What You Need to Know Before Signing With Westbow Press

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I’m sure you’ve heard of or seen Westbow books if you’ve ever been through a Christian bookstore. They’re a part of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan—so they’ve got some serious backing. They are the “co-publishing” wing of the bigger house and they guarantee that everyone who publishes through them will have their manuscript evaluated by their parent houses.

Over the last couple of years and last couple books I’ve had a few conversations with them. I went into a scheduled phone call with them with some numbers already determined. Like most indie writers, you’d probably look at their “publishing packages” and think—I’d probably have to save up but could maybe swing the lowest costing option—still over $1,000.

Being the creative guru I am and knowing what it actually costs to bring an indie book to print, I ran the numbers. I’d planned on a 160 page paperback in a 6×9 format and price it at 9.99. I can have that made via Createspace at no setup cost and my copies will cost 2.77, leaving a profit margin of 7.22 per book—I did it for both comparison purposes and to find out where my break-even price is. In my mind, co-publishing means that they would want to do something to make a part of the profits, right? Wrong. That’s not how they work. They sell you a package and then you still do all the long-term work such as marketing—unless you pay them more money to do added services… sounds an awful lot like Xulon to me. Or, gasp, Publish America?

Since most of the services they list in their publishing packages have little or no actual cost (for real? A cost to insert images into your book? Haven’t they heard of drag and drop?) for someone with a little talent or willingness to put in some effort, the lowest package amounts to those 5 “free” paperback copies actually costing you $220 apiece. Also, they won’t do anything in ebook unless you upgrade your package and pay them another $900 and upgrade into the next package (or put the book on Amazon or B&N).

Of course, there’s the usual spiel: “we only plan to make money off our sales percent,” (which is way too high and you only get a 25% author discount… if this were true you would get the books at close to cost.) This is untrue. I pointed that out when the Westbow sales agent tried to get me to bite on the lowest package after learning I couldn’t be talked into a more expensive one. She had tried to steer me to a higher one by mentioning I would not have U.S. Copyright registration provided as a service. “Um,” I replied, “you always have the copyright to anything you publish or self publish… this is not my first rodeo.” Of course she also tried the typical sales script, “One of the things we allow for is for you to retain complete copyright of your book.” I’m sure she hated talking to me since I responded with facts like, “the whole publishing industry is built on selling rights for an author’s work—why would I pay money to a publisher for them to be able to make money off selling my hard work? I’m here to actually sell, my ultimate goal is to sell the rights. Keeping them is the opposite of what I want! Give me money and you can have the rights—that’s how this works!”

westbow_newlogo

I would have less issues with a company that charged (even forced the charges as part of a package) if they were truly geared towards making authors successful, but with the price margins set up the way they are, companies are CERTAINLY trying to take advantage of enthusiastic indies and use them as free marketing employees. This isn’t just Westbow. It’s everyone. And it’s got to stop if you want to honestly say “we are about making money off of your book sales instead of off fees to authors.” One of the reasons there are so many indie authors that get burned out after the first book is that they flame out in a colossal heap of ruin… but the publisher still turns a profit because they made at least a thousand bucks even if the author could never sell a copy. There needs to be some kind of intermediate company out there to work with co-published indies which spends the bulk of their resources doing targeted sales of their books to brick and mortars as well as distribution and targeted individual sales via creative advertising methods. A publisher that is truly about the writers—it would succeed, but they couldn’t print everyone and instantly capitalize on the unpolished dreams of the writers as it seems all “copublishers” do. I wasn’t asked very many questions about my book; nobody qualified it to see if it should really be printed (and if it is, is there a market and how much refining work needs to go into the text to make it “not suck.” And let’s face it, most first time authors looking at self-publishing are still a few drafts away from “ready.” But don’t worry, at the $2,000 mark you also get an editorial assessment—but according to disgruntled Westbow authors you might be better off having a class of sixth graders group edit your manuscript as an English class project—they might even work for Cheetos and soda.) The reason they pull all these shenanigans: their folks get commissions for their sales packages (I verified later from an internet search, but as a commissioned salesman in years past I spotted the all the signs and pressure sales tactics a mile away.)

Basically I came away with the understanding that the only reason to use Westbow (provided you can do some of the very basic things like hire your own editor, utilize the createspace cover designer, or pretty much anything I’ve taught people to do through my blog,) is get a cursory look at your manuscript by a slush-pile sifter at Zondervan/Thomas Nelson and (if you pay for a package $2,000 or more) have access to be purchased via shoppers at Christian Book Distrubutors/CBD (see an earlier post about my frustrations over the impossibility of getting in there.) For just a few hundred bucks, though, you could go to a Christian writers conference, get some skills and contacts, and also have the same ability to pitch your work to reps from a bigger house (only it might be more convincing in person,) and I told the nice lady at Westbow as much. I think she thought her sale was a slam dunk—she had salesmanship talents, but I had facts and predetermined numbers from my experience as an indie.

Westbow might be a decent alternative if you have a large platform and have already got a strong enough sales records/expectations because of a traveling ministry circuit to allow for a $3,200 or more package just so you can be carried on Christian Bookstore shelves (your copies will be otherwise be just as unreturnable as any Createspace titles.) And if you want any sort of media campaign to have publicists work on your behalf to get the title into those stores without doing all the legwork yourself then be prepared to swallow an $18,000 price tag.

