Gary Ezzo Creates A Self-Publishing Venture
By Frank York
As Gary Ezzo's publishing venture here in the United
States appears to be in slow decline, he has apparently
chosen to focus his attentions on spreading his teachings
and marketing his parenting materials in Australia, New
Zealand, and Singapore. He and his wife Anne Marie will
be traveling to Singapore in November, 2003 to conduct
a parenting seminar--and the leader of GFI Singapore was
in Tulsa, Oklahoma in July to attend a GFI national conference.
On September 12, 2001, while the nation was still in shocked
horror at the terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, a Christian publishing company in Oregon
posted a small notice on its web site.
The notice announced that Multnomah Publishing was returning
publishing rights to self-styled parenting expert Gary
Ezzo, author of such bestselling books as On Becoming
Babywise and On Becoming Babywise II. *
Although Mr. Ezzo was one of Multnomah's A-list authors,
the publisher decided to drop him as an author after an
internal investigation was conducted of claims of medical
misinformation in his books as well as serious character
problems involving him.
Apparently, in an effort to protect itself from potential
legal liability for publishing medically inaccurate information,
Multnomah announced its decision to drop Ezzo in carefully
nuanced and vague terms.
The statement blamed Mr. Ezzo's critics for being unwilling
to meet with Ezzo at a "reconciliation" meeting
hosted by Multnomah officials. The statement gave the
impression that the critics' refusal to meet was the reason
that Multnomah decided to drop him as an author. This
is a nonsensical explanation.
In addition, his critics had made it perfectly clear
to Multnomah in an Open Letter why they would not meet
with Ezzo. They pointed out that Ezzo frequently uses
meetings of this kind as a public relations ploy to claim
that his critics are unreasonable and unwilling to "reconcile."
He used this ploy with Grace
Community Church leaders after they publicly rebuked
him several years ago.
The Multnomah statement noted: "While Mr. Ezzo has
done everything we asked him to do, both Mr. Ezzo and
Multnomah believe the process has gone as far as it can.
Having come to that point, Mr. Ezzo and Multnomah mutually
agreed to return the publishing rights back to the author."
Again, this is a nonsensical statement.
As a former book editor and as the author of 12 books
over the past 20 years, I can say with certainty that
no rational publisher would drop an author simply because
critics of his materials refused to meet with him for
a "reconciliation" meeting.
Publishers thrive on controversy. What they do fear,
however, are factual errors in their books--which could
lead to costly lawsuits. Medical errors involving newborn
infants would be especially troublesome for a reputable
The more plausible reason that Multnomah dropped Ezzo
was hinted at by Jeff Gerke, a former editor at Multnomah
who had conducted the investigation into the charges against
Ezzo. The decision to drop Gary had been made as early
as March, 2001 when Multnomah Vice President Kyle Cummings
called Ezzo and told him of the decision. After gathering
information on Ezzo from his critics, several of Gerke's
emails were leaked to Christianity Today. In one
of those emails, Gerke said: "I'm personally convinced
Gary Ezzo and his infant care materials are dangerous.
He has no medical training and therefore no business writing
medical books--or disregarding the advice of bona fide
To be fair, pediatrician Dr. Robert Bucknam is listed
as a co-author of Babywise, but his name was added
only after the content of Babywise had been written
in a religious version known as Preparation for Parenting.
Bucknam had been in practice as a pediatrician only one
year after his residency when Ezzo added his name to the
book. The advice given in Babywise is almost universally
condemned by the majority of pediatricians, pediatric
organizations, and by lactation experts.
Jeff Gerke admitted in one email that Multnomah had no
medical editor to review Ezzo's medical information. Gerke
was originally an Ezzo partisan at Multnomah, but as he
continued to investigate the charges against Ezzo, he
changed his mind and submitted a brutally honest report
to Multnomah leaders. In an email leaked to Christianity
Today, Gerke told Ezzo critic Dr. Matthew Aney: "We
weren't really feeling the need to do an 'unbiased investigation',"
said Gerke. "We were just trying to field complaints.
I think we started the investigation merely so that we
could say that we'd truly looked into it. We believed
we would find verification for Gary's explanations. We
believed we would put out a statement and go our merry
way." Gerke lost his job at Multnomah shortly after
his emails were published in Christianity Today.
When Ezzo was contacted by Christianity Today
in March, 2001 to get a comment from him about Multnomah's
impending decision to drop him, he refused to discuss
the publisher's decision. Yet, on September 12, 2001,
a day after the worst terrorist attack in our nation's
history, Multnomah announced its decision to drop him.
If not deliberate, the timing of the publication of this
statement was certainly helpful in minimizing public attention.
Ezzo Creates Two Paper Organizations
For His Vanity Press
After losing his contract with Multnomah, Ezzo dropped
his incorporation of Growing Families International in
California and re-established this for-profit organization
in Missouri. He also formed two paper front groups called
Charleston Publishing Group, Inc., and Parent-Wise Solutions,
Inc. These two organizations exist as legal entities on
paper but not as real publishing companies. They are both
listed as "Fictitious Name Registrations" in
According to records from the Missouri Office of the
Secretary of State, all three of these Ezzo groups were
established on February 28, 2002.
