Monday, October 31, 2011

Blatant Promotion — The Rebirth and Design of the Deets Shanahan Series

The first Deets Shanahan novel, the Stone Veil, had a great launch back in 1990. The New York Times said the “pragmatic investigator makes a good first impression.” The book was a finalist in a national best first novel competition and was nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America. The hardback went into a second printing and was optioned for a movie.

Yet, the Stone Veil was never released in paperback, never hit the mass market.

Time went on. So did Shanahan though the series — after a considerable sabbatical after Book Four — switched from a New York publisher to one in London for Book Five. That same publisher, Severn House, has published the Shanahans since then, including Bullet Beach, the tenth in the series, earlier this year. The publication of the hardback was followed by trade paperback and e-book editions. But what about the beginning? What about those early Shanahans? A couple of them had paperback incarnations — one in Italian. That one made me a millionaire (in lire). But they have been out-of-print for years.

Working with designers Dennis Gallagher and John Sullivan at Visual Strategies in their studio in San Francisco’s legendary North Beach, we decided to get not just the first book back in print and on e-book, we decided to reissue the first four cases, which includes Steel Web, Iron Glove and Concrete Pillow, none available in e-book until now. To do this I formed a new publishing company, Life Death and Fog Books, and the designers recreated these books inside and out. As we did, we decided to go against conventional publishing wisdom and not only release all four of the early Shanahans at once, but number them.

The modest marketing campaign will emphasize the notion of reading the Shanahan series “from the beginning.” The reason, frustrating to readers, that publishers prefer not to let you in on which books came first, second, and so on, is that if book three is the only one on the shelf, the reader might pass it up in order to read them in order. They do this even though usually, as is the case with the Shanahans, one can read them and enjoy them out of order. What a reader might miss, though, are subtle changes in the backstory. However, with much of the ordering coming off the Internet one way or another, all the books are always available? Why not let the readers control what they read and when? So we made it easy.

We’re also sending Deets Shanahan out into the broader reader public by making the books available and affordable in both print and electronic formats. Start with Book One, the Stone Veil, a book Publishers Weekly called, “Intricate, lusty, funny, moving adventure about believably vulnerable characters,” and read all four of the early Shanahans, from the beginning.

Update: At this moment, ebooks are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, which has the trade paperback as well. Soon to be available from iBook.

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