Ted Savas Interview -- Part IV (Final)
I've gotten a lot of e-mail feedback about this interview series and it sounds like most folks like the value it adds to my blog. One person even mentioned that he's going to start mixing in interviews on his own blog. I'm delighted to see the support and I promise to feature more interviews like this in the future.
Below is the fourth and final installment of my interview with Ted Savas of Savas Beatie:
JW: In what ways do you feel you will need to evolve Savas Beatie to compete in the future?
TPS; There are several things we are working on. First, we are requesting that every author build a respectable regularly updated website for his book and offer signed copies to retail customers. This will attract new customers and bring back existing viewers. The key is to make your work informative, entertaining, and something for others to talk about. Second, we are moving many of our authors and titles into the informal "book club" circuit. Our authors are being interviewed and speaking to these groups via Instant Messenger, webinars, and speaker phones. We have reading guides for some of our titles (and soon, all of them), which these groups download from our website. We are also working hard to find unfilled niches and fill them.
JW: Can you give me a few examples?
TPS: Sure. Take the 1781 battle of Yorktown. That did not have a good campaign study in print, but the park has hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. I inquired and found a wonderful unpublished manuscript written in the 1970s by a National Park historian, for park historians. I told him what I thought it needed and he agreed. We worked closely with the Yorktown park historians so the product would meet their rigorous needs. The result was Jerome Greene’s The Guns of Independence: The Siege of Yorktown, 1781, a national book club selection and perennial strong seller. Another good example is what we did to fill the basic training niche. There was literally nothing on it, even many thousands of young men and women go through basic training each year in fear for their lives! A young energetic Army sergeant had self-published a book on the subject. We edited and redesigned his effort and the result is Sgt. Michael Volkin’s The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics for Surviving Boot Camp. This is in its 5th printing in just one year, is a national book club selection, and the author has sold thousands of copies himself. And we are just beginning. He has a dynamite website, and we are finalizing a joint venture relationship with www.military.com for content, webinars, and much more. We are following up on that success with the soon-to-be-released The Ultimate Interactive Basic Training Workbook, exclusive Basic Training University webinars, and much more. So we fill needs that exist. I think that is how any company can best compete in any environment.
JW: Thanks for . . . .
TPS: Thanks for asking me these questions.
The sort of niche publishing that creates books like The Guns of Independence: The Siege of Yorktown, 1781 is encouraging. There are books that need to be written (about historic events, institutions, etc.), but which no publisher will touch unless there is some underwriting on the part of the subject. If the subject isn't interested or can't afford to underwrite a book, it doesn't get written.
Or, it may be written by an amateur historian and never see distribution because of small numbers and lack of quality. (I collect such small-run books, simply because they contain information that's not available elsewhere.)
Posted by: Michael A. Banks | January 13, 2007 at 07:35 PM
Good points, and thanks for taking the time to respond. I agree with you. There are many outstanding books penned by "amateur historians" that do not get the coverage they deserve, but are as good as the "professionals." And I will tell you a little secret held tightly within the publishing industry: when someone tells me they have a Ph.D. and want to submit a manuscript, I cringe. I have learned the hard way that a Ph.D. means (generally speaking, of course; there are exceptions) that they can't write worth a darn--but have outstanding editors that make them look good. tps
Posted by: Ted Savas | January 19, 2007 at 06:19 PM