Crooked Lane’s Matt Martz – Interview
Crooked Lane is an awesome new publisher with a great line up of authors.
You can find them on the web here:
Jon Jordan: I would like to start by saying I love that you’ve started this great publishing house. All the hoopla about e-books taking over and print being dead being proved wrong and you pop into the midst of it with great authors in hand and wonderful looking books ready to prove that people still want good books. What made you take the leap to becoming publishers?
Matt Martz: Jon, thank you for your kind words. We really appreciate it. The idea to start Crooked Lane was quite a few years in the making. I have been working with mysteries, thrillers, and suspense titles for over a decade now. While I have been in publishing longer than that, I only found my home when I was introduced to crime fiction, and I’m very glad that I did. The authors are bunch. They work incredibly hard and are incredibly supportive of each other, and their readers are some of the most knowledgeable and generous you could possibly find. The community is terrific, and it has always been our goal to give back to it by bringing those authors and readers together.
Jon: You both have plenty of background in publishing as do most of your staff. Are there any lessons you learned along the way that are really helping you now?
Matt: As much as things change—and the publishing industry is sorting out a number of new challenges and opportunities—there are a number of underlying essentials that you can count on. The most important essential is the fact that people love stories. They love to read them, write them, listen to them, watch them, and talk about them. Stories can do a lot of things. They can entertain. They can illuminate. They can inspire. The list of all of the amazing things a story can deliver is endless. While it’s easy to get lost in the complexities of the publishing process, the guiding lights are there. They were here long before the recent changes in the industry, and they’ll be here long after. So long as a publisher helps to create stories that move people, it will be around for a long time.
Jon: From what I can tell you are publishing books for every part of the mystery world readership. Is this part of a plan or did it just work out this way?
Matt: It was definitely part of the plan. One of the greatest strength of crime fiction is its variety. There are the puzzles, the characters facing impossible moral dilemmas, and plenty of pulse-pounds action. A reader doesn’t have to look to hard to find the perfect fit for their tastes or mood. There are also rules that compel good storytelling. From arriving late and leaving early, to putting characters in situations that force them to slay their internal demons before they can catch the bad guy, crime fiction provides a structure where an author can tell a story about a serial killer or a cat, but something had better happen and it had better not be boring.
Jon: You are working with both debut authors and people who have been at this for a while. How awesome is it to let someone know they are going to be published for the first time?
Matt: Telling an author that they’re going to have their book published never gets old. For many it’s a dream that they have been working toward for years. It’s an exciting time. It’s also humbling for everyone at Crooked Lane. Authors put an incredible amount of time and effort into their work. They put a lot of themselves into their books. When they trust us enough to take that story, do right by it, and put it in the hands of the readers who will appreciate it, we’re always grateful for their faith in us.
Jon: What do you look for in a book when you consider what you are going to publish? I would imagine it is a bit different than picking out a book to take on vacation.
Matt: We’re always looking for books that will connect with a specific readership and deliver the kind of experience that those readers are hoping for. We read a lot of submissions. We also listen as thoroughly as we can to the readers’ responses to our books. Each subgenre is different, and we respect their strengths and their boundaries.Luckily, crime fiction provides a structure where an author can tell a story about a serial killer or a cat, but something had better happen and it had better not be boring.
Jon: If things go according to plan where do you see Crooked Lane in 5 years, 10 years?
Matt: We’d like to be the go-to publishing house for authors and fans of crime fiction.
Jon: What is your favorite part about working with authors?
Matt: Brainstorming new books or series. Crooked Lane’s authors are some of the most creative people I have ever met. They are on a whole different level and getting to work them at that point of the process is incredibly exciting.
Jon: What have you got coming in the near future that you are really excited about?
Matt: Crooked Lane is fortunate. We’ve got a lot to be excited about. For instance, New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is publishing Nine Lives, the first in a new traditional mystery series, at the end of October; and Margaret Mizushima is publishing her debut Killing Trail, featuring Colorado police officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo. We have high hopes for both series, and we have even more on the horizon.