As Dutch Publishing house Xander celebrates its three-year anniversary, Publishers Weekly spoke with Sander Knol, fouding publisher and managing director of the house, about what's in store for the future of the company, which bills itself as existing “free of traditional genre boundaries."
Before founding Xander, Knol was Publishing Director at Meulenhoff/de Boekerij and prior to that an editor at House of Books. On the challenges of becoming an "independent entrepreneur" of a new publishing venture, he says: "Our list is eclectic by definition, a publishing concept which needed to be explained to both agents and booksellers, as many are used to the so often strictly defined boundaries of imprints. We needed to create a kind of urgency for booksellers and readers to notice and buy our books, and with our art-director we had to create an attractive and distinguishable look for our books."
The house recently had a success with Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda and The CIA by Morton Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister. The book, by a former Danish Jihadist who became a double agent for the CIA as well as British and Danish intelligence, was published in the U.S. by Atlantic Monthly Press in August 2014.
"I think he has lived through a situation many people fear: young western people who fall into the hands of the dark side of Islam. Morten fell into that situation, but became aware of its savageness and could just in time change his life." Knol goes on to say that Storm is a "very special man" and his "personal story really blows your mind."
As to the future of the house, Knol wants to "stay faithful to what really works well for our ambitious boutique-esque set-up: always offer a personal and dedicated approach."
Later this month, Xander will publish Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli's biography Becoming Steve Jobs, which was published in the U.S. by Crown Business in March. About the acquisition process, Knol says the book was "around as a book proposal, but only after having read the whole book you really get the picture of how good and personal this story is, compared to the pile of other books on Mr. Jobs." He adds that the house worked with a team of six translators on the book.
Another recent acquisition is Meredith Wild's Hacker series, published in the U.S. by Forever. "She’s just a much better and authentic author than the many look-a-likes in the romantic erotic genre." Xander acquired the book in a five-book deal.