Boxed sets are all the rage right now but tons of work and thought go into actually putting one together. Afton Locke is here to tell us how its done.
So You Want to Publish a Boxed Set
by Afton Locke
Self-publishing a boxed set is a big commitment and a grand adventure. Acting as your own publisher and coordinating the efforts of multiple authors is like running a company or a small country! When I was invited to join the Tall, Dark & Alpha boxed set, which just released, I was excited and knew it would help me grow. Are YOU ready? Here are some questions to get you started. You = the collective you (each author):
What will be the title and theme?
Sometimes ideas need to evolve. Delaney Diamond says, “Koko Brown initially contacted me about doing a sports romance-themed boxed set. The hero in my novel is a former professional wrestler, so it was a good fit. A couple of months later, the focus shifted to alpha men.”
We chose the alpha theme because who doesn’t love an alpha hero? Domineering, overprotective, but oh so sexy. After searching online, we discovered the title we’d chosen was too similar to others, so we brainstormed new ones and unanimously chose the one Delaney suggested.
How many authors will there be? What’s your criteria for inviting them?
We ended up with 10, which we felt was a good number, and we came together through networking. Koko and Eve invited authors they knew, and we were all honored to be selected. Conferences are a great place to network. I did a workshop with Koko and Eve at the RomantiCon convention, which is also where Koko met Paige Tyler. Paige, in turn, invited Randi Alexander because they had already worked on a couple of boxed sets together.
What are your story guidelines?
Consider word count, genre, pairings (such as ménage and m/m), and heat level. We allowed variation to give the set mass appeal.
So someone needs to get the ball rolling for a big project like this. Eve Vaughn says, “This boxed set was the brainchild of Koko Brown. She’d spent a better part of 2013 trying to convince me it was a good idea. One day it just clicked, okay, I want to do one!”
How formally will the project be managed?
Formality reduces the potential for problems down the road, but it also takes more time.
Who’s running the show?
It helps to have 1 or 2 people manage it.
Will you sign an agreement?
It will ensure the authors are serious and will remain for the long haul. If you spend money for a cover and someone drops out, for example, it will have to be redone. Review your publishing contracts for ideas.
Who will do what?
There’s plenty to do for everyone!
What will you insource or outsource?
This includes cover design, formatting, and publicity. Consider the skills you have and how you value time vs. money.
How will you make decisions, especially when everyone doesn’t agree?
We found asking “What do you think?” opened communication and led to consensus.
How and where will you communicate? What if it’s urgent?
We used a private Facebook group and used tagging for emphasis. It worked great for everything except file handling.
How will you handle file sharing and revisions, especially for multi-author documents?
I was amazed by the number of files we created. Organization is definitely helpful.
How will you track progress and adjust course if needed?
Making the boxed set a success will take money. This is the subject people are usually least comfortable with, so the earlier you discuss it the better.
How and how often will earnings be paid? How will expenses be paid?
You’ll need a “treasurer.” Will you ask for money up front, take deductions from future earnings, or both? Keeping records and receipts is helpful.
Will you set a budget?
When and where will the book release and how much will it cost?
Where can people learn about the set?
We created a Facebook page and a few authors featured the stories on their web sites.
What’s in your marketing plan?
Yeah, you need one of those.
Will you decide everything up front or will you evaluate opportunities as they come along?
The more preplanning the better, but it’s still good to be open to new opportunities that might arise.
Will this project mesh with your current workload, deadlines, day job (if you have one), and family life?
Because I have a day job and several of my other books released close together over the holidays, my schedule has been crazy! I learned to multitask. Sam Cheever also had multiple deadlines but says, “It didn’t turn out to be much of an issue because this story pretty much wrote itself.”
What are your goals? (Are they compatible?)
Our goals included creating a good product, gaining new readers, and learning. Farrah Rochon says, “I wanted to “introduce some of my faithful readers to other fabulous romance authors.” Delaney adds, “The best way to gain readers is to put books in their hands.”
Be aware that boxed sets are usually priced low to attract readers and the sales get divided among the authors. So, if your only goal is to get rich quick, this might not be the right project for you. The rewards are longer term.
What assets do you bring to the table?
These include graphic and web design, writing marketing copy and blog articles, organization/project management, self-pubbing and boxed set experience, reader following/street teams, and funds. It’s best to have a diverse group so most of these strengths are covered.
As with most jobs and projects, success depends on the people you work with. We were lucky to have such a great group. Although I didn’t know everyone at first, I feel bonded now. Sam says, “It’s been a fun and sometimes confusing process. LOL, I got lucky because I’m working with a GREAT group of authors—talented and creative.” Randi adds, “Working with these organized, professional, and fun authors has been a real privilege.
Have you considered producing a boxed set with other authors?
Jean Murray joins us on Tuesday, April 1st.
Tall, Dark & Alpha boxed set
These HOT alphas are ready to take charge. Are you ready for the decadence and allure of an alpha’s dark charm? The bad boys in these 10 sizzling stories will make your heart pound. Against these dominant seducers, the heroines don’t stand a chance. Prepare to fall in lust–and love.
Delve into the sensual worlds of award-winning authors: Randi Alexander, Koko Brown, Sam Cheever, Delaney Diamond, Eve Langlais, Afton Locke, Dawn Montgomery, Farrah Rochon, Paige Tyler, and Eve Vaughn. Immerse yourself in the alpha male experience.
only 99 cents!
Afton Locke is a multi-published erotic romance author who prefers romantic fantasies to everyday reality. Fantasies take her everywhere–from other worlds and races to the top of a corporate desk. She lives with her husband, dog, several unnamed dust bunnies, and a black cat that can be scary or cuddly, depending on the current book. When she’s not writing, Afton enjoys hiking, cooking, crafts, and reading. Visit her at http://www.aftonlocke.com .