Should You Consider Self-Publishing?

For nearly as long as I have been in the publishing industry, the term “self-publishing” has carried with it a certain stigma. Publishers who specialized in it were branded “vanity presses.” We hope to change that perception with the announcement of WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson. This imprint officially launches today.

Photo courtesy of ©, Image #5631322

Photo courtesy of ©

Although we receive thousands of submissions from aspiring authors, we only publish about 500 new titles per year. Until now we have had nothing to offer these authors other than a rejection letter and our best wishes for “finding just the right publishing partner.”

Because of my blog, I hear from scores of these authors every month. They have grown weary of trying to get their book into print. Unable to find a publisher—or even an agent—they are discouraged and ready to quit. It seems there are simply too many authors, too many manuscripts, and too little shelf space.

As a result, many authors have given up on traditional publishers. They have taken matters into their own hands. For the first time since such figures have been kept, print-on-demand titles outpaced traditionally-published titles in 2008 according to Bowker, the agency that publishes the Books In Print database and assigns ISBNs. Self-published print-on-demand titles make up the bulk of this expanding category.

Why is Thomas Nelson entering this segment? Three reasons:

  1. We think there is huge growth potential in this category. Increasing numbers of people are moving from being merely consumers to being creators. They want to express themselves creatively. Just witness the phenomenal success of user-generated content sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Scribd.
  2. We want to offer a legitimate alternative to traditional publishing. Why should all the power be in the hands of publishers? If prospective authors are convinced their book should be in print and are willing to fund it, they should be able to do so without the fear that they might be ripped off.
  3. We want to find the new voices for tomorrow. 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.

We also want to work with agents and consultants as “WestBow Press Affiliates,” so that they can help more authors realize their dream of getting published. Rather than simply send a rejection letter, they can now offer a legitimate alternative and earn a referral fee in the process. (If you are interested in our affiliate program, please send an email to Pete Nikolai, who is overseeing it.)

Is self-publishing right for everyone? Obviously not. But it might be right for you. It is worth considering if any of the following apply to your situation:

  • You are passionate about your book idea but can’t seem to find a publisher or agent who “gets it.”
  • You are weary of the rejection letters and just want to get your book into print—now!
  • You really don’t care about selling a gazillion copies and becoming famous. You just want something to give to your family and friends.
  • You are a public speaker and need a book to sell at your events.
  • You want a published book to explain your business philosophy and provide a “calling card” for prospective clients.
  • You know that even if a publisher agrees to publish your book, you are probably not going to get A-list treatment. You might as well do it yourself and keep the lion’s share of the profits.
  • You are the pastor of a church and want something to drive your sermon series more deeply into the life of your congregation.

The name “WestBow Press” is particularly significant to us at Thomas Nelson. West Bow Street in Edinburgh, Scotland is the place where a young, eighteen-year-old visionary named Thomas Nelson first started his publishing company in 1798. It is our hope that WestBow Press can be the place where authors with a dream to be published can also launch their writing careers.

In creating WestBow Press, we are partnering with Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), the world’s leading self-publisher. I have personally visited their offices in Bloomington, Indiana, along with my senior executive team and several of our publishers. I can vouch for the fact that ASI is an extremely well-run organization. Their primary strength is customer-service. They have hundreds of publishing professionals on their staff and deliver the kind of quality that you would expect from any trade publisher.

If you are interested in learning more about WestBow Press, please visit the new Web site.

Question: Have you ever considered self-publishing? What questions do you have about it?
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  • Aaron Armstrong

    Exciting news, Michael – looking forward to seeing the results

  • Donna Maria

    This is a fantastic new addition to the Thomas Nelson family. What a great way to create a new revenue stream for the company while also creating a new way for small and independent business owners, authors and writers to share their knowledge in book form. Congratulations and best wishes! I look forward to meeting wonderful new authors with great books!

  • Robin

    Once again, Thomas Nelson is ahead of the curve! Kudos
    All Things Heart and Home

  • Mark Brooks

    I too applaud this move. As a writer that can not break through the ceiling I have had to self publish my last two books. I do think however your pricing is high. To me it appears that what you are paying for is the fact that it is a Thomas Nelson backed venture. In my opinion the majority of companies like this one are over charging their clients. There are much cheaper ways to do this as I have found out. Still for many this will be a good avenue. Who knows I might use you next time!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, there are definitely cheaper ways to do it. However, as the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for." We wanted to price in such a way that we could offer a final product that we and our customers could be proud of.

      • Mark Brooks

        That is what others told me. However I have found that you can find quality for much cheaper. Is it true that West Bow is really only a reseller of Lighting Source? why not go direct through Lighting Source and save money? In the end are those that go West Bow only gaining from your name and the hope that you "might" pick up their book? How many will that pan out for?

        • Kaylus Horton-Adams

          Was your speculation ever confirmed, re Light Source and West Bow? I am considering Westbow :-)

          • Michael Hyatt

            Some how I missed the previous message. WestBow does use Lightening Source. But they use others as well. The physical printing is only one aspect of what a company like WestBow offers. There is so much more: jacket design, interior design, typesetting, editing, proofreading, marketing, publicity, project management, etc.
            Yes, you can do it all yourself much, much cheaper. Just like you can make your own clothes, grow your own food, or build your own house for less money. ;-)

    • Donna Shoemaker

      Mark, I just read your comment regarding the cost involved with Thomas Nelson/Westbow.  I am ready to publish but need some direction.  Tell me, what have you found in your publishing experience to be a positive road into publication.  Thank you, Donna Shoemaker (

  • HSchiefelbein

    Truly big news! Congrats on moving the company in this direction. I especially appreciate "reason #3" regarding the "farm team". That really resonates with the amateur writers who think "book deal" and get a little overwhelmed. Your reasons for self-publishing are also inspiring. I will be looking into costs and have this dream goal in the back of my head now. And great work with the name – very meaningful.

