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Thread: Thomas Nelson Publishing / WestBow Press

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Thomas Nelson Publishing / WestBow Press

    I think one of the most interesting partnership stories of the year is today's about large Christian publisher Thomas Nelson forming a 'strategic partnership' with Author Solutions, one of the largest author solution services globally. The Wall Street Journal ran an article on it this morning.

    http://mickrooney.blogspot.com/2009/...ublishing.html

  2. #2
    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    Adding link to the Writer Beware blogpost on this.

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  3. #3
    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
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    My gut feeling about this is "wrong".

    It's like they're saying, "Your book isn't good enough for us to publish and make money on, but we've made arangements with a printer to do your books for you."

    What kind of kickback is this publisher getting for routing people to a printer?

  4. #4
    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    I agree, Richard. With a side order of "We'll test it in the marketplace on your dime."
    Last edited by Eirin; 10-15-2009 at 12:00 AM.

    I'm a writer. No, really. I type and everything.

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  5. #5
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    They are quite clear that they will not even be reading these books unless they start selling well : /
    Emily Veinglory

  6. #6
    Absolutely Fazed
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    Rachelle Gardner has a blog post on the subject. The comments thread is quite long, but Michael Hyatt has been active in posting to it.

    If they plan to use the Thomas Nelson name but not read the books they offer to publish, how are they going to keep out content that's completely outside their religious viewpoints? Just to use as an example (not that I'd ever self-publish), the book I'm revising right now is violent, expletive-filled, and has an amoral protagonist. The bad guys belong to a Christian-type cult. Totally not the kind of book TN would sell. But would WestBow? And would my book then be tied to the TN brand?
    Last edited by DeadlyAccurate; 10-15-2009 at 12:36 AM. Reason: BECAUSE EDITING IS GOOD!

  7. #7
    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    I'm guessing the only connection between WestBow and TN will be the bait TN is dangling. In the eye of the general reading public, to the extent they know anything about WestBow at all, it'll be just another vanity-house.

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  8. #8
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard White View Post
    What kind of kickback is this publisher getting for routing people to a printer?
    The page is gone (http://www.authorhouse.com/AboutUs/ReferralProgram.asp) but it used to be $100.
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  9. #9
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I don't think this is a situation where Nelson is getting a kickback for sending people to a self-publishing service. What they seem to be doing is establishing a self-publishing division, and contracting with Author Solutions to run it for them. I can't guess at what the financial arrangements are, but this is no mere referral scheme.

    On the other hand, it seems that Nelson will be offering referral fees to agents and others who send rejectees to West Bow. So it will not only be monetizing its slush pile, but enabling others to monetize theirs. I very much hope they change their minds about this.

    Rachelle makes a lot of good points (especially about when it does and doesn't make sense to self-publish) but I don't agree with everything she says. For instance, I simply don't believe that West Bow represents Nelson's response to a changing publishing environment; I think that Nelson noted the enormous growth in the self-publishing sector, and saw a way to bring in money that will help support its core publishing programs. Whatever we may think of the melding of commercial and fee-based publishing, this makes good business sense, especially in this challenging economic climate, and I think we will see more of it in the future.

    One of the things that doesn't seem to be much discussed in the chatter about West Bow is the fact that Nelson chose Author Solutions, which for the past couple of years has been eating its rivals and now may be poised to take a bite out of commercial publishing as well. Mick Rooney points this out in his blog post (which is well worth reading), and I think it's at least as significant an issue.

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  10. #10
    permaflounced
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    I have been trying to digest this since the news broke earlier this week. It looks as though protestations of "we'll monitor sales and offer a traditional publishing contract" is put out as a cover for "we want to make more money and here's how we'll do it."

    WestBow as an imprint is still associated with popular Christian fiction writers such as Ted Dekker and others. How these folks will like being equated with pay-to-play is beyond me to guess.

