Box Sets Vs Omnibus Books: What’s the Difference?

Box sets are what we in the publishing world refer to as a collection of multiple books packaged together. However, while they are sold as a single sellable item, the end consumer is able to remove an individual book from the set at their reading pleasure. An omnibus edition, on the other hand, combines multiple books into a single bound volume that can’t be separated unless you were to slice through the book’s spine (the horror!).

Both options allow publishers a way to offer a complete series, or at least a larger portion of a series, to readers at a lower price than the cost of purchasing individual books. The terms can also be used to describe ebook collections. However, while the term box set is the trendier way to describe consolidated works, it is worth noting that Amazon, and other ebook distributors, frown on publishers describing ebook collections as box sets as there is no physical box around the set.

That said, while a publisher should not describe their ebook collection as a box set in its retail listing, a publisher can still use a 3D image of a box set on most sites. Apple’s ibook store is the notable exception here. The same cannot be said about listings for physical copies. Publishers must use an image that matches what a print consumer will physically receive once they place their order.

For example, this is how I am displaying my upcoming publication: Project Gene Assist: The Complete Series (which is available for pre-order now in ebook format and will be available in both paperback and ebook format after November 16, 2021).

3D rendering of multiple books titled Project Gene Assist: The Complete Series featuring a woman's face on the cover and a DNA strand on the back. There is also a tablet featuring a box containing three books.

Of course, with anything, box sets and omnibus editions have their pros and cons:

Box sets vs Omnibus Books: Pros & Cons

Box SetsOmnibus Editions
ProsMake great giftsMake great gifts
Save readers moneySave readers money
Allow you to take a break from reading a series without the guilt of leaving a bookmark in the middle of a volumeTake up less room on your bookshelf, allowing you to fill that space with more books
ConsForce you to take even extra care of individual book’s bindings in order to keep the book from warping or swelling and thus being unable to fit back into its boxy sleeveThe sheer size of these volumes can intimidate the casual reader
Take up more room on your bookshelf than individual books unless you throw away that beautiful box sleeveLess travel-friendly. The weight alone could force you to pay the oversized baggage fee at the airport.
Cost more than omnibus editions to produce and so are typically more expensive than their omnibus cousinsHave I mentioned how big these are? Seriously, I worry it is bullying the other novels on my shelf when I am asleep

Does a series have to be complete To Be Combined?

Does a series have to be complete to be offered as either a box set or omnibus edition? The answer is no, but it helps from a marketing perspective. This is because readers are more likely to buy a book (or a set) if they know they aren’t going to have to wait an age to learn how the series ends. Additionally, because a publisher does not have to include every book in the combined edition, sets can also serve as a convenient launching pad for later books in longer series.

Image of 4 books: the Bad Guys 1-3 and the fourth, fifth, and sixth book in the series

For instance, my youngest son, LT, is a huge fan of sharks and humor books, so I got him the omnibus edition of The Bad Guys Books 1-3 by Aaron Blabey, which features a shark (among other characters) who decides he’s tired of being stereotyped as a bad guy and goes on missions to save the world along with other often maligned characters.

I felt confident he would like the series based on the premise, so buying a single volume that offered 3 books in one just made sense to me. It then turned out the series is much, much longer. I immediately had to go out and buy additional books in the series one by one. In this case, I guess you could say that the omnibus acted as a gateway drug. (Absolutely worth it though to hear LT laugh with each page)

The same thing happened when LT and I read the Wayside School 3-Book Collection by Louis Sachar. The only difference was instead of being an all in one volume, the 3 books were offered together packaged in a cardboard sleeve. We then had to run out and get the fourth book in the series.

Picture of the box set of the Wayside School Complete Collection in front of the hardback edition of Wayside School and the Cloud of Doom

So which is better? A box set or an omnibus edition? The answer, of course, comes down to the preference of the individual reader, but I am happy to say I’m making the move to give readers like you this option.

Image of books in the Project Gene Assist series, which includes The Fair and Foul, The Watch and Wand, Lies and Legacy, and the Complete Series omnibus edition stacked upright together.

What’s in a Word? Announcing a Collection of Flash Fiction

We’re big on “no spoliers!” in the Potts household. At least as far as our entertainment goes. Holidays and birthdays are a different story. We can keep an ending or a surprise twist to ourselves, but it is all my kids (and sometimes, their dad) to do not to share hints about the presents they are giving well before the day of the event.

