The Secret Publication ~ Just How Penguin Ireland Published The Fitzpatrick Tapes

A media blitz and a front page story in the Sunday Times Ireland would almost certainly be every publishers dream publicity for a book launch weekend, but for The Fitzpatrick Tapes, by Tom Lyons and Brian Carey, Penguin Ireland took strange and impressive measures to keep word of the book from the wider world until the VERY last-minute.

This is all the more impressive an achievement given that the book has been underway since Spring 2010. How did they do it?

Systems
For instance, the book was not listed in the company’s internal systems, on Amazon or the Book Depository in advance of publication as would be normal. In fact the only sign of a forthcoming book was this page on Penguin Canada under a false title, Lions And Tigers, fake author name, James Barrington, but the correct ISBN, 9781844882601.

Online Retailers
These action have created problems for online booksellers who are now rushing to catch up with the demand for the book as Irish Publishing News covered here. So far, only the Book Depository has create an accurate page for the title though that company does not yet have copies for sale.

Bricks & Mortar
The problems created by this secrecy for the online retailers is nothing compared to the issues the secret release created on the ground for bricks and mortar book stores.

Penguin Ireland MD, Michael McLoughlin, made clear in an interview with Irish Publishing News, that the retailers were only informed of the forthcoming title on Friday, and even then, they were not told the title or the subject. Several agreed nonetheless to take copies into stores on Sunday morning.

Getting copies to bookstores on a Sunday morning required the staff at the publisher to deliver copies directly from their Stephen’s Green office rather than via a distribution company.

That was how media organisations other than The Sunday Times got their copies and press releases too (though admittedly email and PDF versions did make this process easier).

And that is how you publish secretly, keep the loop small, limit information and break cover quickly!