The Poisoned Pencil
We publish only young adult mystery novels, 45,000 to 80,000 words in length, in trade paperback and ebooks editions. For our purposes, a young adult book is a book with a protagonist between the ages of 13 and 18.
We are looking for both traditional and cross-genre young adult mysteries (see below for exceptions). We encourage off-beat approaches and narrative choices that reflect the complexity and ambiguity of today’s world. Submissions from teens are very welcome.
What we do not consider:
- Nonfiction, including true crime and autobiography.
- Authors who live outside the USA or Canada (because of the difficulties of marketing and promotion).
- Short stories or collections.
- Middle Grade fiction.
- Authors who have previously published young adult mysteries.
What to avoid:
- Serial killers.
- Excessive gore or horror.
- Vampires or other heavy supernatural, SF, or fantasy content. A minor supernatural or fantasy element is possible, but keep it nuanced.
Miscellaneous but important notes:
- Avoid coincidence in plotting. Avoid having your sleuth leap to conclusions rather than discover and deduce.
- Pay attention to the resonance between character and plot; between plot and theme; between theme and character.
- We are looking for clean style, fluid storytelling, and solid structure. Unrealistic dialog is a real turn-off.