The astounding binge power of book box sets – Writing Update 2019 Week 41

Mike Grist Weekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

Some hard talk to start – and one possible reason I stopped the Weekly Writing Updates 24 weeks (half a year!) ago:

My big Soul Jacker relaunch failed.

No point beating around the bush. It hurt at the time – like any setback. I’d spent a lot of time rewriting this trilogy which I first wrote in 2014/15 – paid for developmental editing, got new covers, labored for the 5th year on the blurb. I got amazing testimonials from top authors in the game (Michael Marshall Smith!, Pat Mills!) built a hell of a promo stack around a Bookbub New Release deal, dropped thousands on Facebook and Bookbub ads, and…


Despite selling over 1,000 copies in launch week, Amazon didn’t pick up the book and push it to their readers. There was no post-launch bounce. It climbed as long as I spent money, then it disappeared.

Ugh. What to do?

Well, retreat into a cave and write seemed a good idea, so that’s what I did – writing two Chris Wren thrillers and re-working 3 of my zombie books. Now I emerge from the other side freshly invigorated, like a beautiful butterfly freed from its spun-silk cocoon, to fly high as the mountains on gossamer winds of inspiration.

And the truth that has finally set me free?

Box Sets

In particular, one box set. I’m wary. I’m branching out. But hands down my most successfull book, which currently makes double the money for whatever ad spend I put into it, is my Box Set books 1-9 of the Last Mayor series.

I’d been planning to do this for ages. It seemed like a 20% activity though – fiddly busywork not likely to yield any real return. There were no books after this to go onto. Discounting it wouldn’t help.


There are so many complete box sets in the zombie genre right now, many 9 books and longer, that it’s hard to look competitive without doing this. And those other bumper box set? They’re predominantly on sale at the perma-low price of 99c/p.

This makes no sense. I get that. When I launched my set I did a Countdown down for 7 days to 99c/p, to try it out. It went well. Nice boost in rank, page reads, a good number of sales. It took me a few weeks more to take the plunge and drop the price perma-low to 99.

It’s been there for a month now. Sales are through the roof. 60 copies a day is standard. Page reads steadily climb as I steadily inch ad spend up. Currently something like 14,000 pages a day. That’s amazing, and by far my biggest earner.

The reason is pretty apparent. A 9-book box set just looks like phenomenal value. Drop that to 99c/p, and people are just predisposed to click BUY. It’s a steal. Combine that with streaming culture, where folks are accustomed to Netflix binge a whole series in a weekend, and surely this is where we are all going?

Who wants to mess around picking up book by book, each one with it’s own nuisance charge? Of course Kindle Unlimited is a way around this, Amazon’s own ‘streaming’ free read program, but there are still plenty of people who aren’t in that who want to ‘stream’ a whole season in one go.

A 9-book box set will do that. It scratches an itch. And with all the competition doing it, it’s becoming the price of entry. but it’s no price – I’ve never regularly sold this much, day on day.

So I want to expand this. Next up for the treatment is Soul Jacker. Maybe this series which has been a hole in my heart for so long can finally find an audience as a perma-low box set? Lower the barrier to entry far enough, and people may start climbing on board.

We can only hope. Fingers crossed. Here we go.

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