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November 2015
2

Reward Yourself

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 30, 2015

The movie version of The Martian was released on October 2 of this year, and I was pretty stoked to see it. I had seen a trailer for the film months before, when I wasn't even aware that the book had been independently published and had become a viral sensation. The story appealed to me, and I was anxious to see the film.

 

My problem was that I was in the middle of rewrites. Since I had agreed to a deadline with a third party, I had to crack the whip more fiercely and more frequently than ever before. I told myself, "You can see the movie when you're done with the rewrites." So, it began. I deconstructed the manuscript, rebuilt it, and deconstructed it again. During breaks, I would hop online and read Facebook posts by friends talking about how great the movie was.

 

"Maybe I could just take a couple of hours and go see the movie," I thought, but I refused to give in. The movie would be my reward. I moved forward with the rewrites, even picking up the pace. Not only was I anxious to get the book to my editor, I was anxious to see The Martian. And then it happened, ten days before the deadline, I turned in the manuscript. The very next day I was sitting in the movie theater watching The Martian.

 

Rewards should be a part of your writing process. Yes, writing the book should be reward enough, but on those days or for those books where you need a little extra push, give yourself something to work for. You'd be surprised how much more special it makes your achievement feel.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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AAUGH! Rewrites!

Rewrites: Make the Hardest Changes First

1,660 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: author, writing, writing_process, rewrites, rewards
0

Competency

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 25, 2015

What makes someone successful? How does someone make it to that next level? It's a question I ask myself as an author all the time. How did famous author John Doe go from unknown to mid-list to well known? Is he a better writer than me? Is he luckier? Is he more handsome? When somebody makes it and you don't, you either pick apart their success or you pick apart your lack of success.

 

As somebody who's studied the issue ad nauseam, I think I've uncovered the formula for succeeding as an author. Talent and luck do play a factor, no doubt. But the driving force behind success for an author, for an athlete, for a politician, for a manager of a grocery store is competency. Knowing your craft, knowing the market, knowing your genre, knowing your readers, these are all the building blocks of competency. Competency doesn't happen by accident. It's a consequence of focus. Once you possess this competency, your marketing efforts will become a bit more effortless and a lot more effective.

 

Notice I didn't use the word confidence. Confidence and competency are two different things. You can be confident and lack competency. However, very few competent people lack confidence. So, yes, I think confidence is key to success, but only if it's born out of one's competence. Confidence without the competency anchor isn't a reliable ingredient for lasting success.

 

So, get the focus. Concentrate on improving your craft. Develop the curiosity to know your readers. Study your genre. Do these things, and the competency will follow. Soon after comes the success.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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How to be a Confident Writer

How to Find Success

1,959 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, promotion, sales, writing, success, craft, author_advice
3

There are few things I enjoy more than getting fan "mail"--in whatever form it arrives. This morning I received a wonderful tweet from a woman named Yasminda that made me smile. I replied with my email address and asked her to send me a note. When she did, I checked her address in my database and saw that she wasn't subscribed to my newsletter. I also realized she wasn't a fan of my Facebook page or my Goodreads page. I asked her if she was aware I had those things. She said she was not aware but that she was happy to sign up, like the pages, etc.

 

This was a good lesson for me because I'd always kind of assumed that the fans I have on Twitter are the same fans I have on Facebook, etc. And while I imagine there is a significant amount of overlap, it's not comprehensive. Case in point: If I didn't have a Twitter profile, I might never have heard from Yasminda.

 

In our email conversation I told Yasminda how much I would appreciate her help in spreading the word about my books, and she jumped to action! Within minutes she posted a nice note about my books on Facebook (with a link to my fan page), and she also ordered signed copies from me as a gift to her mother. How cool is that?

 

There's no magic formula for connecting with your readers, but having a presence in more than one place will make it easier for fans to contact you. If all you have is a website, make sure the contact tab is easy to find. When it comes to book sales there's nothing more powerful than word of mouth, so the more you can do to interact directly with your biggest fans, the better!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Ramping Up Facebook Activity for the New Year

Your Fans are Your Brand

3,710 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions, fan_interaction
1

I recently attended a workshop for playwrights. The medium is different from a book. The structure is different. Consumption of the material is different, but one piece of advice I got from one of the facilitators after my short play was read is universal. It can be applied to any storytelling platform.

