Have you ever written a book review?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Powell's Just-Released Chickamauga Confederate Cavalry Study

Click HERE to watch the book trailer!

About the Book

Confederate cavalry has a storied and favorable relationship with the history of the Civil War. Tales of raids and daring exploits create a whiff of lingering romance about the horse soldiers of the Lost Cause. Sometimes, however, romance obscures history.

In August 1863, William Rosecrans’ Union Army of the Cumberland embarked on a campaign of maneuver to turn Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee out of Chattanooga, one of the most important industrial and logistical centers of the Confederacy. Despite the presence of two Southern cavalry corps (nearly 14,000 horsemen) under legendary commanders Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joe Wheeler, Union troops crossed the Tennessee River unopposed and unseen, slipped through the passes cutting across the knife-ridged mountains, moved into the narrow valleys, and turned Bragg’s left flank. Threatened with the loss of the railroad that fed his army, Bragg had no choice but to retreat. He lost Chattanooga without a fight.

After two more weeks of maneuvering, skirmishing, and botched attacks Bragg struck back at Chickamauga, where he was once again surprised by the position of the Union army and the manner in which the fighting unfolded. Although the combat ended with a stunning Southern victory, Federal counterblows that November reversed all that had been so dearly purchased.

David A. Powell’s Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign is the first in-depth attempt to determine what role the Confederate cavalry played in both the loss of Chattanooga and the staggering number of miscues that followed up to, through, and beyond Chickamauga. Powell draws upon an array of primary accounts and his intimate knowledge of the battlefield to reach several startling conclusions: Bragg’s experienced cavalry generals routinely fed him misleading information, failed to screen important passes and river crossings, allowed petty command politics to routinely influence their decision-making, and on more than one occasion disobeyed specific and repeated orders that may have changed the course of the campaign.

Richly detailed and elegantly written, Failure in the Saddle offers new perspectives on the role of the Rebel horsemen in every combat large and small waged during this long and bloody campaign and, by default, a fresh assessment of the generalship of Braxton Bragg. This judiciously reasoned account includes a guided tour of the cavalry operations, several appendices of important information, and original cartography. It is essential reading for students of the Western Theater.

Next up: the first major review . . .

Monday, December 13, 2010

Should Borders Buy Barnes & Noble?

Or as someone else wrote, it's a bit like a dead fish trying to swallow a whale. (Well, at least an ill whale.)

The book world is indeed in a state of flux.

Click here for the story.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Forthcoming Title and a Housekeeping Matter (Part 1)

So many of you have been emailing or calling and asking me about what is coming down the pike. I have been meaning for quite some time to mention a few of our forthcoming titles and discuss each at greater depth thereafter. Alas, life has intervened. For that I apologize but won't beg for forgiveness. I shall now take a brief stab at it (and hopefully follow up after the calendar wraps to 2011).

The Gettysburg Encyclopedia, by Brad Gottfried and Theodore P. Savas, editors. Yes, this is still in the works. Click here for an earlier entry that promises much the same thing you are about to read. Today, though, I really mean it. Promise.

The text is at least 95% complete (as are the maps) and simply awaiting editing. The primary holes left to fill are largely in the realm of cavalry operations. (J.D. Petruzzi, however, decided to ride with Jeb Stuart, violate the spirit of his orders, and was last reported heading for Maryland in a red Corvette with bits of  hay flying out the tailpipe and a bridle slapping the side. If you spot him--or read this blog--tell him to phone home or at least send General Lee a comforting dispatch.)

We will post a list of contributors, topics, and much more in January. It will likely be one large volume, but we might publish this in two matching volumes in a 7 x 10 oversize format on 50 or 60-lb. acid free paper, and heavy cloth with a sewn binding. The double-column text will include everything from houses and landmarks to personalities, units, engagements, civilians, terrain features, controversies, weaponry, and much more. All entries will be cross-referenced, as needed. The Gettysburg Encyclopedia will also include full page / full color maps, color photos, and of course a complete bibliography/suggested reading list.

This effort is a true (and expensive) labor of love, and we want it to stand the test of time and functionality.

Watch for a web page soon. If there is something in particular you would like to see on this web page, please send us an email and let us know.

We are leaning toward a first edition boxed set (perhaps signed and numbered with a limited print run)  available only through Savas Beatie. As always, we welcome your thoughts.

Publishing date? Almost certainly late 2011 or early 2012. Yes, we are excited too.

Housecleaning: I have stumbled across a handful of mint new copies of Lost for the Cause: The Confederate Army in 1864, by Steven Newton (Savas Publishing, 1999). This is an outstanding study. Would you like a free copy? When you place an order for ANY book we have in stock, just use LFTC as a coupon code or mention it on the phone, and we will throw one copy in at no charge. As in, no extra dollars. No extra shipping, either. But I think I only have 8 or 10 copies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Author and his Book. A Primer.

Or, in this case, "Authors and Their Book."

David Hirsch (attorney) and Dan Van Haften (retired electrical engineer) are the authors of the just-released Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason.

Yes, I thought the same thing. Keep reading.

This is not "another" Lincoln book. I turned it down twice thinking that it was just that. I was so very wrong. So often we hear (and use) the word "groundbreaking" to describe a new title. It is overused. But it is also applicable to this book. I will post more on this title later, but for now, understand two things.

1) The authors discovered Lincoln's mastery of Euclidean Geometry, and discovered howt he used its precision and simple brilliance to write his best-known speeches--and then they prove it. Truly it is a jaw-dropping discovery. The authors are not household names in the Lincoln field, so traditional Lincoln scholars are scratching their heads in amazement.

