Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hatin’ on Harlequin

I had a wonderful time signing at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort. I sold a decent amount of books, got to meet lots of people, and had a great time gabbing with author Annie Jones, who was my table mate. The fair was very well organized and the volunteers were fabulous. I was looking forward to getting a peek at Robin Givens, who was also supposed to be signing at the fair that day but she was a no show.

The one negative thing that happened that day was an encounter that I had with a fellow author who was also signing at the book fair. This author was taking a break and walking around to the other tables looking at all the books. When she came to my table, she said hello and asked me how I was doing and if I’d sold many books. We were casually chatting, and she had picked up one of my books, when she suddenly asked me who my publisher was. I told her Harlequin, at which point she promptly replied with undisguised distaste, “Oh, I don’t read those books.” Wondering if she had some kind of an aversion to romance novels, since everyone thinks all Harlequin publishes is romance, I told her it was a mystery novel, to which she replied, “It doesn’t matter. All their books follow the same formula.” She put my book down and left me sitting there with my mouth hanging open in shock.

I have to admit to being a little sheltered as an author. I don’t do a lot of book signings or attend many book fairs or conventions. I’ve encounter some negativity from readers who don’t enjoy mysteries, or only read serious literary fiction, or non-fiction. But, I’ve yet to encounter this kind of a snotty attitude from another author and about my publisher no less. It really pissed me off. I couldn’t believe this woman made assumptions about my books and writing based on who my publisher is. I know that certain genres really get a bad rap, but I had no idea people were turning up their noses at books published by certain companies. I told this story to another Harlequin author and she laughed and said that this is nothing new. She’s been dealing with Harlequin bias for years.

As an author it’s hard enough finding an audience for your work, but discovering that there are people who won’t even give you a chance because they have pre-conceived ideas about your publisher is infuriating, frustrating, and downright depressing. So, my questions for my fellow authors and readers is: What turns you off as a reader? Are there certain genres you refuse to read. Do have a bias against a certain publishers books? Have there been books you won’t touch because of the cover art? Seriously, I’d really like to know.

PS: And just in case you were wondering, I had a fabulous time in Vegas too. I especially loved this place! I highly recommend their buffet.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

Angela, who for the record has never been made to follow any kind of a formula.


Liz said...

Hey Angela!

I would be the first to admit that I do judge a book by its cover (mostly because I avoid gruesome books and usually identify them by the spooky covers). And I judge a book by its publisher, if I know something about them.

I am not a romance reader and THE COMPANY YOU KEEP is definitely the only Harlequin book I have read. But I only knew that Harlequin published romances - and if you hadn't been a featured author in our Summer Mystery Reading Challenge, I wouldn't have known otherwise. But now I do.

I really enjoyed THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (see my review here: http://reviewedbyliz.com/?p=650) and I have been won over. Sometimes you have to make converts one person at a time. I have a new respect for Harlequin for publishing such a great book and a new knowledge of their offerings. I like green eggs and ham! If you get my drift.

I am still working my way through the SMRC authors, but will definitely read your other books in the future and will have a much more open mind when it comes to other Harlequin-published authors.

And I am pleased to report that my local library co-op now has your books in the system. I requested that they buy them months ago and they finally found the funds to do so. I am going to be doing a series of talks on under-appreciated mystery authors in the spring and you are on my list.

Angela Henry said...


Wow! I'm so flattered ; ). Thank you for your kind words and for requesting your library buy my books! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!


Nine to Five Diva said...

Hi Angela,

I hear hate is the sincere form of flattery (well that's not exactly how it goes, but you know what I mean). Personally I think Harlequin is all the more relevant just by adding you and your wonderful books to their roster.

All the best,


patricia sargeant said...

Angela, I'm appalled that you had an experience like that. Not only was it a mean and offensive way to treat a person, it was incredibly small minded.

I've had to become very selective with my reading, simply because my time is so limited. But I'm open to any good book, romance, mystery, fantasy, fiction, non-fiction. It just has to be a good book.

I'm really sorry you had an experience like that.

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