Hi! This is Anna Lowe, and today I’d like to talk about why I take the time and trouble to create free bonus materials for my readers. Bonus materials include things like bonus scenes, games, recipes, and “making ofs” about my books. These take a lot of time to create, and sometimes, that’s hard to fit in to a busy work/family schedule. But I find the time to create bonus content because I really enjoy doing so, and here’s why...
First, I love a good story and great characters - so much that I don’t want to let go of them even when I reach “The End.” But even the best stories need endings, because that’s a critical part of what makes them so good - the fact that they reach a satisfying happy end. One solution is to let readers revisit favorite characters through cameos in subsequent books. That’s one reason I write tightly intertwined series such as Aloha Shifters, Fire Maidens, Twin Moon Ranch, Blue Moon Saloon - well, all my series, I guess!
But in that pause immediately after “The End,” I’m usually not ready to jump directly into the next book. I want to savor what I’ve just experienced. Can you relate? It’s like a great opera performance where the singers come out for an encore. The audience isn’t ready to let go of the masterpiece they’ve just experienced, and the artists aren’t either. This is true of reading too. If there’s no bonus material, I find myself lingering over the cover, blurb, or a favorite part of the book I just finished, just to hang on to the magical feeling the story created.
That’s why having bonus material is so great, and that’s why I take the time to create it. For me and for readers! The most significant way I do this is through writing bonus epilogues. These are fun little stories that follow the central couple of a book in their happily ever after. Usually, there’s some tension or a problem to solve - another little challenge for that couple. Other times, there’s a change of scenery that comes with a new set of issues to resolve.
For example, I followed up on Fire Maidens: Paris (Book 1 of my new Billionaires & Bodyguards series) with a bonus scene that sees Natalie taking on a pair of rogue vampires by herself (“Double Trouble”). Why? I really wanted to show Natalie coming into her own as a Fire Maiden, independently of her mate’s support. So there’s that fear/thrill factor we experience through her point of view and a huge rush of pride in the end. I guess I had an ulterior motive as well: reminding women how powerful they can be on their own.
For Book 2, Fire Maidens: London, the bonus scene I wrote (“An Unexpected Visitor”) gives the hero and heroine some down time - until they’re interrupted by an infuriating supporting character from the main story. In this case, we see Liam and Gemma working together to overcome a different kind of problem. Thus, the reader gets to watch their relationship evolve as well as getting a hint of how this couple will shape their own future.
At times, I introduce a new character or characters in a bonus scene, usually to pump up the tension. Several times, these new characters have proven to be so fascinating, they threaten to steal the show. A few times, I’ve even ended up writing entire books for them! That’s how Axel, the sweet, shy boar shifter hero of Desert Rose came to be. Another example is Harrison, the hero of Sasquatch Surprise, who was only supposed to make a brief appearance in another bonus scene. In the end, he got his own novel/love story!
Extra scenes aren’t the only kind of bonus content I create, although they are the medium I put the most time into. I’ve also posted recipes that allow my readers to get a taste of the story world - literally! For example, I have a raspberry/chocolate chip muffin recipe I love so much, I wrote it into one of my Blue Moon Saloon books. Then I shared that recipe so readers can make that little part of the story their own - and maybe even imagine their own hunky hero coming up behind them for a kiss and a lick of batter from their finger!
Otherwise, I enjoy creating puzzles and games. Puzzles are always fun, especially when they feature the hunky heroes on the covers of my books! I also found a fun website that lets you create your own slot machine. The sound effects are great, and it’s a lot of fun to try line up three covers in a row. Also, there’s no risk, since there’s no actual gambling - just free, fun games. Yet another example are memory games, which are a fun way of familiarizing yourself with or lingering over a whole series.
Those are some ways I give myself and readers a chance to dwell in a great story world. And as for a final reason why I bother - well, that’s simple. Bonus materials are my way of thanking fans for reading, reviewing, and spreading word about my books. I truly feel grateful to be part of a community with an appreciation for similar things, like the chance to escape the real world through suspenseful and satisfying romances. So, I hope you enjoy my books as well as the bonus content I create!
PS - How can you find this great stuff? Come to my author website (http://www.annalowebooks.com) and see! Look under the “free” tab to find the path to dozens of bonus scenes, or click on the “Bonus” tab for fun little tidbits like “making ofs”, games, and puzzles. Enjoy!