by Evangeline Anderson
I’ve been published since 2003, and I started out writing sci-fi romance, because I’ve been a Star Trek and Star Wars geek practically my whole life. But I also have a soft spot in my heart for coming of age stories with magical or paranormal elements—think Harry Potter and The Vampire Diaries. So after writing over fifty books in the Kindred universe, which is sci-fi erotic romance, I decided to try my hand at YA paranormal romance with little to no sex. Along the way I learned a few tips and tricks about writing and marketing two such very different genres, and I’m here to share them with you today.
- Know your readers’ expectations and let them know what they’re getting.
When I first started writing the Brides of the Kindred series, I knew I wanted to write books full of action and adventure that didn’t close the bedroom door on the love scenes. I went full throttle with erotic elements and marketed them as “spicy” and “naughty,” letting my readers know they were in for some intensely erotic moments.
When I decided to write YA or Young Adult fiction, I wanted to go in a different direction. The action can still be intense and my characters are often in life-threatening situations, but the sex doesn’t go much beyond kissing. I state in the books that it won’t go beyond that because these characters are underage.
In marketing my YA books, The Nocturne Academy series, I’m always clear about what my readers can expect. I let them know that there are no graphic love scenes in these books. I wouldn’t exactly tag them as Sweet Romance—after all, my characters are performing Blood Magic, breaking malignant spells, turning into were-dragons, or witches, or vampires—and in my latest book, the heroine ends up with not one, but two Fae warriors who will eventually become her husbands. So even with PG-only sex, they are still intense. I would say they definitely fall more into the Magical Realism category and that’s how I market them.
- Get your covers right!
The reader should be able to look at your cover and immediately know what kind of book they will be getting. So you need to make it obvious, right from the outset. That means following the trends in the genre you’re writing for, and paying attention to covers by other authors who are writing what you’re writing.
For my sci-fi erotic romance books, I tend to have either a “clinch” cover—my two (or three) main characters embracing, or I just have a bare-chested guy representing my hero. These kinds of covers are pretty standard in sci-fi romance, although I know certain authors who are moving to less character-centric covers because many social media platforms have cracked down to a ridiculous degree, making any kind of remotely sexy cover much more difficult to market online. Here are a few of my Kindred covers:
When choosing covers for my YA series, I don’t focus on any sexual elements. Instead, I try to bring in key aspects of the plot and show the protagonist of my story wearing the uniform of Nocturne Academy, where they all go to school.
In Lock and Key, my heroine is wearing the mysterious key necklace she finds at a flea market that won’t come off. In Fang and Claw, there is a Dragon twining around the castle tower and in Stone and Secret, you see my heroine, Emma, in her final gorgeous form after the uglification spell she’s been under her whole life is lifted. It sometimes takes a little more work to pull these covers together and get them right, but I love them just as much as the hot and steamy covers of my Kindred series.
- Follow the trends
Genres change over time and it’s important to be flexible enough as an author to change with them. Anyone who has been reading sci-fi romance for a while has noticed that recently a new trend has practically taken over our genre. Suddenly, there are monsters everywhere! But it wasn’t always like that.
When I first started writing sci-fi romance, it was important to keep your heroes at least moderately human-looking. I was trying to tempt readers who had only read contemporary romance to give my weird new flavour a try, and a hero who was literally horny—as in, having horns growing out of his head—would have scared them off. So my traditional Kindred characters look more-or-less human, even though they are much bigger and stronger than human men, and do have a few unusual attributes, (think fangs for the Blood Kindred, a mating fist below the belt for my Beast Kindred, and the biological need to share a woman in a permanent ménage relationship for my Twin Kindred.)
All that was before the Monster boom, though. Now the sci-fi romance genre is filled with Beauty-and-the-Beast-type books where the hero stays beastly. There are orcs, and trolls, and minotaurs, and literal spider-men, and most readers just love it. Let’s just say that sci-fi romance has come a looong way from trying to tempt timid readers to give sex among the stars a chance!
Seeing this new trend, I knew I had to do something different. Enter the Monstrum Kindred—a new breed of Kindred from a different universe. The Monstrum often have animalistic qualities. Some look like lions and tigers, or other big cats, while others come straight out of mythology like my Drake and Satyr Monstrum. These monstrous new heroes still have my other Kindred’s size, strength, and traits but they fit more with the current trend of Monster heroes in the sci-fi romance genre.
- Explore different channels for Marketing
When I first started publishing online in 2003, all I had to do was go on a list of readers’ discussion groups that I had joined, and let everyone know I had a new book out. Now, book marketing is an entire industry and it’s hard to know where to spend your money. The best—and the cheapest—strategy, in my opinion, is to build your own newsletter. But don’t just stop at one. I have multiple newsletters catering to the different series and genres I write.
My main newsletter is for my erotic romance books, mostly the Kindred, because I write that series more than any other. But I also have a YA newsletter for my YA books. In addition to those, I have two different audiobook newsletters—one for adult romance and one for YA.
I put a call to action in the back of all my books, asking readers to join whichever newsletter suits them best. I have some readers who are on multiple newsletters and some just prefer one—either way, I know I won’t shock my strictly YA readers with my erotic books, and I won’t bother my adults-only readers with YA books that don’t have the intense sex scenes that they crave.
It’s also a great idea to do newsletter swaps with authors who are writing the same genre as the book you’re selling. I would never do a swap for one of my YA books with an author who only wrote erotica, just as I wouldn’t do a swap with another YA author when I’m trying to sell one of my Kindred books. So be sure to do your homework and dig into the other author’s backlist before proposing a swap.
- Keep Writing!
Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down over any one book, series, or genre. Try new things, write different ideas, and let your imagination flow. Remember, the more you write, the better you write. So never stop honing your craft, and keep exploring new worlds—it will help you to avoid burn-out.
I hope these tips will help you in your own writing journey. Thanks for reading and listening!
Evangeline Anderson is a registered MRI tech who would rather be writing. And yes, she is nerdy enough to have a bumper sticker that says “I’d rather be writing.” Honk if you see her! She is forty-something and lives in Florida with a husband, a son, and two cats. She had been writing erotic fiction for her own gratification for a number of years before it occurred to her to try and get paid for it. To her delight, she found that it was actually possible to get money for having a dirty mind and she has been writing paranormal and Sci-fi erotica steadily ever since.