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Friday, April 16, 2010

"Next Guide" survey results are in!

Steve Stanley and I, as well as our publisher Ted Savas, would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in our survey about the next "complete guide." I'm happy and gratified to say that 161 folks responded, and about 50 people left very helpful comments. The comments were probably the most useful part of the survey.

The top five choices in order of popularity were:

#1 - 1862 Maryland Campaign
#2 - 1863 Cavalry Battles
#3 - Petersburg Campaign
#4 - Chancellorsville
#5 - 1862 Valley Campaign

The Maryland Campaign was far and away the number one choice, garnering about 30% of the total vote. This confirms our decision to do that one next. Nearly all the research for the book is done, in fact. I begin writing next month, with several trips, visits, and tours to campaign sites being conducted over the summer. The book has already been contracted and we expect it to appear in time for the spring 2011 season. Antietam Chief Historian Ted Alexander has already agreed to write the Forward for the book.

I have to admit to being surprised that the 1863 cavalry battles (the Brandy Station fights, Aldie, Middleburg, Upperville) came in second. It may be that folks know my interest in the cavalry, and the lack of information about, and interest in, the fall Brandy Station fights, etc. may have driven the interest. We are definitely taking this under consideration. The fact that Petersburg was also so popular in the poll was very interesting.

I was surprised that the 1862 and 1864 Valley Campaigns did not score higher. Our thoughts were to do either separate volumes, or a combined volume, on these following the Maryland Campaign volume. That would coincide with anniversary dates, and we would also be working with the state and local historical societies - who have all expressed interest in a guide on these and working with Steve and I on them.

Next year, we will likely post a similar poll just to see how the choices come out then. I want to especially thank everyone for the very helpful and interesting comments left on the polling page. They were extremely fun and educational to read. One respondent reminded me of a Maryland Campaign skirmish I'd forgotten about, for instance. This poll has turned out to be an extremely useful tool and we heartily thank all who participated!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Interesting survey results thus far

The results of the survey (see below post) have been extremely interesting. I am going to leave the poll up until next Friday, so there is still time to vote.

There have been nearly 150 respondents, for which we are very grateful. Lots of folks have wanted to make their opinions and thoughts known, and we are extremely appreciative for the effort. Thus far, the Maryland Campaign is far and away the favorite subject for the next "Complete Guide," garnering about 40% of the vote. That one is indeed next, as Steve Stanley and I signed the contract for that book several months ago.

The Valley Campaigns, the 1863 Cavalry battles, and Petersburg have "fought" back and forth for second place. All the other choices in the poll have also been popular with many respondents, except for Mine Run and (surprisingly) Appomattox. I didn't expect Mine Run to do very well, but I was a bit taken aback that Appomattox got very few votes.

The written comments in the poll have also been extremely revealing. I have been reading them with a great deal of interest. One respondent reminded me, for example, of a minor skirmish during the Maryland Campaign that I'd completely forgotten about. Perhaps because the poll is anonymous, respondents feel free to speak their mind and all of them have been very positive.

There's still about a week left, so even though the Maryland Campaign work will indeed be next, we encourage people to still vote if they haven't yet. The answers are helping drive us toward what will be the project after that. Later this year or early next year I will put up a similar poll about that subsequent project and I expect it to be even more interesting.

By the way, many folks have been asking about the progress on the audio tour supplements for The Complete Gettysburg Guide. Steve is nearly finished with the package design for Volume One - The Battlefield, and I am recording the audio in a nearby professional recording studio this coming Wednesday, April 14. The 2-CD digipak for Volume One should be available no later than mid-May, with the subsequent two volumes to be released over June and July at the latest. They all will also be available as downloads, likely sooner than the digipak releases. Volume One is the audio tour of the entire main battlefield, on 2 discs (total 150 minutes). The package will contain several of Steve's maps.

The studio producer has been very helpful guiding me through the somewhat complicated process of producing a professional recording, and has been making it both easy and fun - and quite a learning process.

Stay tuned for more!