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January 2017
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If you're not familiar with the "show vs. tell" rule, the gist of it is that you want to show your readers events or feelings instead of telling them.


I frequently see this rule broken in dialogue by authors who choose overly descriptive verbs that force-feed us the character's sentiment. When I encounter too much of this I find myself pulled out of the story--and kind of irritated because I feel the author is treating me like a child instead of allowing me to use my brain.


For example, here are some sentences that tell instead of show:


  • "Get ready for a bumpy ride," she warned.
  • "Sounds like you're really climbing that corporate ladder," she noted.
  • "I can't believe how huge this airport is," he remarked.
  • "You wish I would join your team," she retorted.


I think sentences like the above happen because some authors believe they should use any word other than "said" in their dialogue, when in reality "said" is exactly what they should be using, if anything at all.


The solution


To improve your writing, get rid of (most of) the substitutions for "said" and sprinkle in some beats. Beats are physical movements that show us what the characters are doing as they speak.

 

 

For example:

  • "Get ready for a bumpy ride," she said as she fastened her seatbelt.
  • She arched an eyebrow. "Sounds like you're really climbing that corporate ladder."
  • He swiveled his head in all directions. "I can't believe how huge this airport is."
  • She scoffed. "You wish I would join your team."


Do you see the difference? The first sentences tell us, while the second ones show us. Readers will enjoy your story more if they can visualize what is happening, so work on allowing that to happen! Don't go overboard with beats, though. As with most things, moderation is best.


-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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Show vs tell: do you know the difference?

Just say it!


1,487 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_dialogue, show_vs._tell
1

I've created some pretty morally reprehensible people as a writer. Killers, swindlers, drug dealers, you name it, I've given some of my bad guys the worst traits. If they were real, I'd never want to have a thing to do with them. I'd do all I could to avoid even hearing their names.


But, here's my weird, totally illogical confession: I like the bad guys I create. I enjoy spending time with them during the process of writing a book. I love hammering out their character and exploring their pasts, trying to figure out why they are the way they are. When or if they die in one of my books, I feel genuinely sad. He or she wasn't just a good foil for my protagonist, we connected on an ethereal, totally fictional level.


I may be trying to justify my feelings, but I think my affinity for the bad guys I create is healthy. I think it's natural. As a writer, it's not my job to judge the actions of my characters. It's my job to observe and report. If I put myself in the position of making judgments of my characters' behavior, I will most likely start censoring myself and instinctively try to fix them. A fictional life isn't in service to anyone or anything but the story. The bad they do, they do for the good of the narrative.


If you haven't already, I encourage you to find a way to connect with your villains. Love them. Don't judge them.


-Richard


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


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Defend your antagonist

Write an obituary for your characters

1,821 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, writing, villain, characterization, antagonist
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Weird fringe

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 25, 2017

So, you've written a book that is a little...different. It essentially defies category and genre, and, as a result, it's a bit of a hard sell. What demographic fits your typical reader? Where do you find this demographic? How do you engage them?


    It's a problem, but it does have a solution. You just have to get as creative in your marketing approach as you were in your writing. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 

  1. Fringe festivals: I would say if you've written a book like I described above, the word "fringe" fits you perfectly. In all honesty, I find the word to be one of the coolest in the English language, and I'm not alone. There are festivals out there that cater to the concept of fringe. Most of them are devoted to material written for the performing arts, but that doesn't preclude you from participating. There might be room for you at one or many of these festivals. They may have a vendor area where you can set up a table and sign books. They may even have spoken word performances where an actor can read excerpts from your book.
  2. Conventions for the unusual: The second best word in the English language is the word "weird." Everyone should be a little weird every now and then. For those folks who have slightly wonky hobbies or professions, there's a convention for that. And who knows? You might fit in perfectly.

 

All you have to do is search online for conventions or festivals that match the theme of your book, and my guess is you will get more than a few hits that will work perfectly for your material. Contact the organizers and embrace the weird fringe.

 

 

 

-Richard

 

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

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Write a Genre-Bending Novel

 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

 

 

 

 

1,237 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, category, genre, personal_appearance, demographic, author_appearance
1

 

There was a time when getting T-shirts printed was a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but thanks to the Internet, that's no longer the case. So why not make some T-shirts to promote your book? I did this for my Waverly Bryson series, creating shirts in blue and pink with the following quotes from my protagonist:


"Is it worse to be fake or bitchy?" --Waverly Bryson


"I know nothing, but at least I know that." --Waverly Bryson


"Beer goggles are the lonely girl's Cupid." --Waverly Bryson


"Do not post what you ate for breakfast on Facebook." --Waverly Bryson


Almost every time I wear one of the shirts, someone stops me and asks where I got it. I explain that it's a quote from one of my novels, then smile and hand them a business card with a link to my website. Boom--a potential reader! I even wore one of the T-shirts to a Northwestern University alumni networking event in New York City, and I got a lot of attention not just for the books, but for my marketing ingenuity.