Here’s the rub… if you’re going to need to do all of the legwork yourself anyhow you would be better off financially if you went the indie route (even spring an extra chunk of change to invent the name of your own imprint publisher so that it doesn’t come up as Createspace—it’s a $100 add on) and independently hired a publicist… it would cost about $6,000 on top of getting your book ready and comparable promotional materials. A savvy indie author (or someone who just followed my blog religiously,) could realistically get their book out with paperback copies and promotional materials in hand AND have returnability via Ingram distribution for only a few hundred dollars—something that Westbow would charge more than $2,000 to do… you could even hire that personal publicist and come out at a third of Westbow’s service charges.

In the end they wanted me to buy in at a minimum of $3,150 so that they could sell a ten dollar book for $15 and charge me 11.25 per copy despite actual production costs closer to $3 (meaning they make $2 for every dollar I make AFTER PRODUCTION COSTS—and that’s if I inflate the production costs to about $4.) At least at this price point the stores have returnability so I could theoretically get my books on shelves… if I can personally contact a bunch of stores and get them on shelves through my own efforts… that makes the break-even point for me a minimum of 840 book sales. Up to the break-even point Westbow will make $15,749 gross profit before you earn your first real penny in the black—but that’s only if you work your rear-end off to market and sell the product that you already poured your heart, soul, and more money by way of editors, time, etc. into.)

If I up my price to $15 and sell the book on my own through Ingram at the max discount (it’s around 60%) I’ll still make about $3 per book and I can sell it on Amazon as well for ten bucks and make $3.25 per sale. If I was smart and follow this blog I did it for no cost and have already broken even—I could still do that promo and legwork and if I sell 840 books I’ve made over $2,500.
(you can check out package costs here:
http://www.westbowpress.com/Packages/PackageCompare.aspx
and the Createspace creation calculator here:
https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/)
* Please note that Createspace is now merged under the Amazon property called KDP Print–it’s the same details (except for color print books/childrens books in the UK only,) post merger with a slightly more streamlined creation process.

For a certain type of writer this might be a great option for a publisher (and I’m honestly considering using them for my devotional book in the off chance I can’t secure regular publishing for it.) However, one thing was certain: when she told me “our goal is to make money off of your book sales and NOT from the author,” that is certainly a falsehood. Christian-book-publishing might be as secular as any other cut-throat business, regardless of the product’s contents.

Until the copublishing/price-sharing/self-publishing houses figure out that authors aren’t stupid people they will continue running schemes and scams on us. Unfortunately, most starry-eyed first-timers are just happy to talk to a publisher (of any variety) and so they get suckered into agreements. Hopefully this post has been of help to you (I know it’s long) and please share it and become a regular follower of my adventures in writing.

 

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95 thoughts on “What You Need to Know Before Signing With Westbow Press

      1. I am a first time writer (Attempter? is that a word? not in the devil sense) Im a pastor and I almost singed this week with Westbow but I am holding off for now looking for an editor)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey Christopher! I just got out of a painful, frustrating and expensive situation with Westbow that I dearly regret. Anyway, I want to go with self-publishing and definitely need help. I saw your book and would like to get it. I see that it came out 3 years ago. Is it updated and will still be helpful to me now? You know how fast things change. 🙂 I’ve got three books I want to publish, all three different genres and I have bo idea what to do. Thanks for my suggestions and help. Alisha Nelson ♡

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      3. yes, Alisha, with the exception that the references to Createspace should direct to KDP Print as they underwent a merger, but the services remain virtually unchanged. If you like, I can certainly help consult for you with a free phone call and help you determine the best path forward (email me to set that up at my gmail.com account. I’d be glad to help: authorchristopherdschmitz –plus the @gmail address…trying to reduce spam).

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    1. Can’t believe I found you by chance. As luck would have it I spoke with a gentleman this morning from Westbow. I have to say he presented a very attractive picture of what my publishing experience would be like if I purchased one of their packages. At 71 years old I am a first time author and have a finished manuscript after “only” eight years. Where did the time go!

      Anyway, I’m so happy I found your site and your comments and feel that I dodged a bullet. They are going to call me next Monday and I might have gone with them. Now there’s no chance of making that mistake. Also, I just bought your Indie Author’s Bible.

      I’d like to share a thought of two with you sometime, if that’s okay. Nice to have a source for straight answers. Thanks very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I just bought a westbow package at a discount 11 days ago. After reading your article I want out. I am asking for a refund but wonder if they will give me any of my money back. I am devastated. I am living on social security and most of my savings went into it. Is there anything I can do? Thanks for your article. I will not give them anymore money no matter what. They say I have 90 days. I wonder.

    Lissette

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    1. I can only recommend you try everything you can to get out of it! hold them to the fine print. I have had calls from them before and they can be pushy. when they get pushy, get rude. remember that pushy people use social niceties to hold others in check, so when they dance around the line consider that they are trying to make you look like the bad guy even though they are the ones trying to take your money!
      If you follow all of the advice on my blog (which is also in my book: the Indie Author’s Bible) you can get everything they offered and more for no money down… and then you won’t have to wonder about the genuineness of your publisher’s faith (because it will be you!)
      Once you are out of their control, Email me and i’ll give you a free download code to the ebook version of the Indie Author’s Bible to help keep you going.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just narrowly escaped this error in publishing thanks to your article. I don’t have any idea how to publish my manuscript. I tried sending you an email, Daryl, but it didn’t go through.

