Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Boxed Set Books: Cheating or A Stroke of Genius

One of my favorite authors recently posed the following question: Is there such a thing as too many authors in a boxed set of books?

If you haven’t noticed, there has been a recent trend in the e-book world where several authors of the same genre get together and each contributes a short story to a boxed set. The price for these sets is typically ninety-nine cents. From a reader’s standpoint this is a steal. You pay ninety-nine cents and get anywhere from five to ten stories in the set, including the one from your favorite author, the one that prompted you to buy the set in the first place.

There’s been a lot of discussion among authors and bloggers about the true benefit of the boxed set. The biggest argument I’ve seen being made against the boxed set is that authors aren’t making any money from these sets. The set is sold for ninety-nine cents and let’s say the average author royalty is sixty cents. If there are ten authors in the ninety-nine cent boxed set, they’re each going to make six cents for every book sold. Hardly seems worth the time, but you have to dig a little deeper. When authors join forces on these boxed sets, they’re often able to achieve something together that they haven’t been able to on their own. Thanks to the sales of one boxed set, many authors find themselves on the NY Times or USA Today bestselling list. It works like this…

Let’s say I decide to write a short story and make it part of box set with nine other authors. We’ll call the set I’m Loving It. This set will have ten short love stories. The ten of us have all agreed to set the price of I’m Loving It at ninety-nine cents because we want to make it more attractive to new readers. The truth is it’s not just new readers we’re trying to reach. We’re counting on our existing fan base to buy I’m Loving It because we’ve written a story for it. For simplicity sake, we’ll say each of us has 300 rabid fans who buy everything we publish the minute it comes out. That means that within the first day of release of our boxed set, I’m Loving It could sell 3,000 copies. Bam, I’m Loving It makes the best seller list and each of us can now say we’re bestselling authors because we contributed a story to I’m Loving It. That’s a pretty nice coupe for minimal effort.

Another nice byproduct of the boxed set is that the readers of all of the other nine authors will have the chance to read my work. This could lead to me snagging more fans, selling more of my already published books and ensuring solid sales of my future releases.

It begs the question is it cheating when you contribute to a multi-author boxed set that becomes a best seller, or is it a stroke of genius? That depends on who you ask. To be honest, I’m divided on the subject. I probably wouldn’t turn down an offer to be a part of a set of this type, but I’d rather call myself a best-selling author because I earned the title on my own. Not because I rode the coattails of nine other authors. Yes, I know that’s a bit blunt and some of my colleagues won’t like it. That said, as a reader, I have purchased and enjoyed a number of these sets.

In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter how I feel or how my fellow writers feel. What matters is what readers want. As long as these boxed sets continue to be popular, authors will work together to offer them to their readers and will reap the rewards of doing so. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

All I Want for Christmas

With Thanksgiving now behind me, I’m ready to embrace the Christmas season. Okay, I’m not completely ready. I have to confess I’m in a bit of a panic because I’ve bought a total of four presents which is far less than the number of people I have to shop for. I have to laugh at myself though. Christmas falls on the same day every year, yet I always find myself surprised that it’s “suddenly” upon me; surprised and unprepared.

The start of the Christmas season means I have to answer the big question. What do you want for Christmas?

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more difficult it is for me to come up with a realistic answer to that question. Of course I’d love a brand new sports car or a ten-bedroom mansion or a five karat diamond ring (hint for my husband), but those things are well out of reach.

The truth is I’m one of those fortunate people whose needs are already met. I’m also in the even more fortunate category of having reached a point in my life where I can afford to buy something I want. Gone are the days of waiting for a holiday to get the bigger ticket items. If I want a new jacket or a new toaster or a new... You get the picture. 

There’s only one thing I want for Christmas that’s well within everyone’s means but not something I can obtain on my own. That sounds like the start of a bad riddle, but it’s true. It’s also something I’ve asked for in the past.

I want to make the New York Times or USA Today bestseller list. Okay, I’ll admit, I’d love to see my name on both lists, but I’m not greedy. I’ll be happy with one. I’m also not picky. I’ll take either one as they’re equally impressive achievements.

There you have it. Yes, I’ve asked for this gift before. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I have a feeling I’m due. The holiday season is a great time to buy and both books in the Time for Love series are only 99 cents. With as much spending that takes place during this time of year, that’s hardly noticeable. So, maybe, just maybe my family, friends and all of my readers will make my Christmas dream come true.

Even if it doesn’t happen, you should know two things. First, I’ll never stop writing for you. As long as even one person likes my books, it’s worth it to keep going. Second, I’ll never give up on this dream.

Happy Holidays, everyone! May you get all you need and hopefully some things you want. And yes, I will let you know if my wish comes true.