I've given away countless T-shirts at book signings and events, and I've even sold some on my website. I've also included them as a bonus gift when fans contact me to order signed copies of my books. People love free stuff, so it's a win-win. And the more people who laugh at what Waverly Bryson has to say, the better chance I have of selling more books.


If you're scratching your head right now wondering what you could put on your own T-shirts, that depends on the subject matter of your work, but I'm sure you can come up with something. It's a matter of creativity, and if you wrote a book, you are creative. Remember that.


-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 Idea: Set Up a Card Table on the Sidewalk

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

2,396 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, t-shirts, marketing_ideas
2

I read my novels out loud as I write them. I am normally a very reserved person, but when I'm reading dialogue or particularly emotional prose, I let loose and zero in on the moment. It's actually quite liberating. It's kind of like a mental massage. Beyond that, here are three reasons you should be reading your work out loud:

 

  1. Consistent tone: Reading your book out loud as you write can help you establish a consistent tone throughout the book. Unintentionally switching tones can take a reader out of the story and cause them to eventually give up on your book. Hearing yourself give voice to the story keeps you on track.
  2. Connection to characters: Alone, in the privacy of our writing space, we are all actors at heart. We hear the voices of our characters clearly in our heads. When we are far from the shackles of inhibition, we read their dialogue out loud, and we feel the emotions our characters are feeling on a much deeper level. We connect with the story like never before. In a sense, we are living the story out loud. I find it very powerful.
  3. Effective editing: Reading your book out loud is a great self-editing tool. Editing your own work is hard because you know the story. There is a tendency to unintentionally gloss over mistakes because, in your mind, you've been there before. You know how the story goes. You just zone out. That’s okay. It's human nature. Reading a story out loud helps you zone in on those mistakes because they will very likely trip you up.


-Richard


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


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Keeping a Consistent Tone

Reading Out Loud

1,400 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, editing, writing, tone, characterization
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For the record

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 18, 2017

Do you have all the tools of the author's trade? Sure, you have an endless stream of creative energy to get you from the opening line to the last page. And, you have your writing instruments: pen, paper, computer, etc. You have a social media presence that helps boost your author brand. You participate in public readings and author events. You have a professional grade video camera and/or DSLR camera...Wait, maybe you don't have the last item on the list. If you don't, my advice is to invest in one.

 


 

Photos and video are highly effective ways to build your brand. Record your journey with images, and people are more likely to tag along with you. I'm not suggesting you replace written journal entries, tweets, or status updates with photos and video. These images will simply supplement your written posts.


Image quality matters, so don't skimp on resolution. In today's world, high-end smartphones can deliver beautiful pictures and video. Personally, I'm a DSLR man. There's something about the heft of a camera with an interchangeable lens that makes me feel more confident with the final product.


You'll want to move beyond the selfie. Certainly don't bypass the selfie, but don't make it your only means of branding. If you're doing a reading, making a presentation, or contributing on a panel, bring a family member, friend, or assistant to record the event.


At the end of every year, do a compilation video that incorporates all the images you collected from event to event. Do it to help build your brand. Do it so your author journey has a visual record.


-Richard

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

 

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Picture This

 

The Marketing Tool Many Authors Neglect

 


 


1,643 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, video, author_brand, marketing_plan, author_platform
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I receive a lot of emails from first-time authors, and 99 percent of them are looking for marketing ideas they can implement for zero cost. If you fall into that category, here are two ideas you can do that will cost nothing more than your time and energy:


     1.    Create a list of local alumni groups from your college, then reach out to each one individually*


*This is critical. No one likes bulk email, so personalize your message enough to show whoever receives it that you respect his or her time.


Even if you went to a small school, you'll be surprised at how many alumni groups are probably scattered across the country. Contact information for each club is usually available on the college's website, and many clubs even have their own websites. Local clubs often have electronic newsletters they need to fill with news about alumni just like you, so if you offer to send them a cover photo of your book, plus your headshot, there's a good chance they will write a little blurb about you. (This is why it's important to have both a one-line description of your book as well as something a little longer. You can use the one-liner in your initial email, then send the meatier piece later.)


Remember that the people running these groups are volunteers so they may take some time in getting back to you. That also means you may need to follow up more than once to get the ball rolling.


     2.    Repeat the above with local alumni groups from your fraternity/sorority


If you weren't a member of the Greek system, what organizations were you involved in? Everyone has a network, so put on your thinking cap. The Internet makes the world small, so find your community and see how it can help you.


