I’m at the Romantic Times conference this week in Dallas, and one of the things I’m hoping to gain is some insight on how promotion works here in the Romance world. There’s no way around the simple fact that, on the whole, Romance far outsells Science Fiction and Fantasy.
So how do they do it?
Frankly, I don’t know. One of the things that I am learning here is that SFF has a very different internal narrative about how to succeed than does Romance.
The SFF narrative reads something like this: publish short fiction, try to win awards, find an agent, maybe sell a book, try harder to win awards, hope that you gain a following by dint of lots of con appearances, blogging, and general good writing.
The Romance narrative seems to be more like this: write a novel, self-publish or find an agent to sell it, promote the heck out of yourself as a writer (not as much the book), and by that we mean serious money, and publish fast and furiously.
Now given, those are VAST oversimplifications. I’ll say that right now. I don’t want you to think I’m an expert or have done any form of real research on this. But one of the truths of this convention is that there is an obscene amount of money being thrown around. (I’ll try to get some hard numbers later, although I’m not sure where to source them.)
SFF writers are often taught Yog’s Law: The money must always flow toward the writer. We tend to be frugal because we’re not wealthy. Most of our cons have a registration fee ranging from $25 to a whopping $150 for WorldCon (if you get it early.)
Here’s my first example: The registration alone for this con is $500. (OK, its $489). Then there are a lot of separate events that are an additional $59, $89, $99….etc. The cost of the swag that flies out of here must be mind-boggling.
This is the first goody bag we got at registration. Not only is the bag itself provided by a couple of authors, all that swag is, I suspect, individually sourced. (Some may be publisher paid, and I have no way of knowing…but many of these authors are self-published.)
(We get other goodies later…)
Here are some of the banners in the hallways and on the elevator doors. Who pays for these? I suspect most are publishers.
Every flat or curved surface seems to have a banner of some sort.
There will also be a ”Promotion Alley” later where writer can leave their swag for potential readers…IF they paid the extra amount for table space. I didn’t do so, among other things because I found out about it too late, after the registration for that was closed.
I may try to hunt down a con official later this week to talk about some of these promotional efforts. FWIW, none of them have moved me to purchase a book, but I’m not the target here. There are tons of READERS at this convention, and part of the job is to reach them…so they may very well be effective and worth the authors’ investments.
And finally….here’s my Starbucks cup with a zarf provided by an author: