Blog: Dan Wickett

It has been said that you should write to be understood. Dan Wickett, executive director and publisher of Dzanc Books, an independent press and literary advocate, offers up resources for those tangled in the oft-solitary pursuit of creative writing, and speaks to how writers impact our economic, social, and cultural issues.

Post 2: New York is NIMBY and that's just fine

Where are you located?  Ann Arbor?  That isn't near New York, is it?

Questions we at Dzanc Books hear fairly regularly.  All the agents are in New York (not really); all the publishers are in New York (not true at all); don't you need to meet people every day to get things done?

I'm not even going to parenthetically answer that last one as it deserves more.  I live in Westland.  My partner, Steve Gillis, lives in Ann Arbor.  We have four book imprints and three literary journals?the editors of those currently reside in Hong Kong, Chicago, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Nashville, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, and Montclair (New Jersey).  We have interns that live in at least eight different states.

If Steve and I see each other, in person, more than ten times a year it's more likely due to our kids having sporting events we cross-visited as opposed to meeting up for Dzanc Books.  We also never talk on the phone.  The internet has obviously reduced the need for everybody to be in one building (there is no Dzanc building?why waste our resources on an office when we all can work from our homes?) as email, texting, chats, video conferencing, etc. allows us to get just as much done on a daily basis as if we were all going to meetings in a big conference room once or twice a week.

It's the same with the relationships we develop with our authors and their agents (when applicable).  We've found we can get just as much done via email and the occasional phone call as we could if we were spending three to five days a week having lunch meetings.  

You know where many, many publishers send their final manuscript files so that they can get hard copies of books printed?  Right here to Washtenaw County.  We have a plethora of incredible printers in the area.  If we ever have a question or a worry, it's a short drive for me to meet up with production people, or my sales representative.  If I were in New York I'd be sweating details or flying into town and chewing up two business days.  Not to mention I'd have to cancel a lunch or two so I could get out of town.

Is the occasional trip to New York necessary for a publisher?  Maybe not necessary, but certainly useful.  Meeting face to face and putting a body to the voice, or the voice behind the emails, is always nice.  And there are always going to be some people that prefer meeting at least once before they'll truly start to do business with you.   With the bulk of the major publishing houses in the city, there are also frequent industry gatherings such as Book Expo America in New York.  Hitting something like that, and setting up half a dozen meetings, and being back home here in Michigan after two or three days is just about perfect.  

Yes, we're located in Ann Arbor.  No, it's not really near New York.  Yes, that works just fine for us.