Felony & Mayhem is a print mystery book publisher founded in 2005, with fairly good distribution in brick and mortar bookstores. They initially focused only on re-issuing books that had fallen out of print, releasing books in paperback that only had hardback editions, and publishing books that had only been published outside of the US. Although that remains the bulk of their business they opened to general submissions in 2011. They now accept submissions from authors with or without an agent, or previous publishing experience.
They only accept novel-length (75K-plus words) manuscripts online and have specific submission guidelines, so make sure you read carefully and follow them to the letter. For example, do not send in your entire manuscript–they only want a synopsis of “four SHORT paragraphs” and a representative chapter that does not have to be the first. When you include a bio, note what about your background makes you particularly suited to have written this manuscript. For example, “if your manuscript is set in the world of investment banking, and you spent eight years working at Goldman Sachs, or if you’ve written a book about forging Old Master paintings, and you have a doctorate in art-history – we’d love to know about it.”
When they call for literary mystery fiction, they mean to be specific:
[W]e’re much less interested in standard-issue genre stuff (private-eyes with drinking problems, spunky gals who trip over dead bodies, etc.), and we have a positive allergy to protagonists with cute names. In general, we stay away from hard-boiled (especially if it’s set in the U.S.) and from action-oriented thrillers. We don’t mind a certain amount of violence (hey, we publish books about murders), but we don’t generally find it cool or interesting for its own sake.
They are looking for elegant, witty prose that encapsulates “distinctive narrative voices.” Even if your mystery doesn’t quite fit into the standard genre conventions, Felony & Mayhem would prefer to see a mystery you’d like to read. “If we’re interested in your manuscript, we can absolutely help you make it more marketable. But there is no substitute for passion and an authentic voice.”
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