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September 2016
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Building an author brand isn't strictly an exercise in social media strategies. Some of the most fruitful things you can do to build your brand are to participate in offline events. Here are four offline strategies to help you strengthen and expand your author brand.


  1. Personal appearances: Whether it's book signings, public readings, speeches, presentations, etc., if you're offered a public appearance, and you trust that the venue will not tarnish your brand, accept it. Accept as many as you can. If you're not confident in your ability to address a crowd of people, take public-speaking classes or join an organization like Toastmasters to hone and develop your skills.
  2. Conferences and book fairs: Go where you're likely to find readers and fellow authors. Get some good old-fashioned networking in, face-to-face style. Make contacts that will continue in an online environment, and take extra care to interact with these particular friends whenever possible. Because of your real world meeting, these types of relationships can be more rewarding than those folks you've only met in an online environment.
  3. Writer's organizations: Find a group of writers that meet at least once a month and become an active member. Provide constructive criticism and share new works to be critiqued. The bonds between fellow writers can be extremely strong and go a long way in helping expand your author brand.
  4. The arts community: Find organizations that support the arts community as a whole in your area. Attend meetings regularly and offer to give the writer's perspective on the life of an author in your neck of the woods. Writers are severely underrepresented in these types of groups, so don't be shy about being the voice of authors during gatherings. It's your duty.


-Richard

 

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

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Consider advertising your book locally

 

How to make a personal appearance a success

 


 


1,513 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand, brand_identity, personal_appearance
2

Earlier this year I did something I never thought I'd do: I pulled the plug on a novel I'd been working on for more than a year. It was sad and painful and caused me a great deal of stress to make that decision, but you know what? I should have done it a lot earlier for two reasons:


1.    It wasn't an interesting story


If I've learned anything about writing novels, it's that you have to have an interesting story to tell. In my case I'd just finished a previous novel and put too much pressure on myself to begin a new one too fast. I did this because my books pay my bills, so if I'm not writing I feel incredibly guilty and stressed out. Instead of stepping back and taking time to come up with a solid idea, I started writing with only a half-baked plot that wasn't compelling, and then I dug myself into a hole and kept digging and digging.


2.    Writing it wasn't making me happy


Normally I enjoy the writing process, but in this case it was making me miserable. I would spend most of the day procrastinating before sitting down and forcing myself to hit my word count (1000), and even then I would find myself adding adjectives to beef it up. More than once my mother commented on how I'd clearly lost my love for writing, which she found alarming. But I didn't listen to her because I thought I could get through it and turn my uninteresting story into something worthy of publishing. I was wrong.


After I (finally) pulled the plug on the novel, within two months a new idea came to me. And it was a good idea. I ran it by my editor, and she agreed. So I sat down and started to write, and last week I finished the first draft, less than three months after I began. Now I have 1) an interesting story that 2) made me happy while writing it. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to get here. Please learn from my mistake!


-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: don't be afraid to cut

 

When to walk away from a story

 

9,224 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_process
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Today, we start the blog with a quote from Ernest Hemingway:


"I learn as much from painters about how to write as from writers. You ask how this is done? It would take another day of explaining."


Since Hemingway did not offer an explanation for this statement, let us dive as deep as we can into it and see if we can find logic in it. How can a writer learn from a painter?


What is a painting? In essence, it is a story. The old adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words. A painting, if carefully examined, has a beginning, middle, and end. Hemingway is known for creating descriptive prose while being very economical in his use of language to do so. A painting has a limited space in which to tell its story. True, in the right hands, the pallet can provide an almost infinite number of colors in which to paint, but the actual amount of space a canvas provides is finite. A skilled painter uses seemingly simple techniques to fill the canvas and tell a complete story. When it is done right, it is a marvel.


Hemingway, I believe, adopted this method when creating his literary masterpieces. He uses basic language, sometimes repeating words and themes throughout, to tell deep, complicated stories. He gave himself limited space in which to write, and masterfully used his pallet to create simple prose that, upon closer examination, is complex and inclusive.


The point is that writers don't just learn the art of storytelling from other writers. We learn and borrow techniques from all different kinds of mediums. Reading is important when it comes to learning how to write, but so is opening yourself up to the techniques of all sorts of other artists.


-Richard


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


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You are an artist

How to kick-start creativity

2,794 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, painting, ernest_hemingway
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     For your next release, assemble a crack team of book enthusiasts to help you get the word out. Here are five tips on putting together a book launch team.

