Popular music is one of the few creative mediums where branding is used to market the work of a group of artists, The Beatles, U2, or Muse for example. People who have enjoyed previously released work from these groups will often purchase a new release, sight-unseen, because they know and love the “brand” of product the group produces. This branding has been used in other creative mediums. In cinema for example the latest “Tarantino” film is almost guaranteed to be well attended because the viewing public have come to know what to expect in one of his films. In the book industry many author’s work is branded more with the author’s name than with the subject matter of the specific book.
A good percentage of popular music releases over the past half a century have been from groups of artists and this continues to be the case today for two reasons. Firstly, the quality of work that can be produced through a collaborative creative process can be much greater than something produced in isolation, and secondly, that the branding of the product is an immediate and lasting marketing tool. Literary products have not embraced this collaborative approach to the degree that the music industry has. We do see products written jointly by several authors but they are marketed under both author’s names rather than an abstract group name.
Is the literary industry missing out on both counts? …I think they are!
In my “day job” I work collaboratively on creative design tasks and I know from personal experience over the past few decades that I could never have produced designs at anywhere near the quality the group has been able to generate, if I had worked in isolation.
When it comes to writing, I have worked in isolation on a large work of fiction for over a year and although some of the writing is of high quality the project is languishing. A few weeks ago when I first began to contemplate the notion of Authorial Groups I decided to seek out one or more writers to work collaboratively on this project with the object of forming a long term partnership where we could brand our joint literary works. I found this step challenging to take, considering the time and effort I have invested already in research and writing for the work but I am convinced the end product will be of superior quality and has a better chance of reaching the people I intend it to.
The output from groups can also be higher in quantity due to the number of people focused together at the task of writing. This approach should lead to more regular and reliable releases too, which can only help to build the brand loyalty that will ensure the longevity of the process and the group.
In the same way a band leader, or existing band, will audition for new members I decided to approach a writer to work on a short piece of fiction. This on-the-job task may also help to materialise a collaborative writing process that could work for an authorial group.
So, I’ve engaged with another writer and we’ve agreed to collaborate on a short story to both flesh out the process of literary collaboration and group dynamics in writing. For example, do we collaborate on the plotting and scene development only and then work independently, or do we continue to write as many fingers at the same keyboard, or simply write the text on a white board and transcribe it at a later date?
Trust is a key factor in any partnership, as well as being strong and confident enough to let your ideas to fall dead to the ground if they are not taken up by the group. Luckily I have worked collaboratively with this writer on other creative projects before and we have often joked about each others crap… sorry…outlandish and impractical ideas. In a way we already know how to work together creatively.
The process has started…