Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guest Post: Goddess Girls authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams on Sustaining a Series Over Time

By Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Goddess Girls started out as a four-book series for ages 8-12 that puts a modern spin on classic myths and follows the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy.

We hoped that if the series was successful, our publisher, Aladdin, would request additional books. We hoped this, but we didn’t expect it. We’d each written other series that didn’t go beyond the original number of contracted books.

As we write, the sixth book in this series, Aphrodite the Diva, is just out. Book 7: Artemis the Loyal will be published in December, and Book 8: Medusa the Mean releases in April 2012.

And we’ve just contracted to write four more: a Super Special with a tie-in to the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics, followed by three more for a total of twelve.

To allow room for growth, we structured Goddess Girls in an open-ended way. Though the first seven books were narrated by one of our original four main goddessgirls—Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis—you can tell by the title for Book 8 that we’re branching out to feature other girl characters who’ve thus far played minor roles in previous books.

Every book is populated by a familiar cast of Greek gods, goddesses, demigods, and mortals—all students at Mount Olympus Academy. Sometimes, as with Book 6, we also bring in characters like the Egyptian goddess, Isis, from other pantheons. All the books have an actual Greek myth or two at their cores.

Factors contributing to the success of Goddess Girls are difficult, if not impossible, to tease apart. Nevertheless here are our thoughts:

(1) We picked the right topic at the right time.

Goddess Girls published soon after Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series came out. His series created a hunger for Greek Mythology-based fiction. Our series was able to capitalize on that interest, plus our books appeal especially to girl readers.

(2) We’ve promoted this series much more than our earlier books. 

A lot of this promotion involves social media. We do blog tours and Blog Hops that include book and swag giveaways. We both have Facebook pages, blogs, and author websites. We connect with our readers daily on our Goddess Girls Facebook page.

Joan tweets. Suzanne doesn’t. (But Suzanne does speak at schools, and at conferences for teachers and librarians.)

We’ve also started to do more virtual visits with classrooms and book clubs through Skype Authors. And we both do occasional in-store book signings too.

(3) It’s just possible that we write middle grade books better as a team than we do as individuals.

A favorite reviewer of ours thinks so, and she could be right. Two heads are better than one.

The big secret to successful collaboration is: Choose the right co-author! Someone who meets deadlines and has a writing style similar to your own.

Whatever the reasons for the Goddess Girls series success so far, we are loving it and plan to keep writing the books for as long as we can!

Cynsational Notes

Guest Post: Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams on the Goddess Girls series from Cynsations (April 2010). Peek: "We tossed our egos out the window and mercilessly rewrote each other's work until the series began to sound as if one author had written it."

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