Readers, writers and the ties that bind

Last week, my pal Marissa at St. Martin’s Press emailed to ask if I’d boost their latest stroke of genius on Facebook to promote the In Death series: a sweepstakes in which 500 readers receive a connect-the-dot booklet, and one grand prize winner will get a booklet and a signed ARC of Connections.  (Sweepstakes link: here )

I agreed, even as I mentally rolled my eyes and shielded my energy.  Why? Mainly to not wilt under the inevitable chorus of readers outside the US unhappy with the rules that exclude them.  

Recently, the chorus has upped the ante and there have been declarations of “Well I won’t buy your books!”
“Why do you hate readers who live in [fill in the blank]?”
“Do you know what you can do with your books?”
Nora replied “Yes, I can write them.”

And there, my friends is the crux of it all.  Nora’s contract with readers is to give them the best book possible, every single time out.  That’s it.  She works long hours, one book at a time to achieve her end of the bargain.  Yes, there may books readers don’t enjoy.   But that’s a whole different conversation.

The perception of a writer with a worldwide following such as Nora’s is that one publisher handles all things.  Nora has explained this is not the case several time, I’ve explained as well.  I’ve added notes to contest information that it can’t be done.  But the immediate reaction from readers is pretty much “Why don’t you love MEEEEEEEE?”   I’m here to say she does, she upholds her end of the bargain and that’s where the story ends.

Once finished, a book goes off to her US editor.  Fairly soon thereafter, it’s off to her UK editor.  Each woman works for a different publisher.  The covers are different, the distribution is different, the rules are different.  For the rest of the world, it all depends on which international publisher has contracted to bring Nora or JD to their particular readership and when.  For instance, Brazil brought out the Bride quartet with fun promotion, lots of excitement — 4 years after it came out in the US.  

The last In Death to come out to a fairly wide readership was Apprentice.  By my count it came out in Czechloslovakia, Poland, Hungary,  France, the UK (Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa) and the US.

Each publisher promoted in the way that worked for their market.  At the time, Nora’s US publisher was Putnam and their method of promotion didn’t include giveaways and contests.  When she moved to St. Martin’s Press, the team there faced the challenge of rebranding, promoting and publicizing a series 43 books long, with an established reader base.  They chose to build the audience with clever, creative sweepstakes. 

The one thing they can’t do is offer these creative promotions to readers outside the US, including Canada more often than not.  The rules, the laws, governing publishers are specific to each country, global contests are virtually impossible.  In a recent conversation with Nora’s new Little Brown editor, she told me that once she’d tried to run a worldwide contest and it fell apart under all the rules.  By the way, for a company like Little Brown, contests are geographic as well — a contest in Australia can’t run in South Africa.  

My position is different.  In a lot of ways, especially with the advent of social media, I’m the axle in the wheel of Nora.  She’s one spoke, the publishers are another couple of spokes, readers are spokes.  I field questions about books, complaints about print runs, issues with audio books, ebooks, any books.  And I turn that information over to the appropriate editor as soon as I’m able. 

Believe me, I’ve encouraged non-US publisher to consider contests because at this point in time, readers want them.  They consult with their own sales & marketing departments and make their own choices.

Here’s where I empower you to reach out to the publisher in your country. I’ve included websites and the social media pages below and encourage you to speak up.  Let them know you want to play, want an option to read a book a little early.  

In the meantime, I’m figuring out how to have a worldwide contest through the blog.  There are a lot of hoops for me as well, so be patient while I work it all out.

UK/Ireland/Australia/New Zealand/South Africa
Publisher site:

Pulisher site: Facebook:

Publisher site:

Czech Republic:
Publisher/distributor site:


76 thoughts on “Readers, writers and the ties that bind”

  1. Laura, but Canada uses the same publisher, so then who do we contact for the prize giveaways…they always look like so much fun. Would never stop reading Nora…when our house burnt down in June one of the things I wanted them to try and save was my Nora and JD Robb books…I have everyone she ever wrote and some are autographed…waiting for the results of the cleaning with bated breath.

    1. That’s a hard problem for St. Martin’s Press since the rules for Canada differ by province. They include Canada whenever they are able.


