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December 2015
1

Expand Your Brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 30, 2015

Your author brand is dynamic. By that I don't mean flashy or animated. I mean that it is in a constant state of change--or at least it should be. You want to present a brand that reflects growth. If you let it stagnate, it will become ineffective, and you will lose readers.

 

Here are three ways to keep your author brand ever-evolving and fresh:

 

  1. Use your author platform for more than just promoting your books. Use it to promote all your interests. The more interests you highlight, the larger your community. The larger your community, the more opportunity for engagement and growth.

  2. Step outside of your comfort zone. As well as your personal interests, document your attempts to expand into other interests. I'm not suggesting you take up skydiving to appear more exciting, but maybe you have phobias you want to get over. Conquering those fears can add to your brand and inspire others.

  3. You are becoming a master of your craft. That is part of your brand. Mastering a craft isn't easy. You will experience a lot of failure. Share those failures with your community, so they can see that it's part of succeeding. Adding a mentoring through example element to your brand can not only make your brand dynamic, it can make it accessible.

 

While it is true that consistency can help your author brand become more popular, that doesn't mean your brand shouldn't evolve. Grow your brand gradually by documenting your interests and sharing your struggles to surmount professional and personal challenges.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

Evaluating Your Author Brand

3,625 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, publishing, branding, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, marketing_advice
1

Common Word Mix-ups

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 29, 2015

Today I'd like to give a little refresher course on two sets of similar words that can be a little tricky. Here we go:

 

Imply vs. Infer

 

To imply means to suggest or indicate something without actually saying so:

 

  • After David tasted the wine, the look on his face implied that he didn't like it.
  • The tone of Gloria's voice implied that she was upset with David's decision to leave the party early.

 

To infer means to conclude based on evidence:

 

  • From the look on David's face after he tasted the wine, Gloria inferred that he didn't like it.
  • Given the tone of Gloria's voice, it wasn't difficult for David to infer that she was upset with his decision to leave the party early.

 

I find that a good way to remember the difference between the two is that imply (has an M) comes before infer (has an N), just like M comes before N. You need an implication before you can have an inference.

 

Note: Some informal schools of thought say that infer can also be used to mean "imply or hint." However, to quote Webster's Dictionary, this usage "is found in print chiefly in letters to the editor and other informal prose, not in serious intellectual writing."

 

Refer vs. Recommend

 

To refer (used with an object) means to direct someone (to something):

 

  • Gloria referred David to her real estate agent.
  • David's family doctor referred him to a specialist named Dr. Greene.

 

To recommend means to mention favorably:

 

  • Gloria recommended her real estate agent to David.
  • David's family doctor recommended a specialist named Dr. Greene.

 

If you're still having trouble with these two, here's a handy trick: In a letter of recommendation, you're being praised. In a doctor's referral, you're being directed somewhere.

 

If you want people to recommend your books or refer their friends to your work, you will infer from this post that correct word usage is important!

 

-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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More Grammar Pet Peeves!

Why Good Grammar Matters

1,533 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, grammar_tips
2

I listened to an archived public radio interview with the late David Foster Wallace not long ago, and he made an interesting statement about his writing process. He said that he spent approximately an hour a day writing, then he spent the rest of the day worrying about not writing. Hearing a legendary talent make such a statement made me feel so much better about my own process. Every time I step away from the computer, I kick myself for not writing. I worry that I haven't written enough for the day.

 

Here's what I've come to believe: worrying about not writing is essentially writing. My mind's eye instinctively latches onto a point of the story I walked away from, and I, almost in a panic, focus on what's going to happen next. I replay it over and over again, adding details as I return to the starting point and play the scene out to its conclusion. I wouldn't do that if I wasn't worried about not writing.

 

So, this is strange to say, but I'm thankful for this almost obsessive inability to let go of the guilt of not writing enough. Without it, I might not be able to construct a story. I might not ever be able to develop my characters, or plot out conflicts and conclusions. If I didn't worry about not writing, I might never write.

