Thursday, April 9, 2015

Books, Mules, and Tom Selleck

So, what do books, mules, and Tom Selleck have in common? Well...everything...and nothing.

For starters,  book sales got off to a good start in 2015 with the Gold Rush event in Wickenburg plumping up our account a bit, although things have dramatically slowed in the past two months. This is kind of a seasonal thing, but it's a bit worse this year since I've been out of the office for literally two months.

The months of February and March were consumed with Gold Rush and the annual Mule Ride that Moonlight Mesa sponsors and organizes. It's becoming a big job for just one person, let me assure you, and I'll be delegating out jobs next year. This year's ride, however, was fantastic. We had great weather, great trail guides, super cooks, and wonderful people attending the annual ride.

Now, as for the Tom Selleck part! I wrote Tom (or whoever gets his mail) in February requesting an autographed photo of him to give as an award for the Western Attire Contest at the mule ride. I even invited Mr. Selleck to our mule ride as our guest, and I offered to let him ride my very own mule! Alas, he didn't show up, but his photo did. The winner of the Western Attire Event gushed, "I'M SLEEPING WITH TOM SELLECK TONIGHT!" as she held her beautifully framed photo high in the air.

However, getting down to business...not that there is any right now what with my gallivanting about on my mule and rowing my wherry up at Lake Pleasant in the mornings, but things are about to change.

WESTERN: Jere James has at least started another book. The author is four chapters into it and ready to take over the spare office computer to work on the book at nights. Whew. I was getting a bit worried there, but I've seen Jere easily crank out a book in six weeks once momentum is gained. Jere's book would most likely be released in late 2015 with a 2016 copyright date. We'd like it available for some fall shows...IF IT'S FINISHED.

ROWING BOOK: This book is definitely slated for 2016, and may prove to be even more popular than our first boating book, Life Was A Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, A Boat, and a Big-A** Ocean. The rowing book has great potential, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

SALES: All three nonfiction books have had some nice sales so far in 2015. Lee Anderson's Developing the Art of Equine Communication  had a particularly good January. In fact, Lee will be at the Verde Equine Festival doing a presentation April 17.  J.R. Sanders' Some Gave All  has had a good March. Sanders will once again be at the Santa Clarita Festival in April, while Rusty Richards' Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride  continues to be steady. James' books (fiction) sell well every month, but our other titles are languishing, despite their numerous awards and terrific reviews. This is very unsettling and inexplicable, really.

Meanwhile, I'm consumed with curiosity about whom to write to requesting their photo for next year's mule ride! I'm thinking it might be that hunky guy who was in Cowboys and Aliens. Any other suggestions?

Monday, February 2, 2015


All I can say is, it's my prerogative to change my mind! After flatly stating we would no longer be publishing westerns, I have to temper that statement. It appears as though Jere D. James will, after all, write another western! The author announced his decision in mid January, but has given no indication as to when the book will be finished and ready for submission, although we do know it will be "sometime" in 2015. We've also had several submissions from other authors, which makes me wonder if anyone read the blog where I swore off western publishing!

While we will almost assuredly accept James' new submission (based on the popularity of the previous books) I can't offer much promise to other writers. The best way, however, to get a book placed with Moonlight Mesa Associates is to make absolutely certain the manuscript has been professionally edited before it's submitted. The time and expense involved in editing are far greater than actually getting the book into print. While we do have an in-house editor, when manuscripts are filled with too many errors, in the past we've sent them to our editor-in-chief in Colorado. Nowadays,  we simply return the manuscripts to the authors. And be prepared to submit a marketing plan, also. We ask our authors to participate in the marketing/selling of their books.


The rowing book we  planned to publish this year will most likely be deferred until 2016, leaving the current year's calendar completely bare unless Jere James' book is ready. One title per year just doesn't work well, so we will be on the lookout for western nonfiction primarily, but will also consider nonfiction in general. I'd like to publish one title strictly as an ebook again. So, if you have a shorter manuscript, that might be the way to go.


