I’ve written a cosy mystery. I started writing it around the time I read an article in The Guardian that said the cosy mystery was undergoing a renaissance. I liked the idea of writing a story that was a puzzle to be solved. A game for the reader, rather than a gritty police procedural, and with a sleuth who was an average person who could solve a crime.
I’ve always enjoyed reading cosy mysteries – golden age mysteries from Agatha Christie or Victoria Holt, and modern cosies such as the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris, and the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.
Unfortunately, the feedback I’ve had from some publishers and editors since I finished my manuscript is that the cosy mystery is not popular (unless you’re already an established author in the genre). An Australian publisher with two cosy mystery authors on their books told me that the print runs are small. Naturally, with two cosy mystery authors (and these are really good authors) on their books, they wouldn’t be looking to take on any more.
Crime fiction, however, of which cosy mystery is a sub-genre, is immensely popular and sells better than many other genres. I don’t know why people wouldn’t want to purchase or read a cosy mystery being that it is a sub-genre of crime fiction, but it appears that readers are more interested in books that are darker. Are cosy mysteries too whimsical, perhaps?
If I’ve written a book that publishers aren’t interested in because they don’t think it will sell, what can I do? Here are some of the options I could consider.
- Keep writing cosy mysteries purely for my own personal satisfaction. However, as someone who writes stories, I would like to be able to share my stories with others (i.e. have someone read them and hopefully enjoy them!)
- Self-publish. This would mean taking on the publication costs myself, and the likelihood that I would recoup the costs is minimal. However, lots of talented authors are self-publishing these days.
- Give up. I wouldn’t be the first writer who has toyed with the idea of giving up when it all gets too hard.
- Turf this manuscript and write another book in a different genre. I’ve started thinking about my next book, which is more of a thriller with a historical crime element. I briefly pitched the idea to a publisher, who said it might be something they’d be interested in (rather than the cosy mystery).
- Rewrite the manuscript completely. I’ve engaged a professional editor who may be able to offer me a few suggestions on how to rewrite my cosy mystery into a thriller. I’ve read some really good thrillers of late, in particular by Heidi Perks and Nicola Moriarty. I enjoyed those books and would enjoy writing a book like that. If nothing else, rewriting my cosy mystery as a thriller would be a great learning exercise.
Would you buy a cosy mystery or would you be more interested in reading a thriller? Perhaps another genre entirely? Please let me know in the comments below.