Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eric Jacobson, author and apparently master independent marketer

On my last run, I was listening to the latest Civil War Talk Radio podcast with guest Eric Jacobson and was stunned by Eric's revelation that he sold 25,000 copies of For Cause & for Country: A Study of the Affair At Spring Hill & the Battle of Franklin. I had to stop, rewind, and listen to it again to see if I had experienced an auditory hallucination. The book is an excellent military history written well enough to at least have the potential to draw in marginally interested readers (I suppose) but, let's face it, it's a specialized western theater book, the subject matter a niche within a niche. I didn't believe there remained 25K serious Civil War book readers in the entire country, let alone a number like that willing to delve down that deep in the ranks of famous Civil War battles.  His publisher, O'More, was created as an outlet for the Franklin design school's own instructors and, according to them, has largely remained so. It's a local college but I still have to think that the marketing and promotion of the book landed almost solely in Jacobson's lap. Good show, Eric. Count me impressed.

13 comments:

  1. Eric does a lot of speaking around the country as well. One thing to consider though is the draw to Carnton by the publication of the Widow of the South, I think that it has a huge impact here as well.

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    1. Perhaps. But those two reading audiences have a pretty small crossover. On the other hand, I could imagine a Widow fan impulse buying the book at Carnton to 'get the real story', their actually reading it being another question entirely. For such high sales figures, it is very odd that there are so few copies available on the secondary market. Just one on ABE and a handful of abusively priced examples on Amazon marketplace.

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  2. Drew

    I heard him do a presentation on his book at the Austin CWRT a while back. It was a real thought provoking presentation. I really enjoyed it.

    Don H.

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  3. Drew,

    I would be interesting to see sales for his Baptism of Fire.

    Chris Van Blargan

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    1. What did you think of it? I never got around to asking for a review copy.

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  4. Hi Drew, It is an excellent book and Eric is a tireless promoter. As I tell all our authors, there is a direct parallel between how much effort the author puts in and the sales trajectory of a book.

    We recently worked with Eric to produce the e-version (all formats) for his study. We are pleased to be working with him.

    Ted

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  5. John FoskettDecember 12, 2013

    Speaking as one of the 25,000, I can certainly say that it is worth the expenditure and eminently deserves that level of sales. And, if I recall correctly, I may have been put onto it here.

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    1. When I was writing the post, I tried to remember how I first heard about it but failed.

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  6. Drew,

    I wrote a long series of articles on this one back in 2006. I'm not saying that to claim anyone heard it from me because I think I heard it here first as well. In going back over those articles I realized some of it on the Battle of Franklin applied to Sam Hood's recent book on General Hood. I'll be posting 13 (14 really) controversies at the Battle of Franklin where I compare/contrast how Wiley Sword and Eric Jacobson present those controversies to their readers in For Cause and For Country and The Confederacy's Last Gurrah. It'll be one controversy per post, every Tuesday starting next Tuesday for a few months. Back in those days, I had no wife or kids and a much less time consuming job. I also apparently thought it was appropriate to write massive articles that I now realize no one took the time to read through in their entirety. ;-) In any event, this was a really good book and one which came out at a time when Hood's late war performance was at its nadir from a historiography perspective.

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    1. Brett,
      I remember that series. Man, we've been doing this a long time.

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    2. Drew,

      Seriously. I sometimes wonder how I've kept it up this long. I have my moments of higher and lower drive, but I will always enjoy studying the Civil War, and I never seem to run out of topics to discuss.

      Brett

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  7. Fascinating post. Wish I could find a decent hardcover price. I kick myself because earlier this year it was easier to get.

    I saw 'Widow of the South' mentioned. I would like to say that is a interesting book but readers about Franklin (Fiction or Non Fiction) should not forget the absolutely wonderful books by Howard Bahr that use Franklin as a touchstone 'The Black Flower', 'The Year of Jubilo', 'The Judas Field'. These are excellent works that would whet anyone's appetite to learn more about the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin, and the Army of Tennessee. I recommend them highly because your faith of why you study the Civil War will be renewed by reading them. They are a awesome emotional, very American experience.

    Chris

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  8. Hi there, a friend sent me a link to this thread earlier today. Thank you for all the kind words. Let me assure you, no one is more surprised by the sales of the book than me. I think we blew thru about 10,000 copies in the first 2 or so years of its existence. Perhaps its staying power is what is most surprising. I am very fortunate to work in Franklin and so I talk to folks constantly about the subject, and that has been the biggest factor regarding sales. Anyway, I have always believed the story of Spring Hill and Franklin was compelling stuff, and think we are finally seeing the efforts of many, many people coming to fruition.

    Eric A. Jacobson

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