Monday, February 18, 2013

Solicitation Alert: Blessed Hope Publishing

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Recently I received a question about an apparently new Christian publisher, Blessed Hope Publishing. The writer who contacted me was suspicious because Blessed Hope had not only solicited his manuscript, but had accepted it within a matter of days.

Blessed Hope expounds upon its mission thus (their emphasis):
Blessed Hope Publishing’s mission is to spread out the Word of God through manuscripts written on Christianity. The grace of God has been revealed by Jesus Christ who brings salvation to all people. Although this grace is often described as a treasure, we believe that this gift should not be jealously hidden, but should on the contrary be shared to the world.
To this end, the company offers a range of services, including book production, marketing, and distribution--all of which, it emphasizes, are free to the author.

To anyone who is savvy in the wiles of Internet-based publishing, it will be immediately apparent that Blessed Hope isn't a publisher, but an author mill (despite its relatively small--so far--catalog). Its earnest mission statement isn't an expression of faith: it's a cynical marketing ploy designed to draw in Christian writers, who often are more trusting of those who self-identify as Christian.

And that's not all. Here, and on every page of the website, Blessed Hope's parent organization is listed: AV Akademikerverlag GmbH & Co. KG. This company, in turn, is a subsidiary of Verlag Dr. Mueller, a.k.a. VDM Publishing Group--a veritable octopus of author mills all using the same M.O., and notorious for their out-of-the-blue author solicitations,  eye-popping book prices, crappy publishing agreement, and frequent sprouting of brand-new tentacles (such as Blessed Hope).

I've blogged about Verlag Dr. Mueller and one of its tentacles, JustFiction Edition. Others have blogged about LAP Lambert Academic Publishing and Alphascript/Betascript Publishing, whose specialty is turning Wikipedia entries and websearches into "biographies" (here's mine). Bottom line: these companies are the very definition of why you need to always be wary of unsolicited invitations to submit your work for publication.

Blessed Hope's Terms and Conditions (a.k.a. publishing contract), which you can see here, are the same as those for other VDM tentacles. Among other unpleasant things:

- It's an exclusive life-of-copyright world rights grant term with no provision whatever for rights reversion other than the publisher's discretion in discontinuing publication if sales fall below 50 copies in a year. In other words, the publisher can hold onto your rights for as long as it chooses, and you have no recourse for getting them back.

- Royalties are 12% of net, paid just once a year. Moreover, if "monthly average royalties" during any account period are less than €50, you don't get paid (my bolding):
the Author shall, instead of a royalty payment, receive a book voucher to the same value which he may freely redeem for all titles produced by the Publisher and by all further publishing houses within the publishing group via the online shops affiliated with the Publisher.
I'm guessing that VDM and its tentacles write few, if any, royalty checks.

- If the publisher decides you've breached any of a long list of warranties, it can not only remove your work from sale, but charge you  €1,000.

- Last but not least, the publisher rationalizes failure in advance in true author-mill style (my bolding):
The Publisher shall act at his own just and fair discretion in attempting to market the work of the Author in the best possible manner. Notwithstanding this, the specific level of demand for and thematic field of the respective work may mean that purchase interest is so low as to lead to no or very few sales successes.
If you ever see a disclaimer like this in a publishing contract, it's as good as a guarantee of sales approaching zero.

9 comments:

4RV Publishing said...

Such so called "publishers" give legitimate presses a black eye.

C. M. Albrecht said...

That's just why I'm extremely suspicious of anyone or any organization that expects me to trust them because they're "Christians".
Remember the line about the Pharisees giving alms in public.
For all the problems we've had with other organizations, I've yet to encounter anyone who expected me to trust him/her because she's Muslim, or a Buddhist, etc.
You're probably right: most real Christians are probably too trusting.

Maia said...

This takes it to a whole new level!! (Or sinks it, I should say.) Sad.

Frank Valentyn said...

I was also approached "out of the blue" by JustFiction more than a year ago, and trusting that this was a publishing opportunity submitted three works after some careful hesitation. Although these three books are available on Amazon and countless other sites I have scanned, the entire year has not delivered any sales - what is missing here is MARKETING and, admittedly, I am not a marketing animal - I write, and do not come from a commercial background with training in self-promotion... I do wonder whether even a work worthy of a Nobel Prize for literature would be recognised and validated if offered through such channels without intense marketing effort by agents experienced and specialised in such promotion.

jnetsworld said...

Thanks for the post. I was recently solicited by Blessed Hope and appreciated your words of caution.

So sad that they use "christianity" to capture trust they are not worthy of :(

Tom said...

I just received an unsolicited offer to publish material from my website, and googled their name to find out more, so I appreciate the information!

michaelshannon said...

I wish I had read your informative post BEFORE I went to the trouble to organize my work for potential submission to Blessed Hope Publishing.

Thank you for this valuable warning.

JD Kroll said...

Thanks for the warning. Our church received something from them yesterday. I have sent warnings to the two ministerial associations with which I am connected, providing a link to your blog.

Jim said...

Thank you for posting this information - I just got an email from them today. You proved my suspicion was well-founded.