Five indie publishers on the lookout for crime fiction submissions

Crime fiction is one of the best-selling genres in the book publishing business and many self-published authors have become best-sellers in the sector, but self-publishing successfully requires a lot of design, production and marketing expertise that may not be part of the writer’s skill set.

Over the past several years, a new wave of publishers in the US and UK have burst on to the scene, offering authors the support they need and generally paying a decent level of ebook royalties that makes it worthwhile for a self-publisher to sign up. Here are five of those publishers who are currently accepting direct submissions for crime fiction.

Polis Books

Polis Books is a US-based publisher that was launched in 2013 by novelist Jason Pinter, and added Agora Books in 2019 as a diversity-focused crime and noir fiction imprint.

The company majors on crime fiction but also publishes a range of other genres, including commercial literary fiction, horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as non-fiction, including true crime and pop culture.

Polis Books offers authors an up-front ‘modest’ advance against royalties and says it considers every author it works with as a long-term investment and aims for authors to feel they are treated as partners both creatively and in business. Advances and royalties  are negotiated on a book-by-book basis, often offering performance-based escalations or bonuses, and Polis says its royalties are always at or higher than the industry standard.

The firm handles every aspect of a book’s publication, from cover design to formatting, editing and copy editing, printing, marketing, distribution and publicity. It markets every book and author individually, tailoring campaigns based on the book and genre, including many highly-sought-after print and e-retailer promotions.

Polis accepts unsolicited submissions but points out it can only respond to queries that it is interested in. The company does not publish standalone novellas or short stories, and novel-length submissions should be at least 60,000 words. Submission requirements include: Query letter, three sample chapters, and author biography. The query letter and sample chapters should be emailed as attachments rather than pasted in the body of the email. You can find out more submission details to Polis and Agora Books through this link to the Polis website.

Please note, there is also an independent UK publisher called Agora Books, which is currently closed to submissions.

Seventh Street Books

Seventh Street Books was set up in 2011 as an imprint of Prometheus Books and was sold in 2018 to Start Publishing, which has a range of genre imprints.

New Jersey-based Seventh Street has built up a strong backlist focusing on mystery and thriller fiction and the firm’s titles have picked up a lot of awards and nominations.

It accepts unsolicited submissions for mystery and thriller full-length fiction and is not looking for short story collections, anthologies, novellas, or non-fiction.

Submissions should be by email only and with full manuscripts (no partials or outlines). The email should include your name, address, telephone number, and a one to three-paragraph synopsis of your work, along with the manuscript attached as a word or RTF file. You can get full details of submission requirements through this link to the Seventh Street Books website.

The company adds that due to the volume of submissions it receives, a detailed reply in the case of a rejection may not always be possible.

Lume Books

Lume Books is a UK publisher which publishes crime fiction as well as historical fiction and non-fiction.

It is a rebranded venture that launched after the closure of Endeavour Press, which was originally an ebook operation that republished out-of-print books before branching out into frontlist titles.

Lume is open to submissions and you should send the first 10,000 words of the manuscript as a Word document together a brief synopsis, information about yourself, word count of the book, and a short list of published comparable titles. You can find out full details about submissions through this link to the Lume website.

Sapere Books

Sapere Books is another UK-based imprint set up by former staff of Endeavour Press,

It is open to submissions directly from authors and is looking for crime fiction, mysteries,  and thrillers, plus women’s fiction, romance, historical fiction, action and adventure, and history.

It is not looking for short stories or novellas, children’s fiction, YA, science fiction, fantasy, horror, erotic fiction or poetry.

The company says it is particularly keen to publish books in a series. It’s open for brand new submissions and is also looking to reissue books in the above genres which have gone out of print. It is also keen to expand its list to include writers currently underrepresented in publishing.

Guidelines for email submissions to Sapere Books include: One-page covering letter with a brief author bio, a short blurb and information about your book, including word count; synopsis of about 1,000 words detailing the full plot of your book; the first 10,000 words of your manuscript, with a title page included. All files should be sent as attachments. You can get full details about submissions through this link to the Sapere website.

Joffe Books

Joffe Books is one of the pioneers of the new wave of indie genre publishers. It was launched in 2014 by artist Jasper Joffe and five years later in 2019 was selling more than two million books a year, reaching the total of 10 million books sold in January 2021.

The company is based in London and publishes crime fiction, mysteries, psychological thrillers, cosy crime, police procedurals, chillers, suspense and domestic noir. It will also consider women’s fiction, historical fiction and romance novels. Joffe encourages authors from diverse backgrounds to submit their work and make their voices heard.

Email submissions to Joffe Books should include: Your full-length book attached as a pdf or Word doc (Word .doc preferred); a three-paragraph synopsis in the body of the email, including what genre you see your book belonging in; 100 words about yourself in the body of the email, the word submission in the subject line of your email, so it reaches the right people.

You can get full details about submissions through this link to the Joffe Books website.

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