[Note: On the left side of this blog is a poll on some of our early books. Feel free to do your duty: vote!]
The right opportunity came along in 2003 when Russel H. "Cap" Beatie and I teamed up to form Savas Beatie LLC. Cap had a vision that matched mine. We both believed there was something missing from the military history arm of the independent publishing world.
The decision to rejoin the publishing ranks required me to dust off my networking channels, contact the right authors, and decide how to positon the company for growth, mixing the right titles and authors with the right vision and direction.
The first major decision was finding the right distributor. David Farnsworth, formerly of Greenhill Books of London and then Combined Publishing in Pennsylvania, branched out on his own when Perseus Books Group consumed Combined (and Savas Publishing) in 2001. Because of his wide experience marketing and distributing books, building a first class distribution outfit was right up his alley. I had known and worked with David in a variety of capacities on a number of projects over the years, so I believed in his abilities. His Casemate Publishing Company seemed like the perfect fit for the nascent Savas Beatie. We could grow together. And indeed the marriage has been a solid match for us both.
There are many distributors available to book publishers. Each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Our first distributor during the early 1990s (with Savas Woodbury) proved unreliable. Although it sold a couple titles surprisingly well, it did not pay us on time, its fulfillment services were hit and miss, and communication was nonexistent. When we made the leap to Stackpole Books, our company jumped up several levels in terms of sales and visibility. Stackpole was a good fit for us because it was (and remains) a company with a proud history of publishing good military history, and the people working there (save one) were a pleasure to deal with. And they always paid on time.
Casemate was a young entity, but I knew Farnsworth and Company understood the military history sales world, had access to the distribution channels, knew how to work both sides of the ocean, and had a good warehousing facility. Most of Casemate's distribution clients were (and remain) European-based publishing companies. When I approached David about representing us, he was looking for a strong foothold in the US with a solid independent American publisher who knew the Civil War.
But publishing Civil War books was only part of the equation. My earlier companies had already done that, and I think had done that very well. Beatie and me had a different vision for Savas Beatie LLC. We wanted to splash about in a larger, deeper pond. When I explained to Farnsworth that we intended to form a core around good original Civil War titles, but also expand our publishing operations in several different directions (ancient history, American Revolution, WWII, etc.), he enthusiastically welcomed the idea. Our agreement divided up the world in a simple fashion: Casemate would handle all book trade sales, and Savas Beatie would handle everything else (special markets, non-trade sales, academia, individuals, etc.)
Putting the staff together to make it happen was the next item on the agenda.