lori ryan how to make boxed sets work for you

How to Make Multiauthor Boxed Sets Work For You

NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Lori Ryan joined us today to discuss boxed sets from soup to nuts. How to set them up, what works and what doesn’t, what they can do for you as an author, and how to make them as successful as possible.

Notes from the session

Lori is a romance author, and multiauthor boxed sets are huge in Romance. First one she did was 1.5 years ago. At the time, they thought they were in on the tail end of a bubble, but multiauthor boxed sets have only gotten more popular since then.

What are multiauthor boxed sets?

Typically this means one book per author, with multiple authors involved in the set.

Should you do a multiauthor boxed set?

  1. Check your genre and see what other people are doing. Some Romance authors have 25-author boxed sets now for 99 cents.
  2. If you can make it work, research what sizes, what types of boxed sets, and what prices are being set.
  3. You can make USA Today and NYT bestseller lists with these promotional products, and Ryan has done so. It’s getting harder to make the lists, and some rules in the lists have been changing, but they remain a powerful tool.

Pros of doing boxed sets

  1. Relationship building with co-authors
  2. Cross promotion, grab one another’s audiences
  3. Making “the lists” (it still takes GREAT effort and a large marketing fund)
  4. Increase in buy-through and sales of your other titles
  5. Make a little money (varies greatly)
  6. Higher overall ranking (author and books) might get you increased visibility and marketing shots

Cons of doing boxed sets

  1. Will readers get to your book?
  2. Lack of complete quality control
    • You might get some lower reviews… gird your loins!
  3. Work, work, work, and more work
    • It takes a ton of promotional effort
  4. Relationships with co-authors can be fraught (don’t take your ball and go home. Be a good sport.)
  5. Decrease in other sales?
    • Ryan has seen a decrease in her other sales while the boxed set sale is live
  6. Someone has to control the upload, collect money, make price adjustments, and then file tax documents!

Looking at that list, would you do it again?

Yes. Maybe one a year.

Variations:

  • Three novellas related a bit by locale, short, later release full version individually
  • Three books related by genre
  • Smaller set resolves issue of people not reading all of the books in a box set (possibly), but the set is then not as big of a bargain
  • All free series starters? i.e. 10 authors have a first novel set to permafree, collect them all and put them into a boxed set—it’s another way people can find you.
  • Share a series — multiple authors share a series, a world, a concept.
    • “The Lady Authors” (theladyauthors.com) have done a really good job of this. There’s a free RWA presentation of how they did it. It’s a TON of work, and you have to trust those people completely. There was certain amounts of veto power as well.
    • Harlequin Romance has also done this.

Options:

  • LLC
    • Someone can make a company (cost about $300 in Texas). Not recommended, seems not worth doing…
  • Contract
    • Most groups use a contract between the authors involved. Something simple and straightforward that protects everyone involved. Define a time frame, consequences for pulling a book early, etc. etc.
  • Loosey-goosey or highly organized
    • Fully democratic or one leader? Decide this ahead of time.
  • Use Facebook group to organize – polling options help for votes

List of decisions during organization of the boxed set

  • Title
  • Number of people. Who?
    • Typically a few people start the group, then it’s invite-only.
  • Length of each book?
  • How long out there?
  • Pricing strategy (99 cents preorder and first few weeks, then what?)
  • Original content or previously released
  • Separate bank account, who will load and pay?
  • Tax documents? Who will handle?
    • It’s not a 1099, there’s something specifically for authors…
  • Paypal (paypal fees can get up there!). Checks. Square Cash? Venom?
    • Be aware of tax consequences and fees.
  • How much budget – $100 – 500 per author ($100 will not make the lists)
  • Cover art – liaison
    • What kind of art? What artist?
    • Assign a single liaison who should work with the cover artist
  • Theme? Heat level (for romance/erotica)?
    • Theme examples: Heroes in Uniform; Summer; Texas; Christmas; etc.
    • You may choose to identify for each book what the “heat level” is.
  • How do you handle arguments? What to do if you need to ask someone to leave?
    • Know ahead of time how you are going to handle difficult conversations.
  • Editor – usually each pays own but have requirement
    • Typically people have a requirement that the book is edited before it gets sent in for inclusion. Whatever you do, make sure the editing requirement is clear (pay their own editor? Pay a proofreader to do the whole collection?)
    • Understand that you’re giving up a little control when you allow people to handle their own editing.
  • Formatter
    • Like a cover artist, assign a liaison.
    • Tell your formatter that your table of contents should go in the back of the book to get as much out of the front as you can.
  • How much back matter and front matter can each person have?
    • Consider creating a template
  • Order of books
    • Strong opening book, strong ending book? Or put the stronger works up front?
  • Carrying weight?
    • What’s the bare minimum of what each person is expected to do?
    • Are members willing to leverage relationships and contacts?
    • Others having boxed sets out at similar times — can work well or not.
  • Who shows up listed as the authors?
    • Depends on the platform. Research how many authors can be listed on the product.

List of tasks for the launch

  • Release on Tuesday, two or three month preorder on as many platforms as you can
    • Tuesday is the best day to release a book because it’s close to the beginning at the cycle of each list calculation (USA Today and NYT).
  • Multiple platforms are needed to make the lists.
    • You won’t make lists in Kindle Select because that’s only a single platform.
  • Blog posts, excerpts, interviews
    • Used to promote your boxed set. These make a big difference but they are a lot of work!
  • Tweets (have a list and a specific hashtag to make retweeting easy)
  • Work every contact you have
  • Facebook posts
  • Boosting Facebook posts
  • Paid or unpaid listings (if they have a paid option, consider it!)

Promotional sites and services

List udpated 9/18/15

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