  11. #11
    Absolutely Fazed
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deb Kinnard View Post
    WestBow as an imprint is still associated with popular Christian fiction writers such as Ted Dekker and others. How these folks will like being equated with pay-to-play is beyond me to guess.
    Kristen Billerbeck commented in Rachelle's blog post that she wasn't happy at all to have the WestBow name associated with a pay-to-play outfit, so at least some of their original WestBow authors don't appreciate it. I don't blame her; I wouldn't want it either.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deb Kinnard View Post
    WestBow as an imprint is still associated with popular Christian fiction writers such as Ted Dekker and others. How these folks will like being equated with pay-to-play is beyond me to guess.
    It was an odd move by Thomas Nelson to use an already existing imprint of theirs. However, CEO Michael Hyatt has pointed out on Rachelle Gardner's blog that WestBow's Press last title published by a traditionally contracted author was back in early 2006, and since then, most of the authors still contracted have been moved across to Thomas Nelson Publishing itself. Subsequently, many of those authors have had reprinted editions published by TN.

    I still believe WestBow was chosen as the vehicle for all this primarily because it was once a traditional press and imprint of a large reputable trade publisher. For me, this goes to the very heart of the perceptions and stigmas of self-publishing and vanity presses. Any publishing house engaged in the business model of mainstream publishing and decides to offer self-publishing services or even associates themselves with the business of self-publishing (affiliate programs) feels the need to undergo some form of identity cleansing first.

    This reminds me a little of the now defunct Cold Tree Press. In 2008, Cold Tree Press changed their name to Cold Tree Publishing to group their three distinct imprints. Under Cold Tree Press, they had trade paperbacks, Hooded Friar for literary fiction, and Moorsgate became their author solutions service. Here was a company who started out offering self-publishing services - made the decision to adopt a traditional model of publishing - yet chose to move the self-publishing end of the business out to a new imprint called Moorsgate. In some ways it was the opposite of what Thomas Nelson have done. WestBow Press was known as a traditional imprint - now it's a self-publishing service.

    If we look at Author Solutions, the company Thomas Nelson have afforded the strategic partnership to run the nuts and bolts of WestBow Press, we have, in effect, a self-publishing service using the identity of a reputable publisher. Nice if you can get the gig, and kudos to Author Solutions, they just did!

  13. #13
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    I don't this particular aspect brought up here or in the linked-to blogs, so I feel the need to stir things up a little:
    Quote Originally Posted by CaoPaux View Post
    The page is gone (http://www.authorhouse.com/AboutUs/ReferralProgram.asp) but it used to be $100.
    For what it's worth here's what it looked like in 2008:
    http://web.archive.org/web/200806120...ralProgram.asp

    But on to my main point:

    There's some implication here that if a WestBow Press book starts to sell a lot, Thomas Nelson may look at picking it up (which I suppose is nothing special, wouldn't ANY commercial publisher look at picking up such a book?).

    So I'm wondering about content - if I become the "Fifth Horseman" and write a book-long anti-Christian rant (perhaps make it specifically anti-Protestant for good measure) and publish print through Authorhouse/WestBow Press, would Thomas Nelson care? I don't see anything so far on the WestBow Press website about any expected content, only that Thomas Nelson will be "monitoring" WestBow's catalog for up-and-coming authors:

    http://www.westbowpress.com/GuideToSuccess.aspx

    TN surely would NOT pick it up, but I'm wondering if TN would be embarrassed or disturbed at the content of a popular anti-Christian book using the name of their used-to-be-Christian-fiction imprint WestBow Press, a name TN appears to be "leasing" to AuthorHouse.

    I woundn't pay $999 to be "published" by this or any firm, but what if a well-known and popular, well-off "non-Christian" author decided to have a "limited edition" of his next book printed by WestBow Press?

    Surely Thomas Nelson has gone through such scenarios, and either has a contract with AuthorHouse that stops them from printing such content, or TN decided to cash out and throw the "WestBow Press" name under the bus as far as allowing it to abandon Christian-olny content as well as abandoning its commercial imprint history.
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  14. #14
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I did a blog post today on the referral fee issue.

    That's a really interesting point about identity cleansing, Mick.

    - Victoria

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW
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    I cant imagine DR PHil's wife Robin getting tied up with these people without checking them out first. but she did, and i have the book that she wrote and had published by them and no telling how many more.

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    With her money I'd hire people to make good decisions for me.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW
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    I think she has written another one since then also.You would think that she would use the same one as DR. Phil and her son Jay.

