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Are brands in decline?

3 February 2014

As recent figures have shown, this last year has shown the lowest sales for brand name authors for five years. It's easy to assume from this figure that it's all over for the big brands, in print at least, but the truth is that they have shown their durability over many years.

Brands do come and go and no-one stays at the top forever. New authors come to the forefront and, although the older brands may not be so visible, they do still provide the mainstay of many publishers' lists. Every time a brand-name author has a new book, their whole backlist - backlist which may consist of a great many titles - gets a boost. An author like Danielle Steel is a case in point. Although her books do sell substantially in ebook, her print sales are still very good, perhaps particularly because she appeals to an older audience. And she just carries on selling.

An author who has more recently achieved major bestseller status is children's author David Walliams, whose sales are now very substantial - 1.37 units worldwide. But this kind of figure is dwarfed by authors such as J K Rowling, whose Harry Potter books have sold an astonishing 450 m worldwide. Rowling is not even closely followed by the Twilight series at 50m and The Hunger Games at 24m.

So talk of brands in decline may be a little premature and certainly in the children's publishing area it is big brands and big series which are dominating the market. So it remains hard for new authors to even think about competing with such well-established names. Best to ignore them and concentrate on coming up with something original if you are making your own bid for the big time.