Steve Emecz, publisher, humanitarian and all-round nice guy IS MX Publishing. With all he accomplishes, I suspect he has some sort of device that allows him to add extra hours or even days into the space-time continuum. Each of his projects would be a full-time job for lesser mortals, but Steve balances them all with apparent ease, and gives each one equal passion.
I had the pleasure of meeting him last year when he come to Dublin. We may have shared a drop. Or two…
Let’s start with an easy one. Tell us about yourself.
I was born and live in London and have spent around twenty years working in technology and the last ten years (it’s MX’s tenth birthday on 1st November) publishing books – the last eight publishing Sherlock Holmes books – around 230 so far. I’m married to Sharon (we’ve been together 25 years) and we have four cats (Rosie, Simba, Tahlula and of course Sherlock). We run MX alongside our day jobs as a ‘not-for-profit’ (which basically means we do try and make profits so we can support a couple of big key causes). The biggest being Happy Life Childrens Rescue Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.
So, why Sherlock Holmes?
Honestly, it was a historian Alistair Duncan (who has written several brilliant books on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) who approached me with a great book called Eliminate the Impossible From there we did several more non-fiction books and then, in 2009 the first Sherlock film with RDJ was released and we started to get approaches for new Holmes fiction. Then things really snowballed from there.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Knowing that every day is different and there will be something new, unexpected and exciting pretty much each day. Being involved with the project in Kenya has very much changed our perspective on life – especially on what we in developed countries consider ‘tough / hard / stressful’.
What does a typical day look for you?
By day I work in ‘fintech’ (financial technology) so a typical day for me is either out with customers/prospects or internally with the team working on our latest technology product. I spend about an hour in the morning before work on MX and another hour in the evening when I get home.
Every time I look up, you’re in a different country. Which is your favourite and why?
Kenya. Africa is such a beautiful place and the people so welcoming. It’s very close to my wife Sharon and I as we spend every Christmas out at Happy Life. Last year we ended up writing a book about it called The Happy Life Story
What do you look for in a manuscript?
Increasingly it’s the authors passion and determination to get involved with their fans. It’s becoming tougher to market books without the online presence of the author. Holmes books are a niche, they’re not mass market so it’s vital that authors engage with the fan base as there’s a lot of choice out there.
So, you’ve read the manuscript and decide to publish it. What happens next?
We have a process with about a hundred steps in it, from preparing the files, the marketing plan. Whilst the publishing process has become more streamlined, the options are growing every month. We’re also getting increasing success with licensing including audio so we are expanding in that area.
What’s the one thing you wish all writers knew?
That in todays’ world, the author is the brand and all the time invested in growing the authors social media footprint, their following, really helps establish the author and grow their sales.
You’re the most visible face of MX books, but who is on your team and what do they do?
There’s three of us. My wife Sharon is the marketing director and she helps with the brand and promotion. Timi is our support person who does pretty much everything else you can imagine.
What have you learned since you started publishing Sherlock Holmes books that you did not know before?
I could probably write a book about it (hey, that’s an idea…). I’ve learnt a lot about Conan Doyle and the fandom in particular.
MX is supporting Undershaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home where he wrote “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and many others. What can you tell us about the project?
We’ve been involved for about seven years with the protection and restoration of the building. Most recently, the house has been bought by Stepping Stones School and the new school will open its door on September 9th. The latest project is The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories. It’s a collection that started with three volumes of traditional stories, originally planned to be about thirty which grew to a new world record of 60 stories – all by different authors, all traditional and edited by David Marcum. There’s been so much demand for the collection, and wonderful reviews that it’s continuing with Volume IV coming out on 22nd May. All the authors are donating their royalties to Stepping Stones. Volumes V and VI are also underway for Christmas and next May.