  19. #19
    Absolutely Fazed
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    Quote Originally Posted by wanda4545 View Post
    I think she has written another one since then also.You would think that she would use the same one as DR. Phil and her son Jay.
    As we've explained before, you don't hire real publishers, so she can't simply "us[e] the same one" as her husband and son. You lease publishing rights to them, so they have to first agree to buy them from you. You don't find publishers like you find plumbers.

  20. #20
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wanda4545 View Post
    I cant imagine DR PHil's wife Robin getting tied up with these people without checking them out first. but she did, and i have the book that she wrote and had published by them and no telling how many more.
    Dr. Phil's wife, Robin McGraw, is published by Nelson Books, a division of Thomas Nelson. She has nothing to do with West Bow Press.

    - Victoria

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wanda4545 View Post
    I think she has written another one since then also.You would think that she would use the same one as DR. Phil and her son Jay.
    As Victoria has pointed out, these high profile books were published by Thomas Nelson, not WestBow Press. Even that meant a significant difference 3 years ago when WestBow was offering traditional publishing contracts. Now, it's a million miles apart and I think we should re-focus on the key elements of this thread rather than side-tracking to Dr Phill and celebrity la-la land. Believe me - none of WestBow's new authors paying for their publishing services will have a shred of celebrity status about them!

  22. #22
    What happened? ChristineR's Avatar
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    Honestly, I'm surprised no one else is doing this yet. Some greedy exec at the big houses has to be looking at PublishAmerica, Createspace, Xlibris, and Lulu and trying to find some way to use their good name to attract some of that business without totally trashing their own imprint. I keep expecting to hear about "MyHarperCollins" or something equally sappy.

  23. #23
    Nefarious Ghost Fan AnneMarble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MickRooney View Post
    It was an odd move by Thomas Nelson to use an already existing imprint of theirs. However, CEO Michael Hyatt has pointed out on Rachelle Gardner's blog that WestBow's Press last title published by a traditionally contracted author was back in early 2006, and since then, most of the authors still contracted have been moved across to Thomas Nelson Publishing itself. Subsequently, many of those authors have had reprinted editions published by TN.
    I didn't even realize WestBow wasn't still publishing new titles. Many backlist titles still have the WestBow logo, don't they? Maybe that's what they're banking on -- that most people will recognize the name and buy books from the new line. (That is, assuming they get into bookstores. Will they be in bookstores?)

    Quote Originally Posted by MickRooney View Post
    I still believe WestBow was chosen as the vehicle for all this primarily because it was once a traditional press and imprint of a large reputable trade publisher.
    I think you're right. It makes me feel icky.
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  24. #24
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristineR View Post
    Honestly, I'm surprised no one else is doing this yet. Some greedy exec at the big houses has to be looking at PublishAmerica, Createspace, Xlibris, and Lulu and trying to find some way to use their good name to attract some of that business without totally trashing their own imprint. I keep expecting to hear about "MyHarperCollins" or something equally sappy.
    I can't even remember the name of it (I just did remember, see the link below) - what was the website by a major publisher where unsigned authors could put up their novels for others to read and comment on? The publisher promised to "look at" some of the more popular manuscripts with the possible promise of publication or something like that. It's been discussed on AW a good bit in the last year or so.

    I just remembered it, Authonomy "from HarperCollins." Yeah, it just about already IS "MyHarperCollins."

    But my point in bringing it up is to point out Thomas Nelson buying a vanty/self-publisher isn't the first "crazy" thing a major publisher has done recently. And with the economy hurting and the perceived long-term negative effect of e-readers on commercial book publishing firms, I bet it won't be the last.
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  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    I just remembered it, Authonomy "from HarperCollins." Yeah, it just about already IS "MyHarperCollins."
    You know, when Authonomy first launched, I did actually think it a brave and creative move from HarperCollins. I even loaded up my novel there. But after a few months--my blunt opinion--it is a white elephant. A cesspit of poor inflated egos, like rats scrambling around the bottom of a hopeless wooden barrel. The sniping and bitching among writers is unbelievable. The basic premise by HarperCollins is laudable, but the execution and performance of the occupants of the asylum is deplorable.

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