Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Writer’s Dream Presents: The Science Fiction Romance Reading Challenge

At A Writer’s Dream, Rae Lori has announced her 2010 SFR Reading Challenge! In the past, I’ve noticed reading challenges here and there, but if I recall correctly, Rae Lori’s is the first one devoted exclusively to science fiction romance. I was very excited to learn about it (thanks, Rae Lori!) and signed up immediately (for 50 books by December 31—who’s with me?!).

Here’s the beginning of her announcement:

SFR fans and future fans:

Come on down for the first annual Sci-Fi Romance Reading Challenge where we not only raise awareness for awesome SF reads but also for the subgenre itself. Read at your own pace, share some great reads with fellow SFRs and grab some new titles on the way!

Read the introductory post here. Then click here to sign up, choose a reading level challenge, and grab the logo.

I'm excited about the reading challenge not only for the books, but also for what such a concept means for science fiction romance as a whole. Events like Rae Lori’s reading challenge, Verona St. James’ Summer of SFR review series, Dirty Sexy Books’ Book Club, the SFR Brigade, and the publishing industry posts at Alien Romances, to name a few, reminded me of not only how thrilling it is to be involved with such a devoted community of readers, but also the importance of the reader in the publishing industry.

In The Reader’s Place in Publishing, Smart Bitch Sarah shared that while attending Simon Fraser University’s Summer Publishing Workshops, she’ll be giving a keynote speech on “The Reader's Place in the Publishing Process”:

I am going to focus on where I think the reader’s place is right now in the eyes of the publishing industry, and where I think the reader’s place could be now and in the future. I’m going to touch on the other individuals in the publishing process (the publisher, the writer and her agent, the book seller) and the repeated absence of the reader in conversations and examinations of publishing.

That bit about the “repeated absence” caught my attention, not only because I concur with Sarah’s observation that “the strange and undefined status of the reader in the industry plays out in a million little ways,” but also because it’s online communities like ours that will help put readers on the radar.

We are the customer, and by organizing such events as book clubs, reading challenges, and other SFR-related virtual activities, the chances increase that our voices will be heard. I really wish I could attend Sarah’s speech because

I’m also going to sketch out a rather optimistic future for a more involved readership, and explain how reader blogs, reviewers, and online book clubs and discussion forums are opportunities that continue to grow as readers discover communities based on specific genres or authors. I’m also going to look at how technology and portable reading has changed the way readers interact with their books and with each other.

Regarding science fiction romance, we have so many opportunities to connect with other readers, create partnerships with authors, share feedback about the books we read, influence the content of future books, and help shape the nature of the subgenre overall. A few publishers are good about embracing new media and connecting with readers, but with others, there’s definitely room for improvement.

I believe we’ll see a trend toward more exchanges between readers and publishers, one that will build on the relationships that many authors have already begun. If we make our presence known in an organized fashion and are vocal about what we want, publishers will have a much easier time finding us.

So let's continue to facilitate better communication between readers and publishers by having fun with Rae Lori’s SFR Reading Challenge!

Joyfully yours,