Consequences of Author Brand Fail

Jenny Bullough and I held another of the biweekly Harlequin Author education session on Wednesday, and I realized we share an often lot of great information in huge quantities in these one hour sessions. Since I’ve been absent too often at the blog I thought I would post something about social media, marketing, career development as a regular feature on Thursday breaking some of the educational sessions into small bites. The Thursday Tutorial is just too academic and self-aggrandising for me, so I’ll work on another headline (suggestions appreciated).

We spend a lot of time on why an author needs an author brand, especially in our fast-transforming business. (This week alone B&N announced their revised Nook which really does make it a tablet. Penguin launched Book Country in live beta. Macmillan launched a new site Criminal Element.)

After going on at some length about value of author brand I turned it around and asked the consequences of brand fail. I see five major issues:

1. Authors are competting for readers attention/dollars in a  very competitive entertainemtn market. How can they find you if you do not have an author brand that identifies you?

2. The consequence of readers not finding you is poor sales. Bookstores will not order a new book from an author with a poor track record. A decade ago publishers had longer to build an author. Now you have two books or three books and that’s it. (You have a lot more opportunity to build yourself in digital.)

3. Brand fail makes it hard for your publisher to put a nice marketing budget behind you.

4. Your books may receive confusing packaging.

5. You are in the elevator when the the publisher of your dream house steps on board. She smiles and indicates she knows you are a writer. What is your elevator pitch?

Working at a publisher that has a brand, this is part of our DNA. What do authors think? Am I preaching to the converted or is this a topic authors are still exploring and starting to apply?

I’ll have more on what brand is not limiting — a common question I come across.

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