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We all have our own systems for managing our lives. For example, I use a paper calendar and not the calendar on my phone. I know that's old school, but I love my paper calendar! I also have a paper to-do list that I keep on my desk, and I constantly have alarms going off on my phone to remind me of things on my to do list when I'm not at my desk. It's a hodgepodge system, but it works for me, which is the most important thing.


When it comes to book marketing, I adhere to the same philosophy: It doesn't matter what system you use, as long as you use a system. The more you do to spread the word about your books, the more moving parts there are, which makes it easy for things to fall through the cracks.


     Here are two ways I keep track of my various marketing efforts:

 

  1. Excel spreadsheet for media/blogger outreach
  2. My email in-box as a virtual to-do list


 

Excel spreadsheet for media/blogger outreach


Pitching media and bloggers for book reviews or inclusion in roundups such as beach/holiday/spring break reads can be fun at first, but it can also quickly become overwhelming if you don't keep track of whom you pitched and when, with what result. I use a color-coded system, e.g. yellow cells for things that need following up, green cells for secured reviews, red cells for passes. That way I can quickly scan the spreadsheet to see what needs to be done.


 

Email in-box as a virtual to-do list

 

I try to keep my in-box as small as possible, yet I never move or delete a message until I've done whatever action it requires. Years ago I tried moving messages into various folders (e.g. "articles to read"), but then I learned that I would rarely (actually, never) go into those folders. So I changed the system to one that works for me.


What systems do you use to keep organized? 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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Marketing tip: connect with book bloggers

 

Marketing tip: ask your fans to promote you

 

 

 

 

1,843 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, organization, author_tips, author_advice
0

Every once in a while, it's good to remember that old adage that nothing stays the same. Things change. After all, if things didn't change, I'd be carving this blog post on a cave wall somewhere using crudely drawn pictures instead of words.


Perhaps nothing has changed more than publishing. For the most part, books aren't made the same way. They aren't read the same way. In a lot of instances, physical copies of books don't even exist until they are purchased. That means warehousing books isn't the problem it once was. Stacks of old books aren't carted away to make room for new titles. Those old books, once remaindered and forgotten, still have value in today's publishing world.


I've used the following term before, but commit it to memory. Your book is "evergreen" material. That is to say it won't go out of print unless you choose to stop selling it. That is the beauty of digital and print-on-demand publishing. No warehouse space is needed. There's no push to make room for new titles, because virtual space is a lot roomier than actual space.


Given that, why would you ever stop promoting a book? Why wouldn't you come up with a cyclical marketing plan that you follow every year. Keep the wheels of commerce moving with your book, a book that will never go out of print. What was once a rare occurrence, is now the norm in publishing, and that gives you a huge advantage over past generations of authors. You have an opportunity writers-of-old strived to earn. Don't waste it.


-Richard

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


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The Evergreen Era of Publishing

When to Stop Marketing a Book

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1

Here is a rule of branding that isn't discussed enough. Don't turn on a dime.

 

Simple enough? Okay, see you next blog post...

 

What? You need more context? That's fair.

 

You can change your author brand, as long as you don't change it too quickly. A brand, after all, is built on consistency. You present the same style, the same tone, the same voice over and over again, creating a trust between yourself and your community. You become a source of stability in their lives, something they can rely on and take comfort in.

 

The problem is that an author brand is a personal brand in a commercial setting. Your brand is tied to...well, you. You are going to go through changes in life. Trust me, I am not the same person I was in my 20s. I see things very differently. Had I had access to social media back then (meaning, if it existed), I would have a hard time reconciling what I believe now with what I believed then.

 

To change a brand--personal or corporate--you must allow it to go through a transition period. A gradual change brings your community along with you. A sudden change leaves you, in most cases, having to start anew. Don't resist change. Embrace it, and let it come slowly. Except in the case of unexpected tragedies, that's usually how change works anyway.

