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Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1949-Present From West Germany through to the modern reunified German Republic.

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Old 08-24-2009, 10:48 AM   #16
SCHUPO
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Gordon,

One thing I would caution any author is to choose a publisher/printer wisely. My book, "Seitengewehr; History of the German Bayonet 1919-1945" was published by Bender Publishing. Generally speaking, the author and publisher work out who does what and who gets what in return. I choose a well known military publisher and did not have to print or market or ship books out. Frankly, I took no risk and retained the copyright in return for a percentage of the gross sales.

If one self publishes the author accepts considerable risk and sometimes fronts money for printing. I know authors who were $30,000 out of pocket before selling a single book. The network of book dealers is often not open (or even known) to the author and quality sometimes suffers. I have read self published books where the pages fall out from poor construction and even some well known collector book publishers produce shoddy products. I just did a book review where I had to criticize the author for shoddy proof reading which should have been caught when reading the galley proofs or blue pages. All this onus falls back onto the author simply because he made a poor choice in publishing. There are many pitfalls so I would advise any author to consider everything before signing a contract.

You are doing a wise thing in starting this thread. Good luck!

George
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:22 AM   #17
Gordon Craig
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George,

Thanks for your input. Very valuable insight into the pitfalls of publishing a book. As I have no first hand knowledge in this area your comments are gratefully received. The purpose of the thread was to illicit as much input on publishing, as well as encourage people who are cosidering publishing something to do so. It was not necessarily for a book I intend to publish. Although, who knows, I may tackle something in the BRD line. Probably along the lines of civilian organizations such as the DRK, ZB/ZS, fire services, police, etc.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:59 AM   #18
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Just for consideration. I had, for years, wanted to see a book about early Bundeswehr or BGS published in a similar vein to Bill Costley's "Last 100 Days E.T.O." series of books. For those who are unfamiliar with this series - each book focuses on a single subject and "dresses down" a soldier from top to bottom. Most older collectors consider these books a definate "must" to have. As they not only cover basic uniform items but also personal items, field equipment, and small arms [and their equipment].

The basic principal of the books is not to focus on the entire army and every little variation of uniform and equipment but, instead, to present a "general" overview of what the soldier would be equipped with and carried.

These books were "micro-published" and all the photographs are black and white [the only drawback]. Each are only 50 or pages long but pack so much information that I was surprised that the format never caught on with other authors or publishers!

Just an idea.





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Old 08-25-2009, 01:51 PM   #19
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sgtmonroe,

Yes these books are well done and I to wondered why no one else took up the format. I have two of the three you pictured. The only three produced as far as I know. Bill was a rather unusual fellow. If you ever talked to him on the phone you will know what I mean. I never met him in person.

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Gordon
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:10 AM   #20
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Hello Gentlemen,
There were four books in Costley's series. The last one dealt with a member of FJD5. As with the others, it was fascinating.
As you said Gordon, an "unusual fellow". Does anyone know whether he is still alive?
I have some thoughts on your idea Gordon.
I have been involved in a couple of "vanity" publications and I can assure you there are a lot of hidden pitfalls. Similarly, getting a "known" publisher to accept your work is no 'bed of roses'. I'll expand on these, if you want, by PM.
At the end of the day it's about what your expectations are. One thing that is not often considered is the "virtual" book, ie. a book format contained on a disc or USB. Relatively simple to prepare; inexpensive to produce and, although lacking the tactile sensation of paper, still a "publication" by definition.
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Hugh
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Old 08-26-2009, 07:58 AM   #21
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Hugh,

Thanks for your thoughts and I would appreciate it if you would expand on them in an email to me. Not a PM.
As for the virtual book, I thought of doing that years ago in a TR book project that came to naught. I've considered it this time as well. There are some chaps I know who have gone this route for bayonet reference material and it has worked well for them. A CD works well for this type of reference. Especially in the area of corrections and in adding additional new data. This last section is always a problem in printed material. No matter how diligent one is, errors do creep into publications, or at least perceived errors, and there is no satifactory way to deal with them. A CD and an associated web page would help mitigate this problem. Another possiiblity I have considered is to do a book plus a CD with coloured pictures. Since coloured pictures are a limiting factor in the size and cost of a book a CD with coloured pictures might go a long way in resolving this problem. I haven't pursued this possible picture solution and therefore don't know what the pitfals of software are in this area.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:02 PM   #22
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Gordon - Great thread.

