I know I don’t have to preach to you the brilliance of the Tor.com blog. They watch all of our shows, from Buffy to Doctor Who to Sherlock; they host re-reads of our favorite books, chapter by chapter, in epic and obsessive detail, they cover an astonishing spectrum of the SciFi and Fantasy spectrum, they are platform and publisher agnostic, and they—
Wait, what was that last bit?
Oh, sorry. I wasn’t trying to talk about how Tor.com is an amazing community of fans; I wanted to talk about how it’s an amazing marketing tool for Tor-Forge Books. Wait, don’t give me that look. Just because it’s good marketing doesn’t mean it’s heartless and corporate. In fact: just the opposite. And that’s exactly why I love it.
Practicing what they call “publisher agnosticism,” the Tor.com blog promotes good fantasy and science fiction wherever they find it. If it’s from a rival publisher, they embrace it with just as much enthusiasm as their fans are undoubtedly going to. It’s not just that they acknowledge the other books out there, they’ll host those same chapter-by-chapter, months-to-years- spanning re-reads for books from DAW (Penguin), Bantam Dell (Random House), Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic) and, yes, Tor/Macmillan as well. But at the same time, the attitude is not one of “consume…consumeeee.” They will take a critical look at their own fandoms and join in and respond to the debates in the comments, rather than shift the crowd to the next product. (And although I barely mentioned the “platform” thing, they are inclusive not only of books, but also of artists, graphic novels, TV shows, movies—they even link to fantasy-themed baking posts and interesting cosplay.) It’s marketing, certainly, but not designed to sell us stuff.
Now, I need to take a moment to acknowledge that Tor is not the only place like this on the internet. Many, many bloggers do the same thing. But Tor is an imprint of a major publishing house, and to devote so many resources to such an overwhelmingly large and diverse community shows a great deal of boldness and ingenuity. Such an approach clearly demonstrates a perspective that is not solely focused on the bottom line or short term sales boosts. It’s a kind of branding technique: not only boosting name recognition but also positioning the press favorably in the eyes of their followers.
Because, of course, the result of their widespread inclusivity is an unshakable association between Tor and incredible content.
So in conclusion, whether I read their blog as a fan of sci/fi and fantasy or as a marketing professional in the publishing world, the outcome is always the same: deep appreciation with just a dash of awe.