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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This is How NOT to Get Published

Authors: Read this carefully, and learn what NOT to do.

I swear some authors really don't want to be published.

A short time ago an author named Berryman, a retired Navy Cmdr. (and all of you know how much we respect those who serve our country) sent us an email submission. He followed our submission guidelines (as he should have) and told us about a manuscript he was writing on a handful of U.S. citizens who fought with the Royal Navy in WWII.

This might be an interesting topic for some people, but I know what topics will sell well in our market space, and what will not--and it takes me about 60 seconds to make that general determination. Rather than ignore him or just say "no thanks," I tried to offer help, introduce him to social networking, and show him ways to get noticed. People actually get published that way.

We get several submissions each day. We intentionally publish about 18 books a year. Do the math on the acceptance ratio.

What follows is, verbatim, my reply to Mr. Berryman, followed by his response (seriously, you can't make this stuff up):

Dear Mr. Berryman,

Thank you for taking the time to query us on your manuscript. We appreciate your interest in our program.

There are so many outstanding proposals and completed manuscripts available today that it is very difficult to select which to publish. Many deserve to be published, and yours looks very interesting. Unfortunately, we intentionally publish a limited number of titles each year, and your proposal/subject is not what we are seeking at this time.

Given your work as an author, I strongly urge you do the following (although not 1 in 10 authors will follow this worthwhile advice): First, bookmark our publishing and marketing blogs at www.savasbeatie.blogspot.com and www.savasbeatiemarketing.blogspot.com, and become a fan of our Facebook page at http://is.gd/1al1D. These sites offer sound insights, media and author news, and other valuable information. They are also read by many publishers, agents, editors, other authors, all on the lookout for potential new projects. You get the idea. If you really want to get noticed and get published, routinely post insightful comments, observations, and news. In other words, contribute to the conversation.

Second, sign up for our free monthly e-letter Libri Novus, which is quite good and informative, as is our in-depth website at www.savasbeatie.com. Go to the website and enter your email and sign up. Watch what other authors are doing, how they are doing it, and how they are becoming successful.

Remember--you are now in the "no" game. Be persistent, follow submission guidelines, get active and get interconnected on the Internet, and keep working at getting published. Good things will develop, but it often takes a lot of time. The publishing world has changed, and you must change with it.

I wish you the best of luck in your efforts.


This is what Mr. Berryman sent back to me:

How absurd. Form responses. You're a scam. A complete fraud. Manuscript submissions to your website are a bait for some other agenda. I'm 70 and fell for it. Shame on me. Stick it in your ear Ted, you patronizing son of a bitch.

XXX Berryman
Cmdr, US Navy retired

So . . . Savas Beatie is a scam. A fraud. (And he insults my mother. Does he think he is still in boot camp?) I guess we really don't sell books around the world, place them with national book clubs, and have authors on national TV and radio.

I work with a wide variety of agents, authors, publishers, media people, and others who are on the lookout for potential manuscripts. In fact, I had an email saved to recommend this to a British military publisher in the UK who might be interested. I have since deleted that email.

Mr. Berryman, the publishing world is a very small place. May I suggest you actually THANK acquisition editors who take the time to reply to you (since 99% of them do not), and instead of telling them to stuff it, ask them for further assistance and be humble.

Of course, what you did was prove to me that I made the right choice, since authors and publishers need to actually GET ALONG.

My God, what are these retired Navy guys drinking? This is the second one like this in less than twelve months.

Remember this gem?



Anonymous said...

wow. this is hilarious


Mark Hughes said...

I assure you that Savas Beatie is not a scam. They published The New Civil War Handbook without me putting up a dime. Publishers know their niche in the market. They know what type of books their customers will purchase.

Rejection is part of the publishing process. Very few people marry the first person they date. My first book was turned downed by about a dozen publishers before I found a publisher. However one publisher who rejected the book commissioned me to write an introduction for a series of books on the same topic. Then they published my second book. I did find one “publisher” that wanted $5,000 to edit, publish, and distribute the book. I would be very wary of an offer that requires the author to pay for editing or publication.

If you have any questions about a publisher write authors that they have published.

Mark Hughes
Author of The New Civil War Handbook

Anonymous said...

If I did not know this company, I would not believe any author, let along someone who was a Commander in the U.S. Navy, could be so crude, rude, obnoxious, and boorish. And stupid. Telling a publisher it is fraud and swearing about it because it rejects his manuscript?

Commander, I served eight years in the Navy in the 1980s. You are an embarassment and should post an apology and phone the publisher and ask for forgiveness. But I won't hold my breath.

John Chandler

Michael Aubrecht said...

Ted, Anyone who knows with the high caliber of your catalog and authors could never make an accusation like this. I can't imagine someone not familiarizing themselves with a publisher and then shooting themselves in the foot like that. He looks more qualified to write a book on how NOT to write a book!

Anonymous said...

Astonishing... The slightest bit of research on CDR Berryman's part would have shown him the caliber of Savas Beatie. I own several Savas Beatie titles and always consider the latest offerings for purchase. As an aspiring author and retired Navy Captain, I can assure you that most of us are not the rude, ignorant folks you've been exposed to in the recent past. Ted, I'd like to thank you for the advice that Berryman has chosen to ignore; I'll put it to good use.

I agree with John Chandler. CDR Berryman owes you a public apology.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Savas helped me with my book that he had rejected for his own company, and spent about two hours to assist in placing it with a different company. I am mortified how one person, especially a comander from the Navy, could say that to someone under these circumstances.


Mark said...

Hi Ted,
I wanted to say thank you for my copy of "The Complete Gettysburg Guide" It's absolutely fantastic and the personalized autographs make it really special. I really appreciate you taking the time to make that happen!
Mark Shapiro

Steve Basic said...


Am guessing the commander is not used to having his "orders" ignored. Even before I read his comments, I figured you would send him info. on a British publisher who might be interested in the topic.

Imagine if say you turned down Patton on a book. Now he knew how to cuss. ;)

Hope all is well.


Anonymous said...

"One is either determined to be a writer or has already written," someone almost famous once said.

On guess which ship this guy is on.


Anonymous said...

"One is either determined to be a writer or has already written," someone almost famous once said.

On guess which ship this guy is on.


Anonymous said...


I was so shocked my mouth fell open, and then I started laughing so hard I nearly cried. This guy is a complete horse's rear end. You do not even speak to a stranger that way. At least I don't. Commander--you should feel about an inch tall. But I bet you don't because you are so sure all the posters are wrong.


Sal Cilella, Atlanta said...

This poor man hasn't a clue how the publishing world operates. Rejection is a given. If you feel passionately that you have a good manuscript and you have done your homework and due diligence, you will be published. On the other hand, if you don't have a worthy product, the publishing world (i.e., the market) will send you a strong signal. Bad mouthing a publisher makes no sense.

Sal Cilella, Atlanta Historical Society