by Donna Fasano
Multi-author anthologies require a lot of hard work. However, if 100% of the participating authors pull together to make the boxed set a success, there are great advantages to be had. These publications can sell tens of thousands of copies which result in a widened readership and the potential for increased sales of the authors’ other titles. It’s not difficult to understand how a successful bundle can elevate the income of the authors. But what makes some bundles a success while others crash and burn?
I’ve participated in both types of multi-author bundle projects—those that have succeeded and those that have gone bust, so I feel I have the experience to offer a little advice to anyone thinking of planning such a project. Of course, it’s taken for granted that the bundle will offer well-written, well-edited, and proofread stories that are entertaining; that the title will reflect the project and incite interest; and that the packaging will be professionally designed. Here are some other important facts organizers should take into consideration when planning successful multi-author bundles:
Choosing a theme always results in a more profitable bundle. Combining themes can work even better. Three bundles I participated in sold enough copies to make the USA Today Bestsellers List: Hearts and Kisses combined 2 themes (Valentine’s Day and romance), Sweet Christmas Kisses also utilized 2 themes (Christmas and romance), while Ten Christmas Brides used 3 themes (Christmas, romance, and brides/weddings). Although there are exceptions to every rule, non-themed bundles and mixed-genre bundles don’t seem to do as well. I participated in a bundle that had no theme and contained several different genres. The bundle didn’t earn enough in royalties to pay for publishing/marketing costs.
Gather together success-oriented authors. Let’s face it; not everyone has a go-get-it attitude. I’ve collaborated with groups of authors who work together like a hungry-for-success, well-oiled machine. Those are the projects that become the most exhilarating and rewarding. Dragging dead weight is not fun, especially when everyone is earning the same royalty percentage. Participating authors should have: 1. credentials (writing awards or bestseller lists), 2. active social media accounts, 3. a talent to offer (marketing experience, formatting, graphics, proofreading skills, etc), 4. a healthy newsletter mailing list, 5. a healthy following on BookBub (more on this in the marketing info below), 6. a CAN-DO attitude.
A signed contract is a must. The agreement should cover such items as how long the bundle will remain available for sale, royalty split details, buy-in amount and when the money is due, a non-compete clause that stipulates when participants can sell their individual titles, and if/how an author can remove her book from the project early, as well as any other items of concern.
Contact advertisers at least 2 months before launch day. Usually book promoters require live links to selling venues in order to schedule promo slots; however, site owners are now used to being asked to hold a spot for multi-author bundles. Choose your advertisers wisely. The effectiveness of book promotion sites fluctuates, so act on the best information you can find regarding which promoters offer the best return on investment. Example: BookBub.com now offers Pre-Order Alerts for multi-author bundles. BookBub will alert your followers at a cost of $0.02 per email. That is an amazing deal! Contact BookBub Partners for further details.
Multi-author anthologies are a hot trend for indie writers these days. They can be a great deal for both readers and authors. The rewards for authors can be overwhelmingly positive in terms of sales and exposure, but making a multi-author project a success takes a lot of organization, determination, and a huge amount of good old hard work.
Have you participated in a multi-author anthology as an author? What are your opinions and lessons learned? Please share your comments below.
USA Today Bestseller Donna Fasano is the author of over forty books, specializing in Happily-Ever-After Sweet Romance, Contemporary Romance and Women’s fiction. She wrote for Harlequin books for twenty years before making the transition to self-publishing. Both her Harlequin books and her indie novels have won awards and been featured in bestseller lists. You can contact her by email, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads and view her books here.