Shannon Stacey

Dear Category Romance Authors

I have a humble request. Please, when listing your miniseries titles, list the book’s series number along with the release date and ISBN. It’s such a small thing, probably taking about 30 seconds to do, but it might save you from losing a reader to sheer frustration.

Here’s a pseudo-hypothetical example of how a reader who is new to your books can go from highly interested to hoping coffee shorts out your keyboard in no time…

Let’s say you have a six-book miniseries within a category line and your publisher, as a promotion, gives out free e-copies of Book 4 during a promotion. (I’m not even going to start on the concept of giving away the fourth book of a series as opposed to the first or I’ll be here all day.) And let’s say a reader is up in the pseudo-wilds of northern New Hampshire with only the reading material loaded on her Palm. She’s not in the mood for anything paranormal, nor is she in the mood for throbbing, dripping or clenching, which narrows her choices drastically. So, despite hating reading a series out of order, she opens your book.

Now, you did something interesting and rather annoying in your Book 4—you have a subplot with secondary characters who are totally irrelevant to this book. They never cross paths with the main characters or storyline and—even worse—there’s no resolution. Who were these people and why did we keep looking in their windows, so to speak? As utterly annoying as I find such an obvious ploy to get me to read the next book, I’m falling for it. I found the secondary characters utterly unlikeable yet just interesting enough that I want to read more.

The backlist hunt begins.

Not all of the six books are available at Fictionwise, of course. eHarlequin’s ebooks are a royal pain in the ass and I’ve paid for more books than I’ve been able to open from them. Eh.

At this point I’ve already invested some time in looking up these books. And I’ve found enough info to know the utterly unlikeable secondary character from Book 4 is the heroine of Book 6 and I don’t see how you can possibly pull that off. I want to watch you try, though.

A trip to the UBS? I head to the author’s website to jot a post-it note of book info so I can head to Annie’s.

No series numbers.

Guess what? I just gave up. Most used book stores shelve category books by the series number and if you don’t have that, you spend ages scanning spines with your head cocked to the right until your neck stiffens up.

You had me hooked, but I got away.

3 comments to “Dear Category Romance Authors”

  1. Karen Templeton
      · July 8th, 2008 at 10:25 am · Link

    Huh. Had to go look at my own site. Discovered I forgot the numbers of both my brand new book and BABY STEPS, but all the others are there.

    If it hadn’t been for your bitching, I would’ve never known. :tomato: :kiss:

  2. Annmarie
      · July 8th, 2008 at 10:32 am · Link

    I feel ya!

  3. Nicole
      · July 9th, 2008 at 10:40 pm · Link is useful for this.

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