How to Reach Readers with Boxed Sets

Diane Capri, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of twelve #1 thriller/mystery/suspense books, explains how offering boxed sets can help you reach eager readers and open up opportunities to sell more self-published books beyond those boxed.

Diane Capri

Diane Capri, one of Amazon’s top sellers in 2013

Readaholics love e-books. We can buy e-books any time, anywhere, and carry thousands of e-books along everywhere we go. One of the most convenient ways to buy and read e-books is boxed sets. Boxed set readers are a smaller market segment than the number of readers who prefer to buy books individually. But these are power readers who read lots of books every month.

An e-book boxed set is really one large file containing several books. Readers who enjoy serial novels or books in a series can read each story immediately and in order. Multi-genre and multi-author boxed sets bring readers entire new worlds all in one convenient place. As a bonus, boxed sets are cheaper than buying each book separately. One download. One price point. One long lovely read. What’s not to like?

As authors, we should embrace boxed sets because power readers love them.

How I Use Boxed Sets for My Books

Cover of Diane Capri's Get Back JackMy mystery/thriller/suspense fiction has been available as individual books and as boxed sets since 2012. Sales of the sets are much lower volume than my individual titles. Currently, I offer twelve books and seven boxed sets. Five sets contain my titles only. Two sets combine my books with titles by other authors. Pricing varies.

Feedback from power readers has been extremely positive, which is reason enough to offer sets. But boxed sets present several more opportunities for authors and readers alike. So much so that my personal experience led me to spearhead a multi-author boxed set presented by our author collective.

Boxed Sets for Collectives

Image of the Deadly Dozen boxed setThe Twelve are experienced authors who work together on common projects. Our members are J. Carson Black, Cheryl Bradshaw, M.A. Comley, Joshua Graham, Alan Leverone, Carol Davis Luce, Aaron Patterson, J.F. Penn, Linda S. Prather, Michele Scott, Vincent Zandri, and me, Diane Capri.

We combined some of our best and most popular work in a limited release boxed set we offered as a reader reward we called Deadly Dozen presented by The Twelve.

Deadly Dozen was published by Steel Magnolia Press and shepherded through the marketing morass expertly by Phoenix Sullivan.

The Twelve, Deadly Dozen, and Phoenix Sullivan proved to be a winning combination for readers, writers, and publishers alike. Deadly Dozen quickly sold more than 50,000 copies and is still going strong.

Reader response catapulted Deadly Dozen onto three New York Times Bestseller lists and four USA Today Bestseller lists, as well as online bestseller lists at Amazon (.com, UK, and CA), iBooks (worldwide), Nook, Kobo, IndieReader, and more.

We are all thrilled and amazed and extremely grateful for the astonishing results, which exceeded our wildest expectations.

Helpful Lessons from the Deadly Dozen

Can The Twelve catch lightning in a bottle again? Who knows? But here’s what we learned from Deadly Dozen:

1) Give Readers What They Want

We created Deadly Dozen with readers as our top priority. We packaged an incredible value. 12 Books from The Twelve at 99 cents. We did everything possible to offer Deadly Dozen everywhere. Our goal was to make sure everyone who wanted an electronic copy of Deadly Dozen had the opportunity to pick one up with no friction whatsoever.

2) Be Inclusive Not Exclusive

We often speak of reaching readers as if readers were a homogenous group. But reader preferences vary widely. Some will read only tree books and one regret we have is that we couldn’t make Deadly Dozen available in paper. e-Book readers are intensely loyal to their format of choice: Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Nook have their devoted fans. e-Book reader preferences don’t end there. We located and served as many preferences as we could.

3) Be Generous

Authors have asked me how my reduced price boxed sets can benefit an author. Aren’t we authors better off selling a reader six books individually at regular prices instead of two reduced price volumes at cheaper prices? Since the success of Deadly Dozen, industry professionals are asking how The Twelve can possibly afford to sell 12 books for 99c, or a profit per author of three cents each.

The answer for both single-author boxed sets and multi-author sets is the same. Our goals are to reward our loyal readers and find new loyal readers for our work. I believe we do that best when we serve readers’ best interests. Readers appreciate our attention to their needs.

When authors offer both individual books and boxed sets, we serve reader preferences. The happy paradox has been that individual book buyers and power readers can be two different audiences and one does not adversely impact the other. Instead of costing authors money in lost individual sales, boxed sets usually have the positive result of generating additional revenue when the new readers buy our other books, along with creating more satisfied readers who know we are putting them first. Everybody wins.

