I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips and suggestions that may make the difficult task of publishing a multi-author boxed set a little bit easier. Working with a large group of people of a creative project has it’s own set of challenges. My goal here is to help smooth out some of the sticking points that may come up during the process.
One thing that is often overlooked by a group of authors is the consistency of the finished boxed set. I don’t mean the consistency of the story, simply the uniformity of the look and feel of the set. As authors you have already done the hard part of writing your individual stories. So now we need to make sure they’re all received by the readers in an easy to read package.
Order of the Matter
To make sure that the reader has a seamless reading experience and that each author is represented equally, it is best to work out an agreement between all authors involved in the project to have everything inside each individual story in the same order. So, basically each author’s front, body and back matter is organized in the same pattern before submitting for formatting.
What I see as the most common order follows below:
Main Boxed Set Title Page
Main Boxed Set Copyright info
Dedication, Author Notes to Readers, Acknowledgments, etc.
Table of Contents
Story 1 – Title Page and/or copyright info
Story 1 – Front Matter- Dedication, etc.
Story 1 – Body Text
Story 1 – Blurbs or Excerpts for upcoming work by this author
Story 1 – Author Back List
Story 1 – About the Author
Story 2 – Title Page and/or copyright info
Story 2 – Front Matter- Dedication, etc.
Story 2 – Body Text
Story 2 – Blurbs or Excerpts for upcoming work by this author
Story 2 – Author Back List
Story 2 – About the Author
Back lists are a great way to make sure readers see your other work, and links to those books in your back list make it that much easier for the reader to find your books. I highly encourage linked back lists. However, all of the publishing sites require the buy links to be specific to their website. For example, if I make a Kindle version of your boxed set and you have linked back lists for all the authors, the links must be Amazon links.
The best thing to do is for each author to make a single document with publisher-specific linked back lists for all the retailers for quick insertion into your back matter. So, depending on where you will submit your boxed set you might need a linked back list for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, your website (for use in Smashwords files), etc. It will speed up the process to have each author make a single document with all the back lists you’ll need.
It will save you time and money to have each author build the multiple linked back list document themselves and include that document with their book file and cover image. I’m happy to pull links from the authors’ websites and create the back lists for you, but I do charge for that service and it does increase the time of the job substantially. Especially considering that most boxed sets are averaging 8 to 10 authors.
To maintain a consistent look throughout the set it’s best to decide as a group what style of chapter headings you want to use. Some examples: Chapter One, CHAPTER ONE, Chapter 1, One. Just from this you can imagine what it would look like to have all these various styles in one boxed set. You would never find inconsistent formatting in an anthology from a major publishing house, so it’s best to make sure everyone is on the same page when self-publishing.
Another thing that helps to add consistency is to decide on a unified scene break symbol. Most choose to use the industry standard triple asterisk ***, while others choose to use an image. I can do anything you want, but it should be consistent throughout the boxed set if you’re just using keyboard symbols.
If it is an image, a neat graphic that is symbolic of your story, that’s not a problem either. But to add that interesting graphic to one or two stories and not the others might look weird. I recommend that if one or two authors have an image for their scene breaks, that all the other authors in the set should consider doing the same thing. It looks awesome and differentiates each author’s story and tone. Or you can choose an image that is representative of your Boxed Set’s overall theme.
Excerpts and/or Blurbs
How many excerpts is each author adding to their back matter? How long is each excerpt? Are you going with excerpts, or would blurbs be better? These are a few of the questions I’ve noticed author groups working through to get their boxed sets completed. It’s best to work all this out in the beginning of the project to make sure every author is given the same amount of exposure in the boxed set. Story length will vary, but if a few authors have full chapter excerpts and the rest have blurbs, that can lead to some authors being under-represented in the set.
Everything I listed here is typical of what authors have to go back and discuss before formatting can begin. It takes time to get consensus in a group so I hope this helps you save some time and make the process a little less complicated. Thanks so much for reading, and as always, thanks so much for your business!