introducing readers to writers since 1995

March 26, 2005

So-Called "Christian" Publisher
Forgets the Lesson of Matthew 7:1-5*

by Ron Hogan

Ed Champion (Return of the Reluctant) called my attention to a negative review of a novel called Leah's Way on a site called Steph's Book Reviews. That wouldn't be such a big deal--frankly, I'm surprised Steph bothered to give what sounds like dreadful "religious propaganda" disguised as fiction the time of day--except that Sue Eccleston, who has a connection to Windstream Publishing I've not yet divined (she clearly works there, but in exactly what capacity is unclear), decided to share her petulant reaction with Steph. "If you claim to be as professional as you are," Eccleston insists, "you would at least volunteer to remove the negative review ofLeah's Way from your website." And before you can finish laughing at that ludicrous proposition, she explains why: "Do you know how hard it is for a small press to make it? It seems horribly unfair that we should be so harshly reviewed when the sole motivation of our publishing venture is because we love books and believe that society can benefit from more reading choices."

Yes, it is awfully hard for small presses to make it, especially when consumers start judging the quality of their merchandise instead of just loving them unconditionally. But if appealing to Steph's bibliophilia won't work, then Eccleston's more than happy to just smear the critic: "You pride yourself on being a critical bitch, pampered, on a college scholarship that obviously led to nowheresville, you're a failure in life..."

That's a fine Christian attitude you've got there, Ms. Eccleston, and I'm left wondering if you pray to Jesus with that mouth, too. Oh, and by the way, here's a tip for dealing with all the negative reviews your books will likely get in the future--don't wait until your third vituperative e-mail to a critic before you tell her "people like you, and you specifically, don't matter." It makes you and your company look pathetic... maybe even more than the novel itself.

* "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." **

** But more relevant to Eccleston's place in the publishing industry, and the quality of the fiction Windstream publishes, may be Christ's warning in verse 19: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." In economics class, they call that "the reality of the marketplace."

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