Authors and Readers of SS books

German SS and Waffen-SS 1923-1945.

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Authors and Readers of SS books

Postby Mark C Yerger » Sat Oct 05, 2002 4:44 am

All:

These may be a worthless comments or fall on deaf ears but I personally feel need to be made. Some things for readers to keep in mind:

1) Taking time in hours and expenses into account, I know of few authors (if any) who profit financially from writing. Those who send letters requesting piles of data and material need to remember they are probably not the only people who write to an individual. My own postage bills are a 4 figure sum yearly. Include postage costs as a common courtesy. Xeroxes of documents and prints do cost. I had an author friend get a note by with simply "Send me copies of all the photos and documents you have on "Wiking." Sender didn't even enclose a stamp.

2) Books are written based on available material, not by desired topic in some cases. With documentation gaps, a lot of areas can not be covered in a book format. I often get requests or questions as to why this or that topic doesn't have a book: its because enough info often doesn't exist.

3) Non-writing readers/collectors often have material of use but, for reasons I've never understood, don't take the effort to share it. A lot can be added to a lot of projects from this group. A single photo, document, or period book adds a lot. Location of readers can assist authors if close to archives used, museums, etc. The more resources someone has the better. Most writers have a small group who assist and archives as sources with little contributed from the general reader who may have something of use be it whatever type of material. The more help, the better the project.

4) Its impossible to do books with 100% new data, even if only to give needed background and relative data to a reader (especially new ones). I'll personally buy a book for a single photo or a couple pages of new information. A book with 20% new data is (to me) a must have gold mine.

5) A lot of books are passed on by US readers due to language. However, many have a lot of data that can be used with a minimum of foreign language ability. Books like the Biblio KC series, Tessin, and MANY other titles should be considered by those who are not fluent. A number of good and inexpensive military dictionaries are also available. Dates and MANY other facts require almost no foreign language skills. The average person has a 1200 word vocabulary, so if you can recognize a couple hundred words in another langauge there is a lot that can be absorbed.

6) I see the junk "bargain table" books that continue to be cranked out appear now even in good quality bookstores as WWII is popular. Most all know the titles or authors, they've obviously been written in a day, no bibliography/footnotes, grainy pics and/or facts totally copied from others, superficial (or totally wrong) info, etc. Wasted money is wasted money but many books sell simply due to the distribution network of a large publisher that floods the market. If someone on this forum seeks a book on a topic and doesn't know what to buy, ask for suggestions. There are far more good books than bad, the better ones should be supported while the "production line" type should stop wasting paper resources. You get what you pay for.

7) Authors do not decide the cost of a book. Publishers do. Likewise, few authors determine which photo is done large, which is done small. A small number allow author design input, most don't. Few publishers have a clue about the topic compared to the author, a factor to consider when complaining about this or that aspect in the finished product.

8) If you get a book and like it, invest 2 stamps in telling BOTH the publisher and author. It gives the author some reader insight for future projects and motivates the publisher to do another volume on the topic by the author. Publishers are in business to make a profit and only do so with satisified customers.

9) This one will irk a few. I see some readers on forums who make a career of blasting this or that mistake in any book, with no positive comments even when deserved. I have never seen a perfect book in any language with zero mistakes of any type (design, a fact, caption, ID, typos, etc), including my own. To that small fraction of "blasting only" readers: Since your knowledge and perfection level is so high, please let us all read the originally researched book YOU'VE written.

Mark
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Postby Jason Petho » Sat Oct 05, 2002 5:39 am

Thank you for the thoughts and information. :D

Very informative.

Take care and good luck
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Postby Philip S » Sat Oct 05, 2002 10:35 am

Well, I guess I'm guilty as charged. Granted I have only tried to communicate directly with 3 authors in 20 years (without success), but still I did not offer to or include any postage/expense money for the info I was requesting.

As for offering help/assistance/"resources", I had no idea any authors would want to mingle with the common and therefore less-informed folk. So, I thank you for that insight and I will try my best to be a better contributor to the general improvement of the information out there, where ever I can.

Now I have to get back to a pile of translation work.
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Postby Ethelian » Sat Oct 05, 2002 1:17 pm

Hey Mark:)

I don't know how much use i can be?But if ever you think i can help i would be pleased to.I have said this to you in the past and the offer is still there,just don't know if it is worth anything?

