07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Boxed Set as a Marketing Tool - Good or Bad?

Trends in publishing in the 21st century are as varied and fleeting as anyone's imagination. With over ten million books on Amazon - and over two million of those books on Kindle - every published author's main concern is to be findable by readers.

We have all seen the free reads and the 99-cent reads touted as a way to garner interest. In my own experience, the "free" didn't translate into sustained sales. I believe that's because readers grab and hoard books when they can, but don't always get around to reading through their pile. As for the 99-cent offerings, those can be a good idea for a day or two. The danger there lies in the glut of 99-cent monstrosities; poorly written and hastily published, these cheap reads are rarely worth the cost and they scare readers away.

The next trend has been boxed sets. Whether done by a group of authors with a single theme, or by single authors "boxing" connected books, these sets generally offer four to six full-length novels at a ridiculously low initial price. After a set period of time, the price goes up, and eventually the set is unpublished.

The goal of the set is, as always, to garner new readers. That is a good thing. Linking arms - or books - is also a good thing. Limited-time offers are good things. And promoting the heck out of them is not only a good thing, but a very necessary thing.

I am currently in two boxed sets. "The Wrong Guy" was released in May 2013, and features six authors from my Arizona Dreamin' 2013 reader event. The collection was fairly successful, netting each of us over $1,000 in the first four months. The thing that made me happiest was an email from a reader who found, and loved, my entire Hansen Series as a result of the collection! Mission accomplished.

The second set is mine alone. In "Hansens in America" I gathered the stories of three generations. Father: "Leaving Norway" brings the family to the colonies in 1749. Son: "Finding Sovereignty" is the Revolutionary War captain who marries into Norwegian royalty. Grandson: the trilogy which started the Hansen series includes "A Woman of Choice" - "A Prince of Norway" - "A Matter of Principle."

I created this set as a Christmas gift to readers. Five full-length books - 500,000 words - for $9.99. I could have set the price lower, but I wanted to rise above the sludge. My stories are worth it.

The set will be unpublished on January1st. Gone. Will I ever bring it back? Maybe.

That depends on the next trend. ;)


D. McCollum D. McCollum said...

Interesting post on comparison of selling strategies. I tried to buy your boxed set through Barnes & Noble but it wasn't available. Good luck on sales!

Sarah Raplee said...

I never fail to learn something about the publishing business from you, Kris. I wondered how selling boxed sets fits into things. And you are right: your books are sooo worth the price you're charging!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Kris, You've answered some of my questions about boxed sets. Let us know if the set with your books alone does as well as the one with various authors.

Is your boxed set only available on Kindle? Will check out Kobo on my own and hope it will be there.

See you in April at Desert Dreams Conference! www.DesertRoseRWA.org

Maggie Lynch said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Kris. I'm a believer that the boxed set serves a particular niche of readers--those who are voracious and want it all now. Whether that is a genre group or a completed series.

I've heard from many bloggers that they will wait until a series is complete before buying because they've been burned too many times by an author who was dropped by the publisher before the series completed, or by an author who gave up.

I think series boxed sets fill that niche very nicely. I also appreciate that you set the price at a good value--$9.99. When I see a boxed set with 6 novels or 10 novels at 99 cents, I shudder. To me that screams: "I'm desperate and fear my work cannot garner a higher price." Unfortunately, that fear translates directly to the reader loud and clear and he/she stays away unless they add it to their 100+ TBR pile because of the price.

Good luck with your own boxed set. I would also like to see it in other venues besides Amazon. I see your books in the series are at Kobo but not the boxed set.