Monday, 3 October 2016

Marketing your book in a boxed set

By Narelle Atkins

Boxed sets have proven to be a lucrative way for authors to market and sell their indie fiction ebooks. Check out the Amazon Kindle fiction genre lists and you’ll find numerous boxed sets among the top 20 bestsellers. 

Last year I wrote a 3-part series on indie boxed sets for the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) blog. The posts contained information on how to publish a multi-author indie boxed set.

The Benefits from Indie Publishing a Box Set Collection 

How to Write and Publish a Multi-Author Indie Box Set: The Beginning  

How to Write and Publish a Multi-Author Indie Box Set: Preparing to Launch

I write contemporary Christian romance (CCR). In this post I’ll be referring to the CCR genre for examples of boxed sets purchased from Amazon Kindle. 

History of Christian Romance indie boxed sets

The indie author boxed set trend in the CCR genre kicked off in late 2014. The first Christian/inspirational romance box set to hit the Amazon bestseller lists in the CCR genre was Red Hot Squeaky Clean ROMANCE collection (Boxed Set): Ten Shades of Inspirational Romance, released in October 2014. The stories in this box set covered a range of Christian romance genres including historical, mystery, suspense, and contemporary.

Mistletoe Kisses (Inspy Kisses Box Set Book 3) was released in November 2014. It was the first Christian romance boxed set to hit the USA Today bestseller list. Four of the eight books in the collection are CCR. 

Love Brings Us Home was also released in November 2014. It hit the Amazon bestseller lists in CCR and contained full length novels that were previously published as individual indie releases. 

USA best-selling author Hallee Bridgeman was an author in Love Brings Us Home and Red Hot Squeaky Clean Romance. Hallee is our international guest speaker at the upcoming Omega Writers Conference in Sydney, October 28-30. 

Market research on boxed sets in CCR genre 

I put together a spreadsheet based on a sample of CCR multi-author boxed sets I’d purchased in the last 2 years. 

My research included: 
14 boxed sets in the CCR genre 
105 books (with only 1 duplicate title in 2 boxed sets)
45 authors – a combination of indie authors and hybrid authors who are traditionally published
7 titles by Marion Ueckermann
6 titles each by Kimberly Rae Jordan and Valerie Comer
I also sourced book release information from the Inspy Romance group blog (established in February 2014 for CCR readers)
My multi-author boxed sets I included in my research

SPLASH! (released in June 2015, retired in November 2015) 
Love Blossoms (released in January 2016, retiring soon in late October 2016) 
An Aussie Summer Christmas (new release in September 2016) 

Other CCR multi-author boxed sets in my Kindle account or on pre-order (minimum 6 books in each set) 

CCR boxed sets in my Kindle account that are no longer available for sale

Whispers of Love (USA Today Bestseller)
Home for Christmas
Summer of Love
Love’s Gift
Love Brings Us Home
Mistletoe Kisses (USA Today Bestseller) 

The boxed sets ranged in price from US0.99 to US2.99. I paid between US14.00 to US20.00 to purchase the 14 boxed sets (most were priced at 99 cents). As a result, the average price I paid for an individual book is between 15 to 20 cents. 

Is the price for boxed sets too low? 

The answer is yes and no, depending on your perspective. Traditionally published ebooks are often priced higher than indie ebooks.

If you’re a reader, bargain priced ebooks combined with the ability to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (US9.99 per month to borrow an unlimited number of ebooks) is appealing. Avid readers can indulge their favourite past time without hurting their bank balance. For many readers Kindle Unlimited has replaced their use of public libraries (and free print book borrows).

If you’re an indie author and can place your book in the right boxed set in your genre, at the present time you can make a reasonable return on a competitively priced boxed set due to volume sales and page reads in Kindle Unlimited. Please note this strategy for success could change at any time due to the rapid changes that constantly take place in the publishing industry. 

The bestseller lists are your goal

For many readers the Amazon Kindle bestseller lists have replaced the physical bookshelf in stores as the place they browse for books. Book exposure on the bestseller lists and in the hot new releases lists is critical for reaching potential readers. Paid advertising, for example Bookbub, can help ebooks rise to the top of the bestseller lists. 

Boxed sets can help authors reach new readers who are fans of their co-authors in the boxed set. 

Bestseller lists provide both the platform for finding new readers and the visibility to gain ebook sales/page reads that generate income for authors. 

Successful authors place series books in boxed sets 

The large majority of books in the 14 boxed sets I researched were part of a series. If a reader falls in love with your writing, they may buy your entire backlist. 

Repeat books in multiple boxed sets

We need to think like a reader when we’re marketing and promoting our books. How would we feel if we purchased a boxed set containing repeat books we’d already bought and read in previous boxed sets? From my sample of 14 CCR boxed sets, the only repeat title was published in boxed sets with release dates of more than 12 months apart. 