2) The authors understand the elevator pitch and that carrying their book around and talking to people is important. David (the attorney) was in Boston at a Consumer Law conference when . . . well, I will let David tell his story:
I had my book with me at lunch and a stranger asked me whether it was good. I told him I was biased and why (I am one of the authors), and then described the book this way: "We broke Lincoln's code regarding how he wrote his speeches. He used a regular template. It is replicatable. Anyone can do it."

Then I stopped, waiting for the obvious question (which is usually, "How did he do it"). Instead, this guy pulled out his iPhone, went straight to Amazon, and purchased the book as we were talking.
So we have a new book about something no one else has every written, and authors who understand the importance of talking about their work and sharing it with others.

And of course this all came with a bonus: a perfect example of how people are purchasing books today and will be into the future.

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Live from the West Coast Civil War Conference

Conference is going great. Right now. Rick Hatcher, Chief Historian of Fort Sumter, is finishing a 2-part talk on the operations against the fort during the entire war. James McPherson, Craig Symonds, and other notables are on later. Good to see old friends again, as we have each year for about two decades. TBC...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

KEEP Letting Tim Smoke. Congrats Giants!

With arms like that, Timmy can probably lifts ten-pound joints. I thought it would take six, and (sort of) wanted to see it finish in SF, but that would have meant rooting against the home boys in Arlington. I just couldn't do it. If anyone ever doubted this game is all about pitching, this series really put the nail in that coffin. It was a fun season.

Alas, the Vikings are still playing . . .


Monday, November 1, 2010

Quote of the Day from my Favorite Vikings Blog

Stock Market Report, Week 8

What...the...hell. 2-5.

Two wins. Five losses. Eight stitches. 2 passes thrown to Moss. One idiot of a head coach. Zero sacks in three games---for the first time in franchise history.

The wheels are coming off, the bandwagon is as empty as a politician's promise, and after what happened today, as your Vikings financial advisor, I have one word: Sell.

The Rest Of The Defensive Line: You make more money than the entire GDP of Afghanistan, and you can't register a sack in three games? You almost have to try to do that. Maybe you should just donate your game checks to Whitney Houston. She'd at least put forth a better effort to hustle some crack than you guys are at hustling after the quarterback. And she'd be more entertaining.

Excuse me while I vomit.


Friday, October 29, 2010

"Well, maybe I will publish my own book . . ."

A potential author called the other day.

"If you the publisher sells X copies of my book, I will earn about $Y and you will earn $Z. That is simply unfair."

"That is gross dollars, with no guarantee after putting up the price of a car on what is essentially a bet," I replied. "How is that unfair?"

"You publishers do alright," he continued. "I am thinking maybe I should just publish my own book."

I chuckled (silently). "Certainly you can do that, and for some authors it works out fine. For most, it does not," I answered as gently as possible while lighting an expensive Cuban cigar with a Ben Franklin. And then I explained to him what he will have to do if he does not want to store a garage full of books for the next decade. "And of course," I concluded, "you can do all these things and still have a garage full of books--and no money."

The graphic (below) is a good illustration of what I tried to explain to him. If they only knew. No one gets into the publishing business for money. It is a virus. And there is no real cure.

"Ah, OK, I see what you mean," he replied. "Can you explain all this in an email for me?"

"No," I answered. "I think you get the point. Good luck."


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giants Whip Phillies 3-0

"What are you doing this coming Tuesday?" Frank inquired last Friday when he called

"Tuesday evening?" I asked. When Frank comes into town from wine country, it is usually to take me out for dinner.

Photo: [Ted Savas (left) and Frank Gaynor (right)]

"No. During the day."

"Ah . . . working?" I answered. He knows we have lots of books to publish. As he is fond of telling me, his kids need shoes. By now Imelda Marcos would feel comfortable at his house.

"Can you meet me in San Francisco?" I could hear the smile in his voice.


"Yes. 1:30 afternoon game."

"I'm in!"

I didn't ask about the seats because I already knew. Frank has seats on the third base line, not far from the Giants dugout, four rows off the field. Did I say you can hear the ball hit the glove during warm-ups? No? You can hear the ball hit the glove during warm-ups.

(I was smart enough to remember to ask Mrs. Savas, and she said "absolutely go!" I then added, "Will I pay for this later?" She assured me the answer was "no." We'll see . . .)

Frank is the notorious Frank "Jesse James" Gaynor, the West Coast sales rep for McNaughton and Gunn in Michigan, our book printer of choice for most of our titles. We have been working together for about 17 years. Frank is a great guy who likes his beer cold and his baseball orange and black. We have a standing joke between us: He has met my wife Carol on several occasions and has spent a night or two at our home. I have yet to meet his wife. He really does have one, or so he has been assuring me for nearly two decades. He likes to tease that  he really doesn't have a wife, and merely lets the air out of his doll and puts her in the closet at night. (He needs to get out more.)

But I digress.

M cousin Ray was considering going down for the game, and he bought a couple tickets on Stub Hub in another section. We drove down together with Ray, Ray's associate Ron, and Ron's significant other Katy so we could use the diamond lane. Traffic was light, the day was 73 and sunny, and just perfect for baseball. Matt Cain was on the mound and we were home after splitting with the Phillies. What more could a guy want?

