Monday, October 28, 2013

Publishers or Sponsors?

Something occurred to me this weekend: Modern-day publishers are pretty similar to sponsors. Upfront investment. A guaranteed logo on the author’s racecar—I mean, book. What if things progressed in that direction?


You’d perfect your “indie” book proposal, submit it to a panel of companies targeting similar audiences, and the interested parties would request to handle one of your expenses. Need a big-shot cover artist? No problem. XYZ soda will cover that expense in exchange for a spot on your book spine. What about a nationwide advertising campaign? A tourism board will take care of that. Just tie their location into the story and give them a promotional page or two at the end of the book—kind of like a magazine spread.

It sounds crazy, but look at it this way: We’re seeing more and more traditional acquisitions based not on writing ability, but how easily a book might sell in volume. Is it controversial enough to generate mixed interest? Does the author have an established and/or growing fanbase? That’s business. So, try substituting the publisher’s cut for a different kind of return on investment—brand exposure. In exchange for financially backing an aspect of your book, these companies would gain another advertising medium.

It. Could. Happen.

So, five years from now, who will be pulling our strings? Publishers? Sponsors? Maybe neither one—or both! The point is, we’re going through a period of great change. Anything is possible.

1. Thank you to everyone who lent their support during my freebie promotion, new release, and blog tour. You guys rock! :)

2. Yes, I gave you guys a weird theory because I’m zapped from the last two weeks. LOL

Question of the week: Would you accept the help of a sponsor in the book world?
I bet you would in the Hunger Games!

53 comments:

Melissa said...

Yikes! No, no, no--back. BACK!!! *holds up finger-cross*

I've already given up on magazines because they contain more ads than articles. I don't want that crap in my fiction.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The way you describe it, publishers are already similar to sponsors.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I think it's kind of brilliant! I'm sharing.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've never thought about it this way, but you're sooo right. And Alex is right, too. Publishers have their logos and names on our covers.

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't have a problem with that. Its up to the writer to do what they feel is the right thing to do.

Kyra Lennon said...

This is a bit complex for my sleep-deprived brain right now, but I know it's interesting, so I'll be sharing it!

Alex Tanner said...

My sentiments exactly! If things went that route before you know it we'd have adverts mid-novel! *shudder* if things ever turned out like that I'd never traditionally publish!

Clare said...

I actually think it's a good idea, but maybe it's me. It works in sports etc. Why not publishing?

ilima said...

Interesting concept...I wouldn't be surprised.

Juliana Haygert said...

True, especially now with digital-first imprints ...

E.J. Wesley said...

I'm not saying it's aliens… but it's definitely aliens. :D

Seriously, interesting theory/thought on this. There's a perception shared among many writers that the publishing industry went through this massive change with the advent of digital (and self) publishing, and that's where we're at today. The reality is that it's STILL changing dramatically.

No one is 100% certain what this business is going to be like 4 years from now, and everyone associated with publishing (authors, agents, pubs, etc.) are scrambling to try to figure out how to stay financially afloat.

I don't think there's a "best" (and certainly not an "only"…) channel to reach readers anymore, and that's got people freaked out. :)

Misha Gericke said...

You have an awesome point! And I don't know if I'd mind a sponsorship like that. Just hoping that the sponsors don't expect us to plug their products in the story like some do on TV and in movies.

Crystal Collier said...

Yup. I'd say that's a pretty astute observation. It really is headed that direction and I wouldn't be surprised to to see it happen.

Carrie Butler said...

I could hear you hiss all the way from Ohio, Melissa! LOL

And I shudder at the thought, Alex. Anything but mid-novel. Yuck!

Carrie Butler said...

Some more than others. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Donna! :D

Carrie Butler said...

Indeed. This would just be taking it to the next level with different backing--a level that could quickly get out of hand. Dun, dun, dunnnnn....

*Grins*

Carrie Butler said...

Yep! It's all about having options.

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Kyra! :)

Carrie Butler said...

As long as the author could decide which advertising bids to accept, and how many, I would be okay with it. Some of us need that kind of financial assistance.

Carrie Butler said...

It's hard to surprise us, these days!

Carrie Butler said...

Absolutely. Digital-first imprints were what brought the concept to mind.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I never thought of it, but you're right. And as long as the check cleared, I'd gladly have my characters enjoy an icy cold whatever soft drink wanted to pay me.

Carrie Butler said...

Hah! I knew you were going to bust out that quote. ;)

Yep. Changing more and more every day!

Carrie Butler said...