  • Emily

    This is a brilliant move. Way to go, Thomas Nelson!

  • KNicholls

    This is exciting and I've spent three cups of coffee browsing the site and all of the links with a wealth of information. I am at a point where I am truly evaluating life and working toward making that move to write more full time and focus on what I have felt for years is my calling. I am so thankful for what you provide here and for all of the great links on this site that have led me to some things I didn't know about. Thank you so much.

  • Jo Bottrill

    "Self-published print-on-demand titles make up the bulk of this expanding category." I'm surprised – how many of these are actually making sales?

    I'm not anti-self publishing by any means, but we need to be very wary of giving authors false hope. Success under a deal with a publisher is far from guaranteed, much less so when self-publishing.

    Good luck though – bestsellers will emerge from this, I've no doubt.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. We shouldn't give authors false hope, but there are many, many reasons to self-publish besides getting traditional sales through retail. (I enumerate some of them in my post.) This is where I think traditional publishing has missed the boat. They have only see an author's motives through one lens. In the end, we want to empower prospective authors with options. If they want to try the traditional route, we offer that as a possibility, too. ;-)

  • John (Human3rror)

    Wow! This is amazing!

  • Christopher Hopper

    Publishing a book, and then seeing it through a good life, is a hard venture no matter what category the book is produced under. I applaud you and TN for creating another avenue for the Christian voice to be heard in the world. With roughly 360 million people in our nation, and *at least* 0.5% of those being Christian writers with something worth saying, creating an imprint that let’s you exceed the “500 titles per year” mark is as essential to doing good business as it is in being faithful to the call of literary ministry. ch:

  • Scott Wagner

    Exciting news! Great to see.

  • Shari

    This is terrific news! I have looked into several different self-publishing options … you mention in a post above that your prices will be higher so that you can offer a greater value. Are there specific additional services you offer or is the value being an imprint of Thomas Nelson? Is it possible to submit a ms. as "either/or" traditional or WestBow? I will study the site to learn more. Exciting news!

  • Daniel Decker

    One word comes to mind. VISIONARY. I think Thomas Nelson is being smart and taking a proactive step towards where the future seems to be going. User generated content. Staying true to the core publishing model but also having this WestBow imprint will undoubtedly give Thomas Nelson an edge as the traditional publishing model continues to change, as well as the dynamics of how people generate, market and interact with content. At the end of the day, truth and good content will still rise to the top.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. And we agree. This is a way to cast a broader net and find the voices of tomorrow.

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  • Christine

    Now this is smart thinking.

  • Serena Woods

    I’m a self published author and this is exciting news! If I run into the same issue I had on my first book (no platform=no interest), I’ll be checking this closer.

    ‘Grace Is For Sinners’

  • Daniel Decker

    Hopefully prospective authors will look at more than just the ability to be self published but also the marketing packages that are available.… — Getting published alone doesn't do it. There is no book fairy that magically sprinkles dust on a book then all the sudden everyone knows about it. Takes a lot of work and effort to get it into the hands of the right people, create momentum and, if the content is appealing, hopefully a tipping point of success.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Daniel, you are so right. Even authors who are published in the traditional way have to understand that writing and print the book is only half the work. The other half comes in getting involved in the marketing and building a platform.

  • Jim Kane

    This is good news and I think having a well established name such as Thomas Nelson behind it is a plus.

  • GordonMarcy


    Another good example of Thomas Nelson's leadership. You reliably provide excellence in content, quality products and a commitment to serve the needs of both authors and readers.

    "WestBow Press" would seem to meet that standard perfectly.

    "Finding new voices for tomorrow" is a strategy that I hope those of us in Christian broadcasting and church communications can emulate as well.

  • Scott Fillmer

    that's super news, after looking at so many of the other self publishing companies out there I am thrilled to see one that is closely related to Thomas Nelson, way to go guys…

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Scott. We have actually been looking at this opportunity for a few years. ASI was the first company we found that had the kind of service we required if we were going to put our name on it.

  • Tim Abare

    This is why Thomas Nelson is a category leader. Looking forward to working with WestBow.

  • Luci Swindoll

    Mike, I so appreciate this forward thinking. I can't tell you how often people ask me where they can have their book published, or talk with someone about a publishing idea they want to pursue. Now…I have a direction in which to point them, with the confidence that WestBow can be of help. Thank you! (And, I love the whole idea of the title being based on the street name in Edinburgh where Thomas Nelson first started, way back in 1798. It all goes back to our roots. So clever)! Congratulations on "WestBow Press". It's another great idea from that fertile mind of yours.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Luci. You are always such a great encouragement to me!

  • Leeanne Setterington

    This is wonderful news. I hope you are aware how much this is going to motivate others to do what they always knew they were meant to do! I'm planning to add my voice to your great success. Thank you.

  • Jill Simpson

    This still doesn't solve the HUGE problem of self-published authors having an almost impossible time of being distributed in bookstores across the country. They may get a few local bookstores and distribution on Amazon and other ebookstores, but it's disingenuous to imply that self-published authors are going to be sold into bookstores in the way regularly published authors will. Sadly, these self-published authors will realize that once they've paid thousands of dollars for publication and walk into bookstores expecting to see their book on the shelves.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t think I implied that. In fact, I think I made it clear that self-publishing is not right for everyone and then offered some situations where it might make sense.

      Regardless, the dirty little secret of traditional publishing is that it can't guarantee bookstore distribution either. (Just ask 90% of authors who are published by traditional publishers if they have difficulty finding their book on bookstore shelves.)

      At Thomas Nelson, we are constantly fighting for shelf space for our authors. At the end of the day, all we can do is pitch the book and let the retailer decide if he wants to carry it. This is true for traditional publishers and self-published authors. There is no substitute for writing compelling content and simultaneously working hard to build your personal platform. This applies to all authors.

      Thanks for your input.

