Challenge,  Licensing

Comments and Questions Here…

Using This Blog For Comments and Questions…

On the class called Attend the 2023 Licensing Expo with Dean. I will try to answer any question here so that those who didn’t take the class (but still have interest in licensing) can understand.

It is still possible to sign up for the class. And in a couple of weeks I will add this class into the Licensing Transition class from a few years back as the last thing to be added in there. But not for two or three weeks.

So did I learn anything this year? Yes, a ton.

Am I going to make changes because of what I learned going forward. Yes, a ton.

So questions on the 2023 Licensing Expo. Right here. Ask away.

By the way, I spent 15 minutes talking to a patent attorney who had a booth there and thought it was a good idea for some whacked-out reason. He came all the way from Texas. I was reminded after talking with him a for a few minutes of the old saying… “What is a D student in law school? A lawyer.”


  • Connor Whiteley

    Hi Dean,
    This has been a brilliant and fascinating course thanks. I’ve learnt tons and the QR code is a great idea.

    My questions please:
    Whats the name of that throw pillow company?

    Whats the name of that candy licensing agency?

    I know how the brand bible works because you spoke about it in the Master Business Class, but could you do some videos about how you would (I don’t know) present your IP in a meeting? Basically, the weeds of a meeting.

    All of its for future reference in 4 or 5 years time but I still want learn it now and have a basic understanding.

    I look forward to seeing that Abysse company in London later on in the year.

    Thanks for doing this course.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Connor…

      Don’t know the name of the pillow company but having it sent to me. I heard about it from Steve York and by the time I got back to it on Thursday, they were gone. Not a clue on the candy licensing agency because, to be honest, never intended to go through them for anything. Sorry.

      As for how to present it, no right way. But I think indie publishing needs a next step, or at least we do. So we will be doing a workshop on how to build a product line. An interactive one for 9 weeks with Zoom meetings and everything. We indie writers need product not only for our own stores but for Kickstarters. And then with a product line (of samples, basically), any presentation for larger distribution will build itself. So stay tuned for that coming up.

      • Connor Whiteley

        Okay thanks Dean.

        That nine week interactive workshop sounds great and I defintely agree about the product for Kickstarters and we need a next step first. I wouldn’t do anything for my Bettie English kickstarter next month but for my fantasy one in October, I might consider offering jigsaw puzzles because they sound fun and found this website earlier

        Haven’t checked it out but it’s print on demand, looks cheap, offers shipping to customers and it has its own retail store too. And what I really like is it gives you the chance to do a custom design box and for us indies that means QR code like you mentioned.

        Anyway, won’t look at that properly for a month or two but just wanted to mention it in case you’re interested or anyone else is.

        And if anyone thinks that sounds interesting just remember to get the CORRECT LICENSE for the images you would want to use.

        • dwsmith

          Connor, again thank you for that link. I got playing around and almost ordered a puzzle tonight to see what a book cover on it would look like. Going to soon. Fantastic!

          And yes, Kris and I talked a lot about that class today. 9 weeks, focused on how to build a product line and get everyone doing things like this in that class, plus doing a webinar once a week with anyone who wants to join a discussion and then record the discussion and post it on the class as well for those who missed the live hour or so.

          Just playing on websites tonight got me excited and considering how tired I am, that’s a shocker. (grin)

    • dwsmith

      Connor, thank you!!! The very first place I looked at called Printful in that article integrates with Shopify and is amazing. Thank you and haven’t even gotten through the rest of the article.

  • Frank Theodat

    Thanks for opening up the comment section for questions, Dean.

    Do you know if companies have a preference to license work from standalone novels or book series? Do they prefer longer works in general vs short stories?

    I write primarily short fiction and I don’t have a series or recurring characters going on (yet), but I’m very curious if something like this matters to the licensee. Popular characters I understand, such as Sherlock Holmes or Conan the Barbarian, but what about story concepts themselves?

    For example, I know Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” was adapted to a video game.

    Is it simply a matter of imagination for the writer who licenses his or her work?

    I appreciate your thoughts and knowledge on this. Thank you!

    • dwsmith

      Frank, of course the only answer to that is “It depends.” On the company, the brand, and so much more. No rules.

      I have over the last thirty years had running options in Hollywood for four different short stories. Kris tends to get options and interest on her series. It depends.

      Up to your imagination and what you have done with sampling and your own store and product line.

  • Kelvin

    Dean, I believe I spoke to the same attorney. I came away with the same impression…

    The name of the pillow company is All About Vibe. The first couple of times I came across their booth, I passed right on by for the same reasons you did. But on the third day the guy running the booth pretty much waved me over as I got close. Really interesting conversation. In addtion to the things you mentioned, he said that they can make pillows that include hidden straps that, when pulled out, will allow you to wear the pillow like a backpack as you move from one place to another. Not 100% sure, but I believe he also said the pillow could contain a pocket for carrying a book or ereader. He talked about a lot of possible features that I don’t see mentioned on their website, so if you have ideas it’s worth having a discussion with them.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Kelvin. Sorry about not running into you at one point or another. Place was big.

