Written by Emily Harstone May 24th, 2021

23 Mystery Publishers that Accept Direct Submissions (No Agent Required)


“The crime novel is the great moral literature of
our time.”

“Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They
read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t
buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last
page sells your next book.”

Mystery is one of those genres that over the years has managed to accumulate a huge number of subgenres. From cozy mysteries,  literary mysteries, and crime novels to ones focused on conspiracies, now there is a mystery subgenre for almost every reader’s taste.

Most of the following publishers focus on one or two sub-genres of mystery, although other companies are much larger multi-genre publishers that are open to mystery books, as well as books from other genres.

To learn more about any of the publishers, click on their name in order to read the full review or connect to the publisher’s website. All reviews include a link to the publisher’s website. Some of the publishers are currently closed to submissions but the majority are open.

Seventh Street Books
Seventh Street Press is the mystery imprint of the established nonfiction publisher Prometheus Books. They are distributed by Random House. They publish only mystery and thrillers, but are open to a variety of subgenres, including legal thrillers.

Brash Books
Brash Books publishes psychological thrillers, murder mysteries, international espionage, and police procedurals. The publishing company is run by two best-selling mystery novelists. They publish emerging and established authors.

Hard Case Crime
Hard Case Crime is a well-respected and established niche publisher of hard-boiled crime novels. The publisher has been featured in a number of respected publications including Time Magazine and The Stranger.

Level Best Books
They are interested the crime fiction in the following categories: mystery, thriller, suspense, historical, traditional, and contemporary.

Joffe Books
They publish a number of genres but their primary interests include thrillers, mysteries, and detective stories. They are a small UK based e-publisher.

Head of Zeus
Head of Zeus is a UK-based print publisher that was founded in early 2012. They publish a wide variety of work including nonfiction, literary fiction, general and genre fiction. They have a number of imprints and have good distribution in the UK. A number of the books they have published have been subsequently picked up by American publishers. Mystery is one of the genres they publish.

The Permanent Press
The Permanent Press is an established small press. They only publish adult fiction with a focus on mystery and general/literary fiction. They have published a number of successful, ongoing mystery series. They are run by a husband and wife team, Judith & Martin Shepard.

Camel Press
Camel Press is the genre imprint of Coffeetown Press, which in turn is owned by Epicenter Press. Camel Press publishes genre work, focusing primary on mystery, including the following sub-genres: suspense, cozy mystery, mystery thrillers, and romantic suspense. They also publish romance, both contemporary and historical, and will consider general fiction, historical fiction and westerns, particularly if the author has a strong promotional plan.

Verve Books
Verve Books is the new digital-first imprint of No Exit Press. No Exit Press is one of the top UK-based mystery publishers, and they are not open to direct submissions, but Verve Books is.

Hera is a new female-led, independent digital publisher. They focus exclusively on publishing commercial books, including works psychological suspense, police procedural, and thrillers, to romance, and glamorous contemporary fiction.

Crooked Lane
Crooked Lane was established in 2014 as a press specializing in crime books. They have an experienced staff and have managed to publish some well known authors already. They publish a range of mysteries that lean towards the cozy, and they are not opposed to publishing a series of books. You can see their catalog here.

Stairway Press
Stairway Press publishes and markets literary books in a variety of genres including science, science fiction, short stories, political essays, literary thrillers and adventure books. They are not interested in young adult or children books. Their main focus is quality writing. Although a number of the books I looked at I would not describe as literary, even in the context of genre.  They also have published a number of right wing non-fiction books. You can get a better feel for what they publish by browsing their catalog here.

Bold Strokes Books
Bold Strokes publishes books that fall under the LGBTQ umbrella including literary fiction, romance novels, young-adult novels, genre novels (including crime/suspense, mystery, intrigue/thriller), and works of nonfiction. The only genre of books they do not appear to publish is poetry.

Page Street Publishing
They have good distribution and are open to Mystery Books in the Young Adult genre.

Tell-Tale Publishing
Tell-Tale Publishing is a small press founded in 2009. They seem to focus primarily on eBooks but also they have print options (largely print on demand). They publish six imprints which include Dahlia (romance, and various romance subgenres), Stargazer (fantasy, steampunk), Nightshade (horror), Casablanca (mystery), Thistle (middle school, YA, New Adult), and Deja Vu (reprints for all genres).

Encircle Publications
Encircle Publications is a small press that focuses primarily on publishing mainstream fiction and mystery novels. But they also publish some other genres, including poetry. They’ve only been around since 2016, but they’ve published a fair number of books at this point.

Carina Press
Carina Press is Harlequin’s digital-first adult fiction imprint, publishing first in digital, and then depending on the numbers, releasing audio and print versions as well. Unlike most of Harlequin’s imprints they don’t just focus on romance, although they are open to all sub-genres of romance, including contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ+, and science fiction. They also publish mysteries of all flavors—from cozies to thrillers, with and without romantic elements.

Blind Eye Books
Blind Eye Books publishes science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and romance novels featuring LGBTQ protagonists. They are a print publisher and their book covers are beautifully designed and really stand out. The books they have published have won and been nominated for a number of awards, including the Lambda.

Brother Mockingbird Publishing
Brother Mockingbird Publishing is a small independent press committed to discovering writers from the American South, but they are also open to good fiction, regardless of where the author is based. They recently celebrated their two year anniversary, so they are a new press. They publish a wide range of genres including mystery (including thrillers and cozies), upmarket, thriller, suspense, and young adult.

Bella Books
Bella Books is a press focused on publishing stories about women-loving-women, and they are interested in acquiring manuscripts that involve these stories across all genres, including romance, mystery, thriller, paranormal, etc.

CamCat Books
CamCat Books is a small independent publisher that was founded in 2019. Since that time they have published 22 titles, and they have a number of titles already scheduled as coming soon for 2021. This is a lot of titles for such a new company. They publish a wide range of genres, including mysteries and thrillers.

The last two presses (not included in the count of 23 publishers), are only open to non-agented submissions by authors who have already published traditional debut work elsewhere.  They are Severn River Publishing and Ocean View. They meet all of our guiding principles.

Emily Harstone is the author of many popular books, including The Authors Publish Guide to Manuscript SubmissionsSubmit, Publish, Repeat, and The 2020 Guide to Manuscript Publishers.

She regularly teaches three acclaimed courses on writing and publishing at The Writer’s Workshop at Authors Publish. You can follow her on Facebook here.




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