Sunday, October 30, 2011

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When Publishers Take Risks in Sci-Fi Romance, Readers Win

THE CYBERKINK SIDESHOWAt CONTACT – Infinite Futures, I recently read Aliens in our own backyard by J.L. Hilton. At one point, she discussed how the weird and wonderful traits in various Earth species could inspire “cool alien abilities.”

Her post reminded me of the time just a few years ago when I heard about a science fiction romance author being told by her agent and (SF) publisher that shape-shifting aliens would be considered too weird when she pitched them that idea for her next book.

From my perspective, that’s a bunch of hooey, especially when you consider how readers are downright devouring shifter characters in paranormal romance. Never mind the fact that science fiction has been the home of some of the weirdest character creations ever. Seriously, that kind of call didn’t compute with me.

Wow, how times have changed. All of the above reminded me of how grateful I am that small press/digital publishers are willing to take all sorts of risks with niche subgenres like SFR. Unlike traditional mainstream publishers, small press/digital publishers treat me, the reader, as their customer. They make it their business to release risk-taking stories that readers like me want.

For example, I have Ophidia Cox’s forthcoming erotic sci-fi romance THE CYBERKINK SIDESHOW (Lyrical Press November 2011) on my Kindle. It promises to be a pretty unusual story, and one that’s got me wide-eyed with anticipation.

STARLANDER'S MYTHAlso, Melisse Aires' forthcoming STARLANDER'S MYTH (also on my Kindle!), a steampunk space western, has a "gryphon shifter heroine." The author gave me permission to share that she's contemplating the use of woolly mammoths in some fashion for a future story. Woolly mammoths in a science fiction romance! My reaction was like, “bring it on” because I’m always open to experimental stuff like that.

Even less outré approaches to stories, ideas, and characters can be more edgy than what mainstream print publishers are willing to acquire. Hence, releasing print or ebooks with small/press digital publishers is mutually beneficial for authors and readers of sci-fi romance. No one at these publishers is going to presume to tell us what we want to read.

They treat readers as customers—not marketing departments, and definitely not booksellers.

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about the choices available to me in science fiction romance these days, and from the looks of things, it seems like even more are just around the corner. Shapeshifting aliens, woolly mammoths, you name it.

Do you have any stories to share about small press/ebook titles you discovered that molded strongly to your tastes and made you feel valued as a reader? (Sci-fi romance, or any other genre—it’s all good!)

Joyfully yours,