How I stopped Worrying about becoming an Author and Learned to love Arcadia.

Written by John M Manguso, author of Fort Sam Houston

After just over thirty years working at the Fort Sam Houston Museum, I received a call from Arcadia Publishing, asking if I’d be interested in writing a book for them about Fort Sam Houston.  I had written a series of monographs and pamphlets about this historic post for the Army but nothing for publication.  I said I was interested but had to check with the Army lawyers.  The lawyers said I could not profit from writing about matters related to my official duties until after I retired.  So, I advised Arcadia Publishing that I would think about it them know when I retired.
Actually, I had never heard of Arcadia until that day.  What convinced me that it would be a worthwhile was a trop home to Florida to see my sisters and brother.  I flew to Tampa to visit my sisters in nearby New Port Richey.  After a short visit, they drove me to Tallahassee to see my younger brother.  On the way, we made a pit stop at one of those typical north Florida small towns.  You know the type:  a gas station, a convenience store, and a pair of city limit signs.  While waiting in line to pay for my Eskimo Pie, I saw a display of local history books on the counter.  One of them was for the little town we were in!  They were all Arcadia publications.  That convinced me.  If Arcadia would publish a book about this little town,…
When I got home after visiting my brother, I started planning a book about Fort Sam Houston.  With more than thirty years at the museum and a host of writing projects under my belt, I knew the text would practically write itself.  I knew which of the photos in the museum photo collections I would request for the book.  In September 2011, I made the decision to retire from the civil service.  The 31st of December would be my last day on the job.  Very soon thereafter, I finalized my Author Proposal and sent it in.  It was approved and I began to work with my editor, Laura Bruns to meet the deadlines.  We made it on time and Fort Sam Houston was published in the fall of 2012 in the Images of America series.
Writing for Arcadia proved to be fairly easy.  They are very author friendly.  Arcadia provides an Author’s Guide and a Layout Planner.  Their format for the Images of America series allows the author to focus on the images and the text.  All the mechanics of turning pictures and text into a book are taken care of by them.  One thing they could add would be a clear plastic template for the cover to help the author find an exciting image that actually fits that format.  I usually make a Powerpoint slide with the template on it and lay it over my sample cover images.
Right now, I have three books out by Arcadia including Camp Bullis thus week, one in production, and maybe two more running around in my head.  I believe history, particularly local history, is important in describing who we are.  And it takes effort on the part of local history-minded people to capture the stories and images.  Arcadia Publishing takes the drudgery out of doing local history.  I encourage local historians, historical societies, and historical preservationists to try Arcadia Publishing.  You’ll be glad you did.
John Manguso at his book signing at Books-A-Million in 2013 with his first book, Fort Sam Houston

Biographical Sketch of John Manguso
John Manguso was born in Brooklyn.  His family moved to Florida when he was eight.  He graduated from the University of Florida with his BA and a commission in the Army in 1967.  He served eight years on active duty including a tour in Vietnam.  He got his MA degree from the University of Florida in 1977.  He served as director of the Fort Sam Houston Museum for thirty-three years.  Concurrently, he served in the Army Reserve, as a historian and an Arts, Monuments, and Archives Officer.  After retiring from the Museum, he volunteers there on Saturdays.  He serves on the Board of Directors of Preservation Fort Sam Houston, Inc., a 501(c)(3) education organization and manages their Stilwell House, a restored Victorian-era set of quarters.  He has written four books on the Armed Forces in San Antonio.