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     It sounds like a stupid question. What purpose do writing rituals serve? Duh. They make you more productive, right? Yes, overall that’s the effect, but the question is why do writing rituals make you more productive? There are a few notable reasons for this;


  1. Comfort: Rituals provide a comfort zone of sorts for writers. They provide a space (both physical and mental) that puts an author at ease. When an author is more at ease, it’s just common sense that he or she will be more productive.
  2. Discipline: Rituals are disciplines in disguise. When you get up at 4:00 a.m. to write because that’s your ritual, you are a disciplined writer. When you write 500 words before you take a break, that’s discipline. When you meditate before you write, that’s discipline.
  3. Strategy: Rituals are building blocks to your overall goal. When you set a goal to write a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days, you probably put a strategy in place to help you reach that goal. That strategy consists of rituals you will follow to hit the 50,000 word mark.
  4. Control: Rituals are your way of controlling the process. When you’re in control, you’re more confident, and you’re more productive.


Rituals make you more productive because they help you focus. They strip you of the stress of having to deal with the unfamiliar. They aren’t for everyone. Some authors use the unfamiliar to help get the creative juices flowing, but many authors like the structure that rituals provide them, and it makes them more productive.


-Richard


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


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The Rituals of a Writer's Life

Are Writing Rituals Good or Bad?



1,364 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, help, writing, craft, writing_tips, author_tips, author_advice
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A sense of urgency

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 25, 2016

Limited Time Offer!

 

Offer Expires Soon!

 

Sale Ends Tomorrow!

 

While Supplies Last!


The above are examples of ad copy we've all seen before. Other than the exclamation point, they all have one thing in common. It's the ad world's version of "show; don't tell." Each slogan conveys the same feeling, and it's a feeling meant to move consumers to run to their favorite shop, virtual or actual, and buy, buy, buy. That feeling is a sense of urgency.


It is meant to leave consumers feeling as if they are about to miss out on an incredible offer. It is either stated outright or implied that time is running out. The sweetheart deals will soon be gone and those who miss out will be left with nothing but a sense of regret.


As you devise a strategy to bring awareness to your book or books, look for a way to build a sense of urgency into your messaging. Perhaps it's reduced pricing for your book. What better way to use this urgency strategy. Highlight the limited time of the price reduction, and make it clear daily in your social media circle that the time is growing shorter to take advantage of the sale price.


Or perhaps you want to give away a dozen signed copies of your book. Don't think that the giveaway is enough to entice readers. The sense that the signed copies are limited editions and will be gone soon is the real promotion. Hammer that point home.


Sometimes to sell books, you have to have time on your side. The best way to do that is to limit the amount of time readers can participate in a promotion for your book. Make them feel as if they are about to miss out on an incredible opportunity.


-Richard

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

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Three marketing websites for authors

 

Guerrilla book marketing tactic

 

 

 

 

1,282 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, self-publishing, sales, promotions, social_media, how_to_promote
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I see a lot of capitalization errors, but one of the most common is regarding family members, especially parents. Here's a refresher on the rule:


 

If the "Mom/mom" or "Dad/dad" is replacing the name of the person, then capitalize it because it's a proper noun. If it's replacing the title of the person, leave it in lowercase.


 

For example, let's say you're speaking to your sister about your parents, whose names are Gloria and Dale:


 

  • You: "Do you think Mom and Dad are coming to the barbeque this weekend?" (CORRECT)
  • Your sister: "Yes, but they'll be late because Mom's company is having some' event in the city." (CORRECT)


 

In the above scenario, "Mom" and "Dad" are capitalized because they are replacing "Gloria" and "Dale," which are proper nouns. If you and your sister were to refer to your parents by their first names, you could use "Gloria" and "Dale" in the above exchange.


 

Now let's say that you're chatting with your sister about her in-laws. We'll pretend your sister's husband is named Bob, and his parents' names are Linda and Sal.


