Friday, November 23, 2012

Six Questions for Tom Vater, Publisher, Crime Wave Press

As of 10/21/13: "Crime Wave Press is now open to reading manuscripts from all other exotic locations around the world and will no longer publish only Asian-based crime fiction."

Founded in 2012 with acclaimed publisher Hans Kemp of Visionary World, Crime Wave Press publishes a range of crime fiction - from whodunits to Noir and Hardboiled, from historical mysteries to espionage thrillers, from literary crime to pulp fiction, from highly commercial page turners to marginal texts exploring Asia’s dark underbelly. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Crime Wave Press is a new venture. What does the company offer authors that other presses don't?

TV: Crime Wave Press is the only crime fiction imprint in Asia. We offer a niche in a crowded market and we have the necessary know-how. Co-founder Hans Kemp has more than a decade experience as a successful publisher working in Asia, while I have worked in the region as a writer for 15 years. As such we bring great business and editorial skills to the table. We both have a passion for good crime fiction, and we can offer a more personal and knowledgeable service than larger publishers might. 

Countless writers self publish these days and some have asked us what we can provide that they can’t do themselves. Generally, I find that writers want to write. And if they are good at it, they might not be as good at designing a cover, editing, getting distribution, selling rights and generating PR. Crime Wave Press does all those things. Of course we can’t compete with the financial muscle behind large publishing houses but we provide a platform for professional writers so that they can get on with what they presumably do best, which is to write more books. 

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

TV: Apart from great stories, riveting, original plots and unique voices? We look for a wide range of crime fiction - from whodunits to Noir and Hardboiled, from historical mysteries to espionage thrillers, from literary crime to pulp fiction, from highly commercial page turners to marginal texts exploring Asia’s dark underbelly. 

The manuscripts we seek have to be almost print ready. That means they have to be professionally written and more or less edited. Furthermore, the story has to touch us in some way, and we have to be reasonably sure that we can sell the book to our target audience.

SQF: What will turn you off to a manuscript?

TV: We get turned off when authors don’t follow the straightforward submission guidelines posted on our website. Crime Fiction is often political – Chester Himes and James Elroy are great examples of writers with political agendas. We get turned off by crime fiction that is overtly right wing. This could be construed as a strong political stance on our part, but it really is not. Though it does hopefully indicate that we truly care about what we publish and that this goes beyond commercial considerations.

SQF: How many books do you plan to publish in a year?

TV: We plan to publish ten titles in this coming year IF we find enough good material. Our third title – Dead Sea, a thriller set in the Philippines - will be on the market in late September. But we do not have a rigid publishing schedule. We are very careful in our selection process. It is too early to tell what percentage of received manuscripts we end up publishing, but judging by early submissions, it’s unlikely to be more than one in ten. 

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

TV: It’s a long road to getting a crime novel published. Learning to write is a bit like learning a language. It’s a skill.  Practice all the time. Write a thousand words a day, every day. Or more. Write in different disciplines. Write articles or travelogues or screenplays or cook books as well as fiction. If, after some years of training, you have mastered the skill and have a story to tell, then sit down and write it as best as you see fit. Then try to sell it. That could take time (it took me almost 5 years to get my first novel published). And don’t expect to get rich or even to be able to make a living overnight. The competition is immense. I have published some 15 books. Some of them sold well, others hardly at all. I make a living from my craft but I know very few other people who are as obsessive about writing as I am. It’s really a lifetime commitment. 

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

Question: eBooks versus print? Where does Crime Wave Press stand?

Answer: All the titles we sign are published as eBooks. We decide on a case by case basis in what other formats any signed title might be published. Our second book The Cambodian Book of the Dead has just been released as a POD (print on demand). We are also considering a POD for our first title, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu, though a foreign language eBook and print edition which we have just negotiated is likely to beat us to it. Crime Wave Press feels that this flexibility in selecting publication formats will allow us and our authors to get the most out of a challenging and highly competitive market.

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

NEXT POST: 11/30--Six Questions for Emily Smith-Miller, Head Editor, The Carnage Conservatory

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