My manuscript is about a fictional murder/kidnapping case that takes place in 1932 New York City. And yes, I made sure the time period is a necessary element of the plot. The good news: publishers tell my agent they like my writing. The bad news: they claim there's no market for period mysteries like mine.
My first argument: publishing houses reprint dated fiction by authors from the 50s and 60s all the time. (I understand they many of them have name recognition and a track record of success that I don't have, but it's still period material.)
My second argument: The Emmy Awards this year are full of period fiction like Mad Men, Mildred Pierce, Boardwalk Empire, and so on. I know tv/cable is a different medium than publishing, but there seems to be an appetite for period fiction. What do all of you think?

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It's a historical mystery, right?  And they do publish those. Now what you may be hearing is that this particular publisher does not.  Keep submitting.

It is a historical mystery. I intentionally set it in 1932 amid the factual turmoil in New York toward the end of Prohibition and the beginning of the Great Depression. Like I said, they say they like my writing but not my choice of era.

Thank you, I.J. My agent and I aren't giving up yet.

Right!  And good luck!
True, Dan. All too true.
True. I just read The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane, who need beg from no publisher. Great story, set in 1919, about the Boston Police Strike, two families, one white, one black, and, believe or not, featuring Babe Ruth when he played for the Red Sox!

Hey Terrence,


There seems to be  quite a bit of fiction published that takes place in the 30s and 40s.


I'm currently reading one of the Bernie Gunther novels by Philip Kerr.



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I agree, Stephen. Thanks for the input and good luck.


One of my mentors, Robert Clark, wrote Mr. White's Confession, a thriller set in 1939 Minneapolis, MN. It has been described and "high brow" but suspenseful and gritty too. (See Amazon) I read it years ago and some of the images are still with me, in a good way. He's a great writer. I've read all of his work. This one was published by Picador. And I think it's going to be made into a movie. I'll be seeing him in about a week and will hopefully get the skinny then.


Good luck.

Thank you so much, Meg. I really appreciate it.

No place for period pieces?  Calib Carr and Megan Abbott don't exist?  Didn't Denis Lehane just come up with a best seller that's a period piece?  And didn't Anne Perry get rich selling period pieces.  


Maybe your agent needs to meet some new publishers.


I think you should put it out yourself as an ebook.  None of us needs agents and publishers any longer.  


Sorry for the rant, but the agent's answer seems way wrong.

I agree, Brian. I still have a few other publishers to go to, so I'm not discouraged yet. Just really puzzled by their claim that no one wants to read period pieces anymore. If the other publishers have the same argument, I will self-publish.
Let us know when it hits the market.  I know I'll buy a copy.


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