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To Bundle or Not to Bundle: The Pros and Cons of Boxed Sets for Readers and Authors


Welcome Seekerville guest, Candee Fick!

Happy May Day to everyone in Seekerville!

To Bundle or Not to Bundle: The Pros and Cons of Boxed Sets for Readers and Authors

I don’t know about you, but I am more than ready for Spring weather. In some parts of the country, people say that April showers bring May flowers. Well, here in Colorado—especially this year when it snowed on Easter Sunday and dumped an additional foot of the white stuff a few days later—we’re more inclined to say that April snow makes May things grow…

However, there’s just something about Spring that gives my heart Hope. Maybe it’s the fresh greenery, the scent of blooming flowers, or the warmth of sun on my face after being cooped up inside for months. (And that was before the recent pandemic orders!) But there’s also the reminder that after the dark and cold and barrenness, there is still the promise of Life and Love.

That’s why when a group of fellow authors and I started planning to do a boxed set collection together, I was thrilled that we decided the stories had to be set in the spring or early summer. And while weekends are not the usual for such things, we also picked Mother’s Day 2020 as our launch day for the Love is in the Air collection.



Yes, that’s in just 10 days… Which means I’ve got boxed sets on the brain! So, let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly, starting with an overview.

When I say boxed set, there’s actually no box involved at all (unless you look at the picture). It’s merely a visual representation that “inside” there is a collection of multiple ebooks. Those books could be part of a series by the same author, or—like our set—a compilation from different authors with a common theme like Christmas, mail order brides, or in our case flying in planes or hot air balloons.

The good news for voracious readers is that they get numerous books for one low price. (And by low, I mean that often these sets are priced at just .99 especially during the pre-order stage.) Readers also get to enjoy books by their favorites plus discover new authors at the same time.

And the good news for authors is that they can get discovered by new readers while multiplying the reach of their marketing efforts through cross-promotion and a pooled budget.

But there’s a lot of work involved in putting together such a set.


To Bundle or Not to Bundle: The Pros and Cons of Boxed Sets for Readers and Authors

In addition to the writing and editing of the individual stories, there’s cover design (individually and collectively), deciding the order to present them, compiling together, formatting, uploading to the publishing platform(s), deciding on the price, and then all of the marketing including guest blogs, social media posts, email blasts, newsletter swaps, and advertising. There are additional logistics and a lot of communication required when it comes to decision making, assigning of jobs, budgeting, and transparency with accounting. Of course, most of these tasks are part of any book launch, so splitting the load between the group of authors makes it easier individually.

For readers, the only bad thing about a boxed set is that they are usually only available in ebook formats. Why? Our set is 743 pages long…which would be a beast to format and expensive to print therefore even more expensive to buy making it less likely to turn a profit for the amount of time invested in creating a print version. So, authors save the work and readers have to be content with electronic files.

For authors, the biggest downside to a boxed set is financial. For a .99 book on Amazon, authors only make a third of that. Divide that by five authors and you’ll see that’s a lot of work for six copper pennies per sale. Unless of course we sell thousands of copies. Or those new readers we hoped to attract buy other titles from us. Which is why most authors in boxed sets join for the marketing exposure and not the money.

And the ugly of boxed sets that I hinted at? I’ve been blessed with my co-authors not to experience any of this, but I’ve heard horror stories about personality conflicts, mediation, stolen royalties, and the like. We prevented a lot of problems early on with clear communication and accountability, but I can see how things could get ugly.

So, there you have it. The good, the bad, and the ugly of boxed sets. I brought a giant (virtual) platter of homemade, gooey cinnamon rolls to share while we chat. Oh, and as an additional treat, I’m also giving away an electronic copy of one of my books. Just join the conversation to be put in the drawing.

Do you enjoy collections? What new authors have you discovered through boxed sets? Which of your favorite authors would you love to see work together on a set? And if you’ve been on the author-side of such a collection (and I know there were a few original Seeker collections…), what did you gain from the experience?

P.S. Remember that steal of deal at .99? The pre-order special ends on Mother’s Day so if you like Contemporary Christian romance, grab your copy of Love is in the Air today.

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Love is in the Air: 5 Contemporary Christian Romances
https://books2read.com/u/3LDxaD  ~ Preorder Price of .99

This collection of five brand new romances is sure to send your heart soaring. Journey from Canada to Georgia and Colorado to Paris by way of Michigan as these couples find love is in the air. All they had to do was look up.