    • Donna Maria

      I don't think this post implied that this program would solve a "distribution" problem. But, self-published or not, authors have to do a lot of their own promotion, and create distribution opportunities of their own. With the Internet, it's not terribly difficult (though it may be labor intensive) to sell good information (in book or other form) no matter who the publisher is, as long as there's a solid niche and platform. I think this is going to be a great program and it sets a standard for publishers of all kinds to follow.

      • Donna Shoemaker

        Donna, this is the issue that so confuses me.  I suppose I was under the impression that when a publishing company was interested in one’s manuscript THEY took on all of the responsibility of promoting the book as well as the author. What am I missing here.  How did the Harry Potter get off the press so quickly and become such an enormous seller when the author didn’t have enough month to live outside her car.  Simply and totally confused.

  • Leeanne Setterington

    I believe you have created the light at the end of the tunnel.
    Many thanks.

  • Candace Sargent


  • Gene


    I appreciate you and what you're doing but I have to tell you that I can get better services at another POD company for about 1/10 of your minimum price. I did it earlier this year and it has worked beautifully. My challenge, like the challenge for so many others, is marketing. The only thing that appeals to me about WestBow is the "farm team" concept and I'm not completely sure of its worth.

    But congrats on getting TN in the 21st century and recognizing the need for this. I hope it is beneficial to you and the thousands of frustrated authors out there.

    • Michael Hyatt

      If getting the book printed is the only goal, you are right. There are cheaper options. However, as anyone who has done this knows, that is ONLY the beginning. I think the value we bring to it is the editorial development, packaging, copy-writing, and, of course, all the marketing services.

    • Donald James Parker

      You hit the proverbial spike right on the sweet spot. TN will be entering the market place as the most expensive self publishing option I've encountered (outside of the vanity publishers who don't charge you to publish but mandate that you purchase thousands of books). Actually it's a stroke of genius on TN's part. They not only create a new revenue stream, but get an inside track on discovering new authors. I wonder how many people will shell out big bucks for a chance to be discovered. Ironically, I'm on a quest educate the authors of the world that they can truly do most of the work themselves or at least subcontract out the work to specialists.

  • Tasra Dawson

    Excited for Thomas Nelson, WestBow and the authors that are discovered through this new venture. Opening up the world of creativity to a larger group of inspired authors can only be a good thing. Seeing your words in print provides a sense of confidence that can be so valuable to those with a message that needs to be told and stories that need to be heard.

    I'll be watching the progression of this project and look forward to seeing how I can be a part of what you are doing!

  • Immanuel

    My concern would be the soiling of the Thomas Nelson brand. If you are not limiting the content allowed to be published under this name, you may find a wide assortment of questionable and immoral content published under your name. The internet had good intentions in it's early days, but the majority of the content on the world wide web now is not glorifying to God. Just something to consider.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Every book published by WestBow will be subject to the same Content Standards we use at Thomas Nelson. We have provided training to the WestBow editors in this and will be rigorous in its application. I should have mentioned that in my post. It is, however, clearly stated on the WestBow site.

  • Mary West

    Michael Hyatt: Im really excited about WestBow and all the potential it has to offer new authors. This new venture is of great value and needed in today’s market. Thank you for launching this division of your Company. Im happy for you!

  • Cassandra Frear

    This is a fascinating development. The potential is hard to measure. Most exciting to me is the way it opens up the publishing field in a way that places more control in the hands of writers.

    I will be watching it with great interest.

  • Lloyd

    Is this an avenue by which one could publish anonymously (under pen name, for example)? Not to write negative content but providing details about one's past to demonstrate "lessons learned" may be more than a writer is willing to reveal publicly. Any other avenue, if this is not appropriate channel?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, pen names are acceptable.

  • Donna Frank

    Two years ago I wrote my first book and, not having any idea how the industry worked, I self-published. I wish WestBow Press had been around then, as my experience in self-publishing was horrible.
    I'm grateful that Thomas Nelson is stepping into the ring to provide authors with a viable option to traditional houses. Thanks for offering us more than a rejection letter :)

  • @colleencoble

    The little Westbow dude lives on! I still miss him over in the fiction department. Congratulations, Mike!

  • Lynn Squire

    Wow. I am so pleased you are taking this step. I have self-published two books. I sold all the copies of the first one, and because of the time-sensitive content, never re-published it. However, my second one I did intent for a specific mission. I am now doing a second run with a new cover and starting a whole new direction with it, geared to a very specific ministry. I'm very excited about its prospects and plan the first "official" launch of the ministry on December 1. The new cover and all the hype building to this launch has been a wonderful journey and I'm pumped to see where God is taking it.

    I'm so very pleased that you are taking this route. May God richly bless you for it.

  • patalexander

    This sounds like a great move for Thomas Nelson. Congratulation.

  • Jim Seybert

    Seems like a genius plan for Nelson to fish for potential new voices without the messy process of paying advances and taking a chances on new authors. There's nothing but upside for Nelson.

  • Ken Summerlin

    Smart move with great options! Great way to add credibility to self-publishing.

  • Daniel Decker

    No doubt there are some additional challenges for a self published author with regard to distribution but those can be overcome. Creating demand and momentum is key. “The Shack” is a great example. Compelling content along with an author who took it upon himself to get it out there. End result that it took off. Yes, it’s harder but with self publishing it’s doable. I had a client years ago who self published then went through Greenleaf Books for via one of their distribution packages. The book was stocked by publishers, author had great press and was on CBS Early Show + other national shows… book sold a LOT! It can be done.

    • Daniel Decker

      Woops… meant… book was stocked by RETAILERS. :)

  • Stacy

    Don't forget it's also all about MONEY too….

  • Cathy

    I applaud Thomas Nelson's vision and fresh thinking. My main concern as a fiction writer is that I will always carry a 'self-published' stigma if I jump into the stream. While I agree that self-publishing can make sense for non-fiction writers, I'm not sure it will ever be a good choice for novelists. Then again, maybe I haven't been trying to break through the glass ceiling long enough.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I really don't think there is the same stigma there once was.

