Harlequin: Doing More to Damage the Cause than Puffypaint Sweaters

Jane of Dear Author has skewered the latest attempt at marketing by Harlequin.

Hahahahaha. Also: OW. I haven’t read the report in its entirety yet, but the few bits I’ve skimmed through have had my brain cells weeping for mercy.


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  1. 1
    Nikki Watson says:

    I wonder, is it only because of how widely known they are that they think they can get away with saying this? Because of all the people I talk to, I gather the impression is that Harlequin novels are about the trashiest novels you can buy for the genre. And I don’t mean that in the good way.

    Perhaps this is them trying to add to that image.

  2. 2
    L. Francesca says:

    I guess that explains why they come out with one once a year.

  3. 3

    >>the “new romantic male” (who tattoos his fingers)< <

    Huh?  Did I miss this somewhere?  Instead of roses we now get tattooed fingers?  Like prison tats?

    If you’re going for the romantic gesture, I’d rather have Godiva.

    And as far as the Harlequin report goes, I think Jane’s headline on the article says it all.

  4. 4
    bettie says:

    Harlequin’s Coolest Women – Sheryl Crow…Harlequin’s Coolest Men – George Clooney

    Dear Harlequin,

    Tying your brand to Sheryl Crow and George Clooney doesn’t mean you’re cool, it means you’re old.  Instead of desperate, doomed attempts to appear “young” and “with it” you should embrace your camp factor!  If Camp can make Tammy-Faye hip, it can sure as hell work for you.

    So bring on the wealthy alpha executive-playboys and the chaste librarians who love them. Next year I’ll be watching for lists like: Harlequin’s Coolest Billionaire, non-Muslim, half-Italian, Bedouin Sheiks; Harlequin’s Coolest Virgin Mistresses; and Harlequin’s Coolest Secret Babies.

  5. 5
    Bonnie says:

    After a quick glance thru the brochure, it reminded me of the literature you see at the doctors office, yanno, the ones for sexual dysfunction or how not to spread STDs or menopause … Or a pull-out from some special edition Cosmo on how to give your relationship that extra zing. Huh.

    However, it *did* include that picture of Bono. Not a bad thing … ;p

    But NONE of which would make me want to go out and buy a Harlequin novel. And wasn’t that the whole point???

  6. 6
    Lindsay says:

    I found the report a bit unoriginal from the start. “The Romance Revolution” is the title of a 1987 scholarly work by Carol Thurston and let me tell you, that book is a far, far better example of research than this little pamphlet. Through content analysis, close-text reading, and other methods, she provides real evidence of a dramatic change within romance; the Harlequin report talks a lot about change, but I see no strong evidence that correlates with this conclusion.
    Not to mention a very loose use of the term “deconstruction.” I realize some scholarly terms take on an everyday use and I’m fine with that. But preachy little scenarios about good behavior in a relationship is about as far from deconstruction as you can get. It sounds like a high school freshman who wanted to sound really smart in his or her term paper and abused the Microsoft Word thesaurus.
    It’s just to obvious that they are trying to sell more books (and did a rather poor job of it). They made a real effort to make themselves sound like some women’s magazine with advice on how to best live your life. I’m just not sure why they think I will listen to them.

  7. 7
    Sandra D says:

    Hot: dating exclusively
    Not: going steady
    There’s a difference?

    I took one look at the coolest woman list and saw Diane Keaton and my first thought was how old were the people they interviewed?

  8. 8
    AnimeJune says:

    I know – romances are there for romantic fantasy and entertainment. They are NOT self-help books for lonelyhearts. Just because I read Lilith Saintcrow’s “Working for the Devil” does NOT mean I am lonely and looking for either a)a hot demon with sexy wings or b)a former ex-boyfriend with shifty Mob connections, in order to get my social-misfit-virgin freak on.

