Do you write novels set in the real world but containing some weirdnesses? Or have you thought about doing it? Adding time-travel, maybe, or heavenly messengers, or maybe a Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark style plot?
Here’s some advice from author and marketing guru James L. Rubart: don’t market it as speculative (defined as sci fi, fantasy, or otherwise contrary to the natural order). Market it as the underlying genre, for example suspense, mystery, or romance.
Jim’s books have premises stemming from the supernatural. A guy buys a house and discovers that the rooms in it mirror the rooms in his soul (Rooms, an award-winning best-seller), for example.
So, is Jim well known as a Christian speculative fiction author? No, and he likes it that way. He’s not marketing to the Christian fantasy fans, but to the much larger group: the suspense/mystery fans, especially Christian ones who watch movies.
Jim isn’t the only stealth spec-fic writer succeeding. Christian romance author Rachel Hauck is another.
Rachel often uses characters from the heavenly realms to spice her narratives, sometimes alongside buildings that appear when needed and then vanish. Her most recent release, How to Catch a Prince, has a typical romance plot–just what the romance fans want. But woven into the narrative are two minor characters who run a mysterious hotel. It’s there when the heroine needs it, and it disappears when the need is past. Instead of a hotel, there’s an alley. Shades of J.K. Rowling?
The book, published this year by Zondervan, is being promoted as a “classic romance.” There’s just a tiny hint on the back cover that something is unusual: “With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark …”
At least one reviewer noticed the supernatural element and said she wasn’t sure about it at first. But apparently she decided she liked the book; she’s willing to pick up the others in the series.
So here’s my advice. Don’t publicly call your book speculative, sci-fi, or fantasy, unless there’s no other good category for it. If you can target a wider market by promoting an underlying mainstream genre, do it!
P.S. I really enjoyed Rachel’s book. You might too.