 

  • You: "What about Bob's mom and dad? Are they coming to the barbeque? (CORRECT)
  • Your sister: "No, his mom hasn't been feeling well, so I think they're going to stay home." (CORRECT)


 

In the above scenario, "mom" and "dad" are lowercase because they aren't proper nouns. You couldn't swap "Linda"and "Sal" for "mom" and "dad" there.

 

 

 

Here's an example of a combination of the two scenarios:


 

  • You: "That's too bad. I hope his mom feels better because I really wanted her to hear Mom tell that funny story about how she and Dad got stuck at the airport."(CORRECT)
  • Your sister: "I'm sure she'll be fine. Bob's dad said it's just a bad cold, but I agree that his mom will love the way Mom tells that story." (CORRECT)


Do you see the difference? If you're still confused, keep this sentence on hand for future reference: "Mom and Dad, you drive me crazy sometimes, but you are also the best mom and dad in the world!"

 

-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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Common mistakes in capitalization

 

More grammar pet peeves!

 

 

 

 

1,155 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, grammar, capitalization, grammar_tip, author_advice, grammar_advice, grammar_rules
0

Culture profile

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 23, 2016

I have plans for a book that, in part at least, takes place in Bolivia. I'm a huge Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fan, and it's my way of paying homage to the classic film. I have a major hurdle to overcome first. My knowledge of the country and region is based solely on the 1969 film starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

 

Obviously, that means I have some studying to do. My goal as a writer is to avoid creating characters that are stereotypes. My view on stereotypes is that they don't provide the kind of depth one needs to develop a character readers will really connect with. Instead, I want to develop Bolivian characters that are modeled using cultural norms and cultural deviations that test those norms.

 

Now, I currently don't have the resources to travel to Bolivia and do a field study. I will have to rely on books, articles, and videos to find the knowledge I seek. I will create a file on my computer that will be called "Bolivian Culture," and I will start collecting material. Before I even sketch out the plot for the book, I will create character profiles for the Bolivians who will be in my book. I'll do a general outline for secondary and background characters, and I'll do a more detailed summary of the main Bolivian characters. That's where the cultural deviations will come into play. Conflict is crucial to creating multidimensional characters. The practices outside of what is widely accepted as a cultural norm are a great place to find conflict to fully develop a character.

 

When writing characters that come from a different culture than you, steer clear of stereotypes. Dive deeper and do your homework in order to create a culture profile that will give your characters depth.

 

-Richard

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Give your characters virtual depth

Start a dialogue with your characters

837 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, characters, craft, character_development, writing_advice, character_arcs
1

A fight--physical, verbal, passive-aggressive, actively aggressive--whatever the type or tools (words, fists, or other), usually involves a shot of adrenaline. Our personalities have a lot to do with determining how we express this surge in adrenaline, and thought plays a very small role in making the determination. We all tend to go on instinct. To engage in a fight, one feels wronged, and when one feels wronged, giving in to baser instincts is usually the result.


What does this have to do with authors and branding? Because I've seen too many authors act (or more accurately, react) in such a way to a perceived wrong that they run the very real risk of doing permanent damage to their brands. This "wrong" is in the form of a bad review. There are authors who will give in to temptation and respond directly to the reviewer. That never goes well, and I think we all know without question that is a bad move.


But, by far, the absolute worst thing you can do in response to a stinging review is rally the troops. I'm referring to going to your favorite social media venue and asking for your readers to counter the bad review with a positive one, or perhaps even more egregious, respond to the reviewer's less than flattering opinion. What follows are usually personal attacks that spill over into other virtual communities and escalate into tit-for-tat barbs that will all be associated with one person: the author.


The solution is obvious but extremely difficult to implement. The solution is to think. Don't engage your friends and followers to defend your honor. Good, bad, or indifferent, reviews are simply opinions. They aren't wrongs that can be corrected without a lot of collateral damage. They can be unfair, and they can be painful, but the only proper response to a bad review is no response. Rise above and avoid a potentially costly fray.


-Richard

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

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Bad Reviews Aren't So Bad

When Your Words Offend



975 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: selling, reviews, self-publishing, review, promotions, author_advice
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Many debut authors don't know what to put in their bios. That's understandable! In fact, I recently met a debut novelist--I'll call her Lucy--whose bio at the end of her book was one line long. It said exactly this:


This is Lucy's first novel. She lives in San Francisco.