    The professor of my Pop Lit class suggested that the reason Romance is one of the most scorned genres is because it’s pretty much the ONLY genre that is written, published, and read almost exclusively by women – and is an industry that is run by and caters to women.  Mystery, Adventure, and Sci-Fi have lots of male influence (and were for the most part pioneered by male writers), so they’re given more intellectual credibility. Puh-leeze.

  9. 9
    Nanna says:

    “Americans seem to always be on their PDA’s and cell phones, hard at work wherever they are. Or are they?

    Someone was definitely channeling Rita Skeeter (from Harry Potter) when they wrote this!

    Oh, the prejudice!

  10. 10
    Jeri says:

    That cover pic of Frost-Tipped Tat Man Praying for Tru Luff is worth a thousand words of snark.  His sheer Emo overload would scare the scarves off the blandly hot middle-aged chicks in the convertible on page 3.  Bank accounts brimming with freshly deposited alimony checks, they’d chat him up in a honky-tonk, fancying themselves a New Millennium Thelma & Louise.  Tat Man (whose real name is Thurmond but he goes by “Prince of Tears”) would just want to talk about his pain and how God has abandoned him.  He’d invite them back to his place to drink absinthe and listen to old A.F.I. CDs (the ones before they sold out).  Hesitant but still game for a dark adventure, they’d go along, only to find out he lives in a trailer with his 400-pound great aunt Ronalda and her basketball-sized Chihuahua (General Lee), neither of which have left the couch in five years.

    So who’ll be first up against the wall when this revolution comes?

  11. 11
    Miri says:

    The only people on the “coolest” list that I did’nt laugh about were Hugh Laurie and Sandra Oh.

    The whole list is like a pop culture default queue…They do know that there are better names to list even within the acting and recording professions.  Had this list had some one ANYONE from outside those two professions I might pick up a harlequin novel when I go to the bookstore.. but alas they did’nt so…I won’t But I will pick their list apart…

    I know i’m Supposed to like Sheryl Crow but I just can’t do it. She lost what little cred she had with me by showing up to fashon shows with Madonna and Chelsea Clinton.

    Demi Moore: “Older men with younger women is so three years ago…” (when has that not been in fashion?)… “hanging Demi in the Louvre”… “We bow down before you, Demi!”….
    (think I just threw up a little)

    Pink? Are you kidding? When she can stop the love me or i’m gonna cut you act then I’ll be back.

    On to the guys:
    George Clooney? Meh…the default hunk (yawn) He reminds me of someone who would hang out with my dad.

    Matt Damon: Ok I like Matt, but again, surely there is another actor out there who embodies the from blue collor roots good guy does good. (To safe a choice)

    Jonny Depp: Another default hunk. I love Capt. Jack! but Jonny Depp? Sorry he’s just to… greasy! Bring in the another moody/broody can’t quite sprout a mustache even though he’s 43.  And this time don’t make him an actor.That would be “cool”

    A Rod! : I can’t believe it’s not buttah! Or an actor!

    It’s pretty clear the demographic they are shooting for. I’ve got a great idea! Put coupons for Cloesterol, Cialis and Olive Garden in the back flap?

  12. 12
    Poohba says:

    I’m confused.  What did that have to do with books?

    If you’re a publishing company shouldn’t your marketing material try to push those instead of reminding readers of a third-rate women’s magazine?  (“Hot or Not?”/“Take This Quiz”… et al.)

    BTW, Harlequin, I’m a Tiger’s fan.  A-Rod never belongs on my top 10 list.

  13. 13
    Candy says:

    Jeri: your snark has made my day. Oh lordy, I can’t stop laughing.

    You know deep down, he loooooves Justin Timberlake, but can’t quite make himself admit to it. Every time “Sexyback” comes on, he surreptitiously taps his foot.

  14. 14
    dl says:

    Harlequin is for the geritol generation…and these articles prove it.  Do romance publishers have any CLUE as to their demographics?  No wonder some of the new and e-publishers are doing so well.