Cain was darn near flawless. It was more of a pitching duel than anything, and the Giants went up 2 games to 1 over the bat-less Phillies at AT&T Park with a 3-0 victory. The beer was cold, the garlic fries were perfect, and the Giants are leading the Phillies.

It wasn't a night out with Slash but it was a darn near perfect day. (But Sarah did just tell me Slash is playing with Ozzy in February 2011 in San Jose . . . hmmm.)

Still digressing. . . must the 10 buck beers.

Thanks Frank.


(Sorry Eric W.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Son DT at the Slash Concert.

Since one of you long-term GNR and Slash fans doubted DT got that close to Slash and we could come and go as we pleased . . . here you go. Yep, right there at the front, snapped by his friend Kyle.

(Love those Ronnie James Dio "rock horns," DT.)


Slash was amazing--front row

Let's just say this. The boys got in front, where I watched the first three songs five feet from the Slash man, and then went back to our table so my brother could do the same. At the end of the show, Slash handed his pick to my son, who also ended up with the bassist's pick. (He gave that to his cousin Nikkos. Slash is Nikkos' musical idol, so I expect by Christmas the $30.00 bucks he offered DT for Slash's pick will be north of a hundred. LOL) Kyle, a bassist in Nikkos' band JAXX, ended up with a drumstick which was signed and imprinted with "SLASH."

The picture here was snapped from my blackberry on the first song (Kill the Ghost). You can see we were within arm's reach. Haven't been this close to a major act since Rush at Arnold's Park in Iowa in 1975. Two hours and 10 minute set, 22 songs, and was just wonderful in an intimate venue. Could not have been better, and was easily as good as the Slash concert five weeks ago at the Warfield in San Francisco.

Thanks Slashman. You are a true virtuoso, and your recorded music does not begin to do you justice. On the stage you are simply in another world.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Live at Reno: Slash

We are waiting for the concert to begin. The boys are at the front at the railing directly in front of where Slash will be! They are pumped! My brother and I are 30 feet back at a table, complete with a table
cloth and gin and tonics! Bad City is set to open in 10 minutes. This should be spectacular! Hooah!


OT: Tonight in Reno--SLASH

Picking up my son DT at school at 1:00 p.m., running home to change, meeting up with my brother Anthony, his son Nikkos, and Nikkos' bass player Kyle, and running up to Reno (about 2 hours up Interstate 80) to the Grand Sierra Casino . The Grand Theatre is small (1,800) with horseshoe booths, etc. Will be a wonderful show.

Click on the following link to read a write-up of the last Slash concert (and great pic of Nikkos playing his Les Paul in the battle of the bands): Slash at the Warfield: The Best Live Guitarist Ever?

(Might not be recovered until Saturday, though.)


Above: Vocalist Myles Kennedy (left) and Saul Hudson (aka Slash)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nick "Gunny Pop" Popaditch in New York City

Our author Nick Popaditch (Once a Marine) flew into New York at the request of Fox's TV show Red Eye so he could do the entire show with them in studio (Nick has been on 2-3 times via remote). Picture to right has Nick with Greg Gutfeld and the rather attractive columnist/blogger S. E. Cupp. Lucky guy. (Yes, I can say that. This is my blog.)

When he heard he would be in NYC, Dennis Miller invited Nick to spend 30 minutes with him in studio. It was a perfect match and the show was lively and fun.

John Batchelor's popular syndicated radio show (KABC in NYC) also had Nick on, and has since called to invited him back next week.

I don't have the links to these shows yet, but when I get them I will post them here and Sarah will post on Facebook.

Filner's lying stunt with the foreclosure deal is proof his internal polls show a tight race. Nice work Gunny. We are proud of you.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Going Archival . . . Poll Results

Question: "How important is it to you that a Civil War book be based upon exrtensive [sic] archival research?

Very important. Otherwise, why write it? 36 votes (83%)

Important, but not that critical to me: 6 votes (13%)

I can look past that. Secondary sources are fine: 1 vote (2%)

Meh. I will read anything with Civil War in the title: 0 votes (0%)

This question generated a lot of interest, both in the comment section and in emails (and a few calls) to me. I think the verdict is about as lopsided as I expected given the readership of my blog. Someone made the distinction that archival research and primary research are not necessarily the same--a good point, although not germane to the poll question, which did not link the two.
(Only JD asked what I meant by "archival." OK, he really did not ask that.)
Thank you for participating.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going Archival . . .

We receive on average one manuscript query each day, either via email or snail mail. They span the gamut from cringe-worthy to spectacular.

During the last two weeks I received a half-dozen on outstanding topics I would love to publish, from campaign/battle histories to brigade histories and biographies. Five from this group were (to my dismay) grounded in secondary sources and very light archival research. By "light" I mean one or two repository visits or a few letters here and there. What is obviously missing? Work in the National Archives, Library of Congress, Southern Historical Society Collection, newspapers, etc.

Savas Beatie does not publish work that has already been written by other authors, if you get my drift.

