SFFMP 36: Susan Kaye Quinn on Tips for Going Pro, Genre Hopping, and Selling Lots of Science Fiction

Today we chatted with best-selling science fiction author Susan Kaye Quinn, and she had a lot of amazing advice. Here’s a look at some of what we covered:

  • How important the science is in science fiction (Susan has a PhD in engineering, so she knows her stuff, but says she puts emotion before tech)
  • Trying to develop new worlds and plots versus using popular tropes
  • Blurbing: do you use your own words or fall back on taglines like (this is Jo’s contribution) “Indiana Jones meets Firefly in a submarine” (FYI, Lindsay would totally read that.)
  • Some of Susan’s favorite marketing tactics that have worked over the years and that continue to work (she talked about big levers versus small levers, choosing to do things that get a big response)
  • Genre hopping — avoid or do it if you like it?
  • Kindle Unlimited and thoughts on serials now that the KU rules have changed
  • Overrated and underrated types of marketing (Susan isn’t a big fan of Facebook advertising and doesn’t think social media matters much when it comes to selling books)
  • Strategies for getting readers to pick up other series you’ve written
  • Getting more people onto a mailing list and how often to email them once they’re there
  • Tips for keeping everything in perspective once writing is your full-time job

For more great advice from Susan, check out her books for authors:

Also check out the video Susan mentioned, Facing Your Fears in Indie Publishing.


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  • Thank you guys for soooo much interesting and useful information and insights. Wow. Really, wow.

    I have just one cheeky question. Here it is: is ‘the pen name’ always synonymous with ‘my erotica novels’ ?

    And, come to think of it, is that why Jo and Jeff don’t have a ‘pen name’ ?

    Or do you … ?

    • SFFpodcast

      Not always, but often! I know Mimi Strong (not her real name) uses a different pen name for each genre she writes so that she can stay consistent with the branding and give the readers exactly what they expect. She does romance but also mystery and urban fantasy as well under different names.

  • Hi Lindsay,

    I can see it makes sense. I have the Middle Grade adventure stuff, the Weird West and Steampunk stuff and the Victorian Mystery stuff. Maybe I should use a different pen name for each?

    How much difference might that make to marketing? If you haven’t done it already, maybe there’s another podcast in that?


    • SFFpodcast

      A lot of people will use a different name for children’s books, since they won’t want young readers to jump into their adult stuff, which might be more violent or have sex and other adult themes. It’s definitely a challenge as far as marketing goes, because you have to work on building followings for multiple names! I can definitely try to find someone for the show who is successfully juggling multiple pen names. 🙂

  • Hi Ausrin – Lol! Nope, no pen name for me. I’m still deciding how to sign my new genre, mystery. The only thing I know is that I want it to appear differently.