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April 2016
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Social media in 2016

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 27, 2016

     Since we are fast approaching the mid-point of 2016, we should probably examine the current state of social media. After all, it is not a static platform. People are participating in all sorts of different ways, and some approaches are more effective than others. I'm going to keep the information fairly general, but for specifics feel free to search for "Social Media in 2016," and you will find a plethora of data to support what you read here and even more detailed information on how you can more effectively utilize your social media platform.


  1. The fastest-growing group of social media users will be those who are 65 and older.
  2. The younger demographics will see the slowest amount of growth, but they will still outnumber the older demographics by a wide margin.
  3. Videos offer the most opportunity for engagement by a huge margin.
  4. Specialized social media sites are starting to emerge as significant players. If you've got an interest, who knows? There might be a social media site devoted to that interest.
  5. Live streaming is becoming more and more popular. It's as easy as downloading a live streaming app to your phone and turning on the video camera.
  6. Online marketing companies are trending toward creating mobile marketing strategies first. Consumers are just spending more time on their mobile devices than laptops and desktops these days.
  7. Social media analytics are all the rage. Tracking your social media activity means you can identify how and where to find engagement. Engagement creates brand loyalty. Brand loyalty generates sales.
  8. Social media users trend toward supporting brands that adopt a cause and devote a portion of their social media real estate to that cause.
  9. The selfie trend will continue to grow for every demographic except the fastest-growing social media users, the 65 and older crew. They will continue to hate the selfie trend.
  10. Video profiles will continue to grow in popularity. Think of it as an author photo with motion and sound.


 

For the most part, it is business as usual in the social media kingdom. I urge you all to check for trends frequently so you can become an early adopter and find much more success than a late arriver.


 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Marketing: Begin with Your Strengths

 

Social Networking Sells Your Brand

 

 

 

 

1,464 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, blogging, social_media, vlogging, social_platform
1

You CAN write a book

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 26, 2016

This morning I received an email that made me smile...or maybe even grin. It was from an aspiring author named Becca. In particular, I loved this part of her message:


"Reading through your blog has been very educational and exciting for me. I love all your knowledge, advice, and mostly your encouragement to not give up when it gets hard. I don't expect that starting into this will be easy; however, I think it will be so fun to try! My husband and my kids are all very much on board and supportive."


Go Becca! I love her positive attitude. And to all the Beccas out there reading this, you CAN write a book! No, it's not easy, but yes, it's fun to try. And at the end of the day that's all it really comes down to--trying. And trying. And trying! If you keep pushing yourself forward, day after day, week after week, eventually you'll have a book. It may not be very good, but that's okay. My first effort wasn't very good either. But once I had that first draft, I went back and rewrote it a few times, and that part was fun. In my experience, editing and tweaking is always more enjoyable than coming up with something from scratch.

 

Writing an entire book takes discipline--and patience. It's not going to happen overnight. Focusing on moving the story forward little by little will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. And then one day, after many days of plodding along, your manuscript will be done. Done! If you're like me, when that happens you'll probably take a step back from your keyboard, exhale, and ask yourself, "Did I really just do that? How did I do that?"


Then, you'll do a little dance and go celebrate!

 

-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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Writing Tip: Stay Committed to the Process

 

Writing Tip: Keep the Story Moving Forward

 

 

 

 

1,954 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: book, author, self-publishing, blogging, writing, promotions, writing_process, author_tips
1

 

I've taken part in a lot of conversations. I've listened to a lot of conversations. I've even eavesdropped on more than a few. I've discovered one secret key element of conversations that makes them interesting, maddening, and authentic all at once, and I'm going to reveal that secret to you.

 

But first let me explain how I came to discover this secret: I discovered it by reading. That's right, I didn't notice it until I identified it in a book called The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. This component of conversation is so engrained in our culture that we don't even know it's there. It's a stealthy stitch that ties verbal communication together and builds relationships in awkward and fundamentally human ways.

 

Okay, here's the secret. Are you ready for this? People spend huge chunks of conversations not listening to one another. They are so consumed with interjecting and making their points about a topic that they zone out and make non sequiturs that jumble conversations up into nearly incoherent exchanges. In most conversations, the people involved have their own agendas, and they put a great deal of effort into fulfilling those agendas, even at the expense of listening. Here's the kicker. Somehow the communicators always seem to find their way back to salient points.

 

For most people, getting to the point of a conversation is a long, winding road. When you're writing dialogue for your characters, taking tidy steps where characters are responding to each other on point instead of servicing their own conversational agenda doesn't give you a realistic back and forth. Try playing around with the "not listening" technique and see if that adds a dose of authenticity to your dialogue.

