Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One In Four: Linnea Sinclair checks in

First, I need to thank Jacki for adding me to this stellar guest blogging line-up. I’m tickled to be in such company! So here are my thanks, in a language I know Jacki will understand: meow, mew, mew, purr, meow, murrupp!

(See, Jacki and I talk the same language…if you hadn’t guessed from our kitty photo postings back and forth on MySpace…)

I had a topic all picked out for today. I’d intended to ramble—which is what I do a lot of lately—about the strange mixture of science fiction, paranormal and romance that comprises my books and the books of many other authors represented here. Why we’re the best of times but also the worst of times.

That idea was blown out of the water this morning by an AP feed headline in my local paper: POLL: 1 IN 4 ADULTS READ NO BOOKS LAST YEAR.

The article briefly tallied the ugly results of the Associated Press-Ispos poll. One out of four adults stated they read not one book last year. Twenty-seven per cent was the actual figure. Of those who read, the typical respondent reads four books in one year.

One in four. None or four. That explains, the article continues, the dreary state of the publishing industry and flat book sales, “which are expected to stay that way indefinitely.”

“Reading makes me sleepy,” the AP article states, quoting one man’s excuse. (Hmm, Linnea thinks. Well, he’s obviously never tried one of my books. Or Jacki’s. Or Deidre’s. Or Patrice’s. Or Charlee’s, Nalini’s, Yasmine’s, Anya’s…well, hell’s bells. Just scroll down this blog.)

Okay, a moment of BSP (Blatant Self Promotion). But there’s fact in that bit of BSP. Given that the profile of the sleepy non-reader starts with MALE (one third of men and one quarter of women don’t read, according to AP), one wonders what they’ve tried reading?

Especially considering the largest reading population is women?

Could it be that women’s fiction is just more exciting? See, this brings me squarely back to my original topic of science fiction/paranormal/romance/action that is filling a lot of bookshelves these days. You know, the books you love to read. The books we love to write.

Quite honestly, I’ve often wondered why we inflict the Ye Olde Classics on middle schoolers and high schoolers in attempts to get them to read. Okay, the books have universal themes, but twelve year olds don’t give a rat’s patootie about universal themes. They want character and they want action and they want larger than life. Can anyone spell H-A-R-R-Y?

Case in point: my husband was a non-reader when I met and married him. Then one day I shoved a John D. MacDonald rip-roarin’ Travis McGee private detective adventure novel in his mitts. He hasn’t stopped reading since. And when the daughter was slogging her way through Ye Olde Classics at thirteen, I gave her Mercedes Lackey, Sue Grafton, Lillian Jackson Braun and every Star Wars paperback I could find to read. She’s thirty now and just last week finished Deidre Knight’s PARALLEL series and loved it—and has Jacquelyn Frank, Nalini Singh and other names you’re probably very familiar with in her TBR pile. She also inhales every book by Robin D Owens, Susan Grant, Dean Koontz, David Weber and, of course, me. (Can’t forget that BSP!)

But I started her young. How do we seduce that twenty-seven per cent non-reading population and the even larger population (mostly male) who cringes their way through a measly four books a year?

I’ll offer a challenge—and a possible solution. Know a non-reading friend (or acquaintance or work comrade)? Find out if he watches TV or movies. Does he like Matrix, Men In Black, Stargate? Or the CSI shows? Did the final episode of The Sopranos leave a hole in his heart? Print out a list of the authors on this blog and shove it in his hands. Tell him to ignore the fact that some of these authors are found in the romance aisles (if that gives him the yips, tell him to put his Big Boy Panties on…or order on-line). Tell him going into the SF/F aisles won’t make him lose his tough-guy status and turn him into a geek. (Big Boy Panties time again). Tell him, “Try these, you’ll like ‘em. No annoying commercials and you can enjoy the adventure even when cable’s out.” And let’s face it, the brain is the biggest wide-screen, hi-def television there is.

Women readers already know how great these SF/F/paranormal/action novels are. Let’s share the wealth. Let’s blow one in four out of the water.

And now, for a last gasp at BSP, here’s a sneak preview of my upcoming THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, coming November 2007 from Bantam. Think: Men In Black meets CSI: Miami. (With romance, but...shhh! Don't tell the guys that!) Show this book video to your favorite non-reading guy. Get ‘im hooked. Get ‘im reading.

The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

Hugs all,

Linnea Sinclair
RITA© Award Winning SF Romance
Bantam Spectra 2007-08: Games of Command, The Down Home Zombie Blues, Shades of Dark (sequel to Gabriel's Ghost)


Tracy said...

Hey Linnea! Thanks for popping by. I think the incredibly low % of people who read is ridiculous! My hubby is one that has probably read 4 or 5 books the entire 16 years I've known him and those were required readings for work!! Ug! I'm going to take your advice and attempt to shove a novel at him that I think he'd like...I've tried before but I'll never give up! lol
Loved the trailer!

Stephanie*magic* said...

Hello Linnea! My hubby would
never even dream of picking up on of my books,lol!Okay,a few times,but that was to read the fiesty parts in my eroticas,lol! I have gotten my grams and friend Dolly to read alot.But guys,thats a hard one,lol!I have even tried to get my son to read a few of the more fantasy/sci fi type of books I have like the Dragons of Pern.No goin,lol. I'll try some more though.I think he's afrais he might like them,lol! Thanks for stopping by.Love the video!