She laughed and said she knew it wasn't much, but she had no idea what else to write. She had't won any awards. She'd never written anything before. She didn't feel she had any relevant professional experience.


If you're in the same boat as Lucy, here are my two cents on the issue: I don't think what you write in your bio is as important as how you write it.


By "how you write it," I mean two things:


1)    You write it well. That means no grammatical errors, no crazy long sentences, and no weird syntax.


If you're putting yourself out there as a professional writer, be sure that's reflected in your bio. (For example, I've lost track of how many indie authors refer to themselves as Authors in their bios.)


2)    Your bio shows readers what they can expect in your writing.


If your book is positioned as a comedy, make your bio funny! If your bio makes me laugh, I'm much more likely to want to read your book. If your book is a mystery, write something mysterious about yourself. (I could never write a mystery, so I'm not sure what I would do in this case, but you get my point.)


Of course if you have specific life experience that relates directly to the content of your book (e.g., you were a police officer for 20 years and the book is about a detective, or if you're a nurse or a doctor and the novel is about life in a hospital), of course include that information in your bio. For the rest of us who simply make things up for our stories, I truly believe that elements one and two are enough. So stop stressing and get writing!


-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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Marketing Tip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

Why Grammatical Errors in Your Author Bio Can Sink Your Sales

 

1,405 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, promotion, writing, author_biography
0

Beyond the visuals

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 16, 2016

I am the son of an ophthalmologist, and my father was the son of an optometrist, and there are a few more eyesight specialists who appear in my lineage. You might say I am hyperaware of visual acuity and the mechanics behind it. I am also aware that vision is a bit of a cheat when it comes to creative writing. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have sight rely heavily on visual elements when it comes to character description, setting, and even action passages.


Here is my creative challenge to you today: write a descriptive piece that leaves the visuals out. Rely on your other senses to convey your message. I read a new book by a fairly well-known author recently, and I rolled my eyes on a number of occasions. Everyone was beautiful and athletic. The women had pinup girl looks and the men had chiseled features. To be honest, I felt cheated because I wanted to know more about the characters than their looks. I wanted to know what they smelled like, the timbre of their voices, the way they breathed. Telling me that they were all athletic and beautiful was a shortcut that prevented me from connecting with the characters. This author did the same with the scenery. It was how everything looked and nothing else. Sounds, smells, temperature--they all provide deeper anchors of connection with the reader.


Think beyond the visuals. Give your book depth by using the other senses. We live in a multi-sensory world, so don't limit your story to just one. Incorporate them all.


-Richard


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Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

The Stranger in the Room

974 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, senses
1

I'm going to sound like a hypocrite today. On this blog, I've frequently shared the advice to stay true to the art of writing. I've often said that you shouldn't consider the reader while you write. Your only consideration should be for the story and the characters in your story. Your first draft should be a no-holds-barred work of storytelling wizardry.


But when I talk about rewrites, my advice switches gears somewhat. This is where I don't mind if you give some consideration to the reader. I'm not suggesting you ditch your artistic integrity, but I am suggesting that you're now in a better position to blend the interests of your readers with the interests of your characters. You've gone on a journey that is tens of thousands of words long, and you now have a better understanding of how far you can bend the story without breaking it.


The concept to remember as you rewrite is tweaking it to make it more marketable. I know that may sound antithetical to honoring the craft and art of writing, but the two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive. You can find a happy medium that embraces both the risk of art and the relative safety of commercial appeal. In fact, finding such a medium may be your greatest artistic achievement.


The first draft is where you let the imagination fly, sometimes wildly, in order to get words on the page and make a connection with your characters. The rewrites are for you to use that connection to artfully give your story marketability. You always want to choose the artistic path when possible, but taking brief excursions onto commercial paths is not a bad thing.


