Information and the Goal of the 2011 Prospect Guide
On Tuesday evening I got the preview copy of the Pirates Prospects 2011 Prospect Guide. I’ve been making the final changes and edits to the book the last few days, and making sure everything printed out in the correct order. I’m hoping to place the order for the first shipment tomorrow, and hoping to ship the pre-sales out at some point next week after I receive the first shipment of books. I’m still aiming to put the book on sale on January 18th.
Here is some additional information on the book, along with recapping some information I’ve already given, and the ultimate goal for the book.
Contents of the Book
The book ended up at 194 pages. It includes information on 237 prospects, and will be the only place you will find our 2011 Top 50 Prospects. Every report includes some form of first hand knowledge, whether it was seeing the player in person, talking to scouts about the players, talking to coaches/other players, or talking to the players themselves. The exception comes with the international players, as I haven’t been to Venezuela or the Dominican Republic recently, although there is information for those players as well. For the US-based prospects, I’ve talked to people both inside and outside of the organization, as well as people who see these players more often than I do. For the 2010 draft class I’ve either talked to the players, watched the players, or have talked to their former coaches and teammates.
The book includes exclusive interviews with Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Zack Von Rosenberg, and Zack Dodson. It also includes handy references, such as the top 20 draft bonuses of all time, the top 10 reported international draft bonuses, and the estimated Rule 5 and Minor League Free Agency dates for every player.
Estimated Shipping Dates
I ordered the preview copy last Wednesday, it shipped on Thursday, and arrived on Tuesday, which was three days after the book shipped (Saturday was a holiday). The first shipment will include a lot of books, so the printing time could be longer, although I’m hoping the book will ship by Monday the 10th, getting the books to me by Thursday the 13th. I’m also hoping to ship the pre-sales out on Friday the 14th. I can’t guarantee a delivery time, as that is out of my hands, although I’ve been told an estimate is 2-9 days, depending on location, so ideally the books will arrive the week of the 17th-22nd.
The Shipping Costs
The price of shipping for the book is $6.50. That price includes the cost of shipping the book to me, the cost to ship the book to you, and the materials to ship the book to you. Ideally I would like this to be lower, although this is actually the cheapest option for everyone. The alternative would be selling the book through my publisher, and their minimum shipping is $3.99. However, selling the book through the publisher would cost more in production fees, and would also require me to give 20% of the profits to the production company.
The point of this book is raise funds to expand the site’s coverage of the minor league system, starting in 2011. By selling the book through the publisher, you would be saving about $2, and I would be losing much more than that on each book. If I increased the price and sold through the publisher, you would end up paying a few dollars more than the current price. I tried to hit the median to consider both parties. That means a lot of work on my end to ship the books out, but that’s something I’ll willingly do to save you some money, and to try and further expand the site.
Benefits of Purchasing During the Pre-Sales Period
This is the first year I’ve done this, so I’m not sure how many books will sell. The first shipment will include all of the pre-sales, and will also include about 100-200 books for when the book goes on sale. Depending on how many orders are placed when the book actually goes on sale, there might be a slight delay in shipping. What it all boils down to is that if you order during the pre-sale period, you will almost certainly get your order by the end of January, and hopefully by the end of the week of the 17th.
Overall I’m taking a conservative approach with the shipments, at least until I get a feel for how many will sell and how fast they will sell. The last thing I want to do is end up sitting on a few thousand dollars worth of books, which definitely wouldn’t be good for the future of the site.
If you order during the pre-sale period, you’ll get one of the first shipments, without any delay. You’ll also be entered in to a drawing for two free infield box tickets to the 2011 home opener, valued at $54. Note that each book counts as one entry, so for those of you that have ordered multiple copies, you get one vote per book ordered.
