A first-time author who was headed to Thomas Nelson’s WestBow self-publishing imprint instead will have his first novel published by the Nelson Fiction imprint next summer. William Sirls' faith was strengthened while serving time in federal prison for money laundering in 2007. Prior to turning himself in to authorities, Sirls had written a novel and then re-wrote after getting out of prison.

Following his release from jail, Sirls decided to use WestBow to publish his book and as part of the publishing process began circulating galleys in order to give the book some buzz. Pete Nikolai, director of WestBow, heard about the manuscript and turned it over to a Nelson receptionist who, according to Nelson director of communications Casey Francis “is a voracious fiction reader” who said Nelson should consider publishing it.

Nikolai took the manuscript to Allen Arnold, senior v-p and publisher of fiction for Nelson, who agreed it would fit the Nelson Fiction list. Just a few weeks short of being released by WestBow, Sirls agreed to delay publication of the book and signed a contract with Nelson. Nelson Fiction publicist Katie Bond said Sirls is the first author that Nelson has plucked from WestBow before the book was released by that imprint. This summer, Nelson signed its first WestBow title to be released by its adult trade group and in March signed a children’s book from WestBow.