Monday, December 11, 2006

Thomas Nelson Responds To PW & Rumors

My thanks to the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers for commenting on a previous Mirathon entry about the Publisher's Weekly article on the "Nelson Standard" and for linking me up to his clarification.

Here is the comment:
Michael Hyatt said... I am the CEO of Thomas Nelson. Contrary to the media reports, we are not requiring authors to sign a doctrinal statement. Nor have we included any doctrinal requirements in our contracts. You can read an unfiltered account of our editorial standards here.

The link leads to a lengthy response by Michael Hyatt to the internet buzzing. It's at his blog called FROM WHERE I SIT: "Editorial Standards: "A Time for Clarity"

I recommend you read the entirety of Mr. Hyatt's post. Here are some excerpts:

Last week, Publishers Weekly ran an article about our new editorial standards. The article asserted that “future contracts will require authors—even those writing in non-religion categories like business—to signal their agreement with both the Nicene Creed ... and Philippians 4:8.”

This is, of course, simply not true. We have not written our editorial standards into our contracts nor do we intend to. As far as I know, it has never even been discussed as a possibility. Unfortunately, this error has been picked up by others, amplified, and made to sound silly and extreme.

Further on:

First, we have defined editorial standards. Yes, this is true. It has been widely reported that these standards are The Nicene Creed and Philippians 4:8. In part, this is true, but it is far more than this. To put these into their proper perspective, you have to understand the background.

He gives the background, and says this:
After a year of internal reflection among our executive team, we came back to our legacy as a company. The bottom line is this: We are a Christian publisher.


Having said that, we understand our identity as a Christian publisher in a very different way than most of our colleagues in the industry. Like other Christian publishers, we want all of our books to be written from the perspective of a Christian worldview. This is the foundation of our publishing program. However, unlike most Christian publishers, we want our authors to explore any subject they wish.

And for the fictionistas:

And, of course, we want to publish fiction. Lots of it! No topic is off limits, provided it is written from a Christian worldview, written well, and has commercial value. (We are, after all, a commercial publisher.)

And this:
To say it another way, all truth is God’s truth. Some of the books we publish will be explicitly Christian (mentioning the name “Jesus” or citing specific Bible verses); others will be implicitly Christian (never referencing anything spiritual). Both are acceptable and appropriate, depending on the author’s purpose and audience. The important thing is that the content flow out of a Christian worldview.

Mr Hyatt includes an expansion of key terms in the Philippians verse that may be of interest to other Christian writers.

You may also want to peruse an entry on Thomas Nelson's CORE PURPOSE, which is also on Mr. Hyatt's blog.

Since I am rather pressed for time and still need to post for the CSFF Blog Tour (and dress for an M.D. appt), I won't comment on this yet. I want to reread all of the clarification later. Let me know what you think now that you have the straight story.


Beth Goddard said...

As always Mir, you find interesting and stimulating topics to discuss.I feel somewhat (or very) ignorant on this subject matter. Is Thomas Nelson different than other Christian publishers on this point?

Mirtika said...

I know some publishers are of the same mind. I don't know of any who require signed affidavits of faith and morals clauses. That's why I wanted clarification. It's one tihng to have a purpose and another to start making folks sign statements of doctrine.

I do suspect that the conseravtive houses are on par if not stricter.