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December 2017
1

In my old life, I sold broadcast video equipment. One of the products we sold was a character generator for live broadcasts. I was tabbed as the trainer for the equipment and sent to Waterloo in Toronto, Canada, to spend a week at company headquarters to learn as much as I could about the product. With the exception of the airline losing my luggage, it was well worth the trip. My company liaison gave me a tour of the facility and our first stop was research and development. I was shocked to see their primary competitor's product sitting in pieces on one of the work tables. My tour guide chuckled at my confused look and said, "That's what you call reverse engineering. Don't worry. We paid for the machine."

 

Turns out this is a common practice in the corporate world. What better way to know how to beat your competition than to know how they construct their product? You can do the same, even though you really don't have competition as an author. Remember, my philosophy about books is that a well-written book by a fellow author only helps you sell more books because readers always want more. It's a healthy addiction.

 

But, that doesn't mean you can't look at successful authors in your genre and deconstruct their brand to help you understand how to build yours. How often do they post to social media? Do they use email newsletters? Do they do a lot of personal appearances? Do they utilize personal videos?

 

Knowledge is power. You can learn a lot just by reverse engineering another author's brand.

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

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Reverse Journaling for Your Brand

Evaluating Your Author Brand

498 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, branding, author_marketing, author_brand, brand_identity
0

 

A general rule of thumb for using social media as a marketing tool is to follow the "80/20 rule." In other words, only 20 percent of your tweets should be about your work. The rest of the time you should provide interesting content that is relevant to your target audience. This makes sense, because think about it: If your Twitter feed is nothing but a steady stream of BUY MY BOOK, who is going to want to follow you?

 

Here are some examples of how to provide interesting content that is relevant to your target audience:

 

 

 

     If you're a life coach and your book is about finding one's calling:

 

  • Tweet an article about a grandfather who changed careers at age 60.
  • Tweet a survey about executives who wish they'd majored in something else.
  • Tweet a video of an interview with someone you find inspiring.

 

     If your novel is about a weekend adventure in New York City:

 

  • Tweet about your favorite restaurants in NYC.
  • Tweet a link to airfare specials to NYC.
  • Tweet an article about the best hot dog stands in NYC.

 

     If you've written a children's book:

 

  • Tweet a link to research about the importance of parents' reading to kids.
  • Tweet an article that mentions a celebrity's favorite book from his or her childhood.
  • Tweet (or conduct!) a survey of teachers' views on reading.


Do you see where I'm going with these examples? Each positions you as an expert in the subject matter of your book, even if your book is a novel. If your Twitter readers (think about those who see retweets, not just your followers) appreciate and enjoy the content you offer, maybe they will notice your bio and pick up a copy of your book. You never know, right? (Be sure to mention your book in your Twitter bio so they will see it!)


-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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Tips for Promoting Your Book on Twitter

 

Twitter Challenge: 21 Days, 21 Prompts

 

 

 

 

480 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, promotion, promotions, branding, social_media, author_brand
2

Title issues

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 26, 2017

 

What I am about to do is open a debate that could be so controversial that it will rock the literary world. There are passionate views on both sides of the issue, but I feel it is something that must be discussed. The conversation can help those novice writers struggling to know where to start.


Here we go.


I begin with a question. When do you come up with the title for your book?


I can tell you from my own experience that when I do "find" the title of a book, I write with a kind of unbridled creativity. The words come oh so much easier. Sometimes I find the title before I write the first word, and other times I find it after toying around with the characters and plot on the page. I can write aimlessly for 40 plus pages before the title comes to me, and when it does, it hits me like a bolt of lightning. I feel energized, and I can't wait to sit down in front of my laptop every day and carry out the theme indicted by the title. Sometimes that theme is subtle and sometimes it's implicit. It may not be obvious to anyone else, but I know the underlying meaning.


So, I open this controversial question here. When do you come up with the title for your book? Before your start writing? After you start writing? Or, heaven forbid, after you've finished your manuscript? There are no wrong answers. Everyone has their own process. What's yours? 


-Richard

 

 

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

 

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The title sets the tone

 

Can your Book Title Affect the Way You Write?

