Sunday, December 13, 2009

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Guest Blogger Rowena Cherry Presents: 25 Ways to Boost SFR

First, a word from your conductor:

Science fiction romance is so niche that the sub-genre has its own tight-knit online community. We pretty much own SFR here, don't we? But if you're anything like me, you want other readers—thousands of readers—to to know how fun, fantastic, and fabulous it is. In fact, the authors and readers who swear by science fiction romance are ready to trade up to the next trend size.

But spreading the word about such a niche sub-genre can be a daunting task unless you have the right tools. While we've discussed various ideas at TGE regarding how to raise SFR's profile, as it stands, the information is scattered across various blog posts and comments. Oy, what's an SFR fan to do? Where is the structured, manageable toolkit for promoting science fiction romance?

Well never fear! Rowena Cherry is here!

Author Rowena Cherry (KNIGHT'S FORK) and I had recently exchanged a few words regarding the promotion of SFR. Coincidentally, Ms. Cherry had just finished updating a previous post of hers at Alien Romances, Twenty Five Free Ways To Buzz A Book. This time, she compiled it specifically with science fiction romance in mind, and offered it for the fine passengers of this universe-spanning locomotive.

Without further ado, here are 25 Ways to Boost SFR by Rowena Cherry:

Recently, Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express, Doug Knipe (SciFiGuy.ca), Ella Drake, and Lisa Paitz Spindler got together on my internet radio show to discuss science fiction romance.

Doug (a guy who loves Romance "for the characters!" almost as much as he loves Science Fiction "for the world building") bemoaned in the manliest of voices how hard it is to find enough Science Fiction Romance.

He's not alone!

Last January, Heather did a week-long series on 1001 Ways To Promote Science Fiction Romance. Here's my much shorter and less erudite 25 Ways to promote the SFR genre in general and your favorite sfr author in particular.

Disclaimer: All authors for the purpose of this article will be considered female. (No sexism, genderism or speciesism is intended).

#1. Help the search engines find her, and link her name with "SFR".

Why? Even if you know where to find your friend, her blog, and her books, “hits” help. The more visitors the search engine spiders find, the more priority the author's website gets. So: Google her. Also, Google her in connection with the term "SFR". Bing her. Ask Jeeves about her. Dogpile her. A9 search her. Use Alexa. Try a Yahoo search. Blog search. Don't forget Baidu, the Chinese Google. Or Rediff, the Indian Google. Search on Technorati. Even better, set up a Google Alert for her name, also common misspellings of her name, and for her book titles.

#2. Having “Searched” or been "Alerted", Visit… her website; blogs; author pages. If you may comment, do so…. And when you do, be sure to include "SFR" in your remarks. Everyone who takes the time to blog or post content is grateful when visitors comment. Human nature leads more people to read a post that has received a lot of comments, and that means, more people are seeing "sfr".

#3 Follow. Favorite. Share. Google's Blogger, Twitter, Facebook "Pages", Squidoo lenses, You Tube videos and more allow you to become a follower or a fan. Do so. Connect wherever you can. It's good for both of you, because follower/fan photos show up. When you "Share", if you have to add your own headline or tag, add "SFR".

#4 Click to read (and rate) any reviews she has written, or Lists she has set up. These days, anyone can make an EssentiaList on Barnes and Noble.com, a Listmania on Amazon.com, a Top Ten list on Chapters.Indigo.ca, also Listopia on GoodReads.com. If you like her reviews or lists, click Helpful. Moreover, if you have the opportunity to add or endorse a tag, such as "SFR" please do so!

#5. If you see a good review of a book you've enjoyed—on any bookselling site that allows customers and visitors to comment on reviews-- click Helpful if it truly is a helpful review. Votes help both the reviewer and the author. Consider adding your own review, and mention "SFR".

#6. Tag her books wherever you can. Amazon isn't the only place (Amazon isn't even one site… there's Amazon.ca, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de etc etc) Many book selling sites encourage readers to tag. (See #4)

What is a tag? It's a search term that a reader might be using to find a type of book she likes, when she is looking for a new author. Some tags might be "Romance", "Fantasy", "Mystery", "Shapeshifter", "Georgian Romance", "Humor" or "Space Opera". Write in "SFR" and "science fiction romance" (where appropriate) if it is not there. Check the box to add your supporting vote, if SFR has been added by someone else.

Use "SFR" as your own tag if you Digg or Smak or otherwise "Share" your favorite sfr author's video, website, bookpage, blog etc.

#7. When you are on an admired author's Amazon book page, click on links to:
Put it on your wish list, it’s extra, free advertising for the book. Tell a friend. Scroll down the book page to Tag this product. Or make a search suggestion for SFR. Visit the SFR community.

#8. Join in the Customer/Reader discussions on her book page, or on the forums. Ask a question. Start a discussion about SFR and mention your favorite authors or the sfr genre. Hundreds of eyeballs scan the discussions on Barnes and Noble bookclubs. The search engines pick up on the discussions. The longer a discussion keeps going, the better the PR buzz for your friend and for SFR. This does not just apply to Amazon and B&N. Discussion anywhere is "buzz".

#9. Review her book… Most people know that a customer can write a review on Amazon.com. There's a purchase requirement with Amazon (and I think with Barnes and Noble, too). However, many sites don't require a reader to have bought a book from them in order to post a review: GoodReads.com, Shelfari.com, LibraryThing.com, E-Bay, Powells, FlipKart, We-Read (on Facebook), NexTag etc etc. Include keywords (SFR…) in your review TITLE and in the body of the review, and in your tags/labels/keywords for your review.

