To publish one book is an accomplishment. To publish three—all at the same time—is nothing short of a miracle. But that’s exactly what David Flanagan, adman extraordinaire and Land Park-based author, did this summer.
“Ideas just started pouring out of me,” says Flanagan, whose name probably sounds familiar. He co-founded ad agency Crocker Flanagan and has since started others, including his current brand and marketing agency Misfit, which boasts clients like Old Sacramento, Visit Sacramento and Sacramento International Airport.
“Before I knew it, I had all three ready at once. It’s like the adage that you eat an elephant one bite at a time—if you look at the size and scope of what lies in front of you, it’s mindboggling. But then you take one little step, then another. You build momentum and confidence and then you’ve accomplished something.”
The three books couldn’t be more different, which fits Flanagan’s myriad interests well. “Killing the Goose,” his first fiction thriller, is a supernatural mystery that revolves around the murder of a 1960s rocker in an effort to boost record sales. His second book, “Rudder: Strategic Brand Clarity,” is a business tome based on insights gleaned from building several local ad agencies and brands for hundreds of companies.
The third book is the most personal. “To Walk Among Gravestones” stems from his struggles with alcohol, which led him to a job raking leaves at the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery and pondering the lives of those buried within.
“I was feeling sad for myself,” he admits. “But when I started researching those who were dead and buried there, I realized that my life is butter. I can turn it around and get back on my feet.”
The Sacramento native did just that, with three manuscripts to show for it and several more—plus a screenplay—to come. When it came time to publish his work, Flanagan quickly realized that the process wasn’t as intimidating as he’d imagined.
“I tried the traditional publishing route, but it was like banging my head on cement,” Flanagan says. “I gave up and my work sat on a shelf for 15 years. Not long ago, I was preparing for a speaking engagement and was asked if I wanted to sell ‘Rudder’ at the event. It wasn’t done, so I finished it in a mad rush during Christmas and self-published it in time for the event. After getting over the publishing hurdles the first time, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared—no monsters in the closet. So, for the other two books, I just put on my pants and did it again.”
To get those books into readers’ hands, Flanagan hosted a launch party at Misfit, which he said was “extremely well-attended, which blew my mind.” Efforts to place the books in local independent bookstores didn’t go as well, but that opened the door to an even more inventive solution. In July, Flanagan’s books were on display at Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters in East Sac. For every book sold, Flanagan treated the patron to coffee. It was a “totally Sacramento” way of doing business.
Today, Flanagan is focusing on bringing his other ideas to fruition, as well as running Misfit and being a dad to six children and husband to wife Karin, to whom he’s been married “for 100 years.”
Now that the floodgates are open, it appears there’s no stopping his authorial output. “I started telling myself to make up my mind and decide what genre I would write in,” Flanagan says.
“But I’ve come to this peaceful place of not asking myself that question anymore. I have a weird life—I run a business, I’m a father, I love fiction—so I just write what comes out of me.”
Check out Flanagan’s books on Amazon or at dmichaelflanagan.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.