Little, Brown to Launch New Crime Fiction Imprint

At a panel on publishing held this morning at Bouchercon, Little, Brown president Michael Pietsch announced that the company would be launching a crime fiction imprint in the near future. The details are still vague (I’ve already sent along a list of questions by email to Pietsch, and if he responds, I’ll update this post) and there is no launch date set in stone, but here’s what I do know: the goal of the still-unnamed imprint is to find and grow new talent while also bringing over established writers. Advances are largely projected to be in the “nice deal” spectrum, but Pietsch did say that the imprint could pay up to 7 figures where warranted. And the imprint will largely publish paperback originals, using Black Lizard as its model, more or less.

Reagan Arthur, whose eponymous imprint is officially born in January, will not be acquiring books for this new imprint, and any crime writers she currently edits (such as Ian Rankin, George Pelecanos, Denise Mina and Megan Abbott, whose next two books she recently acquired) will stay at her imprint. It’s also my understanding that crime and thriller writers already on the L,B slate, such as Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Michael Koryta, will remain there, though that news has not been confirmed as of yet.

Suffice to say it’s an interesting move for Little, Brown, which has been moving away from out-and-out midlist titles, especially on the crime fiction front. Having a focused list devoted to the genre will also, hopefully, give a needed shot in the arm to writers whose options have diminished at the major houses with recent layoffs, mergers the like. It will also bolster the company’s relationship with the Mystery Writers of America, whose anthologies of late have been published by L.B., and Otto Penzler, who is bringing out a trade edition of THE LINE UP (mystery writers on their beloved characters), which grew out of the limited edition books published by the Mysterious Bookshop for the last few years, next month. But depending on various factors, will this new imprint ape Minotaur Books, or be in keeping with the selective nature of Hachette’s other imprints? Stay tuned…

UPDATE, 1019: Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch has clarified various things about the new imprint: “The basic idea is to publish many kinds of suspense fiction–crime, thriller, supernatural–everything that thrills!” It will publish 25 titles a year, half hardcover and half trade paperbacks, with the launch in either Fall 2010 or early 2011 (they are still interviewing for an Editorial Director position, so once a new hire is in place, the launch date will be more firm.) Pietsch also added that “as you reported, our current lineup doesn’t include many suspense

novels by less-established writers.  It’s an area I’ve always loved and

I’ve been thinking of ways to publish more of it.”