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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trip to DC Area

I will be heading to the DC area Thursday, April 2, for seven days of business and pleasure (which for me, mix well). Accompanying me will be my Watson--D.T. (Demetrious Theodore) Savas. Now 13, when he was 11 he joined me for a trip to Mammoth Cave and Shiloh, where we unveiled the Cunningham/Joiner/Smith Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862. It was his first battlefield; he was not impressed. He was, though, only 11.

One of the requirements for joining me on this trip over spring break was that he read Killer Angels to prepare for our day at Gettysburg. He is only 20% into the book. Thus far he is not impressed. (Sigh)

I am excited that we will be joined in Gettysburg by J.D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley (authors of the soon-to-be-released The Complete Guide to Gettysburg (May 22), as well as Silent Sentinels author George Newton, and soon-to-be-released author of Sickles at Gettysburg (later summer 2009), Jim Hessler. Since I have never met any of these guys, it will be good to put personalities and comraderie to the emails and voices. We will be spending some extra time on the Third Corps front, with Jim handling Sickles and George the artillery. Both are Licensed Battlefield Guides. I explained that to my son. He shrugged. He's 13, so . . .

The following night my son and I will be picking up a Washington Nationals/Baltimore Orioles game. We have (what I thought were ) good seats 12 rows behind the Visitor dugout. Since we have access to seats right on Third base line at Pac Bell Park for the Giants, my son asked whether we needed to purchase binoculars to see home plate. (Come to think of it, I might just leave him at home.)

I am also excited because I will finally get to meet Brad Gottfried, author of our Maps of Gettysburg and Maps of First Bull Run (May 22), and on another night thereafter, blog raconteur Dimitri Rotov.

There are several others I will be meeting (bookstore owners, etc.), but my time will be pulled in many directions, and I never get the opportunity to do as much or see as many people as I would like.

Update: My son just came down to tell me goodnight, and that . . . "Killer Angels is starting to get sort of interesting." He also recently watched a show on the Military Channel about Pickett's Charge. I told him we could walk it. He smiled, braces and all. There is a God in Heaven.

(No posts until after April 11.)

Stay well.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Publishing. Doing it Our Way

I had a fascinating call this morning from an author (not one of ours) who explained how frustrating it was to be an author.

We discussed how hard he had worked researching and writing his book, the difficulties he met along the way when nearly everyone told him to abandon his project because he (fill in the blank), the four years it took to find a publisher, and how quickly the book died and was in the remainder bin at WalMart. "I received a modest advance I will never earn out, and won't see another dime," he grumbled. "Once the contract was signed I rarely heard from the editor or marketing department again. They didn't want my ideas, did not want to support my efforts, and that was that. What an eye-opening experience."

What memories this call brought to mind. When I began publishing with David Woodbury in the very early 1990s, we heard the same thing from other publishers, some authors, and others more "in the know" than us. I won't name names because many who read these blogs will know them.

"You don't know the industry. Stick to your day jobs."

"This business will chew you up, and you can't make it a go."

"You want to include how many original maps in your books? [laughter]. You can't do that."

"You don't need to include all those maps and quality binding and paper. By the time people realize you used cheaper materials, the book will have sold through the first printing, and you will have already made your money."

All my life I listened (but almost never heeded) warnings, cautions, and "advice" from people who tried to steer me . . . AWAY . . . from potential success. When I was about to begin law school, a disgruntled 40-something told me to not waste my time and provided a host of excuses.

And I have learned the lesson: The sad truth is that most people do not want you to be successful, or at least more successful than they are.

I knew what I wanted, the kinds of books I wanted to publish, the types of authors I wanted to attract. I have never worked fewer than 55 hours a week in the last ten years, and have tirelessly driven around, under, and over obstacles others put in my path to prevent me from reaching my goals. As I tell my kids (and my students, and my authors), there is only one thing standing between you and your goal: YOU.

If you are an author (or whatever you do in your life), my advice is that you do not heed the doomsayers. Smile politely, push aside the roadblock, and move toward your goal. Surround yourself with people who are MORE successful than you are. Surround yourself with people who are successfully doing what you want to do.

I fondly recall the help I got from Bob Younger at Morningside and Tom Broadfoot of Broadfoot Publishing. I joined them at book shows, listened to their conversations, absorbed how they did business, and learned to avoid potential mistakes.

And the author I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Guess what he is doing?

That's right. He is finishing his next book and pressing forward.

That news plastered a giant smile on my formerly young and handsome face.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Atlas Shrugged is Coming True (OT)

Bloomburg columnist Caroline Baum hit the nail on the head in Obama Needs AIG’s Liddy, Not Other Way Around

She was probably writing this when I was jumping up from the dinner table last night while watching the news, yelling out the same thing.

See an earlier post here: If Only We had Published This Title . . .

Understand that I write this as a business owner very concerned about our general direction, and how it might impact my business, my employees, and what you will eventually read.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting Published (Manuscripts): Part 5 of 5

Previous entries in this thread include, in order:

Sorting Through Book Manuscripts. Part 1

Sorting Through (Unsolicited) Book Manuscripts. (Part 2 of 5)

Sorting Through (Unsolicited) Book Manuscripts (Part 2a of 5)

Speaking of (Potential) Authors (Part 2b of 5)

Getting Published (Manuscripts): Part 3 of 5

Refer back to the first post (above) and you will see I described the fourth way we obtain manuscripts as NETWORKED. To me, that means one of our authors (or a CFSB--Close Friend of Savas Beatie) recommends another's work, and either we follow up or we ask the author to follow up on our behalf.

