Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 11, 2018

2018 Mystery and Thriller Contest



Projects will be selected on both the basis of unique pre-orders and by independent evaluation by Inkshares. The contest will come to a close at 12 p.m. PST on December 14, 2018. At that time, the top three projects as determined by the highest unique reader pre-order counts (as long as they have a minimum of 250 unique readers) will remain on the contest leaderboard in first, second, and third place. Inkshares will evaluate all submissions for publishing and representation, even if they haven’t sold any pre-orders. The purpose of the contest is to publish and represent at least three novelists in the mystery-thriller space. The last published mystery by Inkshares receives a starred review in Publishers Weekly, was featured in the Washington Post, and is being developed for television.

In our first three years, we’ve focused predominantly in speculative fiction, chiefly science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. Books published in those genres have gone on to garner starred reviews in every publishing magazine, features in major book reviews including USA Today, and awards from organizations including the American Library Association. Those books have been licensed in foreign territories alongside top-of-market advances and are in development for television and film at top networks and studios.

And while this is our first mystery-and-thriller contest, it is not our first mystery or thriller release. This summer, we released Christopher Huang’s A Gentleman’s Murder, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was featured in the Washington Post, and is in development for television.

In creating this contest we initially debated what we were seeking: detective stories in the lineage of Christie or Sayers? Spy fiction in the legacy of Robert Ludlum or John le Carré? Indeed, debate ensued about the taxonomy and genealogy of this diverse area of commercial fiction. Is the detective story a subset of the mystery genre or of crime fiction? Is a courtroom drama a subset of crime fiction or of thrillers? Egads.

We settled on the nomenclature of “mystery and thriller” because we thought these two words—independently and collectively—encapsulate what we are looking for. The mystery, in all its forms, concerns itself with the resolution of crime or other disruption (such as a disappearance). The arresting setting, the empathizable or memorable victim, the indelible crime, the tantalizing array of suspects—they all service a need for catharsis. Finding the facts—the truth—allows us to see justice done, to restore the status quo, or at least to realize some form of closure.

The thriller is broader, because it is defined less by the inherent nature of its subject matter and more by the feelings it is calculated to elicit: suspense, excitement, anxiety, surprise, anticipation. It thus extends from espionage and military settings that could otherwise be called “action or adventure” to psychological or legal thrillers that might simultaneously exist under the banner “mystery.”

This is a circuitous way of saying that we’re looking to select novels that satisfy one or both of these categories. The mystery may take place in 1920s London, modern-day Missouri, or on a future Martian colony. What matters is that we need—desperately—to know what happened. The thriller could follow attorneys, spies, physicians, politicians, or absolute nobodies. It could take place entirely in a small town, or across metropolises on five continents and reaching the highest corridors of power.

As genres, mysteries and thrillers command some of the largest names in fiction. But none of them—not John Grisham, not Gillian Flynn—were anyone until they saw their first novel published. So prospective mystery author, prospective thriller author—or both—we’re thrilled to have you participate and can’t wait to find out who we will be publishing and representing.

—The Inkshares Team


Talk tomorrow,



  1. FYI, the website says they extended their deadline to December 14th. A bit more time than next week. 😉


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