If you’re a crime fiction novelist looking to approach a publishing company directly with your manuscript, you have plenty of options, such as one of these 19 top crime fiction publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
However, if you want to land a deal with a large publisher, having one of the following 15 top literary agents for crime fiction represent you will increase your chances of doing so.
Nikki is the founder and senior agent at Holloway Literary, and she has been dedicated to the agency since its inception in 2011. She holds a B.A. in English and years of experience as a writer, editor and, later, as an agent. She is the name behind many successful, top-selling titles, like The Smuggler Wore Silk and In Bed with a Spy by Alyssa Alexander. She is looking for crime fiction that has elements of history (historical fiction, mystery), and literature that can be described as a cozie, in the vein of Ellery Adams and Amanda Flower. If you think she is the agent for you, send her a brief query and the first 15 pages of your manuscript to email@example.com, and write Nikki/title/genre in the subject line of the email.
Bernadette has been working at Victoria Sanders and Associates since 2010, but has been an agent since 2005. She has a number of New York Times bestsellers, including Lesley Walton, Tony Cliff and Liv Constantine. She is looking for thrillers that are written in a smart, high-concept way with emotional story and a little bit of humor. Send her a query letter and the first 25 pages or so in the body of your message, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberly is founder and literary agent at Brower Literary & Management, and holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University. She has a diverse and successful client list, but her representing New York Times bestsellers doesn’t mean she is only out for big names. She is consistently looking for debut and emerging authors of commercial and upmarket crime fiction with complex characters and morally ambiguous plots. If it keeps her up reading the entire night, it is definitely a plus. If you think she is the agent for you, send a query letter to email@example.com. Make sure to include a synopsis with your query letter, as well as the first chapter, all pasted into the body of the email.
4. Lexi Wangler
Lexi works at Massie & McQuilkin as a junior agent and a foreign rights associate. She has a dual MFA in Fiction and Writing for Children. She is looking for three-dimensional characters in her crime fiction, and likes it with either literary or upmarket flair. Lexi is also very passionate about stories that shed some light on the lives of non-binary, LGBTQ+ and people of color. If you write this kind of crime fiction, send Lexi your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the first ten pages of your manuscript in the body of the email. The response time is usually 2-4 weeks, and if she hasn’t responded by that amount of time you can probably assume she is not interested.
Harry works at the DHH Literary Agency, and has years of experience in marketing and publishing, including his internships at Michael O’Mara Books, HarperCollins and Pan Macmillan. He is looking for really high-concept crime fiction and thrillers, and writers who have a distinct voice and a strong narrative. His favorite writers are Joe Abercrombie, Pierce Brown, Anthony Ryan and Emily St. John Mandel, so if your fiction had familiarities with these authors don’t hesitate to send him a pitch to email@example.com. Include a cover letter, first three chapters of your manuscript, and a synopsis.
Agent and founder at Madeleine Milburn Ltd since 2012, Madeleine is looking for emerging writers to launch their careers. She represented numerous bestselling books and authors, including Fiona Barton, C.L. Taylor and Gail Honeyman. She is looking for all genres, but she especially likes her crime fiction to be either character or voice-driven, and a tight plot with morally ambiguous characters is always a plus. Send her a query to firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure to address her as your desired agent. Your entire manuscript and a synopsis should be attached as a Word document, while your email introducing the books should contain a one-word elevator pitch and a compelling blurb clearly describing your book.
Jamie works at and is the founding partner of the Coombs Moylett Maclean Literary agency, and specializes in both, fiction and non-fiction. He went to the Edinburgh College of Art, and has a rich background in art and visual storytelling. He is well-known for running the Erotic review since 1995, where he worked with such names as Naim Attallah, Joseph Connolly and Kate Copstick. But don’t let his background confuse you, Jamie is seeking high quality, top-notch crime fiction, that leaves readers stranded at the top of their seats. If you believe this is the agent for you, query him by filling out their submissions form on his agency’s website. In your cover letter, tell him a little bit about your career and your previous attempts at publication, and your synopsis should be a short, comprehensive explanation of the plot.
8. Cara Jones
Cara has been active in publishing since 2002, and is currently based at Coleridge & White, where she has been since 2006. She has a rich client list filled with top-selling authors, such as Paul Watkins, Karin Altenberg and Frances Fyfield. She is looking for all kinds of crime fiction, and is particularly interested in new and emerging voices. She would love to see something in the vein of A Clear Conscience and A Question of Guilt by Frances Fyfield. Query her at email@example.com. Send her a cover letter and some background on the book. Also make sure to include the first three chapters and a brief synopsis.
