Monday, May 18, 2009

Old Files

Timber’s bestselling title is Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy Disabato-Aust. It’s had 28 printings in two editions and is just shy of 200,000 copies in print. Of course, we could not have predicted what was about to happen when we signed up Tracy’s book in 1993. We originally printed just 5000 copies--but even that was a pretty big print run for us at the time.

While I was preparing to present Tracy at our Fall sales conference, I spent a little time going through her book’s original folder. I had to chuckle as I read some of my original pre-contract notes:

“Can author’s PPA paper support a book?”
“Author has presented to professionals.”
“Even author found topic dull at one time?”
“No useless generalizations.”
“Need to have a broader range of maintenance? Watering?”
“Discuss containers?”
“Author quite an evangelist--she’s sold me.”

I’m delighted to report that Tracy neglected to take me up on many of my inexpert editorial suggestions--including my advice that she cut out the bit about soil amendment. Let’s get straight to the pruning, right?! If Tracy had followed my advice, I think we would still be working on the first printing of 5000 copies.

Neal Maillet, publisher

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