      1. I’m sorry that our neighbors in Canada can’t enjoy the contests as we can. Saying that, Canada has ten provinces so ten sets of mostly different rules. Crazy, and I wonder why. But imagine if we had that here in the US. Wow – mind boggling. Fifty different sets of rules! We should be eminently thankful for what we have. Aren’t there even some things (not exactly sure what) that go on in the US that are limited to “only continental US”?

        1. That’s mostly due to shipping costs. Alaska and Hawaii are not cheap to ship to.

        2. Which is why we have a law at federal level that says that a marriage license in Ohio is good in Kansas, etc., etc. for many, many laws. And then we have state govts. who don’t like it for Ohio or Kansas or Maryland who try to pass a law that does an end-run around the federal law and then we wind up contesting it in the courts, sometimes all the way to the Supreme Court who often has to say, dummy state govt., would you look at what’s good for the country, not just the state & quit wasting everyone’s time! (How’s that for over-simplification???) Not that I’m saying Canada’s dumb for not having such a law, for all I know, they do; a lot of our states fought it & still do; squalling states rights. Think what our commerce would be like if you couldn’t drive a truck of supplies thru each state without having to stop & verify documentation, licenses, etc for everything in the truck, the truck itself, the driver, etc. Yeeshh!

          I doubt any of those idiots squalling that Nora doesn’t love them otherwise she’d give them a contest, etc. are reading this, but if they are; grow up! Learn the reality & go squall at your publisher! Even an author with Nora’s clout can do only so much and the laws in the various countries, even with the internet, are not something one can ignore.

      2. I’d love to know some of the rules you have run across in all the different provinces in Canada. I live in Canada and have been entering contest for years and years. Except for Quebec – a discussion for another time perhaps, all the rules are the same – any winner of a prize in Canada needs to be asked a skill testing question – as simple 1 plus 1 will fulfill the obligation for winners in Canada. I have entered and won contests hosted by US companies and never had a problem.
        Perhaps the rules have changed recently, however, I don’t buy Nora’s/JD Robb’s books for any contest that may be running. i love her books and just glad she keeps us so entertained.

    2. I appreciate the books. The contests and the things on the inside of the books sleeves are awesome, however I buy the books the day they come out for the story not the contests. This is going to sound harsh. Sorry in advance (sorta). Nora nor the publishers nor Laura are in any way obligated to give us contests, posters, art, postcards or anything else. We readers of In Death series should be thanful that Nora has shared her imagination with us. We should be thanking her,Laura and the publishers for the books not boohooing because you can’t participate in a contest!!

      1. Amen to that! I appreciate every single word that appears on paper whether I like it or not!!

    3. I’ve got to be honest I just love my Nora Books/j.d Robb. I don’t enter the competitions always. Just as long as I get the book I’m good.xx

  2. Sigh. Laura, both you and Nora have the patience of a saint. I’m luckily in the U.S. After reading this post, I don’t know how anyone can not understand the limitations. Having a global audience does not mean all aspects can cross borders. I would think Nora’s readers could comprehend this. I wish you good luck and a big pitcher of adult beverages.

  3. Well, I’m from Brasil and I’m sad I can’t participate in that contest, but I understand all of these rules and laws and I hope after this the rest of us will understand it too. Don’t listen to those kind of people, they always try to find something to talk sh*t.

    Wish you girls the best. xx

  4. You go Laura and Nora. I know you both have explained this several times so it must be a huge problem and your hands are tied because of contracts. I’m sure if I lived in another country I would be boo hooing, too. But I live in the US, where we have Nora (and Laura) and I’m ever so happy. But I am truly sorry for those who can’t put their hands on a book or join in a contest. I have all the confidence in the world that Laura will figure out a way to have a worldwide contest. Sooo, yippeee, bring on the contest. Sorry . . . I’m 60 and can still be a bit ornery.

