Self publishing makes you the brand

September 26, 2009

97009376_39d20f6b18Commercial publishers have never been terribly enthusiastic about selling direct to audiences. Through relying on third party distribution, most have neglected their consumer brands so badly that today very few of their consumers are able to name them. Stocked in a sea of sameness, logos and values all bleed into one. Let’s be honest, how many people who loved Harry Potter know the publisher was Bloomsbury? Or who knows the name of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was published by Bantam Press? Heck, I wouldn’t know who published Stephanie Meyer without looking it up myself (like I did Dan Brown – and that was just to sound informed). In reality, there are probably only a handful of publicly-recognisable brands in the entire industry – chief amongst them the Oxford University Press dictionary range. In a cute reversal, now no-one can name the author!

In reality, authors become brands through the sales-success facilitated by their silent partner, a publisher. However, when you self-publish, you become the publisher and the author in one dynamic person. This means that, like it or not, you are the brand. Given that we’ve already demonstrated that huge publishers don’t always get recognised as such, this has its advantages. One of these advantages is not the ability to muscle into wide retail distribution. Doing so requires you to have written twenty books and hired a team of sales people to make any kind of go at it. This is the bit publishers are best left to do. A herd of books is required to crash through the brambles of retail.

Self publishing is an invitation to become a social networker par excellence. The free tools we all enjoy in this space means selling direct through our blogs and online resellers avoids the pitched financial battle of retail. Going forward, with or without a publishing deal, you’re going to be your best publicist, promoter and salesperson, and your best mechanism will be your own online and public activities. If you’re going to go there anyway, while a big publisher steamrolls you into retail, there seem to me to be good reasons to think about starting there and allowing yourself and your audience to grow.

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5 Responses to “Self publishing makes you the brand”

  1. jcrews Says:

    I am right there with you! Marketing a book is like marketing any other product, and there are so many marketing channels available today that the game is changing. Authors no longer need to rely on traditional publishers to build buzz and get access to customers/readers. It’s a great opportunity.


  2. Excellent reality check, Ben.

    It’s so good to read this sort of encouragement from ‘the big end of town’. Sounds like there’s never been a better time for people to get out there and make it happen.

    Great stuff,

    Robin

  3. playfish Says:

    i would not have suspected this had been trendy a couple years ago yet it’s surprising the way in which age shifts the manner in which you see many different creative concepts, many thanks for the posting it truly is pleasant to browse through anything intelligent occasionally instead of the widely seen trash mascarading as blogs on the internet, i’m off to have fun with a few rounds of facebook poker, cheers


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