 

The scene I had written focused on four different characters. I got fairly positive feedback from participants. Even the negatives were presented constructively. Overall I was satisfied with the experience, but what the facilitator said opened my eyes to a truth I already knew but had forgotten.

 

He felt one of the female characters wasn't as developed as the other characters. Paraphrasing, here's what he said:

 

I don't feel like you know her as well as the others. Why is she in the scene? I don't mean to ask why you put her in the scene. I mean, why did she choose to be in the scene? You have to know her motivation. You don't have to include that information in your play, but you have to know it. Once you know, the audience will get it. They will feel your connection to the character.

 

He was 100% correct. I hadn't connected with the character in question like I had with the others. I was using her as a device to advance dialogue, and that creates a shallow, underdeveloped character that shortchanges audiences and readers alike.

 

When you connect with your characters, you write with passion and care. You understand their motivations, and that understanding shows in your writing. Connect with your characters, and your readers will make the same connection.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

2,690 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, characterization, developing_characters
5

When you try to please everyone, you please no one. Art thrives on honesty. Why? Because honesty allows for conviction, and conviction leads to pouring your heart and soul out onto the page. If you write to please the broadest number of people possible, you are most likely holding back when holding back is the last thing you should be doing. Holding back causes your writing to become thin and bland.

 

The temptation is to reach the largest number of people. Simple math suggests that if you've written something that has the potential to appeal to an enormous group of people, you're going to sell a lot of books. Logical, right? Unfortunately, logic has little to do with publishing. Publishing is an industry built on passion. People are passionate about the books they read and even more passionate about the books they recommend.

 

Narrow your focus. Stop trying to reach a broad audience. I know it sounds antithetical to creating a huge seller, but niche markets can be very profitable. For one thing, they allow you to more easily identify your audience. You'll know your demographic, where to find them, and how to communicate with them. That makes for a very effective marketing campaign. Another benefit is that members of these niche markets usually know one another. They either form groups or join online communities where they can share news and notes on their common interests. Your book can find fertile ground for viral sharing among these folks.

 

Stop trying to please everyone. Write a book that ignites your passion, and reap the rewards for reaching a niche market.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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What Makes a Book Readable?

It's Not Just a Hobby, It's a Marketing Opportunity

1,991 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, promotion, sales, seilling_books, marketing_campaign
0

A few weeks ago I went to cheer on my pal Kelly, who was running the New York Marathon. That is twenty-six miles--and change! Insane, right? It's not like you can just roll out of bed and wing it. Preparing for a marathon is no joke. Kelly has a pretty demanding job, but she was determined, so for months she dragged herself out of bed before work and on weekends to put in the miles.

 

Her distance increased weekly until she was literally running for hours at a time, by herself, while her friends were off having fun doing other things. Yes, at times the training was boring (she's the first to admit it), and yes, at times she wondered why she was putting herself through such torture (she admits that too), but she knew her body wasn't going to get in marathon shape by itself. So she put in the work, day after day after day.

 

Kelly finished the marathon and is (deservedly) extremely proud of herself. She should be! She worked her tail off, and no one can ever take that accomplishment away from her.

 

Writing a novel is similar to running a marathon in the sense that it takes a great deal of time, effort, and discipline. A book isn't going to write itself, no matter how desperately you might want it to. Trust me; I've experienced that feeling a lot. To complete NaNoWriMo you have to sit down at your computer every day, before work or after work, or both, and write, day after day after day. Push the story forward, and keep going until you're done. Just like Kelly, you'll have worked your tail off to achieve your goal, and just think of how great that will feel.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Productivity vs. Perfection

Writing Takes Discipline

1,279 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, nanowrimo, national_novel_writing_month
0

The best way to grow as a writer is to invest in your writing. Here are three ways you can do just that:

 

  1. Buy a book on grammar and editing: I know, I know. Why do you need a book on grammar and editing when that kind of information is at your fingertips online? I'm a supporter of something I call "tactile commitment." When you own the information in book form, it's my belief that you'll be more likely to reference it. Don't worry; this isn't the part where I link to a book on the topic that I've written or get commission for selling. The decision of which book to own is yours. All I want to do is encourage you to make such a book a part of your permanent library.
  2. Take a creative writing class or join a writing workshop: One of the best investments I've ever made has been the investment of time spent learning from other writers. I meet with two different groups every month. In the meetings I read my own new material and critique material written by other authors. It's a supportive and constructive environment. I get the benefit of improving my material and forming relationships with fellow writers. It's a win-win.
  3. Teach a class or workshop: Contact a library, theater, or independent bookstore and offer to conduct your own workshop. Teach other writers your style and philosophy. You're a writer. Spread the knowledge. You will more than likely learn something invaluable by teaching others.

