This is our regular feature in which we get to know communities around the world (and the internet) dedicated to celebrating escapism. In our January issue, we caught up with one of Facebook’s largest Dungeons & Dragons communities. In February, we got to know one of the stalwarts of London’s wargaming scene. This issue, we chat to Cheryllynn Dyess and Rennie St. James, administrators of the Fantasy & Sci-Fi Readers Lounge, a 2,100 strong community group dedicated to sharing great books.
Hello and welcome, thanks for talking to us! What prompted the creation of the Fantasy & Sci-Fi Readers Lounge?
The FSFRL was the result of several fantasy and sci-fi authors coming together to create a place for readers to interact with one another and with the authors themselves. The goal was simple — help readers find their next new favourite author! We are now celebrating our one year anniversary with many reader and author members, and we hope to enjoy many more years.
What was the goal?
Most authors struggle with marketing and many readers struggle with a large ‘to be read’ pile. We like to think we help ease the burdens for both with the Readers Lounge.
What challenges have you come across?
It doesn’t truly feel like work when you are playing games, voting in polls, discussing classic favourites, and meeting new author and reader friends. Yes, there can be issues, as social media is an open forum. However, we have clear and fair rules we follow — this keeps things simple and efficient. It is a joy to hang out with our fellow bookworms and authors!
Is the group mainly for sharing book recommendations, or is it for members to share their own works?
In the Readers Lounge, our authors can utilise weekly and monthly posts to share book news, sales, blog posts, good reviews, teasers, and more. We also have author takeover parties each week! These parties follow a monthly theme but also include openings for cover reveals and new releases.
We are always open to readers’ posts and encourage members to share favourite books, reviews, and request #recommendations. As we are fantasy and sci-fi focused, we also appreciate relevant news stories, memes, movies, and more. It’s really a fun place to chat with like-minded bookworms.
What’s the geographical scope of your group?
We seem to be strongest in the United States and Australia; however, we have members in many other countries. For New Year’s Eve, we had several members post when their clocks struck midnight and it was fun to see so many comments from so many countries.
What has been the most memorable moment on your page since its creation?
That’s a tough one, as we’ve had many great events led by so many wonderful authors and readers. Our collaboration with OWS CyCon 2019 [an online book festival that took place in May last year] and co-hosting of the 12 Days of Christmas Book Buying were wildly popular. However, the One Year Anniversary celebration was something very special!
Do you ever find the same books being suggested by members?
Even with the fantasy and sci-fi focus, we rarely see repetition! Our Lounge themes highlight everything from heroes/villains to reverse harem, steampunk, vampires, shifters, faeries, and romance — to name just a few. Our readers are fantastic at sharing sales and new release information to always help us find new reads.
What three books would your group recommend to our audience?
Only three? That’s a tough one that I’m not sure we can answer. It might be best if you just join us in the Lounge and see what our amazing authors and readers suggest!
Do you run competitions for your members?
We have a monthly writing challenge for our authors in the Fantasy Sci-fi Author Support Group and are currently working to set up Reader Challenges in the Lounge.
What can a prospective member expect to get out of joining the Lounge?
If you enjoy any subgenre in fantasy or sci-fi, you’ll find friends with the same interests, meet authors writing books you’ll want to read, and possibly be encouraged to try new subgenres too. We have strict rules on self-promotion, so you won’t be bombarded by such posts. Instead, we like to play games and chat about our favourite things.
While authors are readers and can enjoy those aspects of the Lounge, they can also get their name out to new readers in a fun, laid back group. We don’t like drop and go links — we love chatting and sharing!
If you could change anything about the book publishing world, what would it be?
That’s a great question! We’d like to encourage the writing community slogan of ‘other writers are not my competition.’ We like to celebrate our friends’ successes, learn together, and simply enjoy books!
Does your group have links with any other communities like yours?
It is the close bond with the Fantasy Sci-Fi Author Support Group that truly defines the Lounge and makes it something special.
Do you have any future projects your group is planning and are able to tell us about?
We are excited about our upcoming anthology projects — these are being managed by our sister group, the Fantasy Sci-Fi Author Support Group. You’ll definitely want to keep in touch as we begin releasing those! Otherwise, it’s always a fun day in the Readers Lounge. Does anyone really need anything more than books, pets, friends, chocolate, and coffee/tea to be happy? Check us out and join the fun!
Where else can readers find you?
We are currently active on Twitter (@AuthorFsf) and Instagram (fsf_readers_lounge) plus we have a brand new website (fsfreaders.com). Our members also post on these sites, and on Tumblr, with #FSFRL.
Thank you for your time, and we wish you all the best for the future!
The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Readers Lounge can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FantasySciFiReadersLounge/.