Behind the Story: Baby for the Beast
Baby for the Beast just went live a couple days ago at the time of my writing, and I thought it'd be as good as a time as any to dive into the story behind the book. I'll start with the basics and then toward the end of the post I'll dive into some of the more nitty-gritty author-world decisions that went into the book as well. Baby for the Beast is a mafia hostage romance at heart. For whatever reason, I've been drawn to the hostage dynamic of a relationship several times now over the past year and a half. I think in my head, it's just a naturally compelling scenario. I picture being kidnapped by some extremely gorgeous, hot guy and secretly having the hots for him... I mean, it sounds like a book that writes itself.
In practice though? Not so much.
The Writing Process
There are pitfalls to the hostage dynamic that I seem to always conveniently forget I'll have to deal with until I'm too deep in the story to change my path. For example, an ongoing job of mine as a romance writer is to make sure both my heroine and hero are likable. One of the fastest ways to make readers hate a heroine is to have her do unforgivably stupid things. Unfortunately, developing feelings for a guy who is legitimately kidnapping you can easily seem very, very, stupid unless it's handled carefully.
That was my first obstacle. This book gave the characters a chance to hit it off and develop chemistry *before* the kidnapping, which was a lot of fun, but in my original drafts, the chemistry hit a brick wall once the kidnapping happened.
I ended up deleting over 15,000 words that I wrote while trying to plow through the rough terrain of a realistic kidnapping situation before I realized it just wasn't working. I had to change something. I saw a glimpse of how good these two could be together in the first 30 pages I had, and I knew I was doing something wrong by sidelining that chemistry for so long, no matter how good the payoff might have been.
The trick for this book was to change the motivation of our hero for kidnapping the heroine. I won't spoil anything by going into exactly what the motivation is, but the new motivation meant I had to completely change everything that came after, because neither of their interactions would've made sense with the changes.
Thankfully, once I fixed the kidnapping, the rest of the book flew along really nicely, and I barely hit any hiccups along the way.
Before I Wrote
Before I started writing, I did what I always do. I wanted to have a game plan. For me, it's extremely important to reflect on my previous book before I move on to the next. It's why I often wait a couple days after the release of my previous book to gauge its success before I'll start on the next one. First, I try to define my strategy and my goal.
My goal with this book was to find a way back to the style of book I was succeeding with a few months ago.
The reason for that goal was that despite the very exciting ranks of my previous two books (rank 40 for The Dom's Bride and rank 20 for Savage) I saw a surprising and pretty inexplicable drop in earnings from them. It would be easy to point my finger at Amazon and say they've changed some hidden algorithm or try to find any number of other causes, but none of that is anything I can change.
Instead, I'd rather focus on what I could've possibly done differently that would account for my books earnings less, which was a combined result of fewer peak pages read (which is where the vast majority of income from my books comes from) and the fact that both of my last two books fell from their peaks about a week faster than I'm used to seeing. Since I have no real way to know what could've caused the change, the simplest first step is to look at what I've changed in my writing and marketing styles. I could think of two changes in my marketing style very quickly (because they were deliberate changes I wanted to try). One was to move away from trend-driven titles. With The Dom's Bride I wanted to take a half-step away from trend titles by still keeping a similar-sounding title, but not directing it at any obvious current trends. I was initially really pleased when I saw the book still ranked well without nailing a trend, but after more time passed and I had more data, I was able to see the overall results were actually disappointing.
However, I had also already locked myself into taking a full step away from trend titles when I started writing Savage because I hadn't completely realized The Dom's Bride would fall off as quickly as it did. With Savage, I tried a single-word title that was relatively generic. It was something I'd wanted to test for a long time, because writing trend-titles feels like gambling. You either hit the trend and succeed, or you miss and fail. The idea of just focusing on writing a good book without the need for the gamble was very appealing. Unfortunately, Savage followed the same pattern.
To circle back to my goal, I decided the best plan was to go back to what had worked. It's not the most complicated or fancy solution, but it's simple and it makes sense. So I did my best to identify what was trending again, which is a very, very inexact science. The first obstacle is that it takes a month to write and release a book, which means you can sometimes find a trend going out of fashion two weeks after you start writing, but it's too late to back out. Another obstacle is there isn't always a clear trend. Sometimes books just inexplicably do well or poorly and there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.
This time, I saw a few mafia books doing surprisingly well, and I'd also been seeing books involving pregnancy doing well. To sort of hedge my bet, I wanted to write something with both babies and mafia. I didn't manage to squeeze both of those into the title, which would've been ideal, but I do think the cover conveys a mafia vibe enough for it to be okay anyway.
The last point was that I wanted to go back to the style of book that had worked for me. As much as I personally think Savage was the best book I'd written before this one, I can't get hung up on what I think about my books. At the end of the day, I'm writing for my readers. When I look back at my back catalog, it's hard to argue that my Knocked Up books weren't by far the most popular. So when I wrote Baby for the Beast, I wanted to sort of do a mafia version of one of my Knocked Up style books, which I think ended up turning into a serious page-turner and a book you won't want to miss.
Whew. I think that's about it for this post. I hope it was interesting! I also hope you'll check out the book if you haven't already. You can find it here.