    Tat boy is just creepy, and Blood Son deserves a cover snark.

    yeah, who did they survey?  Their list is mostly old has beens…A-Rod is pudgy (wasn’t a fan even when he played for us), only Capt. Jack is a hottie and he’s fictional.

    Clueless at Harelequin.  Like Wal-mart…it’s where you shop for dog food and cleaning supplies, not something really cute to wear on a hot date.

  15. 15
    Jeri says:

    BTW, Harlequin, I’m a Tiger’s fan.  A-Rod never belongs on my top 10 list.

    A-Rod seems about the least cool pro athlete in the country at this point.  A gajillion dollars a year and he never delivers in the post-season (not that I’m complaining—I hate the Yankees).  Bill Buckner is cooler than A-Rod right now.  I would’ve gone with Peyton Manning, or maybe Tony Romo if the report went to press before the botched FG hold of the Seattle game.

    Avert your eyes from the “Sights and Sounds of the Revolution” page.  If Phil Collins is part of a revolution, then hand me my jackboots—I’m joining the counterinsurgency.

  16. 16
    Rosemary says:

    DAMN IT.  Damn damn damn damn damn.

    I want everyone to stay away from the tattooed ex-cons of the world because they’re all mine, you hear.  MINE.

    But seriously.  When did the old ladies (that Harlequin is apparantly marketing towards) start to appreciate the knuckle tat?  Cause it’s my understanding that tattoos are unattractive to most of the ladies of that generation.  Particularly the full sleeves that dude was sporting.

    And what’s REALLY funny is that I met a guy a couple of weeks ago that has “love” and “lust” tattooed on his knuckles.  He didn’t have the frosted hair, though.

  17. 17
    Charlene says:

    Jeri, how about Bucky Dent?

    The tattoo may not appeal to the conservative women living in the midwestern and southern United States who seem to be Harlequin’s only target market, but it will appeal to the DJs and other entertainment types Harlequin is trying to attract with this little piece of viral marketing.

  18. 18
    Jeri says:

    If only they hadn’t Photoshop’d out the word “HATE” on Tat Man’s other hand.  That would have been the edge they were looking for.

  19. 19
    Candy says:

    Or maybe if he’d had “JERRY” on one hand, and “HELLO” on the other.

    …that would actually be pretty funny. Creepy. But funny.

  20. 20
    Jeri says:

    Or maybe if he’d had “JERRY” on one hand, and “HELLO” on the other.

    In a Post-Revolutionary World…

    Newman. Is. Romance.

  21. 21
    Candy says:

    Look, if Phil Collins’ reinterpretation of “Groovy Kind of Love” is considered revolutionary…anything is possible.


    The ones who die first will be the lucky ones.

  22. 22
    Miriellie says:

    I just started skimming through the report and started to sporfle at the Myth Busting – I happen to like the MythBusters show.  And I don’t even get the first one.

    Fact: Men and women agree to disagree: the vast majority of all men (87%) and women (87%) agree that men and women have different expectations of what romance should be.

    So, do men and women actually have different expectations or do they just think that they do?

    As for tat man, he reminds me of Mark McGrath, who also once used to be cool.

    And on a different note: Candy, what do you mean that Phil Collins has a reinterpretation of ‘Groovy Kind of Love’?  I fear for my childhood.

    should16 – fitting

  23. 23
    Candy says:

    Miriellie: Hmmm, from context, I find it hard to tell whether you thought “Groovy Kind of Love” was written and performed by Phil Collins originally (it’s not, it’s a song from the 60s), or whether you don’t know Phil Collins has covered it, joining the *koff* venerable *koff* ranks of performers such as Sonny and Cher.

  24. 24
    --E says:

    Hey, I like Phil Collins’s cover of GKOL!

    Though yeah, not revolutionary. And clearly PC’s first step on the path to Disney Soundtrack land.

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