    • Lynn Squire

      I think that self-publishing is becoming more realistic for novelists – it depends on the ability of the writer to market their books. Some might disagree, but I think that the 'stigma' is imposed more from other novelists than from publishers. If a novelist has created a market using self-publishing, why wouldn't a traditional publisher want to pick them up? Then it circles back, why would a successful self-publisher who has created a market already go to a potential reduction in income under a traditional publisher?

      I think a major part of the success (after writing well) of a self-published author goes to his abilities to market – to reach the readers who would be most interested in his story.

      But that's just my humble opinion.

  • Rich

    If I was to have success from self-publishing to the point that TN was now willing to sign me, how do I benefit from that? I've already proven I have a winner. Why should I suddenly allow a publisher to come in and cut into my profit margins when all the hard work has already been done?
    On the surface this would appear to be a lousy deal for an author. I take all the risks and put up all the capital to have a publisher show up after I've had success and siphon off a portion of my profits.
    No offense but the only person that would appear to win in this situation is TN. You get the fees up front with no capital outlay of your own. If the author fails, no big deal since you've been paid. But if he/she does succeed then you prosper on the back end also without ever having any real skin in the game. One could see some similarities between this business model and that of a bookie. You're always going to come out ahead. I'm not trying to give you a hard time but please help me understand how this is beneficial to an author that has already circumvented the publishing house system. I'll use The Shack as an example. What would Windblown Media gain by signing with a major publisher now? Thanks.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Rich, these are great questions.

      You may never need a traditional publisher. I am not one of those who believe that either solution is right for everyone. I do know that a traditional publisher, like Thomas Nelson will be able to doors to distribution that you could not get otherwise.

      In fact, as you may know, (since you brought it up) The Shack was picked up by Hachette, after it had sold about 500,000 copies. If I am not mistaken, they now have 4 million-plus in-print. They took it to the next level.

      Regardless, as I said, this model is not right for everyone. You make the decision that is right for you, given your unique circumstances.

      • Rich

        Sorry about the mistake. I thought Windblown was still doing it on their own. By the way, from a strictly business perspective I believe you're doing the right thing for TN's shareholders.

        Final question: I'm not in the industry but why would Windblown sign with a publishing house after selling half a million copies? Isn't that enough books sold that really didn't need anyone else's distribution channels?

  • Brooke

    This is exactly the kind of information I've been needing. Thanks, Michael.

  • Cheryl Pickett

    With all due respect to you and TN, in going through the mid-range packages on the site, some questions/issues came to my mind right away.

    First, I did a lot of research of various POD/self-pub companies before ultimately going the independent route and I agree with Don Parker above who said you are definitely higher than I would expect.

    Next, probably the most important thing after cost of the package is how much would my book sell for and how much would I make, but I could not find any of that information.

    One reason POD companies are frowned upon is for their tendency to price books higher than what the market will bear and when coupled with the initial investment, it takes forever to break even let alone make money. Along the same line, volume discounts are mentioned without details. Why isn't this information right there for easier research and comparison? If I missed it, I apologize but I thought I looked thoroughly.

    Next, it is noted that there are reps selling to book buyers and a WB catalog listing is included. Bookstores/libraries already often have a negative attitude about self-pubbed books. Buyers will clearly know which books made the cut for TN and that WB books didn't. How can a rep hype a book when everyone knows it just didn't quite make it? How would a "farm-team" book get traction when there is, like you said, limited shelf space, and plenty of "pro-team" works to fill the spots already? If representation is something authors are paying to have, I don't really get where the value would be in all but a few rare cases.

    Lastly, I am also surprised at your partnership with Author Solutions. In the world of aspiring authors/writers, they have a less than stellar reputation, especially Author House which they now own. Sites like Preditors and Editors have been warning writers against them for years. What will be different because of your partnership that would override years of issues?

    That all said, I am very happy to at least see that you and TN are trying to do something for "the rest of us" and that you are at least trying to better the system. For that I applaud you and wish the best for all involved.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Rich, these are great questions.

      You may never need a traditional publisher. I am not one of those who believe that either solution is right for everyone. I do know that a traditional publisher, like Thomas Nelson will be able to doors to distribution that you could not get otherwise.

      In fact, as you may know, (since you brought it up) The Shack was picked up by Hachette, after it had sold about 500,000 copies. If I am not mistaken, they now have 4 million-plus in-print. They took it to the next level.

      Regardless, as I said, this model is not right for everyone. You make the decision that is right for you, given your unique circumstances.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Cheryl, I have asked our friends at ASI to jump in and address your issues. We did a lot of research on these companies before we made our decision. Our experience was that ASI had the BEST reputation. However, you need to understand that they have acquired the companies in their portfolio, and are now providing professional management and guidance. I don't know what they were like before they were acquired, but we have been very impressed with their publishing processes. Thanks.

      • Cheryl Pickett

        Thanks Michael, I'll stay tuned :-)

    • Kevin A. Gray

      The package prices are in line with many of the self-publishing offerings in the marketplace; however WestBow Press offers an advantage that no other self publishing imprint can offer: exposure to a major trade publisher. Thomas Nelson will monitor titles for acquisition.
      As for the cost of the books per copy, they too are in line with the book publishing marketplace for similarly formatted books. The final retail price of the book itself is dependent upon a number of factors including whether the book is hardover or paperback; the interior is color or black and white; and the length of the book. A pricing chart will be available soon on . (cont.)

