As business-minded authors, it’s important to know and be aware of the opportunities and possibilities that are available to us in this exciting new time.
And this includes merchandising and product development.
I don’t think many of us are aware how we can exploit rights over our work.
All of this is new to me but very exciting. It’s never been a better time to be an author!
Author are creatives, and like other creatives, we can learn from them on how they exploit their rights.
Think about actors and musicians. They create something of value once which they license multiple times to create multiple streams of income i.e., an artist creates one song and distributes it in different formats (digital file, CD, etc.). He can also go onto license the song to a TV show.
We authors can do the same with our content!
Think about your book adapted for a screenplay, TV show, theatre production or as a movie! I know that I certainly have big plans as to how I can exploit the content I produce. Not to mention products!
I learnt about these opportunities and merchandising on this podcast episode with Joanna Penn which is worth listening to.
So how can authors exploit merchandise and product opportunities?
Product development is when you effectively put your name on a product other than a book. For example printing your book cover or logo on a bookmark, T-shirt or mug is an example of a product.
But merchandising is when you bring your world and work into the hands of the purchaser through the product.
A classic example of merchandising is Harry Potter.
There are numerous products such as wizarding wands and broomsticks you can buy which all feature in the books. This is an example of merchandising. These items have come from the world the author has created.
It is a different way to get your work and content into the hands of readers and fans of your work. All these products bring the authors world into the forefront.
But if JK Rowling brought out a product that was related just to her, say, for example, a mug for writers then this would be an example of a product, not merchandise.
Merchandise enhances the reader’s feelings and connections to the world you have created in your books.
Think about the Star Wars brand and their merchandising. They have star war light sabres. They feature heavily in the books, and they are brought to life in a physical product.
Another example of merchandising is if I create a journal based on my book ‘How To Find Your Passion and Purpose”.
I can create a journal which includes excerpts or actions from the book which will help the reader with finding their passions. This will help bring the reader into my world and work.
Here is another example. Think about a murder mystery book where the main character likes to cook. You could produce a spin-off cookbook based on the most popular recipes your character creates.
So you can think about merchandising as part of your marketing efforts. This is exciting stuff that I intend to incorporate as part of my author business. But first things first, I need to get the books out!
The consequences of not exploiting your rights can be pretty heavy.
Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, signed away all her rights when she signed her Star Wars contract, thinking the film would go nowhere! And now, almost thirty years later, it is a billion dollar franchise.
David Morrell created the character of Rambo forty years before it became big! As authors, we cannot predict how big our work can possibly become!
As authors, we cannot predict how big our work can possibly become! So even if you are just starting out on this author-journey, think about what else you can turn your content into.
Do you have experience of merchandising? Please share in the comments below.
Melissa’s book on merchandising for authors.