 

So, to you, my fellow writers, I say embrace that worried feeling that you're not writing enough. It's all part of the writing process.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Life Outside of Writing

Is There Value in Formulaic Writing?

1,322 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, writer, writing, craft, writing_tips, writing_advice
0

Are you missing an untapped revenue stream? Classrooms and books go together like toast and butter. Your book could be a perfect fit for a classroom environment. It doesn't even necessarily have to be a book for young adults. There are countless opportunities to reach students of all ages and backgrounds, and you increase your chances of reaching such a market by doing one thing: creating a teacher's guide for your book.

 

Here is what to include in a teacher's guide should you choose to tap into the classroom market:

  1. One sentence description: This should explain the main conflict of the book.

  2. Short but detailed summary of the book: Write it in present tense and use adjectives sparingly. This is a cut-and-dried summary that covers plot and sub-plots from beginning to end.

  3. Detailed character descriptions: Include your secondary characters.

  4. Summaries for each chapter: Include questions for classroom discussions.

  5. Author interview: Create 10 questions that you think are relevant to the book and offer engaging responses.

 

There are two options you can pursue with the teacher's guide: you can offer it in print-on-demand and eBook formats and make it available for sale, or you can create a PDF that can be downloaded from your website for free. The first option provides you a new direct stream of revenue. The second option can be a loss leader that could lead to more sales of the book overall. Either method gives you the opportunity to reach more readers and make more money.

 

-Richard

 

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


 

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The Reader's Guide

Building an Author Brand: Networking

1,513 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, selling, pdf, distribution, author, writing, promotions, classroom, marketing_ideas, teacher's_guide
2

When I first signed with a literary agent several years ago, she told me to read as much as I could because it would improve my own writing. I never forgot that advice, and while I have always loved to read, after that I began to read with a different eye.

 

I enjoy a variety of genres and always have a book on my nightstand (or on my Kindle), and with each one I learn something that positively affects my own work. Sometimes it's the way an author uses details such as colors, sounds, or smells to enrich a description, or the way I'm drawn into a chapter by a subtle hint that something terrible is going to happen, or how I find myself caring about a particular character due to the way the author shares interesting nuggets about his or her past. (I've said here before that quirks make characters real, and one reason I so strongly believe that is because of how I've responded to characters as a reader, not just because of how my readers have responded to characters I've created.)

 

Another way reading helps me is by expanding my vocabulary. Much like the way I speak, with each novel I write I find myself reaching for the same words and phrases because they're familiar to me, and the force of habit is strong! Now I keep a notebook by my bed when I'm reading and jot down words or descriptions that jump out at me as unusual, interesting, or flat-out unfamiliar. I love the Kindle because I can look up a word's meaning simply by pressing the screen--and when I'm reading a paperback I keep a good ol' fashioned dictionary handy.

 

They say to be a writer you should (try to) write every day. Toss in some reading, and you're on your way!

 

-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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Want to Improve Your Writing? Read!

Does Writing Change the Author?

1,807 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, self-publishing, writing, characters, reading, author_advice, writting_exercises
0

The Blank Wall Method

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 21, 2015

Here's how I want you to start writing your next book. Give yourself a wall. Don't build one. Just clear the wall in front of your desk of everything but the paint. This bare wall is your canvas, and this is where you are going to bring your story to life.

 

Things are going to get messy. Resign yourself to the fact that you may have to repaint the wall once your book is complete, but creativity, if done right, is a chaotic mess that you are in charge of controlling and applying order to. This wall is where you will organize your thoughts. You'll likely stare at it a great deal of the time, but the rest of the time, when you're not pounding away on your keyboard, you will be covering the wall one-by-one with note cards. These cards are for your flashes of inspiration. Carry them with you wherever you go. When an idea hits, jot it down, and add it to your wall when you get back to your writing corner. Most of what you stick on your wall won't make it into your book. Think of the note cards as your story's brain cells, and they're connected by synapses that fire off and give life to the chaos.

 

You'd be surprised how this method will help you constantly visualize your story and help you stay in the creative zone. There's something about seeing the physical manifestation of your thought process in front of you. You're able to grasp how the thoughts build on one another and give you a complex and engaging story.