If I have an interest in a manuscript and see real potential, I write back and explain this to the authors and encourage them to finish the good work they have started. Below is an excerpt from one of the five who wrote back:
"Thanks, but I am finished with my manuscript. Another publisher will take it as-is. I don't need to pay for a trip to Washington DC just to satisfy a few readers who might get mad because I missed a letter from some obscure private."
I did not bother to respond. As far as I am concerned--both as a publisher and a voracious reader--if an author has never heard of the Compiled Service Record files in the NA and doesn't care, he is not worth the time or money to publish or read. Yes, it is that simple. It has taken me a long time to learn, but you really can't make a silk purse from a pig's ear. And we have too many good manuscripts to choose from as it now stands. Let's see what the other three authors have to say.
How important is solid and extensive archival research to you? Is repackaged work acceptable? I posted a poll on this subject at the top-left of my blog. Feel free to vote there, and weigh in on this blog post with comments.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Strategic Transitions: ePub Format

Good morning.
One of the most difficult things to do when running a business started from scratch (as Savas Beatie was in 2004) is to get out of the "shoveling coal in the boiler room" mentality and spend more time on the bridge. For it is only from that higher vantage point that one can see the seas ahead, the sky, determine wind speed, current flow, heading, and make damn sure Frederick Fleet is not dosing off in the crow's nest.

Even if the vantage point is not as high as Mr. Fleet's, it is easy to see the approaching digital iceburg. 

But does this digital ice pose a threat, or an advantage? My guess is that the answer lies in how soon we recognize it for what it is and turn the rudder accordingly.

The book world is experiencing tectonic shifts. Print is here to stay, but so are digital books. (I believe the advent of digital books will increase print sales in the mid-to long-term, but that is fodder for another post.) Trade sales are falling, returns are increasing, the major chains are in severe financial distress, etc. Some of these problems are beyond the control of the publisher, but many of them pose new opportunities (I tend to see opportunity in every pitfall and exploit it accordingly.)

There is not a single publisher who has not at least thought about how to handle the digital issue. Some refuse to see it and like Mr. Ismay have ordered full steam ahead. Others remain frozen at the wheel, unsure what to do and so by default have adopted Mr. Ismay's position. A few, however, are busy turning hard to port or starboard in an effort to glide past the potential pitfall. Savas Beatie is in that latter category. It is my hope that within a short time I will be able to reach out and chip off some clear clean ice into a tumbler and follow it with three fingers of 20-year-old single malt and a good cigar. And from that glass both publishers and authors will sip. (You have to bring your own cigars.)

After spending an extensive amount of time reading and pondering the issue, I decided late last year that one of the three primary strategic goals for Savas Beatie in 2011 was the digitization of our title base for sales crossplatform. Many of our books have been available in Kindle format for some time, but I knew that would not be enough to get the bow of this ship around the berg.

I am happy to report that most of our available books (including our growing and vibrant back list) have now been (or are being) converted into the various ePub formats. The entire process should be done by the end of September.

In additon to the Amazon Kindle format, these include: Apple's iPad (available through the Apple iBookstore), Sony's Reader, Barnes and Noble's Nook, Border's ebookstore, and others. Wholesalers who also deal with digital editions (like Baker and Taylor) will also be carrying our titles. Each digital book also has its own eISBN number. Although Kindle sales have been modest thus far, they have been steadily increasing. Once the transition is complete and our titles are widely available, we expect to see strong growth in this area--but not at the expense of print titles. Growth in one area does not have to translate into a decrease in the other.

The digital age is upon us, and that iceberg is not of the "blue" variety. [Look up blue ice if you are unsure of my meaning.] Indeed, it has been visible for some time--even the coalers in the boiler room have heard about it.

Best to chip from that block and enjoy its advantages than hit it full on and go down by the bow.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ever-Shrinking Borders: Sales Fall 11.5 Percent On Loss of Over $51 Million

It was more enjoyable writing about the Slash concert . . .

Borders reported second quarter sales of $526 million, down 11.5 percent from a year ago (when sales were down 17.7 percent compared to 2008--when sales were also down.) For a little perspective, sales in this quarter were $617 million in 2009; $749 million in 2008; and $945 million in 2007.

The loss from continuing operations (to reflect the sale of Paperchase) was another $51.6 million, or 74 cents a share (perilously close to what shares themselves trade for), worse than $45.1 million a year ago. The operating loss of $37.7 million was also worse than the $25.7 million recorded a year ago. The loss came in part from "increased promotional discounts" required to prop up declining sales.

In the glimmers of "good news" offered, same-store sales fell by only 6.8 percent, which is actually an improvement, and their very small Borders.com business grew by 56 percent, at $15.5 million, reflecting the ebookstore they opened during the period and increased online physical book sales. Unfortunately, from a publishing perspective the store comp sales number is even weaker than it seems. The company said in this morning's investor call that the cafes actually increased while the declines were "largely due to our trade book category."

Overall debt of $262 million is actually higher than a year ago, by 2.7 percent, even though inventories continued to shrink, at $798 million this quarter, compared to $868 a year ago (reflecting some of those big returns that some publishers have been experiencing). The closely-watched trade accounts payable were $348.5 million, a little higher than six months ago but down from $401 million a year ago.

They proudly noted in this morning's investor call that one of their best strategies for improving performance is "opportunistically" negotiating early lease buyouts (like the one just announced in San Francisco). They have recently terminated seven underperforming leases before the end of their term.

With fresh financing, the company invested a little bit in capital expenditures this year, spending $7.7 million "focused on the development of the Borders eBook store." They say that "sales of the Kobo as well as pre-orders for the Aluratek and Velocity Micro devices have exceeded expectations."

The company says their consumer research "has indicated that most customers come to Borders to escape the pressures of everyday life." That's used in part to explain their "shifting our product mix to include additional non-book products that are both compelling and relevant, and providing an escape for our customers though an inspirational in-store environment and consistent customer service."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Slash at the Warfield: The Best Live Rock Guitarist Ever?

OK, so this is one of those "Ted is in one of those moods again" postings.

