What is a story bundle?
A story bundle is an electronic collection of stories that is available through a bundling website, usually for a limited period of time.
The bundle may be sold as a complete set of stories, or there may be one price for a subset of the titles and another for the whole shebang. There are other permutations as well, like an extra book might be thrown in if the customer chooses to pay a higher price. The customer often has the option to choose to donate a percentage of the purchase price to charity.
The main story bundling websites right now are BundleRabbit, StoryBundle, and Humble Bundle. There are a few differences between the sites – for example, BundleRabbit provides the option for a bundle to be made available on outside sales channels after the initial run on the bundle website.
How does it work?
The curator sets the theme of the bundle, decides how many titles will be included, and what lengths are allowed (novels or short stories only?). Depending on the requirements of the bundling website, the curator may also provide artwork.
Each participating author formats their own ebook files, and provides their own cover and product description. These files are then ‘bundled’ into a package and sold together.
A bundle is more like a boxed set than an anthology. Even if it’s a bundle of short stories, it’s the responsibility of the author to make sure their stories are edited and their files professionally packaged.
The bundling site will do some promotion, but the curator should do additional marketing, as well as encourage the authors to help out.
The curator chooses which authors to invite, and should consider how well each author’s work will fit the theme of the bundle. Suppose you know an author who is a fantastic horror writer - that person might not be a good fit if you’re putting together a romance bundle.
Some things to keep in mind when selecting authors:
- The quality – and consistency – of an author’s writing.
- Each author will need to provide a professional-looking cover as well as formatted ebook files, so make sure the people you’re inviting know how to do that, or else have resources they can rely on.
- Will you include previously published stories, brand new stories, or a combination?
- You can request that an author provide a specific title or send a general invitation. If you do the latter, you’re opening the door to whatever story the author provides (as long as it meets the parameters you’ve set).
- Are you inviting authors who will actively help to promote the bundle? If not, are you inviting someone because their writing is so good it will be worthwhile, or because they have a name/following that will help draw in readers?
Plan out the promotion you’re going to do. Will you make a dedicated Facebook page for the bundle? Post profiles about the authors and their stories? Tweet when the bundle is part of a special sale? Make special marketing images to post?
You can – and probably will – do some of this on the fly, but thinking this through ahead of time definitely helps.
One of my most important suggestions is that you make a point to communicate well with the authors. If you’re planning to put the bundle on sale, let them know ahead of time. If the bundle was mentioned in an article, let them know. They’ll appreciate the consideration, and the more they know about what to expect, the more they’ll be able to assist with promotion.
Participating in a bundle seems easy. You get an invitation, you package up and submit your files, then shazam! You’ve been bundled!
But… What if the curator changes the price, bundle duration, etc. without telling you? What if the other authors provide ebooks riddled with typos, or covers that look completely unprofessional?
Make sure you’re comfortable with the curator. You want to work with someone who is professional, good at communication, and who you trust to manage and present the bundle in a way that makes you happy.
How well a bundle performs sales-wise depends on how established the bundling website is, which authors are participating, and how well the marketing is done. If you’re primarily interested in sales, consider these factors when deciding whether or not to participate in a bundle.
Keep in mind that visibility is a big advantage of being in a bundle. If twenty authors participate in a bundle, that means your story will be seen by fans of the other nineteen authors.
And on top of all that, it can be really fun to be a part of a collection where you and the other authors are collaborating to help promote your stories together.
Jamie Ferguson focuses on getting into the minds and hearts of her characters, whether she’s writing about a man who discovers the barista he's in love with is a naiad, a mail-order bride in the American West, or a ghost who haunts the house she was killed in – even though that house no longer exists.
She’s curated two bundles through BundleRabbit: The Fantasy in the City Bundle and The Witches’ Brew Bundle. Her third, The Haunted Bundle, will launch in February. She has stories in two other bundles: The Out of This World Bundle, and the soon-to-be-released The Very Merry Christmas Bundle.
Her second novel, Entangled by Midsummer, is a contemporary fantasy about a man and a woman together by both enchantment and betrayal. It will be released this fall. Bewitchery, released in September 2016, is available as an ebook.