A new year is here, along with countless potential readers for you to dazzle with your writing. So start marketing!


-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: Tap Your Network for Contacts

Book Marketing: Have You Tapped Your Network?

1,991 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, promotion, writing, marketing_ideas
1

Every day?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 16, 2017

 

I'm about to give you advice that will blow your mind. I guarantee I will make some writing gurus and experts mad with what I'm about to suggest. This is about as controversial as you can get when handing out advice on writing. When this blog is posted, I'll make a concerted effort to stay off Twitter to avoid the barbs and figurative arrows.

 

Are you ready for this? OK, here we go. Don't write every day. What? Am I crazy? Have I sold my soul to the bad-writing cabal? How can I say such a thing?

 

I should add, "if you don't want to." Let me be clear, I don't think writing every day is a bad thing. I think it's great for those writers who flourish under that kind of strategy. I simply want to point out that it's not the only strategy. Some authors take breaks between writing sessions. Some of those breaks can last for weeks or longer.

 

My point is if writing every day isn't your style, don't force yourself to do it. There' nothing less productive than trying to write when you're just not feeling it. It has the potential to do more harm than good. It can ding your confidence each time you sit at a computer unable to find the inspiration to write. It's okay to wait for the inspiration to hit you before you write.

 

We are individuals. We have different approaches to writing. Don't feel obligated to adapt to anyone else's writing schedule. Find what works for you, and leave the guilt behind.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Should You Write Daily to Write Well?

 

My Writing Rules, Which You are Free to Ignore

959 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, writing_strategies
1

 

    As an author seeking publicity, you are more than likely going to be asked to do an interview via email, podcast, social media, etc. There are almost countless opportunities to be interviewed as an author of a book. It's better to prepare yourself for those interviews now so you're ready when you're actually asked. Here are the top three questions you will likely be asked:

 

  1. What is your book about? Stick to the main plot. Don't include subplots or what you think are interesting side notes. Ironically, providing too many details can make it seem as if you don't know what your book is really about. If your main plot is an allegory for broader social issues, feel free to provide that information, as well.
  2. Who are your influences? Don't just name authors. List the reasons why. Charles Portis is one of my influences. Why? Because I love the way he subtly incorporates humor to make a story compelling, and he's also a master at writing realistic interactions between characters.
  3. What best-selling book is closest to yours in style and tone? We all want to be original, and it may be tempting to bypass this question or even tout how original your book is. That would be a mistake. This is a great opportunity for you to reach the fans of a best-selling book. Name a book that truly is similar to yours, and send a signal to readers that they should read your book.


In addition to these three questions, come up with two or three more of your own--questions you would want to be asked that are specific to your book and genre.

 

-Richard

 

 

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

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Don't sweat your first radio interview!

 

The author pitch

 

 

 

 

1,356 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, promotion, writers, interview, author_marketing, author_appearance, author_interview
1

Recently I received an email from an indie author asking a question about securing reviews from bloggers. Then, in the same email, the author sent me a link to his book's Amazon page and told me I was more than welcome to read it. And review it.


I didn't read his book, but I'll tell you what I did read--his email, with my mouth agape.


For one, I don't review books, which I've said many times in this space. But, if I were a book reviewer, it would take more than a link to get me on board. Book reviewers are well aware that they can buy and review any book in the world. So if you want them to review yours, offer to send a copy.


When I was self-published, I spent countless hours contacting book reviewers asking them to review my novel, Perfect on Paper. I also spent countless hours at the post office sending out review copies. It was an investment of both time and money, but I did it because I wanted people to review my book, and I knew they weren't going to do that if all I did was send them a link to Amazon.


Here's the thing: Book reviewers and bloggers expect you to send them a book. These people are voracious readers, and while they might not come out and say it, many of them review books just to get free copies and save money. You can always offer to send an electronic version, but in my experience reviewers are purists and prefer to read print books.


A good rule of thumb for book marketing of any kind is to put yourself in the recipient's shoes. How would you feel if someone asked you to review their homemade cookies but expected you to buy a dozen first?


-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 you should give away (some) books for free

Get reviews for your indie book

2,739 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, writing, promotions, book_reviews
0

Have you ever wondered about the best time of day to write? Can something like that even be determined? After all, everyone is different. Some of us are more productive in the morning. While some of us are more productive in the evening. Still, can a scientific study reveal the best time to write? The answer is, sort of.


According to researchers Mareike B. Wieth and Rose T. Zacks, there are times of day when an individual is better at problem solving. Problem solving requires creativity. Creativity is the engine behind storytelling. Here's what they found:


Morning people are better at solving problems in the evening and night owls are better at solving problems in the morning. Yes, that does sound counterintuitive. What gives? It turns out, we come up with our best creative solutions when we are tired and unable to focus on any one aspect of a problem. In essence, we are freed up to see a problem from a broader perspective, and we are able to find solutions we would have overlooked had we been in our most focused state.


