Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WestBow Press

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Thomas Nelson has launched a subsidy publisher, WestBow Press. I don’t have enough information to do a complete analysis of this new kid on the block and compare it to the subsidy publishers that came before it. WestBow Press is similar to other companies that sit between true self-publishing companies like Lightning Source and BookSurge and traditional publishers. The way these companies work it that the author provides some amount of money and the company provides workers and services. The author takes on all or most of the risk in publishing the book, or the publisher charges high prices for the book so that the profits on the few successful books will make up for the losses on the rest. There is a broad spectrum across which subsidy publishers are distributed when we consider every company between BookSurge and PublishAmerica. Some place more risk on the author, some less. I don’t have enough information to know where WestBow Press fits on this spectrum.

Most of these companies offer add-on features to the basic package. Typically, these are things like postcards, bookmarks, etc. that the author can hand out. WestBow Press is no exception. My opinion in the past has been that most of this stuff is just window dressing that won’t actually help the self-published author where she needs it most. On the high end of WestBow Press’ subsidy publishing packages, they have what they call Video Plus+. It provides everything that the Online Platform package does plus a Book Trailer, but in parenthesis it says, “No Voice Over.” Apparently, the additional $2,500 isn’t enough to pay for voice actors and someone to write the script. That’s understandable, but a Book Trailer without a voice over is pretty useless, in my opinion.

But it doesn’t stop there. WestBow Press has three additional “specialty publishing packages.” If you are satisfied with what $999 to $6,499 will get you, you can pay $10,000, $14,000 or $20,000 (less a dollar on each) to get even more. Basically, what it gets you is more “free” books, feature advertising in the WestBow Press catalog and line editing of 30,000 words (1/3 of a novel). I’m just going to call this their Vanity Press Packages. It’s still short of what you would get if you had a traditional publishing contract with Thomas Nelson, but its getting close to what I would call a true Vanity Press setup.

“Love” the windshield flyer creation feature. I can just see me going out and putting flyers on people’s windshields. Maybe I’ll head out to Nashville and stick a bunch of flyers on the cars in the Thomas Nelson parking lot.

Until I see otherwise, it seems to me that WestBow Press is just another subsidy company, but with a vanity press feature. Like all the rest, it is missing the one thing that the self-publishing side of the publishing industry needs more than anything else. If self-publishing is the wave of the future, it needs good quality editing. Line editing of 30,000 words is a start, but that’s about all it is. Even if we’re talking about a non-fiction book that is no more than 30,000 words long, line editing isn’t going to significantly improve most self-published books. They need more—much more.


Anonymous said...

Mmm, yes, and it might be nice if the new company wasn't in a conflict of interest situation with its parent company. You approach TN with a submission; they may tell you it isn't up to their acceptance standard but refer you to their subsidy publishing company where for a hefty fee they'll publish it. Then they'll monitor its circulation success and maybe later agree to take it on when they're guaranteed no financial risk. Everyone's in business to make money but IMHO this is pretty bad.

Thomas said...

Thanks for the info on WestBow Press.
Do you have any idea where they are physically located, You know, like an old fashion street and town address. Can't find it anywhere on their web site.

Timothy Fish said...


WestBow Press lists their address as 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403, which I believe is the same address as iUniverse and AuthorHouse. If I'm not mistaken, Thomas Nelson, the owner of the imprint, is located at 501 Nelson Pl, Nashville, TN 37214, which is probably the more interesting of the two to visit.

Anonymous said...

Nelson Press is abouot 5 minutes from the Nashville Airport.