When it comes to publishing, 1 + 1 almost equals more than 2. Sometimes just having a lot of books on the market can be enough to break through the noise and establish a presence.
My question in this blog post is whether it would make sense for multiple authors to publish multiple titles under one common name. To create a “super-author” in a sense.
We all know about the use of pseudonyms by authors and that in the pre-Digital world some authors used fictitious names because they were publishing too quickly (times have certainly changed). I’m sure you’re also familiar with authors who collaborate with each other, and even some like James Patterson and Joe Konrath who are working with co-authors in what resembles a franchising model where they leverage their personal brand and trust other authors to write with their characters. (Probably the type of thing that drove J.D. Salinger into isolation.)
But I’m not aware---correct me if I’m wrong---of multiple authors who have similar styles of writing working together to publish titles under one author/brand name.
While such an arrangement would be bereft with pitfalls-- a ironclad agreement up front would probably be essential—I think that it might both plausible and powerful. Think about if, for example, three writers got together and agreed on the books each would write, they could bring out books at a very fast clip. That would result in them increasing their reach, sales and name recognition far beyond what each of them could do individually.
This concept would likely make more sense for some genres than other. Serial Detective stories, cozies, heck even erotica where it seems like there may have been a slight increase in titles and authors over the past few years. For some kinds of books (Malcolm Gladwell and memoirs are two obvious examples) the synergies would likely be less. But for many book categories, bringing multiple books together under the same umbrella—author name, blog, advertising, social media, etc—could generate some serious economies of scale.
It would likely have a force multiplier effect to the point where one-third of the sales from their writing “brand” name could end up being a lot more than 100% of what each one does by themselves. It’s why 500 hotels called Comfort Inn do better than 500 hotels named after each owner.
As I write this I’m also reminded of the "fist" analogy that Duke’s Coach K likes to use. As he likes to explain, if you try to hit somebody with an individual finger, it’s not going to do much damage. It might even hurt you more than your target. But if you combine your fingers together into a fist, you have a lot better chance to make a powerful impact. It’s an analogy I have always liked and makes sense to me.
To be honest, I have a lot more questions than answers about this idea.
What do you think about writers (especially independents) doing this? Would it make sense for some writers to band together under a common author name in order to make more of an impact? Would the upside be worth it? How much synergy do you think could be had if this hypothetical “super author” was bringing out books every six months?
Do you think somebody might already be doing this? Has this idea already been re-hashed to death? Would it never work?
What about you as a writer? Would you be willing to give up the psychological income and praise in exchange for higher sales? Would this arrangement be unethical or is it capitalism at work creating a business model that might give you a long-term competitive advantage?
Okay, you’re right. Enough with the questions, you get the point: I would love to hear what you think about this concept.