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    2. Hi, I tried to publish with Westbow March 2019 and I paid them in full but never heard from them until I called and they said my account was inactive due to lack of communication, however, they had my contact info and I always checked my email and voice messages. Then they told me that they weren’t interested in the topic (Spiritual Warfare) and were going to pawn me off to an associated company to be published, therefore I declined and they said I would receive a refund in 3 to 5 days. I never heard from them and kept playing phone tag even with the manager of the refund department. Finally they said est. 3 weeks later that they were keeping $400. for them to just read my manuscript (a content evaluation processing fee)and around $ 75. 00 nonrefundable payment plan agreement fee!!! The sale person in the beginning never told me that I would have to pay a $400. fee for them to just read it or nonrefundable payment plan agreement fee but it was in the contract which I trusting them and not expecting this sort of thing to happen over looked it! I never thought that my book would be rejected because it was biblically based and there are other mainstream Christian books based on this topic. Furthermore, I sacrificed money that I really didn’t have, especially to lose half of it and have nothing to show for it except a crushed spirit over the circumstance! I spent 5 years writing my manuscript and then they do this. Please, please do not publish with them they are a predatory company, they should be ashamed for pretending to be Christians and I hope that God chastise them. The only justice that I could get since hiring a lawyer would be too much money would be to prevent one person not to sign with them. They should be reported to the Better Business Bureaus, which I plan on doing soon. They are wolves in sheeps’ clothing, judge them by their fruits.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, I want to join you with suing westbow … how can I reach you because I was going to sign-up with them yesterday but I found this website

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      2. well, if you didn’t sign up under false promises and if my post helped you avoid a bad outcome, you can’t actually sue them. If you did suffer a financial loss, you should consult with an attorney FIRST. They will be better prepared to help you because that is their expertise. on the other hand, my expertise is putting out great books. If you need me to consult on that, I do have some availability and have helped many others. Just email me and we can open a dialogue (but always trust an actual attorney rather than the internet.)

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  2. Thanks a lot for this article.I am a first time author and was planning to save money to get one of those westbow packages.Glad to have escaped.I was disturbed by my first call with the sales guy because he was manipulating me to not let the’blessing’ in this case any money I got stay idle but think of depositing with Westbow first.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this article. I am a first time author & feel I got hooky booed big time! My book, Golf Plus, Improving Your Life While Enjoying Your Swing, was published by Westbow Press in September 2016. The initial cost was $2676.65. I thought this would be the cost for publishing & promoting my book only to soon find out there was extra cost for editing the book (so it would be professional according to them) for $1391.00. After the book was published the marketing person calls to tell me how much extra I would need to spend to promote the book which amounted: $1798 for website & BookLook Bloggers and could of been a lot more. My total payout to them as of this date is $5865.64 + I have bought 200 books and they charged me $10.69 per book for me to try to sell myself. Is this cost fair to the one that spent all the time writing it?? They set the price of the book at $17.95 for a paperback that only has 204 pages. I thought this was way to much but had no say about it. As of this date I have received one royalty check for $143.83. I am a retired Christian pastor that wrote this golf/spiritual book to reach an audience to share principles and truths from God’s Word. I was lead to believe that Westbow Press was christian oriented and I am hurt & disappointed with them not being upfront about many things. Thanks for letting me share my experience. God bless you for trying to help folks not have to go through this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Jim. If you’re interested, you can use the principles from my blog (or the book The Indie Authors Bible) and relaunch your book at a lower price rate so you can use your book as a ministry tool (& buy your own books for under $5)… feel free to email me with questions or if you need guidance

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      1. I have been contacted by Okir Publishing Company ~ do you know of them – good or bad?? Thank you for offering to help me. How would I go about relaunching my book?

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    2. Jim, I am working with Westbow and have had several very dishonest turns with them. Thankfully, I have my own editorial and design team that did ALL the work, but they still told me they needed to charge me another $230 to cut and paste my designers work into indesign. (After telling me they would waive those fees upfront.) I was quoted $22 a book for my 420 page bible study on ephesians, but just got an email that says it will market for $38! I am not even looking to make money from this. I simply wanted to get it into women’s hands. Praying hard for God to intervene.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. do not use westbow press
    I wasted a yr if my time and spent over $1500.
    they lied to me on more than one occasion,
    after everything had been finished i found out i now had to take my books to book stores and they directed me to do all the work as well ad publicity ,
    this is not what i had been told when i signed up. the main reason i picked them “ we will put your books in our stores , over 20,000.
    their workers took forever to return calls .
    Createspace is the best. they return emails in 48 hrs st the longest and have published 3 of my books at no cost to me.

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    1. They lied to me also. Misrepresentation of what they will do for you. They prey on naive, eager authors just trying to make a buck. They initially contacted me and told me how wonderful my book was and that I should have no problem with Thomas Nelson picking it up and that they do it all the time. She also said it would be a perfect movie.
      Everything a new author wants to hear.

