Monday, April 11, 2011

Author Roxanne St. Claire On Writing B2B Books

It’s my pleasure to participate in author Roxanne St. Claire’s Guardian Angelino Series Blog Tour and welcome her today at Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger.

The tour is for her back-to-back releases of SHIVER OF FEAR (published in April) and FACE OF DANGER (published in May). Thanks to Roxanne, Brianne and the good folks at Hachette Book Group, I have 3 sets (one copy of both books) to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the guidelines.

Roxanne has stopped by to talk with us about when writing two books to come out back to back, what is the most difficult part and what is the easiest? She calls it, “The Pain and Pleasure of Back-to-Back Releases.”

It wasn’t too long ago that we genre writers were told “more
than one book a year is market saturation.” Enter Nora Roberts. Then “there has to be enough time on the shelves for the readers to discover the book.” Enter Allison Brennan with a trilogy-in-three-months that hit the New York Times bestseller list. Then we heard the books will only work if they feature one continuing story that leaves the reader hanging. I don’t remember who, but someone smashed that myth, also.
Two and three book “back-to-back” (b2b) releases have been a proven success strategy – so much so, that some publishers have grown to expect an author to be able to meet the grueling schedule to reap the lovely rewards.

In addition to a “trilogy in 6 months” publishing strategy (which is very nearly back-to-back), I’ve had two b2b releases in the last three years, so I’m familiar with the benefits and the drawbacks. The bottom line is I would do it again and again…but maybe not every single year.
The biggest downside is the schedule, of course, and the fact that a writer has to produce two or three very solid books in a tight time frame, each with progressively tighter production deadlines. When three books are written back to back, the third is almost inevitably a production crash. (Which sounds worse than it is, but does add to the level of stress.)
In the case of SHIVER OF FEAR and FACE OF DANGER, I wrote two books in about 6-8 months, which isn’t too bad, except as you dive into the second one, the revisions suddenly become due for the first. You do those, go back to book two, and its time for copyedits. When you start revisions for book two, that’s about the time your galleys for book one land. So, the toughest part from a scheduling standpoint is time management.
From a creative standpoint, the project is intense and draining. You will undoubtedly make decisions in book one that affect
book two, and when you get to book two and dearly want to change those decisions…you can’t. (Unless you have the opportunity to change it in copyedits, which does happen.) By the end of six or eight months of intense writing, it can be creatively exhausting.
However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, in my opinion. Readers love the almost instant gratification of b2bs, helping drive sales of both books. Bookstore buyers respond positively and see the move as a huge indication of publisher support. Booksellers love to be able to tell readers they can come back in four weeks for the next installment. From a promotional standpoint, there’s a certain sense of “event” that comes with promoting two books (as I am doing now) and an elevated aura of excitement.

The challenge from a story standpoint is to make both books equally strong, similar in tone and feel, but very different in plot and character, otherwise you risk having the reader feel like they’re experiencing the same book twice. With my April and May releases, I managed to get that “same but different” feeling without thinking too hard about it. Probably because, as a writer, I’m very comfortable in the world of the Guardian Angelino series, but the main characters were so completely dissimilar that their stories were unique, as well.
I hope readers enjoy the “double header” of the back to backs, and really feel satisfied by having another romantic thriller four weeks after the first. The main characters in FACE OF DANGER have some page time in SHIVER OF FEAR, but the books are completely stand alone without “related” stories. Both are fast paced, sensual, and full of surprising twists.
The very BEST part of having back to back releases is, as always, being done with the work and proud of the finished product. I am!!

Roxanne, thanks for guest blogging today. From a reader’s view point, I enjoy b2b books because you get so involved with the characters you don’t want to stop reading about them.

Hachette Book Group has designed a Guardian Angelino Feature Site. Check on this link to find out more.

Here’s a brief synopsis of each book.
SHIVER OF FEAR (ISBN: 9780446566599):
The legacy that haunts her . . . The mystery she must solve . . . A man who threatens to reveal her secrets . . . and break her heart. Burned by a failed marriage, former FBI agent Marc Rossi wants back in the investigation game with no emotional strings attached. Taking an assignment for his enterprising Angelino cousins, he heads to Northern Ireland to pry a key piece of evidence from a missing socialite-any way he can. But when the ice queen turns out to be warm, beautiful, and on a secret mission of her own, the job becomes a passionate reminder of what happens when duty and desire mix.