Titles include:

First Class, Wrong Flight by Laura V. Hilton
A Castle in the Clouds by Candee Fick
Flying into Love by Kathleen Rouser
Written in the Clouds by Kathleen Friesen
To Gain Forever by Tanya Eavenson
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BIO: Candee Fick is a multipublished, award-winning author. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy writing, editing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Want to connect? Sign up for her email list or check out her website www.CandeeFick.com


Advent Day 12 – When You Can’t Be “Home” for Christmas

Please welcome guest, Candee Fick

I’m thrilled to be back on Seekerville in time for a Christmas countdown. And like the others so far, I’ve got a Christmas memory and a giveaway…

First, the memory.

A few weeks ago, here in Colorado, we got a dumping of snow. And while we had to dig out from almost 20 inches of the white stuff right before Thanksgiving, it wasn’t the biggest storm I’ve experienced. That one was dubbed the Blizzard of ’82. (Yes, 1982. And if you’re into math as well as reading, I was eleven at the time with two younger brothers.)

It was Christmas Eve and we began our annual trek from the foothills of Colorado four hours south into New Mexico to celebrate with my grandparents. I say began, because even though my parents roused us long before dawn due to the falling snow, it was after noon before we’d made it to the south side of Denver.

At which point the Interstate was closed and we were forced off the highway into the small town of Castle Rock. The highway patrol made it sound like the unhindered plows were going to sweep down the road and then traffic would be allowed access again.

Advent Day 12 – When You Can’t Be “Home” for Christmas
 
But the snow kept falling and their plans changed and suddenly we were stranded away from home for the night while every available hotel room in town was already taken. I can’t imagine what my parents were feeling to be out of options, but I do remember Dad pulling into a gas station to fill up the tank thinking we’d be staying in our car overnight with the engine and heater running.

Merry Christmas, right?

But once inside to pay (we used to do that back in the day), he learned that a local church had opened their doors as a shelter for stranded travelers and our family headed there instead.

What happened next was the most meaningful Christmas I’ve ever celebrated. Away from home and extended family. Surrounded by strangers. Eating a haphazard potluck donated by local women and grocery stores. Attending a very traditional Christmas Eve service in jeans and snow boots (a far cry from my Pentecostal, dressed-to-the-nines childhood) while my mother played the piano and my brothers and I were asked to light the Advent candles (something I’d never heard of before). Sleeping with my mom on a couch in the ladies’ restroom while my brothers and dad slept on the floor in a nursery. Awakening on Christmas morning with no presents in sight…except the gift of more donated food and the laughter of new friends as a white-bearded fellow traveler in a long-sleeved red shirt handed out donated net stockings filled with candy and small toys to the smaller children.

Advent Day 12 – When You Can’t Be “Home” for Christmas


It was the heart of Christmas amid two feet of snow. And even though later that day we were able to continue our journey to my grandparents’ house, I’ve never forgotten the reminder that the home of Christmas is rooted in the celebration of Christ’s birth not our traditions or decorations.

Now, the giveaway. Actually, there are two. First, since Audra loved it so much, I’m letting you all download the recipe for Pumpkin Pecan Tea Bread https://candeefick.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Pumpkin-Pecan-Tea-Bread-Recipe-1.pdf that I gave to all my newsletter subscribers. There are those who think pumpkin is a Thanksgiving flavor, but I find the mixture of pumpkin and cinnamon equally festive for Christmas.

And for one lucky random commenter, I’ve got an ebook copy of my next book that’s releasing on the 15th. (It’s on a pre-order special of just $.99 so grabbing it now would be a good idea.) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081BB5RNF Home For Christmasis the final book in the Wardrobe Series and continues the plotline of a secondary character from Sing a New Song, so you might want to pick that one up too. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QHYNTJC/

Advent Day 12 – When You Can’t Be “Home” for Christmas


The blurb:
Grace Mitchell's dream of creating music derailed when she saw firsthand how fame could change a person. After choosing a more stable career, she's content to build her future in backwoods Missouri until the reminder of her broken heart walks in the door of her father's bait shop.

Tyler Sherwood left it all behind for a chance at the national spotlight, but a backstage revelation changed everything. Embarrassed to face his family after his failure, he retreats to a rustic cabin to regroup...and comes face to face with an intriguing young woman and an old guitar.

When sparks fly, will they leave her singing or singed? Can the message and the music reignite dormant dreams and bring him home for Christmas?

So, here’s the question for you. How would you celebrate if you were far from home at Christmas? And have you ever been stranded in a storm with strangers?

