There was an interesting story in Buzzfeed.com recently called “Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End of a Publishing Gold Rush.”
No one interviewed me for the article, which was somewhat surprising, as I think I played a significant role in starting that gold rush.
I’m also playing a significant role in ensuring it doesn’t end.
Long before I started WND, I was an author. I wrote and collaborated on several books that sold millions of copies, including Rush Limbaugh’s second title, “See, I Told You So,” back in 1993. Rush Limbaugh’s publishing success got the attention of the publishing establishment. His first two books – and the last two he ever wrote of this type – “The Way Things Ought to Be” and “See, I Told You So,” were huge publishing phenomena, selling millions and millions in hardcover and even more in paperback.
I could have written more and sold millions more and become very, very wealthy, but the New York publishing world was extremely biased against conservative books.
I still have the rejection letters from the 1990s to prove it. Several said something like this – no exaggeration: “We know this book would be a best-seller, but we disagree with it and we’re uncomfortable publishing it.”
So, with success of WND beginning in the late 1990s, I decided to become a book publisher, too – knowing there was a lot of money being left on the table by the overwhelmingly liberal publishing establishment.
WND Books was founded in 2001 through a partnership with Thomas Nelson, a publishing giant known for Bibles and Christian titles. WND Books was to be the company’s current events and conservative politics imprint. We very quickly took the publishing industry by storm with a string of New York Times best-sellers. (“The Savage Nation,” by radio talk-show genius Michael Savage, was his first political book and instantly became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller. It was our second release. We published two more of his books – “The Enemy Within” and “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” – both of which were No. 1 New York Times best-sellers.)
Later, we decided to break away from Thomas Nelson and make WND Books a wholly-owned subsidiary of WND. It’s been 13 years since we got into book publishing and have over that period of time produced, by far, the highest percentage of New York Times best-sellers of any publisher in the world.
It was easy at first, because we had no competition. But something happened in our first couple years with Thomas Nelson. The industry awakened to the appeal of conservative books. In short order, every major publisher in the country developed what they believed was a competitive imprint to WND Books. That was the beginning of the “gold rush.” Suddenly, for us, it wasn’t so easy to sign the next conservative publishing star. Big advances were being handed out by companies that dwarfed us – and even Thomas Nelson – in size and resources. They were taking big gambles, handing out seven-figure advances.
WND Books adapted to the change in the publishing landscape. We began emphasizing current events titles, which was right up our alley as a news company, and edgy Christian books, which was also right up our alley as the biggest “Christian” website in the world. (Yeah, I know. You didn’t think of WND as the largest “Christian” website in the world. Neither did we. Certainly, we knew we had a strong Judeo-Christian worldview. But we have never marketed WND as a “Christian” site because we wanted everyone to read it – and they do. Yet, the fact remains, WND is, by far, the biggest Christian website of any kind in the world.)
The success continued with that adaptation. As the definition of “conservative” started to change, so did the books being produced by publishing houses that didn’t really understand the appeal of conservative books.
Many of those imprints began closing down. Many of them were run by non-conservatives. So it was no great loss when they started shutting their doors. They never really understood the marketplace anyway.
As the Buzzfeed article put it: “But after a decade of disruption, uneven sales, and fierce competition, many leading figures in the conservative literati fear the market has devolved into an echo of cable news, where an overcrowded field of preachers feverishly contends for the attention of the same choir.”
Translation: “Conservative” books were those they talked about on Fox News. That was always a pretty narrow and establishment view of the meaning of “conservative.”
Meanwhile, WND Books has continued, quietly, without fanfare, doing what we’ve been doing successfully for 13 years – producing an endless string of New York Times best-sellers. More than one of every 10 books we publish makes the New York Times list – and that includes many books we do that we know going in are not commercially viable. We do them anyway because (get this!) we believe in them.
In 2012, with 11 years of success in books, we founded WND Films to begin making documentaries with the same idea in mind. Our first release, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” became the No. 1 Christian movie for two years running. That was followed by “Disinformation,” which rose to become the No. 1 documentary at Amazon, “The Rabbi Who Found Messiah,” a best-seller among Christian films, “The Last Pope?” a documentary about the prophecy of the popes and the election of Pope Francis, shot in Rome, Ireland and the U.S., and, most recently, “Blood Moons,” which has, again, topped the Christian charts at No. 1.
There’s no end in sight. We love making movies. Don’t miss our next release this spring called “Trapped in Hitler’s Hell.” It’s sensational, if I do say so myself. Like many of our movies, we publish the book, too.
I tell you all of this because none of it was covered by Buzzfeed. It’s as if it never happened. It’s as if suddenly there’s no market for “conservative” books and “conservative” movies. Far from it. I will say it is tough to make money publishing conservative and Christian books and making conservative and Christian movies if you are not conservative or Christian. We don’t have that problem.
I’m delighted that the pretenders are getting out of the way – clearing the field for the authentic, the real deal.
WND Books is not going anywhere – except up. WND Films is not going anywhere – except up. Maybe we can see about bringing the authentic, the real deal, to TV one of these days.
And now, as my mentor Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story. As self-serving as it may sound, it’s the unfettered, unvarnished truth, so help me God.
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