Ok, so I know I was supposed to do another London post today, and talk about some book-related lessons learned from my trip a couple of weeks ago, but a) I'm on a train to DC today for a meeting, so this will be a bit shorter than usual, and b) I want to talk about Jeff Cohen's post from Sunday.
No, Jeff, you're not in trouble--and I don't have the right to put you in detention until I sell your next book!--but I think I have a bit of an explanation that could go toward relieving some of your frustration regarding craft/dog/cooking etc cozies.
I think, first of all, that you are correct, that the primary concern of a reader is the quality of the book, and not simply the hook. Yes, there are a lot of people who like crafts and dogs and cooking--and haunted guest houses! But I believe that they will only invest in one (or perhaps two) in a series if the quality of the book isn't strong. That's for two reasons--a) people don't want to waste their time, and b) there are a lot of examples of those kinds of books. So if a reader doesn't like your craft mystery, there are seven other series to try out.
But it is important to mention that the initial hook isn't irrelevant. I know that I'm very willing to give a chance to a thriller with a picture of St Peter's on it, or the Dome of the Rock or the Houses of Parliament. If a mystery has a knight Templar or a Centurion or a sepia drawing of a Victorian alleyway, I'll read it. At least one of them!
My wife says that when she was growing up and in an airport, if there was a hammer and sickle or a swastika on the cover, she'd buy it. Are these instincts really any different from the craft buyer or the recipe club sleuth aficionado? Ok, I'm off the soapbox. One last thing--greetings Ben! Dead Guy readers are in for a treat. Have fun, Champ! And see you at Bouchercon.