On March 8, in front of a standing-room-only crowd at D.C.’s Politics and Prose bookstore, New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak spoke with lawyer and journalist David Lat about Lat’s debut novel, Supreme Ambitions, about a Yale Law School graduate who hopes that her clerkship in California will pave the way for one with the U.S. Supreme Court. It may not sound like typical fare from the American Bar Association, better known for releases like April’s 15th Annual Tax Planning Strategies—U.S. and Europe. But the novel kicks off a new imprint and a new strategy for the association’s publication division.
ABA Publishing formed the trade imprint Ankerwycke in an effort to highlight its more consumer-friendly offerings. (Ankerwycke, distributed by NBN, will publish nonfiction, business, and consumer legal lines in addition to fiction.) Tim Brandhorst, the ABA’s director of new product development and Ankerwycke’s editorial director, describes the imprint’s marketing plan as twofold. First, it will rely on “many of the same approaches other trade publishers use to reach retailers, librarians, and readers.” This includes advertising in trade publications, as well as in genre-specific periodicals like Strand Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine; outreach to mystery and legal thriller blogs; Goodreads giveaways; and a presence at BEA, ALA, and the regionals.
Second, Brandhorst points out an advantage Ankerwycke has over most other independent publishers: access via direct mail and email to the more than 500,000 lawyers who are either ABA members or who have purchased legal books from the ABA in the past.
That membership base is likely to be the biggest audience for books like Supreme Ambitions, which came out in December 2014. Three novels are scheduled for 2015, with plans for the imprint to publish anywhere from four to eight works of fiction in 2016.
The newly released Courtship, a romantic drama with an ambitious lawyer as a lead character, marks the fiction debut of veteran Beltway attorney Ron Goldfarb, writing under the pseudonym of R.L. Sommer. August brings Lindsay Cameron’s BigLaw, which Brandhorst describes as “The Devil Wears Prada meets One L.” The final novel for 2015 is Jay Wexler’s Tuttle in the Balance (Dec.), which Brandhorst calls “a Christopher Buckley–style romp about a Supreme Court justice having a midlife crisis.”