Despite the classes I've taught about marketing, and the articles I've written on the subject, the issues around marketing to a more global audience continue to be a conundrum, if not downright insurmountable. We will be launching a magazine marketing effort in 2015, however, in an effort to stimulate sales and attract a broader audience. I'll keep you posted as to how that goes.


If you're in the area during February 12 to 15, please stop by our booth at the annual Gold Rush Days Event and say hi. Better yet, stop by and buy a book. Jere D. James will be signing books as will R.L. Coffield (award-winning suspense writer).

Also, watch for J.R. Sanders' article in the February issue of American Rifleman.

Finally, if  you're a mule rider, join us for the Annual Boyd Ranch Mule Ride from March 11 to 15 in sunny Wickenburg, Arizona. Information is available at

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Moonlight Mesa Publisher says "NO MORE WESTERNS."

Despite being a "Western Book Publisher," Moonlight Mesa Associates publisher, Becky Coffield, announced last week that no more westerns, fiction or nonfiction, will be least for the time being. "I don't think I'll be changing my mind about this," Coffield said. "I think it's time to move on."

Moonlight Mesa Associates is the publishing house for the Jere D. James' western titles: The Jake Silver Series, consisting of Saving Tom Black, Apache, Canyon of Death, High Country Killers, Back from the Dead, and Gunslinger Justice. These  six titles are all set in various parts of Arizona in or around 1888. According to Coffield, the author has decided not to write any more westerns. "We are disappointed in this decision, and that's putting it mildly," Coffield said. "Jere's books are our best sellers, but I understand. Jere produced six books in six years. I think the author is tired. Maybe later we'll see another Jere D. James title. Maybe not, though. Jere needs a change, and maybe we do too."

In the meanwhile, Coffield hopes to publish The Old Folks in the Boat, a humorous book on rowing for the "elderly." The book will most likely be published in color, and Coffield plans to release the new title by late 2015. This may be the only title for 2015. "We are far from being certain about a release date," Coffield said, "But we're aiming for late 2015. It'll be a nice break from our traditional fare."


Wickenburg's Gold Rush Days will be the next vendor event for the publisher. The 66-year-old festivity, held in Wickenburg, is one of Moonlight Mesa's most lucrative. The only other activities currently on the calendar are for later in the fall. "However, we will be taking a number of books with us to the San Juan Islands next summer," Coffield said. "We've always sold a lot of titles when in that area, but I have no specific event lined  up."


Rusty Richards' Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride enjoyed its fourth banner year in sales for nonfiction. Part of Rusty's success with Casey Tibbs, is that the book is available in so many formats.Coming in a very close second was J.R. Sanders' remarkable Some Gave All, an account of old west lawmen who died in the line of duty.

A very close third in nonfiction was P.A. Arnold's Getting a Handle on Herpes. This title is only available as an ebook. Close  to Arnold's book was Lee Anderson's Developing the Art of Equine Communication.

For fiction, Jere D. James' titles were the top sellers. "It's hard to compete with Jere because the author has six titles to his name. Even going on a one-book basis, however, Jere still takes first place for fiction sales.


"We actually had a good year considering we did so few events," Coffield said. "Not GREAT, but definitely okay. Between my two cataract surgeries and breaking my toes, I was pretty much laid up a good part of the year."

Coffield said that overall participating on Facebook was a waste of time. "In my opinion, doing social media did not improve our sales one whit. I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to interest people in buying our books. Not sure I was in the least successful, and that's being generous!" said Coffield. "That's okay. We worked at it and now we know. I will say, however, that putting the Boyd Ranch Mule Ride on Facebook did  help recruit new mule riders to this event." (Coffield is in charge of the Annual Boyd Ranch Mule Ride.)

Coffield also quit tweeting. "That was a total waste. Interesting, though, but highly unproductive for us. I don't have the patience for this stuff as it is, and then I started getting 'computer elbow' from the tweeting activity. It actually was rather addictive."

Coffield said they had the best responses to news releases, particularly for Robert Walton's Dawn Drums. "Somehow, we need to figure out how to get a news release out once a month about each book. That seemed more worthwhile for us. Pretty much impossible to do, however."