Traditional publishers reprint their bestselling books and sometimes update the cover art. When I used to work in retail on the returns desk, the most common reason for customers returning print books was due to an accidental repeat purchase.

If you have a brand new story to place in a boxed set, it would be wise to seek a boxed set opportunity that will be marketed as brand new stories. 

Have you participated in a boxed set or anthology collection? Do you enjoy reading boxed sets? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

This post is being shared on the Australasian Christian Writers blog and the Christian Writers Downunder blog.

If you’re looking to connect with writing groups online, you can join the Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group and the Christian Writers Downunder Facebook Group.

Omega Writers Inc. provides helpful resources and membership benefits for writers who live in the Australasian region.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, Narelle Atkins was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia. 

Her latest novella release, Seaside Christmas, is available in An Aussie Summer Christmas boxed set from Amazon for 99 cents. 

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins


  1. Thank you for an interesting post Narelle and I do like what you uncovered in your research. Very exciting for you to have a Christian novella out with 3 other authors we know very well. Thanks too for many helpful tips on boxed sets.

    1. Hi Anusha, The box set is exciting, and I love being able to share the experience with my Aussie co-authors. I'm glad my post was helpful. :)

  2. Hi Narelle, thanks for an interesting and informative post. I agree with your point about repeats though getting a boxed set at 99c is a fantastic bargain, so maybe, as a reader, one could forgive one or two repeats in the box. I'm not sure how I'd feel about getting a story from a series - though if it was a stand alone story, that would work.

    A friend and I are thinking of launching into the world of boxed sets. My experience has been more with anthologies - I've had stories and poems in 9 anthologies now and it's been a great experience in terms of exposure - though not necessarily income - three of the anthologies are charity, five pay no royalties - though in two non-charity anthologies I sell personally with some remuneration. Given that royalties would need to be divided between the authors, I'd think a boxed set or anthology would have to sell significant amounts to be profitable (and worth the effort of accounting), which might then depend on having some big names or well established authors in the set. Perhaps, also the logistics would be easier to achieve with a boxed set as opposed to an anthology.

    I've really enjoyed my opportunities and experiences with anthologies and it is certainly a way of having one's stories published and reaching new readers. All the best with your latest boxed set Love Blossoms.

    1. And of course - all the best with 'An Aussie Summer Christmas' boxed set.

    2. Hi Jeanette, Yes, I think the price does matter re. buying repeat books. Disclosure by authors about where their books have been previously published will also help readers work out if they've already read the book. 99c is a bargain price for one ebook, let alone six or more.

      The series books I've read in CCR boxed sets are all standalone stories. That's a genre thing, and romances tend to belong to continuity series that can be read in any order.

      To have a chance at making money, you'd need a clear idea of which Kindle bestseller list you're targeting and have an idea of how many copies are currently sold in that genre to hit the list. The ranking, plus the number of reviews, will only give you a very broad indication. I'm fortunate to write and publish in a genre that sells well on Kindle.

      Kindle Unlimited page reads tend to be the 'long tail' in the life of a boxed set. It's possible to earn more income from Kindle Unlimited than from sales over the life of a boxed set. Again, it depends on genre. Romance readers are often avid readers, and a KU subscription is a great deal for many romance readers.

      From what I've seen, boxed sets that contain stories in one niche genre and are connected by a common theme tend to do better than a more general collection that covers a range of genres.

      All the best with your future anthologies and boxed set ventures. :)

    3. Thanks Narelle - some interesting thoughts about genre and targeting :)

  3. Thanks for putting that information together, Narelle. I've started reading the new boxed set you're a part of and I was thinking what a great idea it was. I hope it goes really well.

    1. Hi Nola, I hope you enjoy An Aussie Summer Christmas. :) We often talk about how Aust/NZ writers can help and support each other in our writing journeys. Pooling resources in anthologies eg. Glimpses of Light, and boxed sets is a great way to do this.

  4. Narelle, it's been awesome to be on this journey with you several times.

    1. Hi Marion, I've loved doing the boxed set journey with you, too :) Thanks so much for joining us in our latest Aussie adventure.

  5. As a writer, participating in a box set with Narelle and five other authors has been a a fabulous experience for me. I've learned a lot about Indie publishing too. Most of all, I've enjoyed being part of a team. I thoroughly recommend the experience.

    As a reader, I really enjoy box sets. The value for money is terrific, and I love meeting new authors - they're invariably in there with the more well-known ones. I have also learned to watch out for double ups.

    To my mind, box sets are a win-win for both writers and readers.

  6. Hi Andrea, I've loved working with you on our Aussie boxed set. It's a fun experience to share with friends. :)