Monday, 26 January 2009

The importance of branding for books

I'm a crime writer of the Marine Mystery novels featuring Inspector Horton and of two thrillers. I've just started a new discussion on the Suspense/Thriller Writers Group on Facebook - How important is branding for books? Please feel free to join the discussion if you wish. Here is the link below to Facebook or you can comment here.

Having worked in marketing for many years I’m no stranger to the subject of branding. Branding helps create and reinforce an identity for a product or service and places it in the minds of the customer, thereby boosting sales.

With books the branding can include:

· the book itself – its style, genre, quality of writing

· the packaging - the cover design, the size of the book, the title, typography, the quality of the paper

· the marketing – where the book is advertised, what kind of advertising is undertaken, the images used, the style of copy writing, the marketing message

· the brand name, which in fiction terms could be the imprint, the author’s name, the names of the characters or main character

And what reinforces the brand is the consistency of communicating all the above, across all the marketing channels.

My crime novels are branded as Marine Mysteries where the sea becomes the backdrop to evil, betrayal, treachery and revenge. They feature my detective, Inspector Horton. The Suffocating Sea is due out in paperback this month, Deadly Waters in mass market paperback on 2 April and the brand new Inspector Horton Marine Mystery, Dead Man’s Wharf in hardcover on 29 April.

With hundreds and thousands of books being published each year on top of the millions that already exist how important is branding for books, and particularly crime and thriller fiction, in a crowded and competitive market?

Who should be responsible for developing the brand, the author or publisher or both?

Do books need branding, and if so what do you say makes the brand?

And once having developed a brand is it then easier to sell more books?

Is branding even more important today because of Internet search engines?

What are your views?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Time for publishers and booksellers to get back to basics

This article was written by David Didriksen, owner of Willow Books & Cafe, Acton, Mass.,

These are hard times for our publishing brethren, and by extension, for booksellers as well. Large publishers have been placing a moratorium on new titles, laying off workers, firing executives and scrambling to downsize. The lay-offs are likely to continue and booksellers are the ones most likely to feel the aftershock.

Part of the problem may be evolutionary--an industry bloated by years of inefficiency, cranking out too many inferior products, while failing to leverage the best assets in its portfolio: backlist titles that continue to be ignored. Meanwhile, some publishers have commoditized themselves into a corner, trying to live solely off of imagined blockbusters, mostly for the benefit of huge mass market chains and Amazon. Over-reliance on bestsellers, which retailers have had to sell at near cost, worked fine as long as the economy was in good shape. Now, however, the world has changed.

It is indeed unfortunate that a number of jobs will be lost in the coming months, but perhaps there is a positive side to an industry undergoing a painful contraction. Just as a "shake out" of the retail sector a few years ago resulted in a stronger set of survivors, publishers could benefit from new efficiencies and creative new initiatives. Publishers might even rediscover the intrinsic value of backlist sales, a once robust segment, recently abandoned in the pursuit of the "big" book. There is still plenty of gold to be found there, if publishers ever decide to mine it. Real bookstores--both independent and chain--can sell backlist all day long. Mass merchants care only about what turns. And Amazon is getting so powerful, it may someday wonder whether it needs publishers at all.

Booksellers and publishers once acted as partners in the book industry, developing authors and promoting backlist titles, before the lure of quick bucks in mass merchandising channels changed the relationship. Now may be a good time to get back to basics and do business together again if we all want to survive. Mass merchants will likely cut back on book sections at the first signs of underperformance (or as soon as the co-op payments dry up). Bookstores will stay the course.

As the restructuring goes forward, we can only hope that publishers will return to their roots and work with booksellers to enhance backlist opportunities and develop new authors. If that could happen, it would be the best present our industry could wish for during this challenging holiday season.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

New Arvon Writing Courses for 2009

Writing Gets Serious - A New Year for Your Words

Message from the Arvon Foundation below. Visit their web site for full details

This New Year we want to get you writing. And what a new programme of Arvon courses we have to help you do just that! Our week-long residential creative writing courses in four historic, beautiful houses around the UK are already booking up, so get looking and booking today...
I hope you will be able to join us at some point this year - either at our event next Monday night at Kings Place in London, on one of our courses or as a new Arvon Friend.

Ruth Borthwick


The Arvon Programme 2009

The Arvon programme of creative writing courses for 2009 is now live.
Join Costa Prize-winning poet Jean Sprackland and Andy Brown on a the poem's trail this April. You'll look out for the beautiful and the unexpected, the observable world and the imaginable one. Or why not Start to Write with Donna Daley-Clarke and Penelope Shuttle in May at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire? You will do some notebook work and practise editing techniques to build up your necessary resources as a writer.More Information

New One-to-One courses

This year Arvon continues to innovate with a new kind of writing course. Our new One-to-One Writing Retreats are like usual Arvon Writing Retreats but with a live-in writer who will provide one-to-one tutorials for you. These special courses are for fewer people - ten on each course - to ensure everyone gets a good amount of tutorial time with the writer-in-residence. Courses are available for poets, novelists, short story writers and playwrights.Book on one of Arvon's new One-to-One Writing Retreats

For more details visit

Good luck with your writing.