Despite being aware that Alex Malarkey called the book about him deceptive and that his mother believed the book to be filled with inaccuracies, Tyndale House published a pocket paperback edition of the book in March 2014. The publication date is over two years after they became aware that Alex posted his comments about the deceptive nature of the book on a Facebook fan page for the book.
In an April 20, 2012 email I have just obtained, Tyndale House publisher Jan Harris Long told Kevin and Beth Malarkey that the Tyndale team was aware that Alex had called the book “deceptive” in a Facebook posting. Long wrote:
We published The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven in the belief that it was a book your entire family was behind. We specifically asked if Alex was comfortable with doing the book and were told that he was. It was our understanding that Alex thought the book would be his way of fulfilling a calling to be a missionary. Several months ago, however, Alex posted a comment on the web saying that the book was “deceptive,” which was obviously of great concern to us.
Tyndale’s reps then asked Kevin Malarkey to check with Alex but there is no indication from the email that Malarkey provided any feedback to Tyndale.
Because of Alex’s fragile health situation at the time, Kevin wanted to delay having that conversation with him, but said he would do so at a later time. So far, however, we haven’t gotten any further information on this.
After indicating that Tyndale wanted a list of specific inaccuracies (which Beth Malarkey later provided), the publisher seemed to suggest that a resolution was required to continue:
This leaves us in a difficult situation. We entered into a book agreement in good faith and published a manuscript that we believed to be accurate. As part of our editorial and documentary development process, we interviewed a number of people who were either involved in the story or were witnesses to it. After being told that there may be inaccuracies in the book, we attempted to get information so that we could either confirm the book’s accuracy or correct any errors, but have been unable to get specifics.
Since we were unable to get any specific information that would enable us to revise the manuscript—and we didn’t want to create or add to tensions in your home—we did not force the issue. But when one of our colleagues in our media services department told us that Beth had called last week and, among other things, expressed the view that Tyndale was “exploiting” her son, we felt we had no option but to insist that this situation be addressed.
We are requesting a meeting or phone call with the two of you and Matt Jacobson to talk through these issues and to identify next steps. Our goal is to 1) find out what, if any, inaccuracies are in the book so we can correct them and 2) to find a path forward that is glorifying to God.
It is clear that Tyndale wanted to meet with the Malarkeys. It is also clear that the publisher received Malarkey’s list of problems with the book, and that they were aware that Alex considered it deceptive. However, after insisting that the situation be addressed, the publisher did little else to address it. Instead of backing away from the book (as Tyndale has done with Mark Driscoll), they moved ahead. Despite the warning signs, the publisher continued promoting and selling the book and even published the book again in yet another form (the pocket paperback).
I have recently learned of yet another warning sign that the publisher may or may not have known about. For a brief period after the book was published, Kevin Malarkey was promoted by Ambassador Speakers agency. However, according to the president of Ambassador, Wes Yoder, Malarkey was removed from the roster about three years ago. However, Malarkey’s profile (now available via Google cache) had remained available via Google search. It has now been removed. Yoder told me simply: “We believed Beth was telling us the truth.”
Perhaps Tyndale House did not know that Kevin was removed from this agency. However, it seems like a significant event for a Tyndale best-selling author to keep from the publisher.