Tag s | rumors

Barbour Sells Heartsong to Harlequin

by Steve Laube

Today Barbour Publishing announced they have sold their Heartsong Presents line of inspirational romances to Harlequin.

For those of us who have been wondering about the eventual buyer, this comes as no surprise. We have known they were being sold since last Fall. In December I spoke with Barbour’s president, Tim Martins, and he confirmed that the sale was in its last stages of negotiation but he could not say who the buyer would be. With their Love Inspired lines of Christian romance, suspense, and historical titles and a strong member subscription base Harlequin is well suited to sustain(?) or absorb(?) the Heartsong line for years to come.

Our agency has nearly thirty authors who are writing or have written for Heartsong in the past. We also have over twenty authors who are writing or have written for Harlequin’s Love Inspired. So, for our clients this is a pretty big deal.

There are some questions raised that have answers, and some that don’t.

1) Barbour filled the pipeline for 2012 with 52 new titles. Their Editorial staff has been contracted to manage, edit, and typeset  those properties during the transition to Harlequin. So for the first half of the year, nothing will change. By then we should know what the new acquisition strategy looks like.

2) We have no answers about the future and how these two lines will merge or evolve. And it is useless to speculate. Joan Marlow Golan who is the head of the Love Inspired team is a very sharp and excellent about communicating changes to us agents. Do not write or ask your Barbour editor on Twitter or Facebook or email to ask questions. They are now a contractor for Harlequin and it wouldn’t be fair to them to ask for “insider information” that they cannot or should not share. Instead this is where you rely on your agent for information.

3) Harlequin’s three Love Inspired lines currently releases 14 new titles per month. (Six romance, four suspense, and four historical.) Heartsong, as noted above does four to five per month (52 per year), or one third the output of Harlequin. Adding the two together, with no changes would mean an increase from 168 titles to 220 per year. We would hope that will be the case, but it may not.

4) Existing contracts will be honored as written. I’ve seen numerous publisher sales before and the past contracts remain in force in every case.

(Update 1/27/2012 at 6:30pm EST)

5) Since Heartsong books were not in the retail market the general public will not see anything different. However, recently the backlist Heartsong titles were targeted to be converted to e-b00ks (about 980 of them). Those will roll out in 2012 and would make a ready addition to the strong ebook sales that Harlequin already enjoys. And those e-books will probably be priced at $4.99 each.

6) As for the 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 collections that combined Heartsong books into one volume, we do not know exactly what will happen with that program. These are not the same as the novella collections already in place. I am talking about books like Kansas Home that combined three Heartsong books into one trade paper which was sold into the retail market.

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A Defense of Traditional Publishing: Part One

 

INTRODUCTION

There has been a plethora of new developments in the publishing industry causing the blogosphere, writers groups, and print media to light up with opinions, reflections, and advice. Some of it has been quite brilliant, other parts, not so much.

I would like to attempt to address the positive elements of traditional (or legacy) publishing as a defense of the latest round of assault.

The source of the overall criticism can be found in the e-book revolution and the invention of print-on-demand (POD) printing. Book Publishing used to be a difficult and expensive proposition but has become a valid do-it-yourself option. Consequently anyone can publish a book, so why be beholden to the major publishers?

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Tell No Secrets

How much should author friends reveal to each other about contracts or other business dealings when they have business with the same publisher?

I think it is a huge mistake to reveal the amount of your advances to other authors. This is similar to finding out the salary of the co-worker in the office cubicle next to yours. When I was a retail store manager we had major problems when salaries were revealed, a near fist-fight between two people who had been friends.

Money is viewed as a measure of worth; i.e. a measure of the worthiness of your work.

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Rumor Control

I was talking with an editor this week who asked me, “How are things going? I hear that your agency is barely making ends meet and that you’ve had to take on other type of work to survive.”

I must admit that I was so startled by this rumor that words nearly failed me.

“Where did you hear that?” I exclaimed.

“Oh it was at a recent writers conference and folks were talking, and your name came up.”

At the risk of sounding defensive, let me set the record straight.

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