Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Fiction Branding… Part 2

When To Think About Branding…

Being a fiction writer is a fine balance in your head of being completely creative and telling the best story you can while at the same time holding in check all the critical voice stuff that says everything you are writing is crap.

Long-term professional fiction writers have this controlled completely in one way or another. Early stage and middle stage fiction writers fight the battle with every story or novel. The key early on is to clear out or hold back the critical voice while trying to stay out of the way of the creative voice.

Most writers fail and thus have short careers. Writing from the critical voice is not fun and mostly creates dull and boring stories that don’t sell.

Now, no writer does this craziness the same. Some writers get energy and creative push by having a cover done ahead, for others it will bring up critical voice so badly, all writing stops.

The key is that the writer must be aware of what happens to them. Neither way is right or wrong. Just realize how it affects you.

But awareness is not a strong writer characteristic. So my suggestion is always clear and easy to understand. Write the story first, finish it, then worry about covers and sales and branding.

Now, in the Bryant Street Kickstarter, (just three more days) there will be 40 Bryant Street stories dating back to 1982. (Yes that one story survived my house fire in 1985 because it was in the mail to an editor at the time.)

I have another twenty or more Bryant Street stories above that forty in the four books in the Kickstarter. Most of those twenty have not been published yet.

So in over sixty Bryant Street stories in 40 plus years, it never once occurred to me to brand them together until we started putting this Kickstarter campaign together. I just wrote the stories and if they had a Twilight Zone feeling and were set on a modern street, I called it a Bryant Street story. Nothing more.

Now the branding is clear to me and the future of Bryant Street in marketing is bright. It will be one of the first brands we take into the Licensing Expo, actually.

So if doing covers and branding ahead of writing a story doesn’t bother you as a writer, and you get energy from it, go for it.

But check in with yourself. If doing a cover ahead or even having series covers done tightens you up, brings up critical voice, then my advice is simply not do it until after the writing is over.

Can’t brand anything if it isn’t written first.


Check out the Bryant Street Kickstarter 

Only need eight more backers by late Monday night to hit the special stretch goal.


  • Brad D. Sibbersen

    Funny how this is so different for every writer. If I see a piece of art that inspires me, or buy a piece of art for use as a future cover, it really lights my creative voice on fire. But if I design the cover first/myself, all i can think about is the practical aspects of the story and the critical voice imemdiately sets up shop and has to be ousted.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, every writer and sometimes every project has a line for every writer. Some can do them ahead on some projects and not another. Some never, some writers have zero issue. It is very weird. Being aware of your own line is the key.