Challenge,  Cover Fun,  Fun Stuff,  publishing


To Genre…

There are a lot of elements to branding in fiction, so much so that we are thinking of doing an entire six week regular workshop on the topic. (Let me know if interested. No requirement to take it.)

Branding becomes critical not only the in basics like genre covers, but in so much more, such as licensing, trademarks, and overall value of a book or series, let alone its sales and licensing. And wow are there a lot of elements that go into branding in fiction. (Six weeks worth easy.)

Most writers I’ve talked to tell me they understand branding, but as I stare at just their covers, I know they do not even get the basics. Nothing I can say.

But since I have a Kickstarter going for seven more days that has ten of my different series in it, And the art is handy that we used in the new art-in-awards feature, I thought I would show you our basic (and I do mean basic) cover branding for each genre.

Note the fonts, cover images, title, name placement, and other basics.  But covers and fonts and such is only a small part of branding. So, so much more. But this is cover to genre branding, showing some basics.

Science Fiction

Mystery (Puzzle police)

Historical Time Travel

Hardboiled (Another regular workshop we are thinking of doing. Let me know if interested.)



  • Amy

    This sounds interesting. I’ve been wondering when to break your usual rule of having your author name big at the top of a cover, and it seems to be a genre thing.

    • dwsmith

      That’s a rule for beginning writers who are learning to design covers. Always safer to go to standard design until you know what you are doing. In mystery, that does signal “big name” to mystery readers. If I wanted that to break out of the genre, I would move the name to the top and fill the top third with it. So many things in branding.

  • Elina Winterstrang

    I would immediately sign up for both courses (branding and hardboiled). Hope they happen!

  • Connor Whiteley

    Hi Dean,
    Whatever you offer as a regular workshop I’ll take it. I love learning.

    But I would enjoy a branding workshop because my series are branded at the basic level and i have a vague idea of the more advance stuff, but I need to learn more. Like the copyright, TM and how branding increases series value.

    Also about the hardboiled class, that would be so much fun. I love writing voicey hardboiled stories in dark crappy settings after the holiday workshop. But it would be great fun to learn more.

    Especially how Mary Jo is hardboil. I didn’t think it was because all the settings are too positives I thought. And she is a white Knight of course but I didn’t think little corner pf her world was dark enough for hardboil.

    I’m just curious from a learning perspective.

    • dwsmith

      All ranges of hardboiled, Connor. That’s the fun of it. For most people, living in a modern subdivision is all positive, while for me it is the horror of all horrors. Another thing to think about. Mary Jo lives in New York and kills people for a living. Besides the slight brush-stroke of fantasy, what other sub-genre of crime fiction would it fit into? Harsh, no punches pulled murders. I think she melts a guy in the second book with acid, or maybe that was in a short story. (grin)

      As I have always said, I write down the lines between things a lot.

      • Connor Whiteley Whiteley

        Ah okay thanks.

        “Harsh, no punches pulled murders”

        You’re just made me realise I write a lot more hardboiled than I think. I do love assassin story. There’s just something about killing people in faction (Grin).

        • dwsmith

          Other elements involved, remember. White Knights and such also. Everything is viewpoint and how you as the author handled the feel.

  • Pur

    Hi Dean,

    I wouldn’t be able to afford it soon but I would love a Branding workshop. I found that the hardest part of the Covers 101 workshop and haven’t felt like I really understand that part even then, let alone the rest of the iceberg.

  • Cheryl

    Ack. Been a crazy week. Thought I might’ve commented, but missed. Am also interested in this — seems a key area not to leave a gap.

  • Brad D. Sibbersen

    Sadly I do have a bit of a grasp on the very basics of branding… then don’t apply it. Most of my books look completely different from one another. Different cover styles, layout, artwork, fonts, you name it. I only have one series and even the books in the series aren’t properly consistant in appearance, except that both titles contain the same unmistakable phrase. I finally started to apply a consistant look to my paperbacks late last year, so that at least people know at a glance that they’re all by the same guy, but my ebooks remain a crazy hodge-podge. I’d really like the AI art questions to get legally sorted so i can just go back and redo all my e covers with consistant, original artwork. (Yes, I realize i’m using this as an excuse not to do it yesterday!)

    • dwsmith

      I’m stuck like that with my 100 plus story Bryant Street series. No branding at all and now so large it feels like a herd of elephants. Folks, do it along as you go, even if you change it later, easier to change something in existence than a huge mass of stuff. (grin)

  • E. R. Paskey

    *raises hand* Count me in for the branding workshop. The covers workshop was tremendously helpful, but at the same time it showed me I have got so much more to learn. I have two series (space opera and science fiction mystery) that I think I’ve got a decent start on branding, but I have an upcoming sweet romance series that I have no idea how to brand yet.

  • Fabien Delorme

    I’d reaaaally love a “hardboiled” workshop. This is probably my favorite mystery subgenre as a reader, and I haven’t written a lot yet, to say the least.

  • Thor

    Branding is a very worthy topic. In the indie world this is more important than every for an author to think about early and execute often.

  • Keith West

    I’m behind on mt blog reading, so I’m just now seeing this, but I would be interested in both a branding workshop a nd a hardboiled workshop.

    • dwsmith

      We will be doing both Branding and Hardboiled six week workshops as regular workshops, part of the Lifetime Workshop Subscription, plus a six week workshop on Heroes/Heroines and a six week workshop on How to Write Villains. (Yes, both are collection classes, but there is so much more to write them well than we do in the summaries in the collection classes.)

      More than likely starting in June, one per month.