 

The takeaway here is to not change for the sake of change. Don't hop on a trend that is in opposition to your current brand profile because you think it will help grow your community. Just keep consistently being you, even if being you means you change along the way.

 

-Richard

 

 

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


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Should Authors Ever Reinvent Their Brands?

Author Brand Success: Consistency without Stagnation

1,795 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, book_marketing, branding, author_marketing, author_brand, author_platform
3

When my novels come out I usually have one launch party where I live (New York City) and one in my hometown in California. The parties typically include a no-host bar, with me at a table signing books and chatting with a mix of friends, family, and fans--low-key but good fun. For my latest novel, a super fan of mine, Veronica, who lives in Texas, asked if I'd be doing a "virtual party" as well. I told her I had zero idea what that was, so she offered to plan one for me on Facebook. Curious as to how that would work, I said yes!


Here's what happened next:


  • Veronica created an event on Facebook just like any other event, then invited me along with all her friends.
  • She made sure the event was marked as "public" so invitees could invite their friends, I could invite my friends, fans, etc. (In other words, anyone who had a Facebook account could attend.)
  • She created multiple "games" related to my books for attendees to play during the party. Each game was a fun question that Veronica would post, and attendees would answer in the comments section.
  • To add a visual touch, she made a cute meme to go with each question.
  • Veronica put all of the above into a detailed itinerary for the party, which was to last for three hours so people could pop in and out. It included a "roll call," in which everyone in attendance stated their location (and a greeting if they wanted) in the comments section.
  • Interspersed with the trivia questions were giveaways of signed copies of my individual books--plus a grand prize of signed copies of them all!


I know that I was fortunate to have a fan organizing this party for me, but it's now evident that it's something I could have done on my own--which means you can too!


-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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What Is a Virtual Book Tour?

How to Connect with Your Readers

3,133 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, launch_party, virtual_party
2

Character traps

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 22, 2017

Writing fiction, if you do enough of it, presents itself with traps that can get authors in trouble. Here are three character traps to avoid as you pen your next masterpiece.


  1. Know-it-all: One thing that drives me crazy when I read a mystery novel is when one character, many times a crack detective, has all the answers. What kind of poison was used to kill the victim? Well, it just so happens that our protagonist got a degree in chemistry. Figuring out the poison used is really no problem. Also, if you have questions about the victim's last meal, the type of watch he wore, the kind of razor he shaved with, etc., it just so happens the protagonist has read and committed to memory dozens of books on these topics and more. When a "know-it-all" takes over a story I'm reading, I lose interest because it's just too convenient.
  2. All-bad: When a villain is nothing but bad, I don't really get invested in him or her as much as I should. I want there to be something likable about the villain--some redeeming quality. In a way, it makes him or her more sinister if I fall into a false sense of security that the villain will do the right thing. When he or she doesn't, it's even more shocking.
  3. All-good: This is the inverse trap to the previous one. All-good protagonists are, in a word, boring. Flaws give a character depth and relatability. I can't identify with a character who has never done anything wrong and doesn't have doubts sometimes about whether he or she is making the right choice.


Take some time to examine your characters and make sure they're not falling into these traps. If they are, try rewriting to make them more complex.


-Richard

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


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Your Characters, Warts and All

 

The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

1,569 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, characterization, character_traps
0

I've scoured the internet for a clear explanation of the difference between marketing and branding. I've heard people use the terms interchangeably, and frankly, that's just wrong. They serve the same purpose, but they are two different tools serving that purpose. After reading, rejecting those explanations that made no sense, and accepting those that seemed logical, here is an explanation of branding:

 

  • ·        Branding is an image and message tied to a product. In the case of an author, this would include the genre identity, category (fiction or nonfiction), age group of readers, style of writing, personal causes, and frequent topics an author devotes his/her online time to. These and other image definers contribute to how the author is seen by the reader. Personal appearance can play a part if the author makes appearance integral to his/her brand identity.