Have you tried offering your work in boxed sets? What results have you experienced? Have you read boxed sets? What do you love about buying books in sets? 

Like to share this helpful information with other author friends? Here’s our suggested tweet to make it easier:

“How to use #BoxedSets to sell  more books: with @DianeCapri via @IndieAuthorAlli”


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14 Responses to How to Reach Readers with Boxed Sets

  1. Dawn September 4, 2015 at 3:14 am #

    So, if you have a book included in a boxed set, and then you release that same book simultaneously as a single title…there’s benefit to doing that? I guess there are some who’ll purchase the single title who would not want to purchase the boxed set?

    Reason I’m asking is because, I’ve seen authors band together to do a boxed set and price the boxed set at 99 cents. I then see some of those boxed set titles released as singles, yet, the price of the singles is the same, or more than the boxed set – which makes no sense to me? If you have a boxed set priced at 99 cents, why have one of those books priced as a single title for $2.99? It’d make more sense to simply purchase the boxed set, even if the reader does not read all of the books?

    I’d think it’d make more sense to simply release the boxed set and all of the authors put all of their marketing efforts into the boxed set. that way all authors can benefit from the cross-readership. If the box set is taken down, then that’d be a great time to then release the books as singles?

    I’ve also seen some authors attain USA Today Bestseller status from their boxed sets. In those cases, the titles were NOT released as singles while the boxed set was up for sale. The boxed sets were priced at 99 cents, and it appeared that all of the authors benefited nicely from the arrangement. In those collections, the stories were original, never before published (far as I know.)

    what’s your opinion about that? Just curious…

  2. OrnaRoss March 31, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    A fabulous success story! Well done, Diane, and all the Deadly Dozen — I predict lightning in many a bottle to come. 🙂

  3. Cheryl Bradshaw March 30, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Excellent post, Diane!

    • Diane Capri March 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      Thank you, Cheryl! And Thank you for being a member of The Twelve!!


  4. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt March 30, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    A boxed set is also a natural for a trilogy – and I’ll remember this when the third book is finally finished – I assume if readers like a story, they’re going to want to whole thing.

    So if a reader bought Book 1, and then sees the boxed set of the trilogy available for a reasonable price, she may buy the whole thing at once and save a few bucks over buying Boos 2 and 3 – which she might not have bought otherwise.

    It makes it easy for the reader to keep going.

    The other combinations – several authors, or unrelated books by the same author – are great, too. I bought a Jodi Picault Sampler that gives the beginnings of a bunch of her novels in one place. Haven’t read any of it yet, but I keep meaning to.

    • Diane Capri March 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

      Yes, Alicia, that’s it exactly! Not all readers enjoy sets, of course. As I mentioned, the readers who are interested in sets are a smaller audience. But they are voracious readers and they appreciate the convenience and the value of sets.

      Good luck!


  5. M.M. Justus March 29, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    How does one go about finding/joining a collective like this?

    • Diane Capri March 30, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      I’m not sure how you’d go about finding or joining one. I started The Twelve by contacting twelve authors who had the common characteristics to form such a collective and inviting them to join.

      If you can’t find a collective already going that needs you as a member, you could start your own!


  6. clare weiner March 29, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Sounds a great idea for example if people are wanting to take reading on holiday or not wait to buy the next in a series…

    I’m interested in looking more at these ‘power readers’: if they are those who read a book in a week, or even a day, then are they also choosing a certain kind of book? A book you can, or be drawn to, dash through, driven by wanting to solve the mystery, know who did the crime or whatever?

    Would it work the same if the books were ‘light lit’ say, or some other genre which takes a slower, more thoughtful reading style?

    Also, you say that you make your choices with readers in mind. How do you go about discovering readers’ preferences?

    • Diane Capri March 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      Hi, Clare,

      Thanks for reading and for posting your thoughtful questions. While I don’t have any hard data that I’ve collected myself, there are published surveys that identify how many books readers consume. BookBub recently posted an article on its blog explaining that many BookBub subscribers fall into the “power reader” realm. BookBub categories are also set out on its website. A good place to start to discover reader preferences is there.

      In my case, I write in one of the most popular genres, which definitely helps!



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