 

  1. Know your strategy: Before you approach anyone to join your book launch team, have all your ducks in a row. Know what your strategy is and how you plan on implementing it. You are going to start working on your plan before you've even finished your book. You should have a written strategy in place at least three months before the date of your official book launch.
  2. Choose the right folks: Enthusiasm is the key word when assembling your book launch team. You are going to draw from your social networks and reach out to those friends and followers who've been most vocal in their support of your writing career. If those friends and followers have expansive social networks, all the better, but remember, that's a secondary concern. Enthusiasm is your primary concern.
  3. Communicate often: A relationship is only as solid as its communication. You are the managing member of your book launch team. As such, your team will rely on you to be in constant communication with them. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Let the members of your team know wha's expected of them. Keep them in the loop.
  4. Compensate your team: I'm not suggesting you provide them with a salary, but provide them with some sort of reward for being a member of your book launch team. They are putting in valuable time to help you out. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
  5. Prepare your team: Let them know what they will be helping you launch. Give them a copy of the book at least six weeks before you launch, so they can read it with plenty of time to spare.

 

 

 

-Richard

 

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

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Book Launch Sponsors

 

The Book Relaunch

 

 

 

 

958 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, promotion, promotions, book_launch, book_launch_party, marketing_team
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Each time I go through the process of writing a book, I find that ideas of things to include frequently pop into my head but not always at the right time. For example, I'll be out to dinner with a friend, and she will say something funny that I might like to use in my story at some point. Whenever that happens I whip out my phone and send myself a text message, then later add the item in question to a document that is literally called "To include at some point."


Over time both my first draft and the list of potential additions grow, and now and again I look through the additions document to see if there is a logical place for any of them in the latest version of the story. I write contemporary fiction/romantic comedy. Here are some examples of the additions I've jotted down over the years, all of which made it into one of my novels:


*Guy shows up on first date wearing one of those tuxedo T-shirts

*Something how the "dang humidity" ruined her blowout the second she left the salon

*Have Daphne toss a rock into the ocean at the end

*Make sure she mentions that she's a late bloomer

*At some point have them do something with heights so Daphne can conquer her fear

*Sprinkle in highbrow vocabulary words for Daphne


When the first draft is complete, I give the document one more look to make sure I've used all the items I feel will complement my story. For those remaining, there is always the next book! I also find that consulting the list is helpful during those dreaded bouts of writer's block. Sometimes it just takes one fresh idea to rekindle the creative spark.


-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: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

Writing Tip: Keep the Story Moving Forward

1,317 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writer's_block, creative_spark
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The imperfect writer

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 19, 2016

One of my literary idols, Erskine Caldwell, was a deeply flawed writer. He cared almost nothing about plot. He focused all his efforts on developing characters, and his characters aren't particularly likable. They are fascinating, to be sure, but they rarely have any redeeming qualities. I know all this, yet, as I stated previously, Caldwell is one of my idols. In fact, I count one of his books as my absolute favorite.


So, how is it that an author who is weak at plotting a novel, a crucial element of storytelling, is one of my favorite writers? I simply connect with his quirky characters. The messy, ill-defined plot doesn't really bother me because I'm so engrossed by his multidimensional characters.


I'm faced with the knowledge that one of my literary heroes isn't a perfect writer. It didn't hold him back. He was highly successful in his day. I would even go so far as to say that he was so successful because he wasn't perfect. He had a passion for writing stories that featured colorful characters. That passion is evident in the final result.


Chances are you are not a perfect writer either. There is no shame in that. It's OK to not master every element of story. Every writer has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths exist because they are rooted in your passion. Don't drive yourself crazy honing and fine-tuning a novel to try and make it perfect. Do rewrites, of course. Carefully edit your manuscript, of course, but don't let elemental imperfections prevent you from publishing. Embrace your strengths, and publish with passion.


-Richard


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


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Taking a Character from Good to Bad

The Importance of Plot Points

1,287 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, imperfections
1

 

As you set out on your journey to build your author brand, you will experience many stops and starts. You'll run into brick walls. You'll break through those brick walls. You'll find success, but you're bound to stumble and fail, too. It's just part of the process. While you're taking the steps to become a successful brand, here are three pieces of advice to keep you on task and headed in the right direction.