      • Kevin A. Gray

        All WestBow books are sold through "the channel" which is utilized for titles by all major publishers. Buyers consider titles on their merits, and being self-published doesn't "disqualify" them.
        One example of a self-published author who realized retail success is Lisa Genova, who published Still Alice with ASI's iUniverse imprint after being turned down by all of the big publishers. After less than a year of retail success, Lisa was picked up by Simon & Schuster for a mid-six figures advance! Still Alice spent its first 14 post re-release weeks, on the New York Times Bestseller List.
        As with any company there will be detractors, but Author Solutions has proven its model is the best for helping emerging authors bring their books to market. Additionally, WestBow Press as a division of Thomas Nelson, will reflect the quality and heritage of Nelson's more than two centuries of publishing leadership. Thank you for your questions, and I wish you the best.

        Kevin A. Gray
        Author Solutions, Inc.

  • Michael Hyatt

    Rich, these are great questions.

    You may never need a traditional publisher. I am not one of those who believe that either solution is right for everyone. I do know that a traditional publisher, like Thomas Nelson will be able to doors to distribution that you could not get otherwise.

    In fact, as you may know, (since you brought it up) The Shack was picked up by Hachette, after it had sold about 500,000 copies. If I am not mistaken, they now have 4 million-plus in-print. They took it to the next level.

    Regardless, as I said, this model is not right for everyone. You make the decision that is right for you, given your unique circumstances.

  • Cecelia Dowdy

    I wonder why you don't just create a new imprint for the self-pubbed titles? Isn't Ted Dekker published under Westbow? Wouldn't it look weird for people to perceive Ted's novels as being self-pubbed?

    Interesting business concept, though. I'm anxious to see if it'll become lucrative.

    • Michael Hyatt

      We looked. All the cool names we came up with were taken. We already owned “WestBow” Press as a trademark and love the heritage.

      Honestly, I don't think consumers think that much about the imprint.

    • Cliff Graham

      It is very lucrative. Tate Publishing has been doing this for six years and they are extremely successful.

  • Penny Martin

    WOW! Those prices ARE high! Yikes!

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  • Todd N.

    "We will offer traditional publishing contracts to those authors whose self-published books begin to gain traction. "

    This makes great business sense for Thomas Nelson…but NOT for the authors. They've done all the work of getting their book published and marketing it, and now they are reaping the rewards and FINALLY Thomas Nelson is ready to step in and help them? (And, by the way, eat severely into their profit margin?)

    The 1-of-1,000 (or maybe 10,000, or maybe 100,000) self-published titles that "gain traction" won't need a traditional publisher, and won't want to share their hard-earned money with one.

  • Dana Crosby

    This is very smart move from a business standpoint on numerous levels and a welcome one for many aspiring authors. This answers a huge "felt need" from the author standpoint and will bring even more information thus benefit to the public. Thumbs up!

  • Tamera Lynn Kraft

    I would never trust an agent who sent me to be self-published with the rejection note. And I have a real problem with legitimate publishers who also run self-publish companies. I have no problem with those who choose self-publishing, not the direction I’m going, but I am deeply troubled that Thomas Nelson, a reputable commercial publisher, is blurring the lines. This disappoints me.

    • Michael Hyatt

      All I can say is times are changing. When Thomas Nelson himself (the founder of our company) go into business, he was the first publisher to employ a professional sales staff. Other publishers were scandalized. Some booksellers refused to do business with him, but he persisted.

      As I said in the post, I see this as a way to empower authors for whom a traditional publishing relationship has not or will not work. Obviously, no one forces anyone to do business with anyone else.

      I predict that within 24 months, most major publishers will have self-publishing operations. In five years, no one will think it is unusual.

    • Michael Hyatt

      All I can say is times are changing. When Thomas Nelson himself (the founder of our company) went into business, he was the first publisher to employ a professional sales staff. Other publishers were scandalized. Some booksellers refused to do business with him, but he persisted.

      As I said in the post, I see this as a way to empower authors for whom a traditional publishing relationship has not or will not work. Obviously, no one forces anyone to do business with anyone else.

      I predict that within 24 months, most major publishers will have self-publishing operations. In five years, no one will think it is unusual.

  • Derek

    I love the Scottish-themed website!

    As for the need for promotion … writers have to do their own promotion anyway, according to this (humorous) article in the New Yorker:

  • Dan Ryan

    Great idea!

  • Laurinda

    This is encouraging for someone who has never been published. I was ready for the long haul of rejections/disappointments while pursing traditional publishing.

    If a person did well under WestBow Press, could they 'graduate' to TN?


    I definitely agree with your point when you stated that self-publishing is not for everyone. That's why it is vital for every writer to asses the marketability of the book. It's also important to create an effective and practical marketing strategic plan for your book. Thanks for sharing this post!

    Sincerely, | You have a book…We have the Marketing Resources.

  • Joel

    Mike, great to know you're thinking of the little guy with Westbow Press… I can't wait to see hw this platform will launch the next generation Lucado, Swindoll, and Maxwell (in terms of traditional publishing sales) through leveraging their social media accumen and digital platforms.

    It's going to be an awesome day when WP titles outpace sales of traditional publisher titles in the digital publishing age (coming real soon with Apple's new E-Reader). These are very exciting times… thank you for the brilliant strategic move… keep "making it happen".

  • Linda Yezak

    I've read several self-pubbed books and have found that the stigma is well-deserved: poorly written novels still outnumber the well written ones. If your prediction is true and your lead is followed by other major publishing houses within the next 24 months, I wonder if readers will start buying books according to the imprint that offers the best quality read.

    • Michael Hyatt

      This was actually the point I was making in an earlier comment about price. "Self-publishing" is not the equivalent of merely "printing." Too many authors go the cheap route, thinking they are getting the former but, in effect, only getting the latter. At WestBow Press we provide the kind of editorial help that ensures you put your best foot forward. The editors cant turn a mediocre novelist into a Hemingway (any more than a traditional publisher can), but they can offer significant help to authors who are willing to listen.