The wealth of information provided by our fellow forum members is fantastic.

As far as my personal preference goes, I'm a longtime Osprey "Men At Arms" fan and my shelves are full to bursting with them. I am also the proud possessor of an Osprey rejection slip, but that's for a different thread....

I'm partial as well to the Europa Militaria Specials format. The color photography is brilliant, but the text can vary greatly depending on the author's speciality. Sometimes that can be hit or miss. I've also found that the glue holding the binding has a tendency to give away long before it should.

It's hard to beat the high quality photos in the Histoire & Collections 'hard back' books, but the text is often wanting. I think alot of valuble information was literally lost in translation. I'm also a big fan of the "Soldat" series by Cyrus Lee. His format offers great, albeit mostly B&W photos, as well as insights into the life of the common soldier.

As a former common soldier myself, I also like the simple layout provided by U.S. Army field manuals (see below excerpt). I'd love to develop like diagrams for the Bundeswehr. Starting in 1956, I'd begin with a squad using former Wehrmacht weapons loaned to them by the BGS posed next to a Borgward Lkw 0,75t or Pkw 1.5t. Then I'd move onto a squad shown next to a SPW-59 armed with US weapons. After that, I'd show a squad next to a SPz lang with G1s, MG1 and MP2s. The intent would be to explicitly depict formations some of us have been puzzling over for years. Interspersed with these diagrams would be color close-ups of gear and weapons as well as text on the common soldier. The text would focus on his world outlook as well as tactic, techniques, and procedures.

Oh well, enough flights of fancy for now. I have to spend at least a little quality time with the wife and kids.....

All the best - TJ
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:11 PM   #23
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Before signing off for the night, here's another excerpt from my beloved and well-used FM 7-8, "The Infantry Platoon and Squad". How I'd love to see something this simple and informative developed for the early Bundeswehr and BGS.

I think the knowledge is present in this forum, it's just a matter of bringing it all together. On the below diagram, we could start laying out the NVA by simply changing AK-47 to MpiKM.....
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:33 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas J. Cullinane Jr. View Post
As far as my personal preference goes, I'm a longtime Osprey "Men At Arms" fan and my shelves are full to bursting with them. I am also the proud possessor of an Osprey rejection slip, but that's for a different thread....
To turn off topic for a moment (sorry) - I have always wondered why Osprey books has never published subject matter concerning the Bundeswehr, Bundesheer, NVA, etc. I guess it is because of the little to no combat action seen by these organizations in their infancy. But they probably don't realise that they would still sell if written by a reputable author...since, again, no one else has tackled the subject matter in English.

If an Osprey book was ever to be published on the Bundeswehr there would be only one choice for an illustrator - Ronald Volstad. Anyone else would probably screw it up! He did do a few Bundeswehr illustrations for the NATO Armies Today volume in their Elite series - by far the best ever done - of course they only show the field uniforms of the mid-1980s. He also did the illustrations of the NVA in the Warsaw Pact Ground Forces and Soviet Bloc Elite Forces books in the same series - again they are excellent illustrations...




Last edited by sgtmonroe; 08-27-2009 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:41 AM   #25
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Gents,
I can't echo Schupo's comments enough. Choice of publisher is paramount. I was in this industry for about 6 years both as a designer and publisher (corporate related books, etc, not military topics).

