Placement is Everything in Life

I’ve been spending a lot of time in bookstores lately. No, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Barnes & Noble lately. Like many avid readers, I’d eschewed the brick and mortar stores for the pleasures of the Internet in general and Amazon in particular. That decision was less a function of laziness and more a function of distance. From 2005 to 2011 I lived in rural Maine where the closest bookstore was 60 miles away in the Presque Isle Mall. In 2011 I moved to Cudjoe Key, Florida at a time when bookstores were leaving the Keys, even Key West was without a bookstore for a while. So it was a matter of traveling one hundred and twenty miles or shopping online. From there we made the move to Hendry County, Florida. Bookstores were closer, 40 miles away, but not exactly convenient.

Suffice it to say that when I did an author event in Sarasota, FL at a Barnes & Noble, it had been a while since I’d walked the aisles of a bookstore in the flesh. Since then, it’s been a weekly trip. The smell of paper and ink became intoxicating and addicting. It’s a necessary evil.

Once I stopped sniffing the air and scooping up every book I ever thought I might like to read sometime in this lifetime from the front of the store, I took a look. Deeper. Into the bowels of Barnes & Noble. I let myself pass the enticing New Arrivals tables and the Save 20% on New Releases tables and the Bargain Books tables and moved to stacks in the back of the store. There I found Mystery, Romance, Fiction. One right after the other. And that’s where I discovered the secret. I’m not sure I should share it, but heck, we’re all friends here, right?

My books are published by Henery Press. The first books I sought out at “my” Barnes & Noble were Henery books. I wanted to see if they had Death by Blue Water or Death by Sunken Treasure. Nope. So I looked for every Henery author I could remember. Nope. No Henery and very few small press authors. Of course, I marched my little body up to the special orders desk and asked about that. The entire Henery Press catalogue is available for order, I was told. But they had none in the store. Because I am a local author, they assured me that if I scheduled a signing (and I was given a business card) it was possible that my books would be shelved in the mystery section. I pointed out some of the award winning writes who are published by Henery and it may have had some effect. Last time I was in the store (was it only Friday night?) I did see some Henery authors represented.

Most of the writers I read are what is considered “mid list” authors. Not huge sellers, but steady performers. Most, not all, of these authors were shelved in the Mystery section. I felt great satisfaction running my finger along the spines and thinking, read this, gotta get this, read this, know this author, she’s a sweetheart…” you get the picture. These authors had one thing in common. The size of the press that published them. All larger presses, Berkley, St. Martin, and that ilk. Still, the collection lacked depth. The shelves held one or two copies at most even of writers the likes of Patricia Cornwell, Catherine Coulter, and Tess Gerritsen. A few, Rita Mae Brown and Diane Mott Davidson, had entire collections (more or less) represented, but again, only one or two books. It seemed a sparse selection for the popularity of the authors.

I ventured further, back to fiction. Really I went more from curiosity than research. What was the difference between say fiction and mystery? How did Barnes & Noble distinguish between the two? That’s where the penny dropped and how I learned the secret. The big sellers, were shelved in both the mystery and the fiction area. Patricia Cornwell had several copies of several books, Same with Catherine Coulter and Tess Gerritsen. Other well-known and popular writers had the same double placement. Additionally, while their books on the Mystery shelves may be spine or face out, they were all face out in the Fiction section.

There’s a lesson there. Placement is everything in the book world. It’s a silent acknowledgement of status. If you want to be a best seller, you need to be multi-shelved!

Writers and readers, have you noticed this trend at your stores too? When you’re looking for a book, where do you go to find it?

Kait loves to hear from fans, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.

Interested in blogging with us? Contact us at kim.striker.author@gmail.com or emhelms63@yahoo.com. We’d love to have you join us.

 

 

 

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Pro or Not Pro? That is the Question

 

Are you a professional writer, or an amateur? This is an interesting question, one that E. Michael Helms has touched on previously here at MMO. But I thought I’d throw in my opinion on the subject.  The answer to the pro-or-not-pro question isn’t totally dependent on money.  Yes, if you’ve earned even one dollar on your writing, then, technically, you’re a professional. But I have a different take. To me, you’re a professional writer when and only when you start acting like it. 

