Author Topic: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?  (Read 449 times)

LilyBLily

Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« on: August 18, 2020, 03:52:40 AM »
I've read tons of mysteries over my lifetime, but only in recent years has there been the cozy as a category, and cozy seems to have been taken to extreme. I cite with disgust a novel I recently read in which the characters endlessly were making tea, drinking tea, and cleaning up the kitchen--and these were young people supposedly working hard as professionals to meet an important deadline. Instead, they always were taking a break to chatter. So, no, I don't want to write that kind of story.

I've written and semi-plotted a series of foreign travel mysteries. The murders are going to be soft-edged, no blood or gore. Because it's all happening in foreign countries, involvement with the local police will be kept to a minimum--none of those annoying detectives from cozy mystery who either fall for the heroine or spend all their time telling her to back off. Managing that will be a complicated dance, but habeas corpus isn't all that popular in other countries and I don't want my main characters thrown into dismal jails.

I think there was some discussion here recently about harder edged cozy or classic mysteries, but I can't find it. Anyway, some  questions: What kind of cover does a not-quite-cozy mystery need? Are there any recent new tropes in classic clean mysteries (the Agatha Christie type)? Does the extreme cozy audience cross over to read not-so-cozy, given how many cozy mysteries there are these days? 
 
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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2020, 04:30:34 AM »
I'm starting a new mystery series that will be set in the San Juan Islands.  These will be more like Miss Marple than Hercule Poirot, but I am also interested in how to categorize them.  The covers are definitely more cozy than serious, but that's just to set them apart from the story I'm working on now.

Lily, here is link to my website if you want to see the covers.

ETA:  I think there's a lot of crossover between mystery categories.

https://lavenderlassbooks.com/sitka-spruce-harbor/
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 03:51:58 AM by Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] »

Author of Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Suspense and Historical Non-Fiction.
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cecilia_writer

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2020, 04:39:48 AM »
There was mention of some newfangled thing called 'Brozy' mysteries in the Nosy Busybodies section not long ago. But I'm not sure these were actually harder-edged. The thread started with something to do with covers.
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 
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cecilia_writer

Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2020, 04:52:31 AM »
Thanks. I feel stupid not to have found this on the site; probably did not look hard for it.
 

Wonder

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2020, 03:33:51 AM »
I feel like we’re missing a genre in the marketplace. Cozies do well, thrillers too, but straightforward traditional mysteries seem to struggle.

Kindle category wise, you’re probably looking for Amateur Sleuth. But I’ll admit that my own sleuth novels have done less well than my true cozies.

Wonder
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

― W.B. Yeats
 

spin52

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2020, 10:02:38 PM »
Lily -- That's the kind of mysteries I've been reading and writing for years and I can tell you marketing them ain't easy. I cringe at what the cozy mystery has become, a terrible pun in the title and a silly amateur detective with nothing better to do than get under the feet of the handsome detective in between grooming poodles or making patchwork quilts or ... whatever. Having grown up reading Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, etc., I have a good idea of what I like, and it's not what's being written now. So I think your idea sounds good and I'd definitely read them.
I'm not the person to consult on covers, as I do my own and they're my weak point, but I'd just steer clear of anything 'cute'.

Lorri -- The 'coziest' of my three series is set in Seattle, but one of the books takes place on a tiny island in the San Juans. If you're interested, it's https://amzn.com/dp/B01NBISHGI. Good luck with your series!
     

Traditional mysteries with a dash of humor -- no cats, no cupcakes.
 
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Paul Gr

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2020, 02:47:55 PM »
I've written a novel which I describe as a 'non cosy British seaside mystery.
The non cosy bit is part of the 'official' description.
(should I have used the American version of cosy?)
British seaside mystery is a distinct genre, in case anyone was wondering.
Why did I describe it as 'non cosy' etc?
Probably because I was repelled by the cosy version.
Will non cosy repel readers of cosy?
Have I inadvertently started a new trend; goodbye cosy, hello non cosy?


Maggie Ann

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2020, 11:57:48 PM »
Lily -- That's the kind of mysteries I've been reading and writing for years and I can tell you marketing them ain't easy. I cringe at what the cozy mystery has become, a terrible pun in the title and a silly amateur detective with nothing better to do than get under the feet of the handsome detective in between grooming poodles or making patchwork quilts or ... whatever. Having grown up reading Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, etc., I have a good idea of what I like, and it's not what's being written now. So I think your idea sounds good and I'd definitely read them.
I'm not the person to consult on covers, as I do my own and they're my weak point, but I'd just steer clear of anything 'cute'.

Lorri -- The 'coziest' of my three series is set in Seattle, but one of the books takes place on a tiny island in the San Juans. If you're interested, it's https://amzn.com/dp/B01NBISHGI. Good luck with your series!

+1

Since I read that type of book (detective/police procedural), that's what Amazon recommends to me. They call it traditional detective.

I would stay away from illustrated covers and cutesy cats and dogs. I think a cat or a dog is fine, but only if it's real. Although David Rosenfelt found that his Andy Carpenter (lawyer) mystery series only started selling when he featured dogs on his covers.

           
 

LilyBLily

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2020, 11:59:34 PM »
I hope so. The Facebook Brozy Mysteries r Us group doesn't look very active and "brozy" is a terrible name. I like the idea of a British seaside mystery, and it absolutely doesn't have to involve quilts, cats, or extremely cute teahouses to entice me. Although it being the UK, a tea establishment of some sort would not seem twee. I avoid twee.
 

cecilia_writer

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2020, 03:09:26 AM »
I sometimes have knitting and cats and quilts in mine but only in a kind of sarcastic way.  I always use photographs for the cover images.
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 

Gerri Attrick

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2020, 03:12:31 AM »
I've never heard of British Seaside mysteries as a genre, and I've been reading mysteries all my (long) life, and I'm British.