  5. everything excludes someone, like the blind, or even lazy people like me who don’t like reading on any type of computer screen, yes even phone, kindle, etc… I like to listen to them on my computer, and phone, so I get the audio books..the only contests I like are the ones where you inter online, and those were about naming the book, or the ones where you win getting your name as one of the characters in the book. I understand what your new publishers wants, and your wanting to keep them happy as well as the readers, but that seems impossible in the age of social media, with any subject. Love The Books 🙂

  6. You’re both saints in my book. Haha no pun intended. It’s a thankless job. Envied by me and most that are avid fans, who understand how hard it actually is to write a book and then get it published.

    Huge kudos to you both. ~breathe~

  7. I have been reading Noras’ books for many years. The In-Death series has been by far, in my opinion, her best works. A contest, sweepstakes, or anything along these lines, is an absolute bonus. whether I can win or not. Being happy for someone else who can win should uppermost in their minds. Keep up the awesome work you are doing, both of you!!!

  8. Yish, I’m old. I remember when the only “contact” I had with my favorite authors was waiting for their next book to come out. And maybe a letter or getting an autographed copy of the book at a big bookstore event.
    The internet has spoiled us all…

    1. Agreed. Also the internet hasgiven people a platform to display their basest selves because they can post with relative anonymity. Some say social media has created this; I say social media is simply a tool that people use to be crass and uncivilized. Did social media create this? No. Do people abuse social media to behave badly? Yes. It’s the whole guns don’t kill people, people kill people with guns. It appalls me how uncivil people can be!

  9. Seriously, I would lose my poop far more often than you do. Sorry people are jerks.

  10. The bane of social media is the ability for people to post whiny things regarding something about which they know nothing. The ability for people to personalize something is absurd. I see it all the time in different threads on FB and elsewhere. It baffles me that people will tell Nora where to stick the book, and refusing to read her books. That’s like cutting off their nose to spite their face! Not reading Nora’s books because of a silly contest??? My goodness, some people have a lot of growing up to do.

  11. So appreciative of all you do for Nora’s readers. You are so very accomodating and I, for one, appreciate you both!

  12. Laura thanks for all you do. Sometimes people just want to complain unfortunately . You run great interference so Nora can keep the great books coming. Hang in thete.

  13. I thank you and Nora for all you both do to reach us readers. All I can say is – not reading Nora/JD Robb because you can’t enter a contest?!?! That’s cutting your nose off to spite your face! So far I haven’t been able to figure out the puzzle on the inside cover of Leverage in Death… am I whining? NO! Did I refuse to read it until I was able to figure it out? NO! My goodness – how many authors put out as many books a year as Nora? And always great books! I’m extremely grateful and totally awed by her talent!

    1. My thoughts exactly. Most of my favorites barely publish a book a year. Nora, you are generosity your art and I appreciate it. I can no line pick a favorite because your craft gets more honed with each book. Laura, thanks for providing a platform that allows us to interact on a personal level. You show us the best of what social media offers- even sharing your vacations!

  14. You can please some of the people, some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.

    C’est la vie. That’s life.

    (Had a nasty sewage overflow yesterday so know exactly what **** can do to ruin a day.)

    Laura and Nora, on my birthday, I’m wishing you the best of days.

    1. Happy Birthday, Gail. From one October baby to another. Mine was yesterday.

      I’m waiting for a disgruntled “fan” to say “I’m going to hold my breath until I turn blue”. 🙂

      Sheesh! Some people are never happy.

  15. …There are books that a reader might not enjoy???…Really? Is there an alternative universe I haven’t visited? A worm-hole in the atmosphere that some have been through and back and lived to talk about? I am at a loss…I enjoy EVERY book – they are each unique, but they are all great! Hmm…Gotta go see about that universe hopping thing…That’s just crazy.

  16. I live in the UK and I’m just thankful for the books we get from Nora. Who cares about competitions/ giveaways as long as we still get the books.

  17. Your explanation was spot on. I like contests and have sometimes been unable to enter one because I live in the US. My response is usually, darn it, but them’s the breaks. I think contests are fun, even when I can’t enter them and/or don’t win them. You do a fabulous job, Laura, and I applaud and appreciate you.

  18. The only thing I actively contemplate that’s a little annoying is that you get all the ARCs Laura. Only once in a while I have to convince myself not to nab them! There must be a way…. ?

  19. lmao, I never win anything, but I still buy a lottery ticket once in a while. If you let them enter the contest, they’re going to bitch about the odds.

  20. Maybe all these divergent rules will be standardized when Dallas finally rides the world of time zones!

  21. I cannot count the number of times I have seen both you and Nora explain this issue to angry readers. You both are indeed, very patient with them. I am in the US, so I feel lucky, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in the contests. So thanks for that. I’m also so grateful that you work so hard to keep all of us connected and updated with of of the goings on of Nora’s life, Laura. We are so lucky that Nora includes us in her journeys and blogs. Many authors do not bother. Wishing you both a lovely Autumn season. Waiting with bated breath for the announcement about the new grand baby.

  22. Feel for you both. Just love ALL Nora’s books and buy every single one that comes our way in South Africa. It does not break my heart not to be able to take part in the competitions. Loved your latest vacation blog. Thanks for letting us share. ?

  23. Years back, I won an ARC from Jayne Ann Krentz. I still get a little thrill, thinking about it. I know you sell millions of books, as does Jayne, and my odds were miniscule – so what a thrill! Do I enter the contests? You bet I do. Do I expect to win? Nope, and I’m happy for the ones that do. It’s a great marketing ploy and gets the word out. That’s the point. Thanks to both of you, and have a great week!

  24. I read Nora because I love her writing, not because I think I am going to get something other than her great writing . Honestly is that all people want when they pick up her books is something for free. I guess. For some people it is all about wanting. Me, not so much. I am quite happy to wait for the next book in her series. Be it In Death, or any other book Nora writes.
    I am totally satisfied with the book, Just keep them coming and I will be more than happy.

  25. The very last reason that I would buy a book would be to enter a contest! I read because I enjoy doing so! I have read and re-read the entire In Death series…and I have pre-ordered the next book (Connections in Death…which is coming out on my birthday in Feb.). I can live happily ever after reading good books without puzzles,games,contests etc. Good reading doesn’t need gimmicks.
    Just my humble opinion.

    1. Ditto Jackie, I can never quite understand why people always need competitions, but each to their own. However Laura’s explanation is a simple one – hopefully everyone will read that. Mind you once I won a trip to Greece from N Z by buying a Lonely Planet book for a trip I was planning.

  26. Hmm. Well, I don’t have any actual complaints. I like Nora’s books, I’m pleased she writes as fast as she does. Sometimes I enter the contests, sometimes I don’t. I understand English so when one of you explains why contests are dependent on both publishers and countries, I see no reason to argue. I don’t have any desire to tell Nora to write a novel according to my ideas nor do I wish to tell you how to run her publicity or social media. Basically I’m just a content Nora/JD fan patiently waiting for the next release. However, if it will make anyone feel better, I can whine. Here goes: whine, whine, waa waa whine. There you have it, that’s all I’ve got.

  27. The books are the point and they are the reason, competitions are really a nice thing but without the books they couldn’t run, so keep up the incredible work ladies . I love them all . I will keep on buying them and reading them always.

  28. Dear Laura ( and Nora) ,

    A global “thank you ” for all you do & the enjoyment shared by all! I have family in Australia & USA – spend time in both countries. I always enjoy comparing the covers. If some one is smart enough to read & enjoy Nora Roberts/J.D.Robb then they should be smart enough to understand different countries/ publishers/ rules! Sadly it is their loss if they get angry & stop reading. Im glad this blog brings us all together! Cheers! Susan

  29. Thanks for the info. I think Nora Roberts publisher doesn’t need contests. She writes wonderfullly thought provoking, pours passion into all her books, well I could go on and on what a great author she is . I for one don’t want her to do any of this social media, though I read it, and write books and enjoy her life. Devour all her books, finished Shelter in Place and couldn’t read for a week with living in this book.

  30. I always enjoy the books, even if it’s a few years after publication. I don’t care about contests, I just care about reading a good book and getting it for a decent price. I recently finished Year One and enjoyed it immensely. I think I paid $2.99, which I think is a good deal.

