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Westbow Press / misrepresentation and deceptive practices

1-5 Albuquerque, NM, United States Review updated:

Westbow Press purposely is elusive and vague when trying to find out payments for royalties. They are deceptive in quoting costs which allows them to profit without sharing proceeds. They are tardy in paying royalties and will not address issues unless complaints are directed toward the board of directors and ceo. Their entire process should be audited and they should be required to disclose what was sold, when it was sold and the format that it was sold in. They refuse to do that. They do not disclose any of this up front when soliciting the thousands of dollars they charge to publish a book.

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  • Ja
      7th of Mar, 2013
    +4 Votes

    From experience, and as a publishing consultant, I can tell you there is almost NEVER a reason to go with a publish-on-demand or vanity publishing company. They either get your money up front with no way of knowing if there is any return on your investment, or they get your money in royalties with no evidence of a return on your investment. You even lose on your royalties by the time bookstores and Amazon like places pound their royalties and commissions out of you. The only people who benefit are the publishing companies and lawyers. Where there is a breach by the publisher, yes you can almost always get out of the contract by taking your complaint public and to the social networks. You are entitled to a financial accountability, the print ready file - unless you signed away your ownership rights, then you own nothing; and the distribution and listings should be yanked from all places claiming commissions and royalties under the name of the publisher.

    For the unestablished, and sometimes to an established, author the world of publishing is intimidating, confusing and overwhelming. There are a multitude of different types of publishing houses and sources in which to use. Which is right for you? What happens when you go with a less than honorable vanity or print on demand publisher? What steps are involved in the writing, printing, publishing, distribution and marketing of a book? How does an author proceed safely with their dream? How does an author determine what is the best course of action for their book? As an author, writer and publishing consultant my goal is to help the author determine what their best course of action is and sometimes how to undo a bad choice and how to start over.

  • Pu
      23rd of Jul, 2013
    +2 Votes

    I also had a book published by WestBow. While some of the experience is positive since there are SOME pretty good people who work there, here are the negatives:
    1) I narrowed my book publisher potentials down to two. The retail price of the book was a factor in deciding which one to sign up. WestBow's rep. told me a final retail price and at my urging, double checked with his boss. The price they were both sure of was not the price used. Both reps had different stories as to why this happened.
    2) My initial marketing manager was probably the most belligerent person I've ever dealt with in a customer/business relationship. If he could have gotten his hands around my throat, he probably would have choked me until I agreed to buy a website from him. Fortunately, I was on the phone many miles away. He made me sound as if I was a complete idiot for not buying a website from him. I found out later that he gets a commission for marketing packages he sells. Their website is definitely not worth the money even if I wanted a website.
    3A) Since my book is coffee table picture book with supporting pages of text, the images are vital to any success the book may have. The images were printed on uncoated paper without any real blacks in them. So they look flat and dull as compared to the original and compared to a Blurb copy I did myself. It is not at all the quality people expect in a picture book. So my Blurb book is far superior to WestBow even though Blurb is hardly a top-notch publisher. This may be an inherent problem with POD and not just with WestBow. Nobody should use WestBow if image quality is important. While WestBow touted their color publishing on their website, nobody there mentioned this major problem before I signed up.
    3B) I expressed my unhappiness with the book quality so they offered to sell me a 3000-book offset run for $12, 000. That is a little like getting a tiny, burnt-up steak at a steakhouse and having the waiter offer to bring you a much better steak if you'll give them $100 more. Hardly a solution to their quality problem.
    4) The back cover text was supposed to be checked by a proofreader. If it was, their proofreader is in the 7th grade and stops by after school to make a little extra money. They used a paragraph twice that was not repeated in the info I gave them. Also, the title of the book was not italicized. These two boo-boos in a very small amount of text must indicate 7th grade (or less) work.
    5) I was suckered into spending $500 for the buy-back option so that bookstores could purchase a load of books and sell them back to WestBow if they didn't sell. Unfortunately, bookstores don't seem interested in buying a load of POD books so this was a complete waste of money for me. I can't speak for all other authors but can speak for what I've found out.
    6) At the beginning of the process, I sent them a link to my Blurb book to show what I had done with the material on my own. I thought this might help them in some way to design my book. It REALLY helped them it turns out. They copied my book design and might should have sent me a check for my help. I think my design is a pretty decent one even though I have never designed a book before. But they are supposedly the professional book designers and should have at least been able to embellish my design. From the results, I can easily deduct that the designers are entry level designers that might hope to work for Thomas Nelson many years down the road.

