Titles and brand names – A cautionary tale

Something cropped up the other day and today that made me feel I should warn others about. It is about titles and branding for book series. As some of you know, I have branded my new fiction series about children with Asperger’s Syndrome a certain name. I did do lots of research on names back in May when I was thinking about it all. One name I really liked but had been used by someone else, so I message them on Facebook to ask if they owned the rights to it. I never heard back…until the other day. Because I hadn’t heard all this time, of course, I went ahead and used the name. The message I got yesterday was that the name was the name of the company founded by the woman who runs it and she had the rights to it, and the only other person who could use it with authorisation was a specialist publisher I know about. Anyone else couldn’t use it, and if they did, they could end up being sued by the company. This gave me great worry and anxiety with my own Asperger’s. I thought, oh no, I am going to get in to great trouble here and panicked. I had to come up with alternative names for my brand.

I came up with a couple of titles, but when I Googled both, they were already taken by magazines and companies, so they were a no go as well. I got a few suggestions from others on a FB post I put up last night, but most of them are too similar to the first one I had. One suggestion, by my designer, Rachel Lawston, was to drop the idea of a brand. And this is what I now plan to do. Someone else I know said that if I do drop the brand idea, then my books would reach a wider audience. So, it is a good idea. I want my books to find as many readers as possible. I have deleted the brand name on the blurb for Billy, and will ask Rachel to delete it from the cover, too. For those books I already have ordered, I am going to have to cut out the name and charge a reduced fee.

So, the motto here is: if you are thinking of giving a series a brand name, like I did, do a thorough research. If it looks like it has been taken, even by a magazine, forget the idea. You will be thankful in the future. I did want to give all my books a brand but it might seem it is best not to. You will see from this post that I haven’t actually put the title of the brand I had, that is because I have emailed the company concerned to say that I won’t use the term anywhere again. I have had to retire ‘Billy’ from Createspace and Amazon (it is now unavailable to buy), I have cut out references to the term on all my postcards, and remove the term from all other websites I have been on, include someone’s blog I appeared on a couple of weeks ago.

I am going to publish it again, with a new cover and amended content, hopefully next week.

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