What This Book Will Accomplish
I’ve already mentioned about how the point of this book is to expand the coverage of the site. I’m very excited by how the book has turned out, and am planning on releasing a new edition every year. Overall, your purchase buys what I feel is a great product covering the Pirates’ farm system. Your purchase also acts as a donation to the site, to allow for expanded coverage. Depending on the amount of sales, that coverage will hopefully include:
-Coverage from Spring Training for up to two weeks (March 14th-26th)
Last year I was only in Florida for two days during Spring Training, and got a ton of information while I was down there. This year I’m hoping to expand that to two weeks, with a ton of coverage coming from the minor league facility at Pirate City.
-More coverage throughout the season
In 2010 I covered around 20 games, with most of those games coming at the end of the season, and during the Eastern League playoffs. If the book does well enough, I will be covering at least 30 games in 2011, not to mention any potential playoffs, and any potential minor league tours, such as the one at the end of the 2010 season. Ideally I’d like to cover about 6-10 games a month. The bulk of the expected coverage would be with Indianapolis and West Virginia, which would not only allow me to continue covering the 2009 Lynchburg/2010 Altoona team that I’ve covered for the last two years, but also would allow me to cover a very exciting rotation in West Virginia, which could include Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Zack Von Rosenberg, Colton Cain, Zack Dodson, and more. My ideal schedule has me covering 21 West Virginia games in 2011.
-Additional features and information for the site
Along with the added coverage during Spring Training and the added coverage during the season, I’m hoping to bring two features to the site in 2011. The first will be professional quality pictures from the events I cover, with an upgrade to a professional quality camera. The second will be the purchase of a radar gun, which will provide the site with pitch speeds for as many pitchers as I can follow. The proceeds from the book will help pay for both the camera and the radar gun, and ideally more features in the future.
The reality here is that I’m running an independent media outlet, which takes up a lot of time, money, and energy. Take last year’s minor league tour for example. I spent about three weeks on the road, put about 3000 miles on my car, paid for hotel rooms, showed up to the park 2-3 hours before the game, and left 1-2 hours after each game, all while taking off of work in the process to make this happen. That was all to get a lot of information for the upcoming book, which has taken almost all of my free time since I started writing in September.
I’m not complaining at all. I’m doing this willingly, and it’s fun. But the reality is that it requires the effort of a full time job, with the only revenue being the advertisements on the site, which don’t amount to much after the out of pocket expenses. Some independent media outlets do things like fundraisers for Spring Training, where your donation sends the writer to Spring Training, and buys you access to player interviews, daily reports, etc. I would rather keep the site free, and keep the information free, but the truth is that I can’t put full time effort in to a part time job forever.
I want to cover Spring Training for an extended period. I want to cover games throughout the season. I want to cover any minor league playoffs. I want to continue to break draft pick signings. However, all of this takes time, and I can’t take that time off from a real job every year. I also have no intentions of making the site a pay site, which means that if the book doesn’t do well, the above isn’t going to happen.
I think the Pittsburgh media does an outstanding job covering the Pirates. I think the media for each of the minor league teams does great covering those teams. However, the minors are a secondary thought to the Pittsburgh beat writers, and the overall view of the farm system ranks second to individual team records for the minor league teams. When I started this site, I did so to provide an outlet that focused primarily on the minor league system. I’d like to expand on that, and I’m willing to make it my full time job, but the only way that’s possible is for the 2011 Prospect Guide to be successful. That’s where you come in.
By purchasing the book, not only do you get a great product and a ton of information on the farm system, but you also support the site and allow for expanded coverage going forward. In a perfect world I’d do this for free, but as shown above, free has it’s limitations. The site will never go to a paid format, but it could see a reduction in content and coverage if the book doesn’t do well enough. Based on the traffic to the site, I believe a lot of you have enjoyed the content over the last year. If you’d like to see the site not only continue the current pace, but improve, then purchase a book, tell your friends, post about it on your favorite forum, and help the site reach it’s goal. I’m very excited by the final results of the book, and I’m also very excited at the opportunity to expand my coverage of the minor league system. I just need you to give me that opportunity by supporting the site with your purchase of the 2011 Prospect Guide.