I was never a huge Guns N Roses fan, as I wrote last May in the posting "My New Favorite Slew of Songs." Sure, I liked a few of their tunes, but I never bothered to see them live. And frankly, Saul Hudson (aka Slash) never impressed me as a guitar virtuoso. Good? Sure. Unbelievably good? Nah.

I could not have been more wrong.

Last January my brother turned me on to Slash's "Snakepit," a group from some years back Slash formed after GNR broke up. The songs were so-so, but a couple really stuck with me, as did his melodic guitar riffs. Just two months ago Slash put out a new album featuring different lead singers on nearly every song. And he wrote every song. The wide variety of music, from jazz to blues, from ballad to hard rock, is impressive. Sunday night my brother, his son Nikkos (my Godson/nephew), and a friend of ours caught Slash at the Warfield theater in San Francisco. His lead singer for the tour is Myles Kennedy (a talent I had never heard of until this new Slash album). Man can this guy sing! I had no idea what I was in for.

We were in the balcony (see the shot to the right from my Blackberry), the venue is small (some 2,000 people), and the view was magnificent. The band played for 2.25 hours. Here is the set list. You can click and see clips next to the songs. (Note the sound is not nearly the same, nor the effect. Hit his Godfather theme and watch and listen carefully especially after 1:30 into it. This is an old version--it is different today.) 

My jaw still hurts because my mouth was open in abject shock most of the show. I have seen scores of concerts, from Gordon Lightfoot and Fogelberg to Rush, Kiss, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden--you name it. I have never seen a guitarist perform so well, for so long, with so many styles (blues, classical, hard rock, jazz, et al.) and flavors as Slash did Sunday evening. I am STILL blown away.

His solo theme from the Godfather was a masterpiece. He transitioned into it, and soloed for ten minutes and it was so lovely, so magnificent I could not take my eyes off him. Every time I thought it would end he transitioned into something else that dropped my jaw open. And when he finished, he transitioned into "Sweet Child O' Mine."

If you get a chance to go see Slash on this tour--do so. You will not be disappointed.

PS: This is a photo of my 16-year old nephew Nikkos (from a phone, while he is jumping around, sorry!) playing GNR's "Civil War" the night before the Slash concert at the battle of the bands up here in Northern California. His band JAXX won against bands whose members are in their 20s. Ready for this? The JAXX members are ages 13 (drummer) to 16 (Nikkos and Alan, guitarists). The bassist is just 15. And they write almost all their own music. Go get 'em, Nikkos!

(OK, back to Failure in the Saddle, the forthcoming Confederate cavalry study on Chickamauga!)


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Farewell to Arms? (or, The Demise of Barnes and Noble?)

I think the writer is spot on when it comes to this particular business running a rat race well behind the proverbial curve. Who could not see this coming a decade ago? I did and I am not much of a clairvoyant.

The devolution has been painful to witness, especially given my line of work.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our Latest Book Trailer: New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah

Someone just spotted our poll about book trailers (see poll on the left) and called to ask where they can see examples.

Veronica Kane of our office recently created a cool viewing pad on our home page at www.savasbeatie.com. You can use your mouse to pick a different trailer, expand to full screen, adjust the volume, and so forth. I spend a lot of time there . . .

Our latest trailer is New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah, by Richard Lowry. See his website here.

The trailer is on our home page.


All Platforms Electronic

In cooperation with our distributor, Casemate, we are submitting all our titles for formatting into every platform for electronic readers (iPad, Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, and so forth).

We have already introduced a select number of titles in Kindle, and the results have been about as we expected: a handful of sales, but nothing overwhelming.

One of the discussions currently underway is whether the Kindle (or any e-book, for that matter) should be released simultaneously with the print edition. One school of thought says yes: hit it all at once because some people will purchase the e-book who would not otherwise pick up the traditional print edition anyway, and some will pick up both versions. The second school of thought (to which I currently subscribe) is that you wait about 60 days to release the e-book so as not to chip away at the print edition sales.

We are watching this dynamic unfold now. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hessler Sickles review--Great Opening Line

Midwest Book Review doesn't review every book it receives. And, depending upon the reviewer, the reviews can on occasion appear hasty and based upon the dust jacket. Still, they are always welcome.

This line from a recent review of Jim Hessler's outstanding (and award winning) Sickles at Gettysburg struck my eye:

"No one in the Civil War was a saint, but some were further from sainthood than others."

OK, someone was drinking their coffee that morning and hitting on all cylinders.

It concludes with, "Sickles at Gettysburg is not a read to be missed."

We agree. Hence the Bachelder-Coddinton Award for the best book on Gettysburg in 2009--and a selection by the History and Military Book Clubs.

This book is new in paperback (although we might have a dozen or so first edition hardcovers left with signed book plates--best pick one up if you want a book that will be a collector's item).

Congrats, Jim.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Gunny Pop Discusses "The Cartoon" and Meets PINCH on Fox's Red Eye

I love watching and listening to Greg Gutfeld, the quirky and extremely sharp host of Fox's Red Eye.

Like a decent cigar or aged Scotch, he is an acquired taste, but once you "get it," you . . . get it. And you like it.

Click HERE to see Greg interview Nick "Gunny Pop" Popaditch the other night about "The Cartoon" that appeared in the Imperial Valley Times, and much more.

Click HERE to see a creative alternative view of "The Cartoon" by one of the readers:

Stick around to the end, and you get to see PINCH, a talking newspaper spoof of Pinch Sulzberger of the New York Times. It is hilarious--especially when the talking newspaper asks Nick, "Can we take a look at your eye for the science section."