I’ve gotten into a habit of not taking them shopping until a week before a big day, if only to limit the time for temptation. They will no doubt continue this habit well into adulthood, reinforcing the stereotype of a guy waiting until the night (or hour before) to buy gifts. For that, I would like to apologize to their future spouses, but believe me when I say, as annoying as this behavior is, it is with the best of intention. It’s difficult to wait to share something you are proud of or is exciting news. This is even more true when the thing to share it is both of those things.

This is my long-winded way of saying, I’ve been keeping something from you.

The Big Reveal!

I was invited to add a number of stories to a collection of short fiction, and when I say short, I mean short. The maximum length of an allowed story in one section was 600 words. In another section, the collection’s editor, Sarah Brentyn, dubbed micro-bursts, the goal was to write a story in as little as 10. I’d thought, writing a full-length novel was tough… I am happy to say that I believe I rose to the challenge.

The Shadows We Breathe, Vol 1 is on sale as of August 9th, 2021, and I’m honored to be one of the eight authors featured in it.

The Shadows We Breathe - Sarah Brentyn

“In this anthology, we explore relationships—how they sculpt us, hurt us, help us, and reveal our deepest desires. Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of heartache, loss, hope, and forgiveness. They unveil the intimacy and complexity of relationships.”

Examples of Micro-Bursts

Right now, you may be asking: how does one write a story in only ten words? In some ways, it is like writing poetry. You have to be very specific about your word choice. What you say matters, but what you don’t say is just as, if not more, important. In order for a string of ten words to tell a story, they have to give a reader enough context for to form a starting point, while also giving the reader’s mind enough room to fill in the blanks all by itself.

The most famous example of this sort of short fiction is Hemingway’s six word story: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” Two sentences tell you much. They prompt the mind to come up with all the reasons someone might be selling a pair of unused baby shoes.

Sure, the baby in this story could easily have been like mine—due mid-October, but not born until November, which made dressing him in Halloween-themed attire like a candy-corn shaped onesie somewhat silly. (I still did it, mind you, it was perfectly good clothing—I just didn’t dress him that way when we were out in public).

This means the story might boil down to nothing more than a tale detailing the reason behind a yard sale offering, but as it was created by Hemingway, the safer bet is that the background story is much more tragic. That said, like other forms of art, it comes down to a matter of personal interpretation.

This form of writing also happens to be, in my case, a fun way to procrastinate fuel my writing skills when I am stuck at a particularly tangled plot point in a draft novel—it’s like the literary equivalent of Trail Mix. Whenever I feel the need to escape from my manuscript (why oh why do these things refuse to write themselves) recharge, I go on Twitter and look up the hashtags #FP and #FridayPhrases. Then I simply tweet a story around the weekly prompt.

I like these prompts because they give me the full length of a tweet to tell my story. However, there are plenty of other hashtags and users that start with ‘6Word’ or ‘sixword’ for you to choose from if you want to do the same and are looking for even more challenge.

I guess my little stories on Twitter were enough to get me noticed by other flash fiction fans, like Sarah. When I found out that this collection was in the works, I jumped at the offer. I was then thrilled to make the cut. This was especially true when I learned who else’s stories would be included within the pages.

If you are like me—pressed for time—but still enjoy indulging in the occasional bite-sized reading snack, I encourage you to check this, and Sarah’s other collections out.

Lies and Legacy is go for launch

I’ve hummed the refrain from It’s My Party by Lesley Gore more than once over the last few days. You see, I had every reason to celebrate this week. After seven years of work and over a quarter-million words, I’d finally added the phrase ‘The End,’ to my science fiction trilogy, Project Gene Assist.

Unfortunately, the universe has a funny sense of humor. My series, which, I repeat, germinated in my brain seven years ago, set before and after a perfect storm of abusive technology, economic collapse, and a mysterious illness. The first book is the events leading up to the panic and societal upheaval, the second and third take place in the aftermath.

It was supposed to be thought-provoking, cautionary, and/or escapism.

It was supposed to be set in the future.

Most importantly, it was supposed to be fiction.

