It’s not many a writer who would admit that comic book companies are the geniuses of our industry.
No seriously. They have the whole demand scale figured out. Not only do they mass produce paperback copies of their stories, but they have television shows, movies, yearly conventions in every major city in the world. They have lunch boxes. They have toy figurines of the hero, the sidekick, the villain, the villain’s hairless cat, and let’s not forget the sidekick’s landlady. And depending on when they’re made, how rare they are, and whether or not the buyer has resisted temptation and left the figure in its original packaging, the villain’s hairless cat may go for several hundred dollars when first sold and several thousand dollars years later. This, my friends, is marketing genius: realising that the money is not in the paper bound book, but in the other entertainment opportunities we can provide the audience based on the story.
Indie publisher Richard Nash talks most eloquently on writers needing to expand their scope from the novel to further interactive opportunities like workshops, Q&A sessions, memorabilia, exclusive dinner parties, your own board game or selection of swim wear (well you never know) and endless other possible endeavours depending on your genre.
Larry Correia, author of the Monster Hunter International Series, encourages the design of military style patches for various teams in his series. He also offers for sale not only signed books from him but patches of his own design as well.
A German art student, Benjamin Harff, made a beautiful hand-illuminated and bound copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion, an enhanced version of the book that many Tolkien fans would give their pet orc for.
Slowly, authors are coming to the realisation that they can create a fever around their work by allowing it to move outside the written word. One such author is Garth Nix, a world renowned fantasy author with books published in Australia, US, UK and a dozen others. Like many well known authors, he could have just stuck to his paperbacks. But clearly Garth is also a savvy business person and saw the opportunity to deliver something more to his fan base. Garth is best known for his Abhorsen (or Old Kingdom) Trilogy and he has leveraged the books’ popularity to create another sought-after product.
In these books there are necromancers who raise and control the Dead using seven named bells. These evil necromancers and Dead themselves are opposed by a family called the Abhorsens who use their own versions of the bells to make sure the Dead stay in Death and do not trespass into life. I thought it would be great to have silver charm versions of these seven bells.
Garth has created sterling silver bell charms for a charm bracelet based on the core idea in his fantasy series. Each ‘bell’ has its own individual mark (each bell has its own name) and you can choose from not one, but three different finishes: ‘Bright’, which is brightly polished; ‘Ancient’, which is a duller finish; and ‘Black Handle’ for those evil necromancer types. Garth has further increased the rarity (and hence the value) of these charms by identifying whether the charm was done in the first casting or in later castings, making the former more valuable, especially over time. Unintentionally (but effectively), Garth built up the excitement of his readers by announcing his intention almost a year before the charms were finally ready. Furthermore, within the website he refers people to buy his books if they want more information about the bells and their uses, ensuring further sales of his novels as well.
So if comic book publishers are selling action figures (or very expensive evil cats), illustrators are making works of art and fantasy authors are forging bells out of silver, what could you create from your words?
Image Roy Lichtenstein: House I (1996/1998) by Ed Uthman