 

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Here’s what I mean. I’ve earned some money–very, very little money–on my books, but I was a “pro” long before I signed a contract with a publisher. Why? Because for years I’ve (tried) to approach writing like a job, which means I write when I feel like it AND when I don’t feel like it.  I write about every day regardless of what else is going on in my life. I’m a clock-puncher when it comes to producing novels, and I firmly believe in the 10,000 hour rule outlined in Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book Outliers.  I write; I try not to talk too much about writing, or act like a writer, or dress like a writer.  It’s about the work. No more, no less. And that, to me, is the key difference between a pro and a hobbyist, between a writer who could possibly be monetarily successful at some point, and a writer who will, sooner or later, quit writing altogether. In a word, it’s about work.

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That said, lately my attitude (as well as my approach) to writing has changed. I no longer write every single day, no matter what. Often, I’ll work on my WIP for several days in a row, and then leave it for a week, sometimes longer. This, granted, isn’t the most efficient method, but I’m comfortable with it, and the stuff I’m writing is getting more and more interesting (to me, anyway). I no longer type up contracts stating that I will have a rough draft of a book by a certain date. And since I am no longer under contract with a publisher, I’m free of those more legalistic deadlines, too. I don’t like deadlines, anyway. Or rules. The only rules I (or any other writer/artist) should have to follow are ones the writer/artist set for his/herself. Ignore any others, I say.

Discussion Questions

  1. When do you consider someone a professional writer?
  2. What type of approach do you take to your writing? What is your process?
  3. Do you think it matters about the label, professional or amateur?

Max enjoys hearing from fans (and critics), so email him at maxeverhart30@gmail.com, like his Facebook page, or visit his author website.

 

 

Collusion Is a Problem: Why Writers Should Support Each Other. . .Up To A Point

By Max Everhart

The murder rate in El Salvador in 2009 was 71 per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. Which means an El Salvadorian citizen had, at the time, a one in ten chance of being murdered.  Then, in 2010, something extraordinary occurred in that country which had the dubious distinction of being the most violent nation on Earth: the murder rate fell by nearly two-thirds. How did that happen, and so quickly? In a word: collusion. The two main gangs—Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha—called a truce and agreed to stop killing each other and divide up the country into territories.  They opted to collude rather than to compete, and the results, for both the gangs and the general population, were extremely positive.

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I learned about this in Narconomics, an excellent non-fiction book by Tom Wainwright.  The book is about drug cartels and how they run their businesses similarly to that of big corporations like Walmart, and after I read about the El Salvadorian gang truce, I immediately thought about writers, and the plights of published scribes–like me–desperate for their work to receive some attention.  Indulge me a moment, and I’ll connect the dots.

Millions and millions of novels are listed on Amazon, some released by the Big Five, some by small presses, and some self-published. Now in a marketplace that saturated with books, it is daunting for a writer to compete for even a tiny slice of the market. However, as overwhelming as the odds are, I do believe it is possible for any writer to a be a success, as long as he or she is willing to redefine what success means. Having given the matter considerable thought, I’ve come to my own definition of what a successful writer is, and it is two-fold.  The first part, obviously, has to do with the work itself. For me, as long as I’m writing what I want, when I want, and how I want, I’m satisfied (or as satisfied as a misanthrope can be).  The second part has to do with marketing/promotion, which, in my case, causes way more headaches than the actual writing. To help clarify my thinking on the subject (and expand on the scope of my aforementioned definition of success), I’ve adopted three basic rules regarding marketing/promotions.

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Rule one: if I read and enjoy a book, I write a review on Amazon for it.  And, whenever possible, I encourage other readers to do likewise. On the other hand, if I read a book and don’t like it, I don’t write a review at all. Granted, negative reviews that point out flaws are important to both writers and readers alike, but I just don’t have time to type those up.  That said, I sincerely appreciate those intelligent and, for the most part, unpaid reviewers who write well-written critical reviews. I say, keep ‘em coming. Those amateur critics provide a much-needed service, and even if they post an unfavorable review of my work, I’m more than okay with it. Sincerely. In fact, I urge them to continue their good work, which leads directly to. . .

