24 March 2006 by Published in: General News 4 comments

We’ve been having a major discussion among the ownership group at Ironclad Publishing about where we go from here in terms of continuing to grow our business.

Several years ago, I came up with the idea for “The Discovering Civil War America Series.” The concept behind the series is to do a detailed tactical study accompanied by an equally detailed walking or driving tour. My idea was to focus on either a small and overlooked portion of a large battle, or an overlooked or interesting smaller action. There was a third prong to this, although we have yet to actually publish a book like this: a study of the role played by a specific city, such as Richmond, Atlanta, Charleston, etc. What I didn’t want to do was to cover something for a battle where there is already a Luvaas and Nelson guide, or something like it. The first book in the series was my study of the fight on East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg, an important but often overlooked aspect of the main battle of July 3.

The second bookin the series is Jim Morgan’s excellent study of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, which has sold far better than I imagined it would. The the third is our most recent title, a study of Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro. Although this book has only been out for about six weeks, I’ve already had to order a second printing of it. It has also done far better than I had imagined it would.

The second and third entries into the series fall into the second category of books that I described, while my book falls into the first category. The next volume, which will go to the printer in a few weeks, addresses the fighting by Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. It will, therefore, fall into the first category of books.

Recently, we’ve been having a discussion about where to go from here. One of my partners has been advocating a study of a campaign that, while strategically interesting, did not feature a major battle. While it’s interesting, and while there might even be something of a market for a book on this particular campaign, I can’t imagine that it would sell enough copies to make it worth our while. As it would also be a full campaign study, it would not fit into any of the three categories for books in our series. I just don’t think that it’s worth investing a lot of our limited funds and resources into a book that would have limited market appeal and which would not fit into our business model. Most of my partners agree with me on this, but the person who has been advocating it remains steadfast about pushing it.

These sorts of debates are good for a company. The free flow of ideas and the ability to air our differences is clearly good for the company. However, there also comes a point where the discussion becomes frustrating, as neither side is able to persuade the other to see things as they do. I won’t change my mind about this, and I doubt that my partner will change his. Hence, we’re at loggerheads here. Since we run our company as a democracy, he will be outvoted, but I can’t help but wonder if he will understand that the reason is that it doesn’t make business sense, and not because we think he’s got a bad idea.

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  1. Sat 25th Mar 2006 at 12:08 am

    you didn’t ask for guesses of the identity of the battle-less campaign, but I would hope for Siege of Corinth but suppose it to be Tullhoma.:-)

  2. Sat 25th Mar 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Tullahoma, that is…

  3. Christ Liebegott
    Sat 25th Mar 2006 at 5:28 pm

    The books you’ve published so far in catagories one and two have been excellent with great accuracy and detail. However, in order to keep your business growing and on the edge, you will have to diversify your offerings. I’m not sure your partner’s idea is so bad, but you will have to be very selective and studied about your subject lest you end up with a Codington-type work.

  4. Sat 25th Mar 2006 at 7:47 pm


    Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. We’ve worked very hard to make sure that the entries in this series are of exceptional quality, and I intend to continue doing so. At the same time, though, we do have to keep our collective eyes on the ball–this is a business, after all, and businesses are in business to make money. Consequently, the economics must, unfortunately, play a major role in our choices of what gets selected and what doesn’t. There are plenty of things out there that would be of great interest to me, but which would not have much in the way of commercial appeal, and if this is a business, we have to factor those things into our decision-making. That’s unfortunate, of course, but it is the truth.


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