Friday, January 17, 2014

Ultimate Supernatural Horror Box Set

Six ebooks for 99 cents.

Will this become the norm? Are we racing to the bottom? Devaluing ebooks? Lowering consumer expectations until soon no one can charge more than ten cents a novel?

I doubt it.

But I do notice there is a rise in multi-author box sets on Amazon, and I do see many of them crack the Top 100 bestseller lists.

We can all speculate ad nauseum on what the repercussions are, but one thing is certain: a lot of consumers are willing to plunk down 99 cents to try a variety of authors.

I see this as a good thing. A percentage of these box sets that are bought will be read, a percentage that are read will garner new fans, a percentage of those new fans will go on to read more books by those authors.

I think this more about visibility and discoverability, and less about cheap ebooks driving down prices.

With that in mind, I bring you the Ultimate Supernatural Horror Box Set for $0.99.

So Blake Crouch and Jeff Strand and F. Paul Wilson and Iain Rob Wright and I got together with Scott Nicholson to do this as a limited experiment, to see if we could make a few bucks and find a few new fans.

Scott did all the heavy lifting (cover art, formatting, accounting), so after royalties pay for the expenses, he'll take 10% off the top and then split the remaining royalties six ways.

Peanuts, you're thinking? If we manage to sell 30,000 copies of this, that's $1500 each. And 30k isn't an outrageous number. Getting into the Top 100 is usually good for 10k copies sold in just a few days. Some box sets have stuck around in the Top 100 for a few weeks.

As I said, this is temporary. We don't want to undercut our individual sales of these titles with this set, so we're going to let this run until it peaks, and then follow its descent until it is no longer lucrative. Then we unpublish.

If you're an indie author, you might be intrigued by this, or you might be scared. The curious or experimental among you might want to consider getting 4-8 peers together and creating your own box set. The leery might worry about it effecting your individual sales, or driving down all ebook prices. But since most indies keep their prices low and understand the value of permafree, their fear should be somewhat tempered by the understanding that this is just one more way to reach readers.

If you're a legacy publisher, this should scare the absolute shit out of you.

$0.99 ebooks are scary enough. While an indie author can price titles at $0.99 (or free) sporadically (or permanently) in order to boost sales numbers and discover new fans, the Big 5 won't go that low. Not with their overhead. But they could never put six different authors together and sell them for $0.99.

Advantage: indies. Here's a new way to become visible, to get discovered, to take up more virtual shelf space. Reach new fans, introduce your backlist to those who never heard of you, make a few bucks.

If you are a legacy published author, this should be a cause for concern. Your publisher can't offer you this opportunity, and your ebooks (which take longer to bring to market, have their prices controlled by publishers, and earn less royalties) may become harder to discover by new readers if box sets become omnipresent.

And for those who think multi-author box sets are new--they aren't. We did one two years ago, and I believe we were one of the first. We had positive results, but it was released during an Amazon algorithm glitch where sales and ranks didn't update and we didn't sell as many as we could have. But the idea apparently has legs, because others have used it to much greater success.

So my guess is that box sets, however you feel about them, are here to stay. Get on the bandwagon, or get out of the way before you're run over.

In the meantime, buy us for $0.99, and please help spread the word by tweeting and telling your Facebook friends.

Imagine an Amazon Top 100 Bestseller list where 60 slots are multi-author indie box sets. Imagine the plethora of terrified Big 5 executives if that happened.

How funny would that be?


26 comments:

William J. Thomas said...

I already own 3 of the 6 books, and have read 2 of them. So that leaves 3 new books for me for $.99 by 3 great authors.

Still a SCORE!

Jonas Saul said...

Grabbed my copy!

Summer Daniels said...

Shared on my WTRAFSOG site Joe ... good luck with the box set - they are selling very well lately on my promo page. :-)

Summer

Shaun Horton said...

Perfect timing. I got a lot to read now and it answered my question.

Daniel Kenney said...

Just bought mine and shared to my facebook friends. Doing this, especially for a limited time, is, I would think, a great way for people to test drive different authors. Way to be leading from the front. Daniel

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I would love to participate in something like this. I write non-fiction books about consciousness, spiritual growth, dropping habits, and creating a new relationship to fear.

I also have a title that could work with other fantasy or men's studies books.

Please feel free to connect with me if your books would work with mine!

Veronica
Book list

Bill Smith Books said...

I would love to see this offered on Smashwords.

(Linux user, can't download from Amazon.)

David L. Shutter said...

Have heard Joe mention Strand and Wilson dozens of times but still haven't read their work. Now I will. I have most of the books in this box set but it's such a deal I had to get it.

Great promo tool for indies! I'll be looking for more of these an would love to be part of one too.

Rex Kusler said...

Throw in a pack of gum and I'll buy it.

