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November 2017
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What I'm about to write, I've written before, but it bears repeating. Every NaNoWriMo it becomes an especially relevant topic of discussion, and that is when to self-critique your manuscript. My feeling is clear on this. Your first draft is supposed to be terrible. The first draft is essentially a blueprint. That's not to say you should set out to write something incomprehensible. Write your story as you feel it. Entertain yourself. Get the idea out of your head.

 

You can repair what you've written during subsequent rewrites. The first draft is where you develop your idea. It's where the little flakes of your story build and build and create an accumulation of characters, settings, dialogue, and plot that amounts to a complete story. Let it out with passion. As I said, write your story as you feel it. I use the word "feel" purposefully. The first draft is when you are closest to feeling the story you are writing. Stopping to critique your story as your creating the first draft interrupts those feelings.

 

So, I implore you. Write. Make mistakes. Be careless. Let the typos fly. Make your first draft embarrassingly bad. It is for your eyes only. Your test-readers, your editor, everyone else will see your first rewrite. But this first draft, it's just for you. It's a data dump straight from the space in your brain that houses your imagination to the page. Let your fingers fly across your keyboard and don't look back until you write “The End.”

 

-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

Writing tip: when you get stuck, use all caps and move on

 

 

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381 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: revisions, writing, draft, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice
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More than once in the past few weeks I've heard the word "reactionary" used to describe someone who reacts or has reacted to something. I flinch each time this happens, because the word that should be used in these cases is "reactive."


Reactive vs. Reactionary


  • Reactive means responsive, or reacting to something.
    • His reactive nature drove him to address the problem before it had a chance to develop into something serious.

 

  • Reactionary means ultraconservative in politics.
    • His reactionary style invigorated his conservative followers while infuriating his detractors.


Do you see how confusing the two could inadvertently lead to a problem in today's environment?


Here are some other words that sound quite similar but have different meanings:


Historic vs. Historical


  • Historic means having great importance or lasting meaning.
    • Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was a historic moment for mankind.
  • Historical means something based on facts of history.
    • Gloria's book is a historical romance set in the English countryside one hundred years ago.


Literally vs. Figuratively


  • Literally means in a literal (true/real) manner.
    • Gloria wanted to buy a pack of gum, but there were literally zero people working behind the counter.
  • Figuratively means in a figurative (not real) manner.
    • I'm speaking figuratively when I say that Gloria thought Dave was going to make her die laughing.


One of my closest friends uses "literally" when she's not speaking literally SO FREQUENTLY that it (figuratively) drives me nuts. For example:


  • I was so hungry this morning that I literally thought I was going to starve to death. (INCORRECT)
    • Why it's incorrect: My friend might have been hungry, but it's highly unlikely that she truly believed she was going to starve to death.


What words do you hear being used incorrectly? Please share 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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Don't Cook Your Family, Rachael!

Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

474 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, grammar_tip
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The selfie paradox

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 27, 2017

 

We all know what a selfie is, right? In case you've never heard of the favorite marketing tool of every self-obsessed celebrity over the last fifteen years or so, here's how Wikipedia defines the term "selfie":


A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services....They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. "Selfie" typically refers to self-portrait photos taken with the camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, as opposed to those taken by using a self-timer or remote.


Now, 99.999% of you didn't need that definition. You know what a selfie is, and you probably have a very strong opinion regarding the act of one taking a picture of oneself and posting it on the internet for the world to see. It just seems unnecessary.


I have both decried the selfie culture and participated in the selfie culture. I won't attempt to explain my own hypocrisy because there is no rational explanation that is satisfactory. I simply know the value of selfies when it comes to branding for indie authors. You are the brand. Brands need a face, and what better face than your own face. So, I have turned on the front-facing camera on my phone and snapped a picture or two or three or more over the years. But, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, I have never donned a duck-face in my entire life. My selfies are usually reserved for events or vacation spots. I may have even snapped a picture of myself in excruciating artistic pain as I rewrite an old manuscript. The horror!


My point is, don't be so fast to ditch the selfies because you just can't bring yourself to be that self-absorbed. They are valuable tools for building an author brand and building an author brand is one of your primary jobs as an indie author.


-Richard

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


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The Marketing Tool Many Authors Neglect

Six-Second Branding with Apps

452 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, publishing, writing, promotions, selfie
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Has it hit you yet? You are an author. No. You're more than that. You are an indie author. You possess something authors working under the restraints of a book contract don't possess. You have freedom. Freedom to write and publish whatever you wish. There is no one to tell you no or question your every literary move. You are in complete control.


