“Branding” calls to mind glowing coals and sizzling iron Xs, and some writers resist the term as if it means just that. The idea of sticking to one kind of story, genre, or audience seems antithetical to the creativity that drives them to write. Branding yourself as a writer of something specific is a valuable strategy because it helps readers discover and stay with you long-term. They know what they’re getting—and they want more of it. Fortunately, eschewing branding doesn’t mean sabotaging your career. Plenty of MG/YA writers enjoy careers where their consistency is not in genre but in the quality of their writing. Look at M.T. Anderson, author of the cyberpunk YA Feed (a National Book Award Finalist), the two-volume YA historical fiction The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (both volumes are Michael L. Printz Honor Books; the first also being a National Book Award Winner), the wacky, satirical middle grade series “Pals in Peril” (of which Whales on Stilts is my personal favorite), and the lauded “Norumbegan Quartet” fantastical adventure series (upcoming: The Empire of Gut and Bone), among others. Anderson’s brand is his name, which has become synonymous with brilliant writing. Now there’s a brand worth cultivating.