Giveaway: Win an iPad Mini, and Courtney Milan’s New Enhanced Ebooks!

Courtney Milan is releasing enhanced ebooks of her backlist, and wanted to host a giveaway to celebrate. Heck yeah! But of course, I have questions.

Sarah: What's an enhanced ebook?

Courtney: Enhanced ebooks are books that have an additional, non-book component to them–things like audio, video, pictures, author commentary. They're the director's cut of a book, except there are no directors.

Here are two other romance authors who have self-published enhanced ebooks. Christina Dodd has put up enhanced versions of her Lost Hearts series. She’s added some deleted chapters, author commentary, and other materials to the back of her book. Her goals were to include chapters at the end that were deleted from the original, and to provide value-added for readers who might have bought the original edition.

Cherry Adair has also put up enhanced versions. I haven’t had a chance to speak to her, but she’s added a lot of bonus material. She has pictures of…well, everything from weaponry to planes to her main characters. She has her original brainstorming notes, the mission statement of her unit, dossiers of her main characters. And much, much more.


More specifically, what are your enhanced ebooks like?

I've made enhanced ebooks of my first books, originally published by Harlequin (Proof by Seduction, Trial by Desire, Unveiled, Unclaimed), and my first novella (“This Wicked Gift”).

My primary goal in making enhanced editions was to regain a little bit of control over those works. Specifically, I wanted to:

(1) match the cover branding to my later works;
(2) make my novella available as a standalone version;
(3) make effective use of my back matter in those books to build my author platform and cross-sell my other books; and
(4) make the books available at a price point that would draw in new readers.

Even though I licensed the unenhanced text to Harlequin, I retained the right to make enhanced editions on my own. So now I've done that. Of course, this doesn't answer the question–what makes these editions enhanced?

In addition to the text of the book itself, you'll find deleted scenes, author commentary, pictures of settings, and audio clips.

That brings me to my secondary goal: I’m kind of an enhancement curmudgeon. When I’m reading a book myself, I don’t want no stinkin’ enhancements. Give me the story!

So all the enhancements are at the end of the book. You want to read the book straight through? Go for it. Prefer to read the enhanced content throughout the book? I’ve also linked (unobtrusively, I hope) to the enhanced content throughout. You can read it whichever way you prefer.

So TL/DR my enhanced ebooks offer more content for less money.

As an added bonus, they'll all be available at the introductory price of 99 cents for the first 2.5 weeks–until July 25th.

Here they are: 

Book This Wicked Gift Book Unveiled Book Unclaimed Book Proof by Seduction Book Trial by Desire

You can find the complete collection at Amazon, BN, Kobo, and Google. Plus, here are links to the other vendors by individual book:

This Wicked Gift: Apple | AllRomance

Unveiled: Apple | AllRomance

Unclaimed: Apple AllRomance

Proof by Seduction: AppleAllRomance

Trial by Desire: AppleAllRomance

They're being distributed by Entangled. I granted Entangled a nonexclusive license for a (very) limited time, and delivered final files and the cover to them, all of which I produced on my own. They then uploaded these into their system. Self-publishers can't upload materials with audio/video to Barnes and Noble and Amazon through their self-publishing portals, and not having these available on Amazon & B&N would pretty much sink the project from the beginning.


Sarah: What was the process for development like?

Courtney: I wanted a file that would deliver the same experience on every vendor that supported it. That was hard, because Apple allows a lot more bells and whistles than any other vendor; Amazon, by contrast, will only allow you to include audio/video in its older (KindleFormat7) format, so on Amazon, you get no bells, and maybe one whistle.

So I made a list of potential features, figured out which ones I could implement cross platform, picked the most interesting enhancements I could add, and went from there. I then sent this list to my chief (well, only) project manager, Rawles Lumumba, and she came up with some of the specifics where she could, and nagged me to do everything she couldn't.

In terms of development time? I realized this was possible in April of 2011 (from J.A. Konrath’s blogpost). 2011 to late 2012 were spent in a period of legal assessment. We did preliminary beta-testing in late 2012 to early 2013, discussed this with Harlequin in mid-2013, worked out some distribution kinks in late 2013 and early 2014, and were in production from mid-2013 through mid-2014.

Since “we” is me and Rawles, and since I also wrote books and did other things during that time, you shouldn’t imagine a massive team working on this around the clock for years. It was more like me grimacing at 8 PM and shaking my fist at myself for deciding to do these when I really just wanted to read a book and hang out with my dog.