 

Marketing is a tad more complicated. Here is a culmination of the explanations I found:

 

  • ·      Marketing is a multifaceted tool the author will use to draw people to his/her brand. It can be by utilizing social media to build relationships with readers. It can be via advertising to make the public aware of a book signing or launch date. It can be done via interviews online and offline. Essentially, it is how you make the public aware of your image and message.

 

Going by these two definitions, you can see how they serve the same utility but in very different ways. The two go together, but they are not the same thing.

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

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You're not just an author, you're a brand

Raising your marketing game

2,125 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, promotion, book_marketing, branding, author_marketing, author_brand
1

 

Hyphens are used to avoid ambiguity when two descriptive words are next to each other before a noun. (They are also used for compound words such as self-esteem.)

 

For example, take the following sentence:

 

The small business owner got a great loan from the bank.

 

Is the business owner who got a great loan small? Or does the person who got a great loan own a small business? Most likely it's the latter, but without a hyphen it's unclear, which is why a hyphen is necessary in this case.

 

The small-business owner got a great loan from the bank. (CORRECT)

The small business owner got a great loan from the bank. (INCORRECT)

 

Here's another example:

 

The hard charging executive took a vacation.

 

Is the executive hard? Or does the executive charge hard? Most likely it's the latter, but again without a hyphen it's unclear, which is why a hyphen is also necessary in this case.

 

  • The hard-charging executive took a vacation. (CORRECT)
  • The hard charging executive took a vacation. (INCORRECT)

 

Where I often see hyphens being used incorrectly is when an adverb is next to a descriptive word before a noun. Adverbs (usually words ending in ly) modify only verbs or adjectives and not nouns, so there is no need for a hyphen.

 

For example:

 

  • The highly regarded professor gave a lecture. (CORRECT)
  • The highly-regarded professor gave a lecture. (INCORRECT)

 

  • The newly hired caterer got straight to work. (CORRECT)
  • The newly-hired caterer got straight to work. (INCORRECT)

 

  • The recently promoted director took the corner office. (CORRECT)
  • The recently-promoted director took the corner office. (INCORRECT)

 

If the above examples have you squinting at your screen in puzzlement, try taking away the descriptive word in each sentence:

 

  • The highly professor gave a lecture. (MAKES NO SENSE)
  • The newly caterer got straight to work. (MAKES NO SENSE)
  • The recently director took the corner office. (MAKES NO SENSE)

 

Got it? If there's no ambiguity about what a word is modifying, then there's no need for a hyphen.

 

-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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Quick lesson on hyphens

 

Don't cook your family, Rachel!

1,392 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, hyphenation, grammar_tip
0

One of the most crucial jobs you have as an author is to build character. Not your own, of course, although you are most likely going to learn something about yourself during the course of writing a novel. I am speaking of building character in the fictional sense. Different authors have different ways they go about building characters. Some authors do background stories. Some do fake obituaries that enable them to see characters from the point of view of other fictional characters. Some authors stick to existing archetypes and follow a blueprint that's been used before.


And then there are those authors who hold true to the philosophy that adversity builds character. They will throw a character into a meat grinder starting on page one and let the conflict itself build a character. For my money, it's not a bad philosophy. It's called the empty-vessel strategy, and it can be very effective at drawing a reader in. Think about it. There are no pre-conceived notions about the protagonist from the start of the story, so readers can put themselves in the characters' shoes and grow with them.


This method has its downside. You run the risk of not allowing readers to care about the character early on in the story, and readers may reject the choices the character makes because it's not something they would do. The trick is to make the choices so difficult that readers literally can't decide what they would do if they were in your protagonist's position. The hard choice made will then be appreciated and accepted.


Conflict not only drives a story. It can also build character.


-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?

Building character

1,235 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
1

Today's rule could essentially be summed up in the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, "Teach Your Children." The song is a classic that encourages us to pass along our knowledge of life to all the generations without judgment or expectation of anything in return. I know it sounds kind of heavy for a branding strategy, but the more young writers you selflessly help along the way, the greater service you do for the community of writers and society as a whole. And, yes, even though you shouldn't expect a return on your investment of time and knowledge, you most likely will receive enormous returns in the form of loyal disciples of your brand.


