Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Multi-Author Book Sets: A Study of Author’s Experiences


Boxed sets, book sets, bundles, anthology, or collections. Whatever you want to call a multi-author book set. They are a hot item in the book publishing industry.

So someone has asked you to join a group of authors. They want to publish one of your books under one cover. So you ask yourself.

What am I getting into?

How much time will it take from my writing schedule?

If I do this, what am I getting out of it?

Is there a downside to a multi-author book set?

It was time to do a study of the publishing pros and cons involved in multi-author book sets. As I usually do, I seek advice from my Spotlight Crew. They are a group of authors I have interviewed during the years (over 400 interviews since 2012). I have included some of the information from their answers related to book sets in this study.

For authors, there are advantages to going the multi-author book set route. Book sets are differently a good way to get your book in front of more readers. Here is what a couple of authors had to say about multi-author book sets.

Uvi Poznansky

Uvi is a bestselling, award-winning author, poet, and artist. She is the author of Contemporary and Historical Fiction novels.
Website - Twitter: @UviPoznansky - Facebook - Goodreads

I thrive on reaching out to my audience. Every day I discover new ways to create this connection and strengthen it. By far the best way is forging alliances with other authors, whose work is of outstanding quality and whose audience appreciates creativity. To this end, I review fellow authors on my blog, which is my way of recognizing their talent. I organize author events on Facebook to showcase our work. I read a lot of novels, note their reviews, and actively seek out book recommendations, all of which allows me to choose the best and the brightest for the most ambitious team projects I created to date: boxed sets. In my mind, they are meant to celebrate excellence in writing. They allow you to discover new authors and from there, it is up to you to read more of their books.

S.R. Mallery

Sarah is the award-winning author who writes Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction, and Mysteries.

I was graciously invited in by Uvi Poznansky, who knew my work and wanted to include me if at all possible. This was my first bundle experience, and I couldn’t be happier.

Adam Croft

Adam writes Mystery & Thrillers and Crime novels.
Website - Twitter: @adamcroft - Facebook - Goodreads

Box sets are an absolute must for indie authors. They are regularly my biggest sellers, and without taking any noticeable sales away from the constituent books. Box sets are big business.

Multi-Author Book Sets Pros and Cons

A low eBook set price (Usually $.99) - Complete set of books in one volume

The reader gets a collection of books, usually in a specific genre, at a great price. It’s a digital book. There is no paper book creation to oversee and no physical delivery to coordinate. The reader can read the set anywhere they want.

Author opportunity

For the author, it's an opportunity to get their book in front of new readers. (exposure)

Also, its easier for the author to get a bestseller tag. All sales of the book set count toward gaining that tag for the author because it's based on volume sold from all sources.

The author gets to work with other amazing authors. The process of developing, publishing, and marketing the set is a team effort.

One good thing about an eBook, if you find a mistake or a problem, you can fix it on-line.


Good Manager

All successful multi-author book sets start with a good manager. The captain of the crew, so to speak. Someone who has the experience, the management skills and will put the effort into the success of the project.

They develop the plan, set goals, and invite the authors. That, in itself, is a major task. Some create the group from previous experience, others from writing groups. They just ask for a commitment of effort. Here are some of the experiences of our group of writers.

Nancy Fraser

Nancy is a Top 100 Bestselling Author. She writes Romance novels and short stories.

The main objective was—obviously—sales. More than that though was to widen our collective audience. Being that all the authors belong to our private group, The Romance Gems, we posted a call for participation and were delighted with the results when over half the group joined in this first joint venture. The actual process of creating the box set fell to the group of fourteen, with volunteers taking up different jobs under the watchful eye of our leader, Joan Reeves. For hovering over thirteen highly talented and opinionated authors, she deserves sainthood.

Bonnie Edwards

Bonnie is the author of The Brantons and the Tales of Perdition series. She writes Romance, Contemporary and Paranormal novels, and novellas.