(This is the second cousin of Developed," discussed in Part 3 of 5.)

As I am wont to do, let me follow up with a pair of recent examples.

Author Eric Wittenberg (Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg) and One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863, both Savas Beatie titles) recommended an outstanding battle history by Scott Patchan on Third Winchester (September 1864). Knowing Eric's eye for good material, and having had a long and friendly association with Scott Patchan stretching back to the mid-1990s, I agreed to take a look. The result is an executed contract, a manuscript that is essentially finished (and from what I have seen truly outstanding, as is all of Scott's work--and a tentative publication date of Spring 2010. Scott is widely recognized as one of the real experts on the 1864 war in the Shenandoah Valley, and we are very excited about bringing out his new work. Stay tuned for details.

Gary Moore, author of Playing with the Enemy, recommended a fascinating book that we are now ready to put into galley and release at the Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, international air show. The book, penned by Joseph Balzer, is called Flying Drunk: The True Story of a Northwest Airlines Flight, Three Drunk Pilots, and One Man's Search for Redemption (July 2009) [Website nearly finished]. Here is a New York Times article, Newsweek, Fortune Magazine, and the appellate transcript. Yes, THAT flight.

Mr. Balzer was the Flight Engineer when he was found, with two other pilots, to have flown drunk. Convicted, he was sent to Federal prison, where he endured a hell that is difficult to describe (although he does a marvelous job in his memoir). Broke, but not quite completely broken, Joe fought his way back to the top. He beat alcoholism (although he will be the first to tell you he is still an alcoholic) and is today one of American Airlines' senior pilots. Joe lectures around the country on the subject. We are more than pleased he selected us to publish his outstanding memoir.

How does this help you, the author? Think about it. The subject of the post is "Networked."


Do you have a friend who is a published author with a good working relationship with an acquisitions editor? Assuming the house is a good fit, has he recommended your book? Have you asked? Do you know people who have close relationships with publishers that might be interested in publishing your book? Have you asked? Have you even thought about it? Do you KNOW people who might/would know people who . . .

Network. Powerful word, powerful tool. Power.


Be well.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lightning (err, Stupid) Strikes Again

Folks, you can't make this stuff up. Recall this post, where I mentioned an author who sent an unsolicited 15-meg file to us, clogged our email box, and then did it a second time.

I replied by email the second time this happened, thanking him for his military service, but telling him that jamming our system with an unsolicited giant manuscript is about as dumb a thing as a potential author can do; it does not follow our (or likely anyone's) submission guidelines, and it will never help him get published. I pointedly asked him to STOP doing that.

Here is his reply today via email:

No other publisher/agency has this kind of problem. Suggest you learn more about the internet and talk with your ISP.

Am not interested in reading your damn blog nor am I interested in dealing with you. How can you call me names and you are wrong. I will get published (I have two houses interested) even though the lead time is years...2015. And I have the Navy contacts.

So you can KMA, you arrogant and rude SOB.

Capt. J. L. S.
USN (Ret)

Any publishers out there that would like to work with this respectful, helpful, friendly, and cooperative author? Hello? Anyone out there?

I didn't think so.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Successful? No. Stupid? . . . The Ongoing Saga

On the last day of January 09, I wrote a column called Stupid? Yes. Successful? You be the Judge.

Publishers around the world are shedding authors and contracted manuscripts as fast as my 13-year-old son can open the refrigerator and wolf down anything within grabbing range. So it is not that surprising that our email and snail mail is jammed with these authors who are seeking another home for their work.

This morning I received an email from our web mail administrator that our Editorial mailbox had exceeded its capacity. When I checked the mail, imagine my good cheer when I discovered that an author with a manuscript called "Citizen Sailors" had sent an unsolicited 15-meg file to us.

I deleted it without even opening the email. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know why. If you don't read this column and can't figure it out, I can't help you.

I will be returning to the discussion of manuscript submissions and the creation of books Monday.

Have a nice weekend.


Monday, March 2, 2009

As a Business Owner and Producer, I am Screaming . . .

As if it is not hard enough today to run a business, let alone a publishing business (and ours has been very successful), my CPA called to discuss the disastrous ramifications of the new state and federal tax laws and regulations, and those that are also being proposed. Meanwhile they are dancing and partying in Washington (no, I am not kidding.)

For those of you who have never risked everything you own to run a business, maxed out credit cards to make payroll, or borrowed against your house to purchase equipment (all of which I have done in the very early days of my business career), take note of how these centralized Marxist regulations affect our economy:

The extra full time marketing person we are looking to hire? Gone.

The extra early developmental manuscript editing we were planning to do to get a jump on the process? Gone.

The two new computer systems we were looking forward to purchasing? Gone.

The new laptop I was going to purchase for my travel this year? Gone.

The seven trips I was planning to make this year, including two or three overseas? Cut down to four, and maybe soon to be reduced to three.

That is tens of thousands of dollars I would have poured into the economy.

Read this, carefully:

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the rich out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything the government does not first take from somebody else. When half the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply the wealth by dividing it."

-- Dr. Adrian Rogers

I am so disgusted with what the Columbia-Harvard-Yale-Princeton brains are doing to my country I could vomit. (And when I do, a moocher from the State will be there to tax it as a pollutant.)

I know you do not come here to read this, but I thought you should see what the direct effect is of the policies being piled up those who . . . produce.