Helping Hands

So, I’ve been writing a sci-fi based book on wattpad for a while and I’ve noticed Sci=fi books aren’t as popular as other genres such as Romance or Teen Fiction. This is a forum where we give ideas on how to write Sci-fi books that attract readers. you can also talk a little about your challenges in writing sci-fi.
Note: feel free to mention your work as reference to the challenges faced.

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Market it as a subgenre of fantasy.

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Thank you :innocent:

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Please expound if you don’t mind.

If your book makes use of science as it’s magical system, it probably won’t be appreciated as fantasy. It so should be marketed as science fiction, not as fantasy.
If it has magic incompatible with science it can be marketed as fantasy, paranormal fiction, or magical realism depending on how the magic works. If the story is about ghosts or psych powers in space, it can be called paranormal fiction.
Science fiction is an odd genre as far as popularity goes. It’s generally unpopular until it has a breakout story that goes big. If you look at the number of midlist books that are temporality popular romance comes out ahead. But if you look at books that get highly popular and stay that way over decades then science fiction and fantasy are the most popular.
My advice is to go for that long term popularity (cult classic) by writing work that is creative and original. Eschew cliches and trope–anything that might have been overdone. You can go with trope but it shouldn’t be the main draw of the story.
I will say that I haven’t yet succeeded so my advice may be suspect, but looking into the past I see that many classics and cult classics weren’t very popular(not as popular as they are now) in the lifetime of the author–Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Phillip K Dick, JRR Tolkien, William Blake, Emily Dickenson…
I believe that stories that are highly original and steer clear of trope are initially difficult to market, readers aren’t looking for these books, but these books have the potential to be blockbuster classics.

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I took a look at Scorch Thy Host. Judging by the opening page it’s not what is generally considered science fiction. It looks like fantasy. I would remove the sciencefiction tag and replace it with something else. I understand that WP allows 25 tags. It’s a good idea to use all of these slots. Removing the sciencefiction tag will allow a different tag which may be more effective in attracting readers.

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Ahhh, I get what you mean.

I’ve thought about this a couple of times in the past, however the sci-fi tag sis still stuck with me as I feel like it will work well with where the book is heading.

Sci-Fi is harder to produce successfully than Fantasy, unless you are writing Dystopia. Dystopia seems to go as easily as Fantasy, particularly if it is something about The Only One Talented Girl.

Sci-Fi has harder to imagine worlds, as you do not have cultural benchmarks, and descriptions of landscapes and aliens take mastery – unless you are drawing. You also have a baggage of terms you bring in as you build SciFi world, vs fantasy that can used a lot of familiar ideas, such as LoTR and HP species.

In Sci-Fi, the biggest verses are (still) Star Wars and Star Treck (unless you count super-heroes verses) and Star-wars like Sci-Fi attracted female viewers more than ST – viewers, mind you, how many had read the books in either verse?

Sure, you can focus on the human issues, and avoid a lot of that, but you are also letting go of a lot of popular tropes that feed fantasy. Oppressed females, with the Only Girl That Could for an easy canned version of a ‘strong female main’ & the Abusive Powerful Men are less justifiable in Sci-fi (or at least one would hope so!)…

All and all, Sci-Fi closest to the SW (and dystopia) will have better chances on WP.

That said, anything is hard on WP now, even the badboy billionaires.

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I seek out science fiction. When I see the sciencefiction take and then read the opening page, I feel cheated. It seems to be a bate and switch. If it is science fiction, I need assurances on the first page that the keyword is correct. As a science fiction reader I don’t want to waste time reading a fantasy book in hopes that it might be science fiction, not when most likely it isn’t. I think there will be fewer problems with fantasy readers finding out later that the story is science fiction. As you pointed out, science fiction can be tough to market. Fantasy is easier.
I’ve founding that indicating science fiction on the first page is tricky. If I’m not careful readers think it’s fantasy. I’ve found that this indication needs to be in the opening line. If it’s delayed even so much as the end of the first paragraph, readers can get whiplash as they revise their initial assumptions.

