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March 31, 2005

A Fool Opens Her Mouth and Removes All Doubt

by Ron Hogan

Late last week, I mentioned how an angry "Christian" publisher attacked a book reviewer in what I thought might charitably be described as an un-Christian manner. I didn't even mention that I found her antics totally unprofessional, but now that she's gone ahead and written me, well, what the heck: Sue Eccleston of Windstream Publishing may well be the single most unprofessional person I've ever come across in over a decade of dealing with the publishing industry. She begins: "Einstein, Just out of curiosity, who do you believe is a more credible reviewer--Library Journal or Stephanie Perry?"

Well, to be honest, Sue, Library Journal isn't a reviewer at all, it's a magazine. [Correction: At this point, in the original posting I went on to say that because LJ reviews were unsigned, like those in PW, you couldn't really assess the credibility of whoever happened to review the book. But then an eagle-eyed reader pointed out that in the magazine itself, as opposed to what I'd seen online, the reviews are signed. This development, however, could directly address one of Sue's attempt to undercut Stephanie Perry's credibility as a reviewer by calling her "somebody nobody ever heard of." One might just as ridiculously lob such insults against LJ's Tamara Butler--if, like Sue Eccleston, one's the sort of person to react to negative reviews with insults.*]

You might also consider that just because LJ has more visibility than Stephanie Perry doesn't necessarily give it, or anybody who writes for it, greater credibility than her. After all, Caiaphas was more prominent than Jesus, and I really don't imagine that you'd care to argue that Caiaphas was the more credible religious authority.

I'll tell you who's the least credible figure in this entire exchange, though: it's the publisher who sends combative emails to people who criticize her behavior and her publications: "Dare we say, you’re biased? Liberals being biased? No, what will they think of next?" Has it ever occurred to you that maybe people don't like what you do not because they're liberals, but because you're a judgmental harridan? Thank God (and I invoke that name pointedly) that you and Windstream are far from representative of Christian publishing--in fact, I almost feel badly about having raised you even this briefly from your well-deserved obscurity, lest people think every small Christian press is run by ravening wolves...another term I invoke pointedly (hint: Matthew 7:15). But I'm going to trust that people will continute to judge individual books by their content, and individual publishers by the content of their character. Now depart from me, ye that work iniquity; you'll not be gaining any more free publicity from this blog.

UPDATE: Well, maybe just a little more. I did a little digging into "Windstream Publishing," Sue Eccleston's imprint, and discovered just why she's so intent on defending the publication of Leah's Way. It seems that Windstream only publishes the one book, and does it from Danville, California...which just happens to be where the book's author, Richard Botelho, lives. In fact, Botelho's also the contact person listed for Windstream in the PMA directory. Looks like the book's self-published--and while the full extent of Eccleston's connection to Botelho is not clear to me**, her unprofessional conduct in "support" of the book is nevertheless a little less mind-boggling.

* Such a knee-jerk reaction, of course, would overlook biographical details like Perry's beginning career in journalism or Butler's background as a librarian that undoubtedly shape their critical perspective. But then you'd actually have to stop and think about somebody as a person--something I doubt Sue Eccleston's done in a very long time.

** You make the phone call if you want; I'd recommend blocking caller ID if I were you, though. Given what Eccleston does when she has somebody's email address, I shudder to think of anyone's phone number falling into her hands.

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