“Write with a sense of urgency palpable enough to hook a reader from the first page, and never let them go.”
Every year, the Writers’ League of Texas brings a faculty of close to thirty agents, editors, and other industry professionals to Austin for its Agents & Editors Conference. As we look ahead to the 24th Annual A&E Conference in June, we’re happy to share Q&As with some of our faculty here.
An Interview with Will Evans
Will Evans is president and co-founder of Cinestate, an entertainment studio established in 2016 with the film producer Dallas Sonnier, combining book publishing, film production, and audio experiences. In 2013, Evans founded Deep Vellum Publishing, a nonprofit literary publisher dedicated to translating the world’s best novels into English. Evans also co-founded Deep Vellum Books in early 2016, a brick-and-mortar bookstore and cultural community center in Dallas’s historic Deep Ellum neighborhood. Prior to his career in publishing, Evans worked for five years in the music industry on tour and in Los Angeles before becoming a talent buyer for Austin’s iconic music venue, Emo’s. Evans graduated from Emory University with degrees in History and Russian Literature and received a Master’s degree in Russian Culture from Duke University. His translation of Oleg Kashin’s political satire novel Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin was published by Restless Books in 2016.
Scribe: How would you describe your personal approach to working with an author?
Will Evans: Trust in the author as Artist, and maintain open dialogue on all aspects of the publishing process—editing, design, marketing, etc.—as steps on the path to achieving the fullest potential for each story, to implant each story into the brains of its intended and deserved audience.
Scribe: What do you look for in a debut author?
WE: Originality of vision and unique execution.
Scribe: Do you think social media presence is critical for a successful writing career?
WE: Not critical, though it is an added benefit for those authors with the types of personalities and styles that thrive on continuous engagement with their audience and their peers.
Scribe: If you could give writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
WE: Write with a sense of urgency palpable enough to hook a reader from the first page, and never let them go.
Scribe: Tell us about a project you took on because there was something special or unique about it, even though it wasn’t like projects you usually take on; or tell us about an exciting or proud moment in your career as an agent.
WE: The ability to work with S. Craig Zahler is a highlight in my career as an editor. He’s a true renaissance man who’s already had several amazing novels published by indie and major presses. He also wrote, directed, and composed the score for the film Bone Tomahawk, and he has several more films in the works that he’s written and directed that we’re working on at Cinestate, too. His artistic vision is so unique, so precise, so exacting—he is one of the few writers who wields the command to write such cinematic literature and such literary film scripts, in addition to being a damn good filmmaker and accomplished musician. Our company works with Zahler closely across all mediums: he’s written books for us, directed films for us, written scripts for us, produced audio dramas for us—this type of close relationship is what we’re looking for out of the authors we work with. If we believe in you and your vision, there are no limits to the possibilities of ways we will work to share your story with the world.
Scribe: Are there any recent publications you’d like to highlight as representative of the kinds of works you’re interested in taking on?
WE: I’m especially proud of our inaugural publishing list launching this fall, including S. Craig Zahler’s marvelous coming-of-age tale, Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child, Michael J. Seidlinger’s provocative thriller, My Pet Serial Killer, and Robert Ashcroft’s incredible debut, a gripping, philosophical sci-fi/horror novel, The Megarothke. These novels are all representative of what we’re looking for in a book we publish: genre-based literature of the highest quality written with a cinematic approach to storytelling.
Click here for more information on the 2017 Agents & Editors Conference, a weekend long event in Austin, TX (June 30-July 2) that focuses on the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and building a literary community.