      All About Vibe does some amazing looking pillows. Going to do some tests shortly. And the prices are reasonable. Fun.


      • Kelvin

        No worries, Dean. I’m sure we’ll cross paths at one of the future expos. It’s funny: you and I both came away from this expo with the same conclusion–the need to build a product line. I had come to that conclusion by the end of the first day, just talking to people and observing what others were doing. By the third day my notebook was full of pages re: product ideas and how to get started.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Thank you for doing a product development course! Unlike in my other lives, product development for the indie writer has different kinds of strictures than in other fields, and we should start out defining our ideal parameters for our ideal products. Both digital and physical. Products being POD is definitely one of them for me. I’m doing a few hours a week of e-Bay reselling, which taught me that fulfillment and shipping can bloat into quite a time sink even with having a propery organized shipping station…something to avoid if at all possible.

    I’m setting money aside for this course. I know “writing words” must be my primary business, but so much else could be done, and I’ve always found this aspect of business such fun!

  • T Thorn Coyle

    Hi Dean,

    A couple of comments and a couple of questions:

    When I took the Licensing Transition class we talked a lot about POD products. I’ve had t-shirts and stickers for five out of six of my Kickstarter campaigns so far, and added art prints and cheese knives (there’s a Mouse) for my most recent one. I use Printful for the t-shirts and art. They also have mugs, pillows, backpacks, puzzles… even shoes.
    Some Printful products have a much higher profit margin than others, so for some things you may need to shop around. For example, I get stickers printed elsewhere, and while I’ve thought of using Printful for a character backpack for myself, can’t get the pricing right for POD sales through them. I’ve recently been researching pricing for puzzles because my next Kickstarter campaign in October has beautiful art. I’ll also be making meditation card decks for that one.

    Because of Kickstarter, I have products for 5 series right now. These products are all ready to go on my store. All I need to do is link Printful to my website, which I’ll do this summer.

    My question is: what changed this year to make you decide to do WMG products, when you’ve been thinking and talking about it for years? What made it click this year? Besides direct sales, is it just the thought of having samples to show along with your branding sheets?

    And: it seems like having a booth, which was forefront in your mind going in this year, completely went away. Is that accurate?

    I was thinking of the Master Biz Class (boy, I miss those!) where Deidre talked to us. She was so excited about having an author’s section of the Expo. I guess no one else there wanted to pick up that ball, which is too bad. Because a whole section of indie authors with IP in one spot sounded like a great opportunity.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks for the suggestion on Printful. Looks interesting for some things. Let me know when you get to it how the link works out with your Shopify store.

      It became clear for me this year, finally, that the those that were looking for products to license-in needed more than a good idea and a brand book. They needed track record and samples. The idea of the booth is still there, but the prices are high and without a bunch of samples and track record, would be mostly worthless. Having a booth gets you access early to appointments with others with booths of all levels, so an advantage, but a 20×10 booth would range up around $15,000 for the basics, not counting running it and such. I tend to like return on investments, just can’t see that at this point without first building a solid product line.

      Also realize that WMG has 1,200 titles over about 40-plus series from two authors, not counting our other trademarks like Fiction River and Pulphouse. A booth would need to be focused, so we would need to discover through creating a product line what works and doesn’t work.

      Other internal WMG changes made this possible as well.

      By the way, the loss of Deidra had a major impact on the Licensing Expo and we are seeing that everywhere, right down to no Licensing University this year at all. Nothing. Also, be honest, can you imagine many indie authors spending $15,000 to 20,000 at the expo for booths. I can’t even get most indie authors to understand what this is all about and attend. For some reason, writers don’t think their license and brands have value outside of their books and stories. Sort of how Penguin Random house booth showed.

      Maybe in five to ten years and this new indie world really settles in and some of us have a lot of success with product lines, others will follow. Master Class was just ahead of its time.

      • Kelvin

        They are allegedly launching a new, online version of Licensing University within a few months. I (and other first-timers) had a one-on-one meeting with a member of the License Global team to discuss impressions, what I learned or wish I’d learned at the expo, how the expo could be more useful to first-timers or those brand new to licensing, what first-timers should know before coming, etc. etc. They are going to notify me when the class is available; I will likely sign up.

        And, T. Thorn Coyle, here’s another Thank You for the suggestion on Printful. I coincidentally discovered them earlier today as I was doing research on POD art prints. I’d made a note to take a closer look at them as I get closer to setting up my store.

        • T Thorn Coyle


          I tried attending the virtual Expo and Licensing U a few years back and found it frustrating.

          I’ll be interested to hear what they come up with that might work better! Please keep us in the loop!

  • Catherine

    Stumbled on this a while ago and thought it was useful for understanding how part of branding can be specified for licensing, at least it was for me:

    The top menu goes through a lot of other elements. Obviously lots of this is not author/book specific, but I never would have thought about specifying colors in both RBG and CMYK, etc. Good for learning.