With this power comes great responsibility. You have a sacred contract to fulfill as an indie author and that is to take advantage of your freedom and honor your independence. Take risks. Give readers something they could never get from a traditional publishing house.


I'm not suggesting you arbitrarily take a risk. I'm suggesting that you not always make the commercial choice. Write what your heart tells you to write. In essence, be true to yourself. It's what will set your books apart from other authors.


You not only owe it to you and your readers. You owe it to the industry. Change is the key to not just sustaining the publishing industry. It's the key to growing the publishing industry, and if traditional publishers are sticking to formulaic storylines and cookie-cutter characters, there is only one place that all important change will come from, you and your fellow indie authors.


So, I ask you again. Has it hit you yet? You are an indie author, and that makes you a pivotal part of the entire publishing industry. The constant state of change needed to keep the industry relevant starts with you.


-Richard

 

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

 

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Living the Indie Author Dream

 

Your Job as an Indie Author

 

 

 

 

970 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing
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You never know when you're going to meet someone who wants to buy your book, so it's good to always have a copy handy. But not everyone carries around cash or a checkbook, so I highly recommend the following three payment options:


  1. PayPal
  2. Venmo
  3. Square


PayPal

If you have a free PayPal account (www.paypal.com), others who have a PayPal account can send money directly from their account to yours without a transaction fee. They can also send money through a credit card, in which case you can decide if you or they pay the transaction fee. (This is a judgment call you will have to make.) With PayPal you can also send someone a "payment request" via email, which is essentially a stripped-down invoice.


Venmo

All the rage with Millennials and also free, Venmo (www.venmo.com) account holders can send each other money on their mobile phones at no cost by entering in the recipient's phone number, email address, or Venmo username into the Venmo app. Payments can also be made through the Venmo website.


Square

With a free Square (www.square.com) card reader that plugs into your mobile phone, you can swipe credit cards for a small per-transaction fee. As with PayPal, it's up to you to decide whether to pay the fee or pass it along to the buyer. In my experience, most people are happy to pay a little extra for the convenience of using a card.


If these options seem like too much of a hassle, look at it this way: You want to make it easy for those who express a sincere interest in buying your book to do so. Yes, they can always go online later and order a copy, but even those with the best of intentions can easily get busy and forget. I'd put that percentage in the ballpark of...very high. Why take that chance?


-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: always carry a book with you

A holiday book marketing idea


557 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, publishing, writing, payment, promotions
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Learning the ins and outs of marketing a book can be a daunting task. There is so much to learn and so few opportunities to put that knowledge to use. It takes months to write a book and weeks to rewrite a book and get it ready for publication. That leaves you a relatively short amount of time to put your marketing acumen to use before your focus is shifted to your next book.


You need to keep your marketing mind sharp, and the best way to do that is to actively market a book, but it doesn't have to be your book. Why not use that marketing know-how and market a book for another indie author?  Partner with another author, and share your knowledge. Not for payment, but for the experience.


I know, I know. You have your own book or books to worry about. You have writing to do. You have a day job, a family, friends, etc. Who has time to help another indie author market a book?


Don't think of this as extracurricular activity. This is part of the education of an indie author. This is how you hone your skills and grow your marketing knowledge. This is how you help market your own book. This is also how you create a partner. Someone who will feel the tug to help you market your book when you publish your next tome.


In short, this isn't more work for you to tackle. This is an opportunity for you to sell more books. 


-Richard

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


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Uniting author brands

Selling others sells yourself

392 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing
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I have wrestled with the notion that email lists are still relevant in today's social media driven world for some time now. I am rarely excited when I get an email from one of the many groups, stores, and artists that have somehow gotten my email address. And by "somehow," I know exactly how. In my dazed and confused consumerism state of mind, I gave them my email thinking I would receive something of value from them in my inbox. I now realize these emails are almost never value-based. They are simply attempts to trigger my state of consumerism. And, in the end, I feel used.

 

Having said all that, I have come to the conclusion that email lists can be useful. I don't think they should be your primary source of marketing, but I do think they have a place in your marketing strategy. The key to making them successful is to think of one's inbox as a sacred place. One where trust can be strengthened between an author and reader. Don't use your email lists to sell something. Don't violate the reader's trust in that way. Use your email lists to inform your readers, and use it sparingly. I get emails from some establishments three and four times a day. Before I eventually take the time to unsubscribe from these lists, I will continue to do what I do now. Delete them without reading them. DO NOT ABUSE YOUR EMAIL LIST!

