Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about a promotional idea, one that I and another writer are trying out, even as you read this.

Most readers have a preference of subgenres, and some will not dare to dangle even a toe into the other genre pond.  Romantic suspense readers might easily pick up books with contemporary, edgy covers while passing on books with Jane Austen type gowns gracing the cover. Historical readers might go for the stories featuring a hero in a kilt or with a sword. I, myself, pick up a British historical romance before a contemporary military or western romance. I know what to expect in the English and Scottish settings and language, especially when reading my favorite authors. The stories are comfortable and the “ride” I take to reach the end of the journey is as familiar, fun and wonderful as usual.

Untamed_Hearts_500The Perfect Hostage












So when my publicist recommended that I do a joint blog tour with an author who writes contemporary romantic suspense, I wasn’t sure it would work. My novella, UNTAMED HEARTS (Buy Link Untamed Hearts) is a 16th century romance that follows a pirate into the Scottish Highlands. The other author, Misty Evans, was releasing a romantic suspense novella, THE PERFECT HOSTAGE (Buy Link Perfect Hostage) featuring a Spec Ops hero from her Super Agent Series. Completely different settings with a completely different readership.

As Misty and I discussed our two seemingly opposite novellas, we realized that both involve characters taking a large risk. Our heroines take a “walk on the wild side” and try something new. And in both cases, the payoff is hugely gratifying.

That got us thinking about the benefits of taking risks, stepping out of the box and diving into something completely different. Aha! This was something we could suggest to readers. So I did a little easy research on the benefits of stepping outside the box and trying new things.

The following quotes are from The Franklin Institute of Science and discuss our brain health.

“Mental stimulation improves brain function and actually protects against cognitive decline…”

“Throughout life, your neural networks reorganize and reinforce themselves in response to new stimuli and learning experiences.”

“Consider your brain a muscle, and find opportunities to flex it. ‘Read, read, read,’ says Dr. Amir Soas of Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland.”

The article gives various ways to improve cognitive strength throughout our lives.  It recommends physical activity, learning a new language, as well as using your non-dominant hand for tasks like brushing teeth or moving a computer mouse. Basically doing something new or trying to do something familiar in a different way.

All reading stimulates the brain and reading something outside a person’s area of familiarity could add even more stimulus. So we’ve asked our readers to “take a walk on the wild side” and try out a different subgenre of romance. If they usually thrill at a man packing a semi-automatic and riding a motorcycle, we’ve asked them to take a look at my swashbuckling pirate stuck in the Scottish Highlands. If their hearts thump wildly while reading about a man in a kilt brandishing a lethal claymore, we’ve asked them to give a Special Ops agent, snowbound in a chalet, a chance. Our books are novellas so the time and monetary commitment is small (Both novellas are only $0.99 right now). And who knows, maybe after wading in the other pond a reader might decide to plunge into the other subgenre altogether.

I don’t know if it will work and I don’t think we can track numbers on it, but it is something new to try. The more we can promote each other and other subgenres, the more opportunity we create for readers to expand their reading preferences. And that will help all of us. So if you are contemplating a joint endeavor to promote, don’t rule out authors who write in completely different subgenres than you. Taking a “walk on the wild side” might be a perfectly fun way to broaden your readership.

Has anyone else tried something like this before, and did it work?

Do you have any suggestions for “outside the box” promotion?


More information about Heather McCollum can be found here on her web site: She can also be found on Twitter at and on FB at

More information about Misty Evans can be found here on her web site: . She can also be found on Twitter at and on FB at .

24 responses to “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Clever idea, Heather. I’d be willing to walk on the wild side. But anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised. Oh wait…we’re talking about books… LOL!

    When I first began judging the RITAs, I wasn’t exactly pleased to be getting books in genres I didn’t particularly like. But it turned out these books were fabulous, and I’d probably read those authors again.

    I think it’s a great challenge!

    Congrats on your new release, Heather!


    • Thanks for the congrats, Jenn!

      Exactly – if readers take a chance and love an author’s voice, they will probably read them no matter what subgenre of romance they write.

      : ) Heather

  2. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Cool crossing marketing plan, Heather. Thanks for telling us about it.

  3. June Love says:

    Heather, I think this is a wonderful marketing tool. I read different genres anyway, but if I didn’t, I’d like to believe this would appeal to me. It’s not the same as what we see on Amazon, you know the “if you like…then, you should like…” or whatever they say. This satisfies a reader’s craving to be risky without losing much in the process. I like it.