So, while your focus will help you commit to the task of writing, it can interfere with your creativity. The answer to what time of the day is the best time to write may be that there are two times of day. There is a time to allow distractions and tiredness to guide your creativity, and there is a time to craft a story based on the ideas you acquired during these periods of creativity.


-Richard


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


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Write o'clock

Is the early bird more creative?

1,660 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, best_time_to_write
2

 

I have advocated for indie authors supporting indie authors many times before on this blog. The general idea is to reserve a day of the week to promote the work of a fellow indie author. The question is what day of the week works best for this type of activity.


The vehicle to promote an indie author is clear. You will be using social media. Which social media outlet is up to you. There are a lot to choose from, and many of you probably use several social media sites to make connections with readers.


There is data out there that lets you know when the most active times are for all the social media sites. Because there are so many of them and because some of them service very specific demographics, it's hard to find a consistent day of the week and time of day that will be best to promote your selection for indie author of the week. Rather than try to force a square peg into a round hole by finding a time that caters to all of them, here are the best times to post to get the most views for some of the more popular social media sites. Choose the one that best fits your social media strategy.


  • Facebook: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Twitter: Wednesdays at noon and between 5:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Instagram: Mondays and Thursday are the best days of the week, and the best time is between 8:00-9:00 p.m. Specifically, folks say to avoid posting between 3:00-4:00 p.m.
  • LinkedIn: Tuesday through Thursday from 7:00-8:00 a.m., at noon, and from 5:00-6:00 p.m.


Remember: creating buzz for other indie authors can build credibility for all indie authors. Get out there and share the indie author love.


-Richard


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


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Supporting Indie Authors

Living the Indie Author Dream

1,248 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, social_media
0

I'm on the distribution lists of many indie authors who occasionally send out promotional emails about their books. Marketing is a lot of work, so I respect the efforts of these individuals to boost their sales. Unfortunately, however, many of the emails I receive are peppered with errors, and that doesn't instill much faith that the books being promoted are going to be good. The books might in fact be excellent, but if people don't want to read them because of errors in the marketing emails, that shows the power of a negative impression.

 

We all make mistakes, which is why it's important to proofread your messages several times before sending them out. My brain plays tricks on me when I write, especially after I've been cutting and pasting and moving things around. Sometimes I simply don't see mistakes because my brain sees what it thinks should be there. To help counter that, I have my mom read my newsletters before I send them out. If you don't have someone like that to help you, try reading your content out loud to catch errors.

 

If you were promoting yourself as a dentist or a mechanic, errors wouldn't be so detrimental. But, you're a writer, and you're promoting your writing! So think of your messages as a way to showcase your talent, to give the recipients a taste of what you can do. If your content is engaging, well written, and free of errors, it is more likely to encourage potential readers to pick up a copy of your book.

 

Note: I prefer to use a newsletter program instead of email. Mailchimp is free if you have fewer than 2,500 subscribers, and it's easy to use. If your distribution list is smaller still, bulk emails can also work fine. Just be sure to use the blind copy feature for the recipients.

 

-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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Watch for Errors in Marketing Materials

Book Marketing Is a Numbers Game

946 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, marketing, self-publishing, writing, promotions, writing_tips, grammar_advice
2

 

Are you ready to start writing that new manuscript, but you can't quite quantify the strategies that helped you complete the previous manuscript? Here are five writing strategies to keep in mind as you start putting words to paper:

 

  1. Tone: The tone of your first paragraph should indicate the genre of your book. Writing a horror novel? The tone should be menacing. Planning a mystery? Your first paragraph should contain an enigmatic air. A romance novel should lead with a hint of longing. When readers finish the first paragraph, they should have a sense of what type of book they're about to invest time in.
  2. Characters: Know your main characters before you start writing. I don't care how you achieve this, but have a detailed knowledge of your main characters' backgrounds before you structure your plot. In addition, know how your story is going to change them.
  3. Breaks: Stop writing for the day when you know what is going to happen next. Give yourself some time to mull over the details of the next part of the story. Let it marinate in your creative juices.
  4. Plot: Knowing the ending of your story before you write will help you complete a first draft more quickly. There's something about knowing your storytelling destination that helps you power through the journey in record time.
  5. Just do it: Don't be perfect...at least the first time around. Write your first draft with reckless abandon. Let go and let your fingers fly across the keyboard.


-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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Strategies to beat procrastination

Bad writing habits

11,662 Views 2 Comments Permalink

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