Team efforts work if you have a dedicated team.
I'm not surprised that with multi-author sets we see some who ride coat-tails and some who dig in. Human nature, I suppose.

It's been a good experiment to do this box set. Not sure if short stories are snapped up the way full novels or novellas would be though. 

Sylvie Grayson

Sylvie is the author of The Last War series. Sylvie writes Romantic Suspense and Fantasy novels.

The sales impact has been good—we are all pleased with the action on the collection itself and the effect on sales of our other books. I belong to a group of authors who critique and support each other, and we worked together on this. It was a first for us.

Pauline Baird Jones

Pauline is the award-winning author of The Lonesome Lawmen and the Project Enterprise series.

The author bundles have been GREAT. From both of them, I’ve seen good follow-on sales of the other books in the series. I’ve also met and worked with some amazing authors and some of us are involved in other cross-promotional activities.

Amy Manemann

Amy is the International Best-selling of the Lightkeeper Series and the Hartley Series. She writes Romantic Suspense and Young Adult Paranormal Romance novels.
Twitter: @AmyManemann - Facebook - Goodreads

These sets are a fun way of collaborating with a large group of authors and getting your name into places it wouldn't have otherwise gone. The main objective of boxed sets varies depending on the group, some are solely in it to make one of the lists where others are about getting sales and boosting their readership.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Cheryl is a Bestselling Canadian Suspense Author. She is the author of the Divine Trilogy. Also, Cheryl writes Romance novels as Cherish D'Angelo.

When you bundle, you're sharing a much larger audience, and that helps to bring in more sales of other works and new readers. The main objective of our two bundles was to give the authors involved increased exposure, especially since all authors involved did their own promoting of the bundles.

Jaclyn Weist

Jaclyn is the author of the Luck Series.
Website - Twitter: @JaclynWeist - Facebook - Goodreads

Wendy Knight originally came up with the idea of doing a series together with other authors. She asked a few people and we came together. A few had to back out because of other time commitments so we brought in a couple of other people. Atlantis was born that way. We wanted to do Middle Grade which is something only a couple of the authors had ever done, but it was a fun new adventure for each of us. We had our struggles as we’re all artists and have our set ways, but they’re all among my best friends now.

Joan Reeves

Joan is a NY Times & USAToday best-selling author of Contemporary Romance.
I designed Romance Gems from the ground up. We had the grand opening in Feb. 2019. It's been a lot of hard work. I'm constantly torn between being proud of it and being dismayed at all the time it takes from my writing. You probably know what I mean because I can tell your website takes an enormous amount of time. Most good ones do I guess, and yours is very good.


The goal is the guiding light to how the book set is put together. You could be looking for exposure and cross-promotion. Or you may want to be on a bestseller list to help sell your other books. Or you are looking for new readers. Or you may want to expand your newsletter signup list.

Exposure and Cross Promotion

Toni Anderson

Toni is a New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author who writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense.

Author bundles help cross-promotion between authors of similar types of books.
Bundling serves two purposes. One, avid fans get the chance to buy multiple books at a cheaper price than the individual books sell for and, secondly, some readers actively prefer the box set format.

Brett Battles

Brett is the award-winning, bestselling author of the  Jonathan Quinn,  Logan Harper Thriller and Project Eden Series.
Website - Twitter: @BrettBattles - Facebook - Goodreads

The main reason to participate is to expose my work to readers who might not otherwise have found me. By bundling with authors who write in similar genres, we are creating something perfect for our target readers.

Jenna Bennett

Kathy is a bestselling suspense writer. She is an author specializing in Mystery & Thrillers with Women Sleuths.

The purpose was to use the bundle as a sort of loss leader and to – hopefully – boost sales of our other books. We all put in the first books in our series, and I do know of people who have gone on from the bundle to read the other books in the Cutthroat Business series, so it does work.

Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie is a Romance, Contemporary, and Suspense writer who writes the 'Wounded Hearts' series.
Website - Twitter: @JacqBiggar - Facebook - Goodreads

Book sets have been a positive experience all around. I’ve made new friends, new fans, and best of all, the cross-promotion has helped my other books get recognized. I met the others in the set through a Facebook group.

Russell Blake

Russell is the best-selling, award-winning author of The JET series, Assassin series, and BLACK series.
Website - Twitter: @blakebooks - Facebook - Goodreads

Well, they were overwhelmingly successful. The first bundle sold over 170K units, and the second turned in a respectable performance. The objective was purely to find new readers who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to our work.

M.A. Comley

Bestselling Thriller author M.A. Comley is the author of The Justice series, The DI Sally Parker thriller series, The Hero series, & Intention series.
Website - Twitter: @Melcom1 - Facebook - Goodreads

The main objective behind releasing the author bundle books was to make readers aware of the other stunning mystery/thriller authors out there. My fans have discovered authors they might never have noticed amongst the millions now available on Amazon and the other sites.

Jamie Lee Scott

Jamie is a USA Today Bestselling Author and an Award-winning Screenwriter, Producer and Director, and the creator of the Gotcha Detective Agency Mysteries series.
Website - Twitter: @authorJamie - Facebook - Goodreads

MMM [Mirth, Murder & Mystery], as it is lovingly called by the seven authors involved, was the brainstorm of Lucie Charles. She wanted to get a group of like-minded authors together. We could split the advertising costs and split the profits if there were any. The main reason for doing the bundle was to get our names out there. MMM put me on the USA Today Bestseller list, so I’d say it was a success.

Marcia James

Author Marcia James writes comic romantic mystery and suspense novels, as well as humorous contemporary romance.
Website - Twitter: @Marcia_James - Facebook 

Not only do I get to work with a great group of authors, but we each get one of our stories in front of the other authors' readers. This can and does lead to an increase in sales of our other books and novellas.

Bestseller List

Tamara Ferguson

Tamara is an award-winning author who writes Romance and Suspense novels.

What many authors don’t realize is the category rankings for anthology sales will also be associated individually with your numbers.

Heather Day Gilbert

Heather is an Amazon Norse Bestseller author. She is the author of Hemlock Creek Suspense, Vikings of the New World Saga, and A Murder in the Mountains series. Heather writes Historical Fiction and Mystery Novels.

The purpose of boxed sets is generally to increase newsletter signups for individual authors and to bring new readers to each author, although some sets specifically target making the USA Today bestseller list and other lists.

K.M. Hodge

Kelly is the award-winning writer of The Syndicate-Born Trilogy and the Book Cellar Series. She writes Mystery and Thrillers.

I was invited by the marketing person for the Wedding Dreams box set to be a part of the collection. The goal of the project is to make the USA Today Best Seller list. The ladies in the group are super talented and a lot of fun to work with.

Emma Jameson

Emma is the NYT bestselling author of the Lord & Lady Hetheridge series and Dr. Benjamin Bones Mysteries.

The bundle is possibly the best thing I ever did for my career because it allowed me to reach a lot of readers who’d never heard of me. It also put me on the New York Times bestseller list. A host of new readers were waiting for follow-ups, thanks to the bundle.

Ian Sutherland

Ian is the Author of the Brody Taylor Thriller Series. Ian writes Crime, Thriller, and Mystery Novels.
Website - Twitter: @iansuth - Facebook - Goodreads

Deadly Dozen has done incredibly well, nailing three separate spots on the NYTimes Bestseller list and hitting the USA Today list for seven consecutive weeks. Bundles are attractive now to voracious readers who like to fill up their Kindles and e-Readers on the cheap…When we first started our collective, I never expected to sell anything. I assumed we'd share marketing ideas and that would be that. But it's grown into this publishing monster with a life all its own.

Vincent Zandri

Vincent is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon Noir Author.

