I read books for the stories, the characters, and the writing. Apparently, according to mega-agent Robert Gottlieb, I’ve got it all wrong.
"If you’re stuck thinking of authors as ‘writers,’ you’re never going to [understand branding]," says Gottlieb, some of whose clients work with up to six people, including writers, book packagers and a business manager. "Remember: TV is a format, film is a format and books are a format. Unless you’re talking to Farrar Straus & Giroux; then it becomes a literary experience."
The quote came from a two-year-old Forbes article about James Patterson, who is the subject of a lawsuit that’s resurrecting the industry discussion about how little writing he actually does on the books that bear his name. I fear that the publishing business has become more and more about "branding" and less and less about the "writing." They’ve forgotten why readers read…or at least why they used to.
Are readers really only buying brands now? Do they care anymore about what’s between the covers of the books they buy? Do they care how a book is written? If the story is interesting? If the characters are compelling?
As a writer, I can’t imagine putting my name on a book that someone else has written.Then again, I can’t imagine making $60 million from my writing, either. Maybe if I stopped thinking of myself as a "writer," but as a "brand," that could change…
(Thanks to Sarah Weinman for the links)