So, I say to you, seasoned writer, teach aspiring authors well. Share your dream with them. Find opportunities to assist other writers in achieving their dreams. Give them constructive feedback on their manuscripts. Help them navigate the indie publishing world. Give them marketing and branding advice. You may even encourage them to pass along what they know to up-and-coming writers.


Being an author is being part of a community. We don't have competitors. We have fellow authors. By helping to strengthen the community, you are helping yourself in the most unselfish way possible. You can't go wrong with this strategy. I don't care where you are in your writing career. You have useful knowledge to share. You probably don't even have to dig that deep to find it.


Grow your brand by following the rule of coaching, and teach the writers well.


-Richard

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


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Bring Your Community Together through Writing

Your Brand is a Community

1,479 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, promotion, writing, branding, author_brand
2

An essential element of any book marketing campaign is securing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, book blogs, etc. However, to get reviewers to read your book, you're going to have to send them a copy. That generally means buying print copies, packing them up, then schlepping back and forth to the post office. This process can become time-consuming and expensive, especially if you're contacting a lot of people.


Another option is to send reviewers digital copies via Amazon. Given how much cheaper most digital books are compared to their print counterparts, this is a great way to get your work out there without breaking the bank. (Tech-savvy reviewers might be up for receiving MOBI files, which don't cost anything to email, so if you're techy too, you can always try that.)


Have you ever bought a digital book on Amazon as a gift? If not, here's all you have to do:


  1. Click the "Give as a Gift" option among the purchase buttons on the right side of the page
  2. Enter the email address linked to the recipient's Amazon account (Be sure to ask the reviewer for this information because sometimes people use a different address for online shopping than they do for other things. I know I do!)
  3. Enter the recipient's name
  4. Type in a personal note
  5. Click "Place your order"


That's it! Within minutes the recipient will receive an email from Amazon with a link to download your book to his or her Kindle device or reading app. For the diehard reviewers who insist on reading print copies only, you can still do the post office thing. Just remember to request the book rate. It's way cheaper than regular mail.


An added bonus of sending your book via Amazon is that you get a royalty for each one you buy, which brings down your overall cost. (This also applies for print versions you gift directly from Amazon, which will also save you that trip to the post office.) So what are you waiting for? Get pitching!


-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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Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

4,141 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, blogging, writing, book_reviews
1

There is a popular show on a streaming service that I had been anxious to watch, given the buzz that it had generated. So, I set aside a Saturday to watch as many episodes as I could squeeze in. I got my coffee, buttered some toast, sat down in front of the TV early in the morning, and started the first episode. It was compelling from the opening shot. I was sucked into it immediately. There was something about the show that I found relatable. It seemed almost familiar.


By the end of the first episode, I realized it was just that--familiar. It was similar to the theme and structure of a series of young adult novels I had written. It wasn't exactly the same, but the similarities were there. It was undeniable. I didn't want to think that someone had stolen my idea, but I still couldn't get the thought out of my mind. So, I did a little research on the show's creators and learned that they had been influenced by the same decade in which I came of age. Suddenly, it became clear. They hadn't stolen anything from me. We had just grown up during the same era. We shared the same cultural references.


It is possible to write a book that is similar to another book without having any knowledge of the story beforehand. It happens. Don't get discouraged if you discover your book is similar to someone else's. Keep writing. Publish. There is room for different takes on the same plot. Your writing style will be enough to set it apart.


-Richard

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


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Give Author Modeling a Try

 

How to be a Confident Writer

1,094 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, story_ideas
0

 

Today's branding rule is a simple one. Not that any of the rules have been particularly complicated, but this one is perhaps the easiest concept to grasp. You are an author, which means your brand is tied to your work. Otherwise it wouldn't be an author brand, it would be a personal brand.


