AUTHORS! Why do you write?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Schooled" by Another Clueless "Aurthor"

I haven't posted on this subject for a while because I have not experienced any real odd balls recently in this department. Is there a full moon out there?

John Smith (not his real name) submitted a manuscript proposal via our website, and followed most of the instructions as set forth.

The idea was not at all what we are looking for, and I rejected it--kindly, of course, with some additional information that might help him publish it elsewhere. That is what I always do. I try to help authors (and everyone, frankly) as best as I am able.

He shot back an email: "Mr. Savas, are you kidding? You are turning down a project like this? Maybe you were replying to someone else, and this is a mistake. Please check your records and get back to me!!!"

I made it clear in a return email I was rejecting his manuscript and wished him well.

He called. I thought the name sounded familiar and I took the call. (I need a better memory.) Below is what transpired, to the best of my ability to reconstruct it.

JS: This is Savas? You rejected me yesterday? I sent the manuscript about XXX."

TPS (inaudible groan): Yes, it's me, and your submission does not offer us what we are seeking. I sent quite a long email with other suggestions. I suggest---

JS: Do you realize what a magnificent opportunity you are turning down?

TPS: I suggest you read my email, and see if there is--

JS: Do you have the manuscript proposal there in front of you? Let's go through it together! I think you are making a big mistake!

TPS:  . . . and see if there is anything that can help you, Mr. Smith. I am afraid I don't have the time to continue talking about this, but I ---

JS: And I have heard you guys are author-friendly! What a joke. Fine, I will take it elsewhere and you will be sorry when it wins about 10 awards!

TPS: ...but I hope my email provides you with some assistance. . .
[slammed phone]

(Sigh)

--tps

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recent Poll Not Even Close . . .

For those of you who have seen or own The Complete Gettysburg Guidebook, by J. D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley, you know this volume is very special. (Check out the reviews on Amazon--thirty-two 5-star reviews out of thirty-two) and see more on the book here.

Since there are more volumes in the works, we have been discussing what campaign deserves similar treatment. I posted this question last week on this blog: What is the next "Complete Guide" battle or campaign history in the Eastern Theater you would like?

Here were the results:

Maryland Campaign: 11 (44%)

1862 Valley Campaign: 6 (24%)
1864 Valley Campaign: 4 (16%)
Chancellorsville: 3 (12%)
1863 Cavalry Battles (Aldie, Brandy, etc.): 1 (4%)


Looks like the guys know where they will be spending a lot of time in 2010.

--tps

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Another Take on e-Books

Clouds on the horizon? There are so many issues going forward with e-Books we can't even begin to know the future (costs, royalties, digital rights management, copyright issues, pirating, sharing, etc. . . .)

The smooth road forward is not as well paved as many believe.

Read the article here.

Hat tip to Kevin.

--tps

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Reader Response to e-Book Costs (Posted for Your Comments)

I received this email from a reader, and asked for and received his permission to publish it here for public comment.
Dear Mr. Savas---


I’m a fan of “A Publisher’s Perspective” (particularly when you blog more often than every two weeks). But I’m writing today because I worry that you may have missed the point on your March 29 post, a quick observation on “Print Books and E-Books”.

I certainly acknowledge (given my own experience) that researching and writing a quality non-fiction book is expensive. You know the cost ratios far better than I, but I grant the expense in acquiring that book, developing it, editing it, designing it, marketing it and producing it. “How many publishers can do that for an e-book that retails for the cost of a trade paperback (or less?), you ask. “Not many, I fear,” and I would agree.

But what if the buying public doesn’t care about the services you offer? Or, worse yet, what if buyers are unable to discern the value you and the authors bring to book?

I’m a former sales and operations executive of a nationwide commercial printing company. As manufacturers of fine offset lithography, we produced dot-to-dot color resolution, color matching closer than a human eye could perceive, and scoring that never broke a paper fiber. National companies and their advertising agencies paid a fair, cost-based price for the service we performed.

Starting in the 1990s, however, we began to sniff what I termed a “degradation of expectation.” The color laser printer on the client’s desk was churning out color pages (and doing so in minutes, not weeks). Sure, the blue sky in the digital images wasn’t the CMYK cerulean we could produce on a Heidelberg, but it was blue, wasn’t it? And digital imaging was faster. And available in more convenient quantities. And faster. And able to be personalized.

As the quality gap between digital printing and traditional lithography narrowed, more buyers opted for the cheaper/faster/more flexible alternative, and willingly lowered their quality expectations. You (and every other publisher) did the same thing when you abandoned hand typesetting for the benefits of digital. If you could find an old-school typesetter today, he’d give you an earful about the poor kerning and unattractive baseline positions in your books today. Simply put, you made the (reasonable) choice to sacrifice high(est) quality standards for digital economies and efficiencies.

Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Savas. I’m a lover of quality books, and I’d be sick at heart to think we’d lose the value that a fine publisher like Savas Beatie brings to them. As an author, I love working hard to produce an interesting, accurate, worthwhile story, and I worry that readers may someday be satisfied with retread research and cut-and-paste writing.

But please don’t make the mistake of thinking that the future looks just like the past. You, of all people, should know better.

Cordially,

Rusty Williams
author of My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans (University Press of Kentucky, May 2010)