 

Your goal as an artist is to improve. The only way to improve is to make an investment in your craft. As you can see, from a monetary standpoint, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. For the most part, it will cost you time, but I promise you it will be time well spent.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Why Novelists Should Join a Playwrights' Group

Your How-to-Be-a-Novelist Syllabus

2,029 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, indie, writing, craft
5

Looking for a way to boost lagging sales? There's no magic bullet, but here are three strategies that may be the perfect solution for you.

 

  1. Cover Design: You've got a solid, compelling story. It's been edited by a professional or someone you know and trust. You're convinced that the pages between the covers contain every element a bestseller requires, but the sales don't come anywhere near your expectations. So if not the story, what's the issue? Maybe it's your cover. Authors aren't always designers, and what appeals to you may not appeal to your readers. Hand the cover design over to professional graphic artists and let them apply their talents to the package of your masterpiece.
  2. Multiple Formats: Gone are the days when a book may have had one or two iterations: paperback and hardcover. You are living in a world where there should be eBook, print, and audiobook versions of your book. To increase your chances for sales, providing the book in all three formats is a great strategy, and with today's technology, it's easier than ever to go the multiple formats route.
  3. Write More Books: Want to sell more copies of your first book? Write a second book and a third--and many more. The key to making it into today's publishing world is to have multiple offerings. Readers are met with a veritable cornucopia of choices when it comes to what book they'll read next. They are of two minds: making a safe choice or discovering a great new talent. As an indie author, you have the opportunity to satisfy both minds if you have a number of books for them to read. You can be that great undiscovered talent they know they can trust with a story.

 

Let's face it, selling books is hard, but by adapting the three strategies listed above, you can make things a little bit easier for yourself.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


 

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Selling Books is Hard!

Book Covers Can Affect Sales

7,667 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, selling, sales, cover_design, increase_sales
2

Your book's description is a great way to grab a potential reader's attention, so you want to make the most of that opportunity by using language that shows readers what they're in for instead of language that tells them. In other words, if you think your book is funny, don't say that in your description. Instead, write a description that is funny!

 

That may sound like common sense, but I've lost track of how many times I've checked out a book on Amazon but have declined to click "purchase" because the brief description says something like, "This entertaining, hilarious story will have you falling off your chair." I'd be much more inclined to buy the book if the description made me chuckle, even a little bit. Now if a reviewer writes things like that about your book, by all means use them, in quotes and with attribution, as often as you can. That's called third-party credibility, and it's golden in marketing.

 

To explain the concept of show vs. tell, I often use the analogy of online dating. Just like the endless selection of books available, there are countless online profiles vying for your attention. Imagine yourself scrolling through profile after profile, each of which includes a brief self-summary. Would you want to go on a date with a man who calls himself "smart, charming, and fun to be around?" Or would you rather meet a man whose self-summary clearly shows that he is smart, charming, and fun to be around­­? I would certainly choose the latter.

 

Now imagine a reader scrolling through endless options of books in search of a funny read. If he laughs or even cracks a smile when he gets to your description, what do you think he's going to do?

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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I'm Sure Your Book Is Wonderful, But Don't Tell Me So

Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook

4,410 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, amazon.com, promotions, book_description
1

I have a friend who is always doing things outside of his comfort zone. It all started when he joined the military and entered the elite Special Forces program. He served with distinction, then entered the private security industry as a medical specialist where he traveled the world and met a lot of high profile individuals in private industry and government. Recently, he took six months off to complete a solo thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He is constantly forcing himself to take on new challenges to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.

 

I tell you about my friend because I want you to apply his lifestyle to your writing life. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Have you mastered the art of writing in first-person point of view? Great. Now master the third-person narrative. You may be one of the best thriller writers on the market, but what about a good old-fashioned romance? Can you deliver literary magic with love at the core of your story?

 

The point is to shake it up. Grow as an artist. Surprise your readers instead of giving them what they've come to expect from you. Show them that you are a multidimensional writer with the ability to explore different styles and genres. You may stumble, but that's what happens when you face a challenge. Risk is where growth comes from because if forces you to learn new methods and helps you fine-tune a new skillset. Risk is the artist's best friend.

