Publisher As Prestige Brand?
Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I was recently talking to a client about traditionally published books vs. self published books. She worried that with so many under-edited and half-baked books* making their way to the market, readers might get frustrated by the lack of excellence and ultimately give up on books. “How does a reader identify professionally written and professionally edited books so they know what they are getting when they order a book?”
Good question, right?
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the publisher’s name on a book is going to become more and more important as a sign of a certain level of quality. I believe it could become as recognizable as Louis Vuitton to handbags, JimmyChoo to shoes, and Harley Davidson to motorcycles. I’m saying that publishers need to start thinking about branding their books more prominently. The way it stands now, I’m guessing the average reader couldn’t tell you who published the last book they read.
I think that needs to change.
In the past, editors who proved to be style setters were given their own imprint. For instance, if you love author-driven, literary children’s books you probably recognize books published under the legendary Margaret K. McElderry boutique imprint. Yes, the book was published by Simon & Schuster but it bore the imprimatur of McElderry’s sensibility.
In that same way, I think publishers need to start thinking of their brand as an identifier– a mark of distinction. When you see the Bethany logo on the front of an inspirational novel, for instance, you can be sure you’re in for a satisfying read that’s been edited, copyedited and professionally designed. And yes, I said front cover. With all the books sold online, the front cover is often the only cover shown.
Wouldn’t it be fun to begin to recognize the distinctives of each publisher? To know that if you want edge-of-seat romantic suspense you wouldn’t go wrong with a Tyndale book. Or if you’d like a thought-provoking, sometimes risky, cutting-edge nonfiction read, Jericho Books might fit the bill.
I’m looking forward to the day that the publisher’s brand becomes a mark of distinction.
How about you? Does that idea make sense? Or do you feel it encroaches on the author’s brand? If you don’t think this would work, what would you suggest to separate the dreck from the divine?
*Please hear me on this: We’re not saying that all self-published books and eBooks are substandard. We know that some are quality, through and through. Its just as frustrating for professional authors of fine self-published titles to have their books lumped in with the cringeworthy ones.