Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Linnea Sinclair, aiming to misbehave

hosted by Donna MacMeans

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Linnea Sinclair to the lair. Linnea and I first knew of each other back in 2003 when we participated in a paranormal anthology, Dream Quest. We reconnected in 2006 in Atlanta when Linnea was nominated and then won a RITA award for Gabriel's Ghost (Best Paranormal). Don't be surprised if she does it again with Hope's Folly. Romantic Times Bookreviews awarded the story a coverted Top Pick and called it, "a roller-coaster ride in the extreme!" Please join me in welcoming Linnea Sinclair.

HOPE’S FOLLY: Aiming to Misbehave…


Firefly fans will recognize Captain Mal Reynold’s quote in the title of my blog. Others will hopefully be intrigued enough to read on (and maybe even be encouraged to seek out Firefly and Serenity on DVD—yay!) But I’m not here to plug Joss Whedon’s works (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but to talk about Hope’s Folly and the subgenre of science fiction romance—and why you should read it, if you don’t. And why you should read more of it, if you do. And how reader expectations might be a bit skewed either way.

Hi, I’m Linnea Sinclair and I write space opera romance (I always feel like I’m standing up at some meeting, apologetically, when I say that.) It’s also called science fiction romance and sometimes labeled futuristic romance. I actually think Great Fun Book With Hot Hero And Lots Of Action is the preferred label but as of yet, I can get neither Bantam (my publisher) nor the chain bookstores to agree to that.

Science fiction romance is a genre that misbehaves. It puts the intellectual and thematic issues of science fiction smack-dab up against the emotional and angst-y issues of romance, and forces them to cohabitate. It’s tastes great-less filling fighting with less filling-tastes great. It’s you’ve got chocolate in my peanut butter. It’s…still a genre—despite the best efforts of Catherine Asaro, Susan Grant, Jayne Ann Krentz, Robin D Owens, yours truly and others—that makes people go “Huh?”. At least, according to my forays on places like GoodReads and Shelfari, it does.

Science fiction romance scares some readers. It angers others. (How dare you put chocolate in my peanut butter!) These reactions have a lot to do with reader expectations, something you all have, whether you admit to it or not. Romance readers expect an HEA—a Happily Ever After. Mystery readers expect a puzzle to solve, a dead body or three, a stolen object or two. Inspirational romance readers expect a plot line heavily involved with faith issues. Science fiction readers expect the book to be based on a theme question—a deep “what if?”—and they expect alien worlds/concepts and/or detailed world building. For starters (and yes, I know many of these things wax and wane depending on current book trends).

As with any other cross-genre book, science fiction romance has to take two (or more) reader expectations and address them in the same “real estate” (to quote Mary Jo Putney) as a one-genre novel. That means SFR authors have the same 350 pages to work with as any other author—they just have to do twice as much. Two times the plot arcs. Two times the world-building. Two times the “what ifs.” In the same space.

You know. It’s like when you were single and you had your whole bedroom closet to yourself. Then your significant other moves in and suddenly your clothes have half the space…


Let’s take my current release, Hope’s Folly (and in fact, I hope you do. Hope’s Folly can be found on either the romance shelves or the science fiction shelves of your local bookstore for only $6.99 US and $7.99 CAN! Get it now, while it’s hot, fresh out of the author’s mental oven!)

Sorry. Got carried away. Anyway, Hope’s Folly at its essence is a May-December romance. The hero, Admiral Philip Guthrie is (and I like the way Laurie at Spacefreighter’s Lounge describes him:

“Guthrie is, of course, the ex-husband of Captain Chasidah Bergen of the first two books in the series, GABRIEL'S GHOST and SHADES OF DARK. And alive he is. Injured, hobbling, disillusioned, lonely and with the weight of the universe and the hopes of the rebel Alliance on his shoulders...but still breathing. He's dismayed to find he's saddled with a derelict former citrus hauler as his command ship. This scrap-ready heap is named HOPE'S FOLLY, an unfortunate tag that Philip must live with. He hopes it's not prophetic.”

http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com/2009/02/hopes-folly-review.html

Philip is forty-five. Rya Bennton is twenty-nine—and the daughter of Philip’s first commanding officer and long-time friend, Captain Cory Bennton. With her father’s death, Rya finds herself assigned to a ship that is—unbeknownst to her initially—under Phillip’s command.

Trouble is, that last time she saw Philip, she was about ten years old, and he hated her. Well, okay, he didn’t hate her. But he was a young military officer and found her…annoying.

She found him beyond dreamy:

Lieutenant Philip Guthrie. Odd how over the years she’d forgotten his face but not the effect he’d had on her. And not certain details. The way he’d lounged at her parents’ dining room table, a slender-stemmed wineglass in his thick fingers. Strong fingers. Strong enough to hold something so delicate without breaking it. Strong enough to fire those powerful weapons that were her father’s passion.
She’d tried so hard to behave that night, but when her father said he was bringing home one of his officers, she’d never thought it would be someone like Philip. She’d met his officers before. Gruff women who pinched her cheeks. Fat men who smelled like cigars.
And then Philip strode in, tall and strong, with those beautiful blue eyes, like a prince from her storyvids. And for the first time in her life she’d fallen in love with a man who wasn’t her father.
She could not sit still. She’d wanted to fling her arms around his waist and hug him.
But she was just a child. Fat and freckled with frizzy hair.
Then he’d put his Carver in her hands, talking all the while about the weapon’s problems as if she were a grown up and really understood, and he held her small hands in his large warm ones while she aimed at the target and fired.
She didn’t wash her hands for a week after that.
(from Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair, Bantam Dell, 2009)

But she was ten and he was twenty-six and it was a one-time meeting.