Frank Sergeant said...

> I would love to see this offered on Smashwords.

> (Linux user, can't download from Amazon.)

Bill, I run Linux and have no trouble buying and downloading books from Amazon.

Is this a general problem or just a problem with this one book? I just bought this book and it downloaded to my Kindle as always.

If you describe exactly how you are trying to do it, perhaps someone can help you find what you are doing wrong.

Frank

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

*Hit download. Blows smoke from finger* Done!

Fantastic idea, Joe. Great way to reach readers and expand a fan base.

Melanie Lamaga said...

Hi Joe,

I've been reading your blog for a couple of years and wanted to say how terrific the content is, and now the new design. Very clean and professional. Congrats on your continued success as an author and thanks for all the great info and encouragement to others embarking on the path of indie publishing. It's an exciting time!

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I just made $.07 when someone bought your box set through my affiliate link! Another little bit toward a record month for affiliate earnings for me.

If Amazon has an affiliate program in your state/country, I really recommend it. It's sure nice to get paid for your friends/fans/unknown people doing their Amazon shopping.

PLUS, a nice bonus is you can use it to track the effectiveness of your marketing (well, sort of).

I can see how many people purchased my books from my affiliate links.

I recently did some promotion for one of my books and sure enough, the clicks/sales on that book's affiliate link went up. Those clicks/sales are likely to be a direct result of the recent promotion. They could come from past website/FB/Twitter posts too so I can't say definitively.

However, I find it helpful enough and free money is fun to spend. It's like getting paid for having friends.

Veronica
Book List

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I wanted to clarify. This is how I use the affiliate thing to check in on my marketing.

At the end of the month, say I've sold 100 copies of a specific title according to KDP. My affiliate page (Amazon Associates) gives me credit for 22 sales of that same title.

So, 22% of the sales of that title are coming from me spreading my link around/having the link on my website, etc.

The balance are sales that AZ generated.

There is the third category of sales that could have come from my efforts, but the affiliate link timed out or the customer searched by name instead of clicking a link, etc.

I don't have a way to track that information so I think of it as two categories: My effort and Other ways.

It's been helpful to me.
Veronica
Book List

Bill Smith said...

>Bill, I run Linux and have no trouble buying and downloading books from Amazon.

>Is this a general problem or just a problem with this one book? I just bought this book and it downloaded to my Kindle as always.

>If you describe exactly how you are trying to do it, perhaps someone can help you find what you are doing wrong.

Frank:

I run Puppy Linux as a live CD so my only option is to read in the browser. Amazon offers no Kindle app for linux, you have to run WINE and trick Amazon into letting you be their customer.

I'm not going to reward companies for trying to limit my rights as a reader with proprietary apps and DRM.

I only buy ebooks I can download directly to my computer without a proprietary app. It does limit my selection somewhat, but there are so many good-great authors publishing on these platforms, I feel more like "sorry authors, your loss," than feeling like I'm losing out.

I wish more authors realized that by limiting themselves to distributors with proprietary apps and platforms, they are excluding Linux users, older Windows users, geographic restrictions sometimes come into play, plus Amazon has the "Amazon tax" extra fee they tack onto ebooks if you're in the "wrong" country).

I buy almost all of my books at Smashwords, Weightless, Angry Robot, Book View Cafe, DriveThruFiction, BooksforaBuck, the various bundles or Gumroad direct downloads through the authors' sites.

Marcel said...

@Bill Smith: Amazon doesn't add DRM if the publisher doesn't ask for it. Also, just buy a Kindle, it's way better than reading on the computer.

Angry_Games said...

It better be worth the $.99 or I'm going to demand my money back haha.

Two other authors and I have been working to put together a quad (still looking for a fourth to fit into our merry little band) to do this very thing. Drat on you for beating us to the punch ;)

We were thinking of doing a 'themed' project where each of the four authors picked a genre/theme and we wrote a story, short to novella length, that fit within the genre/theme.

Our goal is to challenge each other by picking genres that we are unfamiliar or maybe even uncomfortable with. Our overall goal is more to give readers a look into four different authors and their styles/imaginations.

The biggest lesson we've learned from this boils down to authors still think somehow they are in competition with each other (and a sub-lesson of authors either don't like to be challenged, or are afraid their work isn't good enough compared to the rest of the group).

Joe, as always, thank you for everything you post for us to read, and better yet, the ideas you toss out (the 8-hour challenge was one of my best experiences as an author).

Jill James said...

I was in a boxed set over the holidays. We sat in the Top 100, almost Top 50 for over a month. Eleven authors got together and all contributed a short Christmas story. To date we have sold over 51k eBooks.

Frank Sergeant said...

> I run Puppy Linux as a live CD so my only option is to read in the browser. ...
> I only buy ebooks I can download directly to my computer ...