(The only one I know of - and highly recommend - is Peter Bartram's Crompton of the Chronicle mysteries, set in Brighton in the 1950s/1960s and featuring a local crime reporter.)

Whatever - I write British whodunits myself. One series, although contemporary, is listed under Traditional mysteries, female sleuth. For a while, on the insistence of an American author friend, I had it listed under the cozy cat, but a lot of readers have complained. One American reviewer said it wasn't a clean cozy and that the heroine watched two people having sex. Shock! Horror!  :eek: It's not so much a sex scene as a sex sentence. The heroine is searching a penthouse office when she hears voices approaching and rushes through the first available door. She listens at the door as two people - possible suspects - enter the office and proceed to get close. When she realises what's about to happen, she hastily closes the door and looks around - only to discover that her sanctuary is the executive bathroom.
The same reader also complained that the book was filled with Hell and damn. It's hardly filled with them - there's a plot and a sub-plot for heaven's sake - but the protagonist's favourite curse is Hell's teeth. Mea culpa on that one.

Another series, set in the 1920s, I've listed under Historical mysteries, female sleuth. (No sex in that one, though there is the occasional damn, dash, and dang. It's the way people talked back then. And some of the characters smoke. They did that in 1924, as well  :shrug )

As for your idea of travel mysteries, Lily, check out the books by Judith Cranswick. She writes a series of mysteries featuring a tour guide. They are set in various places in Europe. You might get an idea for covers from them.
 

LilyBLily

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2020, 03:39:29 AM »
I've never heard of British Seaside mysteries as a genre, and I've been reading mysteries all my (long) life, and I'm British.

(The only one I know of - and highly recommend - is Peter Bartram's Crompton of the Chronicle mysteries, set in Brighton in the 1950s/1960s and featuring a local crime reporter.)

Whatever - I write British whodunits myself. One series, although contemporary, is listed under Traditional mysteries, female sleuth. For a while, on the insistence of an American author friend, I had it listed under the cozy cat, but a lot of readers have complained. One American reviewer said it wasn't a clean cozy and that the heroine watched two people having sex. Shock! Horror!  :eek: It's not so much a sex scene as a sex sentence. The heroine is searching a penthouse office when she hears voices approaching and rushes through the first available door. She listens at the door as two people - possible suspects - enter the office and proceed to get close. When she realises what's about to happen, she hastily closes the door and looks around - only to discover that her sanctuary is the executive bathroom.
The same reader also complained that the book was filled with Hell and damn. It's hardly filled with them - there's a plot and a sub-plot for heaven's sake - but the protagonist's favourite curse is Hell's teeth. Mea culpa on that one.

Another series, set in the 1920s, I've listed under Historical mysteries, female sleuth. (No sex in that one, though there is the occasional damn, dash, and dang. It's the way people talked back then. And some of the characters smoke. They did that in 1924, as well  :shrug )

As for your idea of travel mysteries, Lily, check out the books by Judith Cranswick. She writes a series of mysteries featuring a tour guide. They are set in various places in Europe. You might get an idea for covers from them.

Thanks for the recommendations. I have in mind some relatively exotic places. They're easy enough to get to these days and actually not particularly expensive, either, but many people don't make the effort, or can no longer travel, or whatever. I thought some armchair traveling would be entertaining. I myself often pick up mysteries just because they feature a locale that interests me. Some places I've visited simply cry out for a suspenseful plotline.
 

Maggie Ann

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2020, 03:43:18 AM »
I've never heard of British Seaside mysteries as a genre, and I've been reading mysteries all my (long) life, and I'm British.

(The only one I know of - and highly recommend - is Peter Bartram's Crompton of the Chronicle mysteries, set in Brighton in the 1950s/1960s and featuring a local crime reporter.)

Whatever - I write British whodunits myself. One series, although contemporary, is listed under Traditional mysteries, female sleuth. For a while, on the insistence of an American author friend, I had it listed under the cozy cat, but a lot of readers have complained. One American reviewer said it wasn't a clean cozy and that the heroine watched two people having sex. Shock! Horror!  :eek: It's not so much a sex scene as a sex sentence. The heroine is searching a penthouse office when she hears voices approaching and rushes through the first available door. She listens at the door as two people - possible suspects - enter the office and proceed to get close. When she realises what's about to happen, she hastily closes the door and looks around - only to discover that her sanctuary is the executive bathroom.
The same reader also complained that the book was filled with Hell and damn. It's hardly filled with them - there's a plot and a sub-plot for heaven's sake - but the protagonist's favourite curse is Hell's teeth. Mea culpa on that one.

Another series, set in the 1920s, I've listed under Historical mysteries, female sleuth. (No sex in that one, though there is the occasional damn, dash, and dang. It's the way people talked back then. And some of the characters smoke. They did that in 1924, as well  :shrug )

As for your idea of travel mysteries, Lily, check out the books by Judith Cranswick. She writes a series of mysteries featuring a tour guide. They are set in various places in Europe. You might get an idea for covers from them.

I enjoy your Lady Eleanor mysteries set after World War I. At least she was a spy during the war so I feel that qualifies her to be a private enquiry agent.
           
 

RiverRun

Re: Not-Quite-Cozy Mysteries--know any tropes? How to market?
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2020, 10:24:06 PM »
Over the summer I read Estelle Ryan's The Gauguin Connection. There was almost nothing in the story related to the cover. The cover signals genre perfectly though. For a travel book you would probably need something specific to the location, but I think a scenic photo can go far.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008X3NCRE?notRedirectToSDP=1&ref_=dbs_mng_calw_0&storeType=ebooks
« Last Edit: October 17, 2020, 10:26:33 PM by RiverRun »