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Multi-Author Boxed Sets: The Hot New Thing?

Love on the Edge 3d final

Multi-author boxed sets, suddenly you are seeing them everywhere. Fabulous covers, full length stories, all genres . . . and all for a ridiculously low price. Here lately, most sets are only 99 cents (at least for part of the time)! What? That’s just crazy pricing, right! So what’s the advantage? The disadvantage?

Before we get to that, I have several of the authors of this hot new boxed set (blatant self-promo alert  😆 ) Love on the Edge: Nine Shades of Romantic Suspense here to tell us a bit about themselves for a fun interview! Learn about their writing process and how the boxed set came about.

Q: When you set out to write romance, did you know you wanted to be in the romantic suspense or romantic mystery realm?

Lori Ryan: No, not at all. I began with the intention of writing contemporary romance, and my work does fit that category, but there is always a little element of suspense now. As my work progresses, the suspense element is coming more to the forefront, but don’t worry, I always include the romance! Lots and lots of romance. I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

Pauline Baird Jones: I did not with my first book (The Spy Who Kissed Me), that was an “accidental” romantic suspense, but for sure with The Last Enemy. I knew going in that it would be a suspense story.It starts with the heroine in a safe house. And it begins with creepy and ramps up fast. Many things go wrong. Over and over again. There was a point where I wasn’t sure I knew how to get Dani out alive.

Amy Gamet: I enjoy many different genres. While my Love and Danger series is obviously romantic suspense, I’m currently working on a contemporary, small town romance.

Q: It seems as though you have to enter the mind of a killer at times in your books. Is this hard to do? Do you ever find it disturbing to do so?

Dale Mayer: Ha! So not difficult. I’m a single parent of 4 (evil grin) – it allows me to keep my sanity while working off my stress!

Wendy Ely: It’s a challenge that I look forward to doing when the story takes me there. My killers usually aren’t ‘that bad’ in the rough draft. When I go through the story again, I focus only on those sections to see how dark those characters can go. More often than not, these characters scare me.

Q: What are some of the most interesting things you’ve discovered when researching for your books?

Diana Layne: Interesting? How about many different ways to kill bad guys? (crazy cackle) I’ve also learned some darned scary things. I have a conspiracy theory suspense arc running through this first set of Vista Security books and wow . . . researching conspiracy theories sometimes had me hiding in the corner and sucking my thumb!

Kathryn Jane: The amazing physical entry requirements to get into the SEALs or Green Berets, or to become a PJ. I’m so looking forward to my trip to Lackland Air Force Base in a couple of weeks where I’ll learn Combat Controller Pararescue, Special Operations Weather, Tactical Air Control, and the training of Combat Dogs.          

Lori Ryan: That you can contact the FBI for information and help! The agent I worked with for one of my books was fantastic. Someday, I’ll write something more in depth about an FBI Agent just to get to experience that on a bigger scale.

Q: Romantic suspense books have to straddle two genres, keeping the romantic tension between a hero and heroine alive but also ensuring there are enough twists to the plot to keep readers engaged in the suspense. How do you come up with your plots? Do they change as you progress through the manuscript?

Marie-Nicole Ryan: My plots come from everywhere: news articles, chance comments, or even dreams. Balancing the romantic tension with the suspense element is the most difficult part of my writing process, and I’m not always sure I succeed. Some stories evolve with a greater focus on the romance, and sometimes, the suspense/mystery element takes over. Yet I can’t seem to come up with a straight romance that doesn’t contain a suspense element. They do tend to change since I start with a general idea. I spend more time focusing on the characters which helps me determine where the plot will go more than outlining or plotting.

Margaret Taylor: My plots change constantly and most of the time it’s because my brain goes, “ohhhhhhhh, that’s evil even for me!” The trick I’ve found over the many years I’ve been writing is to just let the characters tell me what’s going on – either in their lives as they try to counter whatever the bad guy has done or when the bad guy decides to ‘react’ to whatever the good guys do to thwart him.

Q: What do you hope your readers come away from one of your books feeling? Is there something you strive for as a writer?