Off mike after the show, Greg invited Nick for the entire hour as an in-studio guest/commentator, and since Nick and I both have business in new York and Washington D.C., it looks like we will be flying out to NYC and DC for a week in August.

Spending time with Gunny is always enjoyable. But . . . DC in August? With a former drill instructor? Let me rethink that . . .


Nice Interview with Tom Clemens, Editor of Carman's The Maryland Campaign

Click here to read an in-depth interview with Dr. Clemens, especially if you enjoy learning about the Maryland Campaign. Well worth five minutes.

Thanks Harry.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Newspaper Apologies, Filner Finally Condemns . . . and the Story Grows

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how The Imperial Valley News seemed to openly mock a veteran's war wounds through a cartoon, now known as The Cartoon. At least that was the opinion of nearly everyone who has viewed the cartoon. The carton was about one of our authors (and now my good friend Nick Popaditch, Once a Marine).

The news spread like wildfire, from the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Tribune, San Diego TV, National Review, Mick Huckabee, Michelle Malkin, Editor & Publisher Magazine, Redstate, and about 100 other sites. My Google alerts were coming in every few minutes. They are still coming in as I write.

Nick was inundated with radio and media requests, the editor of the paper called him to apologize and has now published the apology, and after stalling and hemming and hawing and telling callers he had "No comment" [NO COMMENT?], Congressman Bob Filner (who Nick is running against for a Congressional seat) finally found his cahones and condemned the newspaper for publishing a denigrating cartoon of a veteran.

Now there is a bit of back story. Imperial Valley (highest unemployment in the nation, large Hispanic population, agricultural, and suffering) has always been a strong spot for Nick's opponent, incumbent democrat Bob Filner. Nick, however, is Filner's first real challenger--ever. And he is an everyday Joe who served 16 years in the Marine Corps, earned a Silver Star, commanded a tank, and was critically wounded for his country. And people love him. He walks the agricultural fields, sits in the cafes, and goes door-to-door--waging the kind of aggressive "boots on the ground" campaign a Marine would undertake that Filner never has and never could. And Filner is now losing Imperial Valley.

The other night, right before The Cartoon came out, Nick spoke to a large townhall meeting out in the Valley. He invited Filner to attend and "answer questions with him." Filner initially agreed, and then backed out. Nick spoke for hours to hundreds of people, remaining until every single question was answered. He was applauded, congratulated, and the people there had never seen anything like it.


And the next day, the newspaper runs The Cartoon.

Are Filner's fingerprints on this? I don't know. We do know that in an earlier fundraising letter, Filner said that Nick has "absolutely no qualifications to hold public office." Now think about that: 16 years in the corps, extensive combat experience, as a gunnery sergeant he organized, executed, handled logistics, and commanded men in life and death situations--and he is not qualified for public office? What an elite snob.

Filner is afraid of Gunny Pop. And he has every reason to be.

If you have not read Nick's book Once a Marine, I respectfully suggest you do so. It will change the way you look at the world and your own life. I guarantee it or I will refund your money.

And if you want to throw a few bucks Nick's way, help him out  by clicking here.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Media Makes Fun of Wounds suffered by Marine Nick "Gunny Pop" Popaditch

The Imperial Valley Press (El Centro, California), which operates in the 51st Congressional District in California (right on the Mexican border, including part of San Diego), ran the cartoon reproduced here. Uncle Fester? A bald pirate? Drawing and than publishing an editorial cartoon like this is not only beyond contempt and sickening, but it screams out that someone thinks that Nick's campaign is serious, and that he might well derail the reelection of Bob Filner. Nick is the first real challenger Filner has ever faced.

CLICK HERE for a full article on Nick and the cartoon. Feel free to pass it along, and post on your own blog and/or tweet it.

Nick is also the author of Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery (Savas Beatie, 2008), and the recipient of the Silver Star.

Regardless of your politics, we believe that making fun of veterans who were critically wounded in the service of OUR country, is just wrong.

Arguing ideas and policy is one thing; making fun of the someone's loss of his eyes (yes, Nick lost one completely and 92% of the vision in his remaining eye and he is essentially deaf in his right ear after being hit in the head with a rocket after 36 hours of continuous combat in Fallujah), is simply despicable and demands a retraction.

Please let the The Imperial Valley Press know that you think the same thing.

Editor Brad Jennings: 760-337-3425


or copy and paste this address: editor@ivpressonline.com


We also call upon Bob Filner (D), who sits on the Veterans' Affairs Committee (which includes medical treatment), should immediately demand that that The Imperial Valley Press issue a public retraction and apology to Gunny Pop.

Contact Bob Filner here and let him know:

California Offices:
333 F Street, Suite A
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Phone: (619) 422-5963
Fax: (619) 422-7290

1101 Airport Road, Suite D

Imperial, CA 92251
Phone: (760) 355-8800
Fax: (760) 355-8802

Washington, DC Office:

Bob Filner
2428 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-8045
Fax: (202) 225-9073


Thursday, June 24, 2010

E-Books--What's the Rush? A Contrarian's Take

This fascinating article appeared in my email a few days ago, and I thought it was worth sharing with readers and publishers alike. Enjoy. --tps


Dear Indies,

As a fellow independent book publisher, I can’t help but wonder why I haven’t been affected one way or another by the current e-book revolution that so many of the articles I’ve read assure me is underway. After considering all the hype I’ve read about, I realized that all the parameters for these e-book discussions are being set by those who have financial interests in servicing those indies who wish to jump into the world of digital book downloads. I’m certain that e-book evolution will become an important factor one day; but to my way of thinking, it isn’t today. Because of this, I wrote a column on the topic that was in this month’s issue of Book Business magazine. For those of you who would like to see a less biased take on the topic, I invite you to read my article below.

