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July 2016
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Your value

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 27, 2016

If your author brand has no value, it won't succeed. That's really all it boils down to. You can examine various ways to market your brand. You can implement strategies to expose your brand to more potential readers. You can take to social media and follow the advice of the gurus and do what they've told you to do to build awareness for your brand. You can do all these things and perhaps achieve brief blips of success, but sustained brand success is tied directly to its value.


So, in the case of an author of fiction, what is this brand value? To simplify things let's divide it into two parts. First, it is a mastery of one's craft. The quality of the writing matters. The skill to tell a compelling story is the most crucial element of this value strategy. Your job as an author is to take every opportunity to improve your writing, word by word.


The other part of the value strategy is the art of persistence. With a few exceptions, author brands are built on books, not just one book. To give your brand even more value, you need to establish a publishing track record, and you shouldn't bring a book to market without adhering to the first part of the value strategy. Publishing a lot of books that are poorly written doesn't get you any closer to showing your brand has value.


If there's a third element to the value strategy, I would say it is time. Value isn't something that can be established quickly. It is the product of dedication. Dedicate your time to building value into your brand.


-Richard

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

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The Lasting Brand

Evaluating Your Author Brand



1,282 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, branding, author_brand, brand_identity
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Some words are hard to remember. (I have to look up "supercilious" every time I come across it.) Others are confusing. (I still don't get what "camp" means when used as an adjective.) Others are hard to remember and confusing. (For the life of me, I don't know how to use "cheeky" correctly.)

 

Then there are the dreaded words, or pairs of words, that are so similar it's easy to mix them up. Here are some common ones:

 

Affect & Effect

For the most part "affect" is a verb, and "effect" is a noun:

 

  • This heat is affecting my game (correct)
  • I feel the effect of the heat (correct)

 

Occasionally "effect" is a verb when it means "to bring about":

 

  • She wants to effect change as president (correct)

 

Pique & Peak

These two are usually mixed up in the expression "piques interest":

 

  • That book description piques my interest (correct)
  • He climbed to the peak of the mountain (correct)

 

Uncharted & Unchartered

These two are usually mixed up in the expression "uncharted territory":

 

  • This is uncharted territory for us (correct)
  • That yacht is unchartered for tomorrow (correct)

 

Moot & Mute

These two are usually mixed up in the expression "a moot point":

 

Moot means "irrelevant."

 

  • The seating chart debate is a moot point because they canceled the wedding (correct)

 

Mute means "silent/to make silent" or "unable to speak."

 

  • She is mute on the subject, preferring to let her art speak for her (correct)
  • He muted the TV so he could hear what she was saying (correct)
  • He’s been a mute since birth but can hear perfectly (correct)

 

Which word pairs trip you up? Please let me know in the comments so I can address them in a future post!

 

-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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Refer vs. Recommend

Why the Passive Voice Is Hated By Me

1,292 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, grammar, spelling, grammar_tip, grammar_advice
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He Here's a little exercise to help you get to know your characters. What would your character do when faced with the boring old frustrations of regular life? Strip away the heightened conflict they face in your book and give them a sense of the mundane. When you know how they react to real life, you know how they react to extraordinary fictional life events.

 

  1. Traffic: They say climbing behind the wheel of a car can test the character of any person. For our purposes, we are going to test the character of actual characters. How do they handle traffic? What do they do when they're cut off or get stuck behind a slowpoke on a two-lane highway?
  2. Elevators: Elevators are essentially boxes of awkwardness. How do your characters respond to stepping onto an elevator with strangers? How to they respond when the elevator breaks down for hours?
  3. Lack of coffee: We coffee drinkers have had that horrible moment where we wake up, shuffle into the kitchen, and realize there is no coffee to be had. It's a nightmare. How would your characters respond to such a gut-wrenching disappointment? If it's not coffee, how would they respond to being denied access to any vices they rely on in their daily routines?
  4. Loud talkers: You're in a movie theater, and the person behind you lacks the ability to keep his or her voice down during the showing. You know how you would handle such a situation, but how would your characters handle it?
  5. Wrong number: Someone calls you in the middle of the night and wakes you up. It's a wrong number, but the person on the other end of the line doesn't believe you, so they become belligerent and even call back several more times to further annoy you. How do your characters respond to such a situation?


 

By placing your characters in ordinary situations, you get a deeper understanding of who they are. When you can see them deal with minor annoyances, details about your characters arise that can add surprising depth to your characters' development.


