Readers of cozy mysteries, or cozies as they're affectionately known, tend to be insatiable. They can't get enough of these lighthearted, comedic murder mysteries featuring amateur sleuths. To meet readers' ravenous demand for new cozies, and to grow and strengthen the cozy fanbase, Kensington is expanding its commitment to the genre in 2018, publishing at least eight print and three e-original cozies per month and launching retailing partnerships and regional miniconventions across the country.
These books—whose sleuths include knitters, cooks, pet lovers, and more—are like catnip for readers who share the characters' hobbies or jobs. This year, Kensington is publishing baking cozies, such as The Raspberry Danish Murder, the just-published 22nd installment in Joanne Fluke's beloved Hannah Swensen culinary mystery series. There are also cozies focused on particular places, such as Murder in an Irish Churchyard by Carlene O'Connor, an established women's fiction author who moved into the cozy genre with her Irish Village Mysteries. Fans of adult coloring books will love the coloring cozies by Krista Davis, who is joining the Kensington list with Color Me Murder and The Coloring Crook, the first two books in her Pen & Ink series, which feature covers readers can color in.
Beyond being wonderful reads, these books encourage readers to engage with beloved pastimes. And the range of topics enables Kensington to do promotion well beyond the traditional book-related channels, including knitting publications, via special content sites such as yourbookrx.com, created for Ellery Adams, and in "all the places where dog and cat lovers are getting their cuteness fixes," says Kensington communications director Vida Engstrand.
The array of writers whose books are part of the Kensington cozies program includes longtime Kensington authors such as Lee Hollis; established authors joining the Kensington list, such as Adams and Sally Goldenbaum, and debut writers such as Devon Delaney, whose Expiration Date kicks off her Cook-Off Mystery series. Kensington will launch more than 30 new cozy series this year, more than doubling the number of cozies the house published just three years ago. Each book will be supported by a dedicated marketing campaign.
In the process of envisioning the future of its cozy program, Kensington identified an interesting problem: while readers know they love books with all the cozy attributes, many of them don't realize that those books are actually called cozies, and that they're dipping into a vast and clearly defined subgenre of mysteries that has its own community of fellow fans. And they don't necessarily know where to look for more books.
So building awareness around cozies as a genre is top priority for Kensington this year. With Barnes & Noble, Kensington is currently running a "Buy 3, Get 1 Free" sale, and plans to grow the partnership with additional promotions and even a line of proprietary series. Kensington is actively looking to partner with indie booksellers, who will receive special discounts. Kensington is even sending stores that order 25 or more cozies a "CozyBowl" gift pack "filled with all kinds of the things that make cozies so fun, from baking utensils to adorabowl toy dogs and cats, to puzzles, crafts, candy and more," says Engstrand.
But the rollout of Kensington's regional Cozy Club minicons is likely to be the most exciting aspect of the program for readers, authors, and booksellers. For these minicons, Michelle Addo, Kensington's communications manager, says, "We're bringing in 10–25 authors plus tasty refreshments from local businesses and tons of great swag. Readers are invited to come meet the authors, mingle with fellow readers, get exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming releases, learn more about the genre, and get autographed books while enjoying plenty of treats, goodies and prizes." Details about participating authors, as well as more info on the cozies program, are available at kensingtoncozies.com.
Altogether, Kensington is turning 2018 into a watershed year for cozies.
Kensington’s 2018 Cozy Club Miniconventions:
April 10: Portland, Maine, at Print: A Bookstore
July 11: Richmond, Va., at Fountain Bookstore
September 1: Forest Park, Ill., at Century and Sleuths Bookstore
November 3: Scottsdale, Ariz., at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore