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February 2017
1

One of my favorite parts about finishing a first draft, outside of the profound feeling of accomplishment, is that after months of hard work I'm finally able to sit back and read the entire story from beginning to end. It's impossible for me to experience my work with completely fresh eyes--that's why I strongly believe that every manuscript needs a developmental edit--but it is possible for me to evaluate the dialogue and see if it rings true for the characters I've created.


I find that my characters' personalities tend to evolve as I write, so by the time I'm done with the first draft, they may be quite different from how I had imagined them at the onset. As a result, when I go back and read from the beginning, I often tweak the dialogue to make it sound more authentic. I love this part of the process, because when I find myself thinking, "She would never say that," or nodding in agreement with what's already on the page, I know I've created characters that are believable, with realistic dialogue to match.


Reading dialogue from the beginning also helps me identify when a prominent character isn't developed enough. If, for the life of me, I can't tell if a line sounds like something so-and-so would say, then maybe so-and-so needs a little more attention.


One of the common criticisms of first-time novelists is that their characters all sound the same when they talk, which makes it hard for readers to follow along. I've experienced this as a reader, and when it happens too often, I usually end up putting the book down--for good. If you can give your characters distinct voices that are consistent throughout the story, you have a much better chance of getting your readers engaged--and keeping them that way!


-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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Quirks Make Characters Real

What would your characters do?

1,327 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, dialogue, character_development
3

Yes, bad reviews can be soul-crushing. They can make you question your abilities as a writer. They can leave you feeling hurt and depressed. You shouldn't let them have that much power over you because it literally is only an opinion. It isn't a formula devised by the reviewer that proves your book is bad. There is no concrete evidence in a review that proves you can't write. It's a collection of words that paints a subjective view of your book.


I've attended many public readings of works in progress, and you wouldn't believe the stark differences of opinion from those in attendance. Some were blown away by the reading, and others didn't get it. The same material was judged completely differently by two, three, sometimes by a half dozen people. Reviewers would get in heated arguments about their diverging opinions. Here's the thing, neither side, for or against, could provide absolute proof that their opinion wasn't just opinion but bona fide fact. It just wasn't possible to prove.


When you read a bad review of your book, keep this in mind: it's not a statement of fact. Accept it for what it is, a skewed view based on the reviewer's taste. I can&'t stand the movie The English Patient. A lot of people loved it. In fact, it won a truckload of awards. My opinion of the movie is based on my own personal taste. It doesn't mean I'm right. It just means it's not for me.


Don?t let bad reviews ruin your day. They're nothing more than opinions.


-Richard


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

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Bad Reviews & Great Company

Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

859 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, reviews, review, writing, book_reviews, branding
0

 

I'm not going to lie. It is hard living a life, writing a book, and building an author brand all at once. It takes almost superhuman abilities to pull off every part of being an author today without falling short somewhere along the way. Stuff happens, and suddenly you find yourself having to choose which area of your authorhood matters most to you. Invariably, the writing will always win, as it should.

 

 

Here's the fix for that. Keep this one fact in mind, and you will find the resources to do everything you need to do to build your author brand and sell books. OK, be prepared to have your mind blown. You are not alone, and there is one aspect of your brand-building strategy that is tailor-made for incorporating the kindness of friends. That is the world of blogging. You are essentially the editor-in-chief of your blog. Your network of friends in the arts community is your staff of writers. Give them space on your blog to discuss whatever they feel passionate about.

 

 

You are giving them a platform, and they are giving you content that will attract visitors. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Right now, you probably aren't in the position to pay them, but your future goal should probably move in that direction. That way you can have more editorial control over what they write. For now, you don't have that luxury. That's why you're going to want to choose very carefully to whom you give space on your blog. Make sure that they don't stray too far from your brand identity.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

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Your secret weapon

 

How to help the author in your life

 

 

1,307 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, blogging, outreach, brand_identity, marketing_platform, social_meida
0

 

Recently an old high school friend asked if I would speak to his brother, Scott, who had written a novel and wasn't sure what path to publication he should pursue. I agreed and had a brief email chat with Scott to set up a time to meet for coffee when I was in town to visit my parents later that month.


Scott had a link to his website in the signature of his email (smart!), so I clicked on it to have a quick look. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found: good writing. The site was just one page and sparse on copy, but what was there was crisp, engaging, and funny. It wasn't a sample from Scott's book, but it was a sample of Scott's writing, and Scott's writing made me want to read Scott's book. See how that works?


I told Scott as much when we met in person, and he was surprised. He hadn't thought of his website copy as a "writing sample." He didn't even think of himself as a real writer because his book hadn't been published. But he is a writer. He wrote a novel, and he should be proud of that, no matter what happens next.


In previous blogs I've recommended putting the first chapter of your book(s) on your website, and I still do. Much like in an ice cream store, offering potential customers a free taste increases the chances they will want more--assuming they like it. But in addition to the first chapter, I encourage you authors out there to think of all the words you put out into the world--be it via your blog or your bio page or your Twitter posts--as writing samples, as chances to capture the interest of potential readers. Getting someone's attention is hard, so why not use all the tools available to you?


-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: put your first chapter on your website

 

Marketing tip: tap your network for contacts

 


 

1,770 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, website, help, publishing, writing, social_media, marketing_adivce
2

Kenny Rogers is right. There'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done. That is to say, it's not a good idea to count your money in the middle of the game for many reasons, but chief among them is that it's a distraction. How does this apply to a writer? Allow me to phrase it in another way. There'll be time enough for editing and rewrites when the book is done.


Simply put, you are distracting yourself from finishing a book by constantly stopping to edit and rewrite what you've already written. Let go and let it flow. You have to condition yourself to not care about the current condition of your book. It is a work in progress. The first draft is a foundation for the final version of your book. Your job is to make sure your foundation is a complete, solid work of fiction. You can dress it up and make adjustments once you have a beginning, middle, and end all worked out.


I promise you aren't sacrificing quality in the favor of speed. In fact, I would argue you're writing a better book. You're giving yourself content to reshape. All the pieces will be at your disposal for you to fit together.


If you are the type to stop and start a book to edit as you write, the "let go and let it flow" philosophy is going to be a hard strategy to adopt, and I'm not saying you should if your way works for you, but if you find yourself having a hard time finishing a book because you can't keep from going backwards, give it a try.


-Richard


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


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How to get through the first draft

When to say "I don't care"

1,453 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, editing, writing, revision_strategies
0

New technologies have brought us a lot of great innovations in recent years. Consumer-grade cameras have such powerful zoom lenses that you can now capture video or take pictures of individual craters on the moon. In some cases, surgeons don''t even have to be in the same room as a patient to perform surgery. They skillfully guide robot arms equipped with surgical tools to perform delicate operations from miles away. And don't get me started on driverless cars. I can't wait for the day when I can nap while I drive to see family and friends 800 miles away.


The most useful new technology for authors trying to build a brand today is livestreaming video. A number of social media sites have integrated the ability for you to post video as you're shooting it. More than a few of my author, actor, and entertainer friends have used the technology to post quick thoughts on world events, online challenges issued by their followers, readings from their latest works in progress, etc.


Live video is an awesome way to reach your readers and build brand recognition. Chances are you're not yet acclimated to performing live on camera, so my advice is to practice what you're going to say before you step in front of the camera. You don't have to memorize lines, but you do want to make sure you have a clear idea on how to present your thoughts coherently. Practicing with the camera off will boost your confidence, and you'll be ready to present your brand in the most positive light.


Don't be afraid to give it a try just because you haven't done it before. Experiment with it. If it's something you don't enjoy doing, don't do it.


-Richard

 

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

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Stay on the Cutting Edge of Technology

Be Authentic to Build Your Brand



1,140 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, indie, video, branding, social_media, live_stream
4

 

This morning I woke up and knew I'd come up with an idea for the book I'm currently writing, but I had no idea what it was. Absolutely none. Instead of fretting about the lost inspiration, however, I reached for the notebook in the drawer of my nightstand and read the following, which I had jotted down in sleepy chicken scratch sometime during the night:


  • At BK Flea: "So nothing for Derek then?" "No. Argh, **** it. I forgot to call him." "Has he called you?" "No."
  • Mention Daphne toast to Skylar


The above notes may look insignificant, but they are anything but. They resulted in additional scenes/conversations that added considerably to a side plot and the emotional growth of the main character. Both areas had been giving me trouble, but I'd been unable to figure out what to do about them. If I hadn't written down those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night, I would have come up with a solution eventually, but it sure was nice to have it right there in front of me. In my opinion the writing is often the easy part; it's coming up with what to write that is hard.


I've learned my lesson about the notebook thing. More than a few times I've woken up at 2 or 3 a.m. with an idea but no notebook nearby and thought, I'll remember it in the morning, then promptly fallen back asleep. How many times have I remembered those ideas? Zero. Now, no matter how tired I am, I force myself to reach for my pen and make a note when an idea strikes. Often that paper ends up in the recycling bin and I ask myself, what in God's name was I thinking, but just as often those flashes of creativity end up in the pages of a book. Better safe than sorry!


-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: Save Deleted Scenes and Language

Writing Tip: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

1,173 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_ideas, writing_tip
2

I'm not going to lie. A lot of people make me angry, and the older I get, the easier it is to set me off. Science tells me it's because of my shrinking frontal lobe, but I think that's just overthinking what's really going on, which is that some people just do stuff that ticks me off, so I get perturbed.


I won't say who these people are or what they've done, not here and not hidden in a storyline in one of my books--not intentionally anyway. My books are no place to exact revenge on people I feel have done me wrong.


One of my favorite coffee cups actually says, "I am a writer. Don't make me angry, or I'll put you in my next book." It's funny in the abstract, but actually carrying out such a threat is a bad idea. It misinforms your writing and causes you to wedge in themes and plot points that ruin the organic feel of a story. It takes away from your main priority as a writer, and that is to serve the characters in the story, not the author. You are but a vessel to bring fiction to life. Once you start purposely inserting your beliefs in order to settle a score, you're likely going to take the reader out of the story by doing so.


The best way to get someone back for their mistreatment of you is to succeed. Become a better writer and attract more readers. Whatever you do, don't carry your grievances onto the pages of your book.


-Richard


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


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The Purpose of Fiction

Fiction Writing vs. Nonfiction Writing

1,064 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_fiction, revenge_writing
1

No one wants their authors to be all business. If you take to your virtual space and constantly post about your books or about the world of publishing as a whole, you are going to chase potential readers away.


Your author brand has to be multidimensional. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you can&'t focus all your energy on your role as an author when branding yourself as an author. You are a commodity. It sounds simplistic, but it&'s true. There are millions of books available to buy. What sets your book immediately apart is you, the author. Yes, the issue of style and the quality of your writing and storytelling are crucial, but there is no denying that the author is often the draw.


So, as you build your platform, plan on devoting a good chunk of your online time to discussing and participating in topics outside of your books. Reviewing books in your genre, discussing hobbies, sharing stories about your passion projects outside of writing, these are all things you can focus on. You can even go totally astray and publish fluff pieces about your pets, family, friends, etc. Your options are unlimited.


The point is that you are more than an author. You are a human being who dabbles in real life as much as any respectable human being. The more adventurous you are, the greater the material you'll have at your disposal. So, get out there and jump at the opportunity to do something interesting, if for no other reason than it will beef up your author brand.


-Richard

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

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Building an Author Brand: You are What You Share

An Active Author Brand



1,272 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, writing, social_media, brand_identity, author_platform
0

 

When I got my latest novel back from my longtime developmental editor, as usual, she offered helpful suggestions for how to improve plot, pacing, character development, etc. This time, however, she also mentioned that my main character smiled--"a lot."


Curious as to what my editor meant by "a lot," I used the search function in Word to count just how many times the words "she smiled" or "Daphne smiled" appeared in my first draft. Let's just say it was way too many. I smiled (no pun intended) at my oversight and immediately got rid of a bunch of them. Thank you, Christina!


It seems like no matter how hard I try, my first drafts are always overloaded with crutch words or phrases such as "she smiled." Other favorites I've found myself overusing include "she nodded," "she raised her eyebrows," and "she walked home slowly/she slowly walked home." Usually I catch them myself when I read over the manuscript, but not always, as this recent experience demonstrated. (If you're not familiar with the search function in Microsoft Word, it's usually a box at the top right corner of any open document that says, "Search in Document" or "Find." Type in the word(s) of interest and hit the Enter key, and viola!)


Do you also suffer from this affliction? I think most writers probably do, but the key is to identify them before your book goes to print. Otherwise you risk irritating your readers, who might wind up focusing on the repetition and not the story. This is especially true if your crutch words or phrases are unusual or dramatic. Imagine seeing "He was flabbergasted" or "She screamed at the top of her lungs" more than once in the same book. I think I would immediately notice and might be a little annoyed. Would you?


-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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Avoid Word Repetition

Watch Out for Repetition in Your Writing

1,386 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, crutch_words, dialogue_tags
1

What do you smell?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 6, 2017

 

When we write, we use various methods to try and get the reader to connect with a passage. Visuals play a huge role in making that connection. For example, the color of someone's eyes is a common visual trigger, or the physical build of a character is often used to help readers make a visual connection. Not to mention there's the illustrative writing used to describe setting.


We use sound too. The sound of a character's voice for example. There are the constant, steady beats used to heighten suspense in thrillers--a heartbeat, the sound of footsteps, etc. It's not as common as using a visual descriptive, but it is still fairly prominent in storytelling.


Perhaps the most underutilized descriptive tool is the sense of smell, and in my opinion that's a shame because I believe odors to be the most powerful of the senses when it comes to making a connection with a reader. If you describe it correctly, the thought of a smell can elicit a subconscious link between the story and a hidden memory in a reader. That will make it likely that the reader will have an emotional bond with the book that he or she wouldn't have otherwise had.


How about you? Do you use odors in your descriptive passages? Can you think of an example in any of your favorite books, and could that explain why they are indeed your favorites?


Remember, writing a descriptive story isn't always about what you see or hear. It's also about what you smell.


-Richard


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


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WordPlay: Wine Tasting

Beyond the visuals

975 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, sense_of_smell
1

Content marketing

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 1, 2017

You may have heard the term "content marketing" before. You may have even used it. It's become a ubiquitous term that is used in countless posts and articles about branding. But, what does it really mean?

 

Simply put, it's branding oneself not by calling attention to one's brand, but by being a purveyor of useful, entertaining, and/or informative content via social media, blog, or online media outlets. In essence, you are providing a valuable service. That you are an author with a book or many books for sale isn't the main focus of the content you provide.

 

Obviously, you want to gear your content marketing to attracting those readers who represent the demographics for your books. For instance, if you write science fiction, you might write a content marketing piece on the history of science fiction. Or, if you write "how-to"books on gardening, you might write an informative piece on seasonal gardening tactics. Even if you write works that are heavily laced with humor, you could write your views on today's current events, featuring your brand of wit and witticisms, of course.

 

Don't overthink the term. Content marketing is just you writing about stuff you enjoy. That's all it really is. Yes, you want it to be well researched. And yes, you should strive for the piece to be well written and painstakingly edited. Other than that, have fun. Build your brand around being a pathway to knowledge and entertainment. Once people learn to rely on your content, they will seek out your books.

 

-Richard

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

 

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What is article marketing?

4,940 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, promotion, content, branding, social_media

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