One of my regular readers, Vickie, wants to be named after one of the characters in my next book (which I’m busily writing after the kids are in bed). More specifically, she wants to be named after one of the bad guys.
And she’s not the first one to make such a request.
Being one of the bad guys I can understand. Generally, evil characters are more fascinating than the good ones. But does someone want their real name attached to an evil character in a book? What if the book became extremely popular and you name was associated with someone as infamous as Hannibal Lecter? Imagine trying to order a pizza or applying for a credit card. No one would take you seriously ever again.
However, Vickie’s request got me thinking. Sports teams sell the naming rights to stadiums and arenas all the time to make some extra cash. For example: the Denver Broncos lose regularly at Inevsco Field at Mile High, the Utah Jazz call Energy Solutions Arena home, and the Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park. So why can’t authors sell the naming rights to their characters?
Just think of the possibilities this could open for authors, like me, who would like to write novels full time but financially can’t make that move. All I’d have to do is come up with a great plot (got it!), descriptions and attitudes of several complex but real characters (got ‘em!), and write a 5-10 page outline of the book (a draft is complete!). Those who want to be part of the novel could then read the outline and bid on the naming rights to characters. The money earned would make it feasible for me to complete the book and market it to a publisher.
Main and central characters would go for a premium, of course. Secondary and other miscellaneous characters would go for less. But wherever your name ended up, you could show the book to your friends and family and tell them that you were the inspiration behind that fictional character.
And why stop at character names? If one of your characters likes to shop, sell the naming rights to the stores he or she shops at. Sell the naming rights to the food they eat, the hotels they stay at, the cars they drive, and the guns they use! Hollywood is notorious for product placement. It’s about time authors cashed in!
Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?
As lucrative as it sounds, I can see potential downsides.
When writing, characters sometimes take on a life of their own. Someone may pay thinking that their character is going to turn out a certain way only to have him or her become someone else. Those who bought the naming rights wouldn’t like that. The lawsuits would fly.
And then there are creative issues. If authors sell the names of their characters, I doubt names great names like Holden Caulfield, Holly Golightly, or Atticus Finch would have a place in literary history. Names like John Smith, Rebecca Johnson, and Ethan Richards don’t have the same ring to them.
So, I’m not going to sell the naming rights to my characters—at least not right now. :-) Besides, I like the idea of making money because people like my books and want to buy them, not because I had to sell naming rights. But in the next couple months I will be running a contest that will allow your name to appear as a minor character in my next book.
Vickie, I hope you enter.
Everyone else, stay tuned.