Publishing a Boxed Set



A new trend in self-publishing is to create a boxed set.

The appeal is to offer added content at improved value:

  • More books for the buck.
  • Could include bonus content, too.

The hope is to gain more than you lose by offering the set at a reduced price:

  • Sell more books. Lose the risk of customers buying just one book.
  • Lure more readers. The boxed set value may attract new customers.
  • Gift potential, too. Boxed sets can make for nice gifts. (You could even add a decorative holiday bow to the thumbnail for the holidays.)

There are risks:

  • You might not reap the benefits that you’re hoping for.
  • The sales ranks of the individual volumes may plummet if the boxed set takes off.
  • If you already have many reviews and stable sales ranks with the individual volumes, realize that you’re basically starting over with the boxed set.
  • The file size of the boxed set may be huge, adding download time for customers and a delivery charge for authors.

(It sure would help if Amazon would create a boxed set option for series. Amazon could create a discount option for customers who buy the entire series. This would alleviate the need to create a special boxed set edition. This way, the individual sales ranks wouldn’t tank at the expense of the boxed set. Customers may also find it convenient to have separate books instead of one mammoth file. Perhaps more authors and readers need to send requests to KDP support.)


If you want to create a boxed set, you’ll have to format it.

In print, it won’t be easy to create a boxed set with an actual box. You probably won’t find a print-on-demand service that offers this option. You can order author copies of individual volumes, box them up yourself, and sell them at Amazon through Advantage. But then you need to design and order boxes, which cost money, and Advantage takes a significant commission from the sale. It may not be economical to try this.

Lightning Source offers (or at least they did—you might want to submit an inquiry) a boxed set option, but they simply shrinkwrap your books together—there isn’t an actual box.

An alternative is to combine all the volumes into one mammoth paperback. This won’t be feasible if you have an epic fantasy where each volume already has several hundred pages.

At CreateSpace, for example, you can have up to 828 pages on white paper (less in cream), but only in selected trim sizes. 7″ x 10″ or 7.5″ x 9.25″ accommodate up to 828 pages (or 740 pages if you choose cream). If you have a color interior, it’s even less (480 in most trim sizes).

You may want to increase the page size. For example, if your individual volumes are 5″ x 8″, you can reduce the overall page count for the omnibus by using a significantly larger trim size.

But if you choose the largest trim size, 8.5″ x 11″, you can only go up to 630 pages.

Here are some things you can play with to help reduce the overall page count:

  • Smaller font size. (Or different font style.)
  • Narrower margins.
  • Increased trim size. (But note the maximum page count for the trim size.)
  • Less leading (space between lines).
  • Consolidate front and back matter, especially material that’s repeated.
  • Reformat the page header or page numbers, and the space between these and the body text, to make more room for the body text.
  • Remove any repeated images. Reduce the size of images.

Note: If you have manual hyphens or if you made manual adjustments to correct for widows and orphans, this will all need to be redone if you change the font, margins, trim size, leading, etc.

But you can take this too far. You don’t want to louse up the reading experience just to make your boxed set fit into a single mammoth printed book.

You can, however, experiment with these features and see if any combination will provide the right balance, fairly preserving the reading experience while also helping it fit.

Another thing you’ll have to do is renumber the pages for a single-volume boxed set. This gets more tedious if each volume has an index (in which case you must also decide if you want to consolidate your indices into a single index for the boxed set). Also, if you have page references (e.g. “See page 364”) you’ll need to update those. For most fiction, where an omnibus is quite common, this isn’t likely to be an issue.

Page count isn’t an issue for an e-book omnibus. But if you have many images, the maximum file size and delivery charges may come into play. Kindle’s maximum file size has been quite generously extended (650 MB).

Basically, for an e-book, you simply need to combine your books together into a single volume. There is really just one feature that you need to add: an active table of contents to take the reader directly to each volume. (This is in addition to the table of contents for each individual volume.)