  • Ja
      24th of Jul, 2013
    +3 Votes

    Published Man - do you have any hope of getting your book back from these people? And your money? because they so blatantly did not comply with your requests. From what I see from my internet sources, they are a vanity publishing house that is generally NOT recommended. That being hindsight. I also see that with them and the many names they operate under, there may be some discrepancy as to actually "owns" your book and cover. Out of the kindness of their heart they may pay you an occasional royalty but there is no incentive on their part to try to sell your books, because they have already made their money. Good or excellent quality "coffee table" books would be printed using a high quality and qualified off-set printing process. Your low-end vanity press printer is probably not capable of doing this. If it were me, I would probably fight to get my money back and the ownership rights to the book, the cover, and possession of the digital file. Then start over using a reputable off-set printing company and forget the self-publishing direction all together.

  • Bo
      7th of Sep, 2013
    +2 Votes

    I 100% agree with all the complaints herein. Though, I used Trafford, one of their many names. Something has to be done about this "Umbrella" of a company stealing our hard earn money. I know for a fact that I've sold copies from friends, family and fans informing me. But I still get nothing. We have to take a stand and put a stop to this thievery.

  • Ch
      9th of Sep, 2013
    +1 Votes

    Let's stop talking about Westbow Press the Thomas Nelson's groomed book scam artist and try to join together and find someone that will help us fight back at this money grabbing ponzi scams, I have canceled my agreement with Westbow, in Feb of this year, but they are still selling my book on most online book stores, and overseas book well as e-books, and they are not paying me a dime. I am filing a complaint with the Indiana Attorney's General's Office and my state's Attorney's Office I think you all should do the same. That might be our start in getting help. What is really the bad thing about this whole situation is that Westbow and Thomas Nelson claim to be Christian Publisher .God Forbid. Will somebody out there please help us.

  • Ma
      7th of Jan, 2017
    Best Best Advice +4 Votes

    @Cheated Author 64 I help Christian authors ... but mostly I show them how to publish through CreateSpace ...and if you watch yourself, you can do it for zero dollars, including asking me how to do so. I am sort of on a campaign to stop the money flow that could very well have been spent helping third world efforts or evangelizing in our home towns rather than getting products that are really, in my opinion, something we can do ourselves with very little extra on the learning curve. Sorry, this is a hot button for me. You can see my books on Amazon ... some covers I paid for and some I created with as little as zero but mostly about ten dollars. Am I on the NYTimes best seller list? Only if I buy the list and put a book on top of it! :) No, my point is that I want to help get the Word out through good Christian books and I really don't want people paying hundreds and thousands of dollars for disappointment.

