Branding & Trademarks in Authorship


Not long ago a romance author trademarked romance novels with the word Cocky in them. Meaning no one else could use cocky in a book title of a romance novel. It has been dubbed Cockygate because she had cease and desist letters sent out to authors who had used it. It did not go as she expected, there was a ton of backlash and she stated she didn’t know why since all she was doing was protecting her brand.

She writes a series with the word Cocky in the title and we all know she was just trying to protect her brand, but trademarking a word is annoying.

So a guy who writes fantasy is now trademarking a cover style: 2 human or human like figures, one holding a weapon, author name at the bottom.

This is only slightly less annoying. And puts several paranormal romance writers in peril of receiving cease and desist letters.

These are the equivalent of me trademarking the word “Dysfunctional” or the word “dream” in a title or a book cover where a woman is in a crosshairs as all the Dysfunctional covers show.

I know branding is important. I also know that people occasionally find me by accident. At least one person has found me while looking for the movie Elysium and another found me by looking for books on Dysfunctional families. In both instances, my books popped up in search results and since it was free they grabbed it to give it a try. Another reader found me when looking for a dream interpretation book and since Tortured and Elysium were free and there were 6 books in the series they decided to give it a try because they liked the covers.

Branding is important. My brand is not a book cover style, it’s not a word in a title although I have found that if I start typing in “Elysium Dreams” into the Amazon search function it does suggest “Hadena James Dreams & Reality” series.

Awesome, still not my brand. Your brand is your core. My brand is dark stories with dark humor. Oh with an eye for history. That’s why I blog about serial killers, unexplained mysteries, and historical events that aren’t all fluffy and nice. Banning authors from using “Dreams” or “Dysfunctional” from their book titles isn’t going to protect my brand, it’s just going to make me look like an asshole who doesn’t understand what a brand is.

For instance I love Lee’s Jeans. I love the fit and the price doesn’t make me hyperventilate. If Lees changed their name I’d still buy their jeans because their name isn’t really their brand. Their brand is well made jeans with crotch room (yes women need this too) that aren’t that expensive. Lee’s are just their name. What people don’t seem to get is that the name is just how we identify the brand to other people it’s not the brand itself.

Jeans, stores, fishing equipment, these are names that should be trademarked because it is how the brand is identified. Books not so much because you have book titles and author names to identify them. And how do we find books? We use the author name more than the title. I don’t search places like Amazon or Scribd by book title unless I absolutely must have the next one in a series, I search by author name. It would annoy me more if I searched for Preston and Child and there were several of them than if their were six books called A Still Life with Crows. Just like I would have to really wonder if I searched for Hadena James and found a book I hadn’t written. Especially if it was named something like Unbelievable Dreams. At that point I’d call a lawyer.

Also if Cocky is your brand, aren’t you limiting yourself? There is a reason I don’t want Dreams and Reality to be my brand. At that point it seems anything else I write would be ignored by my readers because it’s not D&R, it’s not my brand. What if I want a different style cover for the series? What if instead of dreamlike and dark I told Angela with Covered Creatively to give me a cover with a happy clown and a pretty waterfall in the background for a book entitled Phobic Dreams. Unless you are afraid of heights, water, or clowns, that cover wouldn’t fit with the others. And if the “owner” of the Cocky trademark decides to stop writing books with the word Cocky in it (sometimes I have trouble thinking up words to go with Dreams). And eventually when D&R gets boring, I am probably going to write a different serial killer horror novel or series of novels. If Dreams is my brand, I’m not free to write books not in that series. And in my opinion if I did stop writing them but had forced others not to use it, thereby tying it up for decades, that would make me an asshole.

Okie dokie that is all on that subject.

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