When I first read the concept of ‘bonus content’ to keep readers engaged and quite frankly to reward them for being loyal readers, I was overwhelmed with the idea of what to write. After all, no one wants to waste his or her time writing or reading filler content or fluff.
Most readers want to read more about their favorite characters, so the ideal ‘bonus content’ to provide are additional chapters. Yes, this sounds like an epilogue and in some ways it is. The epilogue is used to give a reader that sense of closure, a peak into life several weeks, months or years down the road. Those additional scenes or chapters don’t always ‘fit’ in the epilogue and writing the next book about the same characters isn’t always an option, especially when there are side characters waiting for their turn in the limelight.
I found when writing a series, a transition scene or chapters between books works quite nicely. I’ve done this for my upcoming Sci Fi Fantasy Romance novel The Traitor’s Touch. I wrote a scene that shows an initial meeting and provides insight into characters that are introduced in the next book, The Traitor’s Truth. Fortunately, I loved how the bonus chapters turned out and the insight they provide to both book 1 and book 2 in the Mindwiped series. Unfortunately, it took me a while to conceive of the chapters as I’d written these transition chapters months after finishing both novels.
So, after all that, here’s the tip, fellow writers: Write Your Bonus Chapters Immediately After You Type ‘The End’. The material and characters are fresh in your mind. You know what if any details were glossed over and could become the focus on bonus chapters. You may even have scenes that were cut that your readers might find interesting. This is not the time to ‘move on to the next project’. Take the extra hour or two and flesh out that bonus content. Make it part of your work process and later, when you want that bonus content to draw new readers to your sight or to reward current readers with something extra because, well, they deserve it, you’ll have it ready for them.
I just finished my 4th Paranormal Romance book in a planned 5-book series (which looks like it’s turning into a series of 6 at this rate), and ‘fell into this approach’. I have to say, it was much easier to write that extra chapter than go back to a book I last revised months ago and return to my characters’ mindsets. An hour, two tops…. Trust me, you’ll be happy you took the time.