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March 2017
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Your book has been on the market for a few years. Sales were brisk in the beginning, but they are virtually nonexistent now. Here's how to let the title go and stop promoting it. You may want to write this list down and post it somewhere in your writing space.


  1. Don't--DO NOT STOP PROMOTING.


Nope, it's not a long list, but it is important. There is no reason for you not to promote a book you wrote a year ago, five years ago, or even ten years ago. As long as you don't have inventory or a nonfiction book that contains a time-sensitive subject matter, why would you stop promoting your book?


Your book has a publishing anniversary. That's a perfect time to promote it every year. If your book has a seasonal theme, that season occurs every year. Why shouldn't you promote it? If your book is a work with a historical event or figure at its core, then that historical event has an anniversary. The historical figure has a birth date. Those are other opportunities to promote your book, no matter how old the book is.


Conventional wisdom used to be that you frontload the release of a book with all your publicity efforts, and then you move on. Print-on-demand and digital publishing has made that sort of publicity strategy obsolete. Your book will never go out of print. Why, then, would you stop promoting it? To not promote it is wasting opportunity.


Don't move on in the sense that you will forget about your book. Move on and write your next book. Promote your next book. Just don't forget your previous books when it comes to promotion.


-Richard


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

 

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The Marketing Maze

The Grassroots Marketing Ripple Effect

 

 

 

 

1,646 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, promotion, promotions, marketing_advice, promotion_advice
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I've written multiple blog posts about beats, which use action to show readers how a character is feeling instead of telling them. For example:


Krista slammed the refrigerator door shut. "I told you to leave me alone!"


Compare the above to this:


"I told you to leave me alone!" Krista shouted, furious.


Having Krista slam the refrigerator door not only shows us that she's furious instead of telling us, it also gives us a visual of what is happening. Both of those things are good. However, it's important not to use too many beats, because they can become distracting--and annoying.


When I received the first draft of my most recent novel back from my developmental editor, she noted that I'd used a large number of beats and suggested that I delete many of them, which I quickly did. I didn't think too much about it at the time, but then last week I read a novel that used beats so often that I quickly found myself getting distracted by them, then annoyed by them, and eventually I wanted to throw my Kindle out the window. Here's just one example of a conversation in the book, with identifying details altered:


"You seem distracted." Leslie tossed a pen at Jesse across the desk.


"Sorry." Jesse leaned back in his chair and crossed his hands behind his head. "You know I'm terrible at this part of my job."


"You mean the paperwork?" Leslie leaned forward.


Jesse leaned forward too, elbows on his knees, head hung low. "Yes."


Do you see how distracting beats can be when used too often? To me, the above reads like stage directions, not a conversation, and the beats cumulatively ruined the reading experience for me. I realize now what great advice my editor gave me. Like fine wine and high-calorie desserts, beats are best in moderation!


-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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Use Beats to Show, Not Tell

Dialogue Tip: Make It Clear Who is Talking

1,543 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, action_beats, writing_tip, dialogue_tags
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Ordinary people. Are they interesting? I'm ordinary, and I am about as boring as you can get. I can't imagine including me as a character in a book. I guess that a few extraordinary things have happened to me. I have experienced life-altering events, losses, victories, etc. I'm no different than most people in that regard. I guess that's what makes most of the people in the world ordinary.


To me, exploring ordinary characters going through extraordinary events is fascinating, and it is what makes a story relatable to me. While I don't knock those stories that are filled with super-spies and genius villains, I don't gravitate toward those types of books. I like to see someone like me struggle to make sense of misfortune. Most horror novels feature these types of characters. Regular folks get caught up in far-from-regular situations, and they must rely on less-than-finely-honed instincts to survive.


Even the books that I've written with a deputy as the main character are told from a novice officer of the law's point of view. She is learning her way as she tackles complicated issues. As the writer, I can especially relate to her because I'm learning my way along with her.


How about you? What type of character appeals to you, the ordinary Joe or Jill finding his or her way or the skilled protagonist who has all the answers? As I said, I'm not knocking the latter, but the former does hold greater appeal for me.


-Richard

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


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What would your characters do?

What Do Your Characters Want?

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Workshops

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 22, 2017

I have been approached a few times about putting together a workshop based on the theme of a series of young adult novels I've written. I've resisted because I don't feel qualified. The topic is bullying, and while I wrote about it, I am certainly no expert. I wrote a fictional tale that incorporated the issue of bullying to advance a story.


It has occurred to me lately that I don't necessarily have to be an expert on bullying to organize a workshop or seminar on the topic. I could approach local experts on the topic and invite them to present important information about bullying. I would act simply as the facilitator. I would, of course, do my due diligence to make sure that the people I approached were credible and possessed the necessary credentials.


Why would I want to undertake such a task? Simple. It's a way to associate my brand with a topic that is crucial to the theme of my books. If that sounds crassly commercial, I suppose it is. But that's not necessarily bad in this case. I would be providing a valuable service to the community. That would be the primary focus of the workshop. The secondary benefit is the association with my brand and book.


Do you have a topical theme that drives the plot of your story? If you're not a qualified expert on the topic, you can still organize a workshop that addresses it. Do your homework and find the folks in your community that are experts, and you have the working parts to create a valuable workshop that can also help build your brand.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Invest in your writing

 

Sell yourself as an enthusiast

1,173 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: workshops, author_marketing, writing_tips, author_tips, writing_practice
0

 

I've read many times how important it is for authors to start their marketing campaigns well before their books come out, but rarely do those articles or blog posts give examples of what to do. Here's a specific tactic that's worked twice for me: Ask people to help you choose a cover.


My latest novel comes out in a couple months, so I asked for help in choosing the cover design. After I narrowed it down to two options I loved equally, here's what I did:


  1. I posted both covers on my personal Facebook page, along with a one-line description of the book, and asked all my real-life friends to weigh in
  2. I posted both options on my Facebook author fan page and asked all my fans to vote
  3. I had Waverly Bryson, the protagonist of my first four novels, post both options on her Facebook page
  4. I tweeted both options from @mariamurnane
  5. I sent both options to everyone on my mailing list (sign up on any page of www.mariamurnane.com)
  6. I blogged about the cover vote on my website and asked people to email me their choice


I set a clear deadline, then tallied all the votes and announced the winner to all of the above audiences. Many of those who participated have told me that they can't wait for the book to come out because they feel invested in the process--yay!


For your cover vote campaign, if it's your first book, the initial audience you reach might be small, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. Ask your Facebook friends to share the request with their friends, retweet it on Twitter, etc. Then build those channels as you go. You have to start somewhere, right?


-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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Book covers can affect sales

Book marketing tip: make it easy for your fans to help you

5,513 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, contests, promotions, marketing_campaigns
1

Re-readable books

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2017

 

My wife recently read a book from start to finish in a single evening. The next night, she cracked open the same book and read it again. No, it wasn't one of my books, but that's OK. We have an understanding. She's allowed to enjoy books I didn't write.


In talking with her about it, I quickly realized what made the book so enchanting to her. It was the characters the author had created. My wife shared with me aspects of their lives, dialogue, relationships, backstory. She talked about them as if they were people she'd known her whole life. What we didn't talk about was the plot of the book. It almost seemed irrelevant to her.


Well-developed characters can not only make a book readable, they can make it re-readable. Think about it. The allure of a mystery that relies on clever plot twists and the unknown to hook readers doesn't quite have that same allure once the twists are revealed and the unknown is known. You may have enjoyed the book immensely, but chances are you aren't going to read it again.


The exception to this would be the same book, but with extraordinary character development. Then the book has an appeal that extends beyond the mystery it reveals. You may re-read the book just to reconnect with the characters you miss. You know the mystery within, but that no longer matters because you're a fan of the characters.


If you want to write a book that is re-readable, the part of your craft you need to develop is character development. It is the one aspect of storytelling that keeps readers coming back over and over again.


-Richard

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


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Start a dialogue with your characters

Advice on character development

1,329 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
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If you have published a second book or more, you may be missing a very simple marketing opportunity. It's a way for you to build a loyal reader base: readers who race from one of your books to the next. You become one of their go-to authors, and they are more likely to spread the word for you.


This simple marketing strategy is as easy as making a list of your books. In fact, that's exactly what it is, making a list of your books. It's something you include in the front matter of your book, so it's one of the first things a reader sees. At the top of the list you write, "Other titles by (Author Name) you may enjoy." And boom, you've just marketed all of your books to a reader.


By the way, I used the word "may" purposely. I have seen some books that use the word "might." Might strikes the wrong chord. It's wishy-washy. You're literally saying that, yes, they might enjoy these other titles, but you're also saying they might not. May, on the other hand, is a non-presumptive way of saying you are giving them permission to enjoy your other books. It's a subtle difference, but as we writers know better than anyone, words matter.