Deadly Dozen has done incredibly well, nailing three separate spots on the NYTimes Bestseller list and hitting the USA Today list for seven consecutive weeks. Bundles are attractive now to voracious readers who like to fill up their Kindles and e-Readers on the cheap…When we first started our collective, I never expected to sell anything. I assumed we'd share marketing ideas and that would be that. But it's grown into this publishing monster with a life all its own.

Wayne Zurl

Wayne Zurl is the author of the Sam Jenkins Smoky Mountain Mysteries series. He writes Mystery & Thrillers, Crime, and Suspense Novels
Website - Twitter: @waynezurl - Facebook - Goodreads

DEATH OF CHOICE wasn’t the first multi-author anthology I contributed to. It was the first offered for free as a way to introduce readers to our work. I did several others that were sold to make money for charities.


As was mentioned before, the manager is the key. I have seen book sets that didn’t come together because of various reasons including poor management. Also, there are costs involved so you need to look at funding.

How you put the eBook set together is very important. That includes editing, formatting, cover design, set banner, etc.

Tamara Ferguson

Tamara is an award-winning author who writes Romance and Suspense novels.

The romance bundle for A Touch of Passion is comprised of full-length novels. When my dear friend Uvi Poznansky invited me into the group, I immediately said yes.
She is the most amazing organizer I’ve ever met when it comes to putting together an anthology and setting up promotions and Facebook events, and she’s a very talented graphic designer as well. It takes a lot of patience to work in a group; particularly when some members can’t contribute as much time as others, because of previous commitments.

Denise Moncrief

Denise is a Romantic Suspense author of the Colorado series, the Haunted Hearts Series, and the Crisis Series.

It’s a process: Gathering a group of compatible authors in the same genre. Organizing the funding and submission of promotions. Agreeing on cover design and book order. Engaging a service to format the book. Then promoting it. It took all of us doing our part to make it work.

Anita Philmar

Anita is an Amazon Best Selling author of Western Romances.
Website - Twitter: @anitaphilmar - Facebook - Goodreads

I enjoy being in a box set. Mainly, I like working with other authors on a common goal. This has helped my sales. In that, it exposes me to new readers and spreads the cost of promotion over the group, giving each of us more exposure. I haven’t been the one to put a box set together. Luckily, I have been associated with other authors that have invited me to be in the group, which makes my part in the group much easier.

Effort and Time delegation

Joan Reeves

Joan is a NY Times & USAToday best-selling author of Contemporary Romance.

One of my goals, when I gathered the 2 dozen authors of Romance Gems together, was to publish a box set this year. Once I no longer had to oversee every aspect of the blog—I started delegating everything I was doing! My motto for everyone involved in the blog and this box set is: No free rides. Everyone works.  Some authors don't seem to realize that success takes hard work.

By delegating, I made time to get the box set publishing goal a reality. The result is Last Chance Beach: Summer's End.


For eBooks and on-line marketing, the amount of social media activity is very important. You should link to everything you can. Websites, Amazon, social media sites, and other retailer’s sales pages, etc. Hitting every on-line book group can help. And paid advertising is always an option.
The low price will get the reader’s attention, but they need to hear about the book set and you need to get them to buy it.

Marcia James

Author Marcia James writes comic romantic mystery and suspense novels, as well as humorous contemporary romance.
Website - Twitter: @Marcia_James - Facebook 

So these boxed sets are a way of co-promoting with other authors. That saves time and money since we're splitting the jobs (running a Facebook page, contacting advertisers, coordinating the cover and formatting, etc.) and the cost (paying for advertising, the cover, the formatting, etc.) And the boxed sets are a great deal for readers, too, since most of them include at least ten stories for 99 cents.

Leslie Kohler

Leslie is a mystery writer with a Southern border flavor.
Twitter: @LeslieKohler - Facebook - Goodreads

The great thing about being published in this anthology is when the group schedules appearances and signings, I not only help sign and sell So West, So Wild, I have the opportunity to market my own novels. This is huge, and I’m grateful for Sisters in Crime for giving me these opportunities.

