Monday, May 26, 2008

New Releases Aren't Supposed to be Secret, Are They?

Several people have discussed writing,publishing and marketing over the last month or so here in the blogosphere, most noticeably here and here. Responding relatively well to being hit with something repeatedly (though my wife might dispute this), I pay a little more attention to these things than I had previously. So new Civil War releases of nearly any sort catch my eye.

As I was looking through my latest catalog from The Scholar's Bookshelf yesterday, I noticed that a biography of Civil War cavalryman and later general August Valentine Kautz is due to be published on June 30th. I have an interest in Kautz, since it wasn't all that long ago that he was popping up everywhere I looked for information in my research. So I thought I'd look for more information on the book. It sounded like something that could be a good addition to my library. Kautz was, after all, one of then original company commanders of the 6th US Cavalry. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find out much.

A disclaimer before I proceed: I have absolutely nothing against this book, its author, or its publisher. Indeed, as noted above I'm very interested in it and will possibly buy it. I wish the author all the best and hope the book does well. I intentionally don't mention names, as that isn't the purpose of the post. But the situation seems to violate all of the rules for how things "should" work according to recent blog posts by folks who know about such things, and may not get the book off to the marketing start that it deserves.

The catalog didn't have a great deal of information on the book, but among other things it did list the author and publisher. I pulled up the publisher's website and looked for the book. I found it, on page 3 of the books on the Civil War. Not under a "new releases" category, or on the homepage since the book's about to come out, but buried amongst older books. Neither the book nor the author have a website, and the book's description on the publisher's website was very brief. Curiously, the book is listed elsewhere more prominently than at the publisher's website, notably on Amazon's "Hot New Releases" and on Eurospan Books. Perhaps the marketing effort won't start until closer to the publishing date, but I wasn't able to learn too much about the work.

The book appears to be a comprehensive look at Kautz' entire military career, based on personal journals and other correspondence. There is a focus on Civil War activities, but his pre-war assignments in the Pacific Northwest are covered as well. If it as well-written as I suspect, I think it will be a worthy addition to the body of knowledge on the war.

Kautz is a very good subject for a biography, given his various activities before, during, and after the war. I personally don't think he gets a fair shake, as his reputation at times appears to be that of a not-so-competent commander. This is primarily a result of the disastrous Wilson-Kautz Raid in 1864, which wasn't his idea and of which he wasn't even the primary commander. Unfortunately, however, he didn't have advantage of a successful cavalry expedition into Alabama at the end of the war to make up for it as his compatriot did.

If this post draws attention to the book and helps with its marketing and sales by getting the word out, great. If it makes people angry, sorry.

The best place to find information on this book currently is here. I'll post more once I'm able to obtain a copy. I look forward to its publishing, I'm just saddened that so few may hear of it.

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