-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Use Two Brains for Writing and Rewriting

The Perils of Rewriting

 

807 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, manuscript_rewrites, book_marketability
3

As I've mentioned before, I read a lot about book marketing and publishing. The other day I came across an article about an indie author who had recently published a novel about baseball. I love sports and thought his book sounded interesting, so I looked it up on Amazon. There were just two reviews, one of which was five stars and had the title: Great book. Among other glowing things, the review said the book was "a nice easy read for kids of all ages" and "well worth the time and money."


Then I noticed that the name of the reviewer looked strangely familiar. I scrolled to the top of the page and realized it was the same as the author! I couldn't believe someone would have the gall to give his own book a five-star review, but there it was, staring me in the face.


Needless to say, I didn't buy the book. How could I support such unethical behavior?


I've said more than once in this space that I believe asking friends and family to positively review your book is a bad idea. It puts them in an awkward position (what if they didn't like your book?), and it's just not credible. Reviewing your book yourself is even worse. Of course you think it's worthy of five stars; you wrote it! But that's beside the point. For reviews to mean anything, they need to be written by objective readers. That's the point of reviews.


The only time I think it's OK for a friend to write a review is if that person proactively tells you that he/she enjoyed your book. In that case, feel free to say, "Thank you! Would you mind putting that into a review?" Otherwise, don't do it. All you're going to do is shoot your credibility--and your sales--in the foot.


 

-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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Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

 

1,725 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, sales, writing, promotions, book_reviews
0

Your main characters don't appear on the pages of your novel alone. They are surrounded by and, in most cases, vastly outnumbered by your supporting characters. As the name indicates, they offer your story and your protagonists and/or antagonists support. Their development is as critical as your main characters'. Here are the four primary roles of supporting characters in most works of fiction:


  1. Establishing setting: Setting isn't just landscape and architecture. Supporting characters are just as crucial to setting. Accents, dialects, attitudes, cultural norms, etc., are just a few details that supporting characters can lend to a story's setting.
  2. Acting as comedic vehicle or voice of reason: Supporting characters can give a story balance. If you're writing an intense thriller or mystery, a supporting character can provide a handful of laughs to allow the reader to breathe. If you're penning a novel where your main character is on a journey of self-discovery, supporting characters can show him or her the way.
  3. Adding a curve or two to your twist: Sometimes authors use supporting characters as a diversion. What is a seemingly innocuous supporting character may actually either be the springboard to your main plot twist or he or she may be the actual twist.
  4. Contributing a piece of the puzzle: Why is your main character a steely eyed tough guy or a sharp-witted policewoman with finely honed investigative skills? Such people aren't born, they are made, and they are made by the people in their lives--supporting characters.


As you develop your supporting characters, concentrate on what purpose they serve. If they don't meet the criteria of any of the above roles, there's a better-than-good chance they are weighing your story down and can be trimmed during rewrites.


-Richard


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


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Too Many Characters in the Kitchen

Who Are You Trying to Please?

1,283 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, supporting_characters
0

 

You've written an engrossing mystery novel. Now what? It's time to dive into the marketing end of the publishing process and to do so with as much gusto as you showed writing the book. You are going to want to incorporate a mixture of conventional marketing strategies and…nontraditional strategies.


     Since you can use your favorite search engine to find a plethora of conventional book marketing strategies, let us focus on the nontraditional route in this blog post. Did I mention that nontraditional means fun?

 

  1. Murder mystery themed gala: Yeah, I know. Gala sounds expensive. Don't worry. All it really means is a party or celebration, but if you use the word "gala" in your marketing material, you add a little bit of panache to your event. This is a simple idea that requires a lot of planning. You're going to use friends and family to stage a murder mystery game in the middle of your gala, using characters and themes from you book. You won't follow the conclusion of your book or reveal little twists, of course. You don't want to give away any spoilers, but you do want to give attendees a taste of your story. They'll still have a blast. If you have the budget to hire a troupe of actors, all the better.
  2. Ten-minute plays: Speaking of actors, approach a local theater about renting their space for an evening of 10-minute plays based on material from your book. You'll want to focus on those passages and chapters in your book that emphasize character development. I'll be taking this route myself for an upcoming release, and I won't be writing the 10-minute plays. I'm handing material to a group of playwrights whom I know and trust and letting them have fun with it.
  3. At the movies: Thrillers and mystery films are never in short supply at your local movie theaters. Before the movie starts and before they show trailers of upcoming films, they usually show ads for local businesses. You are a local business. Your ad doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be effective.


