NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Boxed Sets, Anthologies and Collections

Is the “boxed set” marketing's new black?

The collections are everywhere. Some center on a holiday, a theme, the hero/heroine's profession. Others are linked more loosely. But they fill the Top 100 ranks of more than one genre category.

Some people decry them as yet another devaluation of the author’s material. This same argument, of course, was applied to the free book and is now targeted at the 99-cent price point. There is a valid point, that people who expect “free” aren't going to buy subsequent books, but over the past year, as the algorithms at Amazon moved away from counting free downloads and the “free days” offered less bounce, fewer people gave away books. And readers moved to the “new” darling, the 99-cent book.

Now the hot marketing device seems to be a collection of novels/novellas. While bundled products, buy-one-get-one-free, and other promotions have been around for ages, the collections are everywhere. The driving force, of course, is to obtain new readers. If author X has a story in the set, the reader may also sample (and read! And Love!) author Z, whose book is next in the collection.

Forgive me if this post rambles a bit. It's very late and I'd planned a different post for today.

Let me tell you the story of two anthologies.

The first, The Ultimate Mystery, Thriller, Horror Boxed Set, was released in early November 2013 by a group of independent authors. The stated goal of the group was gaining new readers, building on each other's networks. The group planned its release strategy, chose advertising, and actively promoted the collection's release. We communicated clearly with each other, shared results of each campaign. The set sold well and has remained #1 or #2 (yay! It's number 1 at Amazon this morning!) for nearly three months.

Then there is the set I planned today's post around. 

Love International Style was supposed to release on Monday. Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc had the box set for presale – with the wrong cover – but Amazon didn't offer it until Monday morning, when apparently it was available for a couple of minutes. It was subsequently removed from sale, with no explanation. The authors who had banded together with other authors in the imprint and worked out a sales campaign were left standing with our mouths open when the book wasn't available on its stated date. All of this occurred with a deafening silence from the publisher. Emails received only a terse, "we're working on it." 

When the set still was unavailable this morning, with a heavy heart, I revised my planned post.

I won't bore you with all the other details, but communication appears to be a key element in the different results for the two anthologies. I hope we (the authors and the publisher) learn both what happened and how to keep a similar snafu from impeding another release.

A multi-part question for you – 

What's your opinion on boxed sets? Devaluing product? Gaining readers? 
Have you ever run into a situation where clear communication could've averted a mess?



14 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, wow, Cathy - so sorry to hear about the difficulties with Set #2, but HOORAY for Set #1 doing so, so well. How did you find the group of authors you wanted to publish with, if you don't mind me asking? Did you already know each other? I'm intrigued by the whole boxed set idea, and have seen them popping up everywhere in the last several months.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I haven't bought a boxed set, but I have bought book bundles, and frankly, I love them. They are a great opportunity to discover writers I haven't read yet. It's a real shame about Set #2 and I'm hoping it will work out.

You're right -- good communications are vital. Let us know when you figure out what went wrong, Cathy.

J Wachowski said...

Ugh. What a drag!
I hope you'll update us on what went wrong. I bet it's nothing that's irreversible!

I also enjoy boxed sets--for the reasons you mentioned. I like to use it as a way to sample new authors.

I think any means of getting your name out there is useful these days. There is so much "noise," you need to keep trying new things to find readers.

Cathy Perkins said...

Thanks Anne Marie!
Earlier this year, an author asked me to join a group that works on joint promotions. Smaller groups from that association are included in the Mystery Set. What I'm also super excited about is how well it's selling in the international market.

Cathy Perkins said...

That's what I think holds the most promise with the sets, Marcelle - discovering new-to-me authors at an easy price point :)

Cathy Perkins said...

You're right, J

For newer authors, the challenge is getting noticed.

My sister, who is a sweet heart, noted with my first ebook, "How are people going to find it if your book isn't in the bookstore?"

The book store has changed and we're all trying to figure out how to reach our readers. I see these sets as a terrific marketing tool.

Rita said...

Hugs on the frustrations. I am so far in the outfield whith my opinions I wouln't say any more.

Wynter Daniels said...

Congrats on the success of set one. Not good about set 2. I am also with that publisher, but different line. Hmm. I'm currently working on a set with 6 other authors. I have high hopes because we are in control of all marketing efforts. I've seen several friends hit the lists with these sets, so I think they are great!

Shelley Munro said...

I'm glad that one of your sets is going well. The other - it must be heartbreaking. I've purchased a couple but I've yet to read them. Lots of great books but time poor!
I need a holiday to catch up.

jean harrington said...

I don't have any experience with box sets, but I sure can feel your frustration. Hope all works out well for you.

Cathy Perkins said...

Thanks Rita - kinda bizarre...

Cathy Perkins said...

I'm thinking the key is control, Wynter. Clearly they can work well - hope your sets meets your goals :)

Cathy Perkins said...

Occupational hazard isn't it, Shelley? I buy a lot of my friends' books - so many books, so little time!! But I have found a lot of new-to-me authors through the sets.

Cathy Perkins said...

Thanks Jean.

I think we're all at, well, whatever happens, happens. Keep moving forward. :)

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