 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

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Write an Obituary for Your Characters

 

The Stranger in the Room

 

 

 

 

1,537 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, characters, character_development, writing_exercises, characterization
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Be a source

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 20, 2016

I've talked about participating in reviewers' communities to establish a relationship with them, so when you inquire about a review for your book, you will be a known entity and not just one of thousands of strangers asking for a review. The question is: how does one endear oneself to a reviewer?

 

In the mainstream media circles, very few reviewers are strictly reviewers. They are journalists who wear a bevy of different hats. They cover all sorts of news stories. Typical reporters works their fingers to the bones being jacks-of-all-trades. You can help make their jobs a little easier by volunteering your services as an expert resource. Send them your professional bio and let them know that you'd be glad to offer your services as an expert on anything that matches your background.


I know that sounds a tad weird. Who does that, right? You do. You want to make connections. You want to be on the reporter's radar when they're working on a story that requires a quote from an expert to lend their work credence. Let's say they're doing a story about government contracts and the bidding process, and you just happen to be a small business owner who's submitted and won a number of government bids. You have knowledge about the process a reporter can use. You are a valuable resource.


Now it's a bit hit or miss that a reporter will get a story assignment that needs the type of expertise you can offer them, but that shouldn't prevent you from reaching out and offering your services should they ever find themselves working on a story that matches your credentials.


And even if the reporter in the example above doesn't review books, chances are they know the reviewer for their organization, and they will allow you to name-drop when you approach the reviewer.


The point is to be a resource that a reporter can trust. Your expertise on any number of topics can be extremely beneficial, for both you and the reporter.


-Richard

 

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

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A few indie book review media sources

 

Three things to avoid when looking for a review

 

 

 

 

914 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: reviews, networking, self-publishing, promotion, review, promotions, book_reviews, branding
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I'm a big fan of applying for awards, but like every book marketing strategy, it has its drawbacks. I asked Lauren White of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) for her honest take on the pros and cons of applying for awards, and here's what she had to say:


Pros

 

Book awards are so effective because they judge books based on merit, and buyers and readers understand how rare and valuable that judgment is in today's age of paid reviews and social media self-promotion. And for self-publishers, the legitimacy and publicity that follow an award win can be unfortunately crucial to getting in the door with booksellers, librarians, and readers; with thousands of books to choose from, that shiny seal of approval from a reputed contest can make a world of difference.


Not to be overlooked is the morale boost and affirmation that come with an award. A panel of judges has understood and valued your unique message, and your work has not gone unseen. For many, that is the impetus and inspiration to continue writing and sharing stories.

 

Cons

 

Like many marketing services, awards cost money--usually an entry fee from $50-$125. Winning a prestigious award is absolutely worth that fee; relative to other marketing options, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your title. But there is a catch: unlike other marketing options, there is no guarantee your money will result in anything, as there is no guarantee you will win. If you are operating on a very tight budget, that $100 might be best spent on a promotional service that is less of a gamble.

 

Furthermore, not winning can be disheartening. Always remember that the competition is fierce, and that your words have value regardless of the contest's outcome!


Thanks to Lauren for her candor! To learn more about the IPPYs, click here.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Book marketing tip: apply for awards

Should you attend a writers conference?

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,268 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, promotion, book_awards, awards
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I have long been a proponent of "reader blindness" when it comes to writing. That is to say, I don't think that writers should consider readers when they write novels. I believe doing so compromises the quality of the writing.


But let's talk about rewriting. Should you consider your readers when you rewrite your novel? At the risk of contradicting my earlier statement, I think you should. In fact, I think it's impossible not to consider readers during the rewriting stage. I say this because most of my major rewrites have come after I've received feedback from a reader or two or three or four pre-publication.


These early readers will let me know what worked and what didn't. They have been chosen by me because I trust them to give me constructive criticism. The implication of me asking for their feedback suggests that I will consider their opinions when I rewrite. They represent all readers.


By considering the reader, I don't mean catering your story to meet their expectations. I mean to make sure that your prose is palpable, concise, engaging, that you've crafted a story they can follow with deep, rich, multi-dimensional characters and limited exposition. This is how you protect the integrity of your art but still take your readers into consideration at the same time.


