Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Trilogy Trend: Author Stephanie Bond Aims to Please Readers with Spring Trio of Mysteries

Atlanta author Stephanie Bond is the creator of the BODY MOVERS humorous mystery series, in which main character Carlotta Wren works for Neiman Marcus by day, and helps her brother move bodies from crime scenes by night. The first three books in the series were well-received (2 Bodies for the Price of 1 was given a starred review by Publishers Weekly), but Bond was pelted with emails from readers frustrated by what they perceived as a "slow" once-a-year release schedule. Bond, a prolific novelist with over 40 mystery and romance novels to her name to-date, brainstormed with her publisher, Mira Books, on how to get more installments of the BODY MOVERS series on the market, faster.

A recent publishing trend in fiction is the back-to-back trilogy. The author writes three related manuscripts which the publisher stockpiles, then releases back to back to build momentum for a series and provide instant gratification to readers. But even if a writer is able to deliver back to back manuscripts, the publisher still has to make room in the publishing schedule for the trilogy, the art department has to develop related covers, the sales team has to strategize how to sell the trilogy, and booksellers must be willing to display the books together. Publishing a trilogy is a complicated process in which everyone up and down the line has to be on board; it’s also one case where the publication program itself is a marketing tool.

Since the BODY MOVERS series was already underway, to give the in-series trilogy (4 Bodies and a Funeral, 5 Bodies to Die For, and 6 Killer Bodies) something "extra," the trilogy features the same characters and continuing storylines as the previous books in the series, plus the additional element of a serial killer with a special signature: he leaves a charm in the mouth of each of his victims. Books 4, 5, and 6 in the BODY MOVERS series will be released April, May, and June 2009.

Bond is sympathetic to her readers and gratified that her publisher listened. "When readers get hooked into a series," Bond says, "they want more, faster! It’s like falling in love with a TV series—no one wants to wait until next season to find out what happens."

And while Bond is thrilled that readers are clamoring for more BODY MOVERS books, she laughingly laments the long hours it requires of the author. "I warned my friends and family that I would be unavailable for several months while I finished writing this trilogy. It was manic—I rarely left my home office, I didn’t watch TV, see a movie, read a book. I unplugged my phone, turned off email—I went underground to write these three books and get them out on time. But without my readers, the BODY MOVERS series wouldn’t exist, so I’m happy for the opportunity to publish this spring trilogy…at least I’m happy now that the books are written!"
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