Behind every James Bond or Harry Potter is an author such as Ian Fleming or JK Rowling who has created a multibillion-dollar brand.
But few successful book franchises grow to a legendary scale without a team of people and contributors helping in the background, some of whom may sign deals for merchandising, films and, of course, contribute ideas for future titles.
Crafting the right franchise can certainly pay off in the end: in the book-publishing industry alone, global revenue is forecast to hit US$94 billion (Dh345bn) this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm.
For Jack Canfield, a co-creator of the book series Chicken Soup for the Soul that has sold more than 112 million copies worldwide, the secret ingredient seems to boil down to mixing in ideas - from others. The stories in his books are often collections from writers who share valuable life lessonstold through certain encounters or anecdotes.
Canfield is slated to speak in Dubai for the first time on Tuesday, on the subject of "success principles", and says his series began after he shared anecdotes during teaching seminars and speeches.
Listeners asked whether he had gathered the tales into a book, which he decided to act on for his debut as an author, Chicken Soup for the Soul.
At the end of this particular collection, Canfield simply stated: "If you have a great story that you think might help someone else if they read it, send it in and maybe we'll publish a second book."
He started to receive 50 to 200 stories from readers each day, contributing to the content needed to fill what is now more than 200 titles in the series, with versions for basketball fans, twins and even runners. Each contributorearns a fee, the amount being based on the length of the story and the popularity of the writer. Contributors also get the "lion's share" of the earnings if their concepts become films or TV shows, Canfield says.
Yet, from a business perspective, Canfield must surely be planning to supplement his revenue or find a new product when this franchise finally runs out of steam.
"I don't think it will," he counters.
In the beginning, he notes, he and Mark Victor Hansen, the co-creator of the Chicken Soup series, conceived the different titles themselves. Then other people started suggesting titles.
Canfield's sister was one, and she suggested a book of stories for teenagers written by teens, which spawned a series of 11 books that she ended up co-authoring.
For new titles to be considered today in the United States, Canfield and his team make sure there is a market of at least 10 million people that would be interested in a pitched topic, he says. If so, they "usually proceed".Canfield plans to expand the franchise even further by focusing on niches within categories that the team has already written about. For example, there was Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul. But since then, editions for the Indian Woman's Soul and Indian Armed Forces Soul have been released.
Residents here in the Emirates who wonder whether Canfield plans to incorporate any local anecdotes or stories during his talk on Tuesday may be disappointed at his response.
"Probably not on this first trip, because I'm not yet familiar with the books, authors and successful businesspeople in that region," he says.
"However, what usually happens is when I visit a country for the first time, many people will come up to me during my seminars and hand me their books or stories they've written that I will then incorporate into future presentations when I return to that country a second or third time."
Just remember, there could be a contributor fee in it for you.