If you’ve published a series or have an extensive backlist, repackaging some of these books into a box set can be a great way to revive sales. Especially if you make the cost of the box set less than the combined cost of the individual books, a box set promotion can attract new readers, funnel readers to the next full-priced book in the series, and generate high ROIs.
To help you publish more effective box sets, we gathered 12 clever strategies authors are using to drive sales. For each strategy, we’ve included examples for inspiration!
1. Bundle a complete series
You may be worried that a box set of a complete series would cannibalize sales of the individual books, but the volume of sales from readers excited by a deal on the full series can drive more revenue overall. Fantasy author Edward Robertson successfully packaged his complete The Cycle of Arawn trilogy into a box set with exceptional results:
I thought a finished trilogy might have more appeal, especially in a subgenre like epic fantasy, where there’s understandable reader discontent about having to wait years (or even decades!) for some long-running series to finish the story. Offering the complete story all at once felt like something readers might value.
The results were insane. After its price promotion in October last year, the box set hit #96 on USA Today and went on to do pretty dang well in the UK and Germany to boot. I just wrapped up a second price promotion at the end of July, and it’s about to notch its 100,000th sale. The ebook’s success also prompted my audiobook publishers to pick it up on audio. That came out this June and has since been outselling most of the Game of Thrones titles, which is the sort of thing you dream about at night and then find surreal when it’s actually happening.
Laurelin Paige packaged all six books in her Fixed series into a bundle called Fixed Universe. She priced the bundle at $19.99 on all vendors except Amazon, which pays a lower royalty for books priced over $9.99 (more later in this post on choosing the best distribution strategy for book bundles). In Laurelin’s case, the box set did not impact individual book sales!
“The bundle brought in $4,000 in its first month without decreasing sales of the individual books at all. And the only marketing I did was via my newsletter and Facebook page.”
2. Bundle more than one complete series
The only thing better than a box set of one full series is a bundle of several series! Readers love to take advantage of great deals, so you’ll get their attention by giving them even more books for a single price. Plus, you’ll be introducing existing readers to other series they may not have tried yet.
One way is to bundle multiple series with similar themes. In this BookBub Ads campaign, Willow Mason promotes her Paranormal Mystery Collection, which includes three paranormal cozy mystery duets, in a perfect introduction to the author’s brand of “magic, mayhem, and murder.”
This 12-book paranormal romance collection by Lisa Daniels includes the complete White Tigers of Brigantia series, the Jaguars of Brigantia series, and the Panthers of Brigantia series.
3. Bundle the first few books of a series
Include the first two or three books of a series in a box set to promote a full-price book later in the series. Similar to making the first book in a series permafree, the idea is to hook readers and make them invested in the characters so they’re willing to pay full price to know how the tale ends. At the end of the box set, promote the next book in the series in the back matter.
When Mari Carr and Lila Dubois launched the eighth book of their Trinity Masters series, their sales were stagnant, so they decided to bundle the first four books in the series to try to draw in more readers. The box set launched at $6.99, but they temporarily discounted it to $1.99 and ran a promo-stacking campaign that increased sales by 350 percent! The campaign included a BookBub Featured Deal, social media content, and a newsletter blast.
4. Slice and dice a series into multiple bundles
Consider separating a series into multiple bundles if the series is long. Get creative and box up different parts of a series in different ways to meet your goals.
“I prefer bundling three books together instead of two, but since book 6 is still selling really well for me most months, and I haven’t released book 7, I decided to box up books 4–5 to generate some extra income in the meantime. It has definitely been worth it, and when book 7 comes out, I’ll slide book 6 into that second box.”
M.D. Massey split his 12-book Junkyard Druid series into three sets: books 1–4, 5–8, and 9–12. He sells each bundle for $9.99, and sometimes offers limited-time deals so readers can grab the sets at a discounted price.
5. Bundle first books across different series
Similar to bundling more than one series, you can introduce readers to new series by creating a collection of first-in-series books.
Anne Marie Novark cleverly positioned this strategy as a “sampler” of all four series in her backlist. She even threw a novella and short story into the mix as an extra incentive to buy the bundle instead of each first-in-series separately.
Claire Delacroix packaged a box set called Highland Heroes with books from multiple series. After each book in the box set, she included an excerpt and link to the next book in the series to drive follow-on sales:
6. Bundle a collection of standalone books
Books don’t need to be in a series to be bundled — standalone books can benefit from box sets, too. You can strategically choose standalones to package together that include similar themes for either fiction or nonfiction. For fiction, consider bundling standalone books that share a subgenre, location, time period, similar protagonists, or holiday setting.
There are three good reasons to put standalones into a box set.