 

Make receiving an email from you a special occasion. Use your email list sparingly in order to make it more effective.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

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Is email marketing effective?

Exclusive versus inclusive

649 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, ad, email, social_media, email_marketing, author_advice
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There's so much more that goes into being an "author" than just writing. There's also rewriting, researching, editing, proofreading, etc. Then there's the marketing side of things, which is a completely different beast. Social media alone can feel like a bottomless well of "things I should be doing."


My proclivity is to bounce around between various functions, a habit I'm trying to get away from because I'm much more productive when I focus on one thing at a time. For example, I've learned that if I'm writing a scene about a dinner party and stop to look up a lasagna recipe to make sure I get it right, BOOM! Suddenly I'm checking my email, looking at my Twitter feed, checking flights to go visit my parents, making a snack, etc. My momentum is lost, and I didn't even do it out of procrastination.


Does this happen to you?


One trick I've learned to keep myself focused is to use ALL CAPS to remind myself that I need to look something up later. For example, my pages might be sprinkled with the following:


  • INSERT SOMETHING ABOUT HOW TO PREPARE A LASAGNA.
  • HAVE I USED THIS DESCRIPTION BEFORE?
  • WHICH HOTEL IS ACROSS FROM CAESARS ON THE LAS VEGAS STRIP?
  • DID SHE ALREADY WEAR THE PINK DRESS?
  • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FLY TO PARIS?


In each of the above examples, if I'd stopped to look things up, I'd have fallen down the rabbit hole, guaranteed. By using the ALL CAPS technique, I can wear my writing hat now and exercise my creativity without interruption. Then later, when I'm ready to move to a new function, I can put on my research or editing hat, revisit those caps, and get back to work.


-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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Three writing tips for aspiring authors

Writing tip: Start before you're ready

628 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writing, book_marketing, productivity
1

Make a change

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 13, 2017

I have been experiencing a bit of a dry spell lately. To be frank, I have been inundated by stress. I have a strong suspicion that I'm not alone on this. We all face stress, and we all deal with it in different ways. Writing used to be how I dealt with it, but when you sit down at the keyboard and nothing of significance happens, a new kind of stress hits you, and it compounds your problem. Your confidence in your imagination begins to slip, and there is nothing worse for a writer to face than a lack of confidence.


Then a few days ago a funny thing happened on my way to total self-annihilation. I took a train trip. This is not my normal mode of transportation. I normally jump in my car and hit the highways, but it just made more sense for me to take the train for this particular excursion. As I sat in my back-gnarling seat, a flash of an image came to me. It happened quite by accident. I didn't take my seat with the purpose of jump starting my imagination, but there it was, a genuine story idea.


So, why did it happen? How did this story come to me? I can't say for sure, but I think it's because I made a change to my normal routine. I found myself in an unfamiliar setting, one where I lacked any kind of control over my environment, and my brain just sort of reset. That's the only way I can explain it.


Here's my advice to you if you are so stressed that you can't write. Make a change. One in which you give up control of your surroundings. One in which you are forced to be a simple "passenger." If my theory is right, your brain will reset, and your writer's block will come tumbling down.


-Richard

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


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How to Kick-Start Creativity

Write o'clock

915 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, stress, writer's_block
1

Word count

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 8, 2017

Years ago I struck up a conversation with a writer who proceeded to tell me about her book. As I am wont to do, I asked her the word count of her manuscript. She answered, "Penguin." I should mention that she was French, and there was clearly a language barrier. After a long awkward pause in the conversation, I asked the question again and got a less satisfying answer. She didn't know.

 

I tell you this story to point out that if you ever talk to me about your book, I am going to ask you the word count of your book. To me, word count matters. It tells me a lot about you as a writer and it also gives me a little insight into your book.

 

Knowing the word count of your book, tells me you've paid attention to the construction of your book. Depending on your answer, it tells me if you've abided by the unwritten rules of word count when it comes to genre. It tells me how engaged you are as a writer. 

 

There are a few times where word count isn't a huge deal. If you've written an illustrated children's book, word count doesn't matter. If you've written a book of poetry, word count isn't an issue. The same is true of graphic novels, and a select few other genres.

