Andrew Vachss is a practicing attorney specializing in child abuse cases, who also happens to write bestselling crime novels. And beginning this fall he will don yet another hat -- that of publisher -- when he and a small group of investors publish The Beggars' Shore, a first novel by Zak Mucha and the initial release from Vachss's new publishing venture, Red 71 Press.

Vachss, whose latest novel, A Choice of Evil, was recently published by Knopf, told PW that the press is an effort to publish those writers who "don't even have a chance to get in the ring." It was reading Mucha's manuscript that motivated Vachss to put the project in gear. Vachss calls Mucha, a freelance writer and furniture mover in Chicago, "an important voice in American literature," His novel focuses on a young man raised in an urban religious commune who leaves that cloistered world disillusioned and falls in among the drug dealers and hustlers of the Chicago underworld.

Red 71 Press is named after a short story by 1940s pulp writer Paul Cain. Vachss describes the press as "a collective. There are no titles." He is joined in the venture by freelance marketing specialist Lou Bank of Ten Angry Pitbulls and a number of unidentified "silent" investors. Although The Beggars' Shore was the catalyst, both Vachss and Bank emphasize that Red 71 Press will publish other books, perhaps two or three a year.

The book will be published in October in trade paperback; distribution is by Chicago's Independent Publishers Group. Bank called Red 71 Press "a real Chicago book operation," noting that Chicago media is "already giving us a lot of attention." There will be a Web site ( and the press is lining up bookstore appearances for Mucha.

"I talked to Sonny Mehta, my editor at Knopf, about the mechanics, economics and philosophy of publishing," said Vachss. "Writers complain about publishing all the time, but I decided to put up and become a player."