  1. Master your craft: I'll start with the same piece of advice I always give to authors trying to build a solid brand that has a significant following. That advice is to write well. Constantly study the craft of storytelling. Know your chosen genre inside and out. Commit to improving. Push yourself. Challenge yourself to create completely original material every time you sit down to write.
  2. Engage with readers IRL: You cannot succeed with online strategies alone. Take your brand-building efforts offline. Step out into the real world and meet your readers. Attend book fairs. Go to writer's conferences. Arrange book signings. Look into attending conferences and conventions that are genre appropriate but not necessarily for authors. In short, find as many opportunities as you can to interact with readers and potential readers in a real world environment.
  3. Be consistent: With your message, with your style, with your level of activity, with your outreach, keep at it. The persistent bird gets the worm. It can be discouraging trying to build a brand in a sea of brands. A lot of times, the most effective thing you can do is never give up. Dig in and fight through the struggles and lulls. Your time will come if you keep on keeping on.

 

 

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

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Book Marketing Advice around the Web

 

Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

 

 

 

 

2,511 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, branding, author_brand, author_platform, marketing_adivce
1

Many novelists, especially those who are writing a first book, create protagonists who are based on themselves, so it is natural for them to write their stories in the first person. (I did this with my first four novels.) Other authors choose to write in the third person.


Here's a quick refresher on the difference between the two in case you're not sure:


First person uses I:

  • I was glad it was coming to an end
  • I couldn't believe Sally would say that to me
  • I looked around in disbelief. What was I doing there?


Third person uses he, she, or the character's name:

  • Dan was glad it was coming to an end
  • Dan couldn't believe Sally would say that to him
  • Karen looked around in disbelief. What was she doing there?


If you write in the first person, you only have one point of view. If you write in the third person, you have a choice: You can write from the perspective of a single character, or you can write from the perspective of multiple characters. When aspiring authors ask me which is the "right way" to go, I always tell them to do what feels right to them. For example, in my third-person books I write from the perspective of just one character. I do this because my brain isn't wired to see the story from multiple angles. But every brain is wired differently, so what works for me doesn't necessarily work for other writers.


I received an email a couple weeks ago from a man who was working on a novel and wasn't sure which point of view to use. He said an editor had suggested he write one chapter both in the first person and the third person, then read them both and go with whichever sounded better to him. I thought that was great advice.


Have you struggled with this decision? If so, what did you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


-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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Make Your Readers Care About Your Characters

Switching Perspectives

1,798 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, first_person, third_person
2

An individual who moderates a writer's group I belong to has one primary criticism or concern when he provides feedback on material. We meet once a month, and for the seven pieces that are read during our meetings, he will ask every writer to consider this particular element of story. He'll even insist that it is the foundation of every story worth telling. You are first baffled by his question because you think the answer is obvious. By the time you've heard the question from him three or four times, you become frustrated because you feel like he's just asking the question for the sake of asking it. Then a funny thing happens when you sit down to rewrite your piece or write something new; his question is all you can hear as you write. Without even realizing it, he's turned you into a more conscientious storyteller.


What is this puzzling, annoying, crucial question?


     What makes today different from any other day?


That's it. There's nothing more to his inquiry. He won't even allow you to answer the question. If you attempt to do so, he usually replies that he doesn't need to know the answer. He simply wants you, the author, to know the answer. What event or feeling or interaction for a particular character is different from any other day? You'd think that's a simple question to answer and sometimes it is, but there are a surprising number of times when it is difficult to answer. Examining the question forces you to justify the existence of an element of your story. It's an extremely powerful storytelling tool.


Pick a chapter from the book you are writing, and as you read it, ask yourself, "What makes today different from any other day?" If you have trouble answering the question concisely, you more than likely need to do a rewrite.


-Richard


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


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Split Personalities of Indie Authors

The Perils of Rewriting

985 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, rewriting
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The magic word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 8, 2016

 

Allow me to introduce you to a word that will help your author brand grow a solid foundation. It will give you much needed consistency that your readers will come to appreciate. It will help you develop an identity that is reliable. This one word will be the keystone to your brand's success.


What is this word? "No." No to marketing ideas that don't fit your personal brand. No to gimmicks that may have short-run success but carry long-term consequences. No to an interview with a blog or media outlet that lacks credibility, or even worse, has a bad reputation. Say no to paying for reviews or getting involved in ethically challenged "bestseller" strategies.

