The publishing and literary industry can at times present itself as rather stuffy. Connotations of being set in its ways, old fashioned and unwilling to showcase personality in order to stick to convention and formality are all accusations that have been levelled at one point or another. Perhaps because to break the mould is to take an unnecessary risk and would risk alienating potential customers from their business by presenting themselves as unfamiliar.
One company who has disregarded such a train of thought is ‘Felony & Mayhem’. The name is likely to be a clue as to their mindset and personality, and from the moment you click on their website it’s clear to see they are unashamedly themselves with little filter and a keen desire to showcase their personality regardless of whether or not it will divide opinion.
In this Felony and Mayhem Press review, we will take a closer look at who they are, what they do do and whether or not beyond the brash and confident verbals they are worth consideration for any writers seeking to have their work published.
Who is Felony & Mayhem Press & what do they do?
Felony & Mayhem Press was seemingly created out of frustration on the part of the founder, Maggie Topkis, who was one of the owners of a mysteries only bookstore in New York. Enjoying the feeling of recommending titles to readers they may not have heard of but finding it increasingly difficult to do so as many works were taken out of print, something had to change.
Then she read an article in a newspaper about a machine that was able to produce a paperback in a staggeringly low seven minutes. That was all it took to plant the seed for Maggie and it was only a matter of time before she launched her own company utilising such a machine in order to bring these previously out of print books back to life. And so Felony & Mayhem was born in June 2005.
Many of their releases are reissues but they also publish an increasing number of first paperback editions of books previously published in hardcover and particularly the first U.S. edition of books that initially came out overseas. On top of this, they have an open submissions policy which any writer looking to publish a book for the first time can also pursue.
What types of books do Felony & Mayhem publish?
Felony & Mayhem exclusively publish mystery fiction for adults. Whilst clearly limited in scope to be so niche and still in business showcases a genuine passion for the genre and the expertise required to be a success. Below is a list of featured titles as per Felony & Mayhem’s website that will give some more insight and colour into their offerings.
The Butcher of Berner Street – Alex Reeve
Thinner Than Water – E X Ferrars
Blood Relative – Carolyn Hougan
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Weird Sisters – Olga Wojtas
Fire – L C Tyler
Money in the Morgue – Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy
Soviet Sources – Robert Cullen
What Would Wimsey Do? – Guy Fraser Sampson
The Benson Murder Case – S S Van Dine
Written in Blood – Caroline Graham
Beyond genre, it is worth stating that the cover art of these titles is of very high quality and immediately draws you in, something which definitely cannot be said for every independent publisher, where often it feels like an afterthought.
Can authors submit to Felony & Mayhem?
Felony & Mayhem whilst it may be fair to say specialise in re releases and bringing books back from the brink, are more than happy to receive submissions from writers and make a guarantee that they will look at whatever is sent. They do go on to clarify however that due to their size as a publisher, they may not be able to do this as quickly as a writer would want without giving any specific timelines.
In order for them to review the submission, they ask each writer to follow some guidelines, which they clarify are absolute and not just recommended.
1. They publish mystery fiction for adults and, at this time, no other genres
2. All manuscripts must be a minimum of 80,000 words; 85,000 is preferable
3. A submission should consist of a brief synopsis (no more than four paragraphs) and one sample chapter OR a representative ten pages.
4. They accept submissions by email only: [email protected].
5. All submission materials (that means the synopsis and the chapter) should be sent as attachments, in either Word or PDF format, and must include contact information, including email address, on every page. Also must use standard fonts, colours, and sizes.
6. The following are preferences, rather than hardcore requirements, but they are STRONG preferences: First, do not set the names of your characters in capital letters. And second, while it’s entirely acceptable to send out submissions to multiple publishers, they ask that any cover letter be specific to them
What are some alternatives to Felony & Mayhem Press?
The two main alternatives to felony and mayhem would be to submit to another publisher or to consider self publishing.
A writer would have to consider submitting to another publisher if their work fell outside the strict confines of Felony & Mayhems genre of mystery fiction for adults. Even if their work did fall into this category, they may still consider it in order to cover as many bases as possible rather than having all their eggs in one basket.
Self publishing is an interesting route. It’s become increasingly popular with the uptake of e-books and e-readers providing much easier access to get a book out to a wider audience than in years gone by. The creative control maintained combined with the freedom of scheduling and releases makes this an attractive option.
Felony & Mayhem Press Review – Final Thoughts
There’s no doubt then that Felony & Mayhem are specialists in what they do and the genre they work in. The commitment from the founder to bring back books that would otherwise have been consigned to history in order to benefit readers reveals a genuine passion which should be commended.
It’s also true though, that from a writer's perspective who may be considering a submission that there are likely to be other options more beneficial. The confines of the genre, the ambiguous response times and a lack of clarity on the website regarding both royalties and readership should give writers food for thought.
Ultimately then, if a writer's work falls within these boundaries and they have the time and patience to see the process through, Felony & Mayhem may well be a good option. But for those not in this position, self-publishing would likely be a worthwhile option to consider and provide all that they need to realise their dreams and have their book reach the masses.