Don't let this simple marketing opportunity slip through your fingers. You can even re-publish your first title with a list of your other works. That's the beauty of the digital, publish-on-demand world we live in. Updates can be made without disruptions. So, go. Give readers permission to enjoy all of your books.


-Richard


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

 

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Exclusive versus inclusive

Unconventional marketing ideas for mystery books

 

 

 

 

2,196 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, self-publishing, publishing, branding, author_brand
1

Recently I received conflicting advice regarding internal monologues, and as a result, I've engaged in a running internal monologue of my own. I wrote my latest novel, Bridges, in third person from the point of view of the protagonist. Here are two examples of how I originally presented her inner thoughts:


EXAMPLE A


Daphne looked up and saw her reflection in the bookstore window, suddenly feeling foolish in Skylar's fancy hat. Who was she trying to kid? She wasn't talented or special, or on the verge of being discovered. She was just a drab, wannabe writer from Ohio.


EXAMPLE B


She'd poured her heart and soul into the novel and flourished as she did so, editing and rewriting for months on end until she had something she knew was good. And for what? To feel like a complete and utter failure? Could she really be such a bad writer that not one agent would take her on?


My developmental editor, with whom I worked closely throughout the revision process, liked the above structure. But when I turned the manuscript over to my copyeditor, she suggested that I change the internal monologue to first person in italics, set apart like this:


EXAMPLE A


Daphne looked up and saw her reflection in the bookstore window, suddenly feeling foolish in Skylar's fancy hat.


Who am I trying to kid? I'm not talented or special, or on the verge of being discovered. I'm just a drab, wannabe writer from Ohio.


EXAMPLE B


She'd poured her heart and soul into it and flourished as she did so, editing and rewriting for months on end until she had something she knew was good.


And for what? To feel like a complete and utter failure? Could I really be such a bad writer that not one agent will take me on?


The copyeditor's argument was that this structure brings readers inside Daphne's head, thus allowing us to feel more connected to her.


Which style do you like better? Which is more effective? I'm honestly not sure. I would love to know what other people think, so please let me know 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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Avoid Confusing Dialogue

Finished Your Manuscript? Check Your Dialogue

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You've got a protagonist. You've got a villain. You may even have a co-protagonist or two. And the bad guy has a past filled with characters that made him...well, bad. Then there are the background characters that need fleshing out in order for the reader to truly appreciate what they add to the story. And the protagonist has a dog. Your readers are probably going to want to know what the dog's thinking. And your classic villains always have cats. The cat deserves to be understood. What's it like to be a villain's cat?


Add all this up and you've got a messy character stew that is hard to digest. There's just too much going on. Who's who and why do readers need to care? If you divert their attention by giving them too many characters to keep up with, you run the risk of losing them. Lose a reader, and it will be harder for you to find the next reader.


That's not to say there aren't exceptions to my rule. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is a notable example. It not only has multiple characters, but as many as 15 of them are, at some point in the story, handed the reins of narrator. It is a classic literary work of art. What Faulkner was able to pull off is remarkable. It's also a very difficult read that was written in a different era.


My advice is to keep it simple when it comes to character development. Keep the focus on just a few characters and concentrate on drawing your reader deeper into their stories.


-Richard

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


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Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

 

The Stranger in the Room

 

1,227 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
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Blog content ideas

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 8, 2017

Finding the right material for your blog can be time-consuming, particularly if you're trying to find material that never grows old. Here are five ideas for content to include on your blog.


  1. Top writing tips: You're a writer. You have tips. Give them. Chances are, you won't make dramatic changes to your writing philosophy over the years. If you do, just amend your tips to match your new methods.
  2. Historical piece: Write a blog post that deals with the history of your genre, your hobby, passion project, etc. A historical blog post is excellent for drawing visitors over a sustained period of time. The information contained within is used as a point of reference for the curious, and inquiring minds tend to crop up every day.
  3. Plant evergreens: Link to or embed evergreen (always relevant) material in your blog. Pick a topic that is applicable to your author brand, and make it a staple on your blog. You can always find "how-to" or "tutorial" videos to embed in a blog post. These videos are particularly useful for drawing in a steady stream of new visitors.
  4. Seasonal topics: Write about seasonal topics on your blog. You won't get a steady stream of visitors throughout the year, but you will see an increase in visitors as the season approaches every year.
  5. Write time-independent material: Do you have a killer recipe for brownies that you can post? How about a family remedy for a persistent cough? Whatever timeless material you can think of would make great material for your blog.


-Richard


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


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Resources to Help You Blog Daily

Never Too Boring to Blog

1,685 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, blogging, publishing, writing, blog_idea
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In a previous post I recommended developing a mailing list for a semiregular newsletter to keep in touch with fans between books. You might not have a book launch on the near horizon, but that doesn't mean you don't have other news to share.


Another good way to stay connected to your fans between books is through Facebook. Here's how I use it:


For my author fan page, I share the same things that I do in my newsletter, e.g., event photos, news about upcoming translations of my books, promotions for signed copies, photos of fans holding up my books (which encourages other fans to send me similar pictures), awards my books have won, etc.


If right now you're thinking, "But I don't have any awards or event photos, etc.," why not post a photo of yourself working hard at your desk? Or do you write at Starbucks? How about a photo of that? Be creative! This is an art, not a science. You can do it!


In addition to my author fan page, I created a Facebook profile for Waverly Bryson, the protagonist of four of my novels. Every day I log in and see which of her friends are celebrating a birthday, and I'll have her write each one a personalized birthday greeting. (If I've released a book within the past year I'll also include a link to the first chapter as a "gift.") Now and again I have Waverly comment on other people's posts, and sometimes I even have her post funny photos or videos of her own. Sometimes Waverly's friends post photos or notes about the Waverly Bryson books on her page, which I then "share" with all of her friends. It's fun for my fans and fun for me: a win-win!


How do you use Facebook to promote your writing? I would love to know, so please share in the comments section below.


-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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How to Connect with Your Readers

Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

 

2,801 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, mailing_list, promotions, fan_page
1

 

I have talked on this blog before about not letting bad reviews get to you. They shouldn't inform you about what kind of writer you are because they are just opinions, and no one can claim to be correct when it comes to issuing their opinion. That's just not how opinions work.


Today, I have an even harder job. I have to convince you that you shouldn't let good reviews get to you either. I know. Pure, unadulterated joy is so rare to find in the author life, it seems insane for me to tell you to treat good reviews like you treat bad reviews, but it only makes sense. A positively expressed opinion is as valid as a negatively expressed opinion. Neither should dictate how you see yourself as a writer. Accept good reviews graciously. Let them make you feel good about yourself, yes. You have found a kindred spirit in the reviewer who shares your taste. How can that not feel good?


But when you sit down to write your next book, doing so with all your good to great reviews in mind can poison your pen. It can turn you into a crowd-pleasing writer, and that is a bad thing. Your job isn't to write to please. Your job is to write to challenge. If you're letting past accolades swirl through your brain as you write your next tome, you will be less likely to stay true to your mission. You will either consciously or subconsciously write in an effort to receive more accolades.


Be happy when you receive a good review, but good or bad, always remember reviews are just opinions.


-Richard


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


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A Positive Review Pitfall

Online Reviews: Just Say...Nothing

1,307 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, book_reviews
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That one thing

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 1, 2017

 

Why you? It's a question you need to ask. You are trying to build a brand--not just a brand, but an author brand. That means there are books tied to your name. The ultimate goal is to sell those books, and your sales will stem from how you answer this question: Why you?


There are millions of books to choose from on the market. More are added every day. Every hour of every day. Readers are flooded with choices. Why should they choose your book over the others? The answer--in most cases--is you. Your writing style, your public persona, your celebrity endorsements, whatever the reason, you are the one factor that sets your book apart. Yes, quality of writing, publishing track record, and scores of other reasons are factors too, but in today's brand-driven economy, who you are is a major factor in your success.


You need to sit down and do a close examination of your brand, determine what the unique component of your brand is, and build on that. Expand your community. Call it your special ingredient. Maybe it's your sense of humor or maybe it's your spiritual perspective on life. Perhaps you're not just a science fiction author, but an actual scientist who writes science fiction.


Once you find that one thing that makes you different from other author brands, you'll have a better understanding of where to find readers, and how to keep them invested in your brand. You'll increase your readership just by being you. Now, why you?

 

-Richard

 

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

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Evaluating Your Author Brand

 

An Active Author Brand

 

 

 

 

1,420 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, branding, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand, brand_identity

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