Linnea Sinclair said...

Hey Stephanie and Tracy, Thanks for the posts. My husband doesn't read my books, either (though he tells all his golf buddies he helps me write the sex scenes--LOL!). However, I did get him reading by starting with "short" and "adventurous" (hmm, that descibes me as well). I think there's a natural significant other/male reaction to NOT want to read our stuff for fear of not liking it and hurting our feelings. That's okay. Just start them reading somewhere, based on their TV and movie habits.

Dragons of Pern might not be something to start a son on. For one thing, female author. Boys especially might have a knee jerk reaction to that (notice that Rowling used JK for a first name). The Lee/Miller LIADEN series, however, he might like. Also Peter David's books. He has a snarky sense of humor and wrote in the Star Trek universe as well as his own stand alones. I'd definitely look to the TV series turned paperback series for any teen. They're already familiar with the characters and many of the books are written by name authors (like Barbara Hambly) they'd then seek out later. Just a thought. ;-) ~Linnea

Kimber An said...

Oh, yes, you've hit on a topic near and dear to my heart, Linnea! I blog about this regularly myself. Just this past weekend, the currant version was entitled "Where Have All the Baby Trekkies Gone?" The answer is they've gone undercover. According to my research, Young Adults are reading Young Adult Science Fiction. It's simply being labeled as something else these days.

Back to your topic - getting people to read. I educate our children at home. Teaching them to read is my Number One task because it's the foundation for all other learning.

The public school is doing a lousy job with that. At least, it is around where I live. The Classics are not a drag to read, but I didn't learn that until college when I was taught how to read them.

What's a parent to do? Read to your little ones from birth! And choose your child's school carefully. Low teacher/student ratio, an environment conducive to learning, qualified teachers - you probably already know the drill.

Beyond that, do what Linnea suggested. Observe what interests them in other parts of their lives and give them books complimentary to that.

That's how I recruit new readers for Science Fiction Romance. If someone hates Romance, but they're romantic people and they like Science Fiction I know they'll love Science Fiction Romance. Yet, they won't set foot in the Romance aisle at the bookstore! I slip 'em a copy of GAMES OF COMMAND and it's all over.

Pat said...

They haven't talked to any of us that read your books. It is more like one or two a week

Pat said...

My brother loves the dragon of Pern. In fact he took mine. Lord of the rings is also a goood book

Anna said...

Hi Linnea! Great topic. When I was in elementray school... high school I just detested reading. I hated that we were force to read certain books. But in 98-99 I really got into with all the fantasy and sci-fi, which eventually led me to Paranormal Romance. Yay! Now I can't imagine not reading. It's an addiction now with all these great authors out there. :)

Debra said...

I lent one of my favorite books to a non reader thinking she would like it. Her dog ate it.

Laurie said...

You raise an excellent point, Linnea. I wonder in this age of entertainment-overdose and instant gratification if books get tossed aside in favor of the Playstation or online chat rooms. Books take more of an investment of time and brainpower than staring at a screen. Is using the imagination going to become a lost art? You've convinced me to go on a personal quest to encourage more people to read.

BTW, love your new trailer. Did it make its debut here?

Linnea Sinclair said...

Pat, gotta watch that book thief! ;-) ~Linnea

Linnea Sinclair said...

Anna, so glad you joined the ranks!

Debra, great story! LOL! My cats just sprawl on the books I want to read. WHILE I'm trying to read them.

Laurie, I think to some extent it's the screen that's taken seekers of adventure away from books, but in the same sense, many publishers have started series based on tv/movies and video games. Tie-ins are a great way to draw readers back in.

And yep, the ZOMBIE trailer did make its public debut here (other than on my MYSPACE page as of yesterday).

One more way we try to draw in those used to the screen to the delights of the page. :-) ~Linnea

Aiyess said...

I love reading books. Romance books anyways and I can't picture myself not reading. My daughter loves books too. Even though she nawed on them in the past, she gets really excited and happy when I ask her if she wants to read her books. She's turning 2 in November so I'm starting her young :) She will actually sit there and read all her books with me and looks to start reading my books when we finish hers. DH on the other hand doesn't like reading except for his car magazines or anything related to cars.

I do have to say that I owe my sister a great big thanks for showing me the joys in reading. Also thanks to the wonderful authors that make reading a very pleasurable experience.

Linnea Sinclair said...

Kimber, I know you're raising baby Trekkies--LOL!

Aiyess, great you're starting the little one reading so young. And hmm, books about cars. I know Dick Francis writes horse racing mysteries. And the NASCAR romances have become popular. It wouldn't surprise me if there might be some kind of action/spy novel out there with a lot of car stuff that your DH might find himself enjoying, if he tried.

Or how about biography/autobiography (AUTO biography? Pardon the pun) of race car drivers?

But at least he's reading magazines! My DH inhales golf magazines as well.

Thanks, all, for coming to visit on my guest blog day! ~Linnea

Meljprincess said...

Hi Linnea,
I understand that language. I speak it fluently. *g*
Looking forward to THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES. Great title!
I don't understand why people won't read books! My fiance and I are avid readers. Granted he's purchased and read a lot more books since he met me. lol! My errand days always require a trip to a bookstore. Funny...I want to read more but find myself on the computer. *g* Meanwhile my fiance is on the couch READING LIKE CRAZY!!
Nice to see you here, Linnea. Or....purrrrrrrrr, Linnea. *g*


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