Pauline Baird-Jones: I want them to have a wild ride through the suspense and the romance. I hope they reach the end feeling satisfied and wishing the book wasn’t over yet. It was that feeling of “oh darn, this book is over” that drove me to write books.

Margaret Taylor: Well, I hope they come away feeling whatever the characters have been feeling throughout the book. Did they laugh and cheer when the good guys win? Did they cry when the good guys cried? Did they mourn the loss of a character or the character’s dog? If they do, I’ve done it right.

Q: You’ve got a boxed set of some of the best romantic suspense authors out there. Can you tell us a little about how this project began? Maybe share a little about the benefits of a boxed set and the challenges:

Wendy Ely: I was part of another boxed set last year (organized by Amy Gamet) and decided to organize one myself. After putting a call out for romantic suspense authors, it took me days to pick the people I wanted to work with the most.

One of the biggest benefits of a boxed set are the readers. I’ve met so many new people through my fellow boxed set authors. The challenge is getting all of the authors to agree on things for the set. The cover art is the biggest issue to overcome!

Amy Gamet: Wendy Ely brought this boxed set together. She was in another boxed set that I put together, which is how we know each other. She really gathered a great group of people and I’m happy to be a part of this set. I know my readers enjoy getting to know other authors, and together we can reach a much larger audience than we can reach individually.

Q: Self-publishing is now very easy to do, but it’s not so easy to make it out there in the self-published world. Can you tell us some of the things that worked for you guys as indie-authors?

Diana Layne: What has helped me more than anything, dare I say it? Being in Amazon Select. Granted, if you hang around with self-published authors for long, you’ll hear “the ol’ gray mare ain’t what she used to be” (I’m referring to Amazon Select not me), and that’s true. But there still is an advantage to Select. I tried going all venues when I first published. Crickets. No reviews. You can’t buy promo with no reviews. No sales. Can’t buy promo with no sales either because you don’t have the money. In Select, I’ve given away over 100,000 books and have over 700 reviews between the two books. Granted, 700 is a small percentage of 100, 000 (not even going to try to figure out the math) but for a new author, it’s still a lot. When the reviews started coming in, then I was able to purchase advertising and keep the momentum. What would have helped even more was if I’d written more books in a timely manner, but that’s another story . . . titled “what not to do.” And yes, I do intend to spread out to other venues, but Select is still, in my opinion, a good marketing strategy for a new writer.

Kathryn Jane: Expanding my social media presence in a way that was comfortable, and helpful has been a good way to get my name out there. My extremely diverse background lends itself to sharing useful information— which led to teaching online workshops on Horses, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Dispatch, Self-Editing, and PTSD. These research workshops assist those both established and new writers, gives me something to talk about on Facebook and twitter and help me meet potential readers.

So, tell me, what do you think as a writer? Have you been in a boxed set? Planning one? Is the market saturated and there’s no advantages now? Speaking of advantages, what are they? Definitely getting new crossover readers is a plus. If the sales are good, hitting bestselling lists is always a possibility.

As a reader, do you like to purchase box sets? Excited for the great deal for so many books? Or do you think it’s all hype and just wish the sets would go away . . .?

Do you have questions for the authors?

Let’s talk . . .!! (And since I have a $10 iTunes gift card left from the Love On The Edge Facebook launch party, I’ll give it to a lucky commenter-Rubies included because I’ll use random.org -sorry authors of this set, you’re not included. 😉 )

About the boxed set: Love On The Edge: Nine Shades of Romantic Suspense Nine shades of Romantic Suspense… Love and danger go hand-in-hand in this boxed set of nine full-length novels by nine award winning, bestselling authors. From second chances, explosive chases, and payback, to mob bosses, telepaths, and private investigators, we’ve got a story for the beach, the doctor’s office or a cozy evening at home.

The authors: Lori Ryan, Diana Layne, Pauline Baird Jones, Dale Mayer, Wendy Ely, Marie-Nicole Ryan, Margaret Taylor, Amy Gamet, Kathryn Jane

Buy links, 99 cents all venues:

Amazon, Amazon UK 

Kobo

Google Books

Apple

Nook

ARE

Smashwords

 

33 responses to “Multi-Author Boxed Sets: The Hot New Thing?”

