There are hundreds, possibly thousands of niche categories in publishing and understandably, we all love the genre we write in. But as hardened niche writers, it gets a little frustating when no one knows what you're talking about. Author member Sarah Weldon, has taken matters into her own hands and created a national Cozy Mystery day to celebrate the genre she's so proud of.
What is a Cozy Mystery?
“Cozy mysteries, also referred to as “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Cozies thus stand in contrast to hardboiled fiction, which features violence and sexuality more explicitly and centrally to the plot. The term “cozy” was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.” (Wikipedia)
Examples of Cozy Mysteries
Miss Marple, Poirot, Jeeves and Wooster, Death in Paradise, Rosemary and Thyme, Murder She Wrote, Shakespeare and Hathaway, Miss Fisher Mysteries, Pie in the Sky, Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, Father Brown, Cadfael, Jonathan Creek, Midsomer Murders, Lovejoy, Aunt Dimity, Hamish McBeth, The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Inspector Montalbano.
What is Cozy Mystery Day and When is it Celebrated?
Observed annually on the 15th September (Agatha Christie's birthday), Cozy Mystery Day is about sharing and celebrating cozy mystery books, movies, and television series with the world. The official hashtag is #cozymysteryday
Why Have a Celebration Day?
For entirely selfish reasons if I'm honest! I want equality. Do you know what the second most popular genre is on Amazon after romance? Cozy mystery. Can I walk into a library or book store in the UK and find a whole section of romance, or sci-fi? Of course I can! But can I find a cozy mystery book as easily, and will the assistant know what I mean when I ask for one? Sadly the answer is no. But if I look on the shelves of the hardboiled, blood on the cover crime thrillers section, I'll always find an Agatha Christie.
That's why I started #cozymysteryday. As a way of encouraging libraries and book shops to have dedicated sections for people like me who love their mysteries to have themes like chocolate, quilting, fluffy kittens, or magical doughnuts. And because I feel like we need more ‘cozy' in the world. To brighten up our evening after a long day at work, to get us through that messy divorce, or cold and miserable winter or whatever it is that is making life troublesome. There's a reason ‘Hygge' is popular, and cozies are the book version of that. They make you feel cozy and warm, and they bring you refuge and hope.
Ways to Mark #cozymysteryday
Blogging and Social Media: There are loads of ways to celebrate the day, starting with writing a blog post on your website, or posting a tweet to wish everyone a happy #cozymysteryday.
Celebrate Your Team: Big up your crew. What is it that you love about working with them? How did you discover your cover designer, audiobook narrator, editor, your beta readers? Interview them and find out what got them into their jobs in the first place. What is it that they love about cozies, and share some of their behind the scenes. What does a typical day or project look like for them? What journey does your book go on before it reaches the hands of your readers?
Media Coverage for Free: The day is a great excuse to contact your local radio station or newspaper. Remind them about this fabulous, worldwide event. Give them some suggestions for books to include in their book feature or book club, or that could be tied in with other things. For example, if they are a wine magazine, suggest some wine-themed cozies. If they are a supermarket, how about some culinary cozies? Or perhaps they are a specialist scrapbooking magazine that might like to share some of the craft-themed cozies with their audience. Get as creative as you like, and by promoting the day, you'll end up on their radar as an author and expert.
Don't worry if you're too late to the party this year. Use the day to contact that fancy magazine you've always wanted to be featured in. You might have missed their print edition, but you could be just what they are looking for as an online story. Plus they've got a great head start for next year's celebration day, with you now top of their list!
Community Engagement: Send an email to your local library or book store to let them know about #cozymysteryday. Ask them if they would consider having a dedicated bookshelf of cozy mysteries for the day, week, or permanently. It's likely that they already have cozy mystery books or movies on their shelves. All they need to do, is put them together in one place. Post about the day on social media, and point people in the direction of that bookstore or library. You'll be promoting them for free to people who will love them, what's not to like.
In my case, I contacted my library and all the book stores in my area. I was excited to discover just how receptive they were to the idea, and all have promised to set up a dedicated section to mark the day. Why not reach out to other authors to see if they will donate a physical copy of their book to your local library? Or give copies of your books and audiobooks. I know I'd love to have copies of my books in libraries all over the world! Invite your newspaper along to a little ceremony where you hand over the books or take a photo of the shelf to share on social media. Maybe you want to donate copies of your books to your local school, hospital, dentist's waiting room, or vet clinic? Or you could offer to do a book signing event or free talk for the Women's Institute, garden centre, or coffee shop. Make the event as closely linked to your book theme as you can, that way you'll bring in the right audience.
Give Back to Your Readers: You might want to do something extra special for your readers, like run a contest or give away free copies of your book. Or you could have a virtual hang out or send them a postcard just for fun. If you write baking cozies then could they send you photos of their bakes and the winner gets a prize? If you write knitting cozies, can you share a knitting pattern with them?
In my case, I decided to create a limited edition enamel pin, especially for #cozymysteryday, and I have 100 pins to give away to my readers. Next year I'll create a new pin and do the same again. Not good at designing? Run a contest and have readers design a pin with a connection to your book series. I'd love to see other authors create pins so that fans of the genre can collect, trade or swap pins with other readers.
Take a Selfie: Invite your community to post a selfie with a magnifying glass. It could be by email, or on your Facebook page or Instagram, or it could be a GIF contest. The more fun the better – we're all about cozy don't forget. Make the day yours, unique to your stories and author brand. Post an image of your perfect cozy reading spot, just remember to use the hashtag #cozymysteryday so that everyone can join in and enjoy the day.
Challenge Your Readers and Author Friends: Why not collaborate with other authors or with your readers? Perhaps you have some aspiring writers amongst your readers; maybe they could write some fan fiction with characters or settings from your books. Or you could write a one-off edition with other authors and donate the proceeds to a charity that your readers choose. What about a cozy mystery readathon for charity? Or a 24-hour video conference on YouTube to help other authors with their craft? Alternatively, you could post some of your favourite quotes from authors and books or movies you love and encourage your fans to do the same. Host a virtual movie night on Facebook, or attend a murder mystery evening or play a game of Cluedo with friends. Feeling artistic – can you embroider an image of Poirot or paint the portrait of Miss Marple?
The most important thing is to have fun with the day and get the hashtag trending so that more people discover the wonderful world of cozies.
OVER TO YOU
Are you a cozy mystery fan? How will you be celebrating the day?
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