Wednesday, April 21, 2010
An Interview with Author Jim Hessler
Our first Spring 2010 book off the press was the paperback edition of Sickles at Gettysburg. The hardcover edition sold very well in Gettysburg and is also a finalist for the Army Historical Foundation's book award. In honor of our first Spring book rolling off the line, we asked author Jim Hessler some questions about Sickles and his book marketing efforts.
Q: I know you live in Gettysburg, PA. How is it helpful to live near the battlefield that you wrote a book about? What opportunities arise that might not otherwise?
A: It is enormously helpful. Terrain drives battles and you can't write these books without understanding: 1) the terrain and 2) what the battle participants could actually see (to the best that we can re-create today). By living near Gettysburg, I can visit the field weekly as opposed to only a few times a year. As a Battlefield Guide, I also get the opportunity to interact with interested members of the public who sometimes provide their own unique perspective on the battle.
Q: What's the best opportunity that has come from the many book signings you have done in bookstores throughout Gettysburg?
A: Meeting people in general has provided numerous opportunities. I've made connections with prominent authors, historians, and retailers that did not exist before I wrote the book. Each one of those relationships leads to more potential word of mouth and referrals down the road. I can't say that one stands out over any others, because they may all lead to something positive, but certainly meeting fellow Savas Beatie authors JD Petruzzi and Steve Stanley, along with the (former) crew of the American History Store (Jim Glessner and Eric Lindblade) clearly paid dividends for me this year. And hopefully these are relationships that will continue into the future.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am still promoting the Sickles book, both in hardcover and the new paperback edition just released. Officially I am not presently working on anything else; but unofficially I am researching a little bit of this and that. Having tackled many of the problems within the Army of the Potomac, I feel my next book (should there be one) would have to tackle comparable problems within Lee's army.
Q: What's the best marketing tip that you would give a new author?
A: Get out there and meet people. People are not going to buy a Civil War book in large numbers just because we think the topic is endlessly fascinating. You need to meet people to get those incremental sales.
Q: Thanks, Jim. We appreciate your time.
A: You're welcome.