Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Think INSIDE the Box!

"My name is Valerie Comer, and I'm a box set addict."

Whew. It feels good to have that out in the open. Anyone who's been keeping an eye on my career in the past six months or more won't be surprised by my admission, though! I credit the first box set I participated in, Love Brings Us Home, with launching my career, even though I had five indie titles for sale before that box set released.

My primary goal was to get the first book in my Farm Fresh Romance series, Raspberries and Vinegar, into as many hands as possible in hopes that many, or at least some, readers would go on to purchase the other two books that were already available.

By cross-promoting with other authors, we'd not only gain access to each others' readerships, but rank high enough on Amazon's bestseller lists that continued organic reach would result. Wow. Did that ever happen! Love Brings Us Home stayed above the #10 spot on the Christian Contemporary Romance bestseller list for nearly six months and dominated at #3 or better for over half that time.

It was a total win/win. Readers got to read seven contemporary romance novels for 99 cents US. The authors split the 35-cents-per-copy-sold royalty and still made money because enough readers took a chance.

This whetted my appetite for a continued reach into the box set market. I contacted author friends and made plans for two sets for the summer season. The first released yesterday after six weeks on pre-order. It's called Summer of Love and contains 6 full-length previously-published romance novels from top-selling Christian authors, several the same as from the earlier set. Wild Mint Tea, the second novel in my Farm Fresh Romance series is included in Summer of Love.

The second summer set, Splash! 9 Refreshing Romance Novellas Filled with Faith contains only new material and will release in June. I'm thrilled my team includes Narelle Atkins and Marion Ueckermann, two other ICFW authors. Autumn Macarthur, from our ACFW Beyond the Borders group, also contributed a novella. This means that almost half the stories in this collection are set outside the USA for a fun international twist.

Splash! contains the following stories and locations:

His Perfect Catch by Narelle Atkins (Australia)
A holiday romance isn’t part of the plan when Mia Radcliffe temporarily moves to Sapphire Bay and lives next door to Pete McCall, her secret crush from years ago. Pete prefers the simple life. Can Mia leave behind her big-city dreams and settle with Pete in the seaside town?

Sweet Serenade by Valerie Comer (Canada)

Carly and Reed thrive on the rush of running rapids in a canoe until they capsize in both river and romance. Will secrets from the past drown their future, or can this idyllic summer romance lead to a lifetime of sweet serenades?

More than Friends by Autumn Macarthur (Scotland)
When nurse Catriona asks for help with her Vacation Bible School for disabled children, she never imagines how much could go wrong on a simple seaside day out — or that the colleague she's secretly loved for years might come to see her as more than his best friend's little sister.

Love Flies In by Heidi McCahan (Alaska)
He’s a seaplane pilot determined to honor his convictions. She’s a kayak guide who mocked his faith for sport. One small lakeside cabin in Alaska can’t house them both.

Testing the Waters by Lesley Ann McDaniel (Oregon)
After breaking up with her ultra-critical boyfriend, Teresa decides to reinvent herself. She meets a nice guy named Curt on the beach in Crescent Cove, Oregon, and tells him she’s TerĂ©se from Paris. Pretending to be someone else is fun until the unthinkable happens — she starts to fall for him.

The Lifeguards, the Swim Team, and Frozen Custard by Carol Moncado (Missouri)
Lifeguard Alivia Collins looks forward to another summer on the guard stand at the Serenity Landing Aquatic Center. This year, she’s going to have to keep herself from falling for the cute, new guard — or realize it’s time to give love another chance.

Time and Tide by Lynette Sowell (Virginia)

When out-of-work fashion journalist Karyn Lewis uses the summer to regroup on the coast of Virginia, she plans to lie low at Pine Breezes campground. She doesn't plan for her heart to be on a collision course with old friend Brodie Reed. They must decide if the past that looms between them will be too much for them to have a future together.

Draw You Near by Jan Thompson (Georgia)
Savannah artist Abilene Dupree keeps her personal life out of her commercial paintings except one. That one painting has now brought Londoner Lars Cargill back to the coastal town and into her art world. Can she hold him at bay before he invades her personal space and her heart?

