Clarify Your Self-Pub Program, Mike Shatzkin Asks Religious Publisher Thomas Nelson

We conclude Vanity Week with a blog that futurist Mike Shatzkin recently posted, publicly asking Thomas Nelson, the Christian book publishing giant, to explain its new self-publishing program, WestBow Press. WestBow is partnering with Author Solutions, the biggest player in author-subsidized publishing and a partner with Harlequin in its controversial self-publishing venture.

Here are the questions posed by Shatzkin. We are not aware that they have been answered:

1. How many such titles will they do per season or per year?

2. How will access to Nelson’s (always limited, as is any publisher’s) sales and marketing bandwidth be allocated to this imprint?

3. Will the books be vetted as suitable for Nelson’s Christian mission? And, if so, how and by whom?

4. Will the books be vetted at all for quality? Or will an author just choose the WestBow option and, if that’s the case, how much extra will be they paying and what will they be told they’re getting for their money?

5. The story says that Nelson editors won’t touch the books but will “monitor sales to identify potential big sellers.” What’s the pre-monitoring launch plan? What’s the plan if Nelson editors actually identify a “potential big” book?

Hyatt discusses the initiative on his blog and says he sees real revenue in it. But he doesn’t answer any of the questions above.

I am not alone in anticipating that publishers may change things around in the future with big authors, sharing more risk (less or no advance in this case, not cash for services) for more reward. But it is a more radical step than I would have imagined for a publisher with an industry brand for quality to allow authors to buy their way onto the list. Their must be some controls here, one would think. But we certainly don’t know what they are yet.

Read The new Thomas Nelson self-publishing initiative; more questions than answers.

RC

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