In trying to figure out which of my book elements are appropriate for a query, I'm stumbling on how to say "it takes place in the 1970s." Much easier to say "contemporary" or "historical" romance, but online research is showing different definitions for these (i.e., different time periods as cut-offs). Someone even coined a new word: "retro." Point is, I'm finding few periods for either era that include the 1960s through 1980s. How do you recommend handling this?
oh boy, this is a really tough question. Since agents come in all ages, you want to be VERY careful about calling something set in the 70's (when they were in high school, or college, or working their first job in publishing!) historical!
I've often heard agents of a certain age grouse that nothing after their birth year better be "historical."
But there's no way to know just exactly how old Barbara Poelle IS (sharks live for years and years) or how young Brooks Sherman isn't.
There was a recent quiz on Buzzfeed to guess one's age, and my result was off by so much it was ludicrous.
So, no "historical."
Retro isn't a word you want to use either since it refers to style, not time frame.
I think you want to be very very plain: my novel is set in the 70's. And you might want to mention why it is as well, given that's always one of the things I wonder about.