Bundles of Bundles
If you follow my blog or hide in the shadows on my social media feeds, you probably know that I've had some of my story collections and books featured in various bundles. Maybe you've gotten a bundle or two. If so, congratulations for not only getting a lot of good reading at a good price, but for supporting me and other independent authors. If not, it may be because you want to support my books and stories on an ala carte basis where I get all the proceeds (can't argue with that) or you're just not sure what this whole bundling thing is all about (that I can explain).
First of all, what is bundling? Bundling is when someone (a curator) gathers a bunch of stories, story collections, novellas, and/or novels together with a common theme or style, that are likely to all appeal to some specific category of readers, like, say fans of romance novels set in the old west, or modern spy and techno thrillers, or fast zombies in urban post-apocalyptic settings, or family holiday dramas. They gather these similar publications together with the permission of the authors, set a combo sale price, and offer them to the public via a site like www.storybundle.com or www.bundlerabbit.com.
Why do authors do this? Well, they can make some money, of course, but at the discounted price for the whole bundle (split with the seller, bundler, curator, and other authors) not really that much per copy. Instead, most authors see participating in bundles more as a way to pick up new readers and, hopefully, some reviews by people who love the genre, or to get new readers hooked on the first book in a series. I think of it as a way to advertise that, instead of costing me money, makes me a bit of money. The thought is that fans of one of the authors in the bundle might become fans of another author in the same genre, which builds the fan base of all of the authors and of the genre.
How are these things priced? Well, that's mostly up to the curator, though individual authors may be unwilling to participate in a bundle priced too low or too high. In some bundles, you get all the books in a bundle for either a flat price (say, $2.99 or $5.99) or at a price you pick (pay what you want, but with a minimum because ... well, people can be cheap and selfish and delight in taking advantage of writers and other creators). Generally, in the set your own price bundles (only available directly from the bundlers--not Amazon, BN, or Kobo) there is a slider to allow you to pay more or less, depending on how much you like the authors and the concept. In others, you get some of the books at the minimum price, but if you want them all, you have to beat a price set a bit higher. Some bundles also either donate a piece of the pie to charity or let the buyer donate a piece of the pie to charity. That's nice, I guess, but there are whole lots more efficient ways to give to charity than through a small piece of net profit on a bundle of books and donating directly makes it easier to keep track of your charitable donations if you need to do that for taxes.
How long do these bundles last? That varies, too. Some are on short time limits, to drive impulse purchases. Some have standard thirty day periods so that word can get out and possibly even reviews of the bundle as a whole. Those bundles tend to have a flurry of purchases at the beginning and at the end and a fairly quiet period in the middle, kind of like many Kickstarters for anthologies. Others can last as long as the authors want on a kind of long tail theory, I guess.
Who curates these things? Some well known publishers and authors, like Kevin J. Anderson at WordFire Press (www.WordFirePress.com), are active curators, particularly at StoryBundle. BundleRabbit lets pretty much anyone become a curator (with the potential to get a very small slice of the bundle proceeds). Besides picking books, dealing with the paperwork with the bundler, and convincing authors to participate, the bundle also generally needs to have some promo text written and a bundle cover. While not as important as a book cover, a strong, eye-catching cover can help sales. Some fairly nice stuff can be generated from free stock photos and a bit of text editing. For example, I did a fairly simple cover for The B Movie Bundle, but then Steve Sullivan, one of my authors, beefed it up for me because he is good at Photoshop and I am not. Here's the before and after Steve's help.
If you are an author and want to have your stuff bundled, you can set up a free account on BundleRabbit and post your stuff. Curators can then look for it by genre, length (short story, novella, novel, collection, or whatever), or key word searches. If you are interested in StoryBundle, watch for who curates their stuff and see if you can contact them to offer something up. Or contact the powers-that-be and offer to curate a bundle for them.
I've had a couple books in StoryBundles and am currently involved with several bundles on BundleRabbit, the new kid on the block. StoryBundles can be bought on StoryBundle. BundleRabbit bundles can be bought on their website (setting your own price, with a minimum; the authors get a bit more money since Amazon or whoever doesn't get a piece of the pie) or on Amazon, BN, Kobo, and iBooks, which gives you broader reach--though most of the books will end up being sold on Amazon anyhow.I've curated two bundles. The B Movie Bundle (www.bundlerabbit.com/b/movie), which is currently for sale, and The Halloween Horror Horde (www.bundlerabbit.com/b/halloween-horror-horde), which is currently available for pre-sale and will be available for instant download starting October 3. I've been busily emailing B movie review sites to try to get reviews for the former. I'll move on to pushing the latter next.
I've also got books in bundles created by others. Forced Conversion is part of The Duty, Honor, Country Bundle (https://bundlerabbit.com/b/duty-honor...) because it's near future military scifi with plenty of action adventure. The Love-Haight Case Files (with Jean Rabe) is part of The Summer in the City Bundle with twelve other books (https://bundlerabbit.com/b/summer-city) because it's set in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district (associated with the summer of love), albeit with an urban fantasy/legal/horror/romance twist.
If you've got questions about bundles or bundling, drop me a line in the comments section, or through my website or email.
Gotta go now. I've got a bundle of stuff to do.
Donald J. Bingle
Writer on Demand TM