Friday, January 1, 2010
Thank God! Now there's a genuine Catholic vanity press to lie to its customers.
Today is a holiday, a day off for most people. I hadn't planned to write a blog post today, but when I found this latest bit of outrageous hypocrisy, I could not wait. Happy New Year!
Back in October I complained about "Christian publisher" Thomas Nelson making a deal with the devil to get into the vanity press business by setting up WestBow Press in a joint venture with Author Solutions.
Well, now the Catholics are catching up with the less-orthodox Christians.
On the last day of 2009, a press release was distributed to announce the grand opening of Leonine Publishers. It says:
Leonine is a "hybrid" publisher to get authors published in the Catholic marketplace. If a manuscript passes their Catholic integrity test as faithful to Catholic doctrine and morals, they will publish it using a hybrid of the "self publishing" and traditional Catholic publishing models. [BULLSHIT!]
Author packages start at $399 and include everything needed to get a book published [Editing is an extra-cost option, so apparently it's really not needed.]. Authors can visit [the] Leonine Publishers web site at www.leoninepublishers.com to learn about the self-publishing and hybrid publishing process. The “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the site also explains the important difference between the vanity press (scams) and self publishing (legitimate). [BULLSHIT!]
Leonine Publishers presents a new approach that combines self-publishing [BULLSHIT!] and traditional publishing. The publishing house will not publish everything submitted, but what they do publish is funded by the author. [Therefore Leonine is a vanity publisher.] The company’s Catholic business model [and deceptive business model] and low overhead means they can publish an author’s book for about the same cost as other self-publishing companies. [And produce equally crappy books that no one will buy.]
Unlike the other self-publishing companies [which don't exist], however, the reviewers at Leonine Publishers actually read [as opposed to making believe they read?] the manuscripts they receive. Manuscripts are checked for Catholic orthodoxy [By the Pope, or by a guy who profits by publishing what he approves?]. Once this important step is completed, the publishing house works with authors to get their books produced just the way they want. The publishers have options for editing [Editing should NOT be an option!], marketing, typesetting, and cover design.
Leonine Publishers president, Michael J. Rayes, emphasized the importance of the review for Catholic integrity. [Who appointed him Assistant Pope?] “I strongly believe Catholics shouldn’t just add their works to the confused clamor of everyman literature. We need a publishing company of our own [His own, actually.], with the proper checks in place to ensure authors' works are free from doctrinal or moral error.” [HAH!]
This is where the business gets really interesting. Moral guardian Rayes insists that his author/customers maintain the highest morality, but his personal moral code permits him to lie to those customers and hide vital information.
Just like most other vanity publishers, Leonine falsely claims to be a self-publishing company. Those words just don't make sense. Just as no other person can go to school for you or undergo a tonsillectomy for you, no other person or company can "self-publish" for you. As clear evidence that they DO NOT provide self-publishing, Leonine will not permit you to use your own business name on the books it produces, and Leonine provides an ISBN that identifies it -- not you -- as the publisher.
Strangely, Rayes doesn't seem to have much faith in self-publishing, In a blog interview he said, "The challenging part was in the first year of operation, as my publishing company began with my own book. I had to convince book reviewers that my book was not self-published."
Like other vanity press liars, Leonine claims to provide from three to 10 "complimentary" books. They are complimentary only if you ignore the $399 to $1049 (or more) you'll pay Leonine to publish a puny 100-page book.
Like the others, Leonine overcharges for its services. The company wants authors to pay $149 for a US Copyright (which is available for $35) and $79 for a Library of Congress Control Number (which is available for FREE).
Leonine is promoting a free "$849 value" "New Year Special" with "professional typesetting." Apparently the normal typesetting is done by amateurs.
Leonine will gladly sell you a variety of "marketing options" and says, "Our rates are ridiculously low in comparison!" They compare their prices to other vanity presses, but not to the prices an author could pay by going right to the source. For example, Leonine charges $75 for 250 4" by 6" color postcards. VistaPrint will sell you 500 bigger 5.47" by 8" cards for about $30. Leonine's price for business cards is similarly too high.
