Our guest blogger today is Susan Daffron, an author I admire very much for her intelligence, wisdom, and success. Susan is the author of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies, a series of novels that feature residents of the small town of Alpine Grove and their various quirky dogs and cats. She is also an award-winning author of many nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. You can read more about Susan on her website. If you enjoy this guest post from her, be sure to read another article she wrote for us about her experience with BookBub ads.
How to create an e-book box set from a series of books
If you have a series of books, you may have considered releasing a box set.
The process is fairly simple and it’s a great way to monetize your backlist. For a long time, even though I knew the advantages, I had a huge mental block about box sets. The old saying, “the confused mind does nothing” was me. Finally, once I had 8 books in my series, I decided to get over myself and figure out what I needed to do.
Although you see multi-author box sets online, particularly on Amazon.com, in this post, I’m focusing on how you can compile books from a single author (you). So in this article, I’m presuming you:
- Have written multiple books
- Have the rights to use the content
Some extremely prolific authors put all their “first in series” books into a set. Or you can do the first three or four volumes in a single series. Some authors with long series opt to put groups of their books into sets of three or four to appeal to readers who like to binge read.
To create a box set, first you need to answer these questions:
- Are your books exclusive to Amazon?
- How many books do you want to include in the set?
- How do you want to price the set?
- How are you going to format the set?
- How are you going to create a cover for the set?
Amazon is touchy about its Select program. Any book that is enrolled in Select can’t be sold on another platform like iBooks or Barnes and Noble. So you need to consider:
- Whether or not your books are in Select, which includes the Kindle Unlimited program. If all of the books in your set are in Select, the box set can be in Select too, but you can’t sell it elsewhere.
- If any one of your books are “wide” (sold on platforms other than Amazon), you can’t put the box set into Select because part of the agreement is that none of the content can be sold anywhere other than Amazon.
In my case, the first book in my series is free on all platforms, so it isn’t exclusive to Amazon. At the time, the other books in the series that I included in my box set were in Select.
To address that situation, I put the box set only on Amazon, but didn’t put it into the Select program. Another alternative I could have taken was to not include my permafree in the box set instead. (I have since removed all of my books from Select and put the box set on other platforms.)
Pricing is an important consideration for box sets. Amazon only pays a 70 percent royalty on books priced from $2.99 – $9.99. (The royalty is 35 percent for other price points.)
In my case, my books were $3.99 and the first book was free, so I did a four-book set for $9.99, which saved people a couple of bucks off buying the books separately. (I subsequently raised the prices on my books to $4.99, so the box set is now an even better deal.)
If you sell your box set on platforms other than Amazon, you have more flexibility with pricing. Some people sell sets of nine or 10 books on other platforms like iBooks for much more than $9.99.
Another pricing situation that may or may not come into play on a long set is digital delivery fees. If you have graphics or an extremely long set, check to ensure download fees won’t eat into your profit margin.
Whether or not you do your e-book formatting yourself, you need to think about how the box set appears to the reader. The biggest issue comes from the table of contents.
In a regular e-book, you have one table of contents that lists the chapters. With a box set, you need to have a top-level table of contents that lists the books and each book also ideally should have its own table of contents that lists the chapters within that book.
As a reader, I can report that box set formatting often isn’t done correctly, which makes for an unpleasant reading experience. Make it easy for your reader to jump from book to book and from chapter to chapter.
As with any other book, you need to create a cover for your box set. For the cover, you can use thumbnail images of the books on the box set, a new image, or an image from one of the books.
Often people create a 3D angled cover so the image looks like a real set of books. If you have Photoshop skills, you can find 3D templates online like those at Covervault.
Note that iBooks will not let you use a 3D cover, so you’ll also need to create a flat version of your box set cover. My box set cover uses the art from my first book with a new title of Love, Laughter and Fur: Alpine Grove Romantic Comedy – Books 1-4. It is branded to look like the rest of the series with the same fonts and color scheme.
Box sets offer a great opportunity for promotion. After I made my box set wide on all platforms, I applied for a BookBub ad. Although I sold the set at a huge discount, I earned back the cost of the ad within hours and introduced a whole new set of readers to my series. Many of them went on to buy the other six books in the series.
And more readers is what every author wants.
Readers, have you packaged any of your books into a box set? Are readers buying it?
I always share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.
This one is for nonfiction authors struggling with the title for their prescriptive nonfiction books.
My writer friend Melanie Votaw is offering a free teleseminar tonight on how to craft compelling titles. No registration is required; join the call at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT (calculate for your time zone) by dialing 712-832-8290 and entering passcode 236228 when prompted.
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