArte Press is the fact they are a publisher of romance and women’s fiction, but who is filtering and deciding what goes through the DellArte imprint? It is an interesting point. If this is truly a profit making venture for Harlequin, then it really doesn’t matter what genre passes across their desk. If they want to keep the imprint strictly romance/women’s fiction, then surely some kind of cursory editing will have to be done at least to define the genre of manuscripts submitted for publication. I can’t see Author Solutions pass up the business either way.
OK, how do we call this one? If I was an author and wanted to use an author solutions service – push me, and I think I would go for DellArte Press than say, Xlibris or AuthorHouse. But only because of what I know. Most authors visiting this paid-publishing service in the future will be oblivious to Harlequin, and perhaps, Harlequin will also be oblivious to them. It will be interesting to see how many are fed into DellArte Press through the Harlequin slush pile.
RATING: 0/10
UPDATE, February 2015: DellArte Press Closes for Good.
Authors

4 Comments

  1. Derek said:

    Good post.

    It’s clear that this move by Harlequin continues to leave some lingering concerns in the air, especially given the lack of any statement about their intentions.

    One small factual correction:

    US romance publisher Harlequin

    Although Harlequin has operations in the U.S., it is in fact a Canadian company. Torstar Corporation’s non-voting stock trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (The voting stock is controlled by a handful of individuals who form a “voting trust.”)

    Then you suggest:

    I can’t see Author Solutions pass up the business either way.

    If you want an example of Author Solutions’ not passing up on business, have a look at the example unearthed by the Caustic Cover Critic.

  2. JFBookman said:

    Thanks for that Mick,

    I agree the “intriguing” part is exactly what will be the difference between DellArte and any other AS operations? What will being allied with Harlequin mean in the end?

  3. Mick Rooney said:

    Joel,

    Something we will have to wait and see. Though, this comes as a two prong move for commercial publishers. Deal with the slush pile and maybe also, along the way, bring in some more revenue.

    My lasting thoughts on these commercial/self-publishing ventures is that if the first few dive into the waters – many others will follow. We can argue the debate and the real motivations of commercial publishers. If others follow, then this publishing outlet will, understandably, come under severe scrutiny, and perhaps, for the first time, self-publishing services will come under more strict guidelines, administered by the reputed publishing industry as a whole.

  4. JFBookman said:

    Mick, given that scenario, it’s possible that the traditional publishers, entering the “self-publishing” market en masse, could really take over the market. Perhaps that’s the direction they’ve decided to move in.

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