2. What do you love about being a part of the industry? I recently became a father, so I’ve been thinking a lot about my own parents lately. What I love about this industry is that, like my dad, I have been able to make a living around what would otherwise have been a hobby--my love of books. My dad is a muscle car enthusiast and has spent the last 40 years in the automotive industry. Finding a job at Osprey has been a very welcome surprise for me. I didn’t have any background in history publishing, much less military history, but I have met some of most amazing people in my current position. I know this is a cliche, but in particular I have been blown away by the veterans of our armed forces that have crossed my path. I have worked closely on promotion for a book called “Tonight We Die as Men” which tells the story of a forgotten band of brothers from D-Day. The veteran who has been our spokesperson said to me when we first started collaborating, “Son, have you read my book yet?” “No, sir,” I said. “Well you better get reading!” he said. He said it with such authority--it was a “direct order” so to speak and I realized I had crossed some sort of happy line.
3. What are the challenges/rewards of the current sales landscape for books? Having chosen the sales & marketing career path over the editorial when I was just out of college, I have always felt that I had a gaping hole in my resume for not having ever been assigned to sell to Barnes & Noble or Borders. Instead, I spent several years doing special markets. Now I see it as providential. Barnes & Noble is now more important than ever, but so are special markets. For the first time in four years, our business with hobby stores is actually on the rise and we expect that will be the case for the foreseeable future. In addition, our crack mid-Atlantic rep just put one of our merchandising racks into an indie bookstore near the beach in Delaware and we expect that channel will expand for us too. I also believe that as the “flash store” market matures, there will be more opportunities to sell “books for guys” like we publish.
4. How do you feel smaller presses are positioned to do in the publishing marketplace today? I don’t think there’s anything more challenging or exciting than being a “midlist” publisher today. The challenge is that I probably have a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting one of my authors on ‘The Daily Show.’ The exciting part is that there are still a million other ways to market books and, because our lists are small, we’re able to give individual attention to all of our authors.
5. What advice do you have for authors in terms of how they can promote and market their books? Last year Osprey purchased a start-up called Angry Robot which specializes in mass market science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Many of the authors I’ve worked with there have huge engine rooms when it comes to marketing. They are active bloggers, they’re Twitter fiends, they attend conferences, they ask us to send review copies to every person they’ve ever met, they spend their own money to create book trailers, etc. We even had an author call in some favors so that she could get a soundtrack and merchandise created for her book launch. She even got herself booked on NPR’s Studio 360! In other words, they are creative, engaged, and entrepreneurial. I’m in the process of tutoring some of our military history authors in the lessons I’ve learned from Angry Robot. One resource that I have found to be invaluable is the book “Crush it” by Gary Vaynerchuck--he has incredible advice for anyone looking to build their personal brand.