Saturday, May 3, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jessica Faust,

We have a guest blogger here at Killer Hobbies today. My agent extraordinaire, Jessica Faust of Bookends, LLC.

Before we get to her post, I have two business items to attend to. Last week at Becky Levine's blog, she gave away an autographed copy of Wild Goose. The commenter, Anonymous won. This was the anonymous who read WGC through her husband's doctor appt. and dinner and beyond. We don't have a name or email address, though, so if you're that person, please email me. Also, please register for KH's monthly newsletter until the end of business today to be eligible win the bag o fabric mentioned in last week's blog.

Jessica Faust is the co-founder of the literary agency Bookends, LLC. A former editor at Berkley, Jessica's knowledge in her chosen field runs deep. She's here today to talk about craft mysteries in particular and her view of the future.

Here's Jessica:

Like many of you, I recently returned from the Malice Domestic conference, home of cozy mysteries including craft and hobby mysteries. In the last few years craft mysteries have been all the rage. There was a period of time there where it seemed that as long as the craft was popular enough I could sell the book. Of course times have changed and it’s getting harder and harder these days to find a craft that hasn’t been done. On the BookEnds list alone we have rubber stamping, knitting, quilting, crochet, glassworks, baking contests, and sewing (and I’m sure I’m missing a few).

I’ve been asked time and time again why craft mysteries are so popular and I think that’s really a question for the reader. Why do you love craft mysteries? My answer is that the audience for both things seems to go hand-in-hand. Like a good craft, a good cozy mystery makes you feel just that, cozy and homey. It makes you dream of a warm fire, a soft afghan, and a quiet day filled with hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies. Cozy mysteries, like crafts, take you back to simpler times, before CSI, before we heard about what really happens to a body that’s been laying in the woods and without blood and gore.

But where are these mysteries headed and what’s the market for them? Well let me say that I don’t think craft mysteries are going away anytime soon, but I do think it’s getting more and more difficult for new authors to find a place with them. After all, what hasn’t been done. The truth, as I tell all of my clients, is that Berkley Prime Crime is the King of cozy mysteries. While a few other publishers are buying—NAL, St. Martin’s, and Kensington—there aren’t many. When considering a new mystery I always look at the Berkley list first. If they have the subject already on their list it’s not a subject I usually think is worth pursuing. In the cozy market you have only four publishers to choose from and I don’t advise going out with a mystery that already can’t be submitted to one of those houses because, for obvious reasons, Berkley is not going to do a second rubber stamping series when they already have the first one and now you’ve eliminated the biggest house in the cozy market. Publishing is tough enough without giving yourself a handicap going in. If you are a crafter and mystery writer my advice is really to pay close attention to those crafts that are becoming popular in the mainstream. Crafters are one aspect of your market, but if you notice that bead shops are popping up all over town maybe a beading mystery has potential (by the way, it’s been done).

Before heading out I want to address something Terri asked me when approaching me for the blog. She asked me specifically why one particular person hates cozy mysteries and it’s an issue that comes up for me a lot and one I feel the need to talk about a little. It’s obvious that there’s a huge market for cozy mysteries. Berkley has built an incredibly successful imprint on them and take a look at the BookEnds list, I’m not eating dog food folks. These books sell. So why is it that I so often hear people put down these mysteries, including the authors themselves? To put it simply I think people just like to criticize that which they don’t understand. If you’re going to write a cozy or craft mystery be proud of what you’re writing. Don’t feel like you should be embarrassed or what you’re writing isn’t big enough. Be proud of what you write and the audience who reads them. I say that to all authors.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog and feel free to ask any questions. I’ll try to pop in and answer as I can.

6 comments:

Kathryn Lilley said...

Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for visiting today! Loved your post. Going to Malice this year reminded me about how much I love cozy readers. I received the nicest, most gracious thank you letter from the lady who won my basket at the Silent Auction. Because I actually don't have a craft (chronic dieting probably doesn't count, although I have honed the art of stretching Weight Watcher Points), I filled the basket with everything silly I could find related to dieting - Fudge Fatale, a magnet showing a woman doing the "Refrigerator Stare," angel food cake candle, you get the idea. I was just so impressed that the lady who won it actually wrote a note of thanks. Such a cozy thing to do!!

Aimless Writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aimless Writer said...

Thank you for the advice about looking around to see what the "in" thing is. Makes total sense. (So, why didn't I notice that?)
I love all mysteries. Sometimes I need a cozy, sometimes I need something more extreme. I think people who put down cozys are a bit short sighted.
Great blog!

Camille Minichino said...

Very informative. Thank you Terri and Jessica. I like your point about cozies and crafts, how they both take us to a comfort level that we all seek at one time or another.

One reason for the putdowns and also the "embarrassment" related to cozies is that they are seldom considered for the most prestigious awards, notably the Edgars, and often passed over by "serious" reviewers.

For me, I'm very happy with Berkley!

Melissa said...

I adore Berkley books. What new books/series do we have to look forward to coming up?

BookEnds, LLC said...

Melissa:

Well I can't speak for Berkley in general, but I can speak for BookEnds clients published by Berkley. Of course we have Terri Thayer's Rubberstamping Mystery series this fall Stamped Out!, releasing yesterday was Betty Hechtman's Hooked on Murder the first in a crochet series, Sheila Connolly is writing One Bad Apple, an apple orchard mystery series, and there's a glass series Through a Pane, Deadly. Those are to name just a few new series to watch for. And of course don't forget many of your old favorites.

--jessica