 

-Richard


 

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


 

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Improving Dialogue

 

Start a Dialogue with Your Characters

 

1,275 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, authentic_dialogue
1

Be original

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 20, 2016

If you've followed along in previous posts, I'm sure you've made your Author's Declaration, you've established your platform priority, you've plotted out how to use your secondary planks to support your main plank, and you've become a strident believer in developing a schedule. The last bit of brand-building inventory we need to discuss is the type of content you'll be showcasing on your platform.


In this case, when I say "type," I'm referring to the origin of your content. From where will it come? If you take nothing else from these blog posts on brand building, remember this one thing: original content is king. Material that comes from you has the greatest potential to be tied to your brand. The goal is to produce something that is worthy of being shared. When it's shared on social media platforms, friends of friends and followers of followers and so forth and so on are linked back to your brand's platform. The more share-worthy material you produce, the greater the opportunity that your brand's outreach will grow.


With your commitment to scheduling, you've established half of the consistency quotient. The other half has to do with your brand’s focus. Yes, you’ll be discussing your books, but it can’t be just about your books. You have to include other passions in your brand identity too--and I do mean passions. If you're into gardening, produce original content about gardening. If politics is your thing, jump into political topics with both feet. Sports, relationships, television, theatre, or whatever captures your interest, make room for it on your platform, and do it consistently. Give your brand depth based on your passions. It's the most effective way to give your author brand staying power.


-Richard


 

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


 

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Blogging - "Why would anyone care what I have to say?"

Setting Goals for Your Brand

 

756 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, branding, brand_building, be_original
3

It took me nearly five years to get my first novel, Perfect on Paper, published, so when it finally happened I was over the moon. I'd worked my tail off to make it happen, and after all that effort, at long last I could exhale, sit back, and enjoy myself as the sales rolled in.


Or so I thought.


Needless to say, the sales didn't roll in, and I was more than a little disappointed.


I remember voicing my frustration to my editor on a phone call one day. "Why isn't my book doing better?" I asked him. While I can't remember his exact response, I'll never forget the essence of it. He calmly told me that I should write another novel, then another. He said that success wouldn't happen overnight, that it was important to build a body of work if I wanted to make a living as an author.


While they weren't what I wanted to hear at the time, I took his words to heart and soon began writing a second novel, then a third. Now I have seven, and I make a living as an author. My editor was right. It didn't happen overnight, and it happened only because I kept writing. I will always be grateful to him for his sage counsel.


Other great pieces of advice I've heard over the years include:


*If there's a story you want to tell, tell it

*To write a book, all you really need is an interesting character (or characters) who is (are) in an interesting situation--then go from there

*All major characters should want something


What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever received? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear from everyone who reads this post. Just think of how much we could all learn from one another!


-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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How to Get and Stay Motivated

 

Want to write a book? Get out of your own way

1,606 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, writing, promotions, book_sales, writing_advice
0

Sometimes I get the feeling non-writers don't understand what writing actually is. They think it's 100% what I'm doing at this very moment: putting words to the page, digital or otherwise. Frankly, it is where I spend the least amount of time as a writer. The bulk of my writing time is spent formulating plots and developing characters as far away from my computer as I can get. It's playing and replaying a scene in my mind until the details fall into place, and I can essentially describe the scene in the form of a written passage before I've even put fingers to keyboard.

 

But in my estimation, even that time, the time spent running a story through the neuron marathon in your brain, isn't the most important part of what a writer does. For me, my best writing is done when I'm not devoting any time--be it physically writing or thinking--to a story. As much as I will deny it to my wife, I love doing the dishes. It is prime non-writing, non-thinking writing time. Trying to figure out how to load a dishwasher efficiently is a weird challenge to me that allows me to devote barely essential thoughts to a menial task and have it take up prime gray matter real estate. I'm not applying precious thought power to my latest story at all. I'm thinking of ways to insert bowls between the blunted rubberized spikes to allow for the most plates in my dishwasher. What's the best way to insert a coffee cup--handle toward the front or toward the back? This simple task is my most valuable writing time because it has zero to do with writing. By unhooking from a story, I'm allowing for the unexpected to find its way into the development of a story.

 

In essence, I'm never not writing. That is the blessing and curse of being a writer. We observe without observing. We record without recording. We unhook but remain unwittingly tethered to a project. Distractions are the unsung heroes of a writer's life.


