Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Will Sci-Fi Romance Sink Without Innovative Marketing?

A recent post at Dear Author explores The Limits of Marketing: When Does Manipulation Go Too Far and questions whether some publicity stunts cross an ethical line. After reading the post I realized just how fierce the competition is for science fiction romance. It's difficult enough to gain visibility under normal marketing circumstances, let alone when some authors engage in questionable/manipulative, yet clearly effective strategies.

All I can say is I know what type of marketing strategies work for and on me. If I sense any kind of manipulation, I tune out. However, I can be won over with an entertaining, innovative marketing strategy.

I'd like to direct your attention to Exhibit A:

A few years ago, independent Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Álvarez made a really cool video called Ataque de Pánico! (Panic Attack!). I first learned about it at SF Signal. Check it out (you only have to watch the first 2 minutes to get the gist):

According to the Wikipedia entry,
A trailer of the film was uploaded to YouTube in October 2006, with some scenes from the finished version.[5] The official production budget of the film was given as only $300. In addition to writing, editing and directing the film, Álvarez created the visual effects based on computer-generated imagery.
The video, which was free, went viral. As a result, Álvarez got noticed in a big way:
The film was premiered on October 31, 2009 at the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre film festival and uploaded to YouTube on November 3, 2009.[7] Following widespread media coverage, Álvarez was offered a $30 million Hollywood deal to develop and direct a full-length film.
In fact, Álvarez is the director of the EVIL DEAD 2013 reboot!

Ataque de Pánico! was a marketing strategy for the aspiring filmmaker, but it was a very appealing form of marketing. He worked hard and gave me free, compelling entertainment. That kind of marketing gets me interested in a person's work. I also feel invested in his future success because it means even more entertainment for me!

$300.00 leveraged into $30 million!

What if SFR could deliver something similar--not necessarily a video--just some kind of entertainment in order to increase appeal and visibility? Granted, Álvarez had a very specific skill set and is operating in a different medium, but I can't help but wonder: what can authors of science fiction romance take away from his strategy?


  1. Interesting thoughts, Heather. And very cool video--with a real life true story that is equally as cool.

  2. I think about that video from time to time, both because it's so haunting and also because of Alvarez's success story. It's an amazing example of the power of a fun product fused with social media.

  3. Not sure if it's specific to Sci-Fi romance, but giving away something for free does seem to have it's benefits. I know authors who've done really well, mostly because of giving away the first book in a series for free. (Of course, it has to be a good book too, or no one will be inspired to buy the next book!)

    Innovative marketing is a great idea, but the trouble is, you never know what is going to work until it does. It seems lately that paying for marketing is what works, specifically bookbub. I really need to write a post about that I think.

  4. >you never know what is going to work until it does

    Very true, but I think it also helps to have a pool of ideas ready because you never know when someone might be able to execute some of them. And sometimes simply brainstorming can lead to viable ideas.

    The idea of paying for marketing--certain things, at least, like a spot on a bestseller list--is really dismaying. The odds are stacked so highly against the majority of authors. If you post about this topic I'd be interested in reading it.

    A really great grass-roots campaign can work wonders, however, but the challenge is getting the most effective ones going.

    You won't ever find me claiming this process is a piece of cake. :)

  5. What about a universe that is populated by several authors writing varying lengths/sub genres? I'm thinking like Star Trek/Star Wars but instead of each person writing about the same characters, they are just writing within the rules of the universe. Writing that epic romantic adventure alongside erotic novellas. Then add a dash of graphic artists to add to visuals? Maybe it's just my old RP roots showing or just my love for space opera. :)


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