David VanDyke

Author David VanDyke is a bestselling author. He writes Science Fiction and Fantasy novels.

The readers get an inexpensive collection of works and they often find at least a few stories among the many to like. Then they go on to get books from those authors. This is another great win-win for authors and readers.

Jaclyn Weist

Jaclyn is the author of the Luck Series.
Website - Twitter: @JaclynWeist - Facebook - Goodreads

Doing the series with other authors made marketing easier because it wasn’t just one of us doing all of it. We were able to help each other out. We attended Salt Lake Comic Con and had a booth there. We were able to get a lot of sales of both the series together and as individual books. Four of us went back together again for Fan Experience and we had several people come back and get other books because they remembered us.

What Makes a Book Set Successful?

Let’s ask a couple of authors their opinion on this one.

Bonnie Edwards

Bonnie is the author of The Brantons and the Tales of Perdition series. She writes Romance, Contemporary and Paranormal novels, and novellas.

I've been in a few and I believe a theme or common setting is key. Last Chance Beach has the fictional town we all had fun creating. Joan Reeves came up with the concept and we added things like street names and businesses. My characters booked into a B&B run by Kathryn Hill's characters, for instance. Without a theme or other unifying thread it's more difficult to come up with promotional themes. Just my opinion, of course. And I'm convinced that every member of the set must share the promotional load and do their part. I've stepped up considerably from previous sets I was in...but that's how you learn. 

Nancy Fraser

Nancy is a Top 100 Bestselling Author. She writes Romance novels and short stories.

I think the primary goal should be to find a group of authors who are like-minded as far as the way the set will progress, as well as have the same level of commitment for promotion. I also think it's best to limit the number of books/stories. I know it's a promotional advantage to say "14 authors/14 new stories". However, putting 14 authors in the same virtual room isn't always a good thing. To me, ten authors who can all agree on the basics like length, heat level, genre, and then share information is key.

Suzanne Jenkins

Suzanne is a Romance and Suspense Author. She is the author of the Pam of Babylon series and The Greeks of Beaubien Street.

A set made up of new stories seems to do the best. Like with any book, a beautiful cover is helpful! 

Promotion is important - I've led about ten sets and the key is that every author needs to promote. If you don't have author involvement in promotion, it's difficult to keep the ranking up so there is an income produced. 

Libby Fischer Hellmann

Libby is an acclaimed crime writer. She is the author of the Georgia Davis and the Ellie Foreman series.
Website - Twitter: @libbyhellmann - Facebook - Goodreads

I’ve been involved with several book sets or Boxed Sets, both large and small.  I can tell you from my experience what works, but it may be different than others’ experience.

The most successful Boxed Set I did involved 5 authors, all of whom were traditional authors now self-publishing. In other words, they were known and respected authors. 

Although the novels were not new, they were new to some readers since readers might have read one or two of the authors but not all five. So the variety of authors helped introduce readers to all of us.

The Boxed Set must be novels, not short stories. People feel cheated if they’re short. However, a novella could work.

There should not be too many authors in the set… the boxsets I see with 10 or 12 authors are silly. Readers just aren’t going to plow through all of them. Plus there’s a big risk that the contributions will vary in quality. I think 5 is a good number.

Multi-Author Book Set Cons

There will be problems along the way. Let’s call them obstacles. Here is a list of some of the ones I came up with.

Multi-Author Book sets Life is Fixed

The book set is sold on various sites for a set period. Then it’s taken down from the sites.

Large File Size

If the multi-author book set contains more than a few books, the size of the eBook can be a problem when it's loaded to a mobile device or a Kindle. Either it is slow reading or it takes up most of the memory.

Also, downloading from the cloud can take a long time. The retailers download the complete file, not just the book you want to read.

Bad Look Inside

On Amazon, the LOOK INSIDE feature is of no value unless you’re the first book and you have your marketing materials and links included with your book.