  • Me
      12th of Jan, 2017
    +1 Votes

    @Cheated Author 64 I entered into a relationship with Westborough in June 2016. I explained to the sales person named Gretchen that I had cancer. I told her that my husband had cancer as well we have an extenuating circumstance in a home that is beyond insane. I explained to her that I want to buy book published by Christmas and that I did not have a lot of money but that because of my cancer I was hoping the book sales would raise money for me. She told me that I could go into a payment plan and that I would not be charged a fee for the payment plan because she understood my situation. Then she told me that if I signed up that day I would get an extra bonus but having more privileges in my plan. I signed up and after that they dropped the ball completely. I made my payments on time and The person who was supposed to help get my book ready for content review never responded to my emails. I got two emails from Westbow saying that if I got my information in Buy a particular deadline, that my book will be ready for Christmas. I got my information in but sadly the person it reached was no longer working there so it's set in some email server for a long time. I finally got an email from another person saying they were now taking overproduction of my book and I explained that I had been waiting to hear. She wrote back and said that they lost my files and wanted me to send her my files again. I told her that I want to buy book ready by Christmas and I sent her the files again and I never heard anything again for a while. I decided I wanted my money back since this was going to be the way things were handled there and now I'm only getting a portion of my money back. They are keeping close to $400. They said it was part of my contract. I'm disgusted. I told him that I was going to be having my colon removed on January 23 due to cancer and that I had made it clear to them prior to signing with my situation was and that I couldn't believe they were keeping my money. I left a voicemail with a man named Eugene in the hopes that he will have mercy and grant me the rest of my money back but I don't think they're going to. I'm looking forward to the day when I have a class action lawsuit.

  • Sa
      2nd of Oct, 2017
    0 Votes

    @Margery Warder Margery, I'd love some assistance. I've created a 125 page full color book with Blurb software and was almost ready to pull the trigger on Westbow, but these complaints (especially the color quality complaints above, since my book is a book that is 100% dependent on quality color reproduction) have given me cause to pause. I'd love to hear more about Create Space.

  • Pa
      22nd of Feb, 2018
    0 Votes

    @Margery Warder How do we contact you?

  • El
      1st of Mar, 2018
    0 Votes

    @Margery Warder I just saw all the bad reviews, and now not sure what to do. I paid WestBow my fist payment, but haven't signed the Author Agreement form yet (as I am in Australia, and would need to sign it electronically).

    I am a first time author and have a time sensitive project (daily planner) I am working on. I am so inexperienced that I created my project in Microsoft Publisher and have not been able to export it properly into a PDF (the pages get jumbled, and the margins are wrong when I uploaded it into CreateSpace).

    I thought going with a publisher would be good for a first time, (plus I want Zondervan and Thomas Nelson's audience), but I don't want to be ripped-off.

  • Ts
      24th of Jul, 2018
    0 Votes

    @Margery Warder Hi - I am interested in publishing a Christian book for the first time. And had actually contacted Westbow Press but have not signed. Any suggestions on how to get started

  • Ti
      26th of Oct, 2014
    +2 Votes

    I have worked with photography and design clients for 35 years and have never had an experience so terrible as with WestBow Press. I paid $3, 999 up front. I had written a 160 page book of poetry and short stories with a finished manuscript and I had finished artwork for the cover. WestBow Editorial took it and completely changed text, titles and punctuation, but I thought fine that is their suggestion. I specified I did not want the text changed, not the fonts or interior text design and it went to WestBow Design. They altered every page and changed my cover design, scrapped my spine (when I had told them I would adjust it according to the width they would specify). This went on and on for 7 months until they refused to allow me to submit a brighter color cover (because RGB to CMYK had dulled the images). I had no choice but to walk away without any refund. I have never in all my professional photography, graphic design and writing career had to deal with a company like WestBow.

  • Ti
      28th of Oct, 2015
    +2 Votes

    I Got conned into using Westbow Press. As an author looking for help with my first book I approached them and they appeared on the surface to be enthusiastic. When the book was ready and launched I received a call from a publicist who wanted $13500 to promote my book, he sent a huge package email with what he would do for the money, as he felt it was a really great book. I said that if he felt it was so great he and Westbow should do it for nothing and if it took off then they could take half the royalties. They declined.
    At the beginning of the process they wanted my bank details, to withdraw the equal amounts out over a three month period. No problem but I am based in the UK. Not a problem they said. However my book didn't do as well as I liked (those are the chances you take) they sent me a royalties check via mail. It was going to cost me twice as much in bank fees to clear the check, from US$ to GB£, I returned the check with a letter complaining about the fact that they can withdraw money from my account but can't put money into my account even though I pointed out that other so called international companies operating in the states such as Amazon and Create space do so. To date while appearing apologetic they have not given me a clear reason on why their royalties department cannot put money directly into my bank account. No information was given on withholding tax from the US Dept of Revenue despite the fact that through my details and bank account prove I am not a US citizen. All this is yet to be resolved. The silence from Westbow is deafening. My second book is ready for launch I will not be using Westbow.

