Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who Will Be The Next Linnea Sinclair?


There’s a review at Dear Author currently for Inari Gray’s WARS OF THE HEART. I have this book on my TBR pile so I didn’t read the review, but I did read the comments. Why? Because once in a while readers will begin a conversation about science fiction romance in response to that type of post. Sometimes readers will start recommending other titles. That’s the case with this particular thread.

In response to an inquiry about recommended authors, one of the participants mentioned authors Linnea Sinclair and Susan Grant. That’s awesome and a testament to their staying power as storytellers. And it got me thinking…

When I think about science fiction romance, especially in terms of recommending books, I don’t (or can’t) think about one author in particular. First, I start splitting the stories into their various subgenres and settings. Then I further split the list into types of characters, the romance-SF ratio, heat level, and so forth. I always end up with a list of books across the SFR spectrum as opposed to just a few authors.

However, I am probably a big exception in that sense (in no small part because of the fact that I read voraciously in this subgenre and am very adventurous). Most folks, however, probably just want to hear about the top 3-5 (or even just the top 3) titles/authors (whatever “top” means at any given time).

So the reason that DA thread got me thinking was this: Linnea Sinclair and Susan Grant have earned that “top” spot, but I know there’s room for more. But how did they get there? That’s the question I encourage you to contemplate because it wasn’t just by virtue of being traditionally published. Linnea Sinclair in particular did an enormous amount of outreach to readers in a variety of forums and as a result, her name is synonymous with the phrase “science fiction romance.”

The question of the title for this post is not about who will replace Linnea Sinclair or Susan Grant, but who will join them? Whose name will be automatically mentioned in review threads and mega reader forums such as Goodreads when the subject of science fiction romance arises?

With the rise of ebooks, there’s much more competition for the attention of readers. Still, there are actually two choices available to us. One is for dedicated authors to work together as a group to raise the visibility of science fiction romance as a whole (e.g., recommending your favorite titles; retweeting the SFR news of fellow authors on a regular basis; blogging about SFR topics in an entertaining way without the hard sell of one’s own books).

A second way is to be strategic about the promotion of your own books. A good starting point is Kristen Lamb’s WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide To Social Media. (This book, which is geared specifically to writers, came recommended to me by a fellow Brigader who may out herself in the comment section if she wishes!). Lots of good tips are inside this book and they can go a long way toward helping authors stand out. A little—or a lot—of competition is a good thing!

Because here’s the bottom line: I know that there are plenty of entertaining SFR titles out there, but I’m not the reader you have to convince.

6 comments:

  1. I don't know if it is a huge secret, since I've been puffing Lamb's book everywhere people ask me about marketing. LOL! Since reading it, for the first time I feel like I have a plan that fits within my comfort zone. I've read a lot of marketing ideas that I just know wouldn't work for me because I'm, well, ME. (grin)

    I have to say, I've been trying to use her techniques in a steady and consistent way since I started reading the book (and need to finish her blogging book!) and I've seen a steady (not huge, but steady) increase in activity across my social networks.

    Other resources I've found helpful are:

    copyblogger (I get lots of useful information from this blog))

    Klout helps you get a look at your SM effectiveness. It doesn't track sales, but your use of SM. In a world where you have NO CLUE how your books are doing until you get a royalty statement, it is nice to have something to look at. LOL!

    also, if you write steampunk, check this out:

    http://steampunkkindle.com/News/steampunk-authors-we-will-publicize-for-you.html

    its a great offer.

    In an interesting twist, my social media activity on FB seems to have paid off. My daughter sent me a screenshot of my latest release as "sponsored ad." I don't know who sponsored it, but it wasn't me. But she said it was all over her FB. So that was very cool.

    The other thing I need to do is read. I have a huge backlog of SFR on my ereader. I buy the books, but just haven't been able to do much reading. Going to try to change that. Because I want/need to be able to recommend books other than mine when people ask.

    Thanks for a most thoughtful post. I'd like to see us create a twitter/FB presence that is as vibrant and active and helpful as #mywana. I really do believe that rising water lifts all boats.

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  2. Thanks for reading, Pauline! Glad to hear Lamb's techniques are working for you. And the book is so easy to read, very personable style.

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  3. I've really got to read Lamb's book. Social networking can be so time consuming that learning to use it wisely is a must-do for most writers.

    Thanks Heather for a great article, and to Pauline for bringing for all her tidbits of knowledge and valuable links to the table.

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  4. I am in there pitching for the group! LOL!

    btw, if the sfrbrigade doesn't start following people, they'll hit a twitter limit. i spent time today kicking my unfollowers off my limb so I could add people who do follow me. Didn't kick sfrbrigade off though! LOL! It was like banging into a ceiling because I've been working to increase my followers.

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  5. I joined triberr tribe and have increased followers, about 150. Also met some new authors to cross promo wioth ety.

    Blog hits have doubled. Hopefully will make a difference with April SFR release, we will see.

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  6. Okay, I joined Triberr and am trying to figure out this tribes thing!

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