 

 

 

 

628 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: publishing, title, genre, author_advice, book_advice
0

Ernest Hemingway famously wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms anywhere from 39 to 47 times, depending on if you count the fragments of rewrites as a full rewrite or not. For a man with such a sparse writing style, that is a remarkable fact. He spent hours crafting and recrafting an ending, looking for the right words to make the final draft, and perhaps more importantly, find the right words to cut.

 

The alternative endings remained unread until 2012 when a version of Farewell to Arms was released with the original ending and the others that Hemingway discarded. One can make a reasoned argument that doing such a thing could be construed as a violation of Hemingway's art, but that aside, there is something to be learned from reading the alternative endings, especially if you are a writer.

 

You can see the emotion explicitly put into the ending, and then over the course of the rewrites, you see the emotional passages eliminated, but somehow leaving the emotional context behind. It's really remarkable and an actual record of the old writing tenet that less is more.

 

The alternative endings also show how deliberate Hemingway was in his writing. He didn't just sit down and pound out pages on his typewriter. He agonized over every word. Just because he was a literary legend doesn't mean writing came easy to him. He honed his craft and the page earned every word.

 

Yes, you can overthink and overwrite and spend too much time rewriting, but it's okay to be obsessive about your craft. Take your time and find the right words to use and cut. 


-Richard

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

 

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Rewrite for New Life

 

The rewriting steps

 

 

 

 

595 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, revisions, writing, drafts, rewriting, writing_advice
0

What is a blog tour?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 19, 2017

A blog tour, also sometimes called a virtual book tour, is when a number of book blogs post a review of a title during a set period of time, e.g. a couple weeks or a month, usually right around when the book launches. As with a traditional book tour, the goal of a virtual one is to create "buzz" by reaching avid readers (i.e. potential customers) through multiple channels. If they suddenly see your book popping up everywhere, they are more likely to check it out - or so the thinking goes. Along with a book review, the blog may also feature an author spotlight, a Q&A, a guest post, a giveaway, an excerpt of the book, or a combination of any of those things, depending on what you're willing to do.


If you're raising your eyebrows right now wondering what book blogs are, they're exactly what they sound like: blogs dedicated entirely (usually) to book reviews. I say "usually" because some also review additional products according to the taste of the blog's owner.


There are plenty of companies that will coordinate a blog tour for a fee (a simple Internet search will turn up many), but you can also set one up yourself if you have the time and the energy. All you need to do is reach out to book bloggers (ideally a few months before your book comes out) and politely ask them if they'd like to review your book. You can also offer to do a Q&A, a guest post, etc. (Click here to see my post on how to find book bloggers.) Always offer to email a MOBI or PDF file, which doesn't cost you anything. If a blogger will only accept print copies, be sure to request the book rate at the post office to keep your costs down.


It takes a lot of coordination and follow-up to set up a blog tour on your own, but you can do it. I promise!


-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?

Marketing tip: How to find book bloggers

519 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, blog_tour
1

Always be learning

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 18, 2017

When I was younger, I entered the world of sales for a company that sold professional grade audio visual equipment. I jumped into the job with enthusiasm because I was familiar with the equipment as an end user. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to sell the equipment I knew so well. I was wrong. I would soon learn that, as much as writing, selling is a craft.


My boss sat me down on my first day and gave me a quick tutorial on sales. "There are two things you need to know about sales," he said. "One, once you ask the customer if they are going to buy, shut up. Don't say another word. If you talk first, you've lost the sale. Two, remember your ABC's. Always Be Closing. Introduce yourself, get the customer's name, repeat the customer's name, make your pitch, and then ask them how they want to pay. The first time you ask, they're going to think you're crazy. The second time you ask, they're going to think you're a pushy salesman. The third time you ask, they're going to give you their credit card number." That was it. That was my only training before I got on the phones and started practicing the craft of sales.