As for people who send requests asking for "all the material you have on a subject" just file under"loser"!!

Or am i being too harsh*g*

Later
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Postby Tom Houlihan » Sat Oct 05, 2002 3:49 pm

Noted...
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Sat Oct 05, 2002 7:52 pm

Everyone is smart and stupid, just about different things. A reader with a period book, magazine, single photo, vet contact, original award document in his militaria collection, etc. that an author lacks has something (knowledge or material) that author does NOT have. It can be a piece of a large puzzle. I've been looking for facts or photos on some men for 15 years, it doesn't all fall neatly into place from a single source. Much can be found (with time and $) in archive research. Its the additions to or gaps that are sought.

Best
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Very wise words Mark......

Postby Craig » Sat Oct 05, 2002 11:02 pm

Now could you please send me everything you have on the SS!

:D
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Postby MG42 » Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:25 am

Hi Mark,
I loved reading this post and not one of them were worthless. The most interesting one for me was No.8 Although I've read countless books I've never once considered writing a letter of appreciation to the author and/or publisher. I'm going to start doing that from now on.

What I would love to read is an equally useful post giving some advice on the methods you use to source, store, categorize and research your material. The reason I ask is because I'm currently extensively researching historical research methods and learning German and Russian with the intention of becoming the next Mark C. Yerger (although better looking of course ;) ).

You do understand I'm not looking for you to give away all your trade secrets I'm just looking for a little insight from an expert on the best and most systematic way to conduct historical research.

Kindest Regards
MG
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Fri Oct 18, 2002 6:21 am

MG

An interesting, and first time asked, question. I cover all SS topics to some degree and seek/sought material of all types for potential exchange use with others. Gathering to the point of having enough to compile something can take years, assuming you want to do a text/book with a percentage of new material. Folders for each topic (person, unit, types of documents that cover several topics) are essential. Its easy to get disorganized when you have a lot (see my living area now). I have thousands of folders. First find the major archives and obtain their primary catalogs to see what is there, also for comparing cost and checking for duplication when obtaining copies. For many divisional level units without records, missing data can be found in the KTB of superior Korps or Armee units. Period publications are essential as is anything worthwhile postwar (also using their bibliography for expanding the base book library). Obviously I did a lot of letter writing and meeting but , sadly, those days are gone for almost all major personalities. The amount of data in archives is huge, its finding a topic with enough to compile something to a reasonable degree of being complete. As each bit of data is found, letters releating to, etc, all are filed as needed. A general outline of what's being done then allows you to seek/ask for data to fill gaps. Despite all that's been written (and much junk continually being turned out for $ that's not research), there are a vast number of interesting SS topics that have yet to be examined for which there is sufficient documentation. Easiest to start with, regardless of size, is a biography. My own 5 rules:

1) don't be concerned or look at how long the research takes
2) don't care if a book is announced on the same topic (unless you're doing the 50th book on Tiger tanks)
3) have patience, then have some more
4) I work at it daily if I ever expect to see it completed
5) reply individuals who contact you promptly

Hope I replied your inquiry to some degree. If not, e-mail me a PM.

Best
Mark
Last edited by Mark C Yerger on Fri Oct 18, 2002 6:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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thanks..

Postby xavier » Fri Oct 18, 2002 6:32 am

Mark
on behalf of all the readers, I thank you and all the writers that take their lifes (yes, literally) to write for us.

I had never before taken into consideration all the effort to write a book.

thanks again.

Xavier
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Constant practice devoted to one subject often outdues both intelligence and skill:
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Postby Mark C Yerger » Fri Oct 18, 2002 6:49 am

Xavier

Thank you for your kind and appreciated comment. Expressed thoughts such as yours go a long way on frustrating/faled research days. I'm sure everyone who has written or researched appreciates the sentiment.

Mark
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SS Books and articles

Postby Keith Morry » Tue Oct 29, 2002 7:22 pm

Mark,

I have read a lot of books and articles on the SS, some written by you. And I really appreciate all the time and effort you and all the authors put in to spreading your knowledge on one the most interresting subjects of WWII.

Thank you. :!:

Keith
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Postby NCO » Thu Nov 07, 2002 3:56 am

Mark,
I totally agree with you.

cheers
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Re: Authors and Readers of SS books

Postby Frederick L Clemens » Sat Nov 09, 2002 7:13 am

+++These may be a worthless comments or fall on deaf ears but I personally feel need to be made. Some things for readers to keep in mind:+++

I think it is an interesting subject. Most everyone in this field at one time or another thinks of doing their own book.