    You’ll always have those who are resistant to change. I have several close friends who are like that and there are times I’m sorry for what they’re missing by not crossing that self-imposed line.

  4. Hope Ramsay says:

    Very interesting idea. I’d be interested in hearing how it goes. I recently wrote a series of novels which were homages (sideways retellings) of classic romances like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

    I discovered, to my dismay, that a lot of my contemporary romance readers (and reviewers), had never, ever read these books. And furthermore, when I suggested a read along in my reader group, many of them were not interested. Now, admittedly this is not a cross-promotion idea. Charlotte Bronte has sold more books than most. But I was surprised by how many of my engaged readers were dead set against reading novels set in other times and places. They saw those books and “dark and dreary.” Which I suppose is true to some extent, since they are not “contemporary historicals.” Jane Eyre isn’t really an historical at all — it’s a contemporary gothic romance that has become historical through the passage of time.

    Anyway, a small group of them embraced the idea, and we did do a read along of Jane Eyre which was fun. And I discovered a few readers who are like me: they read everything. Hopefully when these folks pick up INN AT LAST CHANCE next week, they will get all the Jane Eyre “inn-jokes.” 😉

    • Hope, I love the idea of paralleling a classic in a more modern setting. I’ve got one in mind myself : )

      I also loved Jane Eyre when I read it years ago. I will definitely have to pick up your homage of it!

  5. Heather,

    This is a great idea. I’ve never thought of paring with my opposite.

    The only ‘outside the box’ marketing I’ve done was with my latest release. I got some bad reviews so I had a contest on my Facebook page. If you left a valid comment about why you hated my book, you’re name got entered in a drawing to win a 50.00 gift card. My sales went up because I guess people are willing to risk 3.99 to possibly win 50.00. It worked. I got some valuable reader advice, my readers felt involved in the writing process, and I sold a crap-load of books.

    Good luck with your promo.

  6. Elisa Beatty says:

    This is such a fun idea!!!

    It’s true…I tend to get stuck in my little historical groove. But when I venture outside, it’s usually really rewarding.

    I remember my first RWA Nationals, getting a copy of a Kristan Higgins book on my chair at the luncheon, and glancing at the cover and thinking, “Oh, contemporary…I don’t read these.” And then I read the first paragraph, and loved it…and have devoured every Kristan Higgins book since then.

    It’s worth branching out! (And I love that both your covers have manly torsos on them…makes it seem like not SUCH a big leap to try the new genre.)

    • They do both have those manly men on the covers! LOL! I hadn’t really thought of it, but you’re so right. Next to each other it really shows that heroes can be amazing in any century!

  7. I love that you guys found a commonality in your differences – cool! Very much outside the box.

    As for your question about outside-the-box promo, I came across this article a few months ago: and have been so intrigued by what he did. (In case you don’t want to follow the link, author Hugh Howey gave away his post-apocalyptic novel on a USB stick that has a fallout shelter symbol. It’s very cool, and he was hoping it would appeal to his sci-fi fans. He included a “secret file” on it, too. I love this idea and have been mulling over how to do it with my next series. 😉

    • OOOO – thanks for sharing Anne Marie! This does sound cool. I wonder how much it would cost to get a bunch of those made up and if the company would load the book on it or if we’d have to sit there for days popping each one of them in???

      Hmmm…I might just look into that : )Thank you!

  8. I think anything that gets readers to expand their horizons and their reading is good for readers and writers! I’ve found it interesting when readers who love billionaire bad boys say they’d never be interested in reading historical romance with all of those dukes, when the dukes WERE the billionaire bad boys of 19th century England. I’ve always wondered about linking a historical romantic suspense to a contemporary romantic suspense via a copycat killer who reenacts the murders of the nineteenth century in 2014.

    • What a great idea Louisa! OK, you better write it soon now that you gave us all that fantastic idea : )

      LOL – yes, those dukes were the bad boys. Very nicely put ; )

  9. Love this idea, Heather! Like Jenn, I’ve judged books in contests from subgenres I don’t ordinarily read. The experience has definitely expanded my horizons. There are a couple of authors I now read regularly just because I “had” to read them for some reason or other. And now I love them! So anytime you can get readers to take a chance on something new, I think that’s a good thing!

    Best of luck with the marketing. You’ll have to report back and tell us how it did!


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