Category Crime

I noticed this item in the Bookseller Mag from last week –

Mills & Boon plots serial crime wave

‘Mills & Boon is to launch a crime and thriller series in its first venture beyond romance publishing since it was founded 100 years ago.

Black Star Crime kicks off in August with five titles, and will initially publish five titles every two months.

The heavily-­branded short novels will be priced at £3.99.’

“Since 2001, crime and thriller sales have increased by 70%,” said M&B marketing manager Oliver Rhodes. “There were two ways for us to go. We could either do what everyone else is doing, and do it better, or carve out our own niche and try to create a unique proposition. The idea is that if people find something they like they can go back and find something similar. It is a brand promise.”

Black Star Crime will include a range of genres, from cosy mysteries to hard-core thrillers, with authors to include new names as well as more established writers.

M&B has liaised with Working Partners to generate some of the concepts, as well as acquiring titles itself, and is adamant the quality of the ­stories is paramount.

Launch titles include Runaway Minister by Nick Curtis, Streetwise by Chris Freeman, A Narrow Escape by Faith Martin and Murder Plot by Lance Elliott.
“This brings the best of our experience together,” Rhodes said. “We have been very successful with Mira crime authors such as Alex Kava and Paul Johnston. Also we are the only publishers with the know-how to make a fiction series work. We think this has massive potential.”

M&B will spend around £100,000 on its launch marketing campaign, and is due to start presenting the series to retailers this month. The company is keen that the brand is not tarred with the M&B brush, and that it is kept as far as possible from its romance publishing.
“This has to get dedicated space in store or we’re wasting our time,” said m.d. Guy Hallowes. “It’s important that the books are racked together, with enough space to make impact.”

Two things come to mind.

1. They are aiming to create a NEW brand of crime book supported by the Harlequin Brand but kept separate from it. A category crime book.

2. They have used an outside company to source material. From what I understand, Working Partners is a marriage broker between agents with authors who can write in the genre, and the client who needs a book written to a specific brief.

With this in mind, I suspect they will not be interested in un-agented submissions, but I will certainly be following up on that one.