At least it was for the next nineteen years…

Sounds like classic historical May-December, doesn’t it?

So why did I have to set it in the science fiction genre and by so doing, have to deal with that extra set of reader expectations and the problem of romance readers who get the yips when they see the words “science” and “fiction?”

The short answer is because I’m nuts and have an affinity for gin and tonics.

The long answer is that the genre of science fiction permits me to write outside of reader expectations, to create worlds and cultures and ethical issues we may or may not have here on this planet aptly named after dirt, and permits me to draw my characters out of such worlds. I don’t have to deal with the current (or past) stereotypes of what women can or cannot do. I can invent my own stereotypes. I can invent my own ethical issues. And I can wrap all that around a story which is very familiar to most romance readers: May-December.

It’s been noted that agents and editors often demand: “Give me more of the same, but different.”

I don’t think there’s any better avenue for that than science fiction romance.

Fear, hope, longing, the desire for love…all those common human issues are found in science fiction romance. Just the settings, the cultures change but because they do, and because they’re often so different, those same human issues take on greater impact. You can see them more clearly because they’re not surrounded by things we know so well we often fail to recognize. We make inferences as to what a city girl from Manhattan is like, or a country boy from Alabama. We carry stereotypes with us that may not be at all what the author wants to convey.

In science fiction romance, those stereotypes are for the most part, gone. It’s all new, fresh and exciting. And yet it’s still fear, hope, longing and the desire for love.

He watched her handle the weapons and saw clear echoes of Captain Cory Bennton in her movements, in her scrutiny. He wondered what Cory would think of his daughter’s situation now. He wondered what Cory would do if he knew Philip had kissed her.
“Rya—”
“I’m a grown woman, Philip.” She hefted the Carver-10 in her hand and faced him, chin lifting almost in defiance. “The fat little girl you taught to shoot a Carver has been through a lot in the past twenty years. Enough that she—that I—have very few illusions about myself. I know what I am. I know what I have to give. And I know what I want. And when you’re ready to discuss that in a mature fashion—without guilt or excuses—you know where to find me.”

(from Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair, Bantam Dell, 2009)

Sadly, the very things that make SFR familiar yet at the same time unique are giving chain store buyers and publishing house marketing departments the fits. Is it tastes great or less filling? Borders shelves me in romance. Barnes & Noble shelves me in science fiction. Readers get confused. And sales…well, the numbers for most SFR authors aren’t where we’d like them to be (except perhaps in the case of JD Robb’s In Death series but then Nora is a galaxy unto herself). And until publishers and bookstores invent a shelf labeled Great Fun Book With Hot Hero And Lots Of Action, SFR is destined to be bounced around and at times, overlooked.

So your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to throw out ideas for getting the word out on Great Fun Books With Hot Heroes And Lots Of Action also known as Science Fiction Romance.

In return, I’ll throw out an official Linnea Sinclair “Interstellar Adventure Infused With Romance” canvas tote bag and an “Interstellar Adventure Infused With Romance” coffee mug! Now, who wants to play catch?

~Linnea
www.linneasinclair.com

63 comments:

limecello said...

!!!

limecello said...

Hi Donna and Linnea - what an interesting post! I must "hang out with" different people because they all seem to love scifi/futuristic romances. :P

As for ideas on promos- blog tours, contests, giveaways that involve word of mouth/cyber "street teams" of a sort. All of that. That's my idea, off the top of my head :)

Virginia said...

limecello your quick! Congrats

Virginia said...

I'm with limecello, blog tours are the main thing, contest and giveaways. Posting great reviews everywhere you go. Have people that win the giveaways post reviews of your books. Word of Mouth is the best pimping you can do! Have friends pimp your book on their blogs. Thats the best I can come up with.

Natalie Hatch said...

Yay for SciFiRom! That's really all I wanted to say.

Donna MacMeans said...

Limecello - didn't you nab the GR yesterday? You are definitely quick on the mouse tonight.

I pretty much a promotion novice so I'm not sure I have any good ideas to share. I wonder if there's any special Sci-fi type conventions where a special appearance & booksigning might get the word out?

jo robertson said...

Hi, Linnea, welcome to the Bandita Lair. We're so happy to have you here today. What a great explanation of the science fiction romance genre.

I must admit I don't read this particular genre, but your description was so fascinating, I think I'll give it a try!

I don't have any ideas about how book stores can shelf these cross-over books, but I do like when they put the "new releases" on a separate carousel for those of us who frequent book stores often.

Congrats, Limecello.

jo robertson said...

I do have a question about your world building, Linnea. When you write your stories, do you begin with characters, a plot, or the world itself? How complex does your world building get before you move on to the particular story you're writing?

Nancy said...

Limecello, congratulations!

