Fiction bind-ups—collections of previously published e-books, novellas or novels—used to be an afterthought for publishers who saw sales potential in packaging several stories in one volume. These days, however, bind-ups are becoming part of a marketing plan that is intentional and strategic about creating content to be accessed on multiple platforms to reach targeted readers.
This month,Waterbrook Multnomah is releasing The Quilted Heart Omnibus: Three Novellas in One, a print collection of three novellas by Mona Hodgson that were previously published as e-books released about six weeks apart starting in February 2013. WaterBrook published the print book Prairie Song in August 2013, book one in the Hearts Seeking Home series, which featured a character in The Quilted Heart series.
“It’s mostly an experiment at this point,” says Shannon Marchese, senior editor for fiction at WaterBrook. “In our market, we have a large majority of people reading print books, but there are lots of e-books available and lots of people buying them. We felt like there is an opportunity in both of those formats.”
Marchese sees the novellas serving as marketing pieces for the print book and that there are a variety of ways to present and redistribute content. “We will test the formats in a variety of ways, but aren’t sure what it will look like yet,” she says.
Harper Collins Christian Publishing made a conscious decision to revamp the process, designing a collection, A Year of Weddings, specifically for bind-up under the Zondervan imprint. One e-book novella is released each month (the first was November 2013’s A December Bride by Denise Hunter) for 12 months, with three months’ worth of novellas moving into print later this year and next year under the titles Winter Brides, Spring Brides, etc.
“This is the first project we’ve done in which every piece was deliberate,” says Daisy Hutton, fiction publisher for Harper Collins Christian Publishing. “It’s designed to address a lot of different consumer needs and channel needs for digital and print content.”
Twelve different authors, many of them HCCP house authors, will contribute, “giving house authors the opportunity to have new content come out between their full-length novels,” says Hutton. “We selected the authors carefully; we want every month to be strong.”
Barbour Publishing has been doing collections of some sort for almost as long as the company has been in existence (1981), according to senior fiction editor Rebecca Germany. Most of their current releases are made up of pieces that have appeared elsewhere in the Barbour line.
For example, the novellas in The British Brides Collection: 9 Romances from the Home of Austen and Dickens, releasing in March, were previously published in 4-in-1 collections. One collection, however, was a digital-first project before moving into print. The Lost Loves of World War II will release in May 2014. “We may try more of this sort of thing,” says Germany. “We have long seen collections as a way to give readers more for their money,” she says. “Offering short story collections also benefits busy readers who want to read, but don’t want to commit to a long novel.”
Hutton of HCCP says the fiction team asked themselves how they could meet readers where they are, and how they could find something readers will like and authors will enjoy writing. The wedding idea came from Katie Bond, director of marketing and publicity for HCCP fiction, who is a wedding planner on the side.
“One of the best built-in wins for this campaign is the authors’ support for each other’s releases, thus lifting up the series as a whole,” says Bond. “The authors call themselves ‘the bridesmaids’ and take on their marching orders with each new release, lifting each one up to their readers.” HCCP is already planning a second year’s worth of wedding tales—e-books first, then bind-ups—but this time the stories will focus on ancillary wedding characters such as florists, photographers, and musicians.
“It’s very new, but it seems to be off to a really nice start,” says Hutton. “We think this is pretty innovative, and we have to be innovating right now.”