No Author Picture and Limited Information

Most multi-author book sets do not include much information about the author like links to their contact information and a picture.

Create and Setup Time

Creating the multi-author book set and the pre-order marketing can be very time consuming, especially if you’re a key player in the group. It does cut into your writing time as mention above.

Prep Costs

There are actual costs involved if you need to hire someone to set it up, do the cover, do paid advertising, and all the little things that come up.

Social Media Activity

The success of the book set will depend on how much social media and Internet exposure you get. It’s an eBook with no physical presence. All the buying activity is on-line.

Book Placement in a Multi-Author Book Set

A general problem is if you draw the short straw and your book is last or near the end of the book set, the reader may never get to your writing. Especially, if the reader gives up on the book set. The exposure you’re looking for may not happen. Here is some input from my spotlight crew.

Catherine Lee

Catherine is the author of the A Cooper & Quinn Mystery series. Catherine writes Mystery and Suspense novels.
Website - Twitter: @CatLeeAuthor - Facebook - Goodreads

It’s hard to tell what the impact of the bundle has been on my other sales. My book is about halfway through the bundle, so there are still probably a lot of people who bought that bundle who haven’t read it yet. But I have a few reviews on Dark Heart who mention they got it in the bundle, and they’ve become fans, so there’s been some impact. It’s hard for us indie authors to get noticed in the crowd, and bundles like these are another way to get your work out there.

Barbara Silkstone

Barbara is the bestselling author of the Mister Darcy Series, the A Wendy Darlin Comedy Mystery series, the Pride and Prejudice and Witches series, and The Witches of Longbourn.

Multi-author bundles are put together for the short run. Usually only 6 months. It is a wonderful way to introduce your work to new readers.


That’s the good news and the bad news. At least, most of the authors who have been included in a book set like the experience. The author gains exposure. It may bump sales and you may even get your name on a bestseller list. When asked the ‘What would you do differently with the next Book set?’ here are the responses.

Suzanne Jenkins

Suzanne is a Romance and Suspense Author. She is the author of the Pam of Babylon series and The Greeks of Beaubien Street.

Personally, I prefer sets that aren't going to be published longer than six months. Also, again, for me personally, I don't like to be in sets with more than ten authors because someone has to be near the end and that diminishes the purpose of attracting new readers if no one is going to read my book.  
In conclusion, the group that I am lucky enough to be in breaks all my rules and is successful. We publish sets with older titles, have more than ten authors in many of the sets, and keep the titles up forever. 

That’s the Pros and Cons

The readers get a deal.

There is a lot of work putting one together, so you need a good leader that can delegate and authors that put an effort into the project.

There is a cost involved in time. The bookset is successful because of the effort put into it and the quality of the writing. 

This complete study is 17 pages long. To have an eCopy of the Finding Readers Study:
Just list your name and the format of the copy. (DOC or PDF) I will reply with the study attached.

(Your email address is confidential.)

Post Created by: James Moushon
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  1. Thanks so much for the informative post James. We greatly appreciate all YOUR hard work!!

  2. James, thanks for including me in this interesting survey. I'm sure indie authors will find it valuable when it's decision time!


  3. This was a good breakdown of the power of multi-author sets. Thank for the tutorial. Best wishes!

  4. I really enjoyed this, James. Your support of other authors is legendary.

  5. There's a lot of great information here, James, thank you! I think the biggest takeaway for me, is that there is real value in connecting with other authors to create box sets to entertain, and gain, new readers.

  6. This analysis by so many authors I know, respect, and with whom I've been fortunate to be in box sets is priceless! James, this is amazing. Thank you so much for all the hard work in putting this together, and many thanks to the authors who shared their insights.

  7. What a wealth of information! Thanks for compiling this James.

  8. Thank you so much for inviting me to partake in this very helpful article. Your generosity with us authors is astounding, and much, much appreciated!