Rule two: I no longer write favorable reviews of books I don’t care for. A few years ago, when I first started publishing novels, I did a fair bit of this, and I shouldn’t have.  On occasion, I got asked by authors (and sometimes publishers) to blurb/review books, and there were several that I didn’t think much of, but I wrote positively about them anyway.  Why? A variety of reasons, most of them, in retrospect, selfish.  Chief among those reasons, though, was I, a newcomer, didn’t want to come off as a jerk.  After all, I wasn’t and am not John Updike, a critic’s darling. I’m no Stephen King, worldwide bestseller. In other words, I didn’t feel like I had earned the right to negatively critique a writer’s work.  That, I now realize, was wrong–in so many ways.  I actually contributed to the problem of market saturation by continuing to write good reviews for books that were, to me, bad. (Note: I’m not talking about solid novels that just weren’t my cup of tea; I can appreciate the merits of a George Martin sci-fi book, for example, even though I don’t enjoy reading one. No, I’m referring to poorly-written, poorly-executed novels that were sent my way.)  I pride myself on being honest, and after I became a published author myself, I was so desperate for my own success that I thought I should be positive about every book that came my way.  Another huge mistake.  I allowed my craving for book sales to drive my every decision, not considering the consequences of assigning a lot of undeserving books five out of five stars.

In broader terms, what I’m attempting to say is this: by colluding with my fellow authors and, in some cases, publishers, I helped dilute the pool of good writing out there. Many well-intentioned people, particularly authors, are guilty of this, and it is high time we stopped. I know I have.

Rule three: I subscribe to the 80/20 rule of promotions on social media, meaning 80% of your posts should be about other people’s work you admire, and only 20% should be self-promotion. This isn’t a problem for me (now) as I’ve resigned myself to a harsh truth: the books I’ve written will not sell, despite my best efforts. I’ve accepted this, and I’m happier for it. So instead of worrying about missed opportunities or wasted time, I’m focused on writing new books, which, hopefully, will find new homes and, eventually, possibly, lead readers back to the four I’ve already penned.  But full disclosure, I do very little social media promotions these days; when I do, I try to stick to the 80/20 rule. When I first started out, a majority of my posts were about my work. I was totally gun-ho, expecting to generate sales, sales, sales. Very naive, very selfish. Memory serves, I rarely promoted anyone’s books except mine. Another grievous error on my part, one I’ve recently remedied.

bottom line

Bottom line, authors and readers should support one another. . .up to a point.  Writers and reviewers should, above all else, be forthright.  Supporting writers is vastly different than colluding with them. Besides, collusion, at least in my personal experience, hasn’t worked. Take my first novel Go Go Gato, for example. It has 30 favorable reviews on Amazon as of this posting. Now, an overwhelming majority of those reviews were written by people I know or work with, and those kind folks were predisposed to liking a book I wrote. I’m not saying they were lying; I’m guessing most of them probably did enjoy my novel (it is an entertaining mystery).  But most of them also wrote those reviews at my request. And, as much as I appreciate those reviews, they still didn’t lead to increased sales.  Translation: collusion, in this instance, didn’t work. Ditto the money I spent on a blog tour and FB and Goodreads ads, but that’s a subject for another time.

A question regarding review solicitation: is it okay to ask, not pester, readers for reviews? Of course, it is. What’s not okay is cold-calling/bulk-emailing/FB-messaging authors you don’t know and haven’t even read and asking them for reviews and/or social media mentions. That happens. A lot. Even I, an obscure mystery novelist, has been asked by unknown writers to do things like that, and I’ve done it. And I always felt sleazy afterward. It’s only one mention, some might say. What’s the big deal?  It’s a big deal to me. I expect people to be honest with me about my work–the good and the bad–and I should have returned the favor, or said nothing at all.  Yes, I realize I sound like a moralist with an inflated sense of self-righteousness. Come to think of it, I probably am a moralist with an inflated sense of self-righteousness. Still, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

In summation, I want to make some money writing. My pipe dream is to earn a living off of my books, but I also know that is a long shot.  So, as of this posting, I’m re-calibrating my definition of success. I’m reevaluating my marketing practices because I want peace of mind more than I want to chase a brass ring. I don’t like jewelry on men, anyway–metaphorical or otherwise.  Men should wear wedding rings and/or watches, and that’s it.

brass

Back to those El Salvadorian gangs. While collusion between Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha saved untold lives and was a boon for that country, I think collusion between writers is having an adverse affect on the publishing industry.  Like my FB page, and I’ll like yours back. Follow me on twitter, and I’ll follow you back. Let’s trade rave reviews. I ask, what is the cost of these shady (silly?) practices? I’m a reader first and foremost, so whenever I go on Amazon and see a book has 79 reviews, I want to trust that those reviews are on the level.  I want to know the positives and negatives of a particular book, and then make my choice. I want to read the honest and heartfelt thoughts of others, filter them through my own brain, and then make my choice. Is that a lot to ask? I don’t think so.  More important than my book selection, I want my integrity back. No, I didn’t sell my soul to try and move some units, but I did compromise my. . .well, I compromised something, and I don’t like it. Hence, my rules.

feedback

What are your thoughts on the subject(s)? Do you think reviews are being inflated? Do you feel there is too much collusion between writers? Leave me a comment.