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free:

Please support the Read Tuesday Thunderclap. This will help spread awareness on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014). It’s easy to help:

  • Visit
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.
  • (The warning message simply means that Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr need your permission to post the Thunderclap message on December 9. This is the only post that Thunderclap will make.)

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Omnibus … or … Omni-Bust?

OmnibusI’ve seen an increasing number of omnibus editions on the e-book market in recent years.

It’s an attractive idea:

  • Customers save money when the omnibus is discounted compared to buying individually.
  • It’s convenient: Customers don’t have to hunt down the separate volumes or remember to buy later.
  • The omnibus allows continuity in reading: When you finish one volume, the next is sitting right there, ready to read.
  • Seeing the omnibus available, you don’t feel worried that the series might not be completed (provided that the omnibus is a complete set).
  • Authors benefit by encouraging customers to buy the entire series up front.

The benefits sound pretty good. So I was about to hop on the bandwagon myself. Until I started having second thoughts.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • Will the presence of your omnibus edition deter the sales of your other books? If so, this may offset the benefits of a stronger sales rank and your reviews may get spread thinner.
  • If you already have some volumes out with good sales ranks and a healthy number of reviews, you’re kind of starting over with the omnibus edition. Maybe the potential savings will help to stimulate many early sales to quickly build up the sales rank and reviews, but then returns the issue of what happens to your other books?
  • If you’ve already promoted your individual volumes, have many links online pointing to your other books, and have already been branding and marketing your books, you need to consider your omnibus with your marketing plans. The omnibus does give you new time in the new release category and provides new opportunities to create buzz, but you must also consider your other books.
  • If you sell both e-books and print books, will you make a print omnibus, too? Paperback customers may appreciate having separate volumes over one mammoth book. Also, for lengthy novels, a single book may exceed the maximum number of pages possible.
  • For Kindle e-books, if you’re planning to set the omnibus price above $9.99, you need to consider that the royalty rate is 35% for Kindle e-books priced $10 and up, so you may actually make much more money selling the e-books separately or limiting the price of the omnibus to $9.99. If your books include many pictures, you must also factor in the delivery costs.

How do you feel about omnibuses, as an author or reader? If you have experience publishing an omnibus, please share it so that others may learn from your experience.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

My original self-publishing guide, How to Self-Publish a Book on, has recently been updated and expanded.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Self-Publishing Boxed Set: Cover Reveal & Question

Self Publishing Omnibus

A recent publishing trend is to release a boxed set some time after completing a series. Once buzz for the final volume seems to settle, a boxed set provides an opportunity to revitalize interest in your series. It will also get your series back into the new release categories one last time.

Each volume can only be on sale periodically. If priced at a good value, even when the boxed set is at its regular list price, it still has the allure of being on sale—because readers save money compared to each volume individually. Another thing the boxed set can do is entice readers to buy the entire series up front, rather than one volume at a time (thereby avoiding some of the readers who might not reach the end).

(It doesn’t necessarily have to be a series, although a boxed set is most common for series; it could be a set of very similar books.)

The boxed set helps to establish the perception of great value.

You could add bonus material, but you may want to consider this carefully. Is the bonus material available separately? Your loyal fans who have purchased each volume separately might not appreciate having to also buy the boxed set just to get the bonus material. If you can solve this problem, then it can add further value to your boxed set without upsetting your fans.

Cover Reveal

I don’t have any boxed sets yet, but as you can see with my cover reveal, I have one in the works. Please share your feedback on the cover design (while keeping in mind that I don’t intend to redo the original covers of Volumes 1 and 2, and therefore intend to preserve this aspect of the boxed set design).


Here’s my question: What would you call a nonfiction boxed set?

Of course, it could just be called a boxed set. The term omnibus is used frequently for boxed sets. Would you use omnibus for nonfiction, or you do think it should be used for fiction only? Can you suggest an alternative? I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you in advance.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.