AUTHORS! Why do you write?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Joined at the Lip: Tagg and Lincoln


I would like to commend to you the well-written and cleverly title article "Joined at the Lip" that appeared this morning in the Sacramento Bee.

The primary subject is about former pop rock musicians-turned-authors Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg, and Larry's new book The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln. We are very proud to have published Larry's new book. (Savas Publishing published his first book, The Generals of Gettysburg more than a decade ago--it is still in print.)

If you want a fresh, well-written, and original consideration of the Lincoln presidency, viewed entirely through the prism of his contemporaries, pick up this book. We have a limited supply of signed first edition copies.

--tps

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Classification of Titles: Frontlist


Ok, let's explore "Frontlist" titles, and what that means for your book.

The most basic definition is this: "A publisher's list of new or current titles."

This can vary from house to house, but it usually refers to a title that is less than one year old. "Backlist," therefore means a book that has been in print for at least one year.

How these terms originated varies depending upon who you speak with, but almost certainly they developed around the presentation publishers use in their catalogs. There are two publishing seasons each year: Spring (January to June) and Fall (July to December). Publishers who issue catalogs used to do so twice a year to match the publishing seasons. The new titles were listed in front of the catalog--hence the name "frontist." Older books were listed in the rear of the catalog--hence the name "backlist."

For Savas Beatie, we consider a book new (frontlist) twelve months from the date of release. Books that are new are the ones that get the most attention in the form of labor, marketing dollars, and publicity.

But not all frontlist books / authors are treated the same way. Regardless of the size of the company, only a slim handful of authors get a signing/promotional tour sponsored by the publisher. One publisher who puts out 200+ books each season only sends a dozen or so authors out on a signing tour. In a sharp counterpoint to that trend, we arrange signings and events for all our authors (the division of expenses depends upon a host of issues better explored in another post.)

So which books get prolonged support and interest from the marketing group inside each house? Some time ago a friend who worked in NYC for one of the major publishers told me that the company puts X number of titles out into the stream of commerce and . . . watches what happens. When a title sells a certain number largely on its own--for this GIANT publisher it was as low as 7,500 copies--the company moved in with marketing dollars and publicity to reinforce success. In military terms, it is the equivalent of attacking along the line, breaking through somewhere, and then pouring in reserves to exploit the breakthrough. Sales at that level means the book has the ability to spread by word of mouth (viral marketing). We employ much the same thing, though the number we use as a threshold base is different.

So what does that mean for our authors? It means when you have a new book (especially within the first three to six months of release when you have the best chance of success), the sales figures will determine the support you get from our marketing crew. If as an author you are out hustling, speaking, Twittering, have a website, a presence on Facebook, are hitting rotaries, visiting bookstores within an hour or two of your base to sign copies they have in stock (etc., the list of what you can do is nearly endless), your sales figures will increase. If it reaches a level we deem "successful"--that number varies by title and genre--we will move in with more marketing dollars and more efforts at publicity.

If that sales figure is not hit, we will not reinforce your efforts by any noticeable degree unless there is something else going on and we deem it worthwhile to do so. It is nothing personal--we like all our authors and titles or we would not work with them or publish the books; it is just business.

The moral: If authors want success (and nothing is guaranteed), they must prepare in advance of release, and work TIRELESSLY to sell books--to everyone, anywhere, at any time. This is the way to get the attention of both the market and the marketing crew inside your publisher's house.

--tps

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More Book Awards for Savas Beatie


Below is a press release we sent out a couple days ago. All books are available through your local bookseller, or from Savas Beatie directly with a SIGNED bookplate.

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Savas Beatie, LLC, is excited to announce the following historical awards and notable mentions.

“We are proud of our authors and titles,” noted managing director Theodore P. Savas, “and are humbled and honored by these awards and honorable mentions. The fact that two titles placed as finalists in the same category was especially gratifying.”


WINNER
The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History, 2008

The Army Historical Foundation met for its Twelfth Annual Members Meeting on June 14th, 2009, at Mount Vernon, the estate of George Washington, and bestowed the award upon . . .

"Those Damned Black Hats!" The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, by Lance J. Herdegen (Savas Beatie, 2008)

This includes a $1,000 cash award and a special plaque.

About the Author: Award-winning journalist Lance J. Herdegen is the former director of the Institute of Civil War Studies at Carroll University. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for the United Press International (UPI) news service covering national politics and civil rights. He presently is historical consultant for the Civil War Museum of the Upper Middle West. He is also the author of several books. Lance lives in Wisconsin.


FINALIST / RUNNER-UP
The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History, 2008


Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution, by John F. Luzader

About the Author: John Luzader is a veteran of World War II and a graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Texas. He worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as a research historian before transferring to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service. John conducted extensive archival and ground research for the preservation and interpretation of Saratoga National Historic Park. He eventually planned and researched museum and outdoor exhibits for twelve national historical parks and served as the NPS’s central history office staff historian for the colonial and revolutionary periods. He lives with his wife Jean in a West Virginia retirement community.


FINALIST
The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Biography, 2008

Major General Robert E. Rodes of the Army of Northern Virginia: A Biography, by Darrell L. Collins

About the Army Historical Foundation: It was established in 1983 as a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the American soldier. Toward that goal, the Foundation’s Board of Directors has established an annual awards program to recognize books that have made a distinctive contribution to U.S. Army history.