    1. Pamela – and anyone else who doesn’t mind reading the books even after publication, try thriftbooks,com. Some are as low as $3.79 with free shipping.
      An evil thing to say to a book-aholic like me, but what the heck!

  31. Nora just keep writing, Laura just keep handling, and we’ll all be happy. I know it’s a thankless job sometimes, but you can’t please everyone. I love your books, Nora, and have read all of them, some numerous times. I have never won a contest and most of the time I don’t even enter, but I’ll still keep reading. Sorry the two of you have to keep going through this.

  32. Laura,
    Thanks for the information. So many rules. I can understand the frustration and maybe the fans outside of the U.S. Can help make those changes.
    Thanks for keeping those spikes going!

  33. Laura and Nora, My grandpa had a saying….some days, you just need to have the patience of a saint. I think it’s most days for you both when you have to deal with the public. Truly one of the hardest jobs in the planet. Why people can’t read and understand things you both have explained multiple times, amazes me. Its such an entitled world we live in now. If I can enter, great, if I can’t, oh well others can enjoy. Keep doing what you do, I will keep enjoying as I have for almost 40 years. I adore you both!!!

  34. Laura, I’m sorry that you and Nora have to keep explaining all the rules ,again & again. Please don’t even bother trying. With so many happy readers, you are bound to get some crackpots. Can you just ignore them? You must know that you are loved by us all!
    I’m just happy that I live in the good ole USA. I’m like Laura, i’m not into games or puzzles- but the thought of possibly winning an ARC of connections! Who wouldn’t want to win that? Your current publisher is a lot more fun than your old one.

  35. Laura, thank you for the explanation. We readers in India can’t even dream of sweepstakes and giveaways…We consider ourselves lucky if we can get a book within a month or two of the US launch! Is it possible to nag the oublishers to up their distribution game? I think we are the largest number of English reading fans our side of US!
    Thank you so much for being the bridge between me and my belive author…

  36. As a long time Nora Roberts fan, from Australia and I am here to read the stories. If a competition was available to enter, that would be a bonus. Not having that opportunity would certainly never factor into whether I purchase or read the next eagerly awaited book.

  37. Not an issue for me, in Portugal.
    I’m used to never win anything even in my own Country so why bother spoiling others’ chances and risk the wrath of cranky publicist and writer with little patience for pointless drama? 😉
    Add to that I’m a (kind of) conservationist and I think it’s a waste to spend all that money to send the prize overseas… did I ever mentioned I’m an emotional coward?! 😉 Just the idea of having you all going through so much trouble it’s overwhelming.
    And I have energy for only one battle per year 😀 this year I’m spending it with Harper Collins who’s trying to trick me (well, my husband as I have and read the book in English but he won’t) out of having Megan’s Mate published in Portuguese ⚔️ they named the series “The Calhoun Sisters” (not, Women) so they left Megan out because, they say, she’s not a sis. No no no no. I can live without all the prizes but intellectual dishonesty hurts 😉 the same dishonesty I read when people say they will boycott Nora Books because they couldn’t enter a sweepstakes contest 😛 if they are that easily discouraged maybe Nora is not for them 😉 “don’t let the door hit you on your way out” 😉
    I am sorry to “see” you – again – explaining all this again. Rich People Problems are the damnedest thing 😉

  38. So sorry to hear people are giving you a hard time over this.
    I’m from The Netherlands and I once won a stack of quilt cotton in a sweepstake. I was so thrilled, but when it finally arrived (two months after they send it off), it came with a note that I had to pay over 40 euro in taxes… That was the last time I entered a sweepstake in the US, even when they are willing to ship internationally.

    Maybe it’s possible to do an international sweepstake offering printables and/or e-books? (I have no idea if and how international rules are different for that)

    FYI (maybe you could make a page on the blog for this information): Nora’s Dutch publisher is Boekerij and

    1. Thank you for that info! And you read my mind. My goal is to have a list on the website and blog for Nora’s international publishers.


  39. Sorry that you guys get the flack. We readers can be a bit precious at times. Well done for all the work you do. and thanks for the info

  40. Thank you, Nora, for continuing to write amazing books!
    Thank you, Laura, for keeping the social media pages going!

