A message from JD Franx

Novelspot Talks to Zumaya Publications

For those who aren't familiar with Zumaya Press, how would you define yourself?

Zumaya Publications was one of the first small presses to develop the digital business model. Although ebooks had been available from small publishers from 1996 on, it wasn’t until on-demand printing technology was developed that publishers could begin offering print books without the need to invest thousands of dollars in a print run.

For that reason, Zumaya could take a chance on authors and books the established publishers wouldn’t even look at. We could publish what we liked to read, and what other people told us they loved but could never find enough of.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to become a publisher?

It didn’t. I was taken on as an editor by the founders of the company in 2002, and at the end of the year they asked me to become a partner. In 2006, operations moved from Canada to Texas, and two years later my sister, niece and I bought the company outright.

As a writer, how do you manage to create a balance between writing and publishing? Are there conflicts and if so, how
do you resolve them?

Writing has taken a back seat to the publishing for the last five years or so, although I hope to be able to change that. In the meantime, I do keep my skills honed by doing reviews and working on nonfiction pieces.

What inspires you to write/publish?

I’ve loved books from the time I memorized the Little Golden Books my mother read to me and “read” them to my baby sister. It’s less a question of inspiration and more one of simply loving good stories that are well-written. With the publishing, it’s giving those stories a chance to find an audience, and with the writing it’s giving voice to all the people who live in my head.

Over the years, what would you say your vision of Zumaya Press has changed?

It hasn’t, really. The goal is still to provide authors with a path to readers, and readers the best experience of storytelling we can manage. We’ve expanded that to include illustrated and graphic novels, and we hope to launch the Zumaya Fabled Ink imprint in 2016. We wanted to support that goal in the most environmentally friendly manner we can, which is why we use on-demand printing (no waste of unsold copies) and don’t accept returns (cutting down on transportation/shipping). It means not having access to most bookstores, but if that’s the price of doing what we can for the planet, so be it.

Does a bad review affect your writing?
You can’t please everyone. Does it annoy me when a reviewer downgrades a book and gives no better reason than “I didn’t like it”? Of course. We can’t improve unless we know where improvement is needed. Do we lose sleep over it? No. In fact, I’d be more concerned about a book that, based on reviews, was apparently flawless, because that’s just not possible.

How would you advise your younger self?
Learn as much as you can about as much as you can. Read widely, even if the subject matter isn’t necessarily one that’s immediately interesting. Study people—look, listen, observe, and appreciate all the many unique creatures we are.

What would you define a true Zumaya Press author?
How do you define any author—someone who can tell a good story and has taken the time to learn how to do it effectively. Someone with enthusiasm not just for the writing but for what comes after, and a strong desire to share their stories with others.

Are you looking for any particular submissions at this time?
We’re always open for submissions in all imprints, although we would like to see more LGBTQ books, including YA and middle grade. We only publish a few new authors every year, and those who query us need to be aware it will be at least a year before their book comes out, if accepted.

cover: 

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Have a nice week ahead!
Best,

Hard at work reading a novel for review. Almost done. Can't say it was my favorite book, though, but it was well written in many ways.

Anyway, back to work on that and finishing my latest nonfiction book. This one is on time travel, is due in two weeks for Permuted Press/Simon & Schuster!

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