THE 500 POUND E-BOOK, by Rudy Shur

In many industries, there is a moment that changes everything. For the horse-drawn carriage manufacturers, it was the invention of the automobile. For the telegraph company, it was the telephone. For the music industry, it was mp3 downloads. And for book publishers, it appears to be the e-book—or is it? If I were an outsider looking in at our business, it would seem to me that the e-gorilla has indeed entered the room. All you have to do is read the continuing stream of news stories that deal with the “spectacular” growth of the e-book market—that herald the latest of the Kindle or the introduction of Apple’s iPad—and it would seem that the industry is being turned upside-down. Pity the poor publishers who get left behind clinging to their old-fashioned paper books, because their days are numbered. Or at least that’s what some prognosticators would have you believe.

As someone who has spent more than thirty years in this business, I have a rather different take on the subject. Now granted, if I had been building buggies, I might have considered manufacturing a few of those new-fangled horseless carriages, and if I had owned shares in Western Union, I would have hedged my investment by picking up some AT&T stock. But book publishing is a very different animal, and because of that, I don’t think that our future is as uncertain as many now claim it to be.

Let’s look at the facts. At this time, approximately 3% ($200 million) of total book market revenue ($80 billion) comes from e-book sales. Experts estimate that this number could double over the next two years. Let’s say that in five years, the number triples. This would mean that 18% ($1.2 billion) of market revenue would come from e-book sales, and 82% ($78.8 billion) would still come from books on paper. That certainly would impact our sales, but it would hardly spell the end of the book world as we know it.

To better evaluate the impact of e-books on our industry, it’s important to understand the types of books that are being purchased in electronic form. Strangely, few studies have detailed exactly what books are popular as e-titles. General estimates indicate that e-textbooks represent about 15% of the overall e-market attributing the balance of sales coming from trade titles. But what kinds of trade books are favored by e-book readers? After conducting my own very informal interviews of people who own e-readers, I discovered that almost without exception, e-book readers buy bestsellers. I could not find one person who routinely buys reference or scholarly titles in electronic form. So how does that answer impact the independents?

For argument’s sake, let’s be kind and say that 80% of all trade books sold are bestsellers. The fact is that only twelve publishing companies represent the bulk of all best-selling titles. That leaves a paltry 20% of sales to be divided among the remaining tens of thousands of mid-sized, small, mini, and self-publishers out there. In dollars and sense, that’s not really enough income to sustain a mid-sized house. What that does indicate is the necessity for a major shift in economic strategies for those twelve trade houses. For the rest of us, at least, the pressure is not that great to shift gears immediately. And exactly what do I mean when I refer to shifting gears? I’m talking about independents stampeding to get their electronic book files turned into e-books.

What irks me the most are the dozens of new technology companies and websites that have sprung up to help us poor indies deal with the coming demand for e-books. These folks apparently are the “experts” in the field. After all, they give forums, workshops, and seminars. And they all repeat the same mantra. Convert your books now, before it’s too late. What, you don’t have an e-book program? And you call yourself a publisher? Shame on you, but don’t worry. For a few hundred dollars or a big percentage of your book’s revenue, we will gladly bring you into the Twenty-First century. For me, at least, the answer is, “Thank you, but no thank you.”

Currently, a variety of different electronic platforms are being used by competing e-book readers. This is akin to the video wars that once raged among producers of Betamax, VHS tapes, and laser disk formats. Electronic book technology is moving so rapidly that it’s impossible to know where the dust will settle. And based upon my meager e-book income as described above, I see no major gain to jumping into what appears to be a Wild West show. Personally, I’m also not too keen on giving up 50% of my revenue to have my titles converted into e-books for free. To my way of thinking, that would cheat my authors and hurt my company’s bottom line. For independents, the existing e-business environment clearly gives preference to the converters and e-book distributors. I believe that it is just a matter of time that numerous publishing partners and services will emerge to shift the balance more in our favor. When it does come to pass—and it will—there will be better options to choose from and time enough to make informed decisions.

As I see it, independent publishers are spending too much time worrying about the future impact of e-books, and are spending too much money partnering up with companies that are more hype than substance. We all know that change is coming. By 2025, technology will be providing us with new gadgets to run our businesses and sell our books, and e-books will be a significant part of the book trade pie. But right now, we independents need not worry about missing out on the imaginary wealth that awaits us in the e-book market. What we need to do is keep our eye on producing titles for the 97% that comprises the traditional markets. When the time is right to make the move it e-books, we’ll know it.

So, is there an e-gorilla in the room? Sure, there is. But it’s a lot smaller than you think.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What do Manuscript Submissions and Iron Maiden Have in Common?

A very interesting take on this "relationship" from a reader (hat tip to Kevin). Agents and authors, take note. As an acquisitions gatekeeper, I can testify that his observation has substantial merit.


"It's got a good beat and I think I can dance to it," used to be the American Bandstand review.

But Savas says, "The vast majority of their songs are about historical events--battles, wars, explorations, philosophy, and so forth."

Indelibility becomes Metaphor = TRUTH. With their very first note, Maiden delivers 'Indelibility'.

So must a manuscript.

