Saturday, September 22, 2012

Western Publisher News - Downsizing

After giving this a lot of consideration, it finally became apparent to me that if Moonlight Mesa Associates, Western Book Publisher, is to stay in business, we're going to have to reorganize...dramatically reorganize.

With the loss of my two assistants, Moonlight Mesa has now become a four-person operation! So, if personnel is cut dramatically, does that mean the work gets cut dramatically? The only logical conclusion is yes...but that may not necessarily be the best conclusion. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

With the departure of Renee and Jered (who both decided to return to school) Moonlight Mesa now has two in-house individuals, myself and Tom, who serves as shipping agent, sales, and historical editor, and two subcontractors, Vin and Paula. Due to the "uncertainties" regarding upcoming political decisions, I won't be replacing Renee or Jered...enough said about that.

So, what is this all going to mean? For starters,  I disappointed two authors last week by informing them that we won't be publishing their works in 2013 as discussed. Indeed, at this point there are only two authors on the 2013 calendar: Robert Walton and Jere D. James. The only other consideration is Jerry Tindell...if he completes (or even begins) his mule training book.

And as of now, there are no books scheduled for 2014...although some will be added in due time.

The Cowboy Up Short Story Contest, usually under Renee's watchful eye and supervision, has been cancelled for next year, 2013.

Moonlight Mesa's website has been significantly altered, with the pages regarding publishing, submission, and short story news eliminated. Whew. That was a challenge for this techno-deficient person. And, quite some time ago we quit "liking" Facebook and dropped out of that debacle. I have learned to "tweet," though, so that's still around.

We're still proceeding with our scheduled book events, and I have added a month long road/sea-tour next summer. Our office will be closed during this time since NO ONE will be here to answer the phone.

Since we are now few,  I plan to focus efforts more on marketing than I ever have before. I give marketing a lot of credit for actually increasing sales - something we can all use about now - but it is a royal pain and very time-consuming. My new strategy is to make money by selling more books and publishing fewer. We'll see how that strategy goes.



All judges now have their copies of the stories submitted for this year's contest. Finalists will be announced by mid-October, and cash-prize winners will be announced in early, early November, with checks following shortly.

This has been a very fun contest for us to sponsor, and the feedback from the authors has almost always been terrific. Last year, however, we did have two authors who were deservedly disgruntled since one of the judges gave them straight ones in every single category (one is the lowest score possible) with no explanation at all. I think that hurt not only the contestants but the reputation of the contest. People talk! And, this year I failed to do any advertising for the contest...too many other things going on.

I'd hoped to produce one more anthology from the contest entries, but I don't see that happening at this point.


Our trade paperback sales have remained respectable, especially for our nonfiction titles, Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride and Developing the Art of Equine Communication. Jere D. James' western novels have been selling fairly well, with most activity happening with the large-print editions, especially Canyon of Death.

Ebook sales are crazy mixed up. Some months are quite respectable, other months are pathetic. Kindle sales lead in the ebook category. The newly released High Country Killers is going gangbusters this month! Too bad the first four copies to be sold were TRAGICALLY FLAWED. (Something that would never have happened had Renee been around!)

Our book vendors have complained loud and long about sluggish sales, however, which in turn affects our bottom line.

It's a confusing, unsettling time in the industry. Partly it's the economy, but partly it's the avalanche of ebooks smothering the market written by everyone's mother and dog-sitter . I guess time will sort all this out. Those of us in the business just have to hang in there for a bit, unlike Borders. I hear Barnes and Noble may be struggling also. Could be just rumors from the gossip mill, though.

Until next time,

Becky, Publisher

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