And, if you’re so inclined, you can check me out on FB here, twitter here, my author website here, or send me an email to maxeverhart30@gmail.com. But no pressure. . .only if you want to.

 

 

 

What, Wait, No, It can’t be that late@

Writing is a writer’s life but guess what. We have family, commitments, day jobs (OMG day jobs) and then…there’s the writing, the editing, the support for other writers, the marketing, the social media, and the round robin of events that make all writers want to scream…STOP!Never find time

I’ve got a day job. It’s demanding and high pressure, and as filled with deadlines as my writing life. More than that—it pays the bills. A typical day for me starts at 5 AM and goes until 4 or 5 PM. During that time, I have to be sharp, on my game, and ready to tackle anything. This weekend I worked eight hours on Saturday and nine on Sunday. What, really, you might ask, do you do? Rocket science, brain surgery? Nope. I’m a paralegal with a trust, estates, tax, probate, and litigation practice. Not a lawyer, a paralegal. An underling.

My boss is one of the greatest people on earth. He does not ask me to work these insane hours. Why then, do I do it? Well, he does it, he’s right there in the office working too. And he would never impose on my time, so I know—when deadlines loom (and all of my practices are deadline driven) that it’s my job to do my job. He will and has picked up the slack when I have other commitments. Find me another boss who will do that without complaint or repercussions. When you work for someone like that, you give 110%. It’s only fair.

Did I say my boss is one of the greatest people on earth? He is. He vets my novels for legal mistakes, offers up story ideas, throws me out of the office to handle marketing, understands and gives me leave time to make deadlines. In short. He supports not only my work life, but my writing life. And with every book that comes out, he buys a box and gives them for gifts. Way cool, huh.

But all of this begs the question. When the heck do I write? I have a demanding husband, six cats, and four birds who all have individual requirements. So much for that spare time thing. But here’s the catch. Writing is my job. It’s my second job. I have a contract with Henery Press, I write short stories, I write blog posts and each has an individual deadline. Writing is not a hobby for me. It’s work. It’s how I intend to pay the bills, at least that’s my hope (and my dream—you listening Karma?).Lau Tzu on time

What that means for me is after the day job is done, the cats, husband, and birds fed, the litter boxes cleaned, I am at my desk, plucking away on my laptop for four hours. Yep, four hours. I try to get my social media stuff and blog responses done during breaks in the day, but the meat and potatoes of writing. That requires a chunk of time. So, here I am surfing my keyboard putting words on the page.

Right now I’ve got one novel half way done, this blog post nearly done, a new novel in the percolating stages and a short story for True Story magazine in outline stage. I’m getting ready for a personal appearance the Saturday after this in Sarasota, Florida (anyone going to be near the Barnes & Noble on June 18th? Come and visit, I’m doing a reading at 10, signing books most of the morning and participating in a panel discussion in the afternoon – love to meet you).Time Steven Covey

Bottom line…if you love it, you will do it. Time is ours to use as we see fit, and to some extent, it’s elastic enough to let you follow your passion!

Kait loves to hear from fans, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.

 

 

What Is A Novel? And Why Does It Matter? And To Whom?

According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, a novel is “a long, printed story about imaginary characters and events.” I find that definition, while technically accurate, woefully vague. Dictionary.com, thankfully, has a more precise definition: “a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.” Formal language aside, this is much better. Far more specific and comprehensive. However, neither definition concretely addresses what is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of a novel: length. So allow me to synthesize parts of the above definitions with one of my own.   A novel is a piece of fiction that is 60,000 words or more.

important

But what’s more relevant than the definition itself are the reasons why readers and writers alike should care.  So let’s discuss, briefly, what some of those reasons are, why they matter, and to whom they matter. First off, I’ve yet to come across a literary agent or a publisher that will even consider a manuscript that is less than 60,000 words, so length is paramount.  My guess is that’s to do with marketing.  Agents must sell manuscripts in order to make any money, and publishers big and small are not willing to spend the time, energy, and resources on any manuscript, regardless of quality, that cannot be labeled a novel, which is, by leaps and bounds, the most popular form of fiction read today.  It’s supply and demand. Simple as that.  That said, I love short stories and novellas, but generally speaking, people don’t read them. Truth be told, I don’t read them much, unless it is for a literature or creative writing class I happen to be teaching.  In short, readers read novels. Period.