Linnea, I'm so glad you're visiting today. I love your books. You'd been on my "have to read one of these days" lists for a while, as Lois McMaster Bujold, Janet Evanovich, and Sherrilynn Kenyon, all of whom I now love, once were. Last summer, I picked up Games of Command, was totally sucked into it, and had to go get the others. Obsessive serial reading kept me busy for a while. Hope's Folly is waiting for me at my local independent bookstore.

I go to DragonCon every year, and that might be an idea for getting the word out. Going to the con, putting out promo material, and networking with other writers might help. You could also apply for guest status. They have a writer track and an SF Lit track and a paranormal romance track. Most SFF cons, so far as I know, aren't that inclusive, but DragonCon is open to more romance-oriented projects because one of their directors is a founding member of Ga. Romance Writers. Once they try something and the rooms fill up, as the paranormal romance room often has, they'll do it again. There may be other cons that are equally open to cross-genre work.

Small local cons are often more open to crossover writers, especially if they're not asked to pay anything.

There are some readers who just want their genres "pure"--mystery readers who hate romantic subplots or paranormal elements, romance readers who don't want "woo-woo" (a term about as popular in the SFF crowd as "bodice ripper" is with romance writers), and SFF readers who sneer at the very idea of SF romance--the worldbuilding isn't as complex, it has *gasp* actual sex, yadda, yadda, yadda. But there are crossover readers, too.

Advertising in Locus magazine would probably not be a bad idea, depending on the promo budget. You could also send them a review copy. They review some paranormals in addition to their usual SFF fare. In your ad, you can call the genre what you want.

Donna, thanks for having Linnea guest.

Nancy said...

Hi, Donna--

I just read your post. I'm sure you've heard me harp about Dragoncon, but that's mostly because I like having friends show up (though Trish and I saw each other for less than an hour last year). I do think it can be a way to promote cross-genre books, with the caveat that anti-romance snobs will be present in greater numbers than at a romance conference. One needs to be braced for that possibility.

Minna said...

So your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to throw out ideas for getting the word out on Great Fun Books With Hot Heroes And Lots Of Action also known as Science Fiction Romance.

Well, on Susan Crandall's message board there is a section where you can tell what kind of books you have read.

http://www.susancrandall.net/forum/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=6&Topic=112

flchen1 said...

Hi, Linnea! I used to read a lot more straight sci-fi, and then read just romance--I'm excited that there are more sci-fi romances these days! And yes, I agree that blog-touring is a great way to get your name out there--repeated visibility makes authors and titles stick in my brain, anyway, and I'm way more likely to remember to acquire them :)

Congrats on the GR, Limecello! Have fun!

Helen said...

Well done limecello enjoy your day with him.

Great interview Linnea and Donna as most of you know I have just come back from the Australian Romance Readers Conference in Melbourne and Liz Maverick and Susan Grant were there and Linnea your name was mentioned a lot by authors and other readers so your name had already been added to my must read author list and now I am looking forward to reading your books even more.

So as to the question word of mouth, blogs, newsletters, these are where I get my recommendations for new to me authors to read.

Have Fun
Helen

Terry Odell said...

Wish I could help, Linnea. I write romance. Or do I write mystery? And I don't write "suspense" but if my books are categorized, they're called romantic suspense, but in reality, they follow the classic 'solve a puzzle' mystery format. But because the hero and heroine always insist on falling in love while they mystery unfolds, they're definitely romance. And my latest is more action-adventure. But there's a puzzle. And a love story.

According to the publisher who spoke at SleuthFest, the goal is to have your name be your brand, so people look for YOUR books. (Have you seen the cover of the newest JD Robb?)

Susan Sey said...

limecello, congrats on the GR! Hope he behaves for you. Or, you know, doesn't. If that's what you want. :-)

Thanks, Linnea, for swinging by the lair today! I do love a good cross-genre novel. There's something so satisfying about having the best of both worlds. And I firmly feel that there is no story that can't be improved by the addition of a romance. HOpe's Folly sounds wonderful & I'll be sure to pick up a copy.

And then I'll tell all my friends. :-)

Linnea Sinclair said...

limecello said: **As for ideas on promos- blog tours, contests, giveaways that involve word of mouth/cyber "street teams" of a sort**

Yep, been there, done those, given away oodles of T-shirts, books, mugs, mouse pads and the like with my book covers and the like. ;-) Actually, been doing that since 2001.

I even have a Yahoo Group with 600+ members--my official "Intergalactic Bar & Grille." Those kids get LOTS of freebies! ;-) Link to join my group is on my website in NEWS--and my website also has lots of goodies. Go peek! - www.linneasincliar.com

Congrats on the GR! And thanks for stopping by! ~Linnea

Linnea Sinclair said...

Virginia sez: **Posting great reviews everywhere you go. Have people that win the giveaways post reviews of your books.**

Hey Virginia, thanks for visiting! Posting reviews everywhere isn't always possible. Many of the reader groups I belong to frown on that. BSP walks a delicate line.

