Several years ago, I started writing what is CURRENTLY the Hometown Heartthrob series. From the start, these books had my heart (and not just because they take place in Katy, Texas, my current hometown) but because I loved the guys. A mix of football players and cowboys, these guys were SOMETHING. Most had a past or a bad-boy streak or at least a reputation (even if it wasn’t deserved).
From the start, the series was a little rocky on MY end. The first book (now called Marrying Her Dream Groom) was part of a multi-author connected series. This meant certain plot points HAD to be followed so all the books would connect.
A little less than a year later, we all ended up taking our books out of the series and republishing, which meant some revising at the start. Once the first book came out of the multi-author series, I actually called the series the Not-So Bad Boys, which eventually became The Hometown Heartthrobs.
If you’re keeping up, that means this series really was THREE DIFFERENT SERIES at one point or another: the multi-author series, the Not-So Bad Boys, and the Hometown Heartthrobs.
I feel like the Hometown Heartthrobs really works well as far as a series name, and I’ve loved the stories, even if (just being honest here) they didn’t sell all that well as far as my books go. I’d always planned a final book in the series (following Ben and Kat, for you superfans) but had a hard time getting to it because I’ve shifted to write romantic comedies.
I LOVE writing the rom-coms. And … they outsell my older books 10 to 1. (Maybe more.)
I still get the occasional email asking if I’m going to finish out The Hometown Heartthrobs with Ben and Kat’s story.
And I wanted to … but it’s hard to go back to a series when you’re out of it. Especially when I wasn’t happy with the sales, OR looking back, some of the stories bug me.
I started to think about what I might do with this series.
As an author, I’m always balancing a lot of things. Three of the main things are:
- my wants–what I want to write about
- reader wants–what the readers want to read about
- the business stuff–what the readers BUY
You’d think that two and three always coincide, but … not necessarily. Sometimes they line up, but often I’ve seen readers answer one way in polls or Facebook groups about what they want, but then the sales paint a different picture as far as what people BUY.
Right now, I am our primary income, which is totally a dream! I am making money from something I love, and I am so grateful.
But being that primary income also means I have to weigh number three pretty heavily. In the ideal world, all three line up together in harmony, and I’ve really found that harmony with my romcoms.
I love them.
Readers love them.
Readers BUY them.
The first full year of writing romcoms (at a slower pace than I was writing), my income more than tripled even though I was publishing LESS frequently.
Because the books have made more money, I’ve been able to slow down more and focus more on craft–something that’s always been important to me. (Did you know I have a master’s degree in fiction? I do!) I’ve also learned so much more about writing romance in particular, especially when it comes to tropes.
Confession: I didn’t know what tropes were when I started writing romance because my background was in literary fiction. #oops
Because of the shift in what I’m writing and how I’m writing (and even in how my audience has grown), I’ve often considered unpublishing my older books. Many readers still do read and enjoy, even though for me, I kind of cringe at my earlier books. I may love the stories and characters, but I feel like I’ve changed so much as an author.
I’d totally redo A LOT if I were to go back to my old books.
Which brings me to the Hometown Heartthrobs.
I wrote them just before I started the romcom books. There are some funny moments in the books. I loved the characters and the connected friendships. (There’s actually a tiny crossover where Abby goes home to Katy and lives next door to Elton and Easton from the Hometown Heartthrobs!) It really was the precursor to writing my Love Clichés series in many ways.
While I was thinking about this and reading and yet another email from a reader wanting to get Kat and Ben’s story, I had this thought: What if I did something kind of drastic?
What if I … unpublished the books, changed the POV and tense (from third person past to first person present), updated the voice to be more of my romcom voice, and added more material?
Could I transform the Hometown Heartthrobs into a series more like my current romantic comedies?
The answer is… YES. I think.
I’m currently working on this and will be for a few months, starting with the first book to see how I like it. I want to see if I can keep the same characters, but update the writing, lean more heavily into the tropes, add in the romcom voice, and even add more content. They’ll get new covers and be marketed more like my current bestsellers.
What’s the downside?
Well, first of all… READER HAPPINESS.
I’ll be honest: I liked these books when I wrote them, but I think I can make them into better books that I LOVE.
However, what’s “better” is in the eye of the beholder. Some of my current readers already read and loved this series AS IS. So, it may feel strange or uncomfortable to have me going in and messing with them. I get that.
I also think that I can make them BETTER books. Books I would be more proud of. Books more in line with my current direction. Books more readers will LOVE in a way they didn’t love the originals.
I can deviate even more from the way the series started, which was under a restriction from the multi-author series, where everything had to line up just so, from theme to timeline. Some of the story choices I made were JUST because of the way all the things had to tie together.
Now, I have freedom to take the story other places.
I also feel like I can strengthen these with better tropes. Before, when it came to tropes, I was like, “Hey, there’s a football player–it’s a sports romance!” Or, “Hey, there’s a cowboy! It’s a cowboy romance!”
I was way less concerned about actual tropes and reader expectations. I just wrote love stories that vaguely fit into a trope.
While that’s FINE, I’ve seen the strength of leaning into tropes, and I love the challenge of hitting reader expectations while also staying fresh.
I also kind of straddled a line with writing faith in my books. I didn’t really put ENOUGH to be Christian books, but they also have some faith. I plan to take a step away from that and remove the light faith elements.
This is NOT because anything I believe has changed. More because I never planned to write Christian fiction or Christian romance. It was NEVER something I wanted to do, for a lot of reasons. (Nothing against those who DO, but this never felt like my particular desire or calling.)
I let the faith bits creep into the books in what I felt like were natural ways, but it meant the books fell in a gray area–not quite Christian books, not quite plain secular.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
Big and small adjustments will be made. Some of the storylines will change. I think some of the characters will also change.
I am excited to see how I can take this series that I liked … and turn it into one I LOVE.
My hope is to keep the heart of the stories and characters, but make them BETTER and draw in new readers while still keeping in mind my readers who loved this series.
From a business side, this might also generate new revenue. Because, again–one of my three main goals is the business side of things. Right now, my book sales pay our mortgage, which means I have to make savvy choices. I will have the books in KU and will likely launch them all at a lower price–so if you paid for the first versions, I’m not just over here trying to take you to the cleaners!
I am SUPER EXCITED about getting back to these books (and hopefully finishing Ben & Kat’s story at some point) and really hope you, my readers, are excited to go along for the ride.
I’ll find a way to keep and offer the older books AS IS for those of you who love them. But I think if my readers trust me, this is going to give you BETTER books, MORE fun stories, and a GREAT new series of books to read.
This is a big shift. It’s also a risk! Most of the time, authors don’t go back and revamp old books. Or, we make minor changes and update covers and move on.
This is a pretty big overhaul–one I can’t wait to work on.
My hope is that I can make this transition in a way that makes me proud of my work, makes my readers (original & new) happy, and also is helpful to my author business as a whole.
And … now I’m going to get back to work on making these stories incredible for YOU.
Meanwhile, for NOW the Hometown Heartthrobs exist as is on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. You can read them there while they are still there! I’ll likely take them down by the end of July. If you check them out in KU, they’ll stay on your device even after I take the books out of KU and unpublish them.