  • Ml
      6th of Nov, 2015
    +1 Votes

    My co-authors and I read the publishing agreement and submitted a check to WestBow press. We were then asked to sign an electronic contract that contained information we had never agreed to, and they had already cashed our check! I immediately asked for our money back and was assured that it would be returned. We are still waiting. I worked with three different people there and none of them were professional. Look elsewhere.

  • Py
      16th of Nov, 2015
    0 Votes

    i'm in the beginning of this publishing process. i've never published anything before. i received a phone call from "Kathy Lester" but couldn't take the call. she left a message saying she'd call back. she sent me an email containing the contract options, which i read and set aside until after i actually talked to her. today, i received a "form" email advertising special publishing prices during november. i wrote to "Kathy" and said i wanted to talk to her, since we'd never connected by phone. her first email contact began with "it was wonderful speaking with you today." (the first red flag) i wanted to know if WestBow would be interested in publishing a journal covering personal Christian growth and psychological healing from childhood abuse. i wouldn't sign anything until this question was answered. she wrote back immediately and never addressed this question. she asked if i read the options available to me. her gross misuse and abuse of the English language in this email was a huge red flag for me. this is typical of scam artists. i wrote back and said i wouldn't sign anything until i had personal contact with her or someone from her company. i wrote that "at this time, you seem to me to be a scam artist." now that i've read all these complaints, i'll have nothing more to do with her. thanks for the warning!!

  • Ro
      15th of Dec, 2015
    +2 Votes

    I would avoid Westbow Press like the PLAGUE. Actually, I might entertain the plague before them! I tried to be prudent and search many publishers and get what I thought was suitable to my type of book. It is a writing that is targeting the young secular and those who are spiritual people. I planned on using the Randal House connection of placing my book in a secular setting and use my talents and contacts to reach people of spiritual persuasion. However, there was one condition that I made very clear that I would not use AMAZON as a distributor because of their anti-Christian values on God's commanded sexual behavior. That is their position and they have the liberty and prerogative to do so in all fairness. But for them to make money off of my book was something I did not want to do because they flaunted their position in front of the whole nation by the Presidents statement concerning homosexuality. But they reneged on their promise because I was too dumb to get it in writing. Even setting that problem aside there have numerous problems with their system. They only call you if you are dead! I have requested numerous times to clarify situations and they are very lax in responding at all, if ever. Take my final approval on the cover which is supposed to take 2 weeks (that must be in Money Pit movie time). I am sitting on day 35 and they have no promise to be done before Christmas! I just got off the phone with Rich Deventer for over 30 minutes to clarify 4 issues on the cover. They make your cover without any input as to how the style, color or font size of the title should be. Why would you not simply call to get some ideas as to what the cover should look like and save us both a headache? I have stated some very clear desires and instructions and simply IGNORED my requests and did what they thought was proper. Of course, I have responded with vast amounts of e-mails that they were ignoring my requests and instructions. Finally, after about 3 weeks or a month they stated that my idea was not a good idea. Why not state that from the beginning? Why just ignore what I requested? They do little and very poor listening and ignore most if not all of your desires. I guess unless you pay the 10K that they were seeking to do your book. I would recommend a PRINT ON DEMAND. I have been working with Alphagraphics in Phoenix, Az and they are much more clear, accommodating in what they are promising and delivering. Their process seems about 20 X quicker than Westbow's. Save your money and perpetual headaches and seek a local publisher. Sell a thousand or so books and look to hook-up with some national distributor. If you didn't catch my drift, it was one of the top 3 worst experiences of my life.