I personally blog on two sites (one weekly, one monthly) and then try to guest blog once or twice a month elsewhere. Plus I'm on Facebook, MySpace, Goodreads, Shelfari and LinkedIn. Oh, and Neopets. Now, ain't that a hoot? ;-)

As for requiring people who win my books to post reviews, that's a bit of a sticky wicket. Most people don't like gifts with strings attached. I just feel grateful if the books don't show up on eBay, signed but unread but for sale as "collectible." Sheesh! ;-)

~Linnea

Donna MacMeans said...

Virginia - Sounds like the best way to promote a book is to write another great book and thus garner more great reviews - Oy Vey - the pressure! (grins)

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Nancy - I thought it was Dragoncon that I remembered. I thought their might be other SciFi oriented conferences about. Seems like Jay Leno manages to find the ones with the costumed fans (grins).

I'm afraid every romance author who does a public booksigning must be prepared for the anti-romance contingent. But hey - to each their own.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Helen - I'm hoping to see Susan Grant again this May. The Australian RWA conference sounds like great fun - one of these years I hope I can make it (especially when it's so cold here and so warm down-under).

Kirsten said...

Linnea, Hope's Folly sounds fantastic --I love cross-genre novels but I feel your pain on trying to market them. Most of my picks these days come from from the blog and from word of mouth. And based on that observation, I think all the promo that you've mentioned is great, and may be your best bet for selling.

I think part of the challenge of selling a cross-genre romance is that people are so weird about romance (and I use the word weird advisedly -- uppity and snotty really came to mind! LOL). But the weirdness doesn't necessarily go in reverse. I suspect there's many a sci-fi fan who wouldn't be caught dead browsing around in romance for a book she/he had heard about, but don't think there's many romance fans who feel the same way about looking around in sci-fi.

KWIM? It's frustrating, but there it is. So in some ways, I wonder if you're better off in sci-fi, because romance fans at least are more open that way.

On the other hand, I think you're right, that romance readers won't read you unless they know they're getting that HEA. So you've got to let them know somehow that you're part of the compact -- you're a romance writer and you understand what they want.

Hmmm, and final thought -- is there a challenge getting woman interested in sci-fi romance because sci-fi is traditionally more of a men's genre, while fantasy gets the women? Any thoughts on how you challenge this stereotype? (I suspect putting romance into the book sure helps!)

Good luck with the book and the promo! :-) We wish you all the success in the world!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Great post, Linnea and congrats to Donna for inviting you to the Lair. I'll have to check out Hope's Folly, I do love me some sci-fi-romance!

Alas the sun has risen, so I'm gonna go crawl into bed...Behave while I'm sleeping, y'all!!

Linnea Sinclair said...

Conventions. A couple of you mentioned that. Definitely--as Donna knows--I do them.

I've done the Romantic Times BOOK lover's con since 2000. I've done RWA National 3x so far (it's really more of an industry con). I've taught workshops and/or been keynote and various RWA cons nationally, from Florida to Colorado. I do Celebrate Romance when I can. I did ARCHON, an SF con in St Louis, which the year I did it was also the NASFIC con. I've done Sleuthfest.

Not done DragonCon yet. It's on my to-do list. ;-)

As those who go to RT know, I not only attend the con, I captain the SFF panel, I host the Intergalactic Reader Party and I also teach pre-con writing workshops.

The problem with cons is they get really pricey. Many of them give no fee breaks to attending authors and even those that do, there's airfare, hotel, food... you all know the drill.

The past few years I've spent over $40,000 a year doing cons, ads and promoting my books. Considering I've yet to see any royalties (haven't earned out) and considering that amount is less than my advance per book...it gets into YIKES territory (at least it makes the huz very nervous).

That's one of the reasons I waffle on adding more cons, even though I hear Dragon Con is great fun. I can realistically budget one maybe two cons a year. When it gets over that, the Accountant (huz) starts pacing...

I do buy ads in con programs (especially SF cons) that I can't attend.

If any of you are going....but, but, doesn't your publisher pay for your con apperances and such?

Uh, no. Con appearances, bookmarks, giveaways, magazine ads (except for the one they run for me--shared ad--in Locus annually)...all that is on my dime.

;-) ~Linnea

Donna MacMeans said...

Linnea - My question - given all the interaction you do with readers through the internet and through cons - how do you find time to write? I've read your books and they're not slim volumes to say the least. You must be an incredibly fast writer. Any tips are appreciated.

BTW - Did I tell you that I'm heading for RT in Orlando this year? Jeanne and I are both up for RT awards so we'll be sipping drinks at the intergalactic party. Guess I better brush up on my Firefly and Serenity DVDs (grins).

Donna - the overwhelmed

Linnea Sinclair said...

Kristen sez: **On the other hand, I think you're right, that romance readers won't read you unless they know they're getting that HEA. So you've got to let them know somehow that you're part of the compact -- you're a romance writer and you understand what they want.
**

Hmm, okay, let them know I'm a romance writer. How about...three RITA finalsts books, one RITA winner, several Romantic Time Book Reviews magazine TOP PICKS 4-1/2 star reviews, several PEARL wins, All About Romance Desert Isle Keeper Award, All About Romance Top Ten SF/Fantasy & Futuristic Romances, Starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly...

Those were the reasons Bantam "re-branded" me last year, changing my covers from more SF-art to more romancey-art. Other than B&N, which is odd-man out for some reason, I'm shelved in romance.

