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Writer Wednesday : Why Author brand is important.


"In the publishing space, the author?s brand is infinitely more important than the publisher?s brand. I'?m going to read Charles Stross novels no matter who publishes them (and in fact Stross has a bibliography that spans multiple publishers). But the author?s brand is usually associated with story content. I buy Charles Stross novels because I like high-concept science fiction with an unflinching density of ideas and an unforgiving expectation from the reader. The Stross brand promises that and, so far, has unswervingly delivered. " from Do I need the middle

When we're first starting out, we're indoctrinated with the idea that we need a publisher to be successful. If we're 'good', we pretzel ourselves around to find an agent. With a little luck, the agent finds a publisher. Of course, our ego begs for which ever publisher we believe is best : Little Brown, Random House, Harper Collins, Putnam. We believe these brands to legitimize our efforts.

We are told, and believe, that the publisher's brand will be the train that takes us to fame and fortune.

For a moment, if you will, think about your favorite author. Off the top of your head, can you name their publisher?

I can't.

I remember the author's name. I remember odd details about their lives:

  • Janet Evanovich has been married forever;
  • Stephen King credits his success to his long suffering wife and children. He's also Maine;
  • Sue Grafton is from California;
  • Jasper Fforde is British;
  • James Joyce worked all day then wrote at night, even though he could barely see the page;
  • Earnest Hemingway didn't use an adverb or adjective for a year;
  • Ursula Le Guin tried to stop writing the EarthSea stories but the characters wouldn't let her and so on...

Their publisher? Who cares?

I only care about the author and the work that opens doors for me. It comes down to the author's brand.

If that's the case, authors should get our personal brand going long before a publisher gives them a nod. In fact, many publishers prefer to hire authors who already have established brands.

How do you create a brand? There are some good ideas here in the #BookMarket transcript (#BookMarket on free Twitter chat, Thursdays 4 p.m. ET, co-hosted by me! :) )

What do you think? Is the author's brand important to you? Or the publisher's brand? Or both?