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Literary agent Paula Munier talks about what publishers look for...

READERSVOICE.COM: I heard there was a trend not so long ago where publishers tried to find one big blockbuster a year, and didn’t worry about publishing other books — didn’t subsidize interesting books with maybe more commercial titles. Is this still a trend?

PAULA MUNIER: The blockbuster bestsellers have always subsidized the rest of the big houses’ publishing programs. (It’s less true at smaller houses, where the business model is “every book makes a small profit.”) So everyone’s always looking for the next big book.

RV: You have been involved with the Mystery Writers of America a great deal, including as president of the New England chapter. What are some titles of books that you would say represent the state of the art in the mystery genre?

PM: Right now editors will tell you that they are looking for the next Tana French, the next Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, the next Defending Jacob by William Landay, the next A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick, the next Lisa Gardner, the next Lee Child, etc.

RV: You said in one interview that authors should be reading the genre they plan to write. What are some crime and thriller novels that crime authors should have read, at the very least?

PM: Everyone mentioned above, and everyone selling in your sub-genre—be that sub-genre cozy or noir, legal thriller or romantic suspense. Be sure to read the debut authors who’ve published in the past five years, as they represent what is selling now by new writers —as opposed to brand-name authors who started publishing 10, 20, 30 or more years ago when the landscape was very different. You should also read the break-out books by bestselling authors, and try to figure out what about those books compared to their previous books made the difference.

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– copyright Simon Sandall