- Readers love bargains. 99¢ books are very popular, especially with Regency Romance titles. By pricing my standalone books at 99¢, I’ve been able to enjoy good sales and stay competitive. By putting those same books into box sets of four, and pricing them at $2.99, readers save one dollar, and (because of the 70/30 royalty split on Amazon), my profit for those same books increases (approximately) $1.00. It’s a win-win.
- It creates “another book,” therefore I get more space on the digital shelf.
- It exposes readers to a book that might not be as popular as the other books by the same author. If a standalone isn’t selling very well, and that’s not a reflection of the book’s quality, then readers may be more willing to give it a try if it’s in a box set.
Creating box sets did cannibalize sales of some of the standalone books, but in most cases overall profits were higher, and people were reading and being exposed to books that weren’t selling as well before.
According to her box set’s description, author and success coach Becca Syme chose to bundle three books from her QuitBooks for Writers series based on the three main questions she hears from authors in her popular coaching course.
Lauren Blakely has several bundles of connected standalones that weren’t originally connected. Sometimes, to create new connections between unrelated books — and excuses to bundle those books together — she even updates an older book and writes in a side character to connect to the new book! (See tip #9 here to read more about Lauren’s strategy.)
7. Create a collection with other authors
When multiple authors join forces, the product can be more enticing to readers. Try partnering with other authors in your genre to create a collection of similarly-themed novels or an anthology of novellas or short stories. If you each promote the collection to your own audiences, you can increase your sales and exposure by reaching new readers in the other authors’ audiences.
Joanna Shupe and Eva Leigh created the anthology Duke I’d Like to F… with three other authors. By running a price promotion with a view toward hitting a list, they successfully met their goal of making the anthology a USA Today bestseller.
You might also collaborate with other authors toward a specific goal. To raise money in support of the LGBTQ+ community, 22 authors each contributed a story to the collection Pride Not Prejudice, with all proceeds from book sales going to four different charity organizations.
8. Include exclusive content in a box set
Adding a novella or short story to a box set could entice readers to buy the bundle instead of each separate book. Existing readers might also purchase the box set for the bonus content they haven’t seen before.
I sold more books that month than I ever have, even with my previous single-title BookBub promos. My sales that month showed a 1,200% increase over my next-best month of 2015. I would heartily advise other authors to try it, because readers love a deal. They also love to discover new authors. I would advise authors to set the regular price at a good deal (at least 30% off whatever full price would be if all titles were purchased individually) and do a discount to 99 cents. I would advise them to time the release of the set so that it’s not too close to a release of one of the included volumes (to not cannibalize sales). Also, time it to funnel readers to another product (a new release, another series, etc).
9. Consider different distribution strategies
For especially long or expensive content, some authors choose different distribution strategies than they do for individual books — including selling box sets exclusively on their own websites! As mentioned earlier, Amazon pays lower royalties for books priced over $9.99 than other retailers — 35 percent instead of the 70 percent you can get for higher-priced books at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo. On the other hand, long box sets enrolled in Kindle Unlimited can generate a lot of revenue from page reads. So there are lots of options to maximize revenue earned from box sets.
The 12-book, nearly 3,000-page Unstoppable Liv Beaufont series by Sarah Noffke and Michael Anderle is available for purchase on Amazon for $19.99, but has the potential to generate more than $12 from each Kindle Unlimited reader who finishes the entire series (based on an average rate of $0.0045 per page).
To keep even more money from every sale, some authors are selling books directly from their own websites. Dale Mayer runs her own online store full of exclusive two-book bundles, as well as this full-series bundle for $29.99.
Emily Kimelman includes links to other retailers in addition to the option to buy box sets directly from her website. Her Sydney Rye series is packaged into three-book, four-book, and complete box sets.
10. Create limited-time box sets
You might choose to create a box set that’s only offered for a limited time as a way to create a sense of urgency. Once the campaign is completed, you can unpublish the box set to avoid the possibility of cannibalizing sales of the individual books long term.
This romantic suspense box set by Stephanie St. Klaire was only available for a limited time, offering seven novels for just $0.99. In this BookBub Ad image, she made the deal price prominent and added retailer logos to show where the set is available for purchase.
Each month, publisher Harlequin launches new themed, multi-author, limited-time bundles that are only available for a short time and priced lower than the combined price of the individual titles — like these Harlequin Desire box sets of western romance novels:
11. Bundle at a deep discount
Box sets already offer readers a deal to increase sales volume, so discounting them further can increase sales even more dramatically. Featured Deals for box sets consistently generate high engagement and conversions from BookBub readers. On average, we’ve seen 20 percent higher click-through rates and 29 percent higher purchase rates on box sets than single books!
By running a $0.99 Featured Deal as part of a well-coordinated promo stacking campaign, Andrew Watts sold over 8,000 copies of his The War Planners box set in one week — and accomplished his goal of hitting the USA Today bestseller list, coming in at #97.
12. Bundle your audiobooks
You can repeat any of these bundling strategies for your audiobooks!
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