For all those who supported Moonlight Mesa and the company's authors by buying our books, we want to thank you from the bottoms of our hearts!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Publisher Announces Award-Winning Titles

Moonlight Mesa Associates, Western Book Publisher, is very happy to announce that three of its titles were recently named winners or ranked as finalists in contests.

Sweeping awards this year, Robert Walton's historical fiction Dawn Drums won first place in the Arizona Authors Literary Contest. "We were so pleased with this win," publisher Becky Coffield said. "This is an outstanding book and it deserves all the praise it receives." The historical novel is set in the last year of the Civil War. The book is so accurate and historical, it was hard for us to classify it as 'fiction'," Coffield said. The book is terrific for both adults and young adult readers. In fact, the author has free, downloadable teaching materials for the book on his website.

Dawn Drums also received the Tony Hillerman Award for fiction at the New Mexico Book Awards. In that same contest, the title was a finalist in both the Young Adult category and in Historical Fiction.

J.R. Sanders also scored a finalist position in the New Mexico Book Awards with Some Gave All, a nonfiction account of "Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died with their Boots On." The book contains over forty tintypes or original photos, which gives so much  life to the incredible accounts in the book. Sanders not only covers the murder of each lawman, but he also gives fascinating accounts of the criminals and the judicial proceedings. Sanders' book is still a contender in two other contests. Sanders is also the author of the two-time, award-winning The Littlest Wrangler, a young reader book for ages 7 - 9.

Finally, Sam's Desert Adventure was a finalist in the Harvest Book Awards Contest. Sam's Desert Adventure won first place in the children's category in the Arizona Authors Literary Contest last year and it too was a finalist in the New Mexico Book Awards. The story, geared for 7 to 10-year-old readers, is set in Wickenburg and features Sam, his mule Bucket, and his dog Jax.

"We have so many award-winning titles," Coffield said. "I think we have more award-winning titles per capita than almost all other publishers." Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride won honorable mention in a very difficult contest; Northern Escape scored a second place win in the Arizona Authors Literary Contest; Life Was a Cabaret has won two awards; Developing the Art of Equine Communication was also a finalist in a competition. When you add those titles to Dawn Drums, Some Gave All, The Littlest Wrangler, and Sam's Desert Adventure, that makes a lot of wins or final placements," Coffield said. "We're very proud of these publications and our authors."

As we say in the office: Books make great gifts, and we publish great books.


For now, the proposed Western Novella Contest for 2015 has been shelved. "We have given this contest so much thought and bandied it around endlessly. There just seem to be too many issues that keep popping up,"
Coffield said. "I'm a bit tired of arguing about it, so for now I'm going to let it be. Maybe 2016 will be a better time for it. Right now I have too much on my plate."

Another issue the publisher faced for the contest was finding good, qualified judges. "We had three excellent judges lined up, but we could not interest anyone else. I insist on five judges so that an author has sufficient feedback. If you only have two or three judges, that doesn't always go over so well."

AUTHOR RIGHTS RETURNED  - Publisher opinion

We had a question submitted to our newsletter asking about author rights and why a publisher would return those rights. I was not able to answer the woman's question because I didn't have the all right information. However, there are basic reasons why an author's rights would be returned to them by the publisher. The primary reason is that the book just isn't selling as expected...or at all. Sometimes the publisher drops an author because the author is not diligently working to sell or promote the book. Time was when an author wrote a book and left the marketing and sales to the publishing house. That is pretty rare nowadays. Most publishers expect the author to  participate in selling/marketing/promoting their book. Few get to be prima-donnas anymore. Maybe if you're name is John Sandford...or Stephen King....

Possibly the publisher is going out of business, or changing the direction of the publishing house, e.g., going from fiction to nonfiction, etc.

Writers must remember that it is very costly for a publisher to keep a book in print. Even POD books are costly, particularly if the publisher is paying for inclusion in the electronic catalog, etc. Shipping and returns are very expensive, not to mention all the minutia involved in bookkeeping, etc.

If an author's rights are returned, the book can be published again by someone else. Unfortunately, most publishers do not want to re-publish a title that most likely didn't sell the first time around.

