The Winepress Group's print-on-demand vanity press Pleasant Word, which calls itself "a leading light in Christian self-publishing," is threatening to sue author Mark Levine for criticizing their business practices and proclaiming them "a publisher to avoid" in his book "The Fine Print of Self-Publishing" (which I favorably reviewed). Winepress/Pleasant Word sent out a press release through the Christian Communications Network that reads, in part:
His review of Pleasant Word closes with the statement that "there are plenty of honest Christian publishers. Find one."
In the book, Mr. Levine asserts that he holds publishers "who cloak their services around religion to a higher standard." However, he ranks another Christian publisher as "Outstanding," despite comparing poorly on many of the same criteria he used to judge Pleasant Word.
The Winepress Group has been a leading light in Christian self-publishing since 1991 and enjoys a reputation for integrity and quality within the industry. The company is also a member of the Better Business Bureau with an excellent record.
"This is not about a bad review," said Malcolm Fraser, the Executive Officer at WinePress, "Mr. Levine's research was certainly poor and his conclusions are totally inconsistent, but he's entitled to his opinion. However, he has misrepresented the facts and published statements that are blatantly untrue. His accusations of dishonesty cross the line into slander and break the law. It's potentially very damaging to our reputation and harmful to everyone connected with the company."
What Levine has done is scrutinize Pleasant Word's contract and fee structure in detail and comes to the conclusion that company is not very author friendly. For instance, Pleasant Word claims they give their authors, excuse me customers, 100% of the net profits, which Levine says is not the case:
The author makes 100% of the profits after Pleasant Word nearly doubles the printing price and adds a handling fee
For a book priced at $17.99 and sold on Amazon, Levine calculates that the author's royalty is a mere fifty cents…while Pleasant Word pockets $3.60. Praise the Lord. Levine writes:
I believe it's a compromise of Christian values (and just about every other moral value I can think of) when a publisher leads authors to believe that its printing costs are 100% higher than they actually are.
[…]When a publisher choose to make religion a central focus of its service and writes copy that suggests that due to strong Christian principles authors "know they can trust us," the publisher has a duty to be over-the-top honest. Being less than forthright about the real printing costs, while advertising how honest and Christian it is, instantly makes Pleasant Word a publisher to avoid.
[…]There are simply no pleasant words to describe the business practices of this publisher.
For the record, Levine also lists Tate, another "Christian" vanity press, among the self-publishers to avoid. But he praises Xulon Press as "hands down […] the best exclusively Christian self-publishing company out there."