Monday, February 2, 2015

Author Promo Opportunity: SFR Station

While hanging out on Twitter during the 3rd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards, I noticed a few tweets about something called "SFR Station." Since I turn into a hound dog whenever there's a scent of SFR in the air, I clicked on the link and did some investigating.

 What is SFR Station?

SFR Station is a promotional opportunity for authors. They can list their books on the site for free and books are positioned for exposure in various ways. Here's a snippet from the For Authors page:

Welcome to SFR Station, authors! We seek to offer a safe port for science fiction romance written by self-published and small-press authors. Gaining exposure can be hard in this genre, especially on the major eBook retailers. Our goal is to make it easier for readers to find great SFR and new authors by offering authors a place where their books can be equal fish in a smaller pond.

I applaud the idea of treating every SFR book as equal regardless of medium or publisher. I also love the emphasis on small press and self-published authors. Given the inclusion of Sharon Lynn Fisher's EHO 8, a book released by Tor (which is definitely not a small press!), and information listed on the "For Authors" page, I learned that SFR Station is open to considering SFR books released by Big 5 publishers. I can certainly see the value in providing a venue mainly for digital-first/small press/self-published since that's how most sci-fi romances are published these days.

I'd also like to thank SFR Station for including banners for TGE and Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. :)

What's in it for readers?

SFR Station seems to be mainly a promotional vehicle, but there are two main benefits for readers:

* if you sign up for SFR Station's mailing list, you'll "…receive email updates about new additions to the site, contests, giveaways and SFR community news."

* a free SFR search engine of the books listed on the site. It has two nifty features: "Browse by Sub-Genre" and "Browse by Pairing Type."

However, there are some limitations regarding which books will be listed on the site:
What Do You NOT Accept?

To be accepted, your book must NOT be…
  • Science Fiction with ‘romantic elements’
  • Dubious Consent (NO exceptions)
  • Erotica without romance
  • Paranormal (vampires, werewolves, etc)
  • Unedited / Poor-quality cover
  • Three-star or lower on Amazon
  • Major publisher imprints will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
Hmm, the only item that gives me pause is the "Three-star or lower on Amazon." 
Taste is subjective and many, many readers don't consider 3 stars or less an indication of a poor quality book. Also, what if a book doesn't have any Amazon reviews, but is a perfectly acceptable book? According to another section on the For Authors page, books in the pre-order stage can be submitted. Wouldn't the review restriction apply to those if there weren't any reviews yet?

Good marketing is difficult to come by for small press and self-published books, so I'd hate to see their authors lose even this chance at promotion simply because either no one decided to review their books or they lack the marketing resources that would lead to reviews. And if they're not gaming the system by purchasing 5-star reviews, why not reward that?

The "Three-star or lower" restriction inadvertently sends a message to readers that their tastes aren't valid if they happen to like a book rated three stars or less. Plus, I've seen romance reviewers mention repeatedly on their blogs and Twitter that 3 stars doesn't mean they didn't enjoy a book. I could get on Twitter right now and confirm that. So I hope SFR Station will consider omitting that restriction.

Who's behind SFR Station?

The site's creator is being quite mysterious since I couldn't find any information on the site regarding the person behind the curtain. Except for this:
Who Are You?
I’m a self-published author with a love for Science Fiction Romance, who understands how hard it can be for authors in this genre to get exposure.
(Yes, I've since found out his/her identity--informants, I haz them!--but because I'm not sure at this point if it's public information, I'll keep the person's identity to myself.)

A suggestion for SFR Station

One more note about the site's search engine. It would be all kinds of awesome if SFR Station had a goal to categorize as many SFR books as humanly possible (given its parameters). Hundreds of SFR titles categorized according to type at our fingertips? Now *that* would be a great service to readers! I use Amazon frequently to search for titles, but I'd much rather have an SFR specific site to rely on. I know, easier said than done, but wow, would that service be ever cool!

Joyfully yours,