Over the last decade James Patterson has published an unprecedented number of best-selling books, cemented a powerful brand image amongst a loyal following, and redefined the process by which authors create content to meet reader demand. From November 2000 through June 2003, Patterson had cumulative sales of over six million dollars, trailing only John Grisham during that time frame. He has generated the majority of his sales through a loyal readership that consistently lines up to buy his next installment. Keenly aware of this dedicated following, Patterson successfully sought to augment the proliferation of his titles with co-authors familiar with his brand that could share the workload, creating a virtual assembly-line of best-sellers. Despite this enormous success, the Patterson brand still has a sizeable opportunity for growth. Patterson cites a need to broaden his, relative to other best-selling authors, narrow reader base to capture a greater percentage of the "omnivorous" readers, amongst whom his brand penetration was much lower.
There are two possibilities for Patterson to consider, both involving his relationship with book clubs. The book clubs provide an excellent source of individualized customer information, but have not themselves yielded an enormous amount of profitability for already-established authors such as Patterson. The first option would be to negotiate higher club royalties with the existing book club partnerships. Patterson himself has advocated this approach, citing that the clubs often erode profits from bookstore store sales, and the clubs need him more than he needs the clubs. The second possibility is for Patterson to embrace the book club marketing model, using the club's customer information to market directly to the customer. Patterson could identify on an individual and international basis the "omnivorous" reader that has not yet embraced his books. He could then tailor a marketing campaign centered around the promotion of his titles directly to these readers.
The first option would not really address the concern about Patterson's narrow reader base. While it may be true that the club needs Patterson more than he needs the club, it is still a means to reach a broader audience. It seems more likely that Patterson has merely under-used the club channel, which is why the second option would provide a better opportunity for Patterson to reach a larger target audience. He mentions that he has not yet become a "badge" author, meaning that he has not been able to break out of his genre and create a "buzz" across a wide range of readers. He does not yet have the name recognition as some of his best-selling counterparts, and without this name recognition he needs to seek other means to create a buzz for his next title.
I would advocate allowing book club members exclusive access to his next release before it is released in book stores or other retail channels. ...