After his latest book, The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, was turned down by 15 publishers, Sneed Collard III, the author of 50 books for children, who received the Washington Post-Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award in 2006, decided to take matters into his own hands. Collard, who lives in Missoula, Mont., has formed his own publishing company, Bucking Horse Books, and is publishing the 64-page picture book himself this fall. The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale will be released in October, with a retail price of $18 and a first print run of 5,000 copies.
“It’s a children’s book, but it’s also a coffee table book, and a gift book,” Collard explained, “It wears a lot of hats, which is key to success when you are starting your own [publishing house].”
While insisting that he’ll continue to work with major publishers on his nonfiction science book projects, Collard complained that it’s become more and more difficult to do so, and that many authors can’t earn a living on what publishers are paying them. “A lot of [publishers] are squeezing the talent harder and harder,” he said, “It’s getting to the point it’s not worth writing for the bigger publishers, unless you are a bestselling author.”
Bucking Horse Books, which, so far, consists only of Collard, backed up by a freelance designer and freelance illustrator, will specialize in regional titles relating to the American West that he hopes will appeal to a national audience. While Collard is getting the book into bookstores in the region by simply calling booksellers and describing the book to them, Mountain Press is distributing the book nationally, and making it available to the trade through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Collard will also travel around Montana this fall, selling the book at state fairs and other events, including the Bucking Horse Sale in Miles City, which inspired him to write the book in the first place. The Bucking Horse Sale is an annual auction of spoiled riding horses, unrideable young horses, and horses specifically bred to be bucking broncos, which has become over the years a major celebration of the culture of the American West. Some observers have compared the festivities to Mardi Gras.
Collard intends to publish only his own work for the next few years, until he’s established enough to take on other projects by “top name authors” in the region. So far, he has scheduled for release next February the first volume in his Slate Stephens mystery series for elementary grade readers, The Governor’s Dog Is Missing.
Also, while focusing primarily on publishing print books, Collard is receptive to publishing books in electronic formats; since, he said, there are now so many options in publishing, “the nature of a book can help determine what the best option is.”
Though he admits that there’s a lot more that goes into creating and marketing a book than he previously realized, Collard describes himself as having fun being a publisher as well as an author. Expressing optimism that his foray into book publishing will be successful, he declared, “I think I’m only the first in a wave of established authors who are going to do this.”