  • Ro
      15th of Dec, 2015
    +1 Votes

    I also forgot to state that when I had the frustration that my book would be available to AMAZON I went hay wire. I complained, complained and complained! They even hooked me up with a Mike Laguna that fraudulently represented himself as the LEGAL DEPT. He told me that I did not have to make my book available to Amazon which was contrary to what I had been told. Later, I found out that he was just a salesman and had no authority to speak about legal practices of the company. Upon filing a complaint with the BBB the company habitually lied about their statements. Every time they say they are recording you, but seemingly never are. I asked for the intake interview with I believe a John Raynor who promised I did not have to use Amazon as a distributor and they would make sure that happened. I was told that conversation was recorded but they would not provide the tape. They are a bunch of liars!

  • Be
      26th of Jan, 2016
    +1 Votes

    I am glad I am reading this now. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am working on my first book and I contacted Westbow out of curiosity to get some questions answered - stuff like how much would it realistically cost and other things that I am naiive about at this stage of the process. The lady I spoke with was clearly reading off a script. She was asking canned questions that were leading up to selling me a publishing package even though I don't even have a manuscript written yet. It was like talking to a robot. She asked me about my project so I enthusiastically spent 3-4 minutes giving her an overview and her response was, "That is great. And do you think this will help people?" I was really hoping to speak to someone who would critique my topic and offer ideas or feedback but they are obviously not interested in that. She was really pushing for me to buy a publishing package and I told her that it was too early in the process. So, could anyone suggest a good publishing company?

  • Tg
      18th of Apr, 2018
    0 Votes

    @Benjamin Hitzfeld I wonder if her name was Suzette, cause I had a similar experience

  • Li
      4th of Mar, 2016
    +2 Votes

    Clem Cooper - were you able to do anything about Westbow continuing to sell your book after you cancelled the contract? I cancelled my contract in December, 2014, and signed a contract with a more honest publisher. But Westbow appears to still be selling my first version of the book.

    I cancelled with them for many of the same reasons others on this post expressed. I don't know which issue was the worst for me - but perhaps the fact that I could never be certain I was actually getting paid for all the books that sold. I would hear from so many people that they read my book - strangers commenting on the book's Facebook page, etc. - but then get a tiny $75 check once every three months. I asked for an accounting, but never received one.

    The reason I suspect they are still selling on-deman books is because I refused to pay the $850 necessary to receive book store discounts in 2014. In other words - there was NO incentive for a book store to stock my book in 2014. So why did I receive a $12.92 Q4-2015 royalty check today? The new book, with the new publisher, began selling in December. My guess is that due to the new marketing for the new version, people looked for the book on Amazon and found the old version? We all know Amazon wouldn't be stocking the old version. It was print on demand, and Amazon charges for stocking merchandise. Who would pay that for a year. But here it is - the Westbow version was somehow sold in December 2015. Amazing they bothered to send me the $12... but if they hadn't, I wouldn't have known they were still selling the book.

    I would never recommend anyone using Westbow. They were constantly pushing me to spend hundreds and thousands more to market my book - exorbitant prices for little or nothing, saying, "if you really had faith in your book, you would do this..."

    I had faith in my book. I didn't have faith in them. I made my own website, Facebook page, etc. for no cost and within a few short hours of my own time. They are not trying to market your books - they don't care at all about your book. They are trying to mild everything they can get from you, the author.

    They are preying on the dreams of first-time authors.

  • Gl
      5th of Mar, 2016
    +2 Votes

    With the completion of my first book in 2013, I contacted WestBow because I saw it was advertised as a publisher for Christian books. At the time, I didn't know about Createspace and Amazon KDP. My pet peeve is to be pushed into something that I'm not ready for, and from the get-go, they hounded me constantly with phone calls and email trying to get me to buy into one of their contracts. Thankfully, this alerted me that it was a scam-type company, and I asked them not to contact me further. I used Createspace for Print-on-demand and have been extremely happy with them to print my books. Also happy with the quality and I only have to pay a little over $4 per book which I think is excellent in that I have no trouble retailing them for $12. I'm earning a very hefty royalty from Amazon KDP for my kindle version, so I'm also very happy with them. The only investment I have had so far with each of my books is paying a professional to edit ($400), and paying another professional to format and create book cover ($200). That's a heck of a lot cheaper than paying a vanity publishing company such as WestBow who then gets almost all your royalties. My royalties from Amazon's KDP and Pages Read programs net me about $1200 per month for three books, and I have nothing invested in those.