    • Carol Hoenig

      Mike is right when it comes to editorial help; however, I collected some comments from Publishers Weekly, for reviews they did for traditionally published books:

      "Clunky pacing and cartoonish characters"
      "reads like a superficial TV script"
      "overall silliness and lack of credible characters"
      "a mechanical plot and an improbable ending far from satisfy"
      "descriptions of technology and applications are painstakingly over explained"
      "wooden dialogue"

      Meanwhile, I have read some beautifully written books that were published as PODs and wonder why they didn’t get the attention they deserved. It’s a quandary to be sure.

  • Timothy Fish

    As a fan of self-publishing, I have looked at a number of self-publishing companies and the services they offer. From what I have seen, WestBow Press appears to be right in line in terms of services and pricing. The big question that will have to be answered over time is what makes WestBow something other than Thomas Nelson’s attempt to jump on the bandwagon.

  • Eva Ulian

    I am certainly interested in this new Nelson self-published line, which after a good night sleep and input from friends have come to the conclusion it is suitable, not so much for my fiction, as I am still confident there is a chance a traditional publisher will pick it up one day, but for my narrative history of Rajasthan- “Rajput”. Because of its niche quality, I know it is difficult for a traditional publisher to be interested since it is aimed at a limited audience, India, and more precisely, Hindu oriented schools. However, even though it is not completed, I can work miracles under pressure- I shall be in touch with your contact Pete Nikolai. As I am giving up building my patio to pay for this, I hope I shall make enough to do both!!!

  • KristineMac

    Nice to see Thomas Nelson is jumping on the band wagon with Lifeway (who introduced Cross Books several months ago). The question is does your program offer similar or better benefits. I guess time will tell.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, Lifeway was actually the first in our segment. Knowing how strict their standards are, this gave us confidence to begin a dialog with ASI. Thanks.

  • sabaifitness

    I'm now author #12 with Westbow and look forward to my book "Health As Mission" getting out there! Michael, thanks so much for providing leadership and vision in this publishing area that needs direction. I like the idea of Westbow being more an indie publishing house and think that's going to make a big difference as the responsibility for promotion and success is shared. Blessings, William

    • Michael Hyatt

      William, that is awesome! Great news.

  • Easy_Writer

    As a multi-published author who has been in this business for more than two decades, I can speak first-hand on this topic. The vast majority of my 30 books have been traditionally published (two with Thomas Nelson), but I also chose to self-publish my train-of-thought writer's workbook, as I teach on the topic at writers' conferences all over the country and therefore have a built-in platform to sell the books. I'm thrilled to see TN offering this very viable option to talented authors who might not otherwise see their books in print. Congratulations!
    Kathi "Easy Writer" Macias

  • VickyDNE

    As an author who considered traditional publishing at one time, I am now the author of two self-published books with another one on the way very soon to publication. I was never misled in believing my books would be on bookshelves everywhere in the country, but I did understand that I was responsible for the success of my book by heading up the marketing myself. Personally, I love that aspect of self-publishing. This is an exciting undertaking for Thomas Nelson and AuthorHouse and just another example of the innovative results generated by all the visionaries on the leadership teams at both companies.

  • Rob Sargeant

    This is smart move, and a great opportunity for new authors. I have two titles in POD now. It’s a very cost effective way of publishing, especially when you have an existing platform, whatever size that might be. Big savings on warehousing space for the book sellers and the publisher. Over the long haul this savings should be passed on to the consumer.

  • Cliff Graham

    This is exciting news for the industry, but as Michael has pointed out, it's not new. Other publishers have met with great success using this model. Thomas Nelson is smart to jump on board.

  • Carol Hoenig

    As a fulltime freelance writer and publishing consultant, as well as an advisory board member for Author Solutions, I couldn’t be more pleased with this news. I write about the industry often and meet many worthy writers who cannot get their works published, which is so frustrating. Now WestBow Press offers good news, along with validation. Getting past the gatekeeper is something I often write about. Here is a link to just one blog titled “What’s an Unpublished Writer to Do?… Meanwhile, I wish success to all involved in this venture!

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  • Mike Johnson

    When I began writing books at age 59, I set two goals: write painstakingly researched books that touch people and make the books available to people who want them. I didn’t have the patience to begin hunting for an agent, not at 59. After considerable research, including conversations with authors who had been published traditionally as well as POD, I began working with AuthorHouse. Four books later, feedback from readers tells me I’ve been achieving my goals.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mike. This is helpful.

  • Kyle Watson

    I think this is excellent news. It will give more hope for authors to make a full time living at writing books. A chance to move out of the minor leagues and go to the big show is awesome.

    For those who are negative on the idea. Myself and another author who started out with IUniverse in its toddler stages did okay for ourselves. I got plenty of media attention. The other author got picked up by a traditional publisher. I wish this Westbow opportunity was available back in the year 2000. I have written many times on a Christian Writers site that POD is the future in publishing. Publishers must get on board now. Because I believe in the future authors can and will us technology to become their own publishing entity. I know people will laugh at the idea.

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  • Dale Wilstermann

    There has been a number of comments on cost. As a marketer of books I cannot believe the value being offered in the marketing packages. We either execute these type of programs or hire third party companies to do so on our behalf every day. The relative low cost and the value of the Westbow marketing pacakges make me want to hire them!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dale. Excactly what I thought the first time I saw them. (For everyone else: Dale is the VP of Marketing for our Non-Fiction Publishing Group at Thomas Nelson.)

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  • http://link His_wife69

    You need to look into some of the research conducted during the Third Reich. ,

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  • Aaron Armstrong

    I've been thinking about Westbow since first reading this announcement. I've got something that might be worth publishing; only problems are I'm more than a little afraid and intimidated by the cost. Lots of saving to do, I guess.

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  • Mike Bull

    I'm ready to publish and applied online. I can understand that West Bow might be overwhelmed initially, but how long will it take to get a response? I have people asking for my book!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have asked someone in our offices to contact you. Usually, we respond within 24 hours. However, I noted that you are in Australia, so there may be some issue with the time difference.

      Thanks for your patience.

