June 14, 2017

Knowing Your Brand

By Ann H. Gabhart

Did you know that even fiction writers have brands these days? Our brand is the type of stories we write. Amish, romance, historical, mysteries, to name a few. Then those brands break down into more categories. A historical writer might be known for World War II stories, Western novels, or Biblical settings, for example. Mysteries can be thrillers, detective stories, or cozies like my Hidden Spring mysteries.

Some writers prefer to stay in the same genre or brand for all their stories and do that very successfully. Other writers branch out a bit. I’m a branch-out writer. My first published books were historical romances. I might have stayed in that genre forever, but a flurry of rejections convinced me to try something new. Rejections can be great motivators for change. So, I switched genres and wrote eleven coming of age stories for younger readers. My writing direction changed again when those young adult stories stopped finding a publisher. I began writing for adults again, but this time for the inspirational fiction market. I definitely haven’t stayed with one type of stories.

But even if you, like me, write stories that fit into different genres, you can still have things that brand your stories. Many of my stories are set in small towns. Even my fictional Shaker village of Harmony Hill can be considered a small town. Also, most of my stories have a Kentucky setting. Perhaps some of my books could be labeled Small Town Kentucky stories.

So, think about some common elements in your stories. What sets them apart from the stories others write? Do you focus on character? Or does plot drive your stories? What themes keep popping up while you’re brainstorming ideas?

Consider what you do well. Is it making people smile through the actions of your characters? Can you make history come to life on the pages of your book? Do you melt when you hear a touching love story? What settings inspire you? Have you always loved mysteries? Your answers to these questions and more might help you decide on the type of story you most want to write.

Or you might come up with your story and then think about how it could fit in today’s market. But market is such a fickle thing. The genre selling like hotcakes now might be on the decline by the time you get your book written, edited and ready for a reader’s eyes.

During one of those rejection motivating times when market needs were changing, I determined to write a story I loved and not worry where it would fit in the market. That was a turning point in my writing career.

Now I would most like to be known for a good story brand. Tell the story you want to tell and be your own first excited reader. Other readers will surely follow no matter the genre.
Ann H. Gabhart, a bestselling author of over thirty novels, has been called a storyteller. That’s not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. Also writing as A.H. Gabhart, Ann recently tried a new genre and published three Hidden Springs mysteries. Ann and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and enjoy country life in Kentucky. To find out more about Ann’s books and to check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, visit You can also join in the conversation on her Facebook page, or Twitter @AnnHGabhart.

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