There are many subsidy/POD publishers out there, and I've never been one to dismiss as a group their prodigious output of Civil War related materials of all types. I have purchased more than my share of dreck, but I've also been able to add to my library many fine original works. That said, even with otherwise good books, I repeatedly encounter a number of poor decisions on the part of the author that I'd like to share here. I could come up with many more, but this is just basic stuff that gets constantly overlooked.
1. Don't ever send your manuscript to the printer without first having at least one third-party with competent editing skills mark it up. This should go without saying. Most self published Civil War authors seem to have little notion of their own limitations as writers.
2. It seems that POD services allow authors to alter their manuscripts at will without disclosure to the buyer as to what version they are getting. Taken to an absurd level, each book printed can have the same ISBN but different text. I know a guy that submitted several different versions of his manuscript within a single month, many of the changes suggested by customers that bought the first version. I could detect nothing that would indicate that the guy recognized how much of a disservice he was doing to the customers that purchased the book soon after release. Don't drag your book down to the level of buggy computer software requiring the release of a series of patches merely to make it respectable. It's even worse than that. Software patches are free but manuscript fixes require full price repurchase.
3. Don't offer pre-orders unless you first understand what the concept means. A friend and I recently pre-ordered a book (full price plus shipping) from an author with the understanding that the print run would be limited. Soon after, we discovered that it was in fact a POD book and an online retailer had it in stock and was selling it for almost 40% less with free shipping. Several weeks later, neither of us have our copies in hand.
4. Do use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to promote your book (if you don't, who will?) but don't ignore questions from potential customers. In countless instances, I've solicited information from authors only to receive no reply.
5. Along similar lines, unless you want potential customers to consider your book vaporware, don't fail to regularly update your social media site. A simple progress report takes only seconds to write but it can keep web surfers from deleting your 'dead' site from their bookmarks folder and forgetting about you.