I'd plug it in my author photo. It'd be me holding up a bottle of laundry detergent. *grins*

Thanks, Misha!

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, Crystal! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Yeah, I probably wouldn't mind something that non-intrusive. ;)

Melissa said...

LOL

I could have gotten my Kindle cheaper, but I paid the extra $15 not to have the ads. You grew up being bombarded, but I'm old enough to remember when telephone solicitors were practically nonexistent, magazines were mostly articles, and TV commercials were only on the quarter hour. ;)

Nancy Thompson said...

BRILLIANT!!

Eric Muss-Barnes said...

Advertisements in books has been done in the past. Once upon a time, it was rather commonplace for large publishers to whore a few pages out. Just like magazines and comic books, so too did novels have ads in them. For example...
http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/fine_books_blog/2009/05/victorian-advertisements-in-charles-dickens-serial-novels.phtml

Harlan Ellison was particularity miffed when a publisher allowed cigarettes to be advertised in one of his novels (which resulted in a delightful story of mailing the publisher a dead gopher)...
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/books/review/Collins-t.html?_r=0

Carrie Butler said...

Good point! And don't forget, I was trained as one of them...

Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnnnnn!

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks for stopping by, Nancy! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Now take publishers out of the equation and you've got this (potentially scary) possibility. Thanks for sharing, Eric!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So true. But I hadn't thought of it this way, Carrie. I do hope we don't get to advertising things like cigarettes. It'll certainly be interesting to see what happens.

Carrie Butler said...

Yeah, especially with YA books. There would definitely have to be some regulations there!

Southpaw said...

Interesting to think about and the industry is evolving so rapidly right now, it does make me curious.

JeffO said...

I can foresee a time when e-books are littered with advertising--err, 'sponsorhips'--especially as the technology for 'reading' eye movement improves. Read the word 'Coke' in the text, and hear the Coca Cola jingle play soft in the background! The question is, who will reap the financial benefit of such a thing?

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks for stopping by, Southpaw! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, yeah. I've watched a few videos on technology that utilizes eye movement. It's very interesting (and a little creepy)...

David List said...

Another question to ask - Are writers willing to have their books serve no other purpose than to be advertising vehicles for huge corporations? (I can wager a guess at that one)
I'd love to say I wouldn't take a sponsorship. Because it would inevitably compromise the story... and in my case, the world I'm trying to build.
But who can really know what they'd do if a big-arsed check slid their way from across the polished mahogany?

David List said...

I don't think it will always be in the form of advertisements mid novel. I think they'll become more clever. "Jacob's favorite drink is power-aid... Edward's is coke... You have to choose."
Both products owned by (surprise sponser) Coca cola... You see where I'm going.

Carrie Butler said...

Mhmm.

Carrie Butler said...

I think if the author retains the power to choose which offers to take, then they could do so without compromising the book's integrity. Of course, there will always be some greedy parties on both sides.

Nick Wilford said...

This put me in mind of Wayne's World when they show off various products like Pepsi straight to the camera. Not sure I'd want to read a book like that! You can say it would be done subtly, but then what if no one realised someone was trying to push something? Nope, gotta say I don't like the sound of it, sorry!

Carrie Butler said...

Don't apologize to me, Nick. I'm not selling it. *Grins*

Thanks for stopping by!

David List said...

Very true.

Emily R. King said...

I don't think this idea is too far off, Carrie. They're already pushing adds on Kindles. Spend more if you want it ad free! Crazy! At least they're still giving us a choice. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

For now, right? ;) Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnnn!

Lisa Regan said...

Yeah, it sounds about as crazy as books that only exist in the ethos that you can read on a little square device that fits into your purse. ;)

Chris Edgar said...

Some great ideas there -- particularly in the context of nonfiction, where it already appears that the publishers are principally about the platform and content is not as important. Because the number of potential sponsors in your scenario would be much larger than the number of publishing houses, at least in theory, we could expect to see more competition for manuscripts/proposals among sponsors and less need for authors to know the right people (or pay someone who knows them) to be able to contact the corporate sponsors. And the possibility of lots of sponsors could mean that each individual sponsor is taking less financial risk. From an author's perspective, it could be a great development.

Carrie Butler said...

We're living in the future! Haha :)

Carrie Butler said...

I really like the way you think, Chris! Thank you so much for stopping by. :)

Melissa said...

I don't have a problem with advertisement in general, I just think it's gotten out of control. And I don't mean to shoot down your idea. My point is (taking our society's track record into account)... Bonding product marketing with fiction would start out subtle, but would it stay that way?