The following is an interview with Steve Emecz, Managing Director at MX Publishing headquartered in London, England. One of our resident scholars,
Dr. Marino Alvarez, has published a book with MX (February 2012). We thought it might be good to contact Mr. Emecz and let him tell us about MX Publishing in his own words. Marino tells us that Emecz has been a most delightful publisher to work with, acting on all the information sent by “Professor” Alvarez in a timely manner. I use “Professor” here because the book title is A Professor Reflects on Sherlock Holmes. We have a link to the book at MX Publishing ~here~
Plugs & Dottles: MX Publishing is among the world’s largest publishers of Sherlock Holmes books. What impact has this market made on your company?
Steve Emecz: Sherlock Holmes books have impacted us in several ways. Firstly, it’s brought a lot of enjoyment. It's a great genre to work in as everyone involved, from the authors to the bloggers, fan sites to podcasts, are so passionate about Holmes and Conan Doyle. Secondly, it has expanded our author base, especially in the USA. We have taken on a couple of dozen new authors in 2011, and around half of them are from the USA. Finally, it has given us a nice focus in terms of fiction --- Holmes is a really specific area, but with a lot of depth to it. I also think it is a great long-term area to focus on. Holmes has been popular for a century, and it will go on long into the future.
P & D: How did you first become interested in publishing Sherlock Holmes books?
SE: We were approached by Alistair Duncan, who had written his debut nonfiction book, Eliminate the Impossible, which was a brilliant and at the time slightly controversial work, and it started there. Shortly after, we gained two other historians --- Brian Pugh with his world famous Chronology of Arthur Conan Doyle and another Holmes expert, Paul Spiring, who has gone on to publish more than ten books with us. Then we soon were approached with fiction, and that's when things really took off.
P & D: MX publishes Sherlock Holmes books in several types of genres. What kinds of books do you believe have the most marketability for your readers?
SE: That's an easy one: pastiches. Whilst the historical works, like our 2011 Howlett Literary Award (Sherlock Holmes Book of the Year) winning The Norwood Author, bring us new and valuable information on the creator of Sherlock Holmes, it is the new fiction stories that sell the strongest. Pastiche novels are popular, in all types from traditional to fantasy, but the short story collections are the bestsellers. Tony Reynolds' epic Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes sells by the thousand, and Gerard Kelly's Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes isn't far behind. They are very traditional and very similar to the original canon, and that is probably their enduring appeal.
P & D: MX Publishing provided a forum in November for a worldwide online debate that took place with Holmes actors, producers, podcasts, bloggers, and fans from 23 countries. Upon reflection, what are your impressions about this forum and its effect on the viewers and listeners a month later?
SE: The global debate was a huge undertaking and took months of preparation. It has introduced a whole new way for fans to interact, and since we have had a second smaller debate where the audience itself took part. We're delighted with the thousands of new connections it’s made, especially with the podcasts, fan sites, and bloggers. We've tried out several new technologies --- from the webinar system for the debates themselves, to the greatsherlockholmesdebate site where all the slides, presentations, and recordings are available.
Facebook of course has been useful for fans to interact (Facebook page), and we have small debates planned monthly, with hopefully a large one every quarter. It was also great to be able to help raise awareness for the Save Undershaw campaign, something that many of the participants feel very strongly about. Global participation is very important, especially with the emergence of eBooks. We have fans from more than 30 countries downloading eBook versions of our books (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks and other versions) so it wasn't too much of a surprise to see fans from Japan, China, Singapore, and 20 more countries join in the debates. Of course ultimately it was a great showcase for our authors --- in particular Charlotte Walters, whose debut novel Barefoot on Baker Street and her wonderful “56 Sherlock Holmes Stories in 56 Days” challenge (she reviewed every short story in the canon daily for 56 days) was the inspiration that triggered the debate.
P & D: Have you in mind the kind of person who comes to MX to find books? And are your books only marketed online?
SE: The kind of person that comes to MX for books is someone who wants more,Holmes --- as simple as that. There were only 56 short stories and 4 novels in the canon, but Holmes fans have a huge appetite for new material.
MX titles are available through the major distributors around the world, making them accessible through the main bookstore chains such as Barnes and Noble in the USA and Waterstones in the UK. Whilst an increasing number of our sales (about 30%) are eBooks, the majority remain paperbacks sold through major bookstore chains and indeed independent bookshops --- like for instance the Mystery Bookshop in New York.
P & D: What specific comments have you about Professor Alvarez’s book recently published?
SE: Marino's devotion to and love of Holmes comes through in what is quite a remarkable book. I draw parallels with Dan Andriacco's Baker Street Beat, which the Sherlock Holmes Society of London commented was like having a drink with an old Holmesian friend, and I get the same feeling with this book --- although this book is more scholarly. It's a collection of different elements that demonstrate both the in-depth knowledge and reverence for Holmes that Professor Alvarez has. My favorite section is the one that covers his trips to the Reichenbach Falls and Oxford University --- wonderful. It makes you want to follow in his footsteps. It also contains sparkles of Marino's wit and charm, which those lucky enough to be in his local scion get to experience firsthand.
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