This is a part 1 of a 4 part series on Book Bundles. Part 1 includes an overview of the marketing technique of book bundles, monetary considerations, and potential benefits. Over the next 2 weeks, I’ll do my best to release part 2 (who should try a bundle and choosing a group) and part 3 (the sales mechanics and problems with book bundles) and part 4 (the secret guide to doing book bundles the right way).
Over the past 6 months, we’ve seen an explosion of 99 cent book bundles in multiple genres. A “book bundle” is a collection of multiple multiple books, often by multiple authors and then priced at 99 cents.
One of the first groups to do this was a group of romance authors called The Indie Voice. They even discussed their process in their book The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. Essentially, 8 authors got together and each offered up a full length book – they assembled all the books and published them as a collection for a low price! Then, they did joint marketing to drive sales.
The result: New York Times and USA Today Bestseller. Each person contributed a book. Each author is now a USA Today and New York Times bestseller.
Honestly, I love their story. I love hearing about authors that think out of the box and try some techniques to really boost their career.
However, many of you know that I’m a numbers person. I analyze book sales. I agonize over sales ranks and numbers of multiple authors. I try to figure out and understand what moves the needle – what promotions work – and why. And this is where I started to really wonder.
As I am now seeing dozens of these bundles show up, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about this marketing technique.
Everybody likes money, it’s helpful for paying bills 🙂 Assuming a book does well,
To make things simple, let’s say it’s a 10 book bundle for $99 cents. Let’s say that book sells 15,000 books in a given week (and 30,000 total for a whole month). 15,000 books in a week will land on the USA Today and likely hit the NYT bestseller list and would be one of the “best case” scenarios)
To start with the math, 15,000 copies x .99 cents = $14,850. Amazon gets the bulk of this, so for selling a 99 cent book, you get a 35% royalty. $14,850 x 0.35 = $5197.
Cool right! oh wait, it needs to be split across 10 authors, so each author gets $519. 70. And then there is taxes (which you will want to hold aside if you can, too many authors get smacked with hefty tax bills!), let’s assume 25% which brings it down to about $390. Minus any production costs (any shared cost for editing, formatting, and cover design) and take home s probably below $350.
$350. Feels a little bit like an ouch. Sure, it’s good incremental income, but when you hear “New York Times bestseller” and then realize they made about as much as a week’s worth of minimum wage in Washington state – you start to feel the disconnect.
So let me say this: It’s not about the money (at least for this release). Let me repeat: IT IS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY!
The potential benefits of being in a Book Bundle
So if it’s not about the money, why would any author want to be in a bundle?
- It’s in the name. Getting on the big lists carries some prestige – at least for now. It is likely the NYT and USA Today criteria will change, but for now, EVERY person in the bundle will get the title if it hits the list. This should be the #1 goal if you are thinking about the bundle.
- Relationships. If you’re in it for the long term, and want to build a real career with writing, relationships will make your life exponentially easier. A lot can happen during the process of working with, coordinating, marketing, utilizing each others talents (example: one author may be a lawyer or graphic designer), and selling books together. If you can get 10 people to help you market your book, tweet to their followers, share your release on Facebook, etc. – your sales efforts just got 10 times easier.
- Potential for new readers. There is a good chance the bundle will sell more copies. It never hurts to get your book onto a persons e-reader 🙂 with your book on more devices, the potential to find new fans increases.
- Sales of other books. Much can go to this category. If you gave the first book of a series to a bundle it has the potential to boost sales of the other books in your series. In the same way, if they like your writing, readers may pick up books on your backlist and pre-order you next release.
Did I miss any? I’m not convinced that bundles are a good idea for everyone, but there can clearly be a good marketing technique – after all, everyone loves a good bargain 🙂
Next up: Part 2 of 4: Who should try a bundle and how to choose the right group