We invited Michaela Kendrick to write a post about why she decided to start fresh in a different genre with a new name and what her strategy is for launch.
When I contacted Erica to ask if she thought all of you would enjoy some free review copies, she was very enthusiastic – and pretty curious. You see, I’ve made the leap into SciFi Romance from YA Fantasy and hard SciFi, and Erica wondered if I’d be willing to share my strategy for a pen name launch with you, as well as why I chose SciFi Romance for my new genre. That sounded lovely, and so here I am!
Let’s tackle the genre first, because the short answer to that is not so much “why SciFi Romance?” as it is, “why on earth haven’t I been writing SciFi Romance this whole time?” In retrospect, it makes absolutely no sense. I’ve been reading SciFi, Fantasy, and Romance since I was in grade school. Our house was filled with books like The Dragon Riders of Pern, A Wrinkle in Time, The Lord of the Rings, and more Regency-era Romance than you could shake a stick at. I read the Modesty Blaise books and wanted to be just like her: smart, tough, and gorgeous. I wanted a dragon and a spaceship and a knight in shining armor. So what held me back from the genre that combines…well, at least two of those three things?
I have no idea. What I do know, however, is why I love Romance, and Science Fiction Romance in particular. This genre really was the way to tell the story I needed to tell. As someone whose husband has served in the military, I wanted to tell a story about soldiers that did not glamorize the trauma they had faced, but instead offered a window into their world, a world that is often much more complex than is comfortable. Combat trauma is far-reaching and often devastating – and those are the stories we hear in the news. What we don’t hear, what we don’t see, are the stories that are remarkably similar to everyone else’s: filled not only with fear and memory, but also with love and humor. The Dragon Corps series was born as a way to explore a theme that many books touch on (“what are we willing to fight for?”), and approaching this story as a romance allowed me to approach both of the main characters not as isolated people, but as the center of a web of loyalties and loves. Writing Romance has been a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to get deeper into this series.
Now, the part I know you’ve secretly all been waiting for: the launch strategy. My launch strategy has a few components, but let’s get to what I’ve seen be the most successful for me: launch multiple books at once. We all have a lot going on in our lives, and the fact of the matter is that even if we really, REALLY love a book, we have a good chance of forgetting all about it if we need to wait two years for the sequel – or even a few months. Launching two or more books at once (I hope to have Dragon’s Vengeance, the second book in this series edited and polished in time for a January release) allows readers who enjoy your work to keep reading now, and keep getting drawn in. By the way, if you do this, do it right: take the extra ten minutes to put links in the back of your book to the next book so that people can keep reading without having to do anything more than click a link! I didn’t do this until a year and a half after I started writing, and I want to make sure you avoid my mistakes.
The second part about branching into a new genre and launching a book is being mindful of genre expectations. I chose the images on my covers to subtly hint at romance, especially in the case of Dragon’s Honor, but also to stick out against the more vivid colors and male-centric imagery that’s popular in covers right now for SFR. I wanted to subvert the tropes, not fly right in their face. I also did some research into keywords on Amazon, making sure I had the right keywords to get listed in the subgenres I wanted, and also to direct people to my books who had already read and enjoyed books by other SFR authors.
The third part, as you saw from the start of this post, was asking for reviews. Because I’m not established in SFR, I’ve asked some authors who are if they can share the opportunity for free review copies with their readers. While that process just started this week, it has already netted me two reviews! (As a side note for other authors, the way to get reviews on your ebook before it launches is to put a paperback up on Createspace that will link to the ebook on Amazon. Because the paperback is live, it’s possible for people to leave reviews. This means your manuscript has to be finished, but ideally it IS already finished if you’re sending it for review!)
Questions? Want a review copy? Leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’m happy to pass along any knowledge and tips I have!