International bestselling editor and writer with over 35 million books in print, Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in many genres, from science fiction to mystery, from western to romance. She has written under a pile of pen names, but most of her work appears as Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov's Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award.

Publications from The Chicago Tribune to Booklist have included her Kris Nelscott mystery novels in their top-ten-best mystery novels of the year. The Nelscott books have received nominations for almost every award in the mystery field, including the best novel Edgar Award, and the Shamus Award.

She also edits. Beginning with work at the innovative publishing company, Pulphouse, followed by her award-winning tenure at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, she took fifteen years off before returning to editing with the original anthology series Fiction River, published by WMG Publishing. She acts as series editor with her husband, writer Dean Wesley Smith, and edits at least two anthologies in the series per year on her own.

To keep up with everything she does, go to and sign up for her newsletter. To track her many pen names and series, see their individual websites (,,,,

Creating Your Author Brand by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Getting a book into readers' hands means achieving that modern marketing buzzword: discoverability. And the simplest way to gain that reader recognition? Branding.

Branding helps readers find an author's work. But many authors fail to grasp the concept of creating an effective author brand. Now, New York Times bestselling author and renowned business blogger Kristine Kathryn Rusch expertly tackles the topic in this latest WMG Writers' Guide.

In this guide, Rusch teaches the basic concepts of branding and helps authors convert those concepts into useful action to individually brand themselves to maximize reader recognition.


About a year ago, I wrote a short blog post on author brands. My readers responded with so many questions that I realized I knew more about branding than most people. I wrote a blog series about branding, and then turned it into this not-so-little book. What I thought was a one-off blog post became something that people have waited for since last May. Plus…cartoons. Because I liked using them to brand the interior of the book. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch



  • "[Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog,] The Business Rusch…is full of sound advice and analysis about what's going on."

    – Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
  • "There are lots of books out there about how to market your book. Some of them are good. Some aren't. Discoverability is one of the best…"

    – TeleRead
  • "Kristine Kathryn Rusch's new book Discoverability is by far the best resource I have read to date to help indie authors succeed after the book is written."

    – Chris Syme, Principal of CKSyme Media Group




Every Thursday, I publish a blog on writing or the business of writing. I initially started the blog in 2009, and except for a six-month hiatus in 2014, I have written a post without fail every week. In the spring of 2017, I got the bright idea to write a short blog post on branding.

As I wrote the blog, I realized I had a larger topic than a single blog, but it wasn't until I started getting comments on that blog that I understood how large the topic actually was. Readers asked very good questions about things I mentioned in passing. I realized, as I read the comments, that what I thought was obvious, was not. Most people had thought branding was about book covers, and very little else. They had no idea how big branding actually is. Business and advertising majors lose entire semesters to branding classes. Branding experts get paid big bucks to "re-envision" an entire business, from the bottom up, just so that business can be marketed.

I wrote blog after blog, encouraging questions, because somehow, in my years in broadcasting and advertising, I had absorbed most of this stuff into my marketing DNA. I didn't know what other people didn't know. And in order to write about this to non-marketers, I had to figure out what people—and writers in particular—needed to learn before they could understand some of the major concepts.

If I wanted to make these posts useful, I needed feedback.

And I got it. You might want to go to the posts, which are still on my website, and read the comments. I answered a lot of questions directly, and not all of those answers made it into this volume. In subsequent blog posts, I answered the major topics, but not the minor ones. (I have a life; I would have been writing about branding and marketing for the rest of my known days.)

I have put this book together from those blog posts. I'm keeping them in the order in which I posted them, and I'm keeping the colloquial real-time language. Please remember, as I cite "current" examples, they were current in 2017.

I wrote these blogs for writers. If you're looking for a great overall book on branding, one that will help you brand your automotive store or your online quilting business, this book will help you understand the concepts of branding in simple language, but there might be a more specific and on-point book for your niche.

Writers, publishers, both indie and traditional, will benefit from this book much more. It is, I believe, the only book on branding written with the publishing industry in mind.

A word on terminology: when I mention traditional publishing, I mean the industry that grew up in the early 20th century in places like New York and London, and publishes thousands of books per year. Those businesses include international conglomerates and large publishers that have existed since the 1980s at least

When I mention indie publishing, I mean the industry many call "the shadow industry," which has arisen since Amazon's Kindle entered the marketplace in 2007. Indie writers include writers who self-publish, and those who publish through very small publishers (sometimes started by the writers themselves, but which are a separate entity from the writer).

Most of what I write is geared toward indies. There are more and more indie writers every day, some of whom make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year without doing a lot of branding or marketing. Early on in the post-Kindle world, it was relatively easy for a self-published writer (who wrote good books) to make a small fortune at their writing with a minimum of marketing effort. Now, however, it has become harder to get discovered. (I wrote a book on that as well, called Discoverability.) One relatively easy way for readers to find a writer's work, however, is through branding.

Branding is the simplest way to gain reader recognition. Gaining that recognition is not as easy as putting an ebook up on the 2009 Kindle platform, but using branding to gain that recognition is easier than all those marketing tips from so-called gurus who appear for a year or so and then vanish when their way of gaming the system ceases to work.

This book will help you understand branding. The book will also help you figure out what to do for your business. If you're looking for a book that will give the Five Steps to Proper Branding—a kind of plug-and-play sort of book that gives you the Secrets to Quick Branding—this ain't it.

What this book will teach you are the basic concepts of branding. It will also open your mind to the possibilities of branding, of the various things you can do for your business. I hope the book will give you ideas, and make you want to dive deeper into the possibilities of marketing your work in a way that's as unique as the books you write.

In order to brand like that, however, you need to understand how branding works, how readers (and other consumers) respond to it, and what you can and cannot do to attract their attention.

This book is designed to give you that basic understanding and to help you convert that understanding into useful action that's right for you.

Ready? Here goes…