* * *

As I noted a week or so ago, The Douglas Southall Freeman Award for Best Book on Southern History, 2009 (which includes a $1,000 cash award and a special plaque) was awarded to Darrel Collins' Major General Robert E. Rodes and the Army of Northern Virginia. Click here for details from that post.

* * *

The Freeman History Award recognizes the author who writes the best work in Southern history published within the last year.

“Every publisher of American history dreams of winning this prestigious award," said Theodore Savas of Savas Beatie. "I grew up reading Dr. Freeman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work on both George Washington and Robert E. Lee, as did many who work in this field. I know Mr. Collins is very excited and honored by this award.”

About the Author: Darrell L. Collins has written several books. He lives with his wife Judith in Conifer, Colorado.


FINALIST
The Indie Book Awards, Autobiography / Memoirs 2009

Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery, by Nick Popaditch with Mike Steere



“Once a Marine is a spirited tribute to the character, perseverance, and bravery of those men and women who fight for our freedoms,” explained Savas. “Nick ‘Gunny Pop’ Popaditch’s outstanding account of how he survived a rocket-propelled grenade to the head that left him largely blind and partially deaf, and how he regained his sense of honor and dedication to himself, to his family, and to his country. His story is as amazing as it is awe-inspiring.”

About the Author: Nick is a Silver Star winner, and was declared legally blind. He is finishing college at San Diego State University and wants to be a high school history teacher. Nick is a featured speaker at events around the country, and has appeared on national TV and radio. Nick was made famous as “The Cigar Marine” when his tanks surrounded Firdos Square in April 2003 and helped take down the statue of Saddam Hussein. The enduring image, now part of American history, appeared on the front pages of scores of newspapers around the world.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How Publishers Classify Their Titles--and What That Means for Authors



I was having a discussion with a fairly well-known author of history titles the other day and was using various publisher-speak that threw him for a loop. I was a bit surprised, so I backed up, broke it down, and explained what I meant. He thanked me, and went on to say that much of what I had laid out for him was new. It was, he was quick to add, "very helpful."

Our discussion had centered around the definition of frontlist, midlist, and backlist titles. Many authors know the difference (and many do not), but surprisingly few can explain how publishers view these titles, what it means for publicity and marketing, and which get the support--and when--and which do not and why that is so. That convinced me it was time to discuss this topic on the blog.

FRONTLIST: This is easy to explain: "A publisher's list of new or current titles." That seems simple enough, but those eight words mean a lot more than is immediately obvious.

The publishing schedule in the book world is broken down into two broad sessions: Spring (January to June) and Fall (July to December). Therefore (and broadly speaking to keep it simple), our current titles--our frontlist--consist of our Spring 2009 releases (two of which are pictured in this post).

Frontlist titles eat up the most immediate attention, publicity, marketing dollars, and T-I-M-E--much more so than do midlist or backlist titles, for all the obvious reasons. However, the declining economy, switch to online shopping, and the efforts of authors all play a role in frontlist success, promotion, and ultimately, the size of the royalty checks.

My next post will discuss these variables as they relate to frontlist books, what they mean to publishers and authors, and how publishers decide which frontlist titles to back to the hilt--and which to pull money away from.

Posts thereafter will deal with midlist and backlist titles, with a follow-up post for each category to explain how Savas Beatie handles these titles, why, and how that can affect authors and success.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Feel free to email me if you do not wish to post; or, of course, you many post anonymously.

--tps

Monday, June 8, 2009

Maj. Gen. Robert Rodes Wins 2009 Douglas Southall Freeman Award


It has been several days of pleasant surprises for Savas Beatie.

Today we learned that Darrel Collins' book Major General Robert Rodes of the Army of Northern Virginia has won the the distinguished Douglas Southall Freeman Award for 2009. (Click here to read more about this book, including an excerpt, author interview, and how to get a new copy with a signed bookplate.) We are well aware of the important nature of this award, and are thoroughly delighted. I called Darrel a few minutes ago, and he was as happy and thankful as any author who receives such news would be.


The Army chief historian called two days ago to share with me several pieces of important news. The major reason he called was to tell me about another award we received, but I am unable to make that one public until after June 15. However, the same Robert Rodes title was a finalist in the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award for Biography.

Congratulations, Darrel, for putting together such an outstanding biography. Certainly it was our pleasure to produce it and make it available to the reading public.

It goes without saying that it is one of those books every Civil War enthusiast should read and own. Yes, it is that good.

Be well,

--tps

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Back from Book Expo in NYC, the Catskills, and Gettysburg

Hello all

Thanks for the plethora of emails and voicemails asking about the trip. It was outstanding in every respect (although weather delayed our flight from Baltimore to Dallas, causing Sarah and I to miss our flight to Sacramento by ten minutes; we had to spend the night in a hotel. But in the grand scheme of things, that's OK with me.)

We have plenty of entertaining and helpful information on several aspects of the book business to share with you, as well as pictures, and will do so in the coming days.

Right now, I am off to home, a cold beer on the back deck, and if my wife doesn't bombard me with a honey-do list after being gone for seven days--SLEEP.

Be well.

tps