Thursday, January 12, 2017

Creating a Print Book Box Set

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy

Part of the Indie Author Series

The last two months we’ve looked at why we might want to create a box set of our books and how to create a single-author ebook box set. This month I wanted to look at one of the most challenging questions for indie authors when it comes to box sets: Is there a way to create a print book box set for our books?

The short answer is yes. Whether or not we’ll feel the options are workable for us, though, requires examining them carefully.

Create an Omnibus Edition

An omnibus edition is a single volume that contains multiple novels. This is the simplest option because we can produce it through whatever platform we’re already using to create our other print books (e.g., CreateSpace, Ingram Spark).

Whether or not this is a viable option depends on the length of our books.

If we’re creating shorter books (less than 60,000 words), it’s possible, but we’ll have to do the math to decide whether we’ll make a profit.

I’ll give you an example using my pen name’s novels. The print length of her books is around 250 pages. (Her novels are between 50,000 and 60,000 words.) If I price them at $10.99, I make approximately $2.65 from each sale on

Bundled together, the omnibus edition would be about 760 pages (less if I increased the trim size). By pricing it at $29.99, my readers would receive a small discount over buying them separately, and I’d make approximately $8.00 per sale. In other words, I’d make about the same as I would on three individual sales, but I’d only have to convince someone to make a single purchase.

For authors who write longer books, an omnibus might not be an option at all. For example, a book produced using CreateSpace can have a maximum of 828 pages. We can increase our trim size and shrink our font size to try to fit within that restriction if we write longer books, but if we take it too far, it will negatively impact the reader’s experience.

Even the smaller omnibus editions might not present the experience we want our readers to have if they’re too thick to read comfortably.

Manually Build a Box Set

When most of us think about a box set of print books, we think about the kind we see in bookstores—three individual books packaged together with some kind of box or sleeve.

The benefits to doing a box set this way are that the length of our books isn’t an issue and a packaged box set makes a beautiful gift option (giving us a new way to pitch it to readers especially around the holiday season).

Unfortunately, there’s no easy print-on-demand option at present to create this type of a box set.

We’ll have to pay for a graphic designer to create the box/sleeve for our books, have the box/sleeve printed, have copies of the books we want to include printed, and then assemble the box sets ourselves. The box set will also need its own ISBN (even though each book in the set already has an individual one).

And then we face the issue of distribution. Because we have to assemble them ourselves, they’re no longer a print-on-demand product shipped directly to the customer. We can use a program like Amazon Advantage to get them onto Amazon, but we’ll have to ship them to Amazon’s warehouse at our expense. From there, Amazon does ship them to customers, but they take a large commission on products sold through Amazon Advantage.

For most independent authors, a box set of this type won’t be feasible except for the rare, special giveaway or event. (At least it isn’t for me!)

Bundle the Books Without a Box

The final option is to offer our books as a “bundle” rather than as a traditional box set. The difference between a bundle and a box set is…well…the box. A bundle is books sold together (usually at a discount) without any special packaging.

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

Do you know of any other ways to produce a print book box set? Have you set up a box set of some sort for your books?

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 Fiction Genres: A Busy Writer’s Guide

Genre confuses writers, but everyone who buys, sells, or reads our books wants to know what genre we’re writing in. This mini book will demystify genre so you can better understanding what you’re writing and who might want to read it. In Fiction Genres, you’ll learn what qualities make a book one genre rather than another, and you’ll learn the smaller “genres” that fall under the larger umbrellas of fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, suspense, thriller, and romance. For each, you’ll also see examples of published books or authors whose books exemplify the genre.


  1. Great information. I'm doing a series of novellas that I would bundle together. I've put your website on my weekly read list to keep up with this issue. Thanks for the information.

    1. Bundling novellas into an omnibus version is a great idea because they're often not long enough to have a standalone print version.

  2. I just had the same thought. The CS option would work for my novellas, which aren't out in paperback at this point.

    1. I've been thinking about bundling up my Busy Writer's Guides that way as well. Right now I have ebook box sets and I'd like a print option to go along with that because I know many people prefer physical craft books to digital ones.

    2. I'm one of them! Ebooks are my preference for fiction, but reference and craft books, I'd rather have print.

  3. I'm thinking of publishing my COP Matt Proctor series in a box set. With CS I could get three novels in Volume 1, then Volume 2, etc.

  4. Calling them Volume 1 etc. is a good idea because it lets readers easily know that it's a set.

  5. Marcy, I thought that Lightning Source was for traditional publishers and Ingram Spark was for SP, and therefore print book bundles are not possible for Self published authors who must go through IS. Can you confirm this?

    We've been looking at bundling for print and the only option Becca was able to find was creating a single volume that includes multiple titles.

    1. Hi Angela
      Hope you don’t mind that I jump in. I use Ingram Spark for all my print publishing, and every email from them is addressed from Lightening Source, as are the royalty invoices, so I assumed they were one & the same!

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  7. Hello, thank you for this post. Unfortunately, Lightning Source will be discontinuing multi-volume sets on June 28, 2021.

    1. Thanks! I'll have to update that part for Marcy.