If your rights are returned, it's important to find out why. Sometimes the author is not at fault. Business is business, sorry to say.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Publishing Changes for Moonlight Mesa Associates

I don't need PENS out here!
I'm learning never to write anything in PEN on a calendar. I am now on my third calendar for the year. Some months have so many cross-outs and scribbles that the pages look like someone made a desperate attempt to write Chinese.

A box of #12 pencils, all sharpened with pointy erasures added to the ends, now fill my pen box.

For starters, we have deleted one nonfiction book from our 2015 publishing calendar. Someone (me) failed to do my homework to discover how many similar titles, all excellent too, were already in print. Fortunately, a contract had not been signed, and it turned out the authors of the book had actually already decided to abandon the project but were a bit fearful of telling me. Whew.

In its place, we have signed another nonfiction project for 2015. This new topic (rowing) is way out of our genre (like the top-selling Getting a Handle on Herpes by P.A. Arnold was), but the project just plain appealed to me. Wish I could give a solid reason for choosing it besides "appeal," but that's the one benefit of being the publisher, I suppose.

Jere D. James has finally signed a contract for another western, also. The western, the first that does not feature Jake Silver, Deputy U.S. Marshal, should be out in late fall of 2015. And don't miss out on our great "sale" on our website for the six Jake Silver books. You can receive all six of them for $10 each plus s/h. That's a savings of $36 off the cover price.

 Other than Jere's western, we are still not accepting fiction submissions.


J.R. Sanders' outstanding Some Gave All is not only leading in nonfiction sales this year, but it has also qualified as a finalist in the New Mexico Book Awards. Last month I announced that Robert Walton's Dawn Drums was a finalist in two categories in that contest and that Sam's Desert Adventure was a finalist in another competition. We found out after we posted this blog that Sanders' book is also a finalist.

This nonfiction book has received many outstanding reviews. Sanders is also the author of several other books including The Littlest Wrangler,  a two-time, award-winning young reader book for ages 6 - 8 published by Moonlight Mesa Associates. There are FREE teaching materials for this book also.


Most of our western ebooks are currently reduced in price, and there are some GREAT buys. You can purchase Paula Silici's yummy western action/romance, A Way in the Wilderness, for $2.99 as well as Award-Winning Tales (this title available only on Kindle). The other westerns are priced from 3.99 to 5.95. In addition, the entire Ben Thomas Trilogy is priced at 5.95 each. These prices will be good through October and probably will be raised later in November. The books are available on ALL electronic readers (except Award-Winning Tales is available only on Kindle).

We are trying this price reduction as an experiment. Oddly enough, it looks like we have MORE sales when the prices are higher!! I suspect this is because many people associate "cheaper" prices with books that are, shall we say, not so well written.                                          


Anyone interested in receiving our FREE quarterly newsletter, let us know.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Western Novella Contest a Possibility & Author Awards Galore

After a year...make that two...of thinking about a novella contest, we are almost on the verge of announcing the 2015 Cowboy Up Novella Contest. The Cowboy Up Short Story Contest had a good three-year run, and we read hundreds of fabulous western short stories. We even produced a terrific anthology based on the first two years' winners (Award-Winning Tales). We read so many stories that after three years they began to sound familiar. And our panel of judges got worn out.

However, we've come to the conclusion that there are a lot of creative people who need an opportunity to have their voices heard. None of us was anxious to revive the short story genre, but the more we've discussed a novella contest, the more enthused we've become. A novella would allow an author to truly develop characters and plot.

I will be making an announcement in early December on this issue. If we proceed with the contest, it would run in 2015 and an anthology containing the top three novellas would be published in 2016. We currently have three judges lined up, but I hope to have five  by the time of the contest. There are a lot of preparations and decisions we must make before we can proceed...if we proceed.


September has been a bumper month for contests! Robert Walton, author of Dawn Drums, recently received notice from the New Mexico Book Awards that his historical Civil War novel is a finalist in TWO categories: Historical Fiction and also in Young Adult. Final results will be announced in November.

