Challenge,  Licensing,  publishing

Fiction Branding… Part 6

One More Preliminary Suggestion…

Before getting into more details on branding in general.

The suggestion: Have a Shopify store.

Is it possible to build a brand with only books selling through Amazon and other bookstores world wide? Sure.

My gut sense is that unless you have been living under a rock for the past 15 years or sticking your head in the traditional publishing cesspool, you have already been branding your own series.

More than likely you have branded to genre.

And your author name has a brand if you got out of your own way and didn’t hide your name in small print at the bottom of the cover.

You also might have branded your covers and such to your series. All great and in coming posts I will talk about the value of all that.

But to really brand a series, you need a Shopify store. It can be your author or publisher website. Shopify in many ways works like a WordPress site, only a ton easier and better.

For example, in the last webinar last Sunday (Information, look in the next couple weeks on, a writer showed off a nifty bag with the logo of a series on it and a special saying that went with the series. That bag would be fantastically popular to a national distributor and sell a ton in thousands of stores.

And thus sell a ton more copies of the books in the series.

The key is the writer who owns the copyright and who tested the bag needs to have it for sale and then be able to understand licensing enough to present the bag with a few sales to a national distributor to partner up with.

Can’t do any of that without a Shopify store.

The distance between a writer with a lot of IP walking into the Licensing Expo and the writer walking away with licensing deals must go through samples and small sales. Samples of products and small sales of those products go through a Shopify store.

Of course, there are a ton of other elements involved with this kind of branding, but seldom does a brand that is only fiction IP go direct to anything but television and gaming. And those are fantastically difficult.

Again, just a preliminary detail I wanted to mention before getting into more detail on branding of all sorts. If your long-term hopes in 2024 is to make a lot of money from your fiction, get the Shopify store started sooner rather than later.

And going forward in these posts, I will just assume you have one or will be starting one.


  • Kerridwen Mangala McNamara

    My question: how can you keep all the marketing balls in the air and also Write? I know WMG has a team… are there folks out there doing this as a one-person show?

    So far – and I’m trying to play the long game – I only have energy and time to manage one big piece (not forgetting that one still has to get food in the table, kids places, etc.)
    2024 – meeting the Great Publishing Challenge and building my backlist. (And finishing reading The Copyright Handbook)
    2025 – beginning to build out the marketing, including a Shopify store, etc.

    • dwsmith

      That plan seems sound to me. One of the most deadly things in publishing is getting in a hurry. Just do one thing at a time, starting now. Amazing how far you will be when you get down the road.

    • Jason M

      Yeah, it’s really a lot. We’re a two-person show, and it’s taken about a year to get all our ducks in a row–steady title production (~25 per year), Shopify store setup, learning high-grade Photoshop cover design, and of course the thousand different alleys of modern marketing.

      I wouldn’t want to do it alone. Having a partner makes it much less stressful.

      If I were rolling solo, I’d pick two things to focus on first: 1) steady word production and 2) building the Shopify store. The rest can either wait or be outsourced.

  • Harvey Stanbrough


    I’m at 88 novels and counting (plus 9 novellas and a couple hundred short stories) and a publisher site already set up ( with direct buy links.

    I suppose my only question is about the overriding benefit of a Shopify store. Will it, simply by virtue of being a Shopify store, expand my reach? I couldn’t find an answer to this at Shopify.

    I’m a one-man operation, and writing new work is always my first priority. I’m on track to hit 24 novels this year.

    Moving everything over from StoneThread to Shopify will be a LOT of work. Would it be worth the time when I already have a publisher site?

  • James Palmer

    An online store is definitely something I will do moving forward, but I don’t have the time or bandwidth for one at the moment. I can retire from the day job in ten more years, so I’m working now to get everything ready so that I can hit the ground running when I do. That means:

    Ramping up a quarterly production schedule culminating in a Kickstarter.
    Direct selling at conventions.

    Once I have more IP I’ll do a store, but it will probably be a Payhip store. Shopify has too many bells and whistles I will never need to use, plus I can’t afford to pay for something monthly just to make 2-3, or zero, sales.

    • dwsmith

      Direct selling at conventions is a waste of time and money. I spent years doing that before I learned that lesson.

      Question, will Payhip connect directly to Bookfunnel and Ingrams? Does it connect directly to all the POD merchandise outlets? Customer checkout seamless?

      • Anitha Krishnan

        PayHip integrates well with BookFunnel (for ebooks and audiobooks) and BookVault (print books). I use PayHip+BookFunnel for ebooks. No experience with BookVault though. I doubt PayHip has POD integration yet although it may be on the horizon. Shopify definitely has a lot more to offer, whereas PayHip is a more budget-friendly alternative for newer authors/smaller businesses.

        It’s such an exciting time to be an author-entrepreneur. So many possibilites!

      • Cheryl

        I have seen several examples of Payhip + Bookfunnel for ebooks (electronic deliveriy) — which is a question for me (in future, doing planning for when I have more IP) — as to when is the tipping point for physical product. Much research yet to do.

  • C.E. Petit

    There’s a hidden additional benefit to a direct-fulfillment store† — that it’s vastly, vastly less likely that your income stream (or not-yet-distributed income) will ever be cut off by mistake or by malice than if you use a big third-party fulfillment vendor like, but not only, Amazon. Another hidden benefit is that readers’ libraries will not be cut off by corporate shenanigans (only by the author’s voluntary withdrawal of a work… or, in extreme instances, court order).

    † I am specifically relying on any of them in particular because names and branding in software change faster than prices in Argentina. That’s not at all a criticism of Shopify; it is instead recognition of MySpace and LiveJournal disappearing, and Twitter becoming X, and the parent of Facebook becoming Meta. With some additional feedback into “branding” that I’m sure Dean will get into down the road. Too, different capabilities and optimizations might make a different store system better than Shopify (or any competitor) for an individual author’s particular needs.

    • dwsmith

      Thank you, C.E. for both posts. Fantastic information, and with Amazon “payments” sometimes iffy, it does seem logical to move as much into instant cash from the sale on your own site. Thanks for that, a detail I did not mention.

      Wow, have I come a long way, from waiting months and years for payments owed on books from traditional publishing to having money flow after two months from sales stores like Amazon to now having money hit my account in seconds. Have I said how much I love this new world? (grin)