Friday, July 2, 2010

Six Questions for Steve Gillis, Co-Founder/Publisher and Dan Wickett, Co-Founder/Executive Director/Publisher, Dzanc Books (DB)

From the website:

"Dzanc Books was created in 2006 to advance great writing and champion those writers who don't fit neatly into the marketing niches of for-profit presses. As a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, Dzanc Books not only publishes excellent books of literary fiction, but works in partnership with literary journals to advance their readership at every level. Dzanc is also fully committed to developing educational programs in the schools and has begun organizing many such workshops and Writers In Residency programs." Learn more here.

SQF: According to a report by Foner Books (, “[g]rowth stagnated for booksellers in 2008, and overall book sales barely moved according to the government.” In addition, I’ve read a number of articles concerning the difficulty authors are having securing book deals. In your opinion, what is the current state of the print book market?

DB: The print book market is certainly in a state of flux. While print books will always remain, the ebook is surely gathering speed. All publishers -- Dzanc included -- are moving into ebook publishing. It is the sport of the future. We publish our print books and will continue to do so, but are starting to offer all our books electronically as well. As technology improves -- the Kindle and like machines -- the availability of print books may shrink more, with stores employing print-on-demand machines so a book can be printed on site (the technology for this is there as well), thus limiting the need for printing a large number of books beforehand, speculating and warehousing books, and using distributors as we now know them.  

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?

DB: Good writing. Good writing. And lastly, good writing.

SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?

DB: Cover letters from hell. Don’t sell us your book. The book must sell itself. Introduce yourself and move on. We will read your manuscript. The book alone is what sells. We have never said, well the book is terrible but what a great cover letter, let’s publish the book. A few short lines in a letter is more than enough. 

SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?

DB: That depends on how you define unpublished. We have authors who have never published a book-- novel or collection -- who have published stories and such. Right now I would say we have a good 50% of first book book authors, but all have some sort of track record. 

SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?

DB: Learn how to write. Become as good a writer as you can be. Work hard and then harder and then harder still. Make sacrifices for your art. The rest will take care of itself. There are places to publish if your work is good. Do your homework. Read and read and read some more. Make contacts. If you want to be a writer, you shouldn’t think of it as a career move, you should think of it as your life.

SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?

DB: Am I [Steve] really better looking than my author/facebook photo?  Sadly, no.

Thank you, Steve and Dan. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 7/7--Six Questions for Sandra Kasturi, Co-Publisher, ChiZine Publications

No comments:

Post a Comment