Sarah: Was it difficult to decide what features to include in the enhanced version?

Courtney: Er… The features I discarded were awful and terrible and nobody would want them anywhere near a commercial product.

Rawles helped me out a lot with the enhanced materials: coming up with ideas for pictures of settings, for instance, asking questions for the commentary at the end, and so forth. Since she reads my books (and by all appearances vaguely likes them) her opinion was crucial for deciding what might be interesting to my readers as well.

Of the possible features that were only marginally horrifying, I ditched video for bandwidth reasons.

Audio…well, I didn't much like audio because (a) I hate the sound of my voice, (b) audio is not accessible to the deaf, and (c) what does audio give you that plain text does not? Only the not-so-dulcet sound of my voice, and see (a). But I felt audio clips were necessary to bullet-proof the enhanced editions on the legal front. So they’re in. Sorry, guys.

But for your amusement, here are the really, really terrible ideas that I discarded.

(1) I spent weeks trying to figure out how to build an interactive game using extremely kludged-up KindleFormat8 features. What kind of game?

Well, suppose you have a button that you can press, and when you press it, you can change one image to a different image.

There. That's your game. Kindle interactivity is…not quite there yet.

Anything that wasn't boring was stab-your-eyes-out horrifying.

(2) There was also a terrifying period when I explored using animated gifs in a book. The actual phrase “they don't have to be good animated gifs” was used in a chat with Rawles.

There are no animated gifs in the final version.


Sarah: I'm correct that these books are best read on a tablet and not on an eInk device, yes?

Courtney: If you're an enhancement curmudgeon? Read 'em anywhere. The book part functions everywhere.

I tried to make sure that even the enhancements at the end would be mostly accessible on an eInk device. Most of the additional content—author Q&A, commentary, and deleted scenes—is plain text, and so it won't matter where you experience it.

The only things that will suffer on an eInk device are the audio clips (a few per book) and some color photographs/sketches.

But even if you only have an e-ink reader, almost all of the additional commentary freely available on the web at http://www.courtneymilan.com/enhanced/, so those who prefer to read on e-ink can do so, and then can go and pick up the few things they missed on the web.

(As an aside, I'm also putting it up for free so that if you bought the books previously, you don't have to rebuy them to get the additional content.)

But if you want to get the full, 100% in book experience, then a tablet is your friend.

Which is why I’m doing a giveaway. Want to win an iPad mini?

Sarah: Yes! Yes you do! 

We have here a giveaway! One grand prize winner will get an iPad mini and a complete set of the enhanced Milan ebooks. Five runners up will receive the complete set of enhanced ebooks. Ready to enter?

Standard disclaimers apply: I'm not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and ready to read. Whereas, upon participation in the contest as aforesaid, said participant shall nontheless deliver hereunto all such paraphernilia as reasonably necessary and appropriate.  Notwithstanding anything hereinafter to the contrary, the contest shall nonetheless be conducted as heretofore described thereupon.  By submitting  an entry to the contest as set forth herein, each entrant does acknowledge and agree that, in the event such entrant is victorious, such entrant will perform a ceremony reasonably appropriate to such circumstance, including, without limitation, the Miposian Dance of Joy or, in the alternative, a weightless upsidedown Humpty Dance. I'll select the winners at random on Monday 17 July 2014 at 12pm ET.

You can entry using the Punchtab widget below. If you have any problems with the widget, please email me

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Anony Miss says:

    Widget never loaded for me on Chrome – just eternally said “Loading….”
    I had to use (shudder) IE – but I’m entered!!

  2. 2
    msilk says:

    I’m using firefox and don’t see the widget at all….not even a blank space where it should be.

  3. 3
    ladybookworm61882 says:

    I’m not seeing the widget either.

  4. 4
    Algae says:

    Milan books on sale? For less than a dollar?  YAY! [/kermitflail]

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    @LadyBookworm & Msilk

    I’m sorry the widget was bothersome! Can you email me at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooks.com? I can enter you once I know what email address you’d like me to use. My apologies!

  6. 6
    Sue C says:

    I’m on Chrome. Widget worked for me!

    I would welcome animated gifs in my enhanced books. Maybe some sound effects, too. That would be hilarious. omg, the Law & Order “dun-DUN!!!” sound effect in any law/courtroom romance novel would make my day.