 

You are in this for the long haul. You don't want to just build a brand. You want to build a long-lasting brand that grows in popularity because of good, solid branding practices. Those practices essentially boil down to focusing on your craft first. Hone it. Learn it. Develop it. Write. Often. Care about the writing. Always. Be true to your art. Couple that with a concerted effort to connect with readers. Interact with them on social media. Just be a decent person who contributes to the human tribe. Be honest. Be respectful.

 

Finally, be persistent. If you want to be a working author, one who makes his or her living primarily through book sales, you have to constantly stoke the publishing fires. Don't be the author of one book. Be the author of multiple books over several platforms. The more you have to offer, the greater your chance of discovery.


Your author brand is only as durable as your willingness to say no to the wrong strategy.


-Richard


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

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Brand 101: brand sabotage

 

Be authentic to build your brand

 

 

 

 

802 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: author, promotion, branding, author_brand, author_advice, author_identity
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Sometimes I think my favorite part of the writing process is when, after months of toiling at my desk, I finally get to the point where I type in "The End," sit back in my chair, and exhale. I'm not exactly sure why I enjoy this part so much because it's not as if the hard work is done--far from it!


After you finish your first draft, there are no set rules for what to do with it next, but here's what I recommend:


1.    Let it sit for a week, then go back and read it again.


Not only will your batteries be recharged, but after time away you'll be able to look at your work with fresh eyes and make necessary changes to improve it. I'm not talking about catching typos--I mean having a hard look at things like character development, plotlines that may not flow as well as you hoped they would, or even how you chose to begin (or end) the story. It's amazing how much perspective you can get in just a few days away from your manuscript. For example, I know I've created a good character when I find myself reading an early conversation and thinking, This doesn't sound like something so and so would say, then tweaking the dialogue to make it ring true.


2.    Rewrite based on the above.


3.    Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary.


Once your manuscript is in a place where you can't imagine changing a thing, it's time for the next step:


4.    Send it to people you trust to be honest with you no matter how much it stings.


For me that's Terri, who is my sister Michele's mother-in-law, and Tami, my gal pal. They will read the draft and give me the honest feedback I need for another rewrite. Or two rewrites. Or three.


After the content of your manuscript is good to go, it's time for the final step:


5.    Find a proofreader who is anyone but yourself.


For me, this is my amazing mother, who always manages to find several hundred mistakes. She's like a freak of nature with the red pen.


After you've finished the above steps, your path to publication is up to you. But, you'll know that whatever route you choose, your manuscript is in good shape!


-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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Coping with criticism

Save the wordsmithing for later

1,213 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, revisions, first_draft
2

By zombies

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 6, 2016

A teacher by the name of Rebecca Johnson has developed a shortcut to identifying if you've written something in passive voice or not. Her ingenuous rule is that if you can add "by zombies" after the verb, your sentence is passive voice. Its brilliance is in its simplicity.


Now, contrary to popular belief, the use of passive voice is not grammatically incorrect. Those who don't like passive voice will tell you that active voice is a much clearer sentence structure and therefore preferable. However, I would argue that context often does make passive voice a perfectly acceptable practice. Particularly, if you're writing dialogue. People use passive voice all the time when they speak. Nevertheless, it's not a bad thing to recognize when you've used passive voice as a sentence structure.


According to Kimberly Joki of Grammarly.com:


     Passive voice is when the noun being acted upon is made the subject of the sentence. (Active voice is when the noun doing the action is the subject.)


Here is an example of passive voice:


     The car was driven.


Using Joki's definition of passive voice, the car is being acted upon. In other words, it received the action. And thanks to Johnson's simple rule we know that it is passive voice:


     The car was driven by zombies.


The easiest way to turn this example from passive voice to active voice is to start the sentence by identifying who drove the car with either the proper name or pronoun of the driver.


     Jerry drove the car.


So, what happens if we apply Johnson's rule?


     Jerry drove by zombies the car.


As you can see, we get a hot mess of a sentence. Now, I'm not saying that the "by zombies" rule is ironclad. I'm sure you'll find exceptions because I've yet to find a rule that doesn't have exceptions, but it does seem to be a good starting point, and I have to admit, it's kind of fun adding "by zombies" to my work.


-Richard


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


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Be a rule-breaker

Reexamining dialogue attribution

1,102 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip, passive_voice, by_zombies

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