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The Author as a Brand

Not surprisingly, much is written about the publishing industry, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, and especially during times of transition. After all, writers have an inherent interest in this industry and they, well, do the writing. We read a lot of that writing.

Lately we’ve noticed an upsurge of discussions on one topic: the author as a brand. The New York Times Sunday Magazine, on January 20, 2010, had a title piece on the evolution of James Patterson and the juggernaut that is the James Patterson brand. That article is available here. Patterson may be the quintessential branded author—and clearly working hard to fortify and expand that brand. Among his many efforts in this direction is taking on of co-authors. Once a brand is large, it would seem a waste not to maximize the throughput.

Then, yesterday, we ran across an interesting post by Robin Maxwell in the Huffington Post, here. The post is titled “Publishing Revolution: Historical Fiction Evolves in Digital Age”—and it, too, speaks about the author as a brand. In this case, the author—a woman with several well-received books of historical fiction already on the market—describes how she is brought into the digital age and learns about branding. This journey apparently involves learning all about do-it-yourself promotion of your works and of yourself. Now, authors have always played an important role in promoting their own works (touring, book signings, etc.). But what Robin Maxwell describes here is something else. It involves designing and managing an impressive array of different platforms on the Internet—and coordinating a marketing plan. We found this post interesting but were particularly struck by the author’s very upbeat portrayal of this activity. She feels completely comfortable taking on the promotional role that one would, in the past, have gladly left to the publisher. Success, of course, is its own reward.

Yes, the publishing world is in a state of transition. It’s a wild and crazy time out there for publishers, be they established entities, newly born like Dwarf Planet Press, or authors wishing to self-publish. We enjoy and learn from the many stories we read of others’ experiences as they traverse the shifting sands of the publishing terrain.


The image comes from an article on brands in the Miami New Times–somewhat tweaked.


One Response

  1. […] We’ve had occasion to refer to that phenomenon before under the rubric of “author as brand” here. Magazine editors also use words to help them snag the potential buyer’s attention—as they […]

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