Your first draft is done with your blinders on. It's the story that dictates the words, path, and structure of the book. Your rewrite is done with the blinders off. Now your job is to take readers into consideration and to do so without compromising your artistic integrity.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Stage five of writing - gut or beta

 

The perils of rewriting

 

 

1,354 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, readers, writing, craft, rewrites, writing_advice
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Reviewer network

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 13, 2016

The biggest mistake you can make is to reach out to a reviewer only when you're looking for reviews. They get those requests all the time. They have a backlog of those types of requests from thousands of authors. They can't read a fraction of the books they want to read.

 

Find reviewers when you don't need them. Be a presence in their worlds. Create relationships with them that go beyond author and reviewer, and let that relationship evolve around mutual interests and benefits.


Above all, reviewers are people. They don't want to feel used. When you reach out to them just when you need them, you're creating a one-way relationship that only benefits you. It's made up of a taker and a giver.


So, be more than just another author. Be someone in the reviewer's networking circles. Your goal isn't to butter them up, so when you do finally ask for a review, they reciprocate with a glowing review of your work. Your goal is to simply be moved to the front of the line. Instead of being just like any other unknown author that contacts them, you'll be a known participant in their network.


Brands are built on relationships. The reviewer/author relationship is vital to your brand's success. Building a network of reviewers and cultivating those relationships outside of your need for reviews, makes good brand sense. Don't be pushy. Don't appear desperate. Just add value to their reviewer brands, and they will remember you when you eventually do ask.

 

-Richard

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

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Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

 

A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

1,093 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, reviews, networking, self-publishing, review, book_reviews
1

 

When I speak to authors who are struggling to gain traction for their books, I like to ask them what has worked for them, however small the scale. In my experience, most authors have done at least one thing that has led to a few sales. They have also usually tried a few tactics that were a big fat bust. (I certainly have!)

 

 

Then I tell them two things:

 

1)    Do A LOT more of whatever you did that worked.

2)    Share what you;ve learned on your blog, website, Twitter account, etc.


Many authors have no idea what to blog or tweet about, so their social media feeds are a stream of announcements that sound painfully like the following:


Tweet #1: BUY MY BOOK!

Tweet #2: MY BOOK IS ON SALE!

Tweet #3: MY BOOK IS AMAZING!

Tweet #4: BUY MY BOOK!


When I see Twitter feeds like that, I immediately tune out. However, imagine a Twitter feed that intersperses useful information and encourages user interaction in between promoting the author's work. For example:


Tweet #1: Here's how I sold 10 signed books in one afternoon (include link to a blog post).

Tweet #2: Hi fellow authors, I tried selling my novel at a book fair, but I felt like it was a waste of time and money--have you had better luck? Please respond and RT!

Tweet #3: Exciting news! My novel (name) is on sale today for just (price). Click here if you'd like to check it out (include hyperlink to Amazon page).

 

While book promotion is important, no one likes a chest-beater. Remember that a fair amount of those who read your posts are probably in the same boat as you, i.e., fellow authors. Respect your audience by sharing more than selling, and you'll probably get better results.


-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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Social Networking Sells Your Brand

 

Don't make this marketing mistake

 

 

 

 

9,833 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, promotion, publishing, social_media, marketing_tips, marketing_advice
2

Write o'clock

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 11, 2016

If you read this blog frequently, you know I'm big into self-assessment. I think examining your progress as a writer is important for you to understand yourself as an artist. In that examination, it's important, I believe, for you to study your habits, both bad and good.

 

For the next few weeks, you are a scientist. You are a behaviorist studying the writer part of you in your natural habitat, and you are going to throw yourself curve balls to see how you respond. Primarily, you are trying to determine the time of day you are most productive. It's a question you've probably gotten before, but you may not have known the answer because you are a busy person, and you just write when you find some free time.

 

As true as that is, I believe strongly that it benefits you to find the best time of day for you to write. When you find it, you will find your writing space. By that I mean, the space in your head where you feel more relaxed, more confident, and more connected to the ethereal world where fictional characters live out their fictional lives.

 

Test yourself. Schedule to write in the morning a few days in a row. Rate the experience. How many words did you write? What is the quality of those words? How did you feel during each writing session? How did you feel after? Switch the time of day to the evening. Go through the same evaluation.

 

Do this routine for a couple of weeks, switching back and forth between the time periods. Be as specific as you want to be, write for as long as you feel the creative juices flowing. If they are flowing more freely during one time period more than another, you most likely have your answer as to what time of day is your ideal time to write.

 

-Richard

 

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

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Is the Early Bird More Creative?

