WestBow Press Editorial Standards

Pete Nikolai, publisher of WestBow Press and director of publishing services for HarperCollins Christian Publishing, talks about the founding of WestBow Press’ biblically based editorial standards and their importance for Christian authors.

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At WestBow Press, a Christian publisher, we strive to serve others by sharing His Word through published books. Each title adheres to our WestBow Press Editorial Standards established by HarperCollins Christian Publishing in collaboration with WestBow Press. These standards are part of who we are as a supported self-publisher, and that identity carries over to our books and our authors.

By reviewing the WestBow Press Editorial Standards and confirming that you and your manuscript align with them, you can be confident that your title will be associated with a self-publishing company that shares your basic values and beliefs.

Each title must meet the following standards in order to carry the WestBow Press brand:

  1. Communicators who profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ. We want to work with people who are willing to say, “I am a Christian.” We do not try to judge their profession or assess the validity of their faith. Only God knows their hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). Nevertheless, we want to work with communicators who claim to be Christians and are not ashamed of it.
  2. Communicators who embrace the central truths of historic Christianity. Such ancient documents as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are simply convenient summaries of these truths and nearly all Christians can agree on them. Beyond these basic truths, we want to allow latitude — and even disagreement — on non-core doctrines.
  3. Communicators who seek to live according to the standards of biblical morality. We do not expect perfection. We acknowledge that all Christians — even Christian communicators — fall short of God’s standards. But we want to promote communicators who are committed to living in obedience to God’s revealed will. We want to promote communicators who “walk the talk.”

Beyond these standards, Christians are free to think, write or speak about anything provided it meets some basic criteria from the perspective of a Christian worldview. WestBow Press titles must also align with certain fundamental values in order to best serve others. We ask our authors to follow simple guidelines in order to stay true to our foundation of promoting Christian content.

Titles should challenge people to lead lives of moral excellence and virtue through content that is fair and encourages righteousness. Books must be authentic and embrace reality as God created it — no matter if the book is a work of fiction or nonfiction — with content that does not try to make reality something it is not. We strive to publish stories that are filled with words that raise us up and make us more like Jesus Christ. Ultimately WestBow Press titles should motivate people and call forth their best qualities.

When making a submission please note that WestBow Press will not publish manuscripts containing the following content:

  • Acts of violence against any institution or person(s)
  • Hate speech to proactively encourage violence against, or hatred of, any social, cultural, ethnic, gender or religious groups
  • Details of witchcraft, magical or horror references
  • Profanity
  • Gratuitously violent or sexual content, including nonconsensual sex or sex with minors
  • Personal proprietary right violations or infringements, including copyrights, trademark rights, trade secret rights, contract rights, privacy rights or publicity rights of any persons
  • Recipes, formulas, instructions or recommendations that may be injurious to any reader, user or third person
  • Children’s Books: Due to the possibility of creating confusion between Biblical truth and fantasy we will reject a work that contains talking animals (other than humans, the serpent as found in Genesis, and Balaam's donkey as found in Numbers).

Regarding Copyright

The default you should assume for other people's works is that they are copyrighted and may not be copied unless you know otherwise.

Nothing modern and creative is in the public domain anymore unless the owner explicitly puts it in the public domain. Explicitly means that there must be a written record or a note signed by the author/owner saying, "I grant this to the public domain."

Postings to the Internet are not granted to the public domain, and don't grant you any permission to do further copying of the image, nor use of the image for reprint. Any and all images found online must have written permission from the owner of the image, unless the website contains a clear notice that images may be reproduced for commercial use.

Regarding Libel

For each genre of writing, it is very important that you understand and respect the rights and identities of people who may be identifiable within your manuscript. Communication of statements that can hurt, harm, or have a negative connotation towards the reputation of an individual can be considered defamation of character and acted upon in a court of law. The defamation of character that appears in print form, such as a book, is referred to as libel. See more in our article about libel.

The communication of statements that may cause emotional distress to an identifiable individual within your work is known as invasion of privacy, and that person may have the right to sue you. Invasion of privacy can be (1) revealing embarrassing and private facts, (2) portrayal of an individual in a false light, (3) intrusion into an individual’s private affairs, or (4) misappropriation of an individual’s name for publicity purposes.

Regarding Violence and Gore

WestBow Press does not promote gratuitous violence and gore, and we seek to avoid the degradation that may come from reading excessive descriptions. We understand that sometimes violence and gore must be mentioned but please refrain from being overly descriptive about it.

Regarding the Voice of God

It is our belief that the only words in a manuscript that are spoken or otherwise communicated by God, angels, or demons to anyone other than the author or providing direction to anyone other than the author should be those quoted from the Bible. All quotes from the Bible should conform with the original intent of those verses as part of the message of justice, mercy, and grace found in the Bible. Any communication in a manuscript from God, angels, or demons to the author or providing direction to the author should also be consistent with the message of justice, mercy, and grace found in the Bible.

Regarding Use of Scripture

If you are quoting Scripture within your book, it will be your responsibility to properly cite this material.

  • If you have quoted Scripture from multiple translations of the Bible, the Scripture needs to be referenced within the text including the book’s name, chapter number, verse number and Bible translation (see The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style by Robert Hudson for more information on use of Scripture in your work). You will also need to provide us with a list of all the translations you have quoted from so those proper copyright statements can be added to the copyright page during design.
  • If you have quoted Scripture from only one translation of the Bible, then you still have to reference the book name, chapter number, verse number within your text, but you won’t need to reference the translation each time. You will need to let us know which translation you have used so we can include the proper copyright statement on the copyright page during design.

In addition, many translations have limits as to the amount of Scripture that can be quoted without obtaining written permission. The amounts vary, depending on which translation is being quoted. BibleGateway offers information regarding those limits for several translations.

Regarding Profanity, Violent and Sexual Scenes in Content

There is simply no good reason for unwholesome language in a WestBow Press book.

Most of the time, it is simply a poor word choice and should be replaced with a better adjective, adverb, noun or verb. Use of the word “hell” is acceptable only when it is referring to the place from a theological perspective. “Damn” is acceptable only when it is referring to God condemning a person to suffer eternal punishment in hell. Use of such words should be double checked and limited to instances when it is absolutely necessary and theologically correct. Neither should be used in vain, but should only be used in serious discussions of theological matters.

We never want to use God’s name in a slang manner — something we feel is more offensive to God than any profanity.

We want to promote content that promotes holiness and offers a necessary corrective to current trends to sexualize everything. This does not mean that we are opposed to sex. But we want to make sure that our content advocates a view of sex that is consistent with Christian morality. Avoid descriptions of the act, specifically the following: kissing below the neck; sexual touching; visible signs of arousal or sexual attraction; nudity; double entendre; sex outside of the biblical definition of marriage.

Regarding Standard Legal Disclaimer Placement

As with most books, WestBow Press books carry a legal disclaimer on the copyright page. The following disclaimer will appear in your book on the copyright page:

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any Web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since the publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Instilling Confidence in Our Consistent Communication of a Christian Worldview

The reason we have WestBow Press Editorial Standards is because we want to be faithful to Christ as we fulfill His call on our lives, and we also want our customers to be able to trust us. We want people to have confidence that our products are consistent with a Christian worldview, are created by people who profess to be Christians and are striving to “walk the talk,” regardless of the subject matter they address. Works that do not conform to these standards will be rejected or cancelled by WestBow Press. Additionally, WestBow Press may terminate publication of any work without cause.

Download the pdf version of the WestBow Press Editorial Standards >>

Review the WestBow Press Content Guidelines

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