In February of 2016, Mark Levine, author of “The Fine Print of Self Publishing” made the statement that, “You guys (Redemption Press) are the only one I see out there who’s doing it right.” He gave me permission to quote him and I was excited to see how we ranked in the upcoming edition of his book. In May, 2016, the advance reader copy came out and he sent me a hard copy. I was thrilled to see Redemption Press rank #1 over Tate Publishing, Westbow, and Xulon. I blogged about our ranking and soon after actually met Mark in person when he stopped by our annual writers’ conference. After all these years of being in touch, it was great to finally meet face to face. Especially since it was his first edition of the FPSP that convinced me that WinePress needed to change its model and be more transparent and author-friendly instead of publisher-profits friendly. That was definitely the beginning of the end of my input being valued by the new management at WinePress. And his book was the basis I used to create the Redemption Press business model, so meeting him at that time was another full circle for me!
During our visit he mentioned that he had edited out some of his harsher comments about Xulon (it seemed at the time that he was responding to their complaint about the negative review of their contract terms, but he didn’t come right out and say it.)
The actual book released June 7, 2016 and was still highly critical of Xulon, showing them with the highest mark up on printing author copies, but it did not include this comment about them in the section about predatory sales techniques:
The most aggressive company by far was Xulon Press. Between July 11, 2015 and September 18, 2015, I received forty-six emails offering me discounts as well as phone calls to discuss publishing options.
Here are some of his comments that directly relate to Xulon’s sales practices:
"Most authors dream of being seated at a table in a Barnes & Noble with a line wrapping around the store, adoring fans each gripping multiple copies of the author's book. Disreputable companies prey on that dream: reputable ones don't. There are self-publishing companies that strive to sell you the services you need and can afford, and those intent on sucking money out of you by falsely stroking your ego…
“The most predatory sales techniques in the industry are those used by the Author Solutions conglomerate of companies, which includes Author House, Balboa Press, iUniverse, Trafford, Westbow Press, and Xlibris. Their tactics are high pressure and constant until authors break down and purchase their services. In the time that Author Solutions’ new owner, Penguin Random House, has owned the company, the predatory sales practices do not appear to have slowed down. In fact, being able to name-drop Penguin has probably helped the various Author Solutions sales teams make even more sales. “The purpose of this section is not to harp only on Author Solutions. There are other companies that employ similar sales techniques. I point out Author Solutions because they now own and/or operate so many companies on behalf of traditional publishers and seem to be a place where a number of unsuspecting new authors find themselves.
"Unfortunately, some religious self-publishing companies employ high-pressure sales techniques under the guise of shared faith, reminding the author that coming together for a business purpose is preordained by God. No matter your religious beliefs, God does not want you to pay excessive printing markups that will then make your book unsellable.
So, the fact that Redemption Press was #1 with 0% markup on the author copy printing cost, compared to Xulon’s 178% markup, was pretty telling as to who Mark was talking about in this last paragraph.
So imagine my surprise when early in August we touch base to talk about some possible partnering we’d discussed earlier in the year. Here’s how the conversation went:
Mark - rather sheepishly: “You know, Salem offered me a deal I could not refuse. I just turned 50, and I’m tired of trying to stay competitive, so I did it. I sold them my company which includes the rights to my book.”
Athena - shocked: "No way...really?"
To say I was stunned would be an understatement. He talked about what great people the Salem folks were, and how he’d judged them unfairly, that he really liked them. Now please understand, Mark is not a Christian, so I don’t blame him for taking their generous offer and walking away. It was a business deal and simply wasn't a moral issue for him.
I wasn’t sure what that would mean in the future, but just went on about my business and ignored it, until I had to update my PowerPoint files and tell about our #1 rating as I quote The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. I went online to see if I could find a press release about the sale and looked up the book on Amazon.
My heart skipped a beat as I found what I’d expected, but hoped wasn’t really true. The facts were right before my eyes:
The article states the company was purchased by Salem Media for 3.5 million.
The same dollar figure WinePress was worth when I was manipulated into “selling” it to Sound Doctrine for $10. Yep, $3.5 Million.
But wait, it gets better.
I went to Amazon to see what the status is on the book that declares Xulon as one of THE WORST options for authors to utilize.
As the Sixth Edition popped right up, I caught my breath.
“We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock”
No used copies for sale.
So, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing rated Xulon the WORST and called them predatory and highly aggressive, with the highest of all markups on printing costs, among other things. And rather than change their ways, revise their business model, and actually treat authors right, they try to silence the critic. They suppress the truth.
When I saw that, a few scriptures came quickly to mind:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (Romans 1:18)
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. (Ephesians 4:25)
May I just say…
Shame on you, Xulon Press!
Shame on you Salem Communications!
Instead of repenting and doing what is right, you buy off the critic and buy up all the copies so the truth is no longer available.
So WOW…what a full circle! Two years ago I was somewhat intimidated by this competitor. Today, I feel like it’s David and Goliath, and I am even more convinced that their business practices are far from honest and transparent.
Come to think of it, in all the years I’ve been on faculty at Christian writers’ conferences across the country, not once have I ever seen a Xulon representative on faculty. I’m afraid they would never stand up under the scrutiny!
Join me next Wednesday for part two of this blog series on Xulon Press.