What does it mean to brand self-pubbed books?
Such a maneuver has already been utilized by groups such as Vouched Books to separate certain indie books from others. Now self-published works are following suit.
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Jane Friedman is a former publishing & media exec who now teaches full-time at the University of Cincinnati. She has spoken on writing, publishing, and the future of media at more than 200 events since 2001, including South by Southwest, BookExpo America, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. To find her long list of credentials, visit her site (it's worthwhile).
Groups such as Rock*It Reads are allowing certain authors to place their seals/logos on books to validate their writing as top-notch and work to reach a similar audience. In turn this is a collaboration allowing them to place their books in one location/category in an effort to stand out from the thousands of other self-published books. In the following, Jane Friedman gives her thoughts on a trend she predicted in The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations.
Thoughts on collectives:
Jane Friedman (J): At the moment, I only see how this can benefit authors who are independently publishing. Regardless of whether you like the idea of gatekeepers and "tiers" of authors, the truth is that readers need some way of filtering out what they're most likely to be interested in, and trustworthy ways of discovering new authors. I don't think it's a bad thing that self-published authors have to prove themselves. And if you don't want to prove yourself to a collective, that's fine. Go find your own readers.
"Tier" concerns aside, collectives are a good marketing strategy for authors who know that they appeal to the same type of readers, and it's definitely in the readers' interest as well.
C: How exactly does this process work? Is it only for traditionally published authors who have self-published works as well?
J: There is no process, per se, that I've seen. It's like any group of people or businesses who get together and decide, "We're targeting very similar audiences, so let's collaborate." I don't think it's limited to any particular author; you already see traditionally published authors banding together informally to promote each other. A collective just makes it more formal.
C: Do you expect this trend to continue - perhaps to a point at which there will be a "seal of approval" for almost all genres/books?
J: I imagine this will be a popular tool in an author's marketing arsenal, but I doubt a stamp of approval will be required for every single book. Different authors will have different ways of connecting with readers. (And not all readers will be knowledgeable or aware of all the "seals" either. It only makes sense when the seal starts to mean something to readers or the marketplace.)
C: What might make one seal more prestigious than another?
J: Undoubtedly the names of the authors in a collective will drive the prestige at first, but once the collective machine is up and running, the brand name would likely be powerful by itself, without knowledge of what authors are connected to it.