Today, WestBow Press, the vanity publishing partnership (or "strategic self-publishing alliance") of Christian publisher Thomas Nelson and mega-vanity-press Author Solutions, has announced its first book. (Actually, it was published over a month ago.)
The book is Mustardseed Thoughts, by Ron Edmondson -- a pastor from Tennessee.
Edmondson said, “I am delighted, after years of writing online devotionals, to finally see some of them in print. My online readership has been patient with me about doing this, but the timing was right with WestBow Press. Their affiliation with Thomas Nelson and the positive reputation that brings assures readers a quality print that will hopefully be used for God’s glory for years to come.”
It's likely that Edmondson's book was rejected for a standard royalty-paying contract from Thomas Nelson, and he was directed to WestBow to pay to be published. With WestBow books, Thomas Nelson has no risk, and has guaranteed income even if no books are ever sold.
Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt said, “I first met Ron through his blog. I became a fan immediately.”
Apparently Hyatt is not enough of a fan to offer an advance and royalties, and printing without payment.
The 376-page paperback is priced at (gulp) $24.95. The hardcover version is priced at (BIG GULP) $39.95.
At those absurd prices, there will be plenty of money for the publishing partners (if any copies are sold).
Unfortunately, the book prices are so high that it's likely that few books will be sold and there's a good chance that Edmondson will lose the $999 to $6,499 he paid to publish. Of course, the publishing partners don't care if no books are sold, because they got their money from Edmondson before they did any work. WestBow and Author Solutions make most of their money by selling services to writers -- not by selling books to readers.
Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss said the release of WestBow’s first title marks a landmark day for the publishing industry. Yeah, just like the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and 9/11/01.
Note to Kevin and Michael: It's not necessary to print the word "By" and put a colon before the author's name on the front cover. A real publisher should know this. Also, the front cover of the book spells "Mustardseed" as one word. The WestBow website and the press release and the information on Amazon.com show it as two words. The back cover of the book spells it both ways.
There's more sloppiness inside the book.
- The first page of text addresses "you, the reader." Who could "you" be, except the reader?
- Lower down on the same page is: "if you are already Christians" -- strangely slipping from addressing a single reader into the plural form.
- Another page refers to a "gospel track." It should be "tract." A pastor should not have made the error and an editor should have fixed the error.
- There's also sloppy justification.
- And this strange construction: "Being an older home when I bought it and having been previously owned by an elderly widow, I have plenty of...." That's an interesting reincarnation -- the pastor used to be a house! Maybe this book could lead to a sequel to "My Mother the Car."
Well, maybe not all of the details.
What a bunch of idiots!
Sadly, the author's expectation of "the positive reputation that...assures readers a quality print" is not justified.
For its important debut, Westbow has clearly demonstrated what's wrong with vanity-published books. I hope that the book's inept production will serve as a warning to potential victims of both WestBow and the Author Solutions brands.