March 12, 2019
Macmillan doubles down on true crime
by Michael Seidlinger
Macmillan has announced the inclusion of another piece of programming for their ever-growing list of literary podcasts, and this time it’s true crime. Calvin Reid reports for Publishers Weekly that Case Closed highlights in-depth true crime stories, similar to popular true crime podcasts like Serial or Casefile, stressing cases that have been solved. In eight weekly episodes, the aim here is to leave the listener “feeling satisfied—no frustrating cliffhangers or ambiguous endings.”
Hosted by St. Martin’s Press executive editor Charles Spicer, the first season went live in January and is based on Shanna Hogan’s Secrets of a Marine’s Life. Next up, airing April 2nd, the podcast will point its lens on the 2015 book, Crazy for You: The True Story of a Family Man’s Murder, a Wife’s Secret, and a Deadly Obsession. If you’re seeing a trend here, it’s because the programming for Case Closed will feature, as Spicer described to Reid, “high profile, big-publicity cases,” all of which are frontlist titles being published in St. Martin’s True Crime Library.
For those well-versed in their true crime, the name “True Crime Library” rings a bell. In the 1980s, the series was an industry leader. Macmillan hopes to regain traction. Spicer said to Reid that in recent years, “there’s been a resurgence in the category thanks to podcasts such as Serial and streaming TV series such as The Jinx and Making a Murderer.” Interesting to note is how Spicer looks at the podcast, and similar forms of programming, as “lead-ins”—or marketing draws and attention grabbers—for book publications.
With the competition high and readers’ attention low, publishers are being forced to produce content that surrounds and tangentially “adds” to a book’s ability to draw an audience. Does this mean podcasts are the answer? No, but it’s an idea, an attempt, and an ingredient to a solution that remains unsolved.
Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.