Saturday, April 02, 2016

Self Publishing A to Z: BOXED SETS

Welcome to the Trogloblog, where I ramble on about whatever strikes my fancy. For April, I'm participating in the epic A to Z Blogging Challenge, where Monday through Friday, I'll be posting a letter-themed article.

This year, I've chosen to focus on Self-Publishing. It's something I've been doing for about 4 years now, and despite my low midlist status, I have learned quite a few things. Instead of hosting seminars and charging admission, or selling a book on How to Self Publish, I'm going to share this knowledge with you, the reader, FOR FREE. That's right, April is All About Self-Publishing.

If you're not interested in learning how to self-publish, or if you just can't read enough, check out my fiction blog over at STONE SOLDIERS. For the third year, I'm going to be doing listings of people, places, and things from my Supernatural Military Thriller series. But this year, instead of looking back at what's been done, I'm going to look ahead, and offer a sneak peak at what's to come in 2016 and 2017. 

Now back to self-pubbing...


When you hear, or read, the words "Boxed Set" what springs to mind? For me, it is Star Wars. I distinctly remember buying a set of all three Original trilogy movies, on VHS, that came in a cardboard box adorned with images from the films. This was my first "boxed set". So called because it comes in a box

Boxed sets have gone on to become a mainstay with movies. They can be particularly pricey, since you're getting so much content. But it is awfully convenient to get all that content in one package. 

Books are no different. Books come in boxed content. Fancy hardback editions in custom boxes. My daughter's first boxed set was in the American Girl series, and looked something like this:

Before boxed sets though, there were collections of books called Anthologies. Basically, a book with a lot of stories in it, all from the same author or from different authors. And then there's the omnibus, a book that's actually three or more books in one. My first Omnibus was a Doc Savage collection I bought back in the 1980s...

Today there is a trend that absolutely irritates the shit out of me in the independant author circles. Self publishers are bundling their e-books together, then using graphics programs to create an image of what the box might look like if these were print books. They then sell these as "Boxed Sets."

I complained about this recently in my irregular Thor's Day Rants: "The Box is as Lie". 

Why does it bother me? Because it's dishonest or stupid. Either these self-publishers are lying/trying to trick customers by creating the impression they have an actual boxed set, or they're too stupid to understand that boxed set literally means a set of things offered in a box. 

Don't get me wrong, bundling is a fantastic idea. Sometimes, readers want to buy a shit ton of reading material in one pop. For them, the collection/omnibus/anthology is a Godsend. Personally, I every three books in my Stone Soldiers series is compiled into an omnibus and released a month after the final third installment. I've also compiled some of my shorts together. None of them sell as well as the individual installments but I like to give customers a choice. 

If you're thinking about a compilation, think about price before you think about jumping on the idiot bandwagon and slinging cardboard descriptors about willy nilly. Readers will figure out what you're offering when you use the correct terminology: compilation, for example. What will really get their attention isn't some mock up of what a cardboard home for the print version of your work, but rather the price. 

Don't charge full price for all the installments you've bundled. There's no incentive there for the reader to buy them at once. Instead, give them one of three for free or something. Three books normally listed at $2.99 each seem a lot more buyable when the omnibus price is $5.99. 

Formatting might be problematic for longer works. Combining three of your 200,000 word epics in one file might make your laptop turn more sluggish than a snail in amber. You need to consider if it's really worth the effort. Will discounting your books produce results equal to the aggravation of a new version of your work? 

After all my griping about incorrect terminology, I have to say that I'm not that inclined to do many more Omnibuses. They don't seem to sell that many copies. That could be due to my small audience, or it could be that since we're talking e-books,  it doesn't matter if they're individual files or one huge one--they're all going on one electronic reader anyways. 

Check back Monday for the next article on self-publishing: COVERS. Until then, check the comments below for links to other A to Zers participating in the Blog Challenge 2016.

1 comment:

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

An interesting look at the self-publishing world. Good luck with the rest of the challenge.