Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A completely random and baseless prediction

It's dangerous when I think.

No, really.  Having a task which engages my hands but not my mind has led to antics such as the time I reenacted the French Revolution with tomatoes at work.  (Not my fault - the tomato slicer makes a sound exactly like a guillotine.  And I was on task the entire time... I just happened to be marching aristocrats from the Roma family to their beheadings as the masses lined up on the cutting board cheered.  See?  You wouldn't be able to resist, either.)

One of the things rolling around with the marbles in my head recently has been the concept of branding, as applied to e-publishing.

First of all, this is an idea based entirely out of the (il)logical confines of my head - there is absolutely no support for this that I've seen to date, no studies suggesting it, and nothing but my very basic grasp of marketing, American consumerism, and brand labeling driving it.

That said, I sincerely believe the concept of brand marketing is going to significantly impact the sales of e-published works within the next 2-3 years.


Because spamming in the self-publishing world is beginning to take off. Because, for every self-published writer who edits her works thoroughly and actually has a plot to her novel, three more do not.  Because a book bought through a traditional publishing house will always have had someone look at it and say, "this is worth reading" - meaning it's passed some minimal set of standards for readability and plot.

Therefore, I expect to see branding to become the next big thing on the e-bookshelves.  Publishers will start making their icon large enough to be seen on the cover art in a thumbnail, so that browsers will know the book has passed their inspection.  And browsers will probably begin creating brand loyalty such as formerly been absent in the literary world (Do you buy your regular books solely based on who published them - or do you buy them based on the pretty cover art and the intriguing blurb?)  If I know that Baen, for example, typically prints books with higher-quality plots and better editing, I'm going to be more likely to purchase from them online than a book from a publisher I've never heard of.

Obviously, this would be Bad News for small publishers and self-published authors.

As a writer, one of the things on my contract wishlist would therefore be that my ebooks include a visible publisher logo on the cover art (maybe discreetly in the corner, but still large enough to be seen on a thumbnail.)

Do you think this particular prediction has any basis in reality?  As an author, will you require a logo for your own ebook cover art, or do you think it's too soon to start the branding process?  Theoretically, what do you see this doing to the market?  Do you see a solution to help small publishers and self published authors stay in the game?

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