As you know (Bob), I not only write SF and fantasy as Melanie Fletcher, but I also write specfic romance as Nicola Cameron. I’ve had quite the enjoyable ride as Nicola, and I’ve even become a hybrid author thanks to her so that’s all good.
Except I’m running into some curious issues of promotion with my latest Nicola book, Degree of Resistance. DoR is the first book in a planned 6-book series called Pacifica Rising, and is classified as science fiction romance, specifically cyborg romance. In reality, it’s so precisely balanced on the border between SF and romance that I think I may be scaring off readers in both camps. There is undoubtedly a romance at the center of the story — in a 2048 that’s seen the dissolution of the United States into a loose conglomeration of protectorates, Evie Contreras is an unlicensed cybernetic engineer working as a PA for a rich quadriplegic in the Pacifica Protectorate. When she learns that her fiancé Ben didn’t die twelve years ago in a jumpship crash as she’d been told, she moves heaven and earth to find him, and romantic hijinks ensue (complete with explicit sex scenes because, frankly, I enjoy writing them).
So that’s the romance. The SF is the future tech and the protectorate’s sequestration of cyborg technology to hide a secret — that after a disastrous android uprising, low-caste protectorate citizens have been converted into controllable cyborgs and used for black ops projects and expendable “entertainment” at luxurious resorts. Plus there’s a snarky AI named Lilith who works with a group that offers to help Evie rescue Ben if she’ll get Lilith’s server out of Pacifica in one piece. Oh, and there’s the question of the remaining Adamantine line of androids that fomented the rebellion in the first place — Lilith uses one as a peripheral to interact with humans more easily, but there may be one more in existence, something that won’t make the Pacifica authorities happy.
And did I mention there’s a comet on the way that’s about to sterilize the surface of the earth? Because there’s nothing like raising the stakes to global annihilation
Like I said, it’s balanced pretty much on the border between SF and romance. Everyone who’s read it really loves it (and has left great reviews, bless their hearts), but it’s just not selling all that well because, despite buying ads and talking it up all over social media, I’ve had the devil’s own time trying to get romance reviewers to review it and get the word out about it. I think I’m going to try pitching it to SF reviewers as well and hope that the sex scenes don’t throw them.
It’s possible that because you set up the Sci-Fi element upfront, a few Romance readers weren’t sure what to expect. Sometimes it’s tough to blend genres, and the series will find stronger footing with the second book. I have faith on that.
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Yeah, I suspect the blending is what’s causing some of the hesitancy. On the plus side, I now have the general outline for book 2 as of last night and I’m going to outline it tomorrow. A triple agent from the Denali protectorate will be involved, and poor Rob won’t know what hit him. Geopolitics are FUN!