Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have to respectfully disagree with Vicki (see blog entry below).

I believe crime writing is becoming more and more formulaic. At least that’s what I’m hearing from people who are trying to sell novels. I know of what I speak, since I was on that merry-go-round until recently.

First of all, editors are looking for series. They want something that will be easy to sell and will drive a back-list. Stand-alones generally sell far poorly in a back list, no matter how good they are.

And it has to be a new series. They won’t pick up anyone mid-series unless they’re from a best-selling author. Don’t even bother attempting to tell them the error of their ways.

If you’re new, they want a series. Period.

Second, yeah, they’re not really murder mysteries. I hate that moniker, too. But to most readers, that’s really what they are.

Sadly, that means most editors, too. “You wait until too late to pull the trigger,” a very experienced colleague was once told by an editor. “Could you move the murder into the first 20 pages and then do the rest of the novel’s start as a flashback? Past page 100 is too late.” My friend demurred and went so far as to withdraw the book, because the build-up of suspense was the whole point in making the reader wait.

Vicki has it right on thrillers, though. The mold is a little less rigid for those. Who knows why?

Someone can break the rules, though. How? You either have to be an established best-selling author whose books will sell on name alone, or you need to be a certifiable genius who’s just written his/her groundbreaking first novel.

Otherwise, don’t bother trying. You’ll just be beating your head against the wall.

1 comment:

Vicki Delany said...

Thud, thud.