 

-Richard


 

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


 

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The "What If" Notebook

 

The Power of the Mindless Task

 

1,046 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_distractions
0

Consistency is the key to success. Technically, it's also the key to failure. After all, simply doing something with consistency in and of itself isn't how people reach the pinnacle of success. It's doing the right things with consistency that allows people to reach the pinnacle of success. In the case of building and maintaining a brand, we've discussed the right things to do. We've talked about your Author Declaration. We've covered the need to prioritize your brand's platform, and we've touched on ways you can use the secondary planks in your platform to effectively support your primary plank.


In this post we are going to focus on the need for consistency in utilizing your brand-building tools. Note: Consistency does not equal constant activity. You are allowed to take breaks from your platform. In fact, you need to take breaks from your platform. Your brand is you, and if you're spending all your time building your brand, well, that doesn't make much for brand material.


Consistency means setting a schedule and building expectations that you meet by following that schedule. Let's say you commit to writing three posts a week for your blog, and you've picked Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday as the days in which you will post to your blog. Commit it to a brand-building calendar. If it's video you've decided to use as your primary plank, keep a calendar for production, post-production, and uploading. Make yourself accountable. Stick to the schedule. Your brand depends on it. Your book sales depend on it.


On those occasions when you will be taking breaks, work those into your calendar, too. On those times when you will be absent from your platform, consider giving the reins of your platform to a guest blogger or vlogger. Give them guidelines so they won't veer too far from your brand identity, and make sure they commit to maintaining your schedule, so your friends, followers, and readers will stay connected to your brand in your absence.


Doing the right things on schedule is the type of consistency that will help build your brand and give you a living platform.


-Richard

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


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Author Brand Success: Consistency without Stagnation

Be Authentic to Build Your Brand



1,403 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: promotion, brand, social_media, platform, author_brand, bloggin, vlogging
2

Sometimes when people I encounter find out I'm an author, they share with me their own ambitions of writing a book. While some of these individuals go on to reach their goals, in my experience that's usually not the case. I've lost track of how many times an aspiring author has told me that he or she once started writing a book, but then for various reasons it went nowhere. Some of the most common explanations I hear include:


*I got too busy with work/family

 

*I wasn't sure where the plot was going

 

*I was afraid it was awful

 

*It seemed like so much work

 

*I set it down and just didn't pick it up again

 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above, but here is the truth: Yes, they are reasons, but they are also excuses. It's completely fine if you don't finish your book or even if you never start your book. No one is telling you that you must write a book. It's your life, and you should live it as you choose. But if you truly want to write a book, you're the only one who can make yourself do it. That's really all it comes down to.

 

Much like losing weight or getting (and staying) in shape, writing a book takes discipline and commitment over a long period of time. There are always going to be reasons for why you can't eat right every day or work out every day. Always. But if you really want to lose weight by eating right regularly, you will. And if you really want to be in shape be exercising regularly, you will.

 

Writing a book is challenging and scary and not always fun. And once you're done, there's no guarantee that you'll sell a single copy. But who cares? For the vast majority of authors, writing a book isn't about the money. It's about writing a book. So if you really want to be an author, get out of your own way and make it happen. I promise you'll be glad you did.

 

-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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Writing Takes Discipline

 

Think You Can't Write a Book While Working a Full-time Job? Think Again.

 

8,642 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, writing_a_book, excuses
0

Recently I read a story that was fairly engaging with well-developed characters. I found myself reading anxiously. You might even say it was engrossing. That is until I got to the end of the conflict. It ended abruptly, and it was resolved without warning. What's worse is that it was resolved using a solution that came out of nowhere. I read the story again to see if I had missed even the smallest hint that the resolution presented was a possibility. It wasn't. I felt cheated. There was no pathway for me to follow to the solution.


If the author had used just the tiniest bit of foreshadowing, I would have been a satisfied reader. I may have even enjoyed an "A-ha!" moment, a feeling that the outcome made perfect sense given the information I absorbed previously in the reading. Foreshadowing is an excellent plot device that helps the reader be part of the story. The trick is to not give overt indications of what's to come but to share subtle possibilities, clues that are disguised as background information.


Foreshadowing can be overdone and cross over into exposition. You run the risk of explaining plot points and spoon-feeding information to the reader, a development that will make readers feel just as cheated as springing a resolution on them out of the blue. Incorporating foreshadowing takes skill, and when it's done right, it can take a story to the next level.


Conflicts have to be resolved using logic, even in genres that are as far removed from reality as possible. Foreshadowing can give your resolution the logic it needs.


-Richard


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Twist

Is Predictability in Storytelling Good or Bad?