FACE OF DANGER (ISBN: 9780446566575):
Private investigator Vivi Angelino loves living life on the edge, but stepping into the shoes of a movie starlet to bait a serial killer isn't just a thrill . . . it's a ticket to the big time for her fledgling security firm. That is, as long as a certain risk-averse FBI agent stays out of her way-and out of her fantasies.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colton Lang isn't above using his well-worn rulebook to stop Vivi's latest walk on the wild side. But when they learn her client is involved in something far more insidious than bad acting, Vivi and Colt must work together despite the electrifying attraction arcing between them. For each new clue is bringing them closer to a high-profile crime with a dark and deadly truth at its core . . . and a cold, calculating murderer with nothing left to lose.
Roxanne lives in a small beach community in Florida with her husband and their two teenagers, and one spectacular Australian Terrier named Pepper. When she has spare time, she spends it with her family, but also dig in the dirt with her plants, travel for business and fun, hangs out with her many writer friends. And, of course, she loves to read. Here’s a fun quote from Roxanne, “I’m still crazy about words and stories and hope to write at least a hundred books in my lifetime. And, yes, verbs are the key to life. My favorites? Love. Work.”
Now the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line reading, “Win Guardian Angelino.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Hachette is advising winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from Hachette). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at 1 of the 3 sets of the Guardian Angelino series ( SHIVER OF FEAR and FACE OF DANGER) will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, April 25.

What are your thoughts on writing two books b2b? If you’re a reader, do you like it when authors do b2b books?


  1. Great post! Thanks for your thoughts on the topic. I've got a June release and a November release in the same series...not totally b2b, but pretty close.

    Am tweeting this today...great points here.

  2. Roxanne, thanks again for guest blogging. I enjoy the fact that for a series you don't have to wait one and two years now. I know it makes it harder for you (the authors) so I appreciate all the work that goes into them. Best of luck with your writing.

    Elizabeth, thanks so much for the tweet.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Roxanne.

    Roxanne - You bring up a very interesting phenomenon. Should authors have a b2b strategy? I can see the advantages of it, especially if a series is getting some good publicity. It also can help the author keep the storylines going. But the pace must, indeed, be grueling...

  4. Hi everyone - great to be back here and thank you so much to Mason Canyon for the opportunity to talk books and back to backs.

    Margot asked if an author should have a b-2-b strategy...I think it's smart to be able to present something like that to an editor, but the timing of the releases, at least in my case, has always been publisher/sales - not author - driven. But if the publisher sees the potential and knows the author is capable of meeting the schedule, then books that somehow connect and coordinate are a good idea.

    One thing I recommend if you're looking to have a publisher suggest this strategy is to create a secondary character that the readers will go right back to the bookstore to get his/her story. That is a smart "strategy" and very easy to do when plotting and writing. I definitely gave the m/c of FACE a bit of a key role in SHIVER for that very reason.

    Thanks for the comments and good luck everyone!


  5. Thank you for the great post. As a reader I definately prefer back to back books. Personally the excitement level is very high and everything is still fresh in my memeory. It makes for a contenting and enjoyable read.
    I'm looking forward to Shiver of Fear and Face of Danger. They both sound like great books.

    rjofus AT gmail DOT com

  6. Roxanne - Wow, the idea of doing
    b2b's is totally mind boggling. Best of luck with the new releases.

  7. Ah, to be able to go back and change things. I've just finished writing a book that included 2 kids, because when I created the characters I didn't know they'd come back in a connected book, but on the off chance someone would remember a line saying "Grinch should know better than to use his kid's birthday for his password," I had to give Grinch a kid when I wrote his book.

    I like being able to follow a series; often I won't read them until I have all in hand if I know the next one is coming soon.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  8. Thanks for the great column, Rocki. It's good to have you here.

    As a reader, of couse I love b2b books. I get more to read, that much more quickly! But I do marvel at the challenges authors face in that scenario.

  9. A great post and wonderful discussion, too. I enjoy b2b releases as a reader. As a writer, the writing pace freaks me out a little.

    Thanks for hosting, Mason.

  10. As expected, I as a reader love b2b's because I don't like to wait and also because a series can lose momentum if spread out too long.

    Love Roxanne's stories!

  11. What an interesting guest post. I think as a reader, it would be great to be able to read B2Bs. As a writer, I don't think I'd ever be able to accomplish it, but for those who do it, I think it is awesome!

  12. Interesting and enlightening article explaining "The Pain and Pleasure of Back-to-Back Releases." Thank you for sharing.

    It is easy to see how back-to-back releases can be overwhelming to an author (unless you are Nora Roberts or Susan Mallery, who seem to be able to whip out books overnight). Can't help but wonder how an author can even have a "life" if she is so intensely involved in writing two books almost at once!

    As an avid reader, I wish every author who was writing a series that I was currently reading could pump out books back-to-back-to-back-to-back . . . . Selfishly, I don't want to have to wait a year between books. However, I would rather wait months (or more) for a book that was better written because the author had the necessary time to dedicate to the creative process.

  13. Great blog post and congrats to Roxanne on back to back books. Wonderful.


  14. I do like it when the books are released b2b. It's always nice when there's less waiting time between books.

  15. Sounds both exhausting and exhilerating! I'd definitely have to work on my time management! :)

    The books sound like a lot of fun - thanks for the chance to win :)

  16. I like b2b books because I do not have to wait to see what will happen next in a series. Although I am sad when it ends, I like knowing what is going to happen.

    smccar1 at hotmail dot com


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.