By the way… a tip from Doug, the SciFiGuy, quirky and clever titles for reviews are great fun, but if you want to do your favorite sfr author real favor, your review title should include her Title, and her name… and maybe "SFR"!

#10. Smak her. Have you ever noticed the "Add This" or "Share" or "Recommend" widgets on online pages and on You Tube? If you think your author friend's blog, or news about her is interesting, syndicate the news to Digg It, Reddit, Technorati, Stumble Upon, Furl and as many of the other 40 or so sites as you have time and energy for. It's self promo when she does it. It's news when someone else does it.

Smak is SmakNews.com. News for women, posted by women.

Once you are a member of Smak (free) you can rate a story, and write a one-liner comment, which could include… you guessed it…"SFR".

#11. If the author has a reminder on a public calendar (Amazon has one, other sites have the function, too) for a booksigning near you, click on Remind Me Too. Booksignings are nerve-racking. Support is always appreciated, even if you don’t buy a book.

#12. If she lists an "Event", which one can on Facebook, GoodReads, and too many other places to mention, be sure to RSVP with a kind comment about the book…. Include a reference to "SFR", even if you cannot attend.

Sampler e-book of multiple SFR authors' first chapters:





#13. Make her a top friend on MySpace, Bebo etc, Give her book cover image as a "gift" on Facebook, with her permission, make her cover into a widget or tile it as a background, or keep it on the top page of your Shelfari/GoodReads/MyB&N display of what you are reading. You could start a photo collection or album and name it "SFR" or "My SFR favorites".

#14. If you have a MySpace page or Bebo.com, or Twitters, or Clasmates.com, or facebook.com, or theyack.com (and if you don’t, but really want to help, get one… it’s free) invite your author friends to be your friends there. Write a bulletin about your sfr friend or her sfr book. Add a comment on their profile page’s comments section. Your comment is their opportunity to say something about their book without the appearance of soliciting. Review their book on your MySpace blog. Or on You Tube!

#15. If her publisher has a forum, join it and ask her questions… especially about SFR aspects of her work.

Again, your comment will be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, and it will give your friend a reason to post something interesting and quotable about her book without seeming to be self-promoting.

#16. If you have a blog or website, (and you should always secure your own domain name before you become famous yourself) publicize your friend’s upcoming signings/author talks/workshops on your blog. Mention her website URL. Link to your author friend’s website or blog on yours. Put her book as a 'must read' on your own site, or in your own newsletter. Have a list of links to authors you like, and blogs you enjoy. Yes, have a SFR Blogroll!

#17. If you belong to readers’ group sites, or book chat sites, or special interest sites, post what you are reading. Plugs never hurt. These are also picked up on RSS feeds and the search engines. Don't forget to add the genre (SFR) as part of the line about the book or the author.

#18. Join your favorite author’s yahoo group, let her know where you’ve seen her "latest sfr" book in stores, or where you’ve seen discussions of her book, or reviews of her book.

#19. Drop in on her online chats to say how you enjoyed her "SFR" book. Supportive friends at chats are cool because chats can be chaotic, and typing answers takes time.

#20. Tweet on Twitter about how much you are enjoying the book. Retweet or reply to any comments you see that promote the book, or the author, or the genre. Don't forget to use hashtags such as #sciencefictionromance or #sfr so that other sfr lovers will see your remarks, even if they are not –yet—your followers.

#21. Offer to take a bunch of her bookmarks to conventions, or conferences, and make sure they are put in goodie bags, or on promo tables. Or simply visit her table at a convention, and sign up for her newsletter, or pick up her bookmark and tell someone else how good the book is. Offer to slip her bookmarks into your own correspondence when you pay bills, taxes, etc.

#22. Instead of quoting Goethe in your sig file, try quoting a line from your sfr-author friend’s blurb in the week of her launch.

#23. Ask for her book in your local library. If they don't have it, maybe they will order a copy. If the library won't do that, ask if they would enter the book in their system if the author were to donate a copy to them. Once a book is in one library's system, it gets into the database for other libraries. Maybe you could also suggest that the library ought to start a "SFR" section. It never hurts to ask.

#24. If you see your favorite author’s books in a supermarket or bookstore: face her books (if there is room), turn one so the cover shows. Tell store personnel how much you like that book, or that the author is local. If you don’t see her books, especially when they ought to be there, ask about them. Also, ask where SFR is. Maybe, if the CRMs are asked often enough, they will notice that there really is a demand.

#25. If you are connected on LinkedIn.com and your author friend is listed as "Author" or "Freelance Writer" or similar, consider "recommending her" on the strength of her SFR writing. Recommendations on LinkedIn are intended to be for professional purposes.

Bonus Tip:

If you are an author buy colleagues' autographed books from them at booksignings to use in your own giveaways instead of always giving away your own books.

What makes Rowena Cherry tick?:

My goal as an author is to give good value…to entertain. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying Happy Ever After, something to think about when the book is finished.

My books are:

Forced Mate (2004)
Humorous, futuristic take on "abduction" Romances
Mating Net (e-book, short, politically incorrect)
The prequel to Forced Mate.
Insufficient Mating Material (2007)
A "SURVIVORMAN" endorsed, castaway romance
Knight's Fork (2008) Political satire.
Helen of Troy in outer space seeks reluctant sperm donor.

About the author:

Rowena Cherry is unreliably psychic. She has exceptionally good hearing, an eye for detail, and a near-photographic memory. And, she’s lurked and observed from some of the world’s most glamorous and privileged vantage points. Of course, she’s also incredibly discreet!