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Advent Day 12 – When You Can’t Be “Home” for ChristmasBIO: Candee Fick is a romance editor for a small Christian press and a multipublished, award-winning author. She is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy editing or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

You can find out more about her and sign up for her newsletter on her website  https://candeefick.com or head straight to Amazon to find all her books. https://www.amazon.com/Candee-Fick/e/B0056B94VE/



Giving Readers What They Want


guest, Candee Fick

Hello Seekerville! I'm so glad to be back with you today, and even though it's Halloween, I promise no tricks. Only treats. (Including an advance reader copy of my upcoming release!)

One of my delights as an author is hearing from readers. Especially when a storyline or character's journey has directly inspired or encouraged them through a difficult time. 
Whether it's direct to my inbox, online through social media, or shared inside reviews, I'm searching for those golden nuggets to know what resonated the most with my readers...and what fell short. That way I know what to repeat...and what to improve upon. 

Giving Readers What They Want
JOURNEY INSIDE A BOOK – Book-1014197_1280,
Creative Commons License from Pixabay


While stories are dear to my heart and come to life in my imagination first, this authoring adventure is all about giving readers what they want—an emotionally satisfying journey.
The best stories include a journey that actually goes somewhere and has a logical point to the twists and turns along the way. A journey that tugs on a variety of emotions with an ebb and flow to the underlying tension. And a journey that leaves readers smiling in satisfaction at the end to know it ended perfectly without feeling rushed or drawn out.


However, after publishing FocusOn Love back in February, for the first time I got mixed signals from readers. Some were glad I didn't nicely wrap up all the loose ends with my heroine's family because life sometimes stays messy and instead of easy answers, we can discover God's strength to forge a new future. Other readers clearly stated they couldn't wait for my next book to find out what happened.

The problem? That next official book in the series (featuring a secondary character) was already written and submitted to my publisher without any hint of a resolution for the previous heroine. And I had no logical reason to include an update during the editing process without making it feel forced and artificial.

But readers wanted to know! And since this business is truly driven by those who buy books, I decided to give my readers what they wanted. That true happily-ever-after ending without an unbearable wait until long after the next official book releases in May.

(Cue drum roll and shameless plug that Audra said I was allowed to include...)

A Picture PerfectChristmas is the continuation of Liz and Ryan's story and is available for pre-order now before officially releasing on November 12th.  Here’s the blurb:

From disowned to daughter to “I do?"

Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together?

If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding.

Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile.

What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding?

If you like Christmas weddings, family reunions, and happily-ever-afters, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series.

But that's not all that's new in my life when it comes to storytelling and giving readers what they want...

(Psst. If you're a Christian writer looking for a publisher, pay attention. And if you love reading middle grade, young adult, romance, suspense, cozy mysteries, and/or seasonal stories with Christian messages...there are some amazing stories on the way.)


As of this writing, I've been a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for a month. In that time, I've had the privilege to evaluate incoming queries and submissions looking for that next emotionally satisfying story to recommend to our Acquisitions Board. I've also been elbow-deep in several contracted books helping other authors to hone, shape, and polish their ideas into a product readers will want to read.

So, if you'd like the specifics of what I'm looking for as an editor, check out my official introduction and wish list post. Or, if you'd rather, browse our upcoming releases to see if there's anything you'd want to read next.

Giving Readers What They Want

Let's discuss: As a reader, what do you want in a story? And what do you do if it's lacking? Is it hard to articulate what's missing from a storyline? 

As for those promised treats, I'm offering an advance reader copy of A Picture Perfect Christmas to a randomly drawn commenter. The rest of you can sample our virtual buffet of spiced apple cider, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bread…and candy corn while we chat.

___
Giving Readers What They WantCandee Fick is a romance editor for a small Christian press and a multi-published award-winning author. She is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy editing or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Where can you find Candee?

Visit her website www.candeefick.com
Sign up for her email list 
Check out the rest of her books 



Why There Should Be A Moral to the Story

Our guest today - Candee Fick

Hello Seekerville! Candee Fick here, and I'm so glad to be back. Audra first invited me to be a guest several years ago and back then I shared about my never-ending journey as a pre-published author. And now I'm back a fourth time as my third novel is about to release. (I guess the moral to my personal story is to never give up!)

Why There Should Be A Moral to the Story


As a child, I remember reading Aesop's Fables in school. You remember those, right? Super short stories with thinly disguised messages, but years later, the lessons still linger. True friends can come in all sizes. It's possible to get trapped by greed. Slow and steady wins the race. (In fact, I do most of my writing during my "Turtle Power Hour" before the family chaos erupts simply because small daily progress beats intermittent word sprints.)

