Thursday, February 5, 2015

What's the State of the Mystery Novel?

I went to the monthly meeting of Mystery Writers of America-NY and listened to an interesting panel presentation on the state of the industry by St. Martin's editor Hannah Braaten; Curtis Brown Ltd. agent Mitchell S. Waters; and Mystery Scene's editor-in-chief and co-publisher Kate Stine. I have an agent and an editor, but I like to know the trends--and I like to see my mystery-writer friends. In no particular order, these are 10 of the panelists' observations:

1.) Grisly violence in mysteries on the wane, with psychotic killer point of view not as popular.
2.) If you query multiple agents simult
aenously, you should let them know.
3.) Cozy mysteries doing OK, because publishers have a readymade market of eager readers, as with romance. Interesting new trend: The younger cozy, with a little more edge and some adventure.
4.) Query services are easy to spot and some agents don't care for them.
5.) Some editors still do intense line editing, but a writer who can turn in a manuscript close to ready has a big advantage.
6.) Fierce female protagonists welcome.
7.) The biggest problem with self-published fiction is lack of rigorous copy-editing.
8.) Don't chase commercial trends in vague hyped queries: "It's Gone Girl meets The Girl on the Train!"
9.) Abused children in mysteries--they've had enough of it.
10.) Mystery writers are the nicest of the genre writers. They also drink the most. Are these things connected. Discuss. :)

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