6.04.2013

Dear romance readers:

I want to take a moment to say thank you.

When GHOST PLANET released last October, it was categorized as science fiction. This was a tough call on the part of my publisher, Tor. The story is split fairly evenly down the middle between speculative fiction and romance ('cuz that's the way I roll). I'm a proud member of both Romance Writers of America and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

My editor/agent team had originally thought to position the book as romance (paranormal/futuristic), partly because the manuscript had done well in romance contests (including two RWA Golden Heart finals) and partly because romance sells better.

But then came the GHOST PLANET cover with all of its awesomeness. The designers came up with a wonderful concept, my editor and I worked with them on some final tweaks, and when it was finished we knew we had something special. But the sales team was worried the cover was too sci-fi for the romance shelves. We had to make a tough choice: Start over with the cover, or shelve the book in SF/F. We decided to stick with the cover.

I am incredibly grateful to my editor at Tor for involving me so much in this decision. I have heard plenty of stories of authors losing control of the marketing of their books once they sign a contract, but at every step of Tor's process, my opinion was sought and considered.

I still feel that given our options we did the right thing for the book. The downside of that decision was we made it a little tough for romance readers to find it. But never underestimate a romance reader -- we are tenacious, and we have no problem crossing genre lines to find what we like. Some of the most heart-warming feedback I've received has come from romance readers who stumbled upon the book by accident and were pleasantly surprised. I can't tell you how many time's I've read the words, "I don't usually read sci-fi, but ..."

In all honesty, what got me thinking about this topic was the SFWA "lady writers" kerfuffle, and a recent blog post about how sci-fi romance stories differ from traditional sci-fi (and the kerfuffle that followed that). I don't want to get into all that here (for a summary you can visit yesterday's Dear Author post), except to say I have rarely felt anything but respect from the romance fans who've read my book, even those who haven't liked it.

Romance readers who also enjoy sci-fi may be a rare breed (for now!), but I don't believe I've ever heard any of them say sci-fi and romance don't belong together, or propose that a sci-fi author is any less qualified to write romance. On the contrary, what I have typically encountered is unbridled enthusiasm for discovering romantic plots in unlikely places. Heck, the first-round of 2013 RWA RITA judging resulted in a "Best First Book" nomination for GHOST PLANET.

So thank you, romance readers. Thank you for being open-minded. For loving the stories you love for themselves, and not their marketing labels. For taking chances, and in some cases, for venturing outside your comfort zone. And thank you to Romance Writers of America and RT Book Reviews for embracing all flavors of the genre!

12 comments:

  1. I have to admit that I do like to see the line "I don't normally read sci-fi, but...". From my experiences, romance readers ARE very voracious, and a very supportive group. Great post, Sharon!

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    1. Yes, I agree, it feels wonderful to make that connection. Thanks for dropping by, Jessica!

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  2. Yes, I've had the "I don't normally read sci-fi" line. It's great, isn't? Yes, a great post - and so nice to see your publisher prepared to work with you.

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    1. I especially like when they include why they DID pick it up! Usually a rec from a friend, or a book club pick.

      Yes, Tor has really been awesome. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with for THE OPHELIA PROPHECY!

      Thanks for dropping by, Greta!

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  3. It doesn't go together until some talented writer puts it together in epic fashion. Well done, Sharon.

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  4. Well, I've been reading science fiction since I was a little girl (grrll?). so you didn't have to twist my arm to get me to read Ghost Planet. I loved it, and I'm looking forward to your next one. Huge congrats on the RITA nomination, and I'll see you in Atlanta.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kay, on all counts! :) I'm not able to make it to nationals this year (waaaaah!), but I hope you have a wonderful conference. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Just wanted to say you've made a sale on your book because of this post. I've been reading SFF since I finished the LOTR in 4th grade. Oddly, even though way back then, when the library and Walden Books were all that was available, I never knew that the genre was lacking for women authors. McCaffrey, Le Guin, L'Engle, Mc Killip were my favorites. Even though my forays into romance have been less frequent, I didn't see Empire Strikes Back 20+ times at the age of 13 to watch Luke training with Yoda.

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    1. That is wonderful, Trish! Thanks so much for reading the post and commenting, and I really hope you enjoy the book.

      Indeed, there is no shortage, is there? A WRINKLE IN TIME was my gateway SF book. I also loved MZB's THE MISTS OF AVALON. Everyone knows the female SFF authors from that time period, but for some reason the more contemporary authors don't seem to have the same visibility. I'm not sure why that is. (Though I imagine someone, somewhere has blogged about that!)

      I am with you on TESB! Though I have to confess I was a Luke gal, and my heart was broken by the big reveal (and I don't mean the one about Vader being Luke's father). (Noooooo! It can't be true!)

      Thanks again for dropping by! And happy reading :)

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  6. I just stumbled upon your post and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Ghost Planet. Here's hoping it wins you a Rita!

    The only time I've ever heard anyone say that SF and romance don't go together was my most recent visit to the famed Bakka Phoenix science fiction bookstore in Toronto. Fantastic store, BTW! On some of my previous visits I've encountered Cory Doctorow, Robert J. Sawyer, and Michelle Sagara. I usually get great recommendations on what's new and hot.

    Not always, though. On my April visit to T.O. I asked the clerk for SFRom recommendations. She (!) went on to tell me how the two genres are mutually exclusive, which is why no one writes any. They didn't have any of my books on their shelves (rats!) but I did proceed to pull out a couple of Linnea Sinclairs and Ghost Planet to 'educate' the clerk.

    So consider yourself Exhibit A, Sharon.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ed! I always love hearing people enjoyed GHOST PLANET, and particularly enjoy hearing from dudes. :) And one who writes SFR, on top of that!

      Oh my heavens, what an odd thing for a bookstore employee to say. But wow, go you! What was her (!!) reaction?

      Many thanks for the impromptu schooling, and for such a cause I'm very pleased to be Exhibit A.

      Thanks for sharing this story, and also for reading GHOST PLANET! I'm looking forward to ALIEN CONTACT FOR IDIOTS (terrific title!).

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