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 short vignettes about their lives, or additional chapters of what happens after the book ends. Yes, this sounds like an epilogue and in some ways it is. But sometimes, an author has a lot of ideas and can’t fit everything into the epilogue and writing the next book isn’t always an option, especially when there are side characters waiting for their turn in the limelight.
The part that can become daunting for the author is what to write… I found when writing a series, a transition scene or chapters works quite nicely. I’ve done this for my upcoming Science Fiction / Fantasy Romance novel The Traitor’s Touch. I wrote a scene that shows an initial meeting and provides insight into characters that are part of 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 (writing took less time).
So, after all that, here’s the tip, fellow writers… Write Your Bonus Chapters Immediately After You Type ‘The End”. After you’ve finished your book is the best time to write the bonus content. The material and characters are fresh in your mind. You know what if any details were glossed over and could become the focus of bonus content. 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 whatever 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.
I ‘fell into this approach’ when I 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). I have to say… it was much easier to write that bonus chapter(s) than go back to a book I last revised months ago and figure out what to do. An hour tops…. Trust me, later on you’ll be happy you took that hour to create your bonus chapter/content after you typed ‘The End’.