      • Mike Bull

        Awesome – thank you Mr H

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  • apostleron

    Recently there has been a lot of talk about self publishing. Although I do believe it is wonderful to be able to publish what we want when we want, we must be certain that our reasons for publishing are valid and compatible with this means. Why are we publishing? If the answer is because we want to make truck loads of money or become a famous well read author than I am afraid that self publishing is by no means the way to go.

    You see, self publishing, vanity publishing or partnership publishing are rarely going to give a writer incredible results as far as money and fame go. However, if the writer really has something important to say; it is a wonderful way to help others. Often as we move away from the traditional route we can really lose track of what it takes to become a well read author.

  • apostleron

    Many times it is the literary agent who acts as a filter. A good agent will be totally honest with a writer about their work. The best agents will encourage a want to be author to continue working at their craft. Ten thousand hours is roughly the amount of exercise required to reach the optimal condition in any profession. Persistence is the key. The more we work at the things we are passionate about the better we become at being passionate beings that are ready to be all that we are created to be.

    I think the first step in the life of any writer, preacher, teacher or any other professional is to get the Ego right out of their way. Protecting our ego only serves to hinder our growth and halt our progress in the field of choice. Let’s get things straight; we are never the best we can be right out of the gate. Being fantastic at anything takes initiative, persistence and passion. We must understand that we always have more to learn.

  • apostleron

    I called literary agents filters. They are just that and the big time publishers know this well. In fact, they count on them to present them with the best of the best. If an agent continually pushes through inferior work he/she will find themselves pushing at closed doors sooner than they would like. You see, they will lose the respect of the publishers who get hundreds of manuscript per week and have little time to read works that just are not up to par.

    I understand the temptation that exists within the mind of a would be author to just tear off the bandage fast and submit their manuscript, but I highly recommend holding off submitting anything until the work is as good as it will get. By the way, literary agents and publisher do not want completed manuscripts; they are looking for a book proposal. If you don’t know what that is I strongly recommend that you Google it as soon as your done reading this essay. Please, do not send a complete manuscript. A good agent will generally receive about one hundred of these per week and have little chance to look at them even if they chose to.

  • apostleron

    I am very surprised that with the newest surge of self publishing companies out there that nobody has mentioned that one of a literary agent’s top priorities is to protect a writer from being read before their time. In my position I have had the misfortune of reading some self published works that have made this the most obvious purpose in any agent’s career. There are a lot of potentially great authors out there today. People with wonderful imaginations and enlightened souls, but they just are not ready to be read and it is a cold hard fact that they never will be read again by me. When an agent tells us no it is to protect us from damaging our name or our brand. Brand image is the most important thing in publishing and for that matter in just about anything else. If a writer is serious about having a career as an author I highly recommend working at their craft until they get to the point where they can acquire a good agent.

  • apostleron

    Just think about it for a minute. How many times have we gone to a terrible restaurant and rushed back to try another meal? I would say rare to never. Why would we? What we expect is the same slop we got the first time and we are not going to spend our hard earned money on that again. If we went to see a movie by a certain director and it stunk up the theatre we would be very hesitant to ever see another one by the same director. This is why it is crucial for actors and directors to carefully evaluate any script before they agree to participate. The future of their careers depends on it!

    We would not want to eat a cake before the timer sounds telling us it is finished. I am not interested in dealing with anything that is half done and neither is the rest of the world. Many times a new writer’s work is just that. It takes time to create something worth reading. The process takes perseverance, practice and passion.

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  • Lynn Dean

    Another situation where self-publishing may make sense is if your material is of interest to a small, but active, niche market. For example, about 10 years ago I self-published a state history curriculum for homeschoolers. That project would never have been profitable to a traditional publisher, but has sold very well in its niche. A similar example might be a book that appeals to hobbyists–perhaps a manual on how to break horses or a hiker's guide to trails in a particular region. There is no expectation that these books would appeal to a large market, but they can generate interest within a specific readership.

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  • kkcoolj

    It is interesting that Thomas Nelson and others are launching new imprints to attend to the self-publishing model. It is good news for self-publishing authors as the lines/credibility gap gets blurred when major publishers embrace this segment of the market. At the same time, LuLu, Amazon and other services that helped "user generated" content get published in the same form factor makes it increasingly enticing.

    I think having a complete picture of all inclusive costs is one of the major hurdles for someone that hasn't gone through the entire process. $999 seems steep to the first time author to pay upfront without knowing if you'll also have to pay for cover design, editing, formatting, etc.

  • Avram Ohm

    Matthew 6:24

  • Michael N. Marcus

    Customers of Westbow are NOT self-publishing. They are customers of a vanity publisher.

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  • Mike Bull

    I just published with Westbow Press. My book appeared on amazon yesterday and just now ranked at #3,877 in books. Very happy.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Mike. That is awesome. Congratulations!

  • Bill

    What a great idea!! I hope to make use of this in the future.

  • kingsdaughters21

    This is a great idea, but I must still I would still prefer to be published by Thomas Nelson. If you don't think my book is worth publishing then I will go back to the drawing board and rework it until it grabs your attention. This way at least I know when it is published by you it is actually a great book. My fear of self publishing is that anything goes, even a bad book can be self published. So just incase you are interested in what I am working on, here is a glimpse, your feedback would be fantastic :)

  • Eisley Jacobs

    Thanks Michael. This is a great timely topic! I will share it through the air waves…

  • Cathy Ann Sauer

    I have four self published children’s books of which I am very proud. However, it’s been an expensive, hard fought lesson about the world of children’s publishing. The joy of creating the books was ebbed out by the Goliath of marketing the books. It is very difficult. I hope your new endeavor supports or at least educates authors about what’s in store… as in “Who’s going to help me bake the bread?”
    Great blog BTW.

    • Marc Murphy

      Cathy, welcome to the world of publishing! Before diving in, I recommend that every writer take some time to educate themselves about the harsh realities of the publishing world.