The front page of my site proclaims: "Linnea Sinclair beautifully blends SF and love stories to make some of the most exciting and satisfying romance novels being written today.”
—Jo Beverley, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

Other than winning another RITA (uh-oh, getting greedy, Linnea), I'm not sure how else to let romance readers know I write romance. ;-) ~Linnea

Nancy said...

Kirsten wrote: I think part of the challenge of selling a cross-genre romance is that people are so weird about romance (and I use the word weird advisedly -- uppity and snotty really came to mind! LOL).

I couldn't have said it better. I actually heard an SF author, whose books I used to read, diss SF romance on a panel, an action I considered unnecessarily rude and highly revelatory as to his ignorance of different genre readers' expectations. There were people in that room other than me, I can guarantee, who read romance in its various forms.

I suspect writers in other genres envy the sales power of romance, particularly if they don't read or respect it. It's just "women's books." Which is a whole other rant I won't deliver today.

Nancy said...

Donna, I understand what you're saying about rude people at signings. They're the part of someday selling and promoting a book that I don't look forward to.

Unfortunately, I run into a lot of people at DragonCon who think romance is stuck in the 1980s. I'm sure those people are elswhere, too. :-/

Elysa said...

Hi Linnea and Donna,
I adore sci-fi romance. I grew up reading Asimov, Clark and Heinlein to name a few. Though I loved their stories, I always felt something was missing. Now I know what that something is -ROMANCE. Oh, a few of their books had sex. Heinlein's woman were super smart, but they had "round heels." :-) And there was rarely a HEA.

I'm attending RT this year for the first time. I'm looking forward to meeting some of my idols, such as you Linnea.

Linnea Sinclair said...

Jo sez: **I do have a question about your world building, Linnea. When you write your stories, do you begin with characters, a plot, or the world itself? How complex does your world building get before you move on to the particular story you're writing**

I'm a character writer, totally. My books always begin with a what-if? but the what-if is wrapped firmly around the characters. So it's kind of what-if? + conflict.

With HOPE'S FOLLY, that was book 3 in the GABRIEL'S GHOST universe, so the world building was essentially or mostly done (except for the ship which I filched from a starship schematic site...shhhh!) ;-)

But with FINDERS KEEPERS, AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS, GAMES OF COMMAND and THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, all those were unique standalones and unique worlds. (Although ZOMBIE was set in Florida so I kinda sorta already knew a bit about that...::grin::)

I believe that not only are people affected by their environment/culture, but so are characters. So even though I start with character, the character's world, belief system, political system and the like creates who he or she is and also creates their conflicts.

In GABRIEL'S GHOST (RITA winner), Captain Chaz Bergen came from a military family in a galactic empire. Essentially, she's an army brat in another galaxy and is continuing her family's tradition of military service. When she's falsely court-martialed, she's forced to rethink who and what she is, and why she is where she is... just at the time a former "enemy" (who yes, is sexy as all get-out) appears to come to her rescue, offering her a "deal."

Now, that could also be a Suzanne Brockmann military romance book, but setting it in a different world from our own also lets me inject issues and such we don't have here. Such as what Sully (the sexy enemy) really is... And the political and cultural machinations that create more conflict. All of which then influence the biggest question, which is love:

**"What are you?" My voice broke, hoarse.

"Someone who loves you." He sounded almost as hoarse, but his words were soft. "Someone who can't change what he is. Someone who doesn't want to believe those two things are incompatible."**

~Linnea

Linnea Sinclair said...

Donna warbled: **given all the interaction you do with readers through the internet and through cons - how do you find time to write? **

Author Nancy Cohen once told me she spends six months writing and six months promoting. I wish I could segment my life that way. Right now I'm promoting HOPE'S FOLLY like crazy (as you know, I've guest blogged almost every week since the beginning of Feb somewhere... sometimes more than once a week) and I'm at 21K words into my next contracted novel which is due to my editor May 1st. Yikes! AND I have to create a novella by October for a Gardner Dozois/George RR Martin anthology I'm under contract for. Yikes! Yikes!

And at some point I gotta scoop kitty litter.

Basically I squeeze 28 hours out of each day. There's no other way. ~Linnea

Pat said...

Hi, Doll!!! I'm in the middle of Hope's Folly as we speak, and must say, for a gal who had anxiety attacks writing the first sequel to Games of Command (Shades of Dark was fabulous, BTW), you've certainly found your groove now. Hope to touch base with you in DC (And I love your Meez!) LOL

Vicki said...

My hands are raised, throw it this way, this way!!!

I had the pleasure of listening to Linnea speak at our TARA meeting last October and wow, she is a great speaker and of course fab writer.

Got the books, but really would love the tote and coffee mug. or either of them...heehee

Karin Shah said...

Great article, Linnea! You are so right in every way! Can't wait to read HF!

Karin Shah
STARJACKED
Available Now!
Samhain Publishing.

Linnea Sinclair said...

Elysa! An RT virgin? Woot! You're in for some FUN! See you there! ~Linnea

Linnea Sinclair said...