Ezzo's self-publishing venture, known as a "vanity
press," is Charleston Publishing Group and Parent-Wise
Solutions. Parent-Wise is billed as a "division"
of Charleston. Both list their "corporate" address
as Gary Ezzo's former home in Chatsworth, California.
The Ezzos sold this home in early 2003, having moved to
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina in August, 2002.
By the time he was moving his operation to South Carolina,
Ezzo was operating GFI out of his garage in Chatsworth,
California and had only one employee. GFI had approximately
35 employees in 1998 and operated out of an office and
warehouse complex in Simi Valley, California.
Growing Families International, Inc., lists Gary Ezzo
as the President of GFI and his wife as Secretary, according
to the Missouri Secretary of State's Annual Registration
Report dated April 3, 2003. Gary and Anne Marie are also
listed as the only two Board Members of GFI. This, of
course, gives them total control over the organization
and no accountability for how funds are spent--reinforcing
longstanding concerns about accountability that have been
raised by critics of his operation. (Although GFI is clearly
a for-profit company, Ezzo continues to refer to it as
a "ministry" in his published materials. The
GFI web site article, "How did GFI get started,"
for example, refers to GFI as a ministry.)
Parent-Wise Solutions Listed As
Division Of A Larger Company
In the 2001 "revised and updated" edition of
On Becoming Babywise, the copyright page states
that "ON BECOMING BABYWISE" is published by
Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc., and notes further down on
the page: "Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. is a division
of the Charleston Publishing Group, Inc." As noted
earlier, both are legal entities on paper but do not exist
as real publishing companies like Multnomah-with buildings
In the "Acknowledgment" in the 2001 edition,
Gary Ezzo notes: "This edition not only reflects
advancements over previous editions, but also the work
of a new publisher, Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. Overall,
this edition brings the same message, but better said."
A typical reader of this sentence could reasonably conclude
that Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. is a separate entity
from Gary Ezzo or Growing Families International. This
message is also promoted on the Parent-Wise Solutions,
Inc., web site. The introductory statement on the site
says: "Parent-Wise Solutions provides parents
with practical principles for raising children from birth
through the teen years. Our heritage includes the acquisition
of five of the most popular titles in all of contemporary
parenting. [Emphasis added.] Influenced by our authors,
are over two million households and 4 million children,
in more than 25 countries."
By stating that Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc., "acquired"
five Ezzo books, the reader is again led to believe that
this company is separate from Ezzo himself. The truth
is that his former publisher dropped him and returned
the publishing rights to him. The fact is that Parent-Wise
Solutions IS Gary Ezzo.
Orders for Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. books are handled
through a sales group in Sisters, Oregon, called Hawksflight
and Associates. This company is run by Blake Weber, a
former Multnomah sales representative who is also an Ezzo
partisan. Weber is the nephew of Multnomah Vice President
Eric Weber and is the son of Christian book author Stu
In short, Ezzo's vanity press is being presented as a
division of a larger publishing company, which doesn't
really exist-except on paper-with the Missouri Secretary
of State's office.
There is nothing inherently wrong with self-publishing,
but Gary Ezzo seems to have gone out of his way to hide
the fact that his former publisher dropped him after investigating
both the medical misinformation and character issues surrounding
Likewise, the wording on his copyright page and acknowledgment
in the 2001 edition of On Becoming Babywise
and on the Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc., web site lead
a reader to think that this is a real publishing company-and
part of a larger company known as Charleston Publishing
Purchasers of his books have the right to know that his
"publishing companies" are merely paper facades
that hide his self-publishing efforts-and his inability
to acquire a reputable publisher for his questionable
theological and medical advice.
What should this mean to potential purchasers of his
books? It means that Gary Ezzo now has far less accountability
for accuracy in his books than he ever had before. If
Multnomah dropped him over concerns about medical misinformation
in his books, potential customers should heed the warning:
Let The Buyer Beware!
*United Press International's Booklist published on
October 26, 2001, listed Babywise as the Number 3 bestseller
under the Trade Paperback category.
Frank York is the former editorial
director with Growing Families International and details
his experiences working with Gary Ezzo over a two-year
period in "Adventure
in Ezzoland," published in the Spring of 2002
by Midwest Christian Outreach (MCO), a cult-watch group
based in Illinois. He also a regular contributor to "ezzo.info,"
a web site designed to present factual information about
Ezzo parenting. York has also served as a book editor
with a Boston publishing company and worked as a magazine
editor at Focus on the Family for eight years. In addition,
he has written 12 books during the last 20 years. His
Your Child In An X-Rated World with lawyer Jan LaRue,
shows parents how to protect their children against the
scourge of pornography. It was published by Focus on the
Family/Tyndale Publishers in 2002.