Horror stories abound ranging from the self-published to unscrupulous publishing companies, etc. There are pitfalls no matter which way you opt to go. Established publishers of military books are, to be blunt, going to keep just about every penny. You might see $1 for every book sold on a book that retails for $50+. Consider that most are print runs are about 1000-1500 copies. So, your hard work is likely to net you $1500 if/when the entire run sells. You'll likely be paid quarterly on books sold and will likely suffer reduced royalties if/when the publisher fire-sales your book after a year or so to clear out their warehouse. The positives are that more well-known publishers are established with quality printers and binders and typically have well-established distribution networks. Bear in mind that outfits like Barnes & Noble and Amazon really put the screws to publishers -- often demanding discounts of 50% or more on what they purchase. If you just want to be published -- i.e. not in it to make a living, going this route is probably okay. Just bear in mind that you're not likely to come close to recouping your investment in time, travel and expenses. If you have dreams of financing your collection via books, the odds aren't very high that you'll succeed!

Self publishing is equally fraught with danger. Non-established relationships with printers; will likely have to hire graphics designers, proofreaders, writers, photographers, etc. Very few people have all the skillsets needed to publish a book. Distribution can also be a challenge although for niche topics such this can often be routed through a few specialty book shops and/or marketed directly. As noted, the upfront costs can be pretty steep and the potential to lose big is always there. That said, if you produce a decent reference, you get to keep all the profit.

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to know and understand your target market. Just because you might have a personal interest/fascination with "BGS Boot Laces, 1948-55" and have written a 200 page book on the subject doesn't mean your run of 1000 books is going to sell.

Last edited by SprogCollector; 08-27-2009 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:48 AM   #26
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Sgtmonroe,

I agree with your comments on the quality of Ron Volstad's work. When you compare some of the osprey book illustrations not done by him to those he did there is often a world of difference in quality. Several years ago I corresponded with a friend of Ron's in Calgary, where Ron lives. I might even have a contact address some where if anyone wanted it in the future. Lots of good comments here guys. Keep them coming.

Regards,

Gordon
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Little anouncement ...
Old 04-01-2011, 03:13 AM   #27
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... some ideas on this thread read a bit outdated nowadays as Schusters book covers much of the descripted demand...o.k. it could be more detailed in some points, but the situation is much better then before its appearance.

But I can proudly announce, that one of my ideas is going to be real - at the moment I´m finishing the textual part, the pictures are already sorted, next month all will go to my publisher to be scanned and layouted ...within the (hopefully) next 12 month it will be released:

A picture book containing over 200 black/ white images taken by a professional photographer who visited several BW units during the years 1956 and 1959 ...
From the very first formal trainings in the Andernach baracks to a oath ceremony in the Artillerie Schule Idar Oberstein he pictured variouse aspects of the new Bundeswehr.

The book is actual planned as hardcover with many side filling hig resolution images, framed by short text passages ( in german AND english) containing some background information. As soon as there is more information as ISBN No etc I´ll keep you informed.

I hope you`ll like it ...

Regards,

Jens
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Old 04-01-2011, 06:51 AM   #28
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Jens,

Great news to hear that your project is nearing completion. Looking forward to buying a copy.
As for some of the things on this thread being outdated, true to some extent but I think there is still room for at least one more book on the BW. A lot of Schuster's pictures lack good explanations on use, when artifacts were used etc. Perhaps your book will fill in some of the holes in the available reference books.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 07-13-2011, 08:20 AM   #29
Asbjoern
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My book project went one more step further... the scrip is already at my publishers desk and the pictures are to be scanned soon...

...also we made up the cover of the book (as you can see...)

The book well be released by VS-bookshttp://www.vs-books.de/ in germany, hopefully befor the year 2011 ends. The (for sure short) text will be in german and english, most probably a fellow publisher from the UK will do the distribution work for the UK and overseas ...

So I hope you all enjoy it then ...

Jens
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Old 07-13-2011, 08:36 AM   #30
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Jens,

Thanks for the update on your book. Looking forward to getting a copy.

Regards,

Gordon
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