+++1) Taking time in hours and expenses into account, I know of few authors (if any) who profit financially from writing.+++

You are right, only the top 1 per cent seem to really make money. And once they become a brand-name they often seem to start cranking out the garbage - or hire others to do it for them - just to keep their name up there - see Ambrose, Clancy for examples.

+++2) Books are written based on available material, not by desired topic in some cases. With documentation gaps, a lot of areas can not be covered in a book format. I often get requests or questions as to why this or that topic doesn't have a book: its because enough info often doesn't exist.+++

True for some cases but certainly not for others where it is more a matter of the willingness and expertise of researchers to ferret out and analyze the available info. What also shouldn't be forgotten is that books topics are often demand-driven, especially from the publisher's point of view. So, the bottom line is that no one should be satisified with the answer "you won't find any information on that"! I know two friends who have put together significant books on topics with "non-existant" information.

+++3) Non-writing readers/collectors often have material of use but, for reasons I've never understood, don't take the effort to share it.+++

I can understand your frustration over the "lost treasures" out there, but I have heard cases where collectors calling themselves authors have duped people into contributing items, never to be seen again. Or other cases where authors have received contributions and then published them with little to no credit for the contributors. Not to forget, many have paid good money for the items in question and are reluctant to let a stranger profit from them. It's not a perfect world and you can't expect people to give to someone they don't know.

+++4) Its impossible to do books with 100% new data, even if only to give needed background and relative data to a reader (especially new ones). I'll personally buy a book for a single photo or a couple pages of new information. A book with 20% new data is (to me) a must have gold mine.+++

I can't believe anyone would be silly enough to accuse you of doing rehash...which is what I assume motivates you to bring up this point!

+++5) A lot of books are passed on by US readers due to language. +++

I still wonder at the concept of a Wehrmacht or Waffen-SS fan who doesn't make the effort to learn German. That is just plain childish and I could never take such a person's interest seriously.

+++8) If you get a book and like it, invest 2 stamps in telling BOTH the publisher and author.+++

Perhaps with email addresses that feedback will accelerate.

+++9) This one will irk a few. I see some readers on forums who make a career of blasting this or that mistake in any book, with no positive comments even when deserved. I have never seen a perfect book in any language with zero mistakes of any type (design, a fact, caption, ID, typos, etc), including my own. To that small fraction of "blasting only" readers: Since your knowledge and perfection level is so high, please let us all read the originally researched book YOU'VE written.+++

You are right, there are no perfect books. But as a published author, you take that chance when you put your goods on the market. You ask people to give you their money in exchange for your book and those people have a right to demand quality for their money. Yes, it would be nice if they stroked your ego by making nice comments, but it ain't gonna happen everytime or even the majority of the time. And no, you can't hide behind the old "put up or shut up" defense. As I pointed out, they put up their money, that's what you asked for and that's all they need to bring to the discussion.
Telling people that they have no right to criticize something if "they haven't done it themselves" or "they weren't there" is a truly lame excuse for two reasons:
1) What separates humans from animals is our ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes or in another time. Without this ability, you would have no business telling anyone else that Waffen-SS soliders were good, bad, or ugly because you didn't fight alongside them...you weren't there to judge!
2) This excuse is infinitely elastic. As soon as a critic would say that he HAS written a book, you would say it wasn't a book about the Waffen-SS or it wasn't a big enough book or it wasn't a popular book...any of a thousand ways to further qualify your standard before he can dare to criticize your work. (This is not a blast against you personally, it is a pit we all fall into once we start using this defense.)

My best advice on this point - If you publish you will take heat. It may be justly or unjustly, either way you just have to handle it, learn from it, and keep doing what you believe is right.
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New Material

Postby Nate » Sat Nov 16, 2002 11:10 am

Mark,

How often do you find that when a book description says "many new photos not in print before" is actually a true statement. My collection of books centers around the Waffen SS and it just a small beginning. I have found it difficult in many cases to decide from a website or catalog whether the book is worth the cost. So far JJ Fedorwicz, RZM and Schiffer always are good buys, and not to blow smoke, but all of your books I have purchased to date also fall in that category.

Any other publishers you could recommend?

Thanks in advance!

NATE
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