But the fables of our childhood aren't the only stories that teach us something.

Like Carrie so eloquently wrote about in her first Seekerville post, there is a Story that we are all a part of. We are on a journey of change just like the characters in the smaller story we are reading or writing. Ideally, as readers, we are emotionally invested in the characters as they face obstacles, change from the inside out, and learn some sort of a lesson. Therefore, when that story closes, we should also walk away not only with an enjoyable vicarious adventure, but also having learned something.

That's why there should be a moral to your story.

Why There Should Be A Moral to the Story


When I start out to plot a new book, I always ask myself what my character is going to learn. I also ask what I want readers to take away from the book. What am I trying to say with this particular story? In other words, what is the theme?

Now, when it comes to weaving a lesson into a story, the sweet spot lies somewhere between a comedic romp without a point and mere cardboard props erected around a sermon. That's where the true craft of writing helps shape realistic characters making difficult choices but growing through the process. As the pages unfold, small "truthlets" are dropped into the character's life until the climactic events cause them to defeat the Lie they've been living with, embrace the Truth, and begin a New Life.

As the writer of the tale, it's up to us to sprinkle the Truth in along the way. Just like the Author whispers His Truth to us so that we too can learn and grow and change. Personally, I want my stories to give a glimpse at one facet of God's character as part of that Truth.

Why There Should Be A Moral to the Story


In my debut novel, Catch of a Lifetime , I wanted to combat stereotypes with the message that God looks at the heart of a person, not their outward appearance. In a college football setting, the main character learns to let go of her past bitterness and see the athletes as individual people. And based on the reviews and other feedback, readers uncovered the lessons for themselves.

In Dance Over Me , I wanted my main character to discover that God, in His amazing love, was always there behind the scenes looking out for her. There was also an adoption theme as she searched for a physical family but already was part of a spiritual one. Once again, readers loved the story...and embraced the message.

When it came time to write the sequel, I knew that Liz was an actress with a photography hobby who had a chip on her shoulder about God...and religion in general. I knew she needed to get past the rules and rituals to discover the true Love of God in a personal relationship. She needed to Focus On Love. (Yes, that's the title of the book and a play on words because photographers "focus" their cameras and zoom in on their subjects.)

Why There Should Be A Moral to the Story
Focus On Love


The moral of this about-to-release story is love. And that includes all facets from romance to faith to family and friends to patriotic military service to even finding a career we can be passionate about. Yes, there's a swoon-worthy book boyfriend and all the romantic feels. Plus there's an antagonist you want to shake really hard. It even has humor and cute kids.

But most importantly (to me), my prayer is that readers will walk away from the pages with the same lesson Liz will learn. God loves us and offers a hope-filled future to those who walk with Him. Not to mention, we should all learn to Focus On Love.

Speaking of which (shameless plug time), there are three easy ways you can embrace the moral to this story.
1. Pre-order a copy of the bookreleasing February 13th in time for Valentine's Day.
2. Share a photo (or several) of something/someone you love or love in action on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #FocusOnLove to be entered to win an autographed copy of the book and a Shutterfly gift card. Contest ends February 17th.
3. Enter to win autographed copies of all three of my novels plus another Shutterfly gift card and share that contest with your friends for extra entries (https://candeefick.com/giveaways/focus-love-prize-bundle/)

While I pull out the hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls, I've got a few questions we can chat about. What is the moral of the story you're writing or reading right now? And how do you keep a focus on love (in any facet) in your daily life?

Why There Should Be A Moral to the Story
Candee Fick is a multi-published author in both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job, writing, or coaching other authors, she can be found cheering on the home team at sporting events, exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.


BOOK BLURB: Free-spirited Elizabeth Foster turned her back on her father’s photography business to pursue musical theater, but with a one-show contract, she’s a few weeks from unemployment forcing her home. Meanwhile sought-after photographer Ryan Callahan has put his career on hold to help his sister’s family while her husband is deployed, but the promise of a bigger assignment could lure him away from building a family of his own. If given the choice, what dreams would develop? Or will they learn to focus on love instead?


To Bundle or Not to Bundle: The Pros and Cons of Boxed Sets for Readers and AuthorsAdvent Day 12 – When You Can’t Be “Home” for ChristmasGiving Readers What They WantWhy There Should Be A Moral to the Story

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