1,531 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, character_development, foreshadowing
0

 

    I talked about prioritizing your platform in a previous post. By that, I mean give your platform three planks from which you operate. One of those planks will be used as your primary source for brand exposure. The other two planks will be used as support planks. In other words, they will be used in the following ways:


  1. You will use them as funnels to your primary plank. Let's say you've decided to make video your primary online plank. When you complete a new video and post it to your online channel, use your support planks to drive traffic to your video. Or if your blog is your primary plank, use your support planks to drive traffic to your latest post.
  2. Your support planks can be used to satisfy the need for immediacy. Let's say you've just sold the movie rights to your novel. Use your support planks to send out a headline-worthy announcement with the promise of more details to follow in your primary plank. Whenever you need to get out the word quickly, your secondary planks can come in handy.
  3. Your support planks can also be used to engage your readers in special Q & A chats. This is a strategy that can come in handy for your newest release. You more or less reverse your plank priority in this case. Use your primary to give a detailed account of the release and the time and date of the Q & A, then just make yourself available to respond to questions as they come in on your chosen secondary plank.

 


The structure should be fairly obvious. Your primary plank is for long-form content and your secondary planks are for short-form communications. The point is to form a synergistic relationship between all the planks and give your brand room to grow.


-Richard

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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Growing and Cultivating Your Online Community

 

An Active Author Brand

 


 


1,464 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, brand, branding, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand
3

 

Lately I've heard so many people confuse "went" with "gone" that I decided it was worth a blog post on the topic. "Went" and "gone" are both variations of the verb "to go" but are used in different tenses. Here's an explanation of the difference:


 

WENT is the simple past tense of TO GO:


 

Yesterday I went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday you went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday he/she went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday we went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday they went sailing for the first time


 

GONE is used in the present perfect and past perfect tenses of TO GO:


 

Present perfect:

 

In the past month I have gone sailing twice

 

In the past month you have gone sailing twice

 

In the past month he/she has gone sailing twice

 

In the past month we have gone sailing twice

 

In the past month they have gone sailing twice


 

Past perfect (also known as pluperfect):

 

Before today I had gone sailing only once

 

Before today you had gone sailing only once

 

Before today he/she had gone sailing only once

 

Before today we had gone sailing only once

 

Before today they had gone sailing only once


 

I hear the mistake most often when people say "have went" when they should say "have gone." For example:


 

I should have went sailing instead of coming here (INCORRECT)

 

I should have gone sailing instead of coming here (CORRECT)

 

We could have went sailing instead of coming here (INCORRECT)

 

We could have gone sailing instead of coming here (CORRECT)


 

A clever trick for remembering the difference is to say the following out loud: "Correct answer, where have you gone?" Your ear probably knows that question is phrased correctly, so modeling it will tell you the answer.


 

-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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Why Good Grammar Matters

 

More Grammar Pet Peeves!

 

3,015 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip, went_vs_gone
1

 

Seinfeld is an iconic TV sitcom that re-imagined the format in a lot of ways--not the least of which is that they famously and proudly proclaimed to be a show about nothing. They did an entire show about waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. That's barely a concept for a conversation let alone a TV show, but they pulled it off with ease.

 

The show is also famous for having an ensemble cast of four characters that were integral to every single episode. They all brought their own brand of insanity to each storyline, and the result is gold, Jerry, gold (pardon the inside Seinfeld joke). The most wonderfully insane character is Kramer, the crazy neighbor that lives across the hall from Jerry.

 

What makes him especially fascinating is that he's based on a real person whose name is Kramer. A little-known fact is that the show's co-creator, Larry David, didn't want to name the character Kramer. He thought it would open them up to legal issues, but he and Jerry Seinfeld wrote the pilot using the name Kramer until they could come up with a substitute. They even did the table read with Kramer as the character's name. The network approved the script with Kramer as the character's name. Finally, David insisted that they name the character Kessler, and they shot the pilot with Kessler living across the hall from Jerry instead of Kramer.

 

Everyone agreed the name didn't work. The character's name was Kramer. There was just no way around it. They decided to take a chance and use the name Kramer for the simple fact that no other name fit. Now, had they written the original script with the name Kessler, maybe it would have worked. But as it was, there was no escaping the allure of Kramer.

 

The lesson is be careful of those names you use as placeholders. They can inhabit characters and prevent you from changing the names when you do your rewrite. Whether we realize it or not, we associate certain characteristics and behaviors with names, and we subconsciously include those various traits when we write. That's not necessarily a bad thing, unless the time comes that you want to make a change. Then, you might find it difficult to do so.

 

-Richard

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

 

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Building Character

 

The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

 

1,161 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_names

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