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  5. Sandee, saying that Westbow lied to you is a pretty big charge. Perhaps you would consider providing details to support that charge.

    I am neither for or against Westbow at this point. I am here only because I was recently contacted by them concerning my writing.

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    1. Hold up R… THEY contacted YOU? Does the R stand for RR Martin (George… who perhaps recently converted)? Obvious sarcasm… but I’m not picking a fight. Sandee’s story holds a lot of water, especially if they pursued you while you have sold less than a million copies of a book (million is not an exaggeration.) Publishers who pursue authors without serious literary/sales credentials are nearly always trying to capitalize on fees paid by authors (author mill) rather than funds generated by book sales (publisher). Everything about Westbow indicates author mill… and the one of the worst sort because they represent themselves as a ministry. Scam presses lie, or at least fundamentally misrepresent themselves to authors, so I’ll go to bat for Sandee’s defense. Also, based on the tone of her comment, I would assume she was more trying to share her personal story as a warning for others, although the quotations do seem like a direct detail in her charge. The fact that you missed that makes me wonder if you work for them (and if so, you wouldn’t be the first Westbow employee who’s tried to steer some positivity back to the company–but that’s not happening without the omission that they are a vanity press and the cessation of their sales team’s commission model… which is incidentally why they will initiate publishing conversations with anyone-create a fake email and details and indicate that you might be looking to publish on their website. They will contact you. Sorry, but their interest doesn’t make you special; it makes you a mark. I have many articles on this on my blog… hopefully they will help you steer clear–there’s more than shark in this swimming pool.)

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    2. I agree with all the people who say that WestBow personnel lied to them. YES they are not truthful. I was surprised to see a company going by the name of Christian doing such falsehood. When I was in college studying for the ministry of Jesus Christ, I had textbook which were published by Zondervan. Knowing that WestBow is an offspring of Zondervan which I highly held, I am disappointed.
      Rev. Desmond Michael Coverley, RT., PA., MA (CL Psych), Ph.D.

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  6. Thank you, thank you!! I have been “pestered” by Westbow Press for several years. Yes, I made the initial contact, but have said “no” every time. The sad part is that they say they are a “Christian” publisher, and when you do feel led to write and publish a book it feels as if this is the only way to go. My book is finally finished, only taking me 30 years! However, I am so glad that I found your blog. I will be going back through your archives to catch up and gather valuable information I am sure! I have always felt that Amazon was the only way in which I could self publish. Like many others, I am not in the position to be able to spend money on this endeavor. But I know it was to be written and now published in such fashion. Thank you again for all your valuable information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you! and I got a “pestering phone call” from them only days ago which convinces me they have a “cold file” of old contacts for their agents to occasionally crawl through to earn commissions.
      Incidentally, I also met an author over the weekend with an awesome, unique devotional book (which i now own) and he used a similar service (Xulon) that is almost identical to Westbow. I showed him the article I wrote and the comparison on the printed version (in my book, The Indie Author’s Bible (IAB)). He did a literal face-palm and said, “yep. pretty much the same.” They got him for over $6,000 in unnecessary services and charge him $8+ per book (I did the price calculation in front of him…a new feature in my Indie Author’s Bible Workbook. It came out to about $3.33 before shipping.)
      Feel free to contact me with any questions, and check out my IAB series… i know it’s helped several authors, but most of the content is discoverable on this blog

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much. I was just out running errands and someone asked me: “Is that book out yet?” How do you feel about self publishing on Amazon? I am relatively sure you have addressed this, so if so I can find it. I just keep gravatating toward it. I truly have the inability to invest in it at this point.

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  7. They most definitely lied to me. They blew profuse amounts of smoke my direction. I have two businesses and they are successful, so I’m not a gullible person. However I was very eager to publish and they lied to me on several fronts to the tune of over $10,000. The worst was their multimedia promotion for your book with a company out of Arizona. It was basically $5000 to help me set up Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I had already done all of that so the guy I was dealing with just posted some false posts pretending he was me trying to interact with followers I built up. It was a horrible experience. Especially for a company that claims to be Christian. They are very far from any Christian principals when it comes to business.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Christopher, I am in the midst of trying to get out of my contract with Westbow. Did you become a publisher or should I just start with your “how to” book? I need serious advice as I am ground beef from Westbow right now. Please help!