  • Mc
      3rd of Nov, 2017
    0 Votes

    @Glenda M Hello Glenda M.
    Assistance needed pleased. Could I have your recommendation for a book editor and Cover email is please reply

  • Ro
      13th of Apr, 2016
    +1 Votes

    Similarly I had a less than satisfying experience with West Bow - very slow, unresponsive, irresponsible. Recommend Xulon at this point where I proceeded to publish four additional books.

  • De
      2nd of Jun, 2016
    +1 Votes

    Wow! Am I glad for everyone's posts!
    I was thinking how easy to have one 'Christian' company help this first time writer.

    I will think again!

  • Co
      3rd of Jun, 2016
    +1 Votes

    I can relate to the complaints against Westbow Press. I've purchased a publishing package with them. They claimed they provided author support but all they give you is a check in person who knows nothing about writing nor do they care. I was very disappointed and did not give them the manuscript for my novel, After reading all the complaints against them I'm glad I haven't given them anything yet. A few years ago, I thought self publishing was the way to go, but I've discovered most self publishing companies are scammers and all they want is the money. Maybe if enough writers complain about the unscrupulous practices self publishing companies things will change. In the meantime, my fellow writers please don't waste your money on false promises and lies told by self publishing companies, your talent is worth more than that.

  • He
      12th of Jun, 2016
    +1 Votes

    I am in a quandary as to the next step. I have invested in some time, no money at this stage, as I have had an uncertain feeling- more so with the consultant. I think that there are some happy customers with the Westbow organisation. I have been emailing with a consultant who, naturally seemed very helpful and interested in my story. He had been helpful with answering my questions but similarly to many of the above comments, when I revealed that I wasn't quite ready to 'seal the deal', as I had a few more questions, I haven't heard from him since. If this is an example of the way the consultants work, perhaps Westbow needs to look into who is representing them. As a company and business, they have a higher responsibility and expectation upon them, specifically when they are advertising themselves as a company who will support upcoming Christian authors.
    I'm not sure whether to pursue with Westbow but with another consultant or whether to try another organisation.
    What other recommended self publishing groups are there that will support Christian literature?
    Or how does one go about having a solicited manuscript?

  • Co
      13th of Jun, 2016
    +1 Votes

    My advice is don't sign up with a self publishing company, that charges several thousand dollars to publish your book. Several self publishing companies have major complaints filed against them for not paying royalties and deceptive practices. Author solutions and a few others had a class action law suit filed against them in 2013 for the same issues I mentioned above. Several writers I know, use Book Baby for their self publishing needs and highly recommend them. I might also add if you want your book in a Christian book store, some of them will not accept self published books in the store. If you're looking for an Christian agent check out Steve Laube agency. They have a blog with a whole list of topics about writing and publishing and their submission guidelines are also on their website.

  • Dr
      29th of Jun, 2016
    0 Votes

    I just paid my publishing fees last week to Westbow Press and have had an uneasy feeling after working with Rita at the front desk, Rey, who was rude to me, Tim Fitch, who was condescending and Nicki, the "manager" who was so kind to me until I confronted their scam. They have done NOTHING, but received my manuscript and they have informed me that they will only refund 50% of my funds!!! This is supposed to be a Christian company? I am heartbroken for being a trusting individual. I have published 3 other books and have had national sales and traveled to Europe and sold many books there and have never dealt with dishonesty like this. They claim their competitors are behind sites like this one with complaints.

  • Ib
      9th of Dec, 2017
    0 Votes

    @DrThomas Michael sorry to hear this. I am in a similar situation, trying to get a refund from Westbow. I am not sure who I can complain to

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