The mystery genre has a number of marketing opportunities that other genres don't have. Go the traditional book marketing route, yes, but don't be afraid to use your imagination and explore crazy ideas. Those crazy ideas have the biggest potential to become shared events on social media. The most important thing to remember is to have fun.


-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

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Should you spend money on traditional advertising?

 

Take your book to the theatre

 

 

 

 

1,804 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, self-publishing, promotion, writing, novels, mystery, promotions, writing_advice
2

 

I keep reading (and hearing) authors use the pronoun "that" when they should be using the pronoun "who," so I thought I'd do a refresher post on the difference between the two.

 

WHO refers to people:

 

  • I am the one who is writing this blog post.
  • You are the one who is reading the blog post.

 

 

THAT refers to things:

 

  • The blog post that grabbed my attention the most was the one about pronouns.
  • The topics that seem to be the most popular with my readers are grammar, writing, and book marketing.

 

1) From an interview about a debut novel:


WHAT HE SAID: "I have two boys that judged me at every turn."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID: "I have two boys who judged me at every turn."


(Reason: Boys are people, not things.)


2) From an author bio:


WHAT IT SAYS: Lisa's daughters were the ones that encouraged her to write, saying she should turn the bedtime stories she made up for them into a book.


WHAT IT SHOULD SAY: Lisa's daughters were the ones who encouraged her to write, saying she should turn the bedtime stories she made up for them into a book.


(Reason: Daughters are people, not things.)


3) From a book description:


WHAT IT SAYS: The story takes place in a dystopian society where teenagers are the ones that rule the land.


WHAT IT SHOULD SAY: The story takes place in a dystopian society where teenagers are the ones who rule the land.


(Reason: Teenagers are people, not things.)


Got it? People: WHO, things: THAT. Now get writing!


 

-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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There vs. they're vs. their

The dreaded "who vs. whom"

 

1,817 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, grammar_tip, that_vs_who
1

I saw an interview with Will Smith years ago where he talked about his movie selection process. Apparently, he and his representatives sat down one day and listed the biggest blockbusters in all of cinema at the time, and they concocted a formula based on the similarities all these movies shared. If a script matched the criteria outlined by this formula, Will Smith would agree to do the movie. This was before he had reached mega-star status. The formula apparently worked because he's done a number of huge blockbuster movies that have made him one of the best paid and most respected actors in the film industry.

 

So, the question is, can a writer develop this same kind of formula to write a bestseller? The answer is probably yes. In fact, without even doing a search engine dive, I can guess there have been a good deal of books written on the topic. I don't know how effective such a tactic would be, however.

 

Why? In my mind, the most prevalent element of any book that becomes a bestseller is the passion that went into writing it. When an artist pours his or her heart into a project, they connect wholly with their characters, and it's that connection that captivates readers. I have no scientific proof of this, by the way. Call it a gut instinct based on observation of the industry for a number of years.

 

Trying to write a book that adheres to a formula is different from writing a book that obeys the unwritten rules of genre. Those are often innate characteristics that happen organically, usually because a writer is a fan before he or she is an author. The makeup of a genre is hidden in their storytelling psyche. A formula is an artificial construct that dictates everything from basic character descriptions to number of romantic, violent, humorous, etc., encounters. In other words, it removes the passion from the writing process. Such a result may match the criteria of the formula, but it lacks the je ne sais quoi that catapults books into bestseller status.

 

If want to increase your chances of writing a bestseller, write with passion and develop your craft. Forget about the formulas.

 

-Richard


 

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


 

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The bestseller quandaryMega-authors

Mega-authors

 

1,454 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, bestsellers, writing_a_bestseller

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