View Full Version : Branding vs. Platform, Author vs. Series, Reader Loyalty

03-07-2014, 12:13 AM

Thought this was quite interesting.

It includes analysis about the difference between the author as a brand that people read versus an Internet presence people follow. But what I thought was most interesting was the stuff about reader loyalty -- how many well-known authors with market saturation are not necessarily auto-buys who have people buying their every new book -- and series-loyalty versus author-loyalty. It actually doesn't surprise me that

Most bestselling authors have less than 20% fan loyalty.because I think of the bestsellers I've read, and most were fun, easy "airport" reads, ones I enjoyed, but I never sought out the rest of the authors' books. Appealing to a broad swath of the population may sell many of one book . . . but is striking a chord with a niche of readers what will keep them coming back? (I don't know. I'm just musing.)

Or is it just that bestsellers *do* strike that chord in their niche market (that 20 percent) but are just *so* appealing that they get many readers outside of it as well? If their 20 percent of readers with loyalty is a bigger chunk of people than 100 percent of another author's readers, the bestselling author hardly has the short end of the stick. ;)

But this also sounds like it might dovetail somewhat with the recent discussion of how authors who hit the bestseller list very well might not be able to extend that into a reliable living. Maybe mid-list authors who have better fan loyalty percentages truly are in the more desirable position in some cases.


Liosse de Velishaf
03-07-2014, 12:51 AM
20% of a best-seller readership might be more than 100% of a midlist readership, for example.

Also, a lot of people who are not avid readers will buy whatever is popular at the moment. So many people who bought The Da Vinci Code weren't necessarily Dan Brown fans, and may not have read any of his other books. Same goes for other best-selling books/authors.

"Best-seller lists are the product of a skill-based meritocracy." Maybe Forbes would like to apologize to my laptop for all the juice I just spit up on the key-board...

03-07-2014, 04:47 AM
I think it's real simple. Write a great novel, and none of this means as much as a fart in a whirlwind.

03-07-2014, 08:44 AM
That was an interesting article; thanks for posting it!

03-07-2014, 09:46 AM
I think it's real simple. Write a great novel, and none of this means as much as a fart in a whirlwind.

Wow, James, that's pretty profound. :) I'd love to hope you're right, but I suspect you're not. Besides the fact that "great" is in the eye of the beholder (and the people deciding reading lists in high school an college curricula) there's a bit more to it in the world we're currently writing in. I've seen too many agents say "I read the query because the writer referenced a workshop I'd spoken at" or "I was familiar with the writer on Twitter" or "I'd followed the writer's blog" to believe that the greatness of a novel is all that matters. I'll even go so far as to say that myriad great novels have never seen the light of day, and lots of average ones have sold millions.

So platform and marketing and reputation CAN matter. Maybe they are not the end all and be all, but they matter nonetheless. I think "Robert Galbraith's" numbers are pretty compelling evidence of that. We can poo-poo reality all we want. It doesn't make it less real.