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Al Regnery Discusses the Future of Conservative Book Publishing

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

It was a pleasant October autumn evening. Not a cold spell or cloud was in sight.

After finishing up some D.C. meetings, I headed to the famed University Club in downtown to attend the launch party of a new conservative publishing house called Republic Book Publishers.

It was there I spotted the likes of former Attorney General and 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, Jeff Sessions, and current Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, among attendees. Par for the course for Washington, D.C., events. I also spotted some Twitter connections and caught up with some past associates from my time at Leadership Institute.

During the course of the evening, I was introduced to Alfred S. Regnery— veteran conservative publisher, author, and lawyer. Many fellow young conservatives may not be too familiar with his family, but this one is. After all his father, Henry Regnery, launched the present-day Regnery Publishing in 1947. It is perhaps best known for publishing William F. Buckley’s important work, God and Men at Yale, and making bestsellers out of many contemporary conservative pundits.

The younger Regnery authored Upstream (2008) and oversaw the namesake publishing house from 1986 to 2003 before it was sold to Eagle Publishing. Today, it’s an imprint of Salem Media Group. His tenure produced 23 bestsellers.

Just before Christmas, I was able to sit down with Mr. Regnery at an office just outside Old Town Alexandria in Northern Virginia to learn more about the goals of the publishing house.

Republic Book Publishers, he noted, was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization similar to Daily Caller’s model, saying it’s “not uncommon but can be done.” So far, it’s gathered a fair amount of donations and is expected to raise more money in the upcoming year.

Regnery tells me he launched Republic Book Publishers with fellow veteran publisher Eric Kampmann (Vice President and Chief Operating Officer). Per Mr. Kampmann’s biography, he has dedicated 45 years to book distribution, marketing and sales—with notable stints at The Viking Press and at Simon & Schuster.

Their goal, Regnery says, is to publish a dozen books in the coming year. According to a recent press release, Republic Book Publishers said their goal is to eventually publish two to three titles monthly.

As of this writing, the organization has signed up nine books so far with many titles in the talking phase.

“Our initial theory was that we’re publishing right-of-center books,” said Regnery. “A good many of them will be.” He added that a handful of signed authors, for example, aren’t conservative.

A key focus of this conservative imprint, Regnery said, it to help more up-and-coming writers, especially center-right Millennials, get discovered.

“There are people that need that break and that need to have more than a self-published book,” he explained.

The more established publishing houses, like Simon & Schuster and Penguin Books, will only take on conservatives with large platforms. They will occasionally take on rising conservative newsmakers, but usually don’t since they are risk averse.

Regnery added books make a significant cultural and political impact by shaping public opinion, as many conservative and libertarians books did in the mid-1940’s—a turning point in American politics. Coming off of the heels of the Great Depression and World War II, the country had been predominantly progressive.

“After WWII there really wasn’t any such thing as a conservative movement,” he added. “The country was liberal. Liberalism had gotten us out of the Depression and it won WWII. And you had the communist business start. Conservatives coalesced around communism as the enemy.”

Curiously, I also asked him what makes a great book proposal.

“You need enough to say,” he responded. “You want something that’s reasonably succinct, that tells the story, tells why you are the person to write this book.”

He emphasized to me that a prospective author must convince the publisher they’re the right person to write the book. An author, he added, must demonstrate writing prowess, why they are a subject matter expert, and how they can sell their final product well.

He said a successful book usually is on viable topic that hasn’t been explored or written about much. Individual books could cost publishers $50,000. Regnery added, so the title must sell to make up for the difference.

He also noted many submissions are error-prone saying, “You’d be surprised how many proposals have misspellings and bad grammar.”

One book Republic Book Publishing has taken an interest in is a novel about Abraham Lincoln. Interestingly enough, more books published today center around the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln—just after Jesus Christ. Regnery says fiction books like this are unique and can sell well, if the author plays their cards right.

Current titles for Resurgent readers to check out include: The Case Against Single Payer by Chris Jacobs and upcoming titles include Aftermath by Alec Klein and The Decline of Nations by Joseph Johnston, Jr. While most of the books are non-fiction, there will be a handful of fiction books published under the Republic Book Publishers banner.

Learn more about Republic Book Publishers by visiting their website and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

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