Dave Zeltserman won the 2010 Shamus Award for ‘Julius Katz’ and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes was picked by NPR as one of the five best crime and mystery novels of 2008, and Small Crimes and Pariah (2009) were both picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year. His recent The Caretaker of Lorne Field received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it a ’superb mix of humor and horror’, and has been shortlisted by ALA for best horror novel of 2010. Outsourced (2011) has already been called ‘a small gem of crime fiction’ by Booklist and has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film.
His latest book is Dying Memories (StoneGate Ink).
You can visit Dave’s website at www.davezeltserman.com. Connect with him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Zeltserman/1434849193.
I’ve had a number of short stories published in magazines and anthologies, and 11 novels published. My books have also been translated so far into French, German, Italian, Dutch and Lithuanian.
Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
The first piece of fiction of mine that was published was a short story in New Mystery Magazine back in 1992. I self-published my first novel in 2002, which was a crime noir novel titled In His Shadow. I did this because nobody would buy it, but I thought I’d get enough blurbs from it to help me sell my second book, Bad Thoughts. This led to an Italian deal for In His Shadow and selling the book to a small press with the new title, Fast Lane.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
I’ll talk about my third novel, Small Crimes, which I sold to Serpent’s Tail, who while an independent publisher still has enough push to get books visibility, and have published several Nobel Prize winners.
I agreed to the deal in January, 2006. We signed the contract in May of that year, the book was published in the UK in January 2008 and in the US in October 2008. Oh yeah, every US publisher rejected Small Crimes for being too dark or not formulaic enough, and the book ended up being picked by NPR as one of the 5 best crime and mystery novels of the year, and also by the Washington Post as one of the best books of the year.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It was a great feeling selling my first story. I was paid $35 for it. Since then I’ve won awards, had my books picked as best of the year by prestigious organizations, been reviewed in major newspapers around the world, been translated in other languages, and have had my books optioned for film, but nothing has beaten the high that I felt when I sold that story.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
When I self-published In His Shadow, I was out beating the bushes trying to get reviews and blurbs. With Small Crimes, I mostly left everything to my publicist, but I did arrange some book events and also contacted some book reviewers, which led to Small Crimes being reviewed in The Boston Globe and The Sun-Sentinel.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
When I look back at Fast Lane, there’s some very high energy writing in it, but also some very rough writing that makes me cringe a bit. My writing is smoother now. I know from the start what I need to do, and there’s almost no need for rewriting, although there’s always some polishing. I feel confident now in writing in almost any genre—from dark crime noir to charming traditional mysteries to horror to thrillers.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
When I first started writing, I looked at the major publishers as gatekeepers; that they’d be the ones to tell be whether my writing is good enough. Over the last few years I’ve learned it’s only a business—that the idea of the large publishers being any sort of gatekeeper is only a myth. There might have been a time when they cared about the books they published, but now it’s only business, and they’re looking to buy what they consider the lowest risk books they can without any interest as to how good or bad they are. The independent publishers have a different attitude—with them they look at it as a matter of survival to publish the best books they can.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
Spending my days doing what I love most, which is writing.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Enjoy the journey. As a writer it’s easy to get sidetracked on all the things you haven’t accomplished yet instead of appreciating what you have.