When I turned to writing and publishing as a career, I realized the ABC principle could be applied to branding because branding, as much as sales and writing, is a craft. Instead of closing, I would substitute the concept of learning. Always Be Learning. It's the best way to grow your brand. Research and read about branding. When you run across a branding principle three times, incorporate it into your brand-building strategy. It may work. It may not, but the point is to constantly expose yourself to new ideas. It's the only way to structure a brand that can stand the test of time.


Always Be Learning.


-Richard


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


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The Lasting Brand

Evaluating Your Author Brand

607 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions
0

Word by Word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 13, 2017

If you haven't read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's memoir and book on writing, I highly recommend it. The title refers to an incident involving her brother when they were children. He had a report on birds due the next day, and he hadn't written a word. He gathered all his research material and immediately became paralyzed by fear. The enormity of the project just became too much. That's when his father put his arm around him and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

 

The second I read that passage I had a moment of clarity that I have never experienced before. I had never heard a more accurate description of how to write a book. It really is that simple. "Bird by bird," or to put it more accurately, word by word.

 

Writing a book is an enormous task. Even if it is a labor of love, it is still an enormous task. Sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated, it is hard to keep going. Like Anne Lamott's brother, you can become immobilized by the prospect of tackling such a big project. The only thing you can do is take it word by word.

 

Don't complicate the book writing process. Yes, plot, character development, dialogue, they're all aspects of writing a novel, but when you get down to it, they consist of words, and words are your specialty. They are your purview. Just take a deep breath, picture Anne Lamott's father putting his arm around her terrified brother and saying those magic words, "Bird by bird, buddy."

 

-Richard

 

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

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Writing a word a day

Increase your productivity with interval writing

585 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: book, publishing, writing, draft, writing_advice
1

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is free for a basic account, so if you don't already have a profile, I highly recommend creating one. Here are some ways to promote your writing along with your other professional accomplishments:


Include the cover image of your book as the background to your headshot


To change the blue template background that appears on most LinkedIn profiles, click on the little pencil on the right side of your profile. That will open the Edit Intro window. Once inside the window, click on the little pencil on the upper right side to upload a file from your computer. (See my LinkedIn profile for an example.)


Describe your writing style and website in your headline and/or summary


The headline appears directly below your headshot, and the summary appears a few inches below that (beneath the city in which you live). To edit either or both, click on the little pencil on the right side of your profile. For example, my headline says "Bestselling novels, about life, love and friendship," and my summary says, "I write contemporary fiction and occasionally give speeches on the crazy story behind how I became an author: www.mariamurnane.com." (Depending on your profession, you might prefer to have your headline about your day job and your summary about your book.)


Add writer/author to your work history


Even if you have a full-time job, why not cite that you're also an author in your work history? Scroll down to the Experience section of your profile and click on the little pencil to open the Edit Experience window. When asked to name an employer for your author position, add your author website.


Add your book (or books) to your profile


Scroll down the Accomplishments section and click on the "+" icon to open the window. One of the options to click is Publications. Here you can include a description of your book(s), as well as links to purchase pages on Amazon.


Note: In addition to individual profiles, LinkedIn also hosts countless private groups that could prove helpful in providing networking opportunities, e.g. college alumni, fraternity/sorority clubs, writing groups, etc. It's worth poking around to see what you can find!


-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 big is your digital footprint?

Are you making this marketing mistake?

480 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, linkedin
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Sharing

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 11, 2017

 

Do you know what is at the heart of your brand or of any brand? It has nothing to do with your appearance. It has nothing to do with your style. It has nothing to do with your platform. It has nothing to do with your books. I should say it has nothing to do with any of these things while simultaneously having to do with all of these things. This thing that is at the heart of your brand is sharing.


Your brand is defined by what you share. Whether it's information, a video, a link, or a photo, what you share defines how you interact with your community and not just your community. What you share has the potential to reach beyond your community when your friends and followers share it with their friends and followers. In fact, what you share and not your books may be how many people are first introduced to you. Once they themselves have joined your community, they will hopefully read your books out of curiosity.


So, given that sharing is at the heart of your brand, what you share and how often you share are extremely important to the success of your brand. First, what you share should reflect the persona you are trying to establish. Second, you should be sharing as frequently as possible. Think of spreading the word about your brand as a numbers game. The more you share the more likely it is your brand will be discovered and grow.


