Which of these proposed cozy-mystery series will be a hit?

I'm developing several ideas to pitch to agents next year:


1. A series featuring Ricoh Cannon, copier repairman and amateur crime-solver. First books: "TONER CARNAGE," "THE COPY CAT KILLINGS" and "THE CORPSE LEFT BUTT PRINTS."


2. A series centered around Bea Buffer, city land-use planner and crime-fighting busybody, along with the sweet, dotty ladies of the Riprap Cove Zoning Klatsch. First volume: "THREE BODIES PER ACRE."


3. The Costwolds adventures of Hermione Nightshade, the long-suffering secretary to a series of soon-to-be-short-lived cozy-mystery authors. First up: "TAKE A LETTER OPENER."



What do you think? Any winners here?

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Toner Carnage is the best title, I think. But instead of a cozy, make it noir.
The Costwolds sounds like the most fun; busybody old ladies and amateur sleuths have been done.

The juvenile side of me likes “The corpse that left butt prints.”  It sounds like a strange, sexy, zombie thriller.  If you do go with the “The copy cat killers” just make sure no cats are killed.  You might run the risk of losing your cozy status if you do.  If my cozy law serves me, I believe it’s ok to kill your fellow man but never a house pet.  Good luck to you, Jim.

I really hope you're not serious.


I wish there was another genre term for mysteries that don't feature onscreen violence, sex, and bad language, but don't fit in with what's currently called 'cozy'.  I cringe when people refer to my books as cozies.

Who, me serious…me?  I promise, Pepper, that I will never refer to you as a Cozy.  You do bring up an interesting concern about the term “Cozies.” I’m not sure I like the term either.  How ‘bout “one with a pleasant tongue for the recitation of death.”  cj

As a pitch, any of them could be interesting.  The problem with a pitch is that it's just the gimmick.  It's an opportunity for cute titles and covers.  And the way you've named your characters and described your ideas, they just go over the top.  Just enough that I wonder if you're making fun of cozies rather than asking a serious question.


But, in case it is a serious question:  A gimmick only gets a cozy reader to look at the back cover or first page, but that isn't what makes a reader buy the book.  It certainly isn't what drives a cozy reader to keep coming back.  It will work against you if that's all there is.


So how are you following up the one-liner?  You need to get into the character issues fast.  You've got nothing about what makes your character or his life interesting in Number 1.  Number 2 has possibilities - zoning, boards, and even a mention of other characters, but at the moment it's just cutsie, which makes it sound like you don't have real characterization, just more gimmick.  (I like a little cute, but "dotty" and "klatch" together take it over the top.  Dotty ladies of the board, OR ladies of the zoning "klatch" but not both, imho.)


Number 3 has a promise of character conflict built in, except that it doesn't sound like a series - or at least not a cozy series.  It sounds like the one of those silly serial killer pastiches - which only last one book.  (One exception was the Miss Melville Regrets, which did last several books, but the concept was limited.)


So if you were serious, take the gimmick aspect down a notch. If you're not serious.... these are nicely silly.



I admit it. I was just goofing. Merry Christmas.
The problem with goofing around with cozy concepts these days is... you honestly could be serious.
Oh, yes!  :)  For that matter, some of the thriller scenarios are hilarious also.  I give you the Lee Child novel where all the (multiple) victims were drowned in bathtubs full of military olive green paint.

Idea No. 2 could work if you focus on the dotty ladies and not Buffer. Boomers are aging and want to read novels with characters their own age. Idea No. 3 sounds good, but if the authors are "short lived," does this mean Nightshade will have a new boss in each book?


More women than men read fiction, so you might want to focus on female protagonists.


Sally Carpenter


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