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Top 3 Tips to Kill It in Crime Fiction

by The Urban Writers

Are you just setting out on your self-publishing journey? Or perhaps you have focused on a genre that isn’t really working out for you?

Would you like to know what the second most profitable genre is on Amazon right now? Well, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that crime fiction is killing it with  $728.2 million in sales.  

So how can you get your stab at the action? (No more crime puns, I promise).

Crime Fiction Market Value

With more than 1 million self published books available for purchase right now, if you want to be successful in the self publishing industry you have to pick the right genre.

Just like the true crime genre, crime fiction, mystery, and thriller books are exploding in popularity right now. In fact, in a recent survey US readers voted this their number one favorite genre. 

Crime Fiction Subgenres

There are a whole range of crime fiction subgenres that you could focus on, some are more popular than others, of course, but it really comes down to personal taste. These sub genres include:

  • Whodunnits
  • Legal thrillers
  • Hardboiled detective stories
  • Noir fiction
  • Spy novels
  • Psychological thrillers

What is a Crime Novel?


One of the key elements of crime fiction is that you are constructing an unfolding narrative that slowly builds suspense before reaching a conclusion (or multiples thereof). Most crime novels are told from the perspective of the person tasked with solving the crime.

A few crime novels do venture into the criminal narrator field, but even then, perspectives are usually switched throughout between the investigating character and the criminal character.

Great crime novels have pretty complex timelines and certainly don’t fall into the trap of obvious motives (who wants to solve the crime on the second page, right?)

Top 3 Tips for Crafting a Killer Crime Fiction Novel 

If you’re thinking that all that you need to do is kill off a few characters and then have the main character solve the case, think again. Crime fiction readers are some of the most discerning of all genres.

If you leave any loose ends, they will find them and they will call you out on them, so best you craft a tight and punchy plot with some seriously butt-kicking main characters to get (and keep) their attention. 

Top Tip # 1


Read, read, read! And then read some more. If you have never been an avid reader of crime fiction, there is a very good chance you will have no idea how to write it. In order to know what your readers want, you have to become one.

Want some suggestions to start building your crime fiction library? Here are the top 10 best crime fiction books of the last decade, according to the Crime Reads website: 

  • Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran (2011)
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)
  • The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura (2012)
  • Night Prayers by Santiago Gamboa (2012)
  • And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman (2012)
  • Dare Me by Megan Abbott (2013)
  • The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura (2014)
  • Every Man a Menace by Patrick Hoffman (2016)
  • The Long Drop by Denise Mina (2017)
  • Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (2018)

Top Tip # 2

Research. Remember how I said that crime fiction readers are a seriously well-informed bunch? Well they also know their mitochondrial DNA from their genetic genealogy! Crime readers are going to spot your rookie errors, so don’t make them.

It’s fiction, of course, so you can embellish slightly. Maybe you don’t have to make your characters wait the couple of months it actually takes for lab results to come back, but make sure that, for the most part, your information is factual.

Top Tip # 3

Start with a bang. While it’s probably just as important in any genre to hook readers from the first page, it is vital in crime fiction. Open with a crime or a description of a crime so that readers are well-immersed from the get-go.

Now, this does not have to be a scene of the actual murder or whatever other crime you are writing about. You can, for instance, start off as your criminal flees a scene or stalks their victim. You could also start off from your victim’s perspective as they feel they are being hunted, hear a noise, or see a shadow move in their home.

Get creative with your hook, but get those claws in fast.

Get more tips

Have An Idea? What Now?

So you have an idea for the next best selling crime novel, don’t you? You know whodunnit and why and you’re going to have your readers in suspense right down to the last thread. That’s great, but you aren’t going to make any money off an idea that’s stuck in your head.

Get That Mystery Inked 

I know that the creator in you just wants to jump into writing. Trust me, I get it. But, most especially with this genre, jumping into the deep end is not a great idea.

Think about a piece of crime fiction as a tapestry of different colored threads. If you fail to stitch in even one of those threads, the whole project is at risk of falling flat.

That’s where a really detailed outline comes in.

When you draw up a chapter-by-chapter outline, you are able to figure out, beforehand, where those all-important golden threads need to go. It might be maddening while you’re doing it, but it will all be worth it when you put pen to paper.

Get It Done Right Now!


If you simply cannot wait to start dipping your toes into this market, the good news is, that you don’t have to. Instead of slogging away at a manuscript for the next year only to find that someone else has already published something with a similar storyline, get your crime fiction book written, edited, and perfectly formatted far quicker by using a writing service.

Once you’ve got that outline done, you can simply send it over to an experienced crime fiction ghostwriter and watch your vision come to life. Or if you just have the bare bones idea and you need more assistance with how all of those threads tie together, have a writer help you with an outline.

The Urban Writers’ Platinum Bundle includes a professional outline and you can collaborate with your writer while they craft it for you!

It’s a Wrap 

If you are looking for a profitable and exciting genre in which to launch your self publishing career, look no further than crime fiction. With an ever growing readership base, you are sure to be seeing dollar signs in no time.

As long as you are following the basic tenets of crime fiction writing, focus on creating a great outline, and use an experienced ghostwriter if you prefer, your crime fiction publishing business will soon be taking off!


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