The Power of the Mindless Task

1,312 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, craft, writing_schedule, creative_writing
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Chamber of commerce

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 7, 2016

A chamber of commerce is an association created to promote and protect the interests of local business owners. You are a local business owner. Your business is writing. There's a good chance you don't have employees, but you may avail yourself of the services of other local business owners like editors, graphic designers, web designers, etc. In short, you are part of the local business community, and it's not just a chamber of commerce, it is your chamber of commerce.


I tell you this because most indie authors consider themselves lone wolves without much in the way of support. That can cause focusing on making a go of it that much harder. When you feel alone, you feel underappreciated, and sometimes it's hard to find the motivation to get out there and promote your work.


Your chamber of commerce is in place to assist you. One of the ways they do that is by providing networking opportunities. Most chamber of commerce organizations across the country host monthly after hours parties for small business owners of every size where they can mingle and make connections that can help increase their bottom lines. Your success as an indie author helps the local economy just as much as the local software company. You should be attending these parties and making the connections that will help your bottom line.

 

You are not alone. You are a small business owner trying to make a buck. Don't shy away from attending networking events at your local chamber of commerce. Mingle and start building your support system.


-Richard


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


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You are an artist

Building an author brand: Networking


 


1,069 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, networking, author, community, local_marketing
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I've written more than once in this space about the maddening (yet seemingly ubiquitous) trend of using "I" when "me" is the correct pronoun. If presidential candidates can't even get it right, I wonder what hope there is for my good grammar crusade. But I refuse to give up!


While not as common as the I/me error, nearly every day I hear someone make a similar mistake regarding she/her and he/him. Here's a refresher lesson about the difference:


"He" and "she" are subject pronouns. A subject does something.


  • Gloria goes to the store. (Gloria is the subject)
  • She goes to the store. (She is the subject)
  • David makes me laugh. (David is the subject)
  • He makes me laugh. (He is the subject)


"Him" and "her" are object pronouns. Objects have something done to them.


  • I saw Gloria. (Gloria is the direct object)
  • I saw her. (Her is the direct object)
  • I gave David the letter. (David is the indirect object)
  • I gave him the letter. (Him is the indirect object)


The above examples are pretty obvious to the ear. It would sound jarring if someone were to say, "Her goes to the store," or "I gave he the letter," right? Where people run into trouble is when there is more than one object in the sentence. For example:


  • I took a photo of David and Gloria.
  • I took a photo of him and Gloria. (CORRECT)
  • I took a photo of he and Gloria. (INCORRECT)


To some ears the third option above might sound right, but it's not. Let's remove the second object in the sentence, which in this case is Gloria:


  • I took a photo of David.
  • I took a photo of him. (CORRECT)
  • I took a photo of he. (INCORRECT)

 

In the above examples, the answer again becomes obvious, right? So, remember this: When in doubt, take Gloria out!

 

-Maria

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

 

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: How to use gerunds correctly

 

Grammar tip: Have gone, not have went

 

 

 

 

2,242 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, craft, grammar, writing_advice, grammar_tip, grammar_tips, grammar_rules
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Data dump day

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 5, 2016

 

Your head is full. All those ideas keep coming, and you just keep packing them away in every corner of your gray matter. You have so many story and character ideas soaring in and out of the blue you may even find it distracting. If you're working on a self-imposed deadline to finish your latest book, it can be a little maddening. So, what is a prolific author to do?


 

Pick a day of the week to do a data dump. I actually got this idea from my therapist. It's a way of unburdening yourself from the stress of everyday life. You sit at your desk and you write down every thought in your head in a stream of consciousness style. You don't worry about sentence structure or even if a thought is particularly coherent. You just unload your thoughts.


 

The same idea applies to unloading the creative clutter in a data dump. Spend an hour on a day of the week where you rarely feel productive (we all have those days), and just let the ideas drain from your head. Just let it go. Don't judge the ideas. Don't evaluate them in any way. Just let them fall out of your head and into your data dump journal.


 

Later, when you're ready to start a new project, consult your data dump journal and look for a gem of an idea that you can use to kick-start your next book. It's there. I promise you. Even if it's not expressly written down, your next book is in that jumbled mess of words.


 

Your brain is in constant motion. It pushes ideas from neuron to neuron. The data dump journal is a map of those traveling ideas. This map will help you find your way to your next book.


 

-Richard


 

 

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

 


 

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The power of a mindless task

 

Smell that creativity

 

 

 

 

984 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, creativity, craft, writing_ideas, creative_process

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