Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brands and Platforms in Publishing

If you are trying to get published or have been published and are bringing out another book a couple words that will creep into your conversations with agent and publishers will be brand and platform. These are very important now to publishing as they try and stake out their territory in the wild west of an increasing kindle driven world. For authors these twin words are cautionary tales and will inform your decision on how best to publish. Lets take platform first.

Your platform is your launch vehicle for your books. It usually consists of a website or a blog or if you are really big a television show or radio program. Those platforms are the big guns obviously, but for most of us we have a web presence that gives us our platform. Publishers are wrestling with the big question of platform which is what type sells books. Does a website really drives sales? Does blogging drive sales or is it all so much white noise. Nobody knows for sure but you better have a platform just in case.

Which brings us to brand. A brand is more esoteric than a platform. A brand is truly a name. Say Danielle Steele or Tom Perotta. These are brands. People go buy these books when they want to read romance or something more literary. The name is the brand. This is obviously much harder to achieve but it is the word now that is hurting mid list fiction...you know those novels that come from obscure writers and many times never see the light of day. Used to be publishers brought these authors along and turned them into brands, not so much anymore.

Now we must arrive with our platform and brand fully formed. This is the realities of publishing fiction today. True, publishers still take chances but they are few and far and in between. The Maxwell Perkins of yesteryear are not only dead and buried but most people cannot even remember the mindset anymore that moved an editor to take a flyer on a novel they loved. Not that there is nothing new under the sun.

Hemingway recognized brand very early and cultivated is image as a macho adventurer of the world who wrote big stories about big people. Hemingway branding still goes on today. You can buy Hemingway furniture and eat in Hemingway restaurants. Less may be more but today you better have more than less if you want to brand anything.

Rocket Man--the story of the recession generation

Books by William Hazelgrove