Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creating Single-Author Box Sets: Part One

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy  

Part of the Indie Author Series

One of the important elements of a successful indie author career is putting as many products as possible out into the world. The more items we have for sale, the better our chances that someone will stumble upon one of them or find one that interests them. Box sets are a great way to increase the number of products we have for sale without too much additional work.

Before I dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s make sure we all understand what I mean when I say box set.

A box set is a collection of books bundled together into one package. Most indie authors only create ebook box sets because print-on-demand services like CreateSpace don’t currently offer good options for putting together a print book box set. The box set can be made up of books by a single author or they can hold books by multiple authors.

Today, I’m going to look at why we might want to create a box set of our books, and then next month I’ll tackle some of the more practical “how to” issues surrounding putting together a box set.

Why Would We Want to Create a Box Set?

I’m a huge fan of box sets, and I think that as soon as an author has a few books for sale, they should consider bundling them up to sell as a set. The value of putting together a box set can be easy to overlook, though, when we’re already feeling the pressure of needing to write and publish new content. So I’ll give you the reasons why I think box sets are worth it.

It’s easier to make a profit off of Facebook ads.

If you’ve heard about the massive success of indie authors like Mark Dawson, you’ve probably noticed that the authors who are successful with Facebook ads are usually also the authors who are advertising box sets. That’s because Facebook ads work on a “pay per click” basis. You pay Facebook based on the number of people who click on your ad, regardless of whether those people actually buy the product you’re advertising.

I know we’re writers, but bear with me for a little math here. Say that Facebook charges you 50 cents per click, and one person out of every 10 who clicks buys your $2.99 book. You’re losing money on that ad (though it’s still good exposure). If you have the same conversion rate on a $9.99 box set, you’re making a profit.

Higher-priced items need fewer sales to break even.

BookBub loves box sets.

BookBub is a newsletter service that alerts readers to free and discounted ebooks on a daily basis. Unfortunately, being accepted by BookBub sometimes feels more difficult than writing the book did.

If you’ve been rejected by BookBub before, a box set is a great way to increase your chances of earning that coveted opportunity. BookBub reps have shared that box sets are given priority because they provide readers with a bigger discount than do single titles.

You only have to convince a reader to make a single purchase.

Let’s say, for example, that we’ve put three books in our box set. To purchase that box set, a reader only has to make a single purchase rather than going to three separate pages. Many people prefer the path of least resistance.

It also avoids “I’ll get the others later” syndrome. If a reader is buying our books individually, they might decide to only purchase one and get the others at another time.A lot can happen “later” and the reader might forget or change their mind. A box set is a guaranteed sale of those three items.

Readers love them if you give a slight discount off of buying the books separately.

Another way to incentivize readers to buy the box set is to offer it at a slight discount compared to what they would have paid had they bought the books individually. Why might we want to do that? Well, once again, it goes back to that guaranteed sale. If they only buy one of the books in the set, there’s no guarantee they’ll come back for the other two.

Many readers also prefer box sets because it creates less clutter on their ereader.

(Here's more on creating box set images with Book Brush)

Once a reader reads through your box set, you’ll usually have them hooked on your series and they’ll buy the remaining books.

With so many great books available to them, readers won’t always stick with a series after reading a single title. If they’ve read three books, though, they’ll usually be invested enough in the overarching storyline and characters to keep going.

This is why many authors feel it’s worthwhile to discount the box set of the early books in their series in a BookBub ad or to make a smaller profit from a sale through a Facebook ad. They’re playing a long game. The more books in our series, the better this strategy works.

Have you tried putting your books into a box set? What convinced you to try it?

Marcy Kennedy is a suspense and speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance fiction editor and teaches classes on craft and social media. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at

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About How to Write Fiction: Busy Writer’s Guides Set 1

Three popular writing craft books are now available together. When you master showing and telling, deep point of view, and internal dialogue, you'll create vivid fiction that engages your reader emotionally. The books in this set put writing craft techniques into plain language alongside examples, so you can see how it all looks in practice, and combines it with practical exercises.


  1. This is really helpful! I'd realised how a box set is a good way of getting a reader invested in your work, but I really don't know much about the ins and outs of how ads work, so that was thought-provoking. I'm working on a series at the moment and creating a box set definitely sounds like a plan.

  2. Should boxed sets always be a series?

  3. Should boxed sets always be a series?

    1. So sorry for the delayed reply! I go over this in the next installment:

  4. "I know we’re writers, but bear with me for a little math here."

    Some of us enjoy maths ...

    1. I enjoy math (statistics was one of my favorite university courses), but I know many creatives feel intimidated by it :)

  5. On the confirmative side, I was a fan of getting Narnia in a seven chronicles box set as soon as possible.