  1. Tamara Hogan says:

    Awesome post, Diana! And it’s great to hear from your co-authors, as well, especially about villains and research. I find it amazingly easy to put myself in a villain’s mindset. What that says about me, I don’t know. 😉

    I don’t have any experience with boxed sets as an author, but as a reader I have to say that I’ve downloaded a lot of $.99 boxed sets that linger on my Kindle, unread. I don’t know why that is.

    Interesting point about Amazon Select enhancing your ability to obtain reviews…one I hadn’t considered before. While I’m reluctant to put all my eggs in a single vendor’s basket, obtaining reviews is one of the toughest problems most self-published authors face. Thanks for the food for thought.

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    • Diana Layne says:

      I know, I love writing villains too. Even Tasha, one of my main protagonists, is more of an anti-hero and she is loads of fun to write . . .kinda disturbing I have that whole dark side thing going on. LOL.

      As for boxed sets, I’ve downloaded a few too, but my reading time is so limited right now. I’m fantasizing about when I have time to read again. And some of these boxed sets are going to be available for a limited time (like ours) so it’s good you have them on your e-reader so when they go away, you still have them (unless you delete them . . .I’m wondering if your ereader bites it, I’ve had a couple do that to me, if they’ll still be there . . .they should be in your account, right?)

      Now, as for Select, it was Laurie and another good writing friend I met at one of our Winter Writing Festivals, who got me thinking about Select. And it really has worked beautifully. Especially as I was able to get in early on Bookbub, which was fantastic. Still, I had some decent runs without a BB, just advertised like crazy everywhere else. I also get some good results with The Kindle Book Review especially when I can jump in with their Kindle Fire giveaways. I DO plan to expand to other venues, and hope I can get a BB ad when I do, but for now, if I could keep content going especially, the Select is working for me. I did pull TGD out to put in this boxed set so in just a few days I’m going to upload it and offer it for 99 cents. Most of the 99 cents advertising though is geared toward Kindles so IDK how well it’s going to do elsewhere. We shall see. When we take down the boxed set, I might put it back in Select until I get the Vista series finished. I’m happy to share what has worked for me, just send me an email.

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Re: whether or not your books are archived if your e-reader bites it: yes, at least if you have a Kindle.

        I thought I lost my Kindle on a camping trip, and got all my books re-downloaded to a new Kindle…and then found the old one. Now they sync to each other, which is cool.

        The only thing it didn’t do was automatically put my books back in the folders I had originally put them in. Ah, well, at least they’re not lost.

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    • Lori Ryan says:

      Hi there! I started out in select and I really do believe it let me grow my readership right out of the gate with the ability to price for free for five days. I gave away about 100,000 books all in all. After about my fourth book, I left it, wanting to branch out to other vendors, but I’m giving some serious thought to having each new release be in Select for 90 days before placing it at other vendors. I asked my street team and they said they wouldn’t’ mind. I’m not sure if I would alienate anyone, but Amazon just really has the corner on the market and there are some real advantages to the Select program, IMO:)

      Lori

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      • Diana Layne says:

        Yes, I will consider this as well when I start branching out . . .The Wild Rose Press gives its authors the option of doing this now, they call it a “soft release”. And yes, after my fourth book, I will probably pull them all and start branching out. 🙂

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  2. Wow! What a great group of authors. I love box sets and have discovered many new authors that way. Look forward to reading this one. Thanks. It’ll be great for travelling!

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  3. Jessica S. says:

    I think a box set of authors give people a chance to see the stories from other authors. It is always a great find when you found new authors!

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  4. Diana Layne says:

    I’ll pop in here early on with a comment taking the other side, that maybe boxed sets aren’t so good for writers. Because they ARE everywhere and when traditional publishers with their wide-ranging reach jump on it, that will make them even more popular. Some authors, indies especially, who are fighting to find a market, feel that this saturates the market and devalues our work. I heard the same argument for free books, too, but as I said in the post, giving books away really helped me. Any opinion is welcome, because each author’s journey is individual and we are here at the Ruby site to learn from each other!