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Money is another reason writers should be keenly aware of the definition of a novel.  Everything, in the end, gets back to money. Sad, but true.  And if publishers are going to go to the trouble of publishing a book, it needs to be of substance and of a certain length, i.e. novel-length. Quick hypothetical: imagine you’re a Kindle reader, and you purchase a “novel” that looks good, but then soon discover the book is less than a hundred pages.  You feel cheated, right? Betrayed, maybe even enough to not bother with the rest of the book.  And if you do read on, that sense of betrayal can and will color your opinion of the book in question, especially since you paid good money for it.  Now consider the cost of printing a hardback or paperback.  After paying editors and proofreaders and book cover designers, a publisher has to then send a typeset manuscript to a printer, and that costs even more money.  Publishers must be selective in what they publish. Highly selective.  It’s not just a question of money, but time as well. For all the time a publisher spends on one book, that same publisher is missing out on a whole slew of other books, all potential bestsellers. For you business types out there, you’ll know there is a name for this: FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.

Bottom line, writers need to be aware of what publishers and agents mean when they ask for novels, and act accordingly. Because if writers don’t, they’ll get something even worse than a boilerplate rejection notice in their inbox: they’ll get no response at all.

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So what’s your definition of a novel? Why do you think readers prefer novels over other forms of fiction such as novellas and short stories? I’d love to hear what you think.

A Writer’s Goals: An Obscure Mystery Novelist Gives First Time Writers Some Much Needed Information Regarding Publishing

writer

Dear Unpublished Novelist,

Stop what you’re doing. Immediately. Paying attention? Good.

Now read the following letter (in its entirety) before you decide what to do with that first manuscript you spent so much time on your posterior writing. Trust me, it’ll only help. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

A Writer’s Goals

So you wrote a book, eh? Good for you. A major accomplishment. You should be proud as punch. After all, there aren’t enough novels in the world.  I kid. Congrats, for sooth.  Now, an important question: should you send your book (your precious baby that you slaved away on) to an agent, a small press, or self-publish?

My answer: depends on what your goals are as a writer. Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on the subject. Bare in mind these are just my humble opinions based on my experiences in the biz.

Agents/Big Publishers

There are exceptions, of course, but if you want to earn anything even close to a living, then you definitely need an agent and a big New York publisher. Agents and big publishers have the resources to get your book into bookstores and libraries around the country; they can get your book reviewed in a variety of influential publications; they can set up book tours (although those are becoming less and less frequent unless your name is James Patterson or Nora Roberts). And agents, the good ones anyway, are advocates who help your career in ways that you on your own would never be able to do.  Do you know anything about contract law? Do you read and understand legalese? Do you have experience negotiating? No? Me neither. Those are just some of the many reasons you need an agent in your corner.  Bottom line, if you want to make some money writing, your best shot is with an agent and a big publisher. Period.

Small Presses

If your goal is to experience the thrill of having your work in “print,” then a small press is great. Nowadays, there are TONS of small presses out there, and some of them put out excellent books at reasonable prices.  Another advantage: small presses will take manuscripts directly from an author, whereas big publishers will only read manuscripts sent to them by literary agents. That’s the good stuff. Now, the bad: if you sign with a small press, chances are you will make little to no money (most DO NOT give advances on royalties), and you will be responsible for a majority of the promotions. Also, unless you happen to live near the publisher, or you are willing to travel (at your own expense) to their offices, you will never meet them in person, which, for some writers, could be a major problem.  (I’m not particularly fussed about that as I’m a borderline recluse and love to travel . . .all around MY HOUSE.) Most likely your communication with a small press will be through emails, and perhaps a phone call here and there, if that. I know of some small press writers who have never spoken to their publishers, at all.

I’d compare the experience of working with a small press to taking college courses online: sure, it is convenient and you’re still getting a decent education, but you have very limited access to actual human beings, and, as we all know, things can get lost in translation via email and phone.

My opinion: small presses do their best, but their resources (and time) are limited, so go into the whole process with your eyes open. . . and perhaps most importantly: manage your expectations.