The rule of productivity says the more books you have on the market, the bigger your brand becomes. That's it. As long as you do what you're supposed to do as an author--publish books--your brand has a greater likelihood of being discovered and growing.


Can you publish one book and establish yourself as a brand? It's been done, yes. Before Go Set a Watchman was published in 2015, Harper Lee was a well-established author after her one and only previous offering, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published in 1960. And I'm sure there are other examples too. Some may be recent inductees into the "overnight success" categories, but the truth is Harper Lee represents the exception to the rule. Such a situation is rare.


The rest of us must commit to writing and publishing as many books as we have in us as quickly as we can. The larger our catalogs of books available for sale to the public, the more opportunities we have of being discovered and solidifying our author brands. So, here&'s the shorthand version of the rule of productivity: Write. Publish. Grow your brand. Repeat. Write. Publish...you get the point.


-Richard

 

 

 

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

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The Power of Multiple Titles

 

You Have More Than One Book Inside of You

 

 

 

 

1,334 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, branding, author_brand, author_advice, author_identity
5

 

Do you know the difference between e.g. and i.e.? If your answer is no, or that you think you do but you're not sure, you're not alone. Here's a quick refresher on how to use them correctly:


E.g. means for example. For example:


  • There are many things to do on this island, e.g., snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving. (CORRECT)
  • There are many things to do on this island, for example, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving. (CORRECT)
  • I have many friends who love grammar as much as I do, e.g., Gloria, Alison, and Peggy. (CORRECT)
  • I have many friends who love grammar as much as I do, for example, Gloria, Alison, and Peggy. (CORRECT)


I.e. means that is. For example:


  • Kathy's three favorite hobbies, i.e., snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving, can all be done on this island. (CORRECT)
  • Kathy's three favorite hobbies, that is, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving, can all be done on this island. (CORRECT)
  • The place Gloria calls her second home, i.e., her office, is in Oakland. (CORRECT)
  • The place Gloria calls her second home, that is, her office, is in Oakland. (CORRECT)


When I hear people get tripped up, it's almost always by using i.e. when they should be using e.g., and rarely the other way around. For example:


  • The dessert menu was full of yummy options, i.e., chocolate cake and pudding. (INCORRECT)
  • The dessert menu was full of yummy options, e.g., chocolate cake and pudding. (CORRECT)
  • She gave us a long list of color choices, i.e., pink, yellow, and blue. (INCORRECT)
  • She gave us a long list of color choices, e.g., pink, yellow, and blue. (CORRECT)


If you're still confused, use this trick: e.g. looks like egg, and egg sounds like the beginning of example. That should help!


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Refer vs. Recommend

Grammar Tip: Don't Overcapitalize

1,693 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, grammar_tip
3

I am of the mind that when it comes to including a character's physical features in a book, the fewer the better. I know I am probably on the rare side of this debate, but even as a reader, I prefer scant physical descriptions as opposed to a detailed list of soft curves and sculpted physiques. If a description serves a narrative purpose, I'm fine with it, but a lot of times it feels as if physical descriptions are included to give the reader a sense of what characters look like, and it can come off as wedged prose that sticks out like a sore thumb.


I am more interested in how characters move--how they fidget nervously or conduct themselves in pressurized situations with a steady hand. To me, that makes characters more relatable than the color of their eyes or how chiseled their chin is.


Don't get me wrong. I will include physical descriptions, but most (not all) are about scars, flaws, and imperfections that have shaped the characters. I find warts much more interesting than beauty marks, so I tend to give my characters a lot.


Recently, my editor asked me to include a line or two about a character's physical description, and I did, but it was not easy. I kept fighting myself. Eventually, I allowed myself to sprinkle scant descriptors in passages throughout the novel, so it didn't appear as if I was force-feeding the reader a physical description of the character.


How about you? Where do you fall on the physical features debate? More or fewer?


-Richard

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


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Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

Connect with Your Characters

1,267 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization

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