Sharing, it's not just a great lesson to teach your kids. It is the heart of your brand. 


-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

 

Building an author brand: you are what you share

 

 

 

 

291 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, promotion, branding, author_brand, author_platform
1

 

We have established that an author brand is not a corporate brand and it isn't quite a personal brand. It's a hybrid. You are selling a product and that product is tied to your brand, but the public has certain expectations when it comes to author brands that they wouldn't accept in a corporate brand. They expect authors to be much more candid than corporations, one might even say they expect author brands to show more emotions than corporate brands. Don't get me wrong, corporate brands do have an emotional identity, but it's usually a safe emotional identity. Author brands are given more leeway to be more expressive.


Do you know your emotional identity, and does your emotional identity match your genre? Before you answer that question, remember that I constantly preach that your author brand should be nothing more than a reflection of who you really are. Don't manufacture an online persona to match what you think you readers expect from you. For example, if you write horror novels, don't feel pressured to post macabre thoughts and creepy poetry to convince your readers that you are your genre. Be yourself.


But, your emotional identity is tied to more than how you express yourself online. It's also tied to what you share. Horror book and movie reviews, horror-themed convention and book fair news, and Halloween events: these are all horror-themed shares that will help establish your emotional identity without having to fake a "haunting" persona. The same strategy can be used for any genre and subgenre. Yes, be expressive, much more so than a corporate brand, but don't fake it. Be true to yourself.


If you've never asked yourself if your brand's emotional identity matches your genre, it's time to do so. 

 

-Richard

 

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

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You are the brand not your book

 

Building your author brand

 

 

 

 

580 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writers, genre, branding, brand_identity, author_advice
1

In a recent post, I explained the importance of obstacles as a way to bring conflict into your story. Another way to create conflict is to consider multiple ways a character could view a situation—then have her choose the worst one. Why do this? Because how your character responds to this choice shows your readers who that character truly is.


For example, let's say that Gloria, your protagonist, has just exited a deli with a bag of warm bagels when she spots Alison, a classmate from her weekly photography class, walking half a block ahead. Gloria picks up her phone and dials Alison's number, only to see Alison screen the call and toss her phone into her purse without answering it.


What does Gloria think about this situation?


If she thinks, "Alison's probably thinking about something important so doesn't have time to chat right now," where's the conflict?


However, imagine that Gloria thinks, "Alison just sent me to voice mail! Maybe she doesn't like me!" Now you have something interesting for your readers to chew on.


The way you have Gloria respond to her line of thought will show your readers what kind of person she is. Does she throw a bagel at Alison and make a joke about it? Does she go back to her office, shut her door, and eat the entire bag of bagels? Does she avoid Alison in class, or does she make a point of sitting next to her and chatting her up? Those questions are for you to answer, but how you choose to do so is a wonderful way to provide insight into Gloria.


-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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Advice on Character Development

First person or third person? That is the question.

450 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_flaws
0

Today's blog topic can be best summarized by bestselling author Neil Gaiman.


Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there'll always be better writers than you and there'll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you.


Allow me to make two points about this quote:


1. Gaiman isn't suggesting you write without confidence. He's not saying you aren't a good-to-great writer by saying there will always be better and smarter writers than you. I believe he's saying putting all your efforts into being the best writer on the planet is fruitless because ours is an industry that is based on the opinions of readers and those opinions are as varied as snowflakes. In essence, trying to get everyone to love you by trying to be brilliant leads to poor writing.


2. Gaiman is saying that the only thing that you can do brilliantly is being you. There is no one on the planet that can "out you" you when it comes to writing. Don't try to write a better horror novel. Try to write a horror novel that expresses your artistic nature, one that entertains you and stays true to the development of your characters. The same advice goes for any genre. Sure, the influence of the writers you admire and inspired you to be a writer will show in you writing, but there will be something slightly different about your writing, and that something different is you.


Be what other writers can't be. Be you.


-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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The Great American Novel

You are the change that keeps the publishing industry relevant

568 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, genre

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