Self-Publishing

As for self-publishing. . .well, I get tired just thinking about it.  Advantages: you do get to keep more of the money you earn, and you’re in total control, which, as a control freak, is attractive to me and more important than the money aspect even. However, it’s expensive because you’re responsible for everything.  Literally everything.  Writing, editing, book cover, promotions. . .the whole shooting match.  It’s a ton of work, and frankly, there are SO MANY self-published books out there that it will be very, very, very, very difficult to get yours noticed. It can be done. I know at least two successful self-published authors out there, but both of them had agents and big publishers at one time, which helped them build up a readership that enabled them, in my opinion, to be successful on their own. Plus, those authors hustle, man; they work their butts off, which a lot of us writers, myself included, aren’t willing to do. My take, the self-publishing route is a long shot, but hey, writing is a long shot, so do what you feel!

So there you go, Unpublished Novelist. My two cents worth. Remember to take all of my advice with a grain of Margarita salt.

Yours in wisdom (which is just a synonym for regret),

Obscure Mystery Novelist

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Kait Carson: The Cozy is Dead–Long Live the Cozy

Author photos 009On the plight of the cozy mysterySo, with all that popularity and variety, how is this subgenre under attack? Easy, traditional publishing houses, both large and small are cutting or reducing their cozy lines. Authors are being given notice that their series are not being renewed, or are being discontinued.

The Cozy is Dead – Long Live the Cozy

Genre writing is rife with pitfalls. Fashionable reads come and go with what seems like head spinning frequency. Right now, it appears that the cozy is under siege, and under siege from an unlikely source. Publishing Houses.

Cozies are not a genre. The genre is mystery in all its myriad of forms. The cozy is a subgenre of mysteries, as are traditional, historical, humorous, steampunk, noir, and the list goes on. (Who else just tapped their feet to Sonny and Cher?) A cozy can be set in the current time, past, future, even in a fictional world of fairies and wizards. What matters is the quest, and the crime. Usually murder.

What sets the cozy apart then? It’s debatable and there are as many answers as there are authors so this is a generalization. The cozy features an amateur sleuth, they are usually set in a small town, and typically, the sex and violence take place off the page. Oh yes, they usually have a tame vocabulary too. One cusses in a cozy, and curses in a thriller. Think Miss Marple.

marple

The cozy has subgenres. Caterers and cooks are among the most popular, specialty shop owners, crafters, book club members, even soccer moms can be a cozy sleuth, and each subgenre has its devoted followers. Some of my best recipes came from Diane Mott Davidson books. If only I could figure out a way to send you a batch of Scout’s brownies! You’d see exactly what I mean.

So, with all that popularity and variety, how is this subgenre under attack? Easy, traditional publishing houses, both large and small are cutting or reducing their cozy lines. Authors are being given notice that their series are not being renewed, or are being discontinued. The last list I saw had over twenty series on it. One publishing house quote I read laid the cause at the feet of the decline in mass-market sales. Is this really about the rise of the e-book? Many of the big five publishers price their e-books in the $7 to $8 range. That seems like a lot when there are so many small press and quality independent e-books available in the $3 to $5 range. Economics figures into everything. Especially the profitability of a large press. They have a lot of mouths to feed after all and they may not be able to cut lower and keep the lights on.

There has also been speculation on blogs, but not in anything I’ve seen attributed to a publishing house, that there is a perception in publishing circles that the cozy is formulaic and the public is tiring of them. In other words, if you can dance at Arthur Murray’s, you can write a cozy. Just put your cursor in the footsteps and away you go. As an author of traditional mysteries, I can only say, “if only!” There is no cozy formula, any more than there is in any other genre. A reader enters into a contract with the author when the reader opens a book. That contract relates to certain expectations. How the author delivers those expectations makes, or breaks, the book in the reader’s eyes. If we judge by popularity, cozies have delivered on the promise.

So how does this bode well for the cozy mystery? At first glance, not at all, but writers write. That’s what we do. While we may lose some of our favorite series, those same authors will find new homes—or decide to strike out as independents. The cozy will go on. It may be changed, it may not be as available in neighborhood bookstores (the few that remain), but it’s a safe bet that the cozy will live.

Long live the cozy.

book reviews

The best way to thank an author is to write a review. Reviews count with publishers and with standings on websites such as Amazon. This opens the door to the book being a suggested read and catching the attention of other readers. 

Editor’s note: there is a lot of excellent information regarding cozy mysteries out here. I’ve included a few helpful articles below, if you’re interested. The article from Writer’s Digest is particularly insightful.

Writer’s Digest, “4 Things You Should Know About Writing a Cozy Mystery Novel”

Writing Novels That Sell, “10 Tips to Make Your #Cozy #Mystery Sell” 

Huffington Post, “The Immense Popularity of the Cozy Mysteries”