Quoth Kristen: **is there a challenge getting woman interested in sci-fi romance because sci-fi is traditionally more of a men's genre, while fantasy gets the women? Any thoughts on how you challenge this stereotype? (I suspect putting romance into the book sure helps!)
**

I thikn a lot more women are into SF than people realize. Movies like Star Wars with characters like Han Solo opened a lot of women's eyes... ;-) Then we have Matrix, Battlestar Galactica, StarGate... there's a lot of media SF out there that women like.

Women also carry iPods and iPhones and can IM and we have microwave ovens and netbooks and...we're surrounded by technology. I don't think for the most part the under-35 female has a huge problem with SF.

It's getting it marketed properly and IMHO that's more of a marketing department problem. It is, as has been mentioned here, branding. Image.

I'm hoping the new Star Trek movie (coming out this May) reignites a lot of fires. ;-) ~Linnea

Elysa said...

Linnea,

Being a "virgin" again should be fun. Haven't been one of those for longer than I care to remember. :-)

What are your thoughts on bookmarks as promo? What types of promo items do you think encourage readers to pick up a book? As a reader I collect bookmarks. I love the art work and the blurbs, plus they're useful. Strange, even though I must have humdreds of bookmarks, I always seem to end up marking my place in a book with a piece of tissue or a magazine tear-out ad. :-)

Elysa Hendricks
FORDIDDEN MOON
Available now from
ImaJinn Books

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Linnea! Hope's Folly sounds fantastic *g*

And thank you for including a picture of Nathan Fillion ;-)

I'm afraid I don't have any ideas for you on getting the word out. I'm clueless when it comes to promotion - what works? What doesn't? It's all a mystery to me *sigh*

Cassondra said...

Hi Linnea!

Welcome to the Bandit lair.

Hmmm. I admit that I don't read a lot of SciFi romance. But I don't think it's because of preconceived notions--or maybe it IS partly that--but mostly it's because I have so little time for reading what I want to read. My time is all spent reading what I need to read, or the latest releases by my friends. *sigh* Who knew that being a writer would make it so darn hard to read?

I love the excerpt, and I love the premise for this book, and that you can break rules. I spend a lot of time worrying about rules. Looking at my manuscript and thinking "I wonder if the editor is gonna toss this out because he's ten years older than her."

And I love it that you are willing to sweat blood to do all that you do to make a great read.

As to the idea...I think you should go get the domain you've used in this article--or something like it--"A Great Fun Book With a Hot Hero and Lots of Action."

Make it a website. Maybe you and some other people--and feature books that fit it. Can you imagine the hits you'll get from google once that google bot searches your site and sees that site title? I think it'll sell some books. Sometimes the (on the surface)silly-sounding things are the things that catch fire.

Speaking of things that are on fire and still running around, Where IS that ROOSTER? Oh, Limecello, you got him again! Congrats! Watch him closely will you? He gets a little randy in the spring.

Donna, what a great thing you've done, bringing Linnea to the lair.

SVEN! Get Linnea an appletini!

Cassondra said...

The thing is--with my suggestion--and all these others that I'm seeing about blogs and stuff--you're only gonna get the readers who look online to find authors and books. And I think a lot of readers still don't. I know you're after the rabid romance reader who strolls into the bookstore with a basket and goes up and down the romance aisles, and ONLY the romance aisles, cuz that's the only place he/she'll be guaranteed a happy ending in his/her books.

You COULD launch a street-team campaign across the country--get your fans to go into their local Barnes & Noble and say, "This book," as they hold up your latest, which they've plucked from the sci-fi shelves, "it's a romance. I'm not sure why you had it shelved in sci-fi, but I know at least seven people who've come here looking for it, thought you didn't have it, and ordered it from Amazon."

That'll get their attention.

Nancy said...

Linnea, cons are expensive, no doubt about it. And that's an astounding promo budget. I hope you'll start seeing some returns soon.

Your books remind me of the best of Star Trek with romance added in. And female captains who don't have to wear their hair in chignons to be authoritative (what was it about the Trek people and Janeway's hairstyle?). Any woman working in corporate America could've told them about that, anyway.

I just finished Elizabeth Moon's Vatta series, and I think your books and hers are similar in their military SF aspects. Yours just have more prominent romance and are standalones.

I imagine you get this question a lot, but is there a chance Sass and Branden's prequel will be reissued anytime soon?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Limecello, it's a while since he visited, isn't it? Congratulations!

Linnea, welcome to the lair. Donna, thanks for inviting Ms Sinclair and her provocative opinions to entertain us! Congratulations on all your success! The new book sounds fab!

Linnea, we actually have our own science fiction hero here. His name is the Golden Rooster and he's very good at fighting aliens!

Pat Cochran said...

Hello, Linnea, nice to have you visiting in the Lair today. Not
being a writer, I don't know how
much I could contribute toward this
promotional project.The suggestions
made so far seem to be very good!
Especially attending the sci-fi
conventions and doing the blog-tours.
"Good Luck" with this project!

Pat Cochran

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome to the Lair, Linnea!

BIG THANX to Donna for hosting you!

Afraid I'm too much of a newbie to know much about promotion, but I am learning! I too was pretty stunned at how much of it the author needs to do. ACK! When DO you have time to write?!?! And how do you know which things are most effective? I'll admit I'm at a loss. :-(

Congrats on the GR AGAIN, Limecello! Let him take over some of your grunt work so that you can catch a few winks of sleep for a change. After all, he should be nice and stuffed full of Tim Tams from his visit to Helen.

