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Friday, March 7, 2008

Maintaining a Vibrant Publishing Program

Running your own business is not for the faint of heart. Running a publishing company--especially in today's marketplace--is challenging. However, the daily challenge is what I find particularly exciting. It gets me out of bed each morning.

The odyssey that began as Savas Woodbury morphed into Savas Publishing, and was eventually recreated as Savas Beatie LLC. The first two were crafted as niche companies--designed to produce books almost exclusively for the Civil War. The latter was designed to begin that way. I say "begin" because it was always our intention to move beyond that niche. I believe we have, finally, reached that point.

A friend told me last week, "You are not the same company any longer. Things have changed. I mean that in a good way," she added.

I think she is right.

Our history program (primarily Civil War, with a smattering of other military subjects) remains vibrant and defines us (more on that in a follow up post). The acquistion of Sgt. Volkin's The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, followed by his very successful Workbook on the same subject, broadened that reach. The development of our Sports by the Numbers series expanded our program in several exciting ways (2008 will witness the publication of a dozen more titles in that series). Robert Taylor's Paradigm (which hit number 35 on Amazon) and Gary Moore's smash hit Playing with the Enemy (the movie is now set to shoot beginning April 1) kicked us up several notches in terms of visibility.

The trade paperback for Playing with the Enemy has just been released by Penguin, and the audio book will be available next week. The future looks very bright on those fronts.

[Go to the website for Playing With the Enemy and listen to one of the songs professional musicians have written after being inspired by the book. There are several, so reload to hear each one. I especially like the twangy guitar song that starts out, "Son of a Working man . . ." You can also see the new cover!]

Together, these recent successes have triggered wonderful opportunities--and a host of new pitfalls. The business of running a publishing business has now gotten in the way of running a publishing business. (Think about that for a second.)

One of the most interesting questions we face is, Where do we go next? Do we continue to focus as much time and energy on niche history, or do we par that aspect of our company down and seek out books like Paradigm and Playing with the Enemy in an attempt to double down on our more easily recognized national brand? The quality and quantity of manuscripts similar to those two titles have been flowing in recently.

Decisions await.



Mark Wilensky said...

Ultimately, I believe businesses rise or fall on "consistency." Whether it is quality of product, price, service, or other tangible. Companies can, and perhaps should, vary what they present, but only if they can remain consistent in their key objective. An interesting dilemma you write about. Good luck with your decision.

Mark Wilensky
Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine

Elisabeth115 said...


First of all, congratulations--you must be doing something right! My feeling, as a non-pro, is do both: stick with your original vision, which appears to be unique in the industry, and then expand it SLOWLY. I had a friend in Shreveport who had a such a great barbeque restaurant, he opened three more in Texas the next year. They all went bust, because he couldn't find anybody good enough to manage them. He ended up back where he started (great restaurant, the late lamented Hickory Stick) but short a lot of cash.

Betsy Rosen (Elisabeth Payne Rosen)

P.S. Fun to see the shot of our beloved Governator with Ben Weidman. Who knew?