Looking for a publisher for that book you just finished writing? Deeds Publishing is right here in metro Atlanta.
Bob Babcock, founder and CEO, started publishing books as a hobby, primarily for people he knew, as well as his own. The business really began to flourish the past couple of years, however, and last week Deeds published its 100th book.
Meeting George Weinstein at a book launch event “was a life changer for us,” says Bob. “I asked him if he had any books to publish, and he had three. So we ended up publishing Hardscrabble Road. He sent me his manuscript via computer, and I couldn’t stop reading it.” Deeds launched the book in October 2012. Weinstein’s most recent book The Caretaker, was published by Deeds in September.
“So, instead of us being an unknown, we started getting all these phone calls, and our business took off,” Bob says.
Deeds Publishing is a family business run in the Babcocks’ home in Marietta. Jan, Bob’s wife, is President and handles all the marketing, while their son Mark, who lives in Athens, is Creative Director. He handles book layouts, cover art, marketing materials and website development. Matt King, who is working on his Masters degree at the Savannah College of Art & Design in Atlanta, is Director of Photography.
A platoon leader and executive officer in Viet Nam, Bob began writing in the late 1980s about his war time experiences, finished his book in 1993, and published it in 2007 under the title What Now, Lieutenant? He also wrote War Stories, a collection of 450 stories in two volumes from the 4th Infantry Division soldiers serving in World War II, and a history of the Iraq War titled Operation Iraqi Freedom I: A Year in the Sunni Triangle.
Many of Deeds’ books are military-related because of Bob’s passion for war stories, but Deeds is multi-genre. Books include fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and coffee table (photography). They’re published primarily as paperbacks, but all children’s and photography books are in hardcover. All are offered as e-books.
Bob reads the manuscripts that authors send him. If Bob is excited about the book and wants to publish it, Jan then talks to the author about his platform for marketing the book and how he plans to sell it.
“I try to bring a balance between enthusiasm and reality,” she says. “I tell them that they have to market the book and be a self-promoter. If they say they’re not good at that, then I tell them that we need to end this now because you and we won’t be successful. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I advise them not to count on becoming a New York Times best seller.”
She advises authors to have a blog, a website and/or a wide circle of influence. “We tell everyone, You have to be on social media,” she says. Then she asks them to come up with 50 places to sell their books, including non-traditional places, such as a coffee shop, a gift store, or even a high-end hair salon. They discuss where and when to launch the book, and Deeds provides all marketing materials—bookmarks, posters, and book cards–to hand out, and sets up a website if the author doesn’t already have one.
Their printer starts with 100 to 500 copies, depending on what the author is doing to self-promote and on what the Babcocks determine is the author’s potential for selling the book. They don’t want an over-printing, and it’s easy to print more if needed. If 400 to 500 books are sold, everyone can break even. “We don’t want to burden ourselves or our authors with a bunch of books sitting around,” says Bob.
Bob says he found he had an eye for editing when he worked for IBM and loves to do it, but sometimes Mark or Jan or outside readers help with it. Some books, Bob says, need significant rewrites, which are handled by outside contractors.
While Deeds has worked directly with authors so far, Bob says he’s open to working with literary agents. The Babcocks found several of their authors through the Atlanta Writers Club (AWC), of which Weinstein used to be President. Valerie Joan Connors is President now, and Deeds published her latest book, Shadow of a Smile, which I reviewed on Readers Unbound recently. Deeds’ 100th book is Tony the Kneebreaker by Ed Gruber, another AWC member. Other AWC members who have books published by Deeds include Trisha Slay, Rona Simmons, Mike Brown, and Jameson Gregg.
Deeds also published Readers Unbound blogger Crystal Klimavicz’s novel Falling Through Trees. “Bob was the first person to read my novel and immediately said he would take it,” she says. “I was shocked and thrilled to say the least.”
Crystal, Bob says, is full of energy and a hard worker. Says Crystal, “I did a ton of book signings this summer, and am working on my next novel now, dividing my time between selling and writing. What I do know is that when you are new and unknown, your book doesn’t move much unless you’re out there pushing it. Authors need to be both writers and sales people all in one, and it ‘ain’t easy.”
That’s exactly what the Babcocks want to hear.
Oh, and if you’re shopping for holiday gifts, consider checking out the Books Make Great Gifts events at 1549 Asheforde Drive, Marietta, on Dec. 7 and 13. It’s the clubhouse in the Babcock’s neighborhood.
Do you have a book you want to publish?