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    1. the old google box helped me find Westbow’s sample contract. Section 8 allows either party to terminate the contract… however, you should not expect a refund. You can
      Also, in reviewing their royalties structure, you should’ve run right away. it’s attrocious–worse than i thought. (10% of retain on an already inflated cost, so a $10 book is sold for $14 and earns author $1.40 in royalties and gives publisher about $10.50 AND they don’t pay until a minimum royalty is earned… that same book sold from an indie earns him/her about 7.50 after costs.)
      But I digress. If you want to get your fees back, you probably need to call a lawyer and claim that the publisher’s work was not up to the expected quality.
      You should also note another caveat on section 4.9 and also in section 8, it looks like while you paid for the artwork, layout, typesetting, etc. you might not have permission to use it (especially the art) if the contract is terminated. You might also have a lawyer look at section 14.3 (Notices) prior to terminating. It reads like a way out of paying you if you start the termination proceedings before demanding any refunds (or do not follow their very specific instructions)… again, Lawyer up.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh no…this is bad news. I have just completed my book. It turned out much better than I ever expected. It is going through that stupid editorial assessment right now. Can I get out? I have no earthly idea how to market my book or what to do on my own. Should I try to get out of my contract with them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The short answer is yes. If you can get out, do it in a heartbeat. According to their standard contract, I believe it’s Section 8 allows you to give them notice to get out. There is some particular ways you need to do that, and they’re going to hold some of your money out of what you paid them already. But it’s a small price to pay to not lose more. And incidentally General consensus says that THEY don’t know how to market your book either. You will be much better off taking what you’re going to pay them in fees and investing them in some marketing classes and webinars online. My book and this blog will give you detailed information on publishing and putting the book together. That part is actually quite easy if you just follow the steps, again see my books. And as always, feel free to email me with any specific questions

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome blog…I was about to sign the contract for the sake of having their logo on my book and having them help promote me…I was very disappointed after reading their 6 page contract…and suddenly I felt that this was such a one sided deal.and much far from the kind and promising sales pitch I experienced via their phone calls. Bottom line from your blog and other online researches, its obvious that is more cost efficient and promising..not to mention more profitable for me or any author to publish themselves.
        I have switched my gameplan and I am currently seeking only a top-notch editor and also a BOOK distributor.

        Thanks again…helped me save$$$…I didn’t sign the deal and in fact requested my refund!

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  10. I kid you not. I was just standing here asking God to send me some wisdom on self publishing and MY GOD IS AWESOME BECAUSE HE SENT ME YOU!!! MAY GOD RICHLY BLESS YOU SIR!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When you said you might consider them for your devotional book any reason why? And it sounded like you would pitch your devotional book first to regular publishers any advice on which agents to contact in the Christian sector?

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    1. sorry, that’s not what I meant to say. I only ever queried for the CBD market. Secular markets aren’t open to this kind of book. I was only “still considering them” because of the fact that they had market penetration in the christian bookstore world… but after looking at how that realm had declined so drastically in recent years it didn’t look viable. It was also moot, I got picked up by eLectio Publishing shortly after writing this post. (http://www.electiopublishing.com/bookstore/John-in-the-John-A-Bathroom-Devotional-eBook-p91108724)
      Devotional books are different than other genres, while I initially started out writing this thinking nonfiction book rules applied (query before completion) it’s more like memoir (nonfiction, but query as fiction…meaning you should have a ready manuscript). I had initially started with an interested literary agent who loved the concept (Mary Sue Seymour) and she asked me to send it to her once completed. She passed away during the writing and her agency dissolved/rebranded/etc. Her agents did tell me, however, that most publishers releasing devotionals don’t require them to be agented submissions anyhow and encouraged me to query publishers directly.

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    1. Hey Nakesha, glad you found me! Tell me about your book, but first tell me if you are intending to pursue Traditional Publishing or Indie Publishing? There are many reasons to go one way or another and I’d love to help guide you onto whichever path works best for you (for example, I turned down a publishing offer… one that included an advance… just this morning on one of my books that is doing okay as an Indie.)
      Tell me what you have and I can try and make some recommendations! (you can either talk about it here or you can email me privately if that’s more your speed)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Traditional publishers will not charge you money to publish your book! Anything charging you for a “publishing package” is not a good idea. You might check out christian publishers through the CSPA for your book. I’d highly recomend my Indie Author’s Bible and the matching Workbook (pick em both up on Amazon).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok; thanks! ☺️ I’ll take a look at CSPA. Westbow wants to charge $2,500 & I’m not sure if that includes an editor. I’ll shop around to compare. I’m sure there are other great publishers out there.
        I l👀k forward to reading “The Authors Bible” for tips & ideas.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi, I’m writing a book to evangelize and to encourage existing Christians to be healthy spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. I too was contacted by Westbow and they told me that I would make 25% on paperback sold through Amazon or Indigo, Chapters etc. and when it was time to sign the contract it showed 10% on exterior contractors. So basically they lied to me. What’s the best way to publish my book which is almost finished and then I’m starting my second which is a cook book with healthy recipes.

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    1. I would pick up my book (see the side links for Indie Author’s Bible and also pick up the matching Workbook). It will show you every step of the way (and you can always email about what comes in specific places.) You will want to understand which kind of distribution model is best for you, but an easy place to start is to get an account with KDP (they now handle both ebook and paperback for amazon). Once you’re comfortable with that you might look into the added benefits of an Ingram account to open up distribution channels and returnability if your book takes off.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I endorse that. Four of my books have been posted here by a kind Christian friend: https://www.anglicansamizdat.net/wordpress/dr-priscilla-turner/ and all are produced by IngramSpark. Because I really care to be read rather than to make money, I am glad to post the text in this way, free for downloading, reading and printing out as it is. I am my own press, C&P Books, and sell at decent prices all over the world. I have also published a book of my pastor’s sermons: I do not post it on this Anglican Samizdat site because I do not own the copyright in that case.

