It’s All in the Definition

Bowker recently announced that they were starting a manuscript submission service at

This Internet-based service allows authors to upload manuscripts for a fee in the hopes that publishing houses will read their manuscript and decide to offer them a contract. For just $99 anyone desiring to have his manuscript published can upload it to the Bowker Manuscript Submissions website.

Bowker decided to open this new website after they saw how “highly successful” the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s (ECPA) similar website,, has been. ECPA has managed Christian Manuscript Submissions for 10 years. This site charges $98 to upload a Christian manuscript for Christian publisher members of ECPA to consider.

Here is my question: Just what defines “highly successful?” By “highly successful,” do they mean that ECPA has made a good amount of money over the past 10 years from the many aspiring authors who uploaded their manuscripts to the Christian Manuscript Submissions website?

Or, by “highly successful” do they mean that publishers have discovered a large number of new authors generating best-selling titles?

Might I suggest that Bowker means the former? After all, Bowker is a for-profit enterprise that is constantly looking for new streams of revenue to boost their bottom line. Bowker and ECPA make their money through the uploading of manuscripts to their websites, not from the publishers deciding to publish manuscripts featured on their sites.

In Bowker’s press release about their new service, they only mention one author, Susan Meissner, who was discovered by Harvest House Publishers via the Christian Manuscript Submissions website. Of course, they fail to mention that it was back in 2003 that Susan’s manuscript was discovered.

The Christian Manuscript Submissions website shows book covers for nine books published from their website and lists eight testimonials from authors. Five of the eight author testimonials come from authors whose book covers are also featured (in other words they appear twice). Therefore, Christian Manuscript Submissions actually only lists 12 books published from manuscripts on their website. At least one of the author testimonials dates back to 2002 and two of the authors books were published through subsidy presses (where the author paid to have the book published).

Now, I am open to the idea that Christian Manuscript Submissions has actually had more than 12 manuscripts from their website turned into books in the past 10 years. However, even twenty manuscripts in 10 years does not scream “highly success” unless you are defining success by the number of manuscripts uploaded since that is where you make your money.