Box Sets and Best Sellers Lists
Box sets have grown increasingly popular among Indie and Self Published authors. If you’ve been in the publishing industry for a time, I am sure you’ve heard of them, but for those that aren’t familiar with them, I will give a quick run down.
The idea behind box sets is that they are a way for authors come together with shared resources (financial & following) to market a single book comprised of books from each contributing author with the hopes of hitting a best sellers list, a practice I’ve since learned traditionally published authors have utilized for years. Joining a box set usually has a buy-in amount the author will pay in order to participate in the set. This amount varies from one box set organizer to the next, but the buy-ins are generally used to cover the costs of cover design and marketing expenses.
In theory box sets are a great way to reach new readers and hit a best sellers list as an indie author but do they work? Or are authors simply buying their way onto the best sellers lists?
I’ll be honest, I was skeptical about box sets. The whole idea of making a list as a group effort felt sort of like cheating. But after talking with a few authors in my network and learning how beneficial the experience had been for them, I decided to give one a chance.
Last year I signed on for a box set with the naive guarantee that we going to hit a list, because that’s what box sets do right? Wrong. I quickly found out that box sets are a ton of work and the guarantee was all my own. The box set organizer, well known in the industry, made no guarantees or promises about hitting any list. She simply gave us all the tools we needed for the set to succeed but it was up to us to put in the work. Each author was given a set of tasks specifically designed for the success of the set. If we put in the work, and I mean ALL THE WORK, we might have a shot at making it but making a list depends on many factors that are outside the control of any box set organizer.
My fellow set mates and I worked hard. We pushed the set night and day to gain traction with online retailers through the preorder period and release week in order to get the targeted number of sales needed to hit a list, but I can tell you it’s no easy feat. The number of sales needed to hit a list is high, even for a collective group of authors working together. In the end, we didn’t list, but we gave it our all.
Sure, not listing was a disappointment since that is usually the purpose in taking part in a project like this, but I feel I got so much more from the experience than just getting my letters could have ever offered me. I got my book in front of thousands of readers that might not have been reachable on my own, I got to work along side some talented authors, and, I got to learn a ton about marketing from one of the best in the industry. But for me, the greatest take away from being part of a box set was expanding my network, and the connections I forged with other authors. For me lasting bonds of friendship are worth far more than hitting any list and in the end, what I got out of my box set experience was my tribe.
So readers, tell me what you think of box set. Have you discovered an author you might not have read otherwise through a box set?