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Monday, 20 June 2011

Franchising and Merchandising…

C.M.O.T. Dibbler would be proud!

I was looking through my straining bookshelves holding my Diskworld collection the other night, and was struck by the amount of off-shoot franchising type books I actually have. There are, of course, all the diaries (bar two) the almanacs and the various guides. But we can’t forget the Diskworld and Anamorphic maps and cook books, as well as the other book-based miscellany. But that isn’t including my moderate collection of ClareCraft Diskworld figurines, far less the postcards, VHS-videos, DVD’s and other memorabilia I have acquired over the years.
The list does indeed go on…

The thing is, and I suspect this holds true for a lot of people, apart from the Novels most of it is no-longer even out on display. The sad thing is much of it never was. So why do I have all of this stuff hoarded away in boxes? Well it’s probably no different from seeing today’s teenagers walking around with Twilight t-shirts on. Oh I have a ‘Death’ Diskworld t-shirt as well; I had it for a while before I decided to actually weir it. Anyway, what was I on about… ah yes the sometimes impressive, if that is the word, collection of stuff, or collectables if you prefer, that we acquire for various franchises. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all this stuff is junk necessarily. Looking through my rather extensive Diskworld collection just got me thinking about the amount of merchandising that is done nowadays.
I think the main thing that says you have made-it doesn’t come from rave-reviews or critical-acclaim anymore. No, the real test of a writer’s metal is whether or not they ever get the action-figures made from their characters. You get the action-figures made and you are a writing-publishing-story-spinning demigod!
Does that sound cynical? It wasn’t meant to be. I think it’s just the way the world we live in works now. Oh, and I said demigod because you need the cartoon-series and the films to lay a clam to true god-dome… pretty sure that isn’t a word, but you know what I mean.

So what do you think? When does the mid-list author, making decent money but by no stretch of the imagination famous, make that break into the world of the uber-author and join the ranks of the household-names? What percentage is talent and how much is marketing?

Again, no bitterness intended here. Personally I think Sir Terry deserves his success based on the merits of his work, others maybe not so much… But hey, good luck to them. They obviously did something very right that propelled their books out of the norm, and into the merchandising machine overdrive.

As I said, Dibbler would have been proud!
Sausage-onna-stick anyone?

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