Sam's Desert Adventure by Jonah Arizona is now up for its THIRD award in children's literature. The young reader for ages 8 - 10 is a finalist in the annual Harvest Book Awards. Top winners will be announced in October.

Finally, J.R. Sanders' Some Gave All is en route to the Oklahoma Western Heritage Awards. Sanders' book has become Moonlight Mesa's number one selling nonfiction title this year. Some Gave All, a nonfiction account of lawmen in the old west who died in the line of duty, has received multiple, outstanding reviews. The book has 40 original photos and tintypes, and an extensive bibliography. This is a wonderful book for western history buffs and for those who like true-life adventure. The beauty of this book is that the author tells not only about the victims, but also about the crime, the criminal, and the judicial outcomes.


September 2014 has been the best sales month in the brief history of Moonlight Mesa Associates. To be honest, our success this month was due in large part to one of our distributors buying 22 cases of books. Dave Strain of Dakota West Books purchased 20 cases of Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride along with 2 cases of Some Gave All.  In addition, Ingram sales were outstanding, and Kindle sales were up also.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of our sales occur September through April. Period. Summers are traditionally excruciatingly quite slow, which is why the small staff here takes off in all directions for four or five months.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Western Novel Gunslinger Justice to be Released Early Pre-Order NOW

Due to popular demand, Gunslinger Justice, the final book in the Jake Silver Adventure Series by author Jere D. James, will be released in September. Gunslinger Justice features Deputy U.S. Marshal Jake Silver, gunslinger Richard Moody, outlaw Diego Fuentes, and Apache Nantan Lupan.

We will be running a special on the books, offering the entire set of six books for $60 + s/h. That is $10 a book and is a savings of $6.00 a book, or $36 overall. We'll ship the books however people would like them shipped: media mail or USPS Priority Flat Rate. The books will each be signed by the author, also. These books make a terrific gift for people who love to read Westerns! Books must be ordered from our website, however, to get this special offer. You can use VISA etc. but you'll have to fill out the order form to do so, or call. Give us a few days to get the prices changed and to get Gunslinger Justice in stock.

Gunslinger Justice will also be available in a large-print edition, as are all the other Jere D. James titles. Our special for the large-print edition is $17.95 per book + s/h. That is a $2 savings per book.

And, even more, for a limited time Gunslinger Justice can be pre-ordered on Kindle and other ebooks for the low, LOW price of $3.99. Normally we start all new books off at 8.95 or better. However, since this is the LAST of the Jake Silver books we are offering this GREAT price. In fact, all of the westerns have been reduced in price as part of this promotion.

Jere D. James has very skillfully brought the six-book Jake Silver Adventure Series to a close. However, be forewarned that readers will be utterly, absolutely, and completely shocked by the ending, but Jere is firm that the ending stays as is.

The author is currently working on two books and is hoping to have another Western completed by early 2015.


J.R. Sanders' outstanding historical nonfiction book, Some Gave All, ousted Moonlight Mesa's top-selling Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride in the first half of the year in Ingram sales. This is the first time the best-selling Casey Tibbs biography has been outsold in Ingram sales. Sanders' book is not yet available in e-reader format, however, so the edge in sales may still favor Casey. If I wasn't so caught up with bad-mouthing politicians on Twitter I'd have that information handy. Casey-Tibbs - Born to Ride is a perennially top-selling title and has withstood the test of time. I think Sanders' book will do likewise..

J.R. Sanders has done a number of signings and appearances since his book came out, and he is also very active on Facebook. (Wish I could say the same, but it's just not in me!)


We will be experimenting shortly here with discounted prices on e-books, particularly some of the books that have been out for a spell. If we see an improvement in the sales of these older titles, we will also look into increasing the author share of the profit. Seems only fair! We are currently evaluating which books we want to discount and have decided to start with the westerns, including Gunslinger Justice which will be released as an ebook September 30 as I said earlier.

Moonlight Mesa's ebooks are available on literally every e-reader in existence, although Kindle sales provide our biggest source of revenue.

Has it been a long, hot summer, or what?