 

Now, clear that wall and get started building your story's brain.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Can Visualization Help You Finish That Manuscript?

Write Non-linearly

1,257 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_methods
0

I have a book that will be released in July of 2016, and it's a bit of a different experience for me than my previous publishing adventures because I have no immediate plans to release it in print. Long story short, this is a team project, and I don't have the final say on the format. Hopefully, I can expand it into print, but for now, I have to think strictly eBook.

 

That is a bit of a mind shift for me. For a number of years, I have been doing releases in both eBook and print formats. The print copies have always been an easy marketing tool for me. I could take a number of copies with me to appearances or events and devise giveaways to boost enthusiasm for a new release. Online marketing is great, but the personal appearance is still king when it comes to connecting with readers.

 

I have committed to doing a book launch for this new eBook release that involves a personal appearance, and it has presented me with a bit of a puzzle. How do I get people excited at an appearance when I won't have a book to appear with?

 

At a recent workshop for playwrights, as I watched staged readings of other writers' work, it hit me. I don't need the book. I just need the story. I went home and hammered out a plan for an appearance that involves short dramatic readings of chapters using local actors. I will involve other writers I know to adapt and direct the material for these staged readings. I'll incorporate door prizes that fit the theme of the book for the audience. I'll make it an invitation-only intimate affair with a number of nonprofessional social media savvy friends in attendance. I have to say it is the first of my appearances that will be more about the people attending and performing than it will be about me, and I'm so excited by that. They will take ownership of my story, and the marketing of the eBook. My hope is that it will translate into a frontloaded wave of word-of-mouth buzz that will grow over time.

 

Don't ditch the personal appearance if you're planning an eBook-only release. Find a way to get attendees at the event engaged and enthusiastic, so they will spread the word via their social media platforms.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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How to Make a Personal Appearance a Success

How to Make an Author Event Eventful

1,958 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, book, print, kindle, ebook, craft, online_marketing, book_launch, book_launch_party
2

Author-signed books make great gifts. Your biggest fans, however, might not have any idea that they can buy them from you, so why not tell them? You can do this via email, Twitter, Facebook, your newsletter, etc. How much you charge per copy is up to you, and you can even offer to wrap the books yourself and mail them directly to the recipient of the gift.

 

With the holidays just around the corner, I decided to email a couple of friends who are also fans of my books to see if they wanted to buy any signed copies as gifts for their friends. Within an hour both replied with orders for a total of 10 signed books--or $200 payable to me.

 

I think I'm on to something.

 

Today I plan to look through my contacts list and reach out to other friends who are also big fans of my books. I'm not talking about a mass email to everyone I know--I mean personalized, tasteful messages that are more than just sales pitches. Yes, that's time consuming, but book marketing is time consuming. There's simply no way around that.

 

As for physically mailing the books, I strongly suggest going to the post office and asking for the book rate. It's much cheaper than regular shipping, and it includes tracking! I often receive emails from readers of my blog asking if they can send me copies of their work--and if I say yes, the book usually arrives via FedEx or some equally expensive method. Each time that happens I feel bad because that's a double expense for the sender (the book itself and the big shipping fee). The only downside about the book rate is that you can't request it at the self-serve kiosks, so you have to wait in line, but the money you'll save over time is well worth it.

 

-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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Hold a Holiday Contest

Two Easy Ways to Save Money in Your Book Promotion

1,349 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, promotions, signed-copies
2

Moving On

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 14, 2015

Whenever I launch a new book, I struggle with what I call a post-release hangover. Everything I've had for the past six months to a year has gone into the writing, editing, and publishing of the book, and it is just tough to move on. My creativity has been locked up in one project, and my mind is flooded with "what if" and "maybe I should have..." thoughts when the book is finally made available for sale.

