After reading my previous post, someone asked me:
I’m curious — without getting into specifics of which publishing house
and such, what were some of the reasons cited for any potential deal
being killed? Were they just nervous about bringing out a book that’s very
Here’s the jacket copy, describing what THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE is about:
Harvey Mapes is a twenty-nine-year-old security guard who spends his nights in a guard shack outside a gated community in Southern California, reading detective novels, watching TVLand reruns, and waiting for his life to finally start . . . which happens when Cyril Parkus, one of the wealthy residents, asks Harvey to follow his beautiful wife Lauren.
The lowly security guard jumps at the opportunity to fulfill his private eye fantasies and use everything he’s learned from Spenser, Magnum, and Mannix. But things don’t exactly go according to the books . . . or the reruns.
As Harvey fumbles and stumbles through his first investigation, he discovers that the differences between fiction and reality can be deadly.
With the help of his mortgage-broker neighbor and occasional lover Carol, Harvey uncovers a
blackmail plot that takes a sudden and unexpectedly tragic turn . . . plunging him into a world of violence, deception, and murder . . . and forcing him to discover what it really takes to be a private eye.
So many editors liked it and were enthusiastic about it. I can’t tell you
how many times I celebrated, certain we’d just sold it… and then, the
committee would weigh in. The biggest problem the "committees" had with the book was
how to categorize it. Is it a mystery? Is it a satire? Is it too dark? Is it too funny? Is it a PI novel or…what, exactly?
Some found it too funny and not dark enough…and humor doesn’t sell. (Let’s not mention Carl Hiaasen or Janet Evanovich, shall we?) Some found it too dark and not broad enough for a comedy (I found out the hard way how badly broad, comic novels sell… I refer you to MY GUN HAS BULLETS and BEYOND THE BEYOND). Some found it too much of a private eye novel…and PI novels aren’t selling. Some found it not enough of a private eye novel… because PI novels are really selling. And some didn’t think the story was "big" enough, whatever the hell that means.
But ultimately, I guess it wasn’t an easy book to fit into any pre-set genre or category. We came soooo close at a couple of major houses…but, alas, it was not to be. But the process ate up two years.
That said, I am very happy to be at Five Star. As you can see from LITTLE GIRL LOST, MEMORIAL DAY and ASK A DEAD MAN, they are putting out some terrific books (and finally getting the wider notice they deserve). And they’re not just doing mysteries, either…they also have robust romance and western lines as well.