I recently heard a rumor that Penguin Random House, as well as its many imprints, are considering cutting down on their cozy mystery lines. This includes the Berkley Prime Crime, Signet Mysteries, and Obsidian Mysteries lines.
You may ask right away, "Why do you care about that, Noah? You're not a mystery writer." Well, let me tell you.
Despite being twenty-something male, despite working in the indie horror community for the past four-and-a-half years, despite being an avid horror blogger/reviewer/publicist, and despite being a writer of dark fiction/horror stories myself . . . my favorite genre to read is the cozy mystery!
This may come as a surprise to many of you who have either read my work, followed my blog, or followed my micro-publishing company. While I do have a great passion for horror, my roots in the genre began long ago with the mystery genre--specifically the cozy mystery.
I grew up watching Poirot, Miss Marple, and Murder, She Wrote. And I myself still have plans to one day finish a cozy mystery novel of my own--(an official title has been in the works for about a year now).
So, needless to say at this point, I was very disappointed and disheartened when I heard that one of the leading publishers of cozy fiction, Penguin, was cutting back on the genre.
But WHY are they cutting back? Now there is the rub.
Vote with your Dollar
In the world of corporate publishing (and indie publishing for that matter) the main qualifier in whether an author, book series, or genre continues to receive support is determined by book sales. The term "vote with your dollar" is pertinent more than ever here.
What publishers most care about, especially corporate publishers, is the dollar. After all, publishing is a business. While many of us working in publishing, either corporate of independent, may love art, entertainment, and literature, we have to make a living off our work.
So, ultimately, any given publisher is looking at the sales numbers to see if any specific product, or type of product, is worth keeping. Every single book that is put out by a publisher has money behind it. Each new author is an investment for the publishing company. Ultimately, if it seems that an investment isn't paying off, the publisher drops it.
Such is the way of the publishing world.
So, how can you as a reader change this? How do you keep your favorite genres alive, your favorite series running, and your favorite authors writing?
You BUY their books BRAND NEW!
This applies not only to cozies but to all genres and authors currently on the market. The more sales a title, author, or series has the more likely the publishing company is to sign the author on for a new title. Corporate publishers actually weigh in on pre-orders as well. If there is enough purchases and excitement before the book even comes out, the publisher sees it as a good sign. They will even sometimes sign on an author for another book based on pre-orders alone.
If you love a genre, make sure to buy your books brand new. Buying a new book in your favorite genre regularly, even once a month, speaks wonders for a genre. If you want to keep a specific author or book series going, pre-order their books or buy them brand new from the store the same month they are released.
Ultimately, the dollar speaks in publishing.
Request Brand New Books for your Local Library
Of course, there are times where you as the reader may not have the extra cash to spend on a brand new book. Sometimes, money is tight and keeping a book buying habit is a privilege you just don't quite have the means for.
Well, there is another option to show your support. All local and public libraries have a system set up where you as the reader and library patron can request new books! If a library sees enough demand for a book they will order a BRAND NEW copy to keep for the library! This means, the book is still getting purchased, and the publishing company is still seeing income from the book.
Additionally, you are supporting your local library and making the book available to many new readers who may have never heard of or read the series otherwise. Many library patrons will try out a new author or book series before choosing to invest in buying the books. So, in a way, you are helping to advertise the author by making he/she available to a new audience.
Leave a Review
Of course, in the world of publishing just buying a book may not be enough. Many readers do extensive research before purchasing a new book. This research is almost always includes looking up and reading reviews by other readers.
Leaving your review helps others choose to buy a new book. It acts as free endorsement and advertising for the author.
Some of the main arenas where book reviews appear are on Barnes and Noble.com, GoodReads, and--probably most important of all--Amazon.com. The more reviews a book has on Amazon, the higher the book will appear in book rankings. This means it is more likely to appear in the "suggested purchases" for other readers.
All of this means potential sales for the book and author, and therefore, more money to the publisher to continue producing your favorite books.
E-mail the Publisher
Finally--in addition to your support through purchasing and reviewing your favorite books, authors, and genre--you may also choose to write to the publisher themselves.
All publishers should have a contact form or contact e-mail address available to the public. While the larger corporate publishers don't always respond to e-mails from readers, you should still consider making your voice heard!
In addition to "voting with your dollar" you can send in your opinion. Like a petition, the more e-mails and notices a publisher gets about a specific author or genre the more likely they are to reconsider discontinuing a series. But keep in mind, this is only a secondary or "supportive" tactic in addition to actually purchasing the books in question.
For Penguin Random House you can actually find answers to questions and contact them concerning your favorite books or authors at the Penguin Random House contact page. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries then go ahead and send them your thoughts by sending them an e-mail.
Summing it Up
Ultimately, it is up to us, the readers, to send in our support and keep our favorite authors and book series' afloat. While it may be disappointing to hear that specific authors have been dropped or book series' canceled we as the reader must take responsibility by contacting the publisher, leaving reviews, requesting books for out local libraries, and--most important of all--actually buying our favorite books brand new!
N.C. Patterson is a writer of mystery and horror fiction. He has been an active publicist, journalist, and blogger in the indie horror community for over five years.
Author of Horror Fiction