"It's very well written and thoroughly researched," is American Bandstand's way of thinking.

Maiden doesn't riff through a couple of songs before going where only they can go. Right off, from the first note, they take you to their THERE.

A manuscript must do the same.

"What's INDELIBLE about your proposal?" is THE question to ask.

The answer begins at Word One.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Iron Maiden Concert Review (since several people have asked. . .)

I have seen Maiden several times, and they are my favorite band, period. The best concert they delivered, in my opinion, was on the 2008 Somewhere Back in Time tour. They were perfect from the first note, the sound was unbelievable, the guitars crisp and clean, and the tempo perfect.

Positives: Great set list, great stage presence, lighting was outstanding, and special effects were very strong.

Negatives: Last night's show at Concord was a mixed bag. It is always great to see Maiden, but from the very first measure the tempo was . . . off. At least half of the songs were played so fast that Dickinson had problems keeping up, and I could see Harris slurring some fast runs intentionally because on a few songs he simply could not play them. Even my brother, a diehard IM fan, leaned over several times and said, 'Jesus, are these guys all on speed tonight?!"

The sound was also iffy at times. For much of the show Dickinson's voice alternated from perfect to not audible at all--completely different from the 2008 tour. Our seats were great, so I can't attribute the muddy sound (it went from crystal clear to muddy in the same song, over and over--very odd) to our seating location. Also at times it was SO LOUD that you could not make out individual instruments--again that is not a Maiden trademark. They are always LOUD, but not a wall of mud ala Aerosmith in the 1980s. This was one of the first concerts I can recall where the opening act (Dream Theater) had better sound than Maiden in terms of balance and instrumental and vocal clarity.

Overall, how can you not love Maiden live? They give it there all on every song, and never let down. They work hard, please hard, and are perhaps the greatest hard rock band to ever grace a stage. Last night was not their best performance, but . . . I am looking forward to seeing them again, where ever I can.

Up the Irons.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Yes, Iron Maiden fans, it is "Up the Irons" night in Concord, CA!! Finally. A dozen hours from now I will be rocking with thousands of others to the greatest, smartest, and most amazing rock band to ever take a stage. Thirty-two years they have been performing, and it is hard to believe some of them are older than me and move around like they are 25. (I suggest reading this entire blog post before going back to hit the links.)

I first saw Maiden in 1982, but then life (and law school, marriage, kids, and a mortgage) got in the way. I saw them on their Somewhere in Time tour (sort of a greatest hits extravaganza) in 2008 in Concord, and tonight it is The Final Frontier tour.

If you are unfamiliar with Maiden, they are an acquired taste, but nothing like most people think. Forget the speed metal pure noise crap so many heavy metal bands these days put out. The vast majority of their songs are about historical events--battles, wars, explorations, philosophy, and so forth.

The guitarists are amazing (and love to play in minor thirds), and their founder and bassist Steve Harris is simply jaw-droppingly good (as a bass player myself, I find it very challenging to come close to repeating what he does.) How six guys can play so tightly, so crisply, every song, song after complex song, is a real mystery. Listen to most bands live and you see immediately what I mean.

One of the Iron Maiden classics is Aces High, about the epic WWII air battle of Britain against Germany in 1940. Click here to see Maiden open with that song, kicking off the 2008 tour in India. It has some great behind the scenes footage as the band prepares to take the stage. They start with Churchill's spine-chilling speech about defending the beaches, etc. I recommend reading the lyrics so you can see how deep the band gets into this. Other great tunes include Alexander the Great, The Trooper (Crimean War), Run to the Hills (about American Indian Wars), and one they will play this tour, Passchendaele, about the terrible WWI battle.

One of my favorite live songs is one absolutely remarkable 13-minute opera-like masterpiece called The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (based upon Steven Taylor Coleridge's magnum opus poem) about a lost ship of souls. Maiden performed it in 2008 (they rarely do it live) and was a stunning spectacle (especially part 2). You can watch it here: Part 1 and Part 2 (at 2.00 minutes in Part 2, when Steve Harris starts the resurrection of the souls on his bass, I always get shivers. It is simply breathtaking to see live.)

They have only released one song from their new album (which won't come out until August) called El Dorado, about the search for the lost city of gold. It is the only song they will play on this leg of the tour from the new album.

The lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, is a commercial airline pilot and flies Maiden's 757 jet. In the picture below, he is in the Space Shuttle simulator at the Houston NASA space center. He got to fly it. One of the lead astronauts and many of the people there are huge Maiden fans, and they invited the band for a private tour. You can read about it here.

I might not be in Monday. . . . OK, I will be in, but I won't be at full throttle. But I am confident Maiden will be tonight.




Monday, June 7, 2010

Authors Take Note: Part 2

Recall that in my last post about "Scott," I emailed him with a few options on how to proceed back on May 10. One of the choices was to shred his manuscript. Of course, I did not get even the courtesy of a reply.

Today, nearly one month later, I received a SASE for the return of his "manuscript." Were the enclosed instructions a carefully composed letter thanking us for our time and trouble?


Did it say I am sorry I can't send you what you need to evaluate the manuscript at this time?


Instead, it was a sheet of blank paper with a hand-scribbled note that read: "Please return the XXX manuscript priority mail. Thank you."

Handwritten. No "Dear Publisher," or "Dear Mr. Savas," or whatever else would suit the occasion. He did not even sign it.

I won't even tell you what I scribbled back across the bottom.

Authors--please do not emulate this person's social skills when asking to have sometime take hours and evaluate your work.