Bill, I'm sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you had a Kindle but were unable to get the book on it when purchasing from Amazon from a Linux machine.

I usually read books on a Kindle 3, but sometimes I read on Amazon's "cloud reader" (in a web browser). Yes, that's Amazon's proprietary app. I know the book (or large parts of it) are cached on my computer, but I don't know where or how to get to it directly. If you could do that, you could import the book into Calibre (and, if the book was non-DRM'd as many are), you could then convert it to other formats. I guess you know all of this, but I'm mentioning it (a) in case you don't and (b) in case someone knows and can tell me how to get to the books cached in the "cloud reader".

Since I do have a Kindle, it is easy to load the book into Calibre.

Something I've thought of doing, but haven't done yet, is, when I buy a book from Amazon, to see if it is DRM'd. If so, immediately ask for a refund. If there is a place to say why I want the refund, say it's because the book was DRM'd. Then, write a one-star review for the book, giving the same reason, to warn others, and to communicate to the publisher/author my displeasure over DRM.

> I'm not going to reward companies for trying to limit my rights as a reader with proprietary apps and DRM.

Fair enough. I've heard of some people who boycott General Electric because the make war weapons. I guess we each have to find our own balance between principle and convenience. My personal balance is a little closer to convenience, but I sympathize with those with higher standards.

Frank

Alan Spade said...

"(b) in case someone knows and can tell me how to get to the books cached in the "cloud reader"." When you go to "manage your Kindle" on Amazon.com, you get a list of files you have downloaded. Then, with the "action" button, you can "download and transfer via USB".

The files are saved by default on the "My Kindle content" folder. You can use Calibre to convert them, if there are no DRM.

"Something I've thought of doing, but haven't done yet, is, when I buy a book from Amazon, to see if it is DRM'd. If so, immediately ask for a refund. If there is a place to say why I want the refund, say it's because the book was DRM'd."

It's more easy to check when you buy if there are DRM. If there is the mention "Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited", there are no DRM. Like in this ebook: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00264FT0Y/

If the mention isn't there, there are DRM, like in this ebook: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CH37J66/

Violet Graves said...

Thank you, authors. I left my 'good job in the city' to live in a small town on the coast while working for almost minimum wage in a fish&chips shop while I write my books. I have the vestiges of former money (three, count 'em, three kindles and a nice car) but I read books like crazy and haven't been able to afford more than one per week these days. I appreciate this wonderful windfall!

Colin M said...

RE: DRM's
There's a patch for calibre that will strip the DRM off most ebooks.

http://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/
Download the latest version and read the How To section on installing the patch.

It's pretty simple and once installed, whenever you convert a file, calibre will automatically strip off the DRM.

Frank Sergeant said...

Alan, thank you so much for the information.

> When you go to "manage your Kindle" on Amazon.com, you get a list of files you have downloaded. Then, with the "action" button, you can "download and transfer via USB".

This option is indeed present when using my Amazon account, because I have one or more Kindles registered with Amazon.

I wondered if it would work for someone who has an Amazon account but no Kindle. Fortunately, I have a friend in that exact situation and we tried it. The "download and transfer via USB" option is NOT present. So, this would not seem to be a solution to Bill's situation. It is a solution for someone who does not have Wi-Fi.

This is mostly a matter of curiosity at this point, but I wonder if there is any way for someone without a Kindle to buy an eBook from Amazon and get it into Calibre, and thus to be able to read it on something other than the Cloud Reader.

> It's more easy to check when you buy if there are DRM. If there is the mention "Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited", there are no DRM.

Thank you. I didn't realize that was the clue.

Frank

Anthea Sharp said...

I put together a faery-themed indie fantasy bundle with 5 other authors this past summer, after watching the savvy romance authors storm the lists with boxed sets.

Faery Worlds (http://amzn.com/B00DI9D5O8) has sold over 40k copies, ranked all six contributing authors in the Amazon Top 100 Sci-Fi & Fantasy list since last October, and has undoubtedly allowed all of us to find a lot of new readers.

Yes, big fan of multi-author bundles here. :)

Anthea Sharp said...

Joe, do you mind if I put out the word here that I'm seeking titles for a gamer-themed YA bundle? If not, no problem and feel free to delete this comment.

Speaking of bundles, I'm seeking computer game/virtual reality themed YA books for inclusion in an upcoming bundle.

YA = no steamy love scenes.
Gaming element is crucial.
Author must hold all rights (be indie) and the title cannot be in KDP Select - we will sell this bundle across all platforms.
Author must be comfortable with loss leader concepts and deep discounting.
Ideally, authors have a multi-book series and will include their first book, thus driving sales to their other work.
Drop me a line (anthea at anthealawson dot com) if you're interested!

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