AC
crawling back to the cave with an emergency canteen of appletinis.

p226 said...

It's my guess that this is a potentially huge market. See, all the geeks? They want the women in the romance books. Bad. But, being geeks, well, their chances of meeting a hot, well trained, futuristic weapons expert are kind of slim. Their chances of hooking UP with Seven of Nine are even MORE slim. But that doesn't mean the poster isn't on their wall or the image isn't their computer's desktop background.

You want to market sci-fi romance? Go to the cons. Comic Con. Gamer cons. Target the young, geek-ish, crowds. Gamers and computer programmers.

And most importantly. MALES.

I see this as a possibility to drag a lot of males into the romance genre. The geek allure in sci-fi is too strong for them to resist.

The challenge of course, will be keeping them from scanning, OCR-ing, and pirating your work. Geeks tend to do that stuff.

And in case you're unaware, I use "geek" as a term of endearment, being one myself. As our world becomes more and more technical, we're going to rule it.

I'm just sayin'.

Cassondra said...

226 said:

And in case you're unaware, I use "geek" as a term of endearment, being one myself. As our world becomes more and more technical, we're going to rule it.


You are the most un-geeky geek I know.

I'm just sayin.

Donna MacMeans said...

P226 - So if I'm hearing you right, you're suggesting Linnea include a fold-out heavily-armed cover model in tight futuristic clothes in the middle of her novel?
LOL

It would be neat if Bantam would run dual covers - one sci-fi, one romance and see how that goes. They do it for magazines. Then again, the expense of dual covers would make that idea a bit of a fantasy, wouldn't it (sigh).

p226 said...

Donna said:
P226 - So if I'm hearing you right, you're suggesting Linnea include a fold-out heavily-armed cover model in tight futuristic clothes in the middle of her novel?

ABSOLUTELY.

Not only that, but full-sized cutouts or even costumed models at comic-con or one of the big gamer cons. You'll have to beat drooling geeks flush with disposable income away from your table/booth with a stick. Better yet, a light saber if you have one handy.

If you want to know where to market this stuff, tune your TV to G4. There's your market.

Cassondra said:
You are the most un-geeky geek I know.

Not to argue with what I'm pretty sure is a compliment, but my resume says otherwise.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Linnea said: Now, that could also be a Suzanne Brockmann military romance book, but setting it in a different world from our own also lets me inject issues and such we don't have here. Such as what Sully (the sexy enemy) really is... And the political and cultural machinations that create more conflict.

I love this idea of taking a tried and true concept like Brockmann's military romances and giving them a twist in time and place and orientation!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

p226 said:Not only that, but full-sized cutouts or even costumed models at comic-con or one of the big gamer cons. You'll have to beat drooling geeks flush with disposable income away from your table/booth with a stick. Better yet, a light saber if you have one handy.

I'm thinking you have an inner marketing guru, p226. This is a great idea!!

Pat said...

Donna, dear, I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed your debut book! I'm such a slacker sometimes, but I bought it as soon as it hit B&N (I'm a junkie.)

Linnea, I've been thinking about your promo dilemma (while defrosting the deep freeze) and wonder if your pub could suggest putting the books in both romance and sci-fi slots (not suggesting double the volume, just split exposure) and see which gels fastest. I know space is an issue, but going into B&N (a rare trip just for the ambiance), I had to ask where they shelved you. The gal seemed amazed I would look in the romance section. DUH!

Just a thought.

{{{Hugs}}} to both of you!!!!

Cassondra said...

What does it say on the book's spine? Romance? Or SciFi?

Elysa said...

I have all of Linnea's futuristics. The spines say "Romance"

THE SWORD & THE PEN
Coming May "09

Linnea Sinclair said...

Cassondra whispered: **As to the idea...I think you should go get the domain you've used in this article--or something like it--"A Great Fun Book With a Hot Hero and Lots of Action."

Make it a website.**

LOLOL! You're a hoot. Actually, Susan Grant, Robin D Owens and I have been batting around some similar ideas. It's just been hard to get together with those great gals to cement something (plus iron out costs).

Then she said:**you're only gonna get the readers who look online to find authors and books. And I think a lot of readers still don't.

--snip--go into their local Barnes & Noble and say, "This book," as they hold up your latest, which they've plucked from the sci-fi shelves, "it's a romance. I'm not sure why you had it shelved in sci-fi, but I know at least seven people who've come here looking for it, thought you didn't have it, and ordered it from Amazon."**

Yep, a lot of readers don't do blogs or Yahoo Groups. That's why I do cons and mail out bookmarks to reader groups, libraries, stores and such. It's also why I do ads in mags.

As for telling B&N, uh, they don't care. Honest, it won't matter beans to them. You're fighting "corporate" here, not individual stores. Even the store managers who know me can't change policy.

Nancy asked: **I imagine you get this question a lot, but is there a chance Sass and Branden's prequel will be reissued anytime soon?
**

Right now I don't have any other Branden/Sass books on tap. I'm not sure what you mean by prequel--Command Performance? GAMES OF COMMAND is essentially that book plus more at the end.