My book’s launch was supposed to include a number of things like:

Lies and Legacy

  • Signed paperback copies: sadly, orders of non-essential products that weren’t currently on the shelves have been delayed by major retail outlets. By all means, please order a paperback if interested—just understand it just might not reach you for a few weeks.
  • Light hors d’oeuvres & finger foods: bread and flour are in short supply around here, but that’s not the worst of all. According to my co-workers, there’s even been a run on dinosaur-shaped frozen chicken nuggets in some places.
  • A full house of close friends: if groups weren’t already limited, my current paper product inventory would have required me to ask guests to bring their own roll of toilet paper as an entrance fee.
  • More than one glass of wine: okay, this is still part of the plan—it’s just now happens to be a major part of the plan and the reason hosting a Facebook live event is unlikely to be the best idea for me this week.

So, yeah, the timing stinks. However, while it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to (but I’ll try not to because there are a lot of people out there suffering more than me), I’m going to launch this book and celebrate its release anyway. In fact, I’m making an even more conscious effort during these times to celebrate all my daily wins—big and small.

Other notable wins:

  • Maybe it’s the quarantine/social-distance enforced cooking or maybe it’s the six months of dedicated meal tracking & step counting using the Noom app (affiliate link) but I’ve officially lost all the weight I put on bringing my non-book babies to life.
  • The local paper interviewed me about life as a reluctant homeschool mom & remote full-time worker (my advice to other parents: let things go—like housework or expectations that your kids will quietly sit in the background looking charming and well-behaved while your world is being filmed for strangers to see) – https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article241329721.html
  • I KNOW what my kids did all day at school instead of just hearing a grunt or ‘I forget,’ when asked, and have been enjoying a lively discussion of Roald Dahl’s The Twits (affiliate link) with my 8yo.
  • My kids actually WANT to go back to school (though tell me they are glad I’ve been home with them).
  • I’ve gotten most of my garden planted

Speaking of gardening, the leaves on the trees are budding, which reminds me that just like winter gives way to spring, this time too will someday become a distant memory. While that day can’t get here soon enough, at least I can take some small comfort knowing I controlled what I could. I did my best. I released a book.

You can order Lies & Legacy or start at the beginning with The Fair & Foul

 

 

Project Gene Assist Book 2, The Watch & Wand – You always have a choice. Make the right one

The Watch and Wand, the latest in the Project Gene Assist #Book Series Launches December 5th www.alliepottswrites.comBarring acts of God or radioactive slime beast hellbent on scaling the largest tower in my city while simultaneously leaving a swart of destruction in its wake, by this time next week, my book children will officially outnumber my human children.

I am going to level with you – it hasn’t been easy.

An Uncertain Faith - www.alliepottswrites.comWhen my first bookborn arrived, I didn’t have a clue what to expect. I did whatever any new bookparent would. First I converted a small underused space on the internet into a cozy little site where my bookbaby and my author platform might grow side by side. I overbought supplies (many of which I hadn’t the first clue how to effectively use) so I might be ready for any occasion. I sent out cards alerting the friends and family. I hung up bright shiny pictures of its cover positioned in various poses and dreamed about all the things I thought it might one day be.

I nested. I sanitized my words. I reached out to other new bookmoms and bookdads for sympathy, tips or other advice.

But I was overwhelmed and no matter how much attention I bestowed, my bookbaby still always demanded more.

I consulted the experts who all agreed that the best thing I could do, for us both, was to give my bookbaby a sibling.

I made a choice.

Project Gene Assist Book 1: The Fair & Foul - www.alliepottswrites.comSo after a lengthy labor of love, culminating on one cold rainy night, my second bookbaby made its grand first appearance. After the launch, I wanted nothing more than to get some rest and enjoy the benefit of my expanded catalog. Only things didn’t work between the two quite as smoothly as I imagined.

For one, the newest edition was a completely different genre, meaning, as I learned in short order, I wouldn’t be able to utilize most any marketing hand-me-downs. Nor did either book’s temperament allow me to bundle them together. Well… shoot.

I consulted the experts once again on what to do. The answer was the same.

Write more books (preferably this time in the same genre).

But at this point, my other children, my human children were no longer going to bed early or taking mid-day naps, nor was the day job getting any less demanding.

Then, to make matters worse, the words stopped flowing. Not all at once, but bit by bit until one day I realized that somewhere along the line, I’d let my story slip.

I found myself at the base of a mountain – a mountain of a goal – a goal I’d created.

I thought about quitting. I thought about it a lot.

I thought about quitting.

But I didn’t.

You didn’t. You could have. You didn’t let me.

I made a choice.

So now I’ve scaled a mountain – a mountain of a goal – a goal I created, only to see another mountain on the other side.