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Star Trek and Star Wars were once original universes. If they’d used existing universes, they wouldn’t have been as popular as they now are. It’s a trade off.
Dystopian seems to be highly popular following The Hunger Games. It has for many readers become the defining book of the genre. This is where the Only Girl That Could comes in. Dystopian books previous to the Hunger Games didn’t feature this trope. It’s not actually a defining characteristic of the genre.
I dare say that if your dystopian novel isn’t based on the Hunger Games it may be no more popular than the genre previous the popularity of Suzanne Colllin’s books. It wasn’t very popular, even more niche than other science fiction.

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I think it is all about marketing, like always. Especially on lit-webs where most of the population is seeking really light stories like romance and so.
But once some book is recognised, it keeps the audience for decades - it is because the most famous sci-fi books have something impressive inside - the world, or a message. (take for example Foundation by Asimov - that book does not have much except the yaw-dropping idea about statistics, but for that alone it is awesome)
And that is probably the thing to go for - good sci-fi has to have something amazing inside, the rest is a mandatory fluff. Other genres concentrate more on making the fluff nice and that way can go without the “wow” part.

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The factor that leads to popularity seems to be other than marketing. Foundation was first published as a series of short stories in Astounding Magazine starting in 1942. These weren’t published as a book until 1951. That’s nearly 10 years of obscurity. I appears to me that its popularity has been due to an original idea that appealed to the public. It was written at the right time and in the right place. Asimov came up with the idea and got it publishes because he personally knew the editor of the magazine, John Campbell. So a key part of their success is that the early stories appealed to John Campbell. This is having a good idea and being at the right place at the right time, not marketing.
John Campbell passed away and Astounding Magazine became Analog Magazine, so you can’t follow Asimov’s route to popularity. I question Campbell’s affect on the genre. Currently Analog is one of the most competitive science-fiction short story markets. Authors aren’t going to get in my personally knowing the editor. I hope not anyway. Getting a story accepted is definitely not a matter of marketing.
I almost wish it were. I’ve had a story pending there for 294 days. I’m trying to follow Asimov’s path.
I think that’s what you have to do to succeed with science-fiction. Not necessarily publishing with Analog (currently only 25,000 readers), but have that wow idea and stick with it even if it takes 10 years or more.

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Well, I would completely agree… ten or twenty years ago.
The customers are nowadays so flooded by stories - that even real gems cannot shine if there is no push. Because reader has limited ability to discover what is hidden, he is bound to comfortably take what the advertisement shovels him… Too much stuff around, and who has time to pick some unknown author?

Sure, if you manage to pass the sieve of a well known publisher… then the responsibility to gain the audience falls on his shoulders. …so, the roles are split - author writes a story that impresses the publisher, and then the publisher has to impress the audience.

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The WP thrives on the pale copies of the already popular.

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I think it’s best to take a long view, seeing what has happened over the course of hundreds of years. It looks to me that books as well as art and music which is original and enduring does not do well initially. It may be that it’s impossible for original work to shine in today’s markets but we don’t know what will happen in the future, so I think it’s best to focus on creating those gems, not on marketing. Sure marketing might help gain traction, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the writing.
Despite the advent of self publishing as a viable option, I don’t think things have changed all that much in terms of authors who what to write those gems should focus on doing it regardless of it it will sell or not.

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That does seem to be true. I’d say the same for most publishing platforms–possibly it always has been this way. That’s why the stuff that is original doesn’t do well at first.

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I had to laugh here - but of course! Or not… It comes down to if you want to give the audience what it wants, or if you want to create “your” stuff.
So yes - I personally prefer to be left unknown than create another plain copy of what is popular. But no - the question was asked about sci-fi that attract people. Maybe it was a wrong question - or we are not the best people to answer it.:man_shrugging:

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I think it depends on what is meant by “attracts people”. Stuff that initially attracts people tends to have short lived interest. Stuff with that maintains interest tends to have a slow start. I think this happens more in science fiction than in other genres with the exception maybe of literary fiction.
I think Romance is the other way. It tends to become rapidly popular, but with no ability to retain that popularity.

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