· By a conservative estimate, about 60-65% of Berkley/NAL Prime Crime imprints are based on hobbies.
· Most cozies are geared toward a female audience.
· The story stars an amateur sleuth, usually a well-educated female.
· Her life experiences have given her special skills that she uses in the course of solving a crime.
· Her hobby can be very diverse (scrap booker, oenophile, B&B owner, art collector, quilting).
· The location of the story is usually a small town or confined environment. This makes it believable that all the residents know each other.
· She usually has friends, relationships, or family that can get her “uncozy” police procedural information (autopsy results, investigation updates).
· Most cozies are series.
· Most of the characters in the story are fairly likable, often quirky.
· Cozies are “kinder, gentler” stories—no overt violence or overt sex (okay, well, except for my series, the Fat City Mysteries. There you get a lot of sex and violence!).
· The story is fast-paced, with lots of red herrings.
· Often, two people die before the book ends, both offstage. The first murder often takes place before the story opens. The connection between the two people is what helps the sleuth solve the crime. She is able to make that connection in a way the police fail to.
(One more disclaimer about DYING TO BE THIN—it shows the murder victims splat on the page. I think I have a few uncozy "bones" as a writer!)
The current trend is to make cozies “educational” and include bonus information, such as patterns, diet tips, or recipes.
For example, DYING TO BE THIN has diet tips at the beginning of each chapter, like the following one:
There’s an old saying: Scratch a depression, and you’ll find an anger. Well, scratch an overweight woman, and you may find an angry one underneath. Many of us eat to repress angry feelings—over a rotten childhood, over a chintzy news budget that doesn’t cover wardrobe expenses…you name it, we’ve got plenty to be angry about. Learn to express anger in a healthy, assertive way. Which doesn’t include diving into a pint of Chunky Monkey.
—From The Little Book of Fat-busters by Mimi Morgan