  41. I’m brazilian and my love for Nora’s books comes from years and years, more than ten already, probably. And when I started reading In Death series, only one book of the serie was released during the year, now the publisher releases 2 or 3 a year, we’re reaching the 30th book (this is trough Bertrand). Now, also, we have Arqueiro publishing Nora and they try to release a trilogy by year. Both publishers do contests with the readers from time to time. But this is their resolution and they do when they can. I would never go to Nora or the US team that assists her because of this, this is nonsense. Anyway, I love Nora and her books, and you to Laura. Thank you for always work so hard to please us, readers.

  42. Um, I have no opinion about publishers, contests, and availability…just wondered if it’s possible the figure captions and photos for the Polish/Hungarian and UK editions are mixed up?

  43. Um, I have no opinion about publishers, contests, and availability…just wondered if it’s possible the figure captions and photos for the Polish/Hungarian and UK editions are mixed up?

  44. Happy birthday to the reigning Queen of all that is wonderful writing! Nora Roberts/JD Robb – THANK YOU for the fabulous years of ambitious reading and anticipation for the next . . . May your reign be long and distinguished. Loves, Jul

  45. Oh no! I forgot the most important October baby of the group!
    Happy Birthday, Nora!

  46. Wow, some people just amaze me! For me the point of the book is to read and enjoy not to try to get free stuff. I’m in Canada and when able to enter contests sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, contests to me are an enjoyable (usually) bonus, not a reason to like or not like a book or author! I swear there are way too many people in this world that are just not happy unless they are whining and trying to cause problems for others ??. And really to pull the “I’m not gonna read your books anymore” or “why don’t you love us here?” crap is just ridiculous! If they can’t understand that different countries have different laws it really rather makes me question how smart they can be. On a side note I just recently began the In Death series and absolutely LOVE it!

  47. Have to say i really appreciate catching this post as i didn’t know the ins and outs of why the puzzle covers aren’t in the uk. I have expressed that disappointment before on the facebook page, and wished i hadn’t when i remembered you would if you could but rules are rules. The fact you’ve had so many and still receive so many angry type posts to have to address in such a big way again in a shame though. Ultimately im just happy we get the books. Though i’d understand if the series ends.

  48. Question: (not sure where to ask it)

    My book club is reading Shelter in Place for November.
    Are there discussion questions? For some of our members this is their first Nora or JD book.
    I recommended it and would appreciate any advice and questions.
    Thanks. Mary

    1. Hi Mary,

      There are no formal Shelter in Place discussion questions. When readers ask about them, I encourage them to consider questions from the heart.
      If I were to lead a discussion, I’d probably start with the first two chapters and ask if people were certain they wanted to continue on with reading after the harrowing event at the mall.
      What did you think of the directions the main characters chose after the shooting?
      Did you connect more with Simone’s shutting life out after the shooting or Reed’s finding his direction?
      What did you think of CiCi?
      Things like that.
      Hope the book club enjoyed the book.

      1. Thanks but NOT having official questions may be a problem for our group. For some of our book club members this is their first Nora book. I want to get them to think critically about the story and it’s lessons. If there were official discussion questions, I would be “objective”. With increasing mass shootings every day, I am worried about making my own questions and inserting my “progressive” views on mental health, gun laws and solutions. Hope this makes sense.

  49. Just read this now Laura! I understand that Nora probably can’t get to Toronto – my home. Even if she did, she would probably be at a bookstore downtown, about an hours drive south of my home! I prefer the stories that include witches and/or Ireland. I have nothing but admiration for Nora’s talent in every direction. The Stars of Fortune is a truly exceptional trilogy! Thanks for everything you do!

  50. Hi Laura
    this is a question for Nora.
    Nora, you are one of few novelists who is not picturing Easter European as negative characters. I like your Stanislaski series very much. It is very enlightening. Other writers are prejudiced and Eastern Europeans in their stories are always stupid, bad, or simply mean. It is kind of insulting as I am coming from that part of the world. I would like to ask you if you have some personal connections in Eastern or Central Europe. Thank you

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