 

Bear with me because I don't know how to put this without conjuring up a possible spontaneous outbreak of a popular song from a popular animated motion picture, but there's no other way to put this: Let it go. Letting go of a book you've published and vanquishing it from your every thought is an enormous undertaking, but it's the only way you can start focusing on your next book. Here are my top three tips for letting go:

 

  1. Don't check reviews over and over again. Allow yourself one day a week to check for new reviews. Doing so more frequently doesn't allow you to move on as quickly as you could.

  2. Surround yourself with other people. I find a night of cards with close friends leads to hours of talk that is not focused on the book.

  3. Binge watch your favorite show. It's a mindless activity that removes you from the book world. A weekend of Breaking Bad always knocks the thoughts of my newly released book from my head. In fact, I often feel inspired to start my next story.

 

One of the best ways to succeed in publishing is to publish multiple titles. If you can't stop thinking about your last release, your publishing career may stall. Don't let that happen. Let it go.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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How to Get Through the First Draft

The "What If" Notebook

1,095 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, book_launch
1

Your Average Reader

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 9, 2015

Read any advice about marketing, and you will invariably find a common refrain: know your average reader. That's easy to write, but how do you know whom your average reader is or where your average reader can be found? Here is my best advice on how to easily locate your average reader.

 

  1. Genre: Your book belongs to a certain genre, and that is great news. Genres come with baseline demographics. True, it won't provide a representation of every reader you want to reach, but it gives you a good indication of whom your average reader is.

  2. Other Books: As original as your book may be, it still bears some similarity to other books. Again, that is great news, particularly if the book was a bestseller. You will more than likely find fan groups online, and you will get an ideal virtual snapshot of your average reader.

  3. The Mirror: Provided you haven't written a young adult novel or a book for children, your average reader could look and act a lot like you. After all, the odds are you wrote with passion, and that passion came from being a fan before you started writing your first book. Reverse engineer your own habits and hangouts.

  4. Subject Matter: Let's say you've written a crime novel featuring a protagonist who psychically communicates with cats. You, my friend, have a niche book, and niche books have well defined average readers. I'm guessing it would take you no time at all on a search engine to find groups that are fascinated by cats with psychic abilities.

 

Once you've found your average readers, reaching out is a matter of getting involved in their online communities and introducing yourself as an author. Don't push. Participate. Be a valued member of their communities, and they will become curious until they aren't just average readers, but your readers.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Find Smaller Markets to Sell More Books

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

4,239 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, selling, readers, writing, craft, branding, target_audience
4

A lot of people out there are afraid to use the pronoun "me." I think the aversion must start in elementary school, when you proudly declare "Me and Gloria are best friends!" and your mom shakes her head and says, "Gloria and I are best friends."

 

Mom is right because in that instance "I" is a subject. However, "me" is correct when you need an object.

 

Here are some examples of how to use "I" and "me" correctly:

 

*Gloria and Maria are in charge of the team

*Gloria and I are in charge of the team (CORRECT)

*Gloria and me are in charge of the team (INCORRECT)

 

That was super obvious, right? How about these:

 

*That's a great photo of Gloria and Maria

*That's a great photo of Gloria and me (CORRECT)

*That's a great photo of Gloria and I (INCORRECT)

 

In this case "me" is the correct choice because it's an object.

Confused? Remove Gloria from the sentence, and the answer becomes more obvious:

 

*That's a great photo of me (CORRECT)

*That's a great photo of I (INCORRECT)

 

Here are some more examples:

 

*You can call Gloria or Maria with that information

*You can call Gloria or me with that information (CORRECT)

*You can call Gloria or I with that information (INCORRECT)

 

The correct choice here is "me" because it's an object. Again, removing Gloria makes it more obvious:

 

*You can call me with that information (CORRECT)

*You can call I with that information (INCORRECT)

 

When you're not sure whether to use "I" or "me," ask yourself, Is this a subject or an object? And if you're still not sure, get rid of the other person in the sentence, and you'll know the answer. (Sorry Gloria!)

 

-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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Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

Grammar Tip: Who vs. That

4,091 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, grammar_tips, i_vs_me
0

Indie authors are--well, independent, as independent as you can get in the publishing industry. Those who have chosen the indie route call the shots at every stage of the publishing process, from soup to nuts, from the words on the page to the marketing of the finished product. It's a simultaneously envious and frightening position to be in. Succeeding as an indie author requires unshakable discipline.

