If you haven’t heard yet, Thomas Nelson rebranded their WestBow Press imprint as a new POD publisher that is open to any author who has an extra $1000 or so.
Yes, this is expensive, especially when you consider that some of the publishing packages go up to $20,000. Yikes!
Why would anyone pay to be published at WestBow? There are three lures:
- Your book gets stamped by Thomas Nelson as “approved for the Christian Market”. This is big, as Thomas Nelson is the 800 pound gorilla in the Christian publishing world. It will still be difficult to get your self-published book into a Christian bookstore, but it will at least be somewhat easier with Thomas Nelson’s stamp.
- You get access to editorial and marketing services at Thomas Nelson. (For an added fee!)
- You get on Thomas Nelson’s “farm team”. They will be monitoring sales weekly, and if your book looks like it will take off, they just might offer you a legitimate publishing contract.
Since I personally am not considering self-publishing at this point, I honestly wasn’t going to chime in on this new venture, but I am motivated by the doubt fueled over at Chip MacGregor’s blog concerning the “farm team” idea. Sandra Bishop thinks its not true, and she has some ideas on how to do it right. These are legit ideas, and you can check them out here.
But I for one, believe Michael Hyatt when he says:
Publishers aren’t omniscient. We miss numerous opportunities every year. Finding the next bestseller is like searching for a needle in a haystack. WestBow Press provides us with a kind of “farm team.” We intend to watch the sales of these titles carefully. We will offer traditional publishing contracts to those authors whose self-published books begin to gain traction.
Now, I don’t know Michael personally. Sure, he and I have emailed back and forth a few times about a book marketing idea I pitched to him. But I don’t know him, so take my words with a grain of salt.
I personally believe that not only is Michael looking for a new revenue stream for Thomas Nelson, but that he really, really, really wants to find the next “big” author that everyone is missing.
I can imagine him laying awake at night wondering just how a book like “The Shack” (whether you agree with it or not) passed them by. After all of their efforts to find the best books—the one’s with the best potential for selling well—they miss books like this. The agents miss them. The editors miss them. Everyone misses them.
And up until now, there has been no alternative like WestBow Press. Sure there are lots of small time, or non-Christian, or stigmatized outfits—but not any connected with the likes of Thomas Nelson.
Michael Hyatt is a genuine person, and he speaks from his heart. The farm team idea is legitimate. Mark my words … there will be books from WestBow that are offered publishing contracts with Thomas Nelson.
But here’s the rub … without the full marketing support it will be hard for any book to get real traction. If an author chooses to go with WestBow, they better know that the odds are against them.
But then, aren’t they always with self-publishing?
At least with WestBow someone is looking over your shoulder checking your sales. No self-published author has that, and has to approach publishers like a beggar after the fact and “admit” they self-published a book and try to justify it. Agents won’t even sneeze at a self-published book.
What this does is legitimize self-publishing. It takes away the stigma a bit.
And with the way things are going, I wonder … will the day come when WestBow Press will one day become larger and more lucrative than Thomas Nelson, the parent company? Will the tail swallow the horse one day? The digital revolution is upon us, and this is just the beginning of changes.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment so we can discuss this change in the publishing landscape.