Leonine charges $40 for a printed proof of a 100-page book. That's much too high. Lulu charged me under $20 for a 432-page proof, including shipping.
Leonine says, "We don’t play hide and seek. All our rates are listed here. This is a concise list of everything we offer – straightforward and to the point." Unfortunately the list doesn't display the page size or the cost to print a book, or the author's income per book -- and I could not find that vital information anywhere on the site. All it says about income is that "you receive a generous wholesale discount on books you order."
How much is generous? What about royalties?
It probably doesn't matter much, because Leonine points out that "Most self-published authors, no matter which company they choose [including Leonine!], sell several dozen books." If you pay Leonine $1500 to publish your book, you'd better pray real hard if you expect to make a profit.
Leonine is dishonest even when it discusses other vanity publishers, claiming that their customers end up with "several hundred books sitting around in [their] basement." That may have been true years ago, but is uncommon and untrue with modern Print-On-Demand publishing.
Strangely, the Leonine "grand opening" was yesterday, but their website already shows two books for sale, including a $10.95 30-pager. Who would pay that much for that little?
The site refers to information that "will be available by late June." The year is not specified. That's not dishonest, but it is stupid. If Leonine's website has stupid errors, can the company be trusted to publish an error-free book?
According to the Leonine website, "CEO Michael J. Rayes is an expert on Catholic theology, especially Catholic marriage and family life. He writes a regular column for The Latin Mass magazine and is a published author and speaker."
Leonine shares a Post Office Box with Rafka Press, which published Rayes' "Catholic action-mystery" book, Bank Robbery in 2006. Rayes was motivated to write the book after being offended by the Hardy Boys mysteries his kids were reading. He "noticed some decidedly non-Catholic trends in the books, such as the Hardy boys going out on dates with girls (no mention of courtship for marriage) and some astrology and wizardry...." [OH-OH!, better burn those books and make an appointment for the Rayes kids to be exorcized!]
Rayes and his wife own the company that published his book. It was supposed to be the first book in a series, but apparently it is still a series of one. It appears that Rafka failed to attract other authors, so Rayes expanded into vanity publishing.
In a video that's available online, Rayes twice in two minutes uses the illiterate's non-word "irregardless." He also says, "gunna" for "going to." Rayes says he has a B.A. in Education, was a public school teacher, and has home-schooled his own seven kids. I wouldn't trust him to teach my kids, or my dog. Maybe I'd let him teach a goldfish -- but not anything important.
The degree in education and an MBA are not equal to a doctorate in divinity. Rayes is not a former priest and probably not the child of one. I have no idea what qualifies him to issue an imprimatur.
I also don't know what qualifies him to earn a living by providing expensive mentoring services to Catholic couples. Rayes says, "the price of the mentoring process could be compared with the cost of taking a course at a university" and "Any couple, from the happily married to those struggling to stay together – and every couple in between – could benefit from investing in the services of a mentor." It sounds like Rayes has granted himself a license to print money, as well as the license to judge books..
Rayes married his high school sweetheart. Their seven kids may have been conceived following some very strange foreplay. In a discussion about "spicing up" a marriage the Catholic way, Rayes recommends playing Scrabble or Monopoly. Hot? Not!
The Leonine website highlights Holy Sex as an example of a Catholic book with a cover that's too salacious for Leonine to publish.
Rayes wrote: "Divorce is scary, unnecessary, costly, and traumatizing. And I should repeat the unnecessary part. The only possible reason for separation (not necessarily divorce) is the physical danger of one of the spouses. Other than that, things can be worked out." Yeah, right. Rayes thinks that a woman whose husband kicks the crap out of her and the kids, should not be allowed to get a divorce and marry a nice guy. A marriage should not be a life sentence -- or a death sentence.
Leonine says, "We are a Catholic publishing company, and we care about you."
Hypocrite Michael J. Rayes doesn't care enough to tell the truth.
Michael J. Rayes, go to hell!
(photo of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City by Andreas Tille)