        ‘Westbow Press’ is not a press, but the label that so-called Christians have stuck on ASI as they sold us who really believe to that huge conglomerate in return for a rake-off. That scam outfit had the 2011 first edition of my spiritual autobiography O Love How Deep, which is still for sale at exorbitant prices. The only thing to be said for them is that they showed me how not to do it. I remade my book with the help of two PhDs including my late husband, both of them really literate Christians. They spotted those slips that I had missed. These long threads to which I have contributed are still useful:–

        https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2009/10/thomas-nelson-adds-self-publishing.html
        and http://timothyfish.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-westbow-press.html

        I have one oldish shortish book out with CreateSpace, but have basically moved on to IS. I shan’t move that one, given that it’s a contribution by me as a Christian philologist to a big church controversy, and is beginning to date.

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  13. I can only echo the comments that are all true about Westbow Press. Get out with giving them a notice to terminate. Then you can take your manuscript elsewhere. Section 8.1 Termination. Either Party may terminate this Agreement at any time, with or without cause, upon thirty (30) days’ prior written notice to the other Party. Good luck to all.

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  14. Well, thank goodness I read this blog. Just talked to Westbow today and was seriously considering them. I am sorry they have my email and phone number now. I will look into your book. Thanks for putting this info out there. Do you recommend Halo? They are on the CSPA website list.

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    1. I have only recently heard of Halo through another publishing group I am a part of so I can’t give any insight on them, but the CSPA is generally very trustworthy (my devotional is published via one of their member pubs, although my best selling Christian nonfiction is Why Your Pastor Left, and I went straight Indie/self-published with that one and have had the most success with that model.)

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  15. I recently asked Westbow Press for my contract that we signed, ( Service Agreement). I then wrote them a simple letter to terminate our agreement, because I’m now going to re-publish my book in a second edition through my own self publishing effort. In 3 days, they acknowledged my letter of termination and I am separated, at great relief, from that company. Lots of wasted time, and money, but a learning experience that has set me in the right direction. I highly caution anyone using them!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Unfortunately, I signed without the proper research. This blog would have saved me time and money. Everyone at West Bow has been super nice, but there are so many added expenses that I did not foresee. I believed the initial payment covered “publication” of my book, but that was just the beginning.

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  17. I read the fine print under their required form to get the FREE 8 page mostly photos nothing important piece. I left my fax number instead of my cell number. It was a waste to have even filled the form out.
    KLS

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    1. only in passing. 1. Do they charge a fee? 2. Are they selling you any sort of “publishing package?” 3. Do they require you to purchase any specific good or services (editing from a specific person/company or a set number of books in exchange for publishing?) If the answer is Yes to any of those, they are not a real Publisher (either traditional or independent) but are a vanity press. I talk about the differences here: https://authorchristopherdschmitz.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/knowing-the-difference-between-types-of-publishers/

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  18. Thank you for your post, everyone! I have been in contact with the “head guy” who claims to want my book! I will be back to praying for a publisher now! Have ya’ll ever heard of Covenant Publishing? Any comment on them?

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  19. I wanted to follow up on this post. I self published with Amazon in November 2018. I published an ebook and paperback. It was a learning curve to say the least, but both versions have been far more successful than I ever imagined. About two months ago I used Draft2Digital and have not had many sales, but it is out there. I have ran into so many authors who have used vanity presses and spent thousands of dollars. My biggest issue is self marketing, but evidently I am not alone. Those using outside vanity publishers seem to do their own marketing too. I have had several book signings, have a blog, author page and website. Point being…..you can do this! I am done with my second book and getting ready to publish through Amazon again. Thanks again for your helpful posts!!

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  20. Thank you for this article. I only wish I’d read it six months ago before I signed up with Westbow. Yes I did it and then found that every step of the way they were looking for more money. I refused as I told the salesperson from the start that we invested our top amount and wouldn’t go any further. I’m now at the end of the process and we’ll see what kind of sales the devotional will garner. I definitely agree with you that there has to be a better way to go about publishing, especially within the Christian publishing network. There is a level of integrity and honesty that is expected, and to discover its simply a money-making scheme is disappointing.

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    1. Jane,
      here’s all you need to do.

      Get your contract which you and they signed. In section 4 it should say:

      4. TERMINATION & REFUNDS
      Either Party may terminate this Agreement at any time, with or without cause, with written notice to the other Party. When this Agreement is terminated, We will notify and demand that all of Our Contractors (such as Amazon, Google and Apple) cease the production, sale and distribution of new copies of the Work.

      Then, write an email or call to April Boyles
      POST PUBLICATION
      WestBow Press
      1663 Liberty Drive
      Bloomington, IN 47403
      P: 866.928.1240 ext. 7122
      F: 812.355.1561
      aboyles@westbowpress.com

      And Cc: Customer Service (CustomerService@westbowpress.com ) State simply in the email that you wish to terminate the contract that you signed on such and such a date. You don’t need to give any reason.

      That should do it.

