Crossing Brands–Yay or Nay?

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Okay. I don’t mean eating a McDonald’s sandwich while drinking a Burger King shake or wearing Nike’s while wearing an Adidas sweatshirt. In the writing world, your “brand” determines what type of author you in: basically, what type of books you write.

Now a lot of writers write one type of book, like horror, scifi, memoir, crime fiction, etc. They build up an audience and then write more books in that area.

Then the writer thinks “gee, it would be swell if I could write a DIFFERENT type of book! Nothing wrong with that, right??”

Well…

I discovered that it’s actually frowned upon by the publishing community.

“But I have a fan base!”

True… except in the eyes of a publisher, your fan base is only in the area that you usually write.

For example, I write science fiction, but I also have written a detective novel as well. The publishing world believes that my scifi fans will only follow me if I write scifi, because that’s what they like.

From a publishing point of view, it makes sense.

So how does an author get around this?

There are a few things a writer can do.

1) Write under a different name for each genre.

2) Self publish your new books.

3) Try to find a publisher willing to work with you based on your work, not your fanbase.

These may not seem like the fairest of options, but to someone whose job it is to sell your work, they need to make sure they are doing their job the best they can.

Or is it all just a bunch of b.s. and they should just publish your stuff?!

I personally don’t have a problem with using multiple names (for example, I already sing under the name “Renee Kole” and plan to publish my children’s books under a different name tbd). But maybe that’s just because my fanbase isn’t in Stephen King’s range. Yet. 🙂

What do YOU think? Do you think publisher’s should be happy that author’s want to cross brands? Or does it seem fair that they only want to represent the works they know will sell?

 

(*photo courtesy of fineartamerica)

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Some things you may have missed… | Christa Yelich-Koth

  2. Listen to your heart and write.

    Write what you want when you want to.

    Write what needs to be written as the inspiration comes.

    Writers need to write. (Most important sentence of this reply and needs to be repeated three times for literary emphasis, but I’ll skip that for now.)

    Publishers view authors’ fan bases as the basis for a client existing on their list. They have financial reasons for limiting variables to their lists. It’s money and a conservative approach usually pays off in the long run, and all that.

    However, they should just publish your stuff because a conservative, long-term focus doesn’t conform to artistic endeavor.

    Businesswise, publishers are looking for momentum. If you can sustain momentum within one genre while broaching another, there may be less friction to publishing both. The tricky part would be to maintain momentum in multiple genres.

    My personal opinion—the ability to write in different genres is a phenomenal opportunity to broach the wild world of self publishing. An amazing frontier where anything can happen.

    So write sci-fi, write detective novels, write comic books. The most important thing is to write, Write, WRITE!
    🙂

  3. mom

    i think that’s a good question, christa. for one thing, you, in particular, mostly write sci-fi. however, you’ve also, within that genre, written two different kinds of books, both novel and graphic novel. i wonder how much difference it makes, if any, to your fanbase along those lines? being a fan of yours, period, i just love your work, whatever form/genre it takes. i can understand, though, how publishers may see things differently. when j.k. rowlings stepped out of her magic shoes and wrote a novel for adults, i wonder if it made a difference to her fanbase. i’ve read that she is going to write another book based on the magical world, about magical beasts and creatures. of course, because of her harry potter triumph, publishers will take a chance on her, no matter what she writes. however, will this new magical novel sell more/less than her adult novel? in this case, i’m thinking it will sell much more. i’ve heard very little about her adult novel, yet i’ve already read that her magical beasts/creatures novel is already flagged to be made into a movie trilogy.

    the creative arts industry is difficult to break into no matter what the genre, or genre within the genre, for that matter. the artist him/herself usually isn’t very good at the money end of that spectrum, while the publisher is basically mostly interested in the money end. a clash of perspectives. however, if the writer wants to write, s/he must go ahead and write, no matter what. if the writer wants to get published by someone else, it just may be that the writer may have to stick to the publisher’s guidelines. if the writer wants to be published no matter what, self-publishing is probably the way to go. in an ideal world, the publisher would publish according to the writer’s name, knowing the quality of work that is already associated with the name. unfortunately…of course it’s not fair! but, it is life.

  4. I say stick it to the Man. They made up rules that are both archaic, out of touch and service only them. They are the problem, not the solution.

    Write what you want to write. Self-publish if you have to or just want to. I can only imagine how many great works have vanished into the mist because of lack of publisher support. Or how many great artists lost heart and failed to follow through on developing their skills because of it.

    John Kennedy Toole’s great “A Confederacy of Dunces” took a decade of dogged determination by the author’s mother to get it published after his suicide. There’s no reason to think it would have taken Toole any less time had he survived to fight for it on his own.

    1. Definitely understand your thoughts, Conrad. It is a difficult thing, though, I think to self-publish something and have the time and energy that has to go into all the things publishers offer. However, if publishers aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, are you better off without them?

      1. I would say yes, because it’s not hard for it to be worse with them than without. Note this article that Courtney Love wrote back in 2000: http://www.salon.com/2000/06/14/love_7/ Things are not really better today. While that is about music, I’m not aware of any publishing system for other art forms that is really any better?

        Artists of all stripes spend their time practicing their art, not learning the vagaries of the Business. It makes us easy prey to those inside the system who *do* know how it works. It makes it easy for them to treat us like cattle, if occasionally Prize Cattle, while they bleed us white.

        There was a time when traditional publishing was the only way for anyone to see your work. The entire mechanism of getting your work to the reader belonged to them. That is far less the case now. While this does require you to learn the Business, knowing this is critical knowledge whether you work inside the system, or outside. It can keep the System from taking advantage of you should you become successful enough for them to take notice.

        Living outside the traditional publishing system may have additional burdens, but it comes with the freedom to create what you want. To create something new. To not feed the self-fulfilling prophesy of what “sells.”

        I just had a weird feeling. Like a premonition of Deja Vu if that’s possible. Like the subject is going to find us again whether we want it to or not…

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