  • Bob Hamp

    Before I began my first manuscript, I wrote a short essay to myself about the foolishness of throwing a teacup full of water in an ocean. It seems a very difficult time to make a blip on the radar of an information engorged culture. Publishing, co-publishing, self-publishing, Print-on-demand, blogging, Twitter, etc. are all changing the face of content distribution, like a landslide changes local geography. For the individual, these options provide the “solution” of easy access. For the crowd, these venues collectively fling open the door to the avalanche of increasingly indistinguishable “one-of-a-kind” works. This is an observation more than a criticism. I am, however, very curious what the landscape looks like two years from now. In the meantime, kudos to TN and Michael for staying on the cusp of a large wave. Cowabunga!

  • PC

    Here’s one more for your list:

    “Your friends and family incessantly demand you write a book, but you have too many excuses for not doing so.”

  • Szoller

    Hi,  my name is Susan Zoller and I beleive that a have a beautiful, heart-warming strory that I feel spirtually inspired to share with othes that may have lost a child.  I lost my 17 year old son Ryan in a devastaing car crash, caused by a teenage drunk driver but  before this horific expereice ever took place, my son somehow knew his life would be cut short in order to save the lives of others.  Ryan’s amazing,  God given insight will totally captivate readers in a beautiful, touching, true story of an Angel on earth.  When Ryan died I prayed that I would have an enternal connection with him.  My prayers were answered when I was spirtually directed to adopt a little girl from Romania that was conceived when he departed.    I adpoted Ryan’s little Angel from the worse imaginable orphanage in the world and I am spirtually convineced that he saved her life.  Maria was extremely tramatized when she came to America and could barley walk or talk at three. She has scars all over her body and has suffered tremendously due to cruel kids that have no clue about harsdshps, but should they?   Anyway this story has a happy ending, Maria is now 13 and ifted with the most beautiful, classical opera voice.  She was the youngest student accepted into the pre opera prgram in Tampa and with God’s guidance, she will continue to sing her song to inspire others.

    If I could get a little assitance in writing Ryans’ book, I would be so grateful.

  • Anonymous

    I know this article is old, but I’m glad I came upon it. I have gotten numerous calls from a WestBow agent asking about a book I’m writing (although I have not returned his calls). I have read various reviews of WestBow, many of which have not been favorable.  However, I did read an ebook called “How to Market and Sell Your eBook” by Sarah Mae, which I found extremely informative and interesting. I’m wondering if you would recommend one over the other – self publishing through WestBow, or self publishing an eBook instead?  

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think it depends on your goal. For me personally, I would want my book available in as many formats as possible. Currently, e-books only represent about 12–18% of the market. This is rising, but why give up the rest of the market?
      I would also be cautious about with what you read about WestBow. We have hundreds of satisfied customers. (I know, because we survey them after the fact.) A few vocal opponents are selling their own solutions.

      • Laurie Ann Jalbert

        Hey Michael, have you published the surveys? I’m looking to publish with WB and have asked for statistic on customer satisfaction and they can’t seem to give me anything concrete, What exactly has your survey shown?

        • Michael Hyatt

          I left Thomas Nelson about three years ago, Laurie, so I am afraid I can’t be any help here. (This post goes back several years to when I was CEO of the company.)

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  • Diane Newcomb

    To Whom It May Concern:  I hope in the greatest way I’ll hear back from you.  I discoverd you by reading Heaven is for Real, recommended to me by my young step-daughter.  Something I’ve not seen written about is grieving for a live child.   Mine is my 36 year old daughter.  I’m not sure if I’ve lost her to substance abuse, mental illness or both.  But I know for sure parents and caretakers in my positition life is a daily unresolved grief.  Life becomes a painful ordeal, despite varying degrees of faith.  I  have the book written in my heart.  There is hope and comfort but it must be sought.  Please assist me with this.  I’m praying several times a day you well.  Thank you, Diane Newcomb, 5539 Barrington Park Drive, Lincoln, NE 68516

    • Michael Hyatt

      If you are interested in self-publishing, please visit the WestBow Press website and explore your options. Thanks.

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  • polina

    Self publishing!!!!!!!!!! I’ve done it in 2005 with Trafford. Since canadian Trafford was transfered to Indian I have NOT received a cent for my book and what’s more, Trafford sells my book everywhere and they allowed Amazon to print and sell my book in kindle edition without even asking for my permission…when I write to Trafford asking for explanation the reply is that I HAVE to contact AMAZON on my own and decide this issue with them. Whenever I ask for a person’s name in Trafford who is in charge of distributing/selling my book I receive no reply at all. Is it a decent publishing House to deal with? Polina Roussou

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have not had any dealing with them. Sorry.

  • Joe

    It doesn’t seem to be such an unselfish step as it may sound at first. Why is this step taken now and not ten or fifteen years ago? Then it certainly would have been visionary and a true sign of unselfish assistance to aspiring but frustrated authors. Now, it appears to be rather complying with the pressures of the market. Obviously, if most books that are sold today are self-published, then this is where the money is. And if the current trend continues, this is where publishers need to go if they want to keep making money in the future. Sorry, guys, this step comes to late to be convincing.

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  • Oliveleaf

    When self-publishing, what is the best way(s) to market yourself?

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  • Jeanne Doyon

    I would love to know, now that Westbow has been around for awhile, is it still a good choice in self publishing?

    • Laurie Ann Jalbert

      Jeanne, I would also like to see more survey proof of how well WB is actually doing and what the authors are saying. This would be helpful before I commit to using them.

  • Angela Magnotti Andrews

    I’m about to self-publish a book with CreateSpace primarily for friends and families and to build a local audience with in-person author events. I do have a question. Once I self-publish a title with its own unique ISBN, can I still search for a literary agent and attempt to have the same book published traditionally?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Not usually.

      • Angela Magnotti Andrews

        Does it make a difference if I do not purchase its own ISBN?