      Cheers,
      Ronnie

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    2. you signed a contract. you can be legally compelled to honor it, it’s why people use them… if you need out, I recommend you consult a lawyer. you might first wish to contact Westbow and tell them you want out. It might be easy–they might charge you a fee (after all, they pay their “agents” a commission, bonus, or whatever they want to call it, for authors they sign up (which is why they’re pushy.) so it may be easy or difficult depending on the mood of the person you talk to: I’ve heard both experiences.) at the end of the day, you should be prepared for legal action to get out if necessary, or if that is cost prohibitive, you might need to simply “do nothing,” and let them hold your book hostage for the length of the contract and simply order no copies. You would be out money paid and any potential royalties, but it is an option many folks I’ve talked with have exercised. you have three options: 1. ask politely to get out of it 2. enact legal action to release the contract 3. wait them out (and remember, I’m not a lawyer and my advice should not be taken as such)

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  21. I am a best-selling author with Create Space and I went with WestBow just so that I could have Zondervan review my book. Because of some stipulation in their guidelines in which they knew my book was already done, they could not publish my book but wanted to put me off on some other no-name publishing group that’s connected with them. I asked for a refund which they agreed to do but kept back $400 because they looked at the book and said it did not meet the guideline. I have a traditional publisher reviewing it right now and not charging me a dime to see whether or not they can accept. This is the second “Christian” organization that I’ve worked with in the last six months that took advantage financially of people coming to them. This is not “Christlike” behavior at all and I would prefer if companies would stop saying their Christian companies to make people think that they’re going to act Christlike when they’re really about the dollar.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This was very informative – I was just checking Westbow out before signing with them. I had a check in my Spirit, I’ll do some more checking
    now. I’ve got a book of poetry I’ve been working on called “This Voice I Hear”. I’ve been working on it for more than 30 years. When God first began to speak in my ear, He spoke in the language of love – it’s poetry. But since New Year’s Eve Day down at my Church all alone watching and praying for Revival and our Nation GOD called me to fast. I’m still fasting today and He’s giving me at least something to write every single day. He’s telling me it’s time for our Churches to fast and pray. That judgment comes on the Churches first and now it has come, the tares are being bundled up to be on His altar burned. The Latter Rain is beginning to fall it will bring in the Greatest Revival of All.
    The workers are few, the Harvest is great out into the highways and bi-ways you must go to compel them to come in before it’s to late!!! Any pointers anyone can give me on how to get this message out would be most appreciated. Again thank you for your information it was most insightful.

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    1. My spiritual autobiography is for sale in nine formats:–

      ISBN: 978-1-4497-2120-6 (sc)
      ISBN: 978-1-4497-2121-3 (hc)
      ISBN: 978-1-4497-2122-0 (e)
      ISBN: 978-1-7751062-1-0 (hc)
      ISBN: 978-1-7751062-0-3 (sc)
      ISBN: 978-1-7751062-9-6 (hc 8 x 10.88)
      ISBN: 978-1-7751062-8-9 (sc 8 x 10.88)
      ISBN: 978-1-7751062-2-7 (sc 5.25 x 8)
      ISBN: 978-1-7708499-4-5 (e)

      The first three listed are the first 2011 edition, that with ‘Westbow’. No new copies were ever sold except to me. This was my first and only foray into Vanity. For gifts I eventually took my files to a local printer which made me copies at a fraction of even my author’s discounted price.

      The remaining six are my second 2017 edition, produced physically by IngramSpark at a low to non-existent (sometimes there are free offers) initial financial cost for setup. This is true self-publishing: I am my own press. They all sell, slowly but surely, all over the world. Since I am infinitely more interested in being read than in sales, that’s fine by me. My publisher’s discounted price shipped and taxed is so reasonable that no local printer can come close.

      In some systems ISBNs may cost money. Mine are free from the Canadian govt.

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      1. everything you say is exactly what this blog teaches. You should read through the posts and you might learn a few new things, too. (although you do get a free ISBN via Canada’s laws, there are a few work arounds in the USA.

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      2. Christopher, I was replying to a particular post. I have read everything you post with the utmost care, believe me. I do really have intimate knowledge of the ‘Westbow’ effect.

        About the Canadian ISBNs: I think one has to be a citizen or resident to get these. But they don’t cost anything.

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      3. you are correct. You must be a resident. I think that some European markets also give free ISBNs to residents, but I only have passing familiarity with them. Sounds like you’ve got a good system worked out (and yeah, Westbow is pretty strictly a vanity shop)

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I had published a book with WestBow, and after all the strife and WestBow errors; I paid about $11,000.00 in total. Changes included the whole format and I was asked to pay for it. They said I had to change from landscape to portrait, size to 6”x9”, no color, pay extra for word tables and change them to images, extra for more than 10 images, images may be blurry sign this. My argument was that before signing the contract, I asked in writing what extras were needed to publish this book… only editing and publicity I was told. So with much calling and protesting I did not pay for these. However, took a few years off my life with the frustration. From that point forward, almost all the WestBow employees were very rude and condescending. Could virtually not get anyone to answer a phone, seldom got a call back. Payed for editing. I had questioned about why I was promised worldwide marketing, paid quite a lot for it. Finally the book was published and I worked with the marketing firm, and guess what. No worldwide marketing. Could of purchased a good used car instead. WestBow told me if I wanted worldwide marketing I should use Facebook. I suggested a refund, and was told I signed a contract. I mentioned integrity is gained when someone says something and follows through. In the end I was told worldwide marketing is done by marketing with media that are present in other countries… like CNN. Then after speaking with the marketing specialist, I got an email from her (at WestBow) from her at Lulu Publishers, saying she liked our talk. In the end, I like some of the people, but would choose not to work with a few ever again. WestBow likes contracts, before you sign get your promises and future costs in an pre signing email;. Ask them in writing what the extra costs will be for your book to be published and marketed. Save thousands in extra fees.

