Hello readers! Most of you know that I'm one of ten authors included in the Passionate Kisses: Ten Sizzling Contemporary Romances Boxed Set that released back in June. Since the boxed set as a general concept seems to be enjoying its heyday in 2014, and so many other authors are jumping on board, I thought I'd share my experiences in this endeavor.
Background: an author put out a call for any interested authors to join her in publishing a boxed set, back in May. She was looking for contemporary and/or romantic suspense, and it turned out that the result was so overwhelming that she got enough authors to do 2 sets. She selected 9 authors, plus her, for the contemporary romance set with the stipulation that all books be ready to go, since she was aiming for a June/early July release.
First, we set up a private Facebook page for our group where we could discuss everything related to the set. We chose June 23, a Monday, for our release, since the "big lists" (New York Times and USA Today) record weekly sales beginning then. We spent about 5 weeks choosing a title, deciding on a cover, getting the set formatted, and setting up marketing. We decided to price the set at $0.99 to drive sales.
For marketing, we established a Facebook Page and we made up a schedule for the 3 weeks leading up to June 23 so that each day, at least 2 authors posted - teasers, background info, biographical trivia, pictures, etc. We held a Facebook launch party on June 24. We booked cover ads and participated in The Romance Studio's release party on June 28. We posted on Facebook groups. We ran ads with Kindle Boards, Kindle Books and Tips, The Romance Studio's newsletter, Digital Book Spot, Book Gorilla, Kindle Nation Daily and Ereader News Today (which was the most effective). We all made efforts to blog, tweet, and Facebook about the set in its opening days and weeks.
While I did not handle any of the formatting or uploading tasks, I do know we ran into a little trouble with creating and uploading from our Nook account. I also did not handle any of the sales or royalty reporting or distributing. We have two gals from the set who are bravely handling all that.
While one of our primary goals was to make a "list," we didn't :( But we did sell well, at least in my opinion. Since our June 23 release, we have sold just over 30,000 copies of our boxed set. Since the royalty on $0.99 = $0.35, divided by 10 authors, you'll see that we each received 3 cents for every set sold. Not exactly tons of money. BUT when you multiply 3 cents by 30,000, you'll see that each author's royalty to date is approximately $900.00 I will also add that in dividing the marketing costs by 10 authors, we all spent less than $100 each on marketing.
So...what do I think? Would I do it again?
1. Working with other authors. You can discover marketing strategies and opportunities you never heard of before. Plus, being part of a boxed set, you'll gain readers that follow other authors, who might never have heard of you. They buy the set, discover your writing, and bam! You have a new fan. My book in this set, Beacon of Love, is the first in the Hometown Heroes series. The second in the series, Inferno of Love, saw increased sales in July, and I will credit most of those to readers finishing the set and wanting to read more. Yay! Also, since my book is the 9th in the set, I'm assuming it will take readers a while to get there, so I hope these secondary sales will continue into the next couple of months.
2. Sharing the costs. An ad that costs $200, divided by 10 authors (or even 5 authors) is much more manageable than paying for it on your own.
3. Making money. As I said before, it cost me less than $100 to participate in this set, and between the set's royalties and my own books selling as a result of the increased exposure, this was definitely a money-making effort for me.
4. Finding new friends. Thanks to this set, I have a new beta reader who connects really well with me - plus I also have 9 new virtual author friends I didn't have before. I will caution, I don't think this is the case with all boxed sets. Combining personalities for a business venture can be tricky. I think we REALLY lucked out, in that all 10 of us carried our weight and worked well for the common goal of selling.
1. Working with other authors. I say this tongue-in-cheek, because again, I had a good group to work with. But be aware that you will be interacting with people who might have very different personalities than you. There will be disagreements. My advice is to make clear from the start your goals for the set and your expectations for each author, as much as you can.
2. The number of authors involved. I think 10 is a lot. Yes, it's nice to split the cost of an ad 10 ways, but it's a lot of people to coordinate with, it's a lot of people to split royalties with, and if you're at the back of the set, like I am, there's a good chance your book either won't get read, or won't get read for a very long time.
3. Having different kinds of books. I don't think this was a huge issue for us, but it was a minor one. We have a couple of books that end with a deliberate cliff-hanger, and some readers didn't like that. We couldn't market our set as being "10 complete novels without cliff-hangers" and so we may have lost a few readers. Considering the 30,000 sales, though, I'm not as concerned with that as I was a month ago. Also make sure that your heat levels are relatively the same, or that you market your set clearly so readers know what to expect. A couple of our books are much closer to 4 or 5 flames than the 3 flames of the others - again, not a huge deal, but some advertising places won't take books that aren't "family friendly."
4. Paying for ads. Make sure from the start that everyone agrees about how payment will work. I know some boxed sets put all their royalties back into marketing costs. Some pool their money (an agreed-upon amount, ahead of time) and pay for ads out of that pool. With us, one person generally just suggested an ad, and if most people agreed, that person would book it, pay for it, and add it to a file we keep listing all costs paid out. We'd put a general announcement on our private Facebook page as to how much it cost per person, and the others would pay via PayPal. However, because everyone has different financial situations, some couldn't pay the ad costs right away, and so those costs will come out of their royalties. Keep in mind that royalties pay out anywhere from 2-4 months after sales, though, which means there's a delay in paying each other as well. Again, make clear with your group how you will handle things like that.
Would I do it again? Probably. For the minor difficulties we ran into, the new readers and the money was worth it, for me. And if for some reason you haven't yet picked up a copy of Passionate Kisses, it's still on sale for $0.99. Be our 30,001st sale!