Orphaned Hearts by Marion Ueckermann (Zambia)
His faith buried with his wife, Simon devotes himself to raising his daughter and orphan elephants. Lady Abigail postpones an arranged marriage, leaving England to teach the children of Africa. Will his past—or her future—keep their hearts orphaned?

Won't you give Splash! a try? You'll find links for pre-order on my website.

Meanwhile, a true addict is always thinking ahead where they might get their next fix. I'm already planning for the Christmas 2015 season!

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Her debut novel, Raspberries and Vinegar: A Farm Fresh Romance, was awarded Best Contemporary Romance published in 2013 by The Word Guild.

Think Inside the Box Image courtesy of digitalart at


  1. You are S-O-O original, Valerie! It's a great idea, girl, congratulations! You must invite authors you really know can deliver the goods in a set time. Do you give them guidelines for what's expected? Or is it whatever fits the theme? Has it ever been a hassle or runs like clockwork? I am so curious about how it all falls into place.

    1. I'd love to take credit for having an original idea, Rita, but the fact is box sets have been around for several years. In fact, I've heard it said that "box sets are so 2013."

      Of the three groups that are already well underway (two released, one on pre-order), two used already-published material, so deadlines weren't an issue.

      We formed the group for SPLASH! in January with a firm deadline of May first for a brand-new written and edited novella between 20,000 and 35,000 words and a summer/water setting. A few people found they had to drop out and a couple joined in later and still met the deadline. I didn't dare order the cover before all the stories were in my inbox!

      Does it run like clockwork? Each group keeps in touch within a secret Facebook group so there's a forum for everyone to ask questions and stay up-to-date. I'm not sure I'd say "clockwork" but it hasn't been bumpy, either, other than hating to see some have to drop out.

  2. Valerie, you have now hooked me on the concept of indie box sets, too! I've loved being a part of SPLASH! and contributing my first independent release to the box set collection :)

    1. I love having you! One thing I'm really enjoying is getting to know authors in my genre and working with them on a joint project. I LOVE the collaboration rather than the competition!

  3. LOL, if Valerie is spreading her addiction and getting others hooked too, what does that make her? ;)

    I've loved the experience of being in the multi-author set, so much that I've signed up for TWO Christmas sets! I suspect a lot of how easily things seemed to flow is down to Valerie's gift for organising us!

    1. I think that makes me an Enabler. Or an Instigator. There are probably other terms not fit for polite company. ;)

      SO happy to be working with you, too. :)

  4. [PUSHES CHAIR BACK QUIETLY AND STANDS] "My name is Marion, and I'm an addict, too."

    It has been such an amazing journey being part of this boxed set, SPLASH!, with such a great group of authors. And like Autumn, I loved it so much, I signed up for the Christmas one, too, the moment the festive boxed sets were mentioned.

    TWO Christmas sets, Autumn? Hmmm, I had another Christmas story idea buzzing around my head today LOL, but first my Lapland story.

    Autumn and Valerie, thanks so much for bringing me on board this amazing journey.

    1. This is starting to sound like an AA meeting! LOL. So glad to have you on board, Marion.

      The second box set Autumn mentioned is something a few of us who had already-published Christmas stories are putting together to give a bit of new life. There are six of us with stories ranging from 19K to 68K. Hopefully readers won't mind the wide range.

  5. Congratulations to you, Valerie--and to our other ICFW authors featured in your latest boxed set. Such a lovely, positive post to read.

  6. Yes, congratulations, Valerie, Narelle and others for your contribution to the Box Set. As a reader I enjoy a box set that uses a consistent theme/element that draws all the stories together. It's also a fabulous way to meet new authors to read. It's also a great way for new authors to link with more established ones which has benefits for both.

    Trust the launch goes really well.

    1. I agree, Ian! Thanks for your comments. A box set is a win for the readers as well as the authors

  7. Valerie, I absolutely love this idea. I pre-ordered SPLASH when it was first available and look forward to reading this wealth of material. Thanks for thinking in the box!

    1. Thanks, Shirl! It's a great collection of stories, and the ladies were a pleasure to work with. Win/win/win!