Deb: Bundling Works

we’re both fans of the same blog, The Business Rusch, my friend David Marusek
and I read at the same time a post that mentioned book bundling, and we both
had the same idea: let’s make it easy for readers to discover the real Alaska,
minus the hype and minus the cost, by creating a free bundled eBook.
we put the challenge to ten of Alaska’s finest authors: to share unique and
intimate prose—some previously published, some brand new—that reaches beyond
the usual media stereotypes of Alaska. The resulting collection, the Alaska
Sampler 2014
, features fiction, memoir, biography, and humor that lay
bare a cherished and primal land. Dana Stabenow, Howard Weaver, Don Rearden,
and Ned Rozell are among the contributors.
“Our selections range all over the literary landscape,” says
Marusek. “As we swerve from adventure to opinion and biography to humor, you’d
best keep both hands on the wheel.”
Unique to this ebook is a partnership with brick-and-mortar
bookshops in Anchorage, Homer, Palmer, and Skagway; each Sampler selection includes a link to annotated store listings,
aiming to get beyond the either-or thinking about books that are downloaded and
books that readers hold in their hands.
For those who are thinking of creating their own book
bundles, here’s our advice:
Approaching authors: For this initial bundle (we
plan to do one every year), we approached ten                    authors whose work would add
value to our Alaska-themed bundle. These authors needed to                      either own the
digital rights to their work or be able to get reprint permission from their                                  publishers. They also needed to be forward-thinking in their understanding of
our purpose in                         offering the book for free—that by aggregating high-quality
prose, we’d be getting cross-                             readership, plus the advantages of marketing
Legalities: We procured signed agreements with
all contributors, and we signed agreements with one another, with David as the
production person and me as the editorial director. The project is officially
housed with Denali Ventures, a sub-S corporation doing business as Running Fox Books.
Production: David is a master at graphic design
and eBook production, so he handled the cover and the manuscript conversion. We
used social media to get input on covers in draft and we used Dropbox for file
sharing. We assembled the contributions into a “bible” that we updated as we
went along.
Partners: We appreciate independent booksellers,
and we didn’t want them out of the loop by producing in digital format. So we
offered annotated bookshop listings within the book, and we feature our
bookshop partners on our webpage and in our newsletter.
Timeline: We came up with the idea in March,
with the goal of releasing in time for Alaska’s big influx of summer tourists.
Next year, we’ll start earlier.
Proofing: I proofed the contributions; once
assembled into the initial “bible,” they were returned to the authors for their
proofing. Then David proofed the entire book, and we did a short beta launch
during which our authors re-proofed before our official launch on June 5.
Availability: I created a “freebie”
page on the Running Fox website
so that readers could easily access links
for downloading the book in all formats. We made the book free wherever we
could (Kobo, Inkbok, Instafreebie) and listed it for 99 cents on Nook and
Amazon, with links and side-loading instructions so that readers could load to
Nook and Kindle directly from our webpage.
Promotion: On launch day, we urged our authors
to broadcast to their contacts. We also sent out a press release and an e-newsletter.
 Within a few hours, we’d hit #1, #2, and
#5 in our Amazon categories. Amazon’s bots took note, and within twenty-four
hours, the book became free on Amazon—exactly what we’d hoped for. In the same
one-day period, our website received ten times the traffic it normally gets in
a week. We’ll continue promoting the Sampler
through blogs, social media, and sites that feature free books and/or
Alaska-themed material.
Follow-through: Together, David and I have so
far clocked over 180 hours of work on the Sampler. We believe it’s worth it in
terms of exposure and cross-marketing. Collectively and individually, we’ll be
tracking the impact of the Sampler on
traffic and sales.
Readers can download the Alaska
Sampler 2014
for free at,
or directly from Amazon
and Kobo.
This post also appears at

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