Judith works at the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency which she founded back in 1993 in Primrose Hill, London. She mainly deals with commercial crime fiction, as well as accessible literary crime fiction. Judith is especially interested in new voices, sop don’t hesitate to send her a query if you are an emerging author. Some of the most successful author she represented include, but are not limited to: Carol Jones, Pamela Jooste, Catherine King Estate, Mary de Laszlo and Catherine Law. All she is looking for is that you have a unique voice and a strong story to tell. If you think she is the agent for you, query Judith to Judith Murdoch, Judith Murdoch Literary Agency, 19 Chalcot Square, London, NW1 8YA, and include the first three chapters and a synopsis.
10. David Haviland
David is the new shining star of The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd, where he is actively developing his fiction list. He has collaborated and written for HarperCollins, Penguin, Piatkus and Little, Brown. He accepts both, literary and upmarket crime fiction, and will take up anything that has him biting his nails with either rich plot or morally ambiguous characters. If this is what you write, send him a query to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your synopsis should describe the plot clearly, and make sure to include three sample chapters of your choosing.
11. Darley Anderson
Darley is an agent and founder at The Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency based in London, where he has been since 1988. Darley has decades of publishing experience under his belt, and some of the most famous names he represented include, but are not limited to: Martina Cole, Lee Child, John Connolly, Tana French and Chris Carter. He is looking for crime fiction set in Ireland, or has an international feel to it. If this is what you write, send him a query by post, as he doesn’t accepr email submissions. Write a one-page synopsis and include the first three chapters of your manuscript and send it all to Darley Anderson Literary, TV & Film Agency, Estelle House, 11 Eustace Road, London SW6 1JB. Make sure to include a SAE if you do not wish your manuscript to be rejected automatically.
Alexander is a busy agent at C+W Literary Agency. His authors have won many prestigious awards, and he is currently looking for dark thrillers and crime novels that push the boundaries of genre and explore deep psychological and societal issues. Some of his favorite authors are Michael Chabon, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Pye, Joe Abercrombie, Peter Ackroyd and Claire Vaye Watkins, so you can see that his tasted are varied and anything similar to these authors is right up his alley. Send him the first three chapters and a synopsis directly to email@example.com.
13. Claire Roberts
Claire is the agent and vice president of Trident Media Group, and holds an MFA in literary fiction. Because this genre is so close to her heart, Claire is seeking primarily upmarket, mainstream and literary crime fiction, and thrillers that go really deep into the psyche behind horrid crimes. She believes that the books that sell best are the books that have an important story to tell, so if your crime fiction crosses genre boundaries it shouldn’t matter, you can still pitch to this agent. It is a plus if your book is character driven, fresh and immediate. Include a paragraph about yourself in the query letter, as well as a brief plot synopsis and the relevant contact information. You should do all that in the form on her agency’s website.
14. Mitch Hoffman
Mitch has been working at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency since December 2015, and he is already in the position of the Senior Agent. He has two decades of publishing experience, and he has been named Vice-President, Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing. He is seeking to fill in his fiction list with suspense, thriller and crime authors that know how to cover deep psychological themes and put them in a nice, commercial twist and a page-turning plot. He has represented many prolific and acclaimed names, such as Hilary Davidson, David Ewing Duncan, John Fried, Raymond Khoury, Allie Larkin, Dr. Ian Smith, Tom Rob Smith, and Radha Vatsal. If you believe that Mitch is the agent you should work with, send him a query via email at submission. firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that this is the agency’s email, so address Mitch Hoffman as the agent you are querying to. Your letter shouldn’t be longer than one page, and it should mention facts and details about both your work and your background. It will be rejected if it contains any attachments, so type everything in the body of the email.
15. Jane Gregory
Jane is an agent and founder at Gregory & Company, and she works with many agents in the UK, USA and even foreign countries. She is a founding partner of ‘The Bailey’s Prize for Fiction’, and has a place on the committee for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, so you will surely get noticed by publishers if you pitch to this agent. One of the reasons for that is the fact that her agency is particularly known for publishing outstanding crime fiction, and working with the best-known authors in the crime and thriller genre working today. Some of the acclaimed titles under their leadership include A capital Crime by Laura Wilson and A Mansion and its Murder by Robert Barnard. If you believe that Jane is the right fit for you, write her a one-page synopsis that clearly explains the plot from the beginning to end and send it to email@example.com.
You can also submit by post, to Mary Jones, Submissions Editor, 6th Floor, Waverley House 7–12 Noel Street, London, W1F 8GQ. Whichever way you choose to submit to her, make sure to also include the first three chapters of your manuscript, or no more than the first 50 pages, if submitting by email, and the first ten pages if submitting by mail. Put the word SUBMISSSION before the title of your novel in the subjects line to avoid having your pitch end up in spam.
Do you know any other literary agents for crime fiction? Please tell us about them in the comments box below.
Sara is a freelance writer with an aspiring author with years of experience under her belt and two or three words of wisdom to share. She blogs at https://sistermantis.wordpress.com/