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  5. Gwyn says:

    Good stuff here, Diana. I still think we should do Ruby compilations and anthologies, but that’s just me.

    I’ve seen lots of boxed sets recently, most carrying books by the same author. A set with several authors is more like an anthology where you can get a ‘taste’ of several different authors. I think it’s a great idea.

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    • Diana Layne says:

      Has anyone suggested doing a Ruby boxed set? I think that’s a great idea. Although many of our Rubies are writing like crazy for their publishers and deadlines. I’m in another group, Addictive Reads, that does boxed sets . . .brand new novellas, they write around a “theme” for each set. I’m considering joining the one this time because I have an idea. Usually I struggle to come up with novella ideas, lol.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Ooh…a Ruby Boxed Set…a jewel box, as it were!

      An exciting idea!

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  6. Vivi Andrews says:

    I haven’t been in a boxed set myself, but I *love* the idea. Such a smart way to cross promote and snag new readers!!! Gotta get in on that. 🙂 Thanks for the fun interview, ladies, and congrats on your new set!

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    • Diana Layne says:

      well, maybe we should consider that “jewel box” thing that Gwyn/Elisa suggested. If we had a “theme” idea, then each Ruby who wanted to participate could write a story in their own genre/own style.

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  7. Elisa Beatty says:

    Your boxed set looks gorgeous, ladies!

    So do the novels in the set appear only in the boxed set, or are they also available individually? Other than Romantic Suspense, did you have any common theme or guidelines?

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    • Diana Layne says:

      thanks, Elisa! While there are some boxed sets that are strictly never before published novels, or novellas, this one is with books that have been published and have had a track record of being bestselling. The hope is definitely to get crossover readership. No particular theme in this one either, but that’s definitely being done as well.

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  8. Barb Han says:

    Your boxed set is beautiful. Well done, ladies. I will be in my very first boxed set in a digital-first line with Harlequin in January. At this point, I’m pretty much trying to soak in what’s working for everyone else. Good luck and wishing you tons of SALES!

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    • Diana Layne says:

      That’s exciting, Barb. I bet you’ll have far reaching distribution, good luck! Thanks for stopping by and the wishes for sales!

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  9. Kate Parker says:

    Ooh, it looks good, Diana. And at 99 cents, how can a reader go wrong? I’ll have to fire up my kindle and order it.

    And two of the rubies, Louisa and I, are in a Christmas Regency Novella anthology coming in November. I’ll let you guys know how that works out. It’ll be a new experience for the four of us in the project.

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  10. Sophie Moss says:

    I love box sets. I think they are a great way to find new authors, and the $.99 price is amazing! Good luck with this one! 🙂

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  11. Rita Henuber says:

    I’m in a boxed set also. It seems to be most popular for RS. I do believe it’s a good way to cross promote. How long they will stay popular is any ones guess. I also like it when an author puts up some of their back list in set.
    Right now I am most interested in the enhanced ebook posibilities. I would love to have sound effects and pics in my RS books.

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    • Diana Layne says:

      Good luck, Rita! As for the enhanced ebooks, that is SO over my head, I don’t even want to try to figure it out. I’m foreseeing a new business venture for the tech-savvy!

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  12. flchen1 says:

    It depends, I think. I generally enjoy the boxed sets I’ve bought, but it does also seem all the rage right now… If I like at least one of the authors, I’ll generally spring for it since they’re such a great deal. And of course, I’m often introduced to new-to-me authors as a result… win-win? 😉

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    • Diana Layne says:

      That’s the hope, flchen1! That at least one author is familiar and the reader will buy the set and find some new authors! Thanks for stopping by!

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  13. Diana Layne says:

    AND THE WINNER using random.org is Tamara Hogan!! Thanks, everyone for stopping by and sharing your opinion!

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  14. flchen1 says:

    Multi-author box sets do seem to be all the rage these days–I do find them hard to resist, especially if I’ve read and enjoyed even one of the contributing authors already. And of course, I usually then discover more to add to the TBR!

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