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    1. A basic fact that everyone needs to grasp is that there is no such entity as Westbow Press. You are involved with a branch of ASI. Only it’s costing you more that way.

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  24. I enthusiastically read the offer from ‘Westbow’ that was in the mail. However, in a split second flashed through my mind to find out who these people are. Your review comes as convenient. An extensive analysis that has opened my eyes. Now, more than ever, to exercise great care and caution with the manuscript I want to write. Can I repost your story on my blog? I’ll check your mail list offer. I’m thankful.

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  25. YOU ARE A BLESSING! Especially in the thread, where many others state the same thing and it all corroborates your experience! I am an earnest first time author and I was JUST going to sign with Westbow tomorrow! You have saved me money and heartache! My completed work, is a powerful and modern perspective shift for Christian women, that spans over 40 days. Westbow seemed so INTRIGUED with my concept, but coming from a real estate sales background, I saw the exact “sales” flags you warn about. Thank you! Do you have any guidance for me? I would love some kind of direction!

    Like

    1. I’m so glad I could help! (and my primary sales background was also in real estate when I was nearly charmed into signing away a few thousand dollars by a “faith based” publisher.) I could certainly help give you some direction and your book does sound intriguing. I have done some video consultations with a number of people who found my blog and pointed them in the right direction. shoot me an email or FB message and we can chat about it: https://www.authorchristopherdschmitz.com/contact

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  26. I know I didn’t stumble on this by coincidence. I have been working on a book for 10 years now and felt that this should be the year to get it out. I had contacted Westbow and a few others about 4 years ago but for whatever reason, Westbow has been the one chasing me ever since. I finally got to speak to them again and got a discounted offer and should get back to them on my decision tomorrow, but I felt the nudge to go digging about them and found your blog post. I’ve got my hair in twists now…I probably should be speaking to you.

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  27. CS, so thankful found this blog. Calling westbow, (on 2nd call & 3rd call will be this tuesday), I questioned their compensation plan they pitched me, amazon sales at 10%…lol…. after some research and inquiry in a fb group, someone linked me to your blog. Thank so much for streamlined education. Considering now buying your book. Also, do you know a good Chridtian publicist?

    Like

    1. glad to hear it! and I’d love if you picked up the book, I know it’s helped many folks and I even make myself available via zoom to help guide authors (had several folks take me up on that over the last couple weeks). I wouldn’t waste my money on a publicist at this stage in the game (I’m drawing some assumptions about your platform) and would highly recommend looking into building that platform instead. What you ought to be focusing on is your mailing list and newsletter. I often say that I wish I would had Newsletter Ninja (a book) and followed the author’s advice 6-12 months prior to book launch for my first fiction novel. Some of the book is outdated now (at least the details about Mailchimps automation, but I switched to Mailerlite after reading her book,) but the book’s principles are still highly useful and its my go-to pick! Nick Stephenson’s free ebook about Reader Magnets is also fundamental.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The claim is still being made that “WestBow Press titles are regularly reviewed by Thomas Nelson & Zondervan for new, talented authors. While there is no guarantee of the number of titles to be signed each year, this is an opportunity to get your foot in the door.” And that there is something Christian about the whole operation. Apart of course that it pulls in earnest believing people with a message, turning them into a cash-cow.

      I believe that there is no more substance to this than when I published the first edition of my spiritual autobiography in 2011. Everything including my money was put into the hands of ASI. The sample edit was illiterate both in the normal sense and spiritually. Nobody at the other end had a clue who J.I. Packer or C.S. Lewis* were, or what it meant that I had the former’s personal endorsation, and for good measure had recounted my personal correspondence and my personal meeting with Lewis in the book. It has just come floating back from the recesses of memory that when I made my subtitle A Tale of Three Souls I supposed in my naïveté that people who claimed to represent the venerable Thomas Nelson would pick up the echo of the title of Dickens’ most famous novel, of which, with his others, that press had been the original publisher in the mid-Victorian era. Vain hope! I was not dealing with people who knew anything about history, literature, the Christian message, or cared about them either.

      * The great recently deceased Packer’s reputation can only grow. Lewis still consistently outsells all other Christian writers combined, if you discount the Bible.

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  28. Found your page by chance after getting an email from Westbow! and just have to say THANK YOU! You make all this publishing gibberish easier to understand. I had called Westbow many months ago and realized they weren’t going to be of any help but they won’t leave me alone. I just don’t know what route to take and there’s so much complicated info on the web that it makes me want to just forget publishing and give up writing my book.. ugh. But glad I found your page for some honest guidance.

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    1. glad I could help! and don’t give up on your dream 🙂 you can find lots of helpful articles in my Indie Author’s Bible book… it’s pretty much a guided process (You can pick it up on the right hand column, or bottom of the page via mobile)

      Like

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