 

Know the word count of your book, especially if you're going to spend an evening with other authors. If someone with a publishing background asks you how long your book is, don't give them a page count or number of chapters. And whatever you do, don't answer penguin. 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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General Word Count Guidelines

Using Word Count to Stay on Track

997 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, genre, word_count, writing_tips, author_advice
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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is here! Aspiring authors around the world are challenging themselves to complete the first draft of a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. That's no easy feat, especially if you have a day job, but it can be done. The key is to put yourself on a schedule and stick to it.


For example, you could be:


A)   Writing 1,600-1,700 words each day, including weekends

B)   Writing 2,500 words each Saturday and Sunday, plus 1,300-1,400 words each weekday

C)   Writing 5,000 words each weekend, plus 1,300-1,400 words each weekday

D)  Pounding out 12,500 words each weekend


When I'm writing a novel, I give myself a daily word count quota, Monday through Friday, and don't let myself go sleep until I've reached it. That way I don't get behind and stress myself out. (I tend to get stressed out easily, so this approach works for me.) If I wrote on the weekends, my daily quota would be considerably lower, but I need that mental break to stay fresh and engaged. Other writers prefer writing every single day. Do you see my point? We're all different, and that's perfectly fine! What's the point of trying to conform to someone else's schedule if it doesn't work for you?


Some authors like to put a detailed outline in place first before they write a single word, while others say outlines are a complete waste of time. Again, I believe that you should do what works for your creative spirit and not worry about what anyone else says. Writing novels is an art, not a science.


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, please share your approach in the comments. I'd love to see how varied the responses are so we can all learn from each other!


-Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg


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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The Milestones You Should Track during NaNoWriMo

How to Write a Novel in a Month

 

573 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, nanowrimo, word_count, writing_strategy
1

Setting goals

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 6, 2017

Before you set out on a journey, it's a good idea to know your destination, otherwise you'll never know when you've arrived. The same can be said about achieving your goals. You're never going to know if you've achieved your goals if you don't know what your goals are. It's just simple logic.


You can't develop a marketing strategy until you define what will make your marketing efforts a success. Well, you can, but you shouldn't. Not defining what your marketing goals are will leave you frustrated and unfulfilled. Marketing should be by the numbers. Meaning, decide how many friends and followers you want in your social media circle. How many books do you want to sell? How many views do you want for a video? Know how to define your success so you can celebrate and improve.


Don't choose arbitrary goals. As an example, don't simply declare that you're going to sell a million books and then design a marketing plan that you think will achieve that goal. That's not how it's done. Set numerous goals. How many friends and followers do you want to connect with in the next three months? How many groups can you join and promote your book over the next three months? How many videos can you produce and post over the next three months? Set a goal for every platform and segment of your marketing strategy. You have at your disposal a world of information. I am, of course, talking about the Internet. Do your due diligence, and find realistic goals. I repeat, don't set arbitrary goals.


Set your goals and know what you can count as successes along the way.


-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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Setting Goals for Your Brand

A Marketing Calendar

705 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, marketing_strategy, setting_goals
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Set a goal

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 1, 2017

If you are reading this blog, there's a better than good chance you call yourself a writer. More than that, you love to write. It's a calling. We write because we feel compelled to do so. That doesn't mean we are always chomping at the bit to sit down and set words to page. There are times when we just don't have the physical and/or mental energy to do so. Let's face it, life is exhausting, and it can make finding the inspiration to write hard from time to time. The good news is there is a simple fix to those days when you just can't write. The bad news is it will take discipline.


Set a deadline. If you've ever participated in NANOWRIMO, you know the power of having a deadline. The key to making it work hinges on having a target word count. In the case of NANOWRIMO, the target word count is 50,000 words. It's a good start, and depending on the category and genre of your book, it's a perfectly acceptable word count. But if you're writing a fantasy novel, for instances, 50,000 words won't do if you want to meet genre expectations.


Once you have your target word count, set a daily word count total that is realistic. Only you know your schedule, so for me to suggest a daily word count would be arbitrary and unfair. My only suggestion is to not make it too aggressive, and when you reach the word count for the day, stop. Even if you have a flood of thoughts on where to go next in your story, stop. Walk away from a writing session knowing where you're going to start the next writing session.


To overcome those times you just don't want to write, give yourself a manageable deadline and feel the satisfaction of meeting your goal step by step.    


-Richard

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

 

You may also be interested in…

 

The milestones you should track during NaNoWriMo

 

Stage three of writing – the daily word count theories

 

 

 

 

697 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: publishing, writing, nanowrimo, craft, writing_advice, deadlines

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