 

Such independence without the needed discipline can create a meandering publishing experience that will eventually careen off course and crash. My advice is to embrace your freedom by imposing deadlines. Yes, that sounds counterintuitive, but the goal here is to give yourself, as an indie, a voice, a book that people will read and rave about, a book that will make them hunger for your next book. That requires a type of passion that can burn brightly and burn out quickly. The trick is to give them that next offering while interest is hot.

 

Deadlines help you do two things: they help you ride that wave of interest and capitalize on your readers' hunger for more. And, I have also found that they help you stay focused. With a deadline looming, your brain finds chunks of story at every moment. They aren't all worth committing to paper, but they help you cycle through until you find something that takes you to the next point in your story. My experience has been that a deadline helps me move on more quickly through the various stages of a manuscript. I let the story grow outside of my head and get a fresh perspective. It is a constraint that forces me to be more creative, and personally, I find deadlines fun.

 

As an indie author, deadlines offer you more freedom as an artist, and they give you the discipline to succeed. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Discipline to Write

Reward Yourself

1,428 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, deadlines, independent_authors
1

This is the time of year that makes us most aware of our calendars. There are so many holidays on the horizon that it can be a little daunting, especially if you haven't been preparing for the days ahead and the obligations they bring. Outside of this cluster of holidays, the year is full of others more evenly dispersed from month to month.

 

From a marketing standpoint, you should be aware of them all. Holidays are opportunities for those of us with books to sell. Campaigns can be geared around each one to maximize sales. The trick is to plan. Don't check the calendar at the beginning of the month and decide to jump on the next holiday. Create a marketing calendar in January and map out where you're going to focus your marketing efforts throughout the year. Commit to developing a strategy to make sure you get as much out of the opportunity as you can. Be painstakingly specific about what you'll be doing to prepare starting weeks ahead of the holiday. Do not let anything sneak up on you.

 

Preparation is the key to success in marketing. Having all your ducks in a row also makes it less stressful once the campaign gets underway. This is the entrepreneurial part of being an indie author. It requires you not only to think outside the box, but also to make every day count. Whether that day is committed to reviewing marketing plans, developing marketing plans, or launching a campaign, depends on your marketing calendar. Plan your days and be prepared to take advantage of the unique opportunities holidays provide.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Setting Goals for Your Brand

Build a Plus & Minus Brand Map

1,599 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, selling, writers, promotions, brand, branding, social_media, author_brand, marketing_advice, marekting
0

I recently received an email from an author named S.J. (That is a purposefully androgynous pen name.) S.J. was doing a blog tour to help promote the launch of his/her first novel and wanted to know if I would consider letting him/her do a guest post on my personal website.

 

I'd never had anyone do a guest post, but S.J. mentioned that he/she had read all my books, so I wanted to help. Why wouldn't I? S.J. had supported me, so I wanted to support S.J. in return. (S.J. is also a loyal reader of my blog and even mentioned his/her favorite post in the message.)

 

S.J. had been writing professionally for many years but was a first-time novelist, so I thought my readers would appreciate some thoughts on what he/she had learned from the process. Here's the post on my website.

 

The same week I received an email from another debut author, whom I won't name. He asked me if I wanted to interview him on my website. I asked him if he'd read any of my books, and he said no. Then I asked him if he'd ever read my blog, and he admitted that no, he hadn't. I never heard from him after that.

 

Do you see the difference a personal touch can make? S.J. took the time to personalize his/her outreach to me, and it resulted in a guest post on my blog. The other author used a copy/paste/generic approach, and it resulted in nothing. If he had opened his message with "Hey, I haven't read any of your books, but I just ordered a couple for my sister..." our interaction would have been very different. Keep that in mind that next time you reach out to a fellow author for help!

 

-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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The Power of a Personal Connection

Use a Personal Touch When Reaching Out or Following Up

1,141 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, promotions, personal_touch

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