P226 offered: **But, being geeks, well, their chances of meeting a hot, well trained, futuristic weapons expert are kind of slim. **

ROFLMAO!!!

Donna proposed: **It would be neat if Bantam would run dual covers - one sci-fi, one romance and see how that goes. **

Yep, expensive and unlikely at this point.

Pat warbled: **if your pub could suggest putting the books in both romance and sci-fi slots (not suggesting double the volume, just split exposure) and see which gels fastest. **

Nope, you're up against corporate again. They won't do that. It also has to do with each genre/section having a buyer in corporate. There's a romance buyer. A cook book buyer. A YA buyer. An SFF buyer. Buyers have budgets and projects. So you have to be fish or fowl, great tasting or less filling. Chain corporate buyers aren't go to "share" you.

Cassondra queried: *What does it say on the book's spine? Romance? Or SciFi**

ROMANCE. Though the original version of FINDERS KEEPERS, GABRIEL'S GHOST and AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS said science fiction. You can see the original SF covers on my site. Now all the spines say romance, even my backlist, which all have the new "branding" covers (again--on my site).

Do check out my cat, Daq, on the old cover of GAMES! He's on my site as well. ;-)

~Linnea

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Pat - Thank you for the kind words on my debut. Just a reminder that the sequel comes out this April. We'll be partying in the lair again (very big grin - like we need another excuse to pary)

Donna MacMeans said...

Suz - I've seen Linnea with a light sabre. The girl means business.

Actually, I've seen her with light balls, sabers, antennae...too bad I wasn't placed closer to her table at RT last year when the lights went out. I'm guessing her area glowed with enough light that her signing was unaffected (grins)

Nancy said...

Hi, Linnea--I think I must've had Command Performance in mind. I'd heard there was an earlier book and didn't realize it was covered in Games of Command.

Thanks for putting my mind at rest. :-)

Lisa Iriarte said...

Hey Linnea, enjoyed your post. I'm in the middle of chapter 8 of Hope's Folly and loving it.

Lisa

Karin Shah said...

Wow, you all have such great ideas. I'm eating this thread up and taking notes. Keep 'em coming. :-)
I have to say though, what I think would up sales would be to have them be available at your local grocery store and I guess that's just a distribution issue. I don't know enough about how that stuff works to venture how to fix it.

Karin Shah
STARJACKED
Available now!
Samhain Publishing

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Linnea! Great post, Donna.

Sorry I'm late getting in on the fun. I had a busy day filled with appts and guest blogging.

Linnea, your series sound great. I'm not a big sci-fi/futuristic reader but every now and then I will pick one up. I think I'll have to add yours to the list.

Good luck with your books!

Donna MacMeans said...

Karin - Distribution to the local groceries is one of many things that the author has absolutely no control over. What gets me, is that whoever decides such things never considers the author's hometown. I hear that my books show up at grocery stores across the nation, yet they never are at my local store. I figure when they do I'll know I've arrived. (grin)

Linnea Sinclair said...

::Linnea settles back in the command sling of her starship, gin and tonic (two limes, please) in hand...::

Donna, be SURE to come to the Intergalactic Bar & Grille party at RT this April. We'll make SURE you glow. ;-)

Nancy, I loved Elizabeth Moon's VATTA series. I also love Tanya Huff's VALOR series and recommend that as more of the SF end of space opera than the romance end, although there is a romance in the later books. I also recommend Julie Czerneda's TRADE PACT series which is really a lot of romance for SF.

For MORE romance, do try Susan Grant's MOONSTRUCK. I also love Robin Owen's HEART books as they're a combo fantasy/magic/SF AND THEY HAVE CATS!!!!

I have a list on my website in LINKS of a lot more recommendations. Go play.

Those of you who've not tried SFR--and I realize that reading time and money are limited--please at least give us a peek. I have excerpts on my site as do most authors. I have review snippets. We might surprise you.

I'll also give away TWO BOOKS (Donna's going...what? what? She didn't tell me she was going to do this!!!!) in addition to the mug and tote bag.

1) FINDERS KEEPERS
2) HOPE'S FOLLY

FINDERS will go to someone who's NOT READ SFR but is willing to try.

FOLLY will go to someone who's read GABRIEL'S and SHADES but hasn't bought FOLLY yet. So chime in ,log in, tell us why Linnea should pack up a book priority and send it to you (and make Donna crazy with this offer---bwah-hah-hah-hah!) Oh, anyone willing to read in PDF electronic format? HOLLER OUT. Those I'll send immediately. (It's the pack and postage shhhhhhtuff that delays me.)

Confused? Good. ::Linnea holds out bottle of Rangpur Tanqueray:: Come join me poolside at the Home for the Perpetually Confuzzled.

~Linnea

JC said...

A contest where people had to do something creative in regards to your book, like a craft or a screen cap or something like that would be a really fun promotional thing.

Donna MacMeans said...

And the winners of the tote bag and mug are....

Nancy for the tote bag
Vicki for the mug

Congratulations!

Please send your contact information to www.DonnaMacMeans.com and I'll make sure it's passed along to Linnea. Thanks everyone for the great suggestions.