 

Your assignment is to abandon the natural need for comfort. Put yourself out there and embrace the risk that will make you a better artist.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Rewriting: Relax, Reconnect, Rethink

WordPlay: Challenging Your Perspective

1,360 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, comfort_zone
2

Read and Report

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 4, 2015

I saw the following meme today, and it spoke to me: "Don't be afraid of artists who are better than you." I support the sentiment wholeheartedly, and I'm also puzzled that such a thing needs to be stated. The idea of comparing one's artistic talents with another's is foreign to me. It's a great big world, and there's room for all of us.

 

The meme actually ties in with the post I had planned to write today, so thanks be to serendipity. Instead of fearing other artists--authors in our case--whom you feel are better than you, be inspired by them. Be grateful for them. Envy is not a useful motivator; it's a step towards cynicism, which is not fertile ground for creativity.

 

Here's an assignment to help you gain perspective. Pick an author whom you feel has mastered his or her craft. Take your favorite book by that author and pick it apart. Examine every aspect of the story and analyze it. Set aside some time each week to report to your online community what you've discovered about this virtuoso. Encourage feedback. If you find weaknesses, point them out. No writer is perfect. Criticizing someone who inspires you is healthy. Personally, I love the imperfections as much as the perfections.

 

We aren't individual writers trying to make our way as authors. We are a community of artists supporting and learning from one another. Don't look at other writers as competitors; look at them as teachers. Take advantage of the lessons they offer.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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You Are an Artist

Four Steps to Become More Creative

1,358 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, revisions, feedback, creativity, criticism, writing_tips, author_tips
3

In one of my previous writing tips, I discussed how distracting (and annoying) overusing certain gestures can be for your readers. The same can be said for overusing uncommon adjectives.

 

I recently finished a book in which the main character was described as "astonished" so frequently that I finally stopped reading and (once again) did a search to see just how many times the word had been used. The tally? Fifteen. Now I realize that fifteen is hardly an exorbitant figure, but while "astonished" is a great adjective, it's also quite memorable, so by its third or fourth appearance it was hard not to notice it. For the record, I encounter this problem with my own writing all the time. When I find myself using an unusual word more than a few times, I use the "find" function in Word to make sure it's not getting out of hand.

 

Here's the deal: You want your readers to be fixated on your story, not on how many times you've used a specific word. Unfortunately, in this particular instance I became fixated on the latter. That may just be my obsessive personality, of course, but right or wrong, the end result was that I didn't enjoy the story as much as I could have. Each time I encountered another "Ben was astonished," the pleasurable experience of being immersed in a novel was interrupted.

 

The novel in question was published independently, so I';m not sure if the author had a professional copyeditor review the manuscript. But if you're going the indie route, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have objective eyes review your work before you click "publish." If you can't afford to hire a professional, bribe your English-major pals to help. A red pen in the early stages is your friend!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Two Mistakes Indie Authors Should Avoid

A Wonderful Example of How to Handle Constructive Criticism and Feedback

1,575 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, author, self-publishing, writing, grammar, writing_tips, grammar_tip, advice_for_writers, adjectives
0

Give Them a Reason

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 2, 2015

Do you know why someone should read your book? This isn't a rhetorical question. I'm asking only to then reveal brilliant insights on how to sell more books. It's a question that has an answer, but only you know it. People need a reason to read your book, and you have to give them that reason.

 

I've sat in many a marketing meeting in other industries where the question of consumer motivation was the focal point of discussion. You can't just create a product or service and expect the consumer to develop their own reason to shell out their hard-earned cash for it. Put another away, readers want to read your book; they just don't know why yet.

 

Think of how the marketing world sells products. They tell us something is new and improved. They tell us special pricing is available for a limited time. They tell us when something is one of a kind. They tell us when something is classic or bold or life changing. Marketers are not shy in creating a need for the products or services they're trying to sell.

 

You can't approach marketing your book with the mindset of an author. You have to design a marketing campaign with a commercial zeal. Indie authors are in the unique position of wearing multiple hats, but all those hats fit your entrepreneurial role. You are the artist. You are the publisher. You are the marketing department. Approach each position without fear.

 

Now, why should someone read your book? What need will be satisfied by reading your book? More importantly, how are you going to convey that need in the simplest terms possible?

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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The Marketing Maze

Three Marketing Websites for Authors

1,462 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing

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