For many readers, summer marks the perfect time to slow down and pick up a new book or two to savor, whether basking in the sun on the beach or camping in alpine meadows … or adhering to the same work schedule as always. Book sales in the fiction genre, including science fiction and fantasy, spike at this time of year, and for good reason! Whether readers are looking for their next travel-friendly book or for a way to escape when they’re stuck in place, the fantastical and the technological sublime are the perfect escape valve.
They’re also, sometimes, difficult books to market. Both science fiction and fantasy qualify as “genre fiction,” and while massive numbers of science fiction and fantasy books are sold each year, those numbers are not, by and large, coming from standard bookstore sales and standard marketing campaigns. If you’ve recently published a work of science fiction or fantasy yourself, you’re probably already aware of the fact that your ideal readers, while incredibly loyal, can be difficult to reach.
So how do you market to them effectively? Here are five fearless ideas to get you started.
1. Publish an ebook edition.
Nothing appeals to readers of genre fiction quite as much as accessibility, transportability, and ease of use. After all, many of your readers are on the move at this time of year, and the others are likely too busy to bother with shopping at physical stores every time they want a new science fiction or fantasy book, which is on average more frequently than readers of pretty much any other genre when you consider the numbers. If you want your book to be easy to find and easy to buy, you absolutely must consider investing in an ebook edition of your book if you haven’t already. You can promote the release of your new ebook edition on your website, blog, and social media sites, and even offer an e-giveaway to boost traffic and engagement on all of the above websites!
2. Get thee to social media, STAT.
It naturally follows that you need to be online, and you need to have a robust digital footprint. Readers of science fiction and fantasy, once they fall in love with a book of yours, will want to engage with you online. And most, if not all, of the top science fiction and fantasy authors are already online, so rounding out your social media platforms isn’t so much giving you a foot up over the competition as it is leveling the playing field. Luckily, plenty of established authors love to network and boost their fellow authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere, so don’t forget to follow your favorites and interact with their tweets and posts. They are likely to respond, follow you back, and help get news of your latest book out there. Perhaps it’s a legacy from the difficult, hard-boiled bootstrap days that current science fiction and fantasy authors went through in the 1980s and 1990s, but science fiction and fantasy authors tend to be more supportive and collaborative than authors in many other genres. And don’t forget about Reddit! Many of your ideal, technologically-savvy readers are to be found on that website, debating upcoming releases and the details of their current favorites.
3. Make sure your book cover is on point.
Each genre has a kind of shared visual vocabulary, and when you peruse the shelves of your local bookstore or web-based sales platform, it’s easy to see just how the vocabulary differs from one genre to another. Can you guess which of the five book covers we’ve included at the top of this post are science fiction and which are fantasy? Here’s a hint: there’s a lot to do with the font, the imagery, and the prominence given to the title. And here’s the thing: the difference between your average science fiction and your average fantasy book cover is much less pronounced than the difference between covers in these genres as compared to books in other genres, such as crime fiction and romance. When you set out to design your book’s cover, or hire an expert to do so, spend some time analyzing what makes for particularly eye-catching book covers in your chosen genre … and make sure to include some of those same visual cues in yours! In the end, readers do tend to judge a book by its cover, at least a little, especially when they already know what they like and are looking for books which may do something similarly and well.
4. Find your nearest convention.
Here’s the flipside to the whole “ease of access, go digital” coin: many readers in the science fiction and fantasy genres love to discover new books in person, too. And there’s no better way to identify your local genre-lovers than to attend your nearest convention! While many of these are still classified as “comic cons,” most conventions have expanded their offerings to include all things science fiction and fantasy, and many will actively solicit vendors and presenters from creators within these genres. Many of the biggest conventions may be too expensive to afford vendor privileges (including the San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con, and the Denver Comic Con), there are always plenty of smaller conventions with more reasonable fees taking place around the country at the city or regional level. Hop online and search for events happening in your area, and reach out to the event organizers to inquire about pricing and ways to promote your book. Even if you only break even on sales at one of these conventions, you’ll have raised a great deal of awareness about your book, which can have cascading positive repercussions for your marketing strategy. And most often, you’ll do much better than simply breaking even!
5. Reach out to the genre gatekeepers.
Convention organizers are only one category of important gatekeepers you need to be reaching out to if you truly want to boost sales of your science fiction or fantasy book! Many readers in these genres find their books by word of mouth, and from their favorite online content providers, including pop culture bloggers, vloggers, reviewers, and podcasters. Do some research into the most popular personalities in all four of these categories. And once you’ve identified them, use your social media platforms to engage with them. Once you have established some sort of digital handshake, you can reach out to them to request a shout-out on Twitter or a review of your book. Even if not every one of these genre gatekeepers has the time to do so, it’s likely that at least one of them will be interested if you truly do your research and contact all of the likely candidates. All it takes is one positive response to get the ball rolling!
Still not sure where to start in marketing your book this summer? It may be time to lean on an expert! If you’re looking to market your science fiction or fantasy book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com or access our wonderful free resource center at http://anyflip.com/bookcase/mhpb, where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs.
To see our staff picks of amazing science fiction and fantasy books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.