  7. 7
    erinf1 says:

    i haven’t run across any “enhanced” books yet, but I’m definitely intrigued :) I’m the kind of person who goes onto an author’s website to read all the “extras”, so the idea that they are included in the book is wonderful to me!!! Thanks for sharing!

  8. 8
    azteclady says:

    I like the idea of vlogs myself—but erinfl suggestion of sound effects is intriguing indeed.

    I couldn’t resist, I bought them—I love “This Wicked Gift” so much! And the new covers are so pretty!

    Thank you, SBSarah, for hosting the giveaway, and thank you, Ms Milan—keep writing awesome characters!

    PS I’m using Firefox and had no issue with the widget.

  9. 9
    Kathy Carter says:

    I already bought these, can’t wait to start reading!

  10. 10

    I haven’t read any enhanced e-books yet. I do like the idea of pictures of the settings. ANd I would ove to see maps as well. :)

  11. 11
    katherine laurie says:

    Love your books and have them all, so I really interested to see what the enhancements look like!

  12. 12
    Janice says:

    This is such cool news. I love how Courtney Milan both writes great books and works on the cutting edge of e-publishing!

  13. 13
    Kim says:

    Congratulations on obtaining the rights on the enhanced version. That’s a great sale price for your backlist.

  14. 14
    Joy Johnson says:

    I ALWAYS have problems download ePub format.  Drive me nuts!!!  My old Kindle won’t open it, lost a few books to read bec of this.

  15. 15
    Llaph says:

    I used Safari on my iPhone with voice over with no problem at all.
    Audio is okay if you can control it, surprise auto audio really sucks. Especially when you are blind, which can startle you making you flail like a dumbass to turn off what you are reading asap.

  16. 16
    Lori Allman says:

    No enhanced ebooks yet…but I’m a “give me the book I have to read the story” kind of gal so I think I could live without them…lol.  But always love Courtney Milan’s books so enhanced or not, they are for me!!

  17. 17
    Meredith says:

    Eee! I thought I had all of Courtney Milan’s books, but I was missing some! *thrusts money at Milan* …. *runs off gleefully to read* (Seriously. It’s been a rough week, and this is wonderful!)

  18. 18
    Jess1 says:

    What an interesting idea for e-books, like buying DVDs of movies with the extras.  Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

  19. 19
    denise says:

    widget worked for me on chrome

  20. 20
    Karen H near Tampa says:

    MSIE 11 just showed “Loading” while I waited and then waited some more and read all the comments. I then refreshed the page and the widget came right up and worked.

  21. 21
    donna marie says:

    Hah! Ahead of the game for once. I noticed these a few days ago and clickity-click, they were mine! Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be happy to clickety-click them onto a brand new iPad.

  22. 22
    Lindsay says:

    I always love the legal disclaimers and think this one was extra-special just for Ms. Milan ;)

    Thank you for the giveaway! I snapped up all of these as soon as they were announced (I read newsletters!) and have been thrilled to re-visit some old friends and read one that was brand new to me. Such a great deal to send people on a glom.

  23. 23
    Kelly S. says:

    I’m a fan of audio.  It allows me to do putzy or boring stuff (long drives) and still be engaged in a story.  Helps time pass.

  24. 24
    Cordy says:

    I love book sales and I am having very excited feelings about Ms. Milan finding this new way to make use of her backlist and take back some power as a creator. Maybe this is a weird thing to be excited about, but I am a writer too (in a different field), and… boy. I get very fistpumpy about writers doing it for themselves these days. Right on!

  25. 25
    Katharina says:

    I am really easy to please, as I am not that big a tech geek. I love good pictures of the time period, how people lived, about clothes and accessories. And I would love for an author to tell me maybe some special thoughts she had while writing a particular scene.

  26. 26
    flchen1 says:

    These sound intriguing!  Very cool to read more about these enhanced books!

  27. 27
    marjorie says:

    Really appreciate Ms. Milan’s openness and the look into the legal mishegas ™ involved here—the need to use audio despite its meh-ness for legal-front security, the analysis of the limitations of current “enhancement” options (tho I am amused by thinking up possible GIFs—woman repeatedly diving over a davenport! hairpins tumbling into a woman’s palm!), the need for everything to work across platforms. So interesting! Also, the cover rebranding and marketing stuff—who knew? Thanks!

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