Cozy mystery: A subgenre of crime fiction where violence and sex are downplayed. Usually takes place in a small, intimate community, and the crime solver is usually a woman who is an amateur sleuth. Think Jessica Fletcher. :)

Creative nonfiction: Works that are factually accurate, but are written with attention to literary style and technique. Think essays.

Fiction: Stories – short ones, novels – that are made up by the author and are not true.

Flap copy (or jacket copy): The blurb that appears on the flap of the dust jacket for a book that’s written like a “hook,” trying to persuade the reader that they should buy the book.

Frontlist: A publisher’s list of new or current titles.

Conspiracy thriller: A thriller in which the hero/heroine confronts a large, powerful group of enemies whose true extent only he/she recognizes.

Crime thriller: This is a suspenseful account of a successful or failed crime or crimes, either focusing on the criminals or the police officers on their tail.

Disaster thriller: A thriller in which the main conflict is due to some sort of natural or artificial disaster, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc.

Erotic thriller: Think Basic Instinct.

Legal thriller: John Grisham is the guru of this fiction subgenre in which the hero is a lawyer who confronts enemies both inside and outside the courtroom.

Literary fiction: According to Wikipedia, this is a term that came into common usage around 1960 to distinguish serious fiction from many types of genre fiction or popular fiction. Says Wikipedia: “In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character, the plot may or may not be important. Mainstream commercial fiction focuses more on narrative and plot.” Hmmm… can’t a novel have elements of both?

Medical thriller: The heroes, of course, in these thrillers are in the medical profession. Michael Crichton sucked me into this genre long ago.

Midlist: The portion of a publisher’s list of new or current titles made up of books expected to have less popular appeal than the frontlist.

Mystery thriller: This subgenre was always bit murky to me, because “mysteries” and “thrillers” often overlap or go hand-in-hand. It seems a bit redundant to say “mystery thriller.” Am I wrong? Someone, please set me straight… A Writer’s Digest article separates “mystery” and “thriller” this way: “A ‘mystery’ follows an intellectual protagonist who puts together clues to solve a crime after it’s been committed, and a ‘thriller’ details the prevention of a crime before it has been committed.” I don’t know if I buy that. That would make The Da Vinci Code a mystery, not a thriller. And Baby Grand too. No way. I hereby relegate this category to the Scooby-Doo Mysteries until further notice…

Nonfiction: Prose works other than fiction. The branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality, including biography and history.

Political thriller: The hero must ensure the stability of the government that may or may not employ him.

Print on demand (POD), sometimes called publish on demand: a print technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received.

Psychological thriller: The conflict between the main characters is mental and emotional, rather than physical.

Religious thriller: The plot is closely connected to religious objects, institutions and questions.

Supernatural thriller: This subgenre brings in otherworldly elements, from aliens and ghosts to weird psychic or superhuman abilities.

Techno thriller: Thrillers in which sophisticated technology plays a prominent role.


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