With your continued patience and more than a little of your support, I’ll scale that one too.

Thanks to you all.

I’d never have come this far without you.


Project Gene Assist Book Two: The Watch & Wand officially goes on sale Tuesday, December 5th. (Kindle Pre-order now available). You can read an excerpt here.

How to make an author panic in 3 easy steps

A friend posted a picture of her son, roughly Kiddo’s age, riding a bike, which while cute, was more notable by the fact that the child’s training wheels were off. Seeing the picture, I’d asked Kiddo if he’d like to give it a try too.

“Just imagine – you’ll be able to go biking with the big kids. When you don’t have training wheels, you could even go to the park by yourself or even to Nana’s. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

Lamont and I wheeled the bike out. After strapped Kiddo’s helmet on tight, Lamont and I took turns holding Kiddo’s bike upright as our son wavered and wobbled down the side of the street. Still, no matter what we said, or how we cheered, it was clear that Kiddo’s confidence wasn’t quite there. Lamont tried the old parent stand-by. Running behind Kiddo, he simply let go.

Kiddo wasn’t fooled for an instant. Crash. Scrape. “How could you!”

“It’s important you keep trying,” we’d told him, hoisting the bike back up. To give him credit, he did. Several more times. But no matter how hard we tried, gravity (and more than a little fear) continued to knock him down.

“Try pedaling faster,” we’d suggest loudly. “Try actually steering…” we’d mutter more to ourselves.

Flustered, we eventually decided we’d tried long enough. “Most people don’t get it right on the first day,” I told Kiddo. We’d keep trying, a few minutes a day. He’d get the hang of it in no time.

We didn’t. He didn’t. The weather got hot. The dog needed walking. There were any number of excuses that cropped up. Finally, we simply reattached the training wheels. The timing simply wasn’t right.

It is easy to make excuses. But the weather has begun to cool. Those excuses are now running out. It is time for Kiddo to get back on his bike. Which brings me to the other subject of this post.

How to make an author panic in three easy steps.

  1. Tell them you’ve bought their book. Okay, technically step one is usually enough to send me into cold sweats, but then again, just because they’ve bought it, doesn’t mean they’ve read it. So…
  2. Recommend they look into marketing techniques such as podcasts. All the cool authors are doing it
  3. Encourage them to contact hosts. It’s so easy! Just follow their instructions.

There are those in the writing world with far more years of experience under their belts, who recommend not worrying much about book promotion until you have at least three if not five books to your name. In theory, this method allows you to have a greater catalog ready to offer readers when promotion efforts hook new readers. One book at a discount could turn into multiple book sales by return readers.

Take the Apple for example. Sure, Apple spends most of its time promoting the iPhone, but that is only one of their products. Once they’ve gotten you hooked on the device, you are more inclined to purchase accessories or even less advertised gadgets. The same principle applies to books. Promotion takes a lot of work. You want to ensure you have the best return possible.

This was also a convenient strategy for me. I accepted I would not be an overnight success. I dare say I embraced it. I felt justified not worrying about marketing beyond the occasional giveaway or occasional guest piece as I worked away on the next project.

Unfortunately, as I neared the final pages of this draft it occurred to me that I will have three books to my name in the coming months. Which means it is time for the marketing training wheels to come off. In a fit of insanity, masquerading as bravery, I researched blog and radio hosts who might be interested in discussing a book like mine. I figured, what’s the worst that could happen?

Within days I received a message back. They’d love to have me on their show. My heart began to race as the reality of what I’d done began to sink in. I’d have to talk to people I’d never met. Publicly! I read further. In September. Phew! September was weeks away. My breathing calmed. I’d have plenty of time to get myself mentally prepare by then.

Only… the weather is beginning to cool. School has resumed. It is already mid-September and my show is coming up in one week. September 23rd at 6pm Eastern time to be exact.

So now I have one week to calm my nerves. It’s not like this is your first guest appearance, Allie. One week to practice my selected reading. Wait. What? One week to ponder why writing, which traditionally is such an introverted activity, requires so much extroverted follow-up. Really. Why? And one week to remind myself of reasons I am doing this. I want to be able to ride with the big kids one day as much as I want to set an example for my sons. But also, just as importantly, I am doing this because I’m proud of what I’ve done.

It is time to dust off the virtual helmet and restock the band aids. So wish me luck. Here I go.