All the agents and editors who come to Killer Nashville are looking for new authors. We make sure of that before they are invited. Sometimes, though, we see a new house that is incredibly hungry. And, for us, that’s a good thing. In our Guest Blog – which in this case is more a question and answer – Bryon Quertermous, commissioning editor for Exhibit A Books (distributed through Random House), sits down with us for a little one-on-one to build the excitement as we move forward to when he arrives at Killer Nashville this August looking for new literary talent. I’m hoping everyone who reads this will come to our FREE AGENT / EDITOR ROUNDTABLES at Killer Nashville, meet Bryon and our other acquiring agents, publishers, and editors, and maybe – like so many before – get up from the table with an editor or agent interested in acquiring your next book. Thanks Bryon for talking with us. And so the excitement builds…
Founder of Killer Nashville
Bryon Quertermous: In an effort to help spread the word about our phenomenal new crime fiction imprint, Exhibit A Books, and to help me find the next generation of crime writers, I’ll be attending the Killer Nashville conference this August. To help those who aren’t familiar with myself or Exhibit A Books, I sat down with Killer Nashville organizers to answer some questions.
Killer Nashville: Welcome, Bryon. Let’s start with a little bit about Exhibit A books. What can you tell me about the imprint?
BQ: Exhibit A is the crime fiction imprint from Angry Robot Books. Our aim with Exhibit A is simple: one look and you’re hooked. Whether it’s a hard hitting procedural, shocking psychological mystery, international noir tale or something entirely new, this is an ethos we’re running right through from our acquisitions strategy to our eye-catching marketing strategies, covers and distinctive branding. Exhibit A is the new focal point for compelling fiction in the crime fiction community. We’re looking for authors who are not only great writers, but great ambassadors for the Exhibit A imprint, with a solid emphasis on fostering close relationships between authors and readers and producing books that can be enjoyed by all readers from fans of Castle to life-long historians of the genre.
KN: Tell us me about your background as an editor. Is it something you’ve always wanted to do or did you fall into it?
BQ: Editing is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was the editor of my college newspaper and college literary magazine because I love finding new writers and encouraging them and sharing their work. After college, I spent a year in New York City working for Random House with their crime fiction and science fiction imprints before deciding I hated being poor in the city and moved back to Michigan. Since then, I’ve worked whatever editorial jobs I could find, including starting my own award-winning crime fiction magazine Demolition, which I ran for four years. I also worked as a freelance editor and as an editor with Harlequin’s digital-first imprint Carina Press.
KN: What are you looking for in a submission?
BQ: There are a lot of things that go into getting my attention with a project, but the most important of those is a cool, engaging voice. I can help an author fix a plot or make characters better, but if an author doesn’t have a compelling voice I’ll have to pass. Aside from that, I’m also looking for authors who get what we’re trying to do with Exhibit A and want to be part of our family. We like to try new things and challenge some of the traditional publishing status quo so authors who are eager and inventive really get us excited.
KN: So many small presses don’t have the ability to pay advances or get their books into major stores. Is that a problem for Exhibit A books?
BQ: Far from it. We do pay advances and have a very generous royalty structure to get more money to the author faster. We’re distributed by Random House in the US, which gets us on the shelves at major chains such as Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million among others, including prime placement with online booksellers and promotions such as Kindle Daily Deals.
KN: What do you say to a writer who says, “I had a friend who made a million dollars self-publishing his book. Why should I send my book to you if I can do it myself and keep all of the money?”
BQ: As I said before, we’re looking for authors who want to be partners with us. Some authors are also great at business, great at design and packaging, and great at promotion. Other authors either don’t have these skills, or don’t have the time or money to put into publishing their own books. We offer a stable of professional editors, cover designers, production geniuses, and publicity and sales staff to help our authors. We take on the risk and the upfront aspects of publishing and let the authors concentrate on the part they’re the best at: writing great books. But we do realize we’re in a new and exciting environment and work with our authors to broaden their exposure. We don’t do non-compete clauses, and we encourage our authors to self-publish books that might not fit our mission and to publish with other traditional publishers if they choose for other projects.
KN: How do you pronounce your last name?
BQ: Kwuh TER Muss. Like Thermos.
KN: Thank you, Bryon. I know our attendees are looking forward to meeting you in August!
Bryon Quertermous was born and raised in Michigan. His short stories have appeared in Plots With Guns, Thuglit, and Crime Factory among others, and in the anthologies Hardcore Hardboiled, The Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories, and Uncage Me. In 2003 he was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger Award from the UK Crime Writers Association. He currently lives outside of Detroit with his wife and two kids and is the commissioning editor for Angry Robot’s crime fiction imprint Exhibit A Books. His first novel, Murder Boy, will be published by Polis Books in 2014.
(To be a part of the Killer Nashville Guest Blog, send a query to email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.)