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A Day for Advice

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 16, 2016

 

Are you ready for Writing Advice Wednesday or Writing Tip Tuesday or Fun with Words Friday? No, not here, not on this blog. I'm talking about on your own blog. Or, if you don't have a blog (why don't you?), then somewhere on your social media sphere of influence.

 

I'm a big proponent of giving to grow your brand. By that, I mean sharing advice without expectation of a quid pro quo. If you've sold a book, you are a professional author, and you have experience. There's no benchmark to reach before you can claim your professional moniker. Receiving payment for your written work is benchmark enough.

 

Pick a day of the week and commit to sharing writing advice on that day every week. Make it a regular thing, so people will grow to expect it. It doesn't have to be a long, elaborate post. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. The only reason I would advise against doing so is because I don't want this to be a stressful thing for you. I don't want you to burn yourself out and lose interest in the strategy. If keeping it short and concise keeps you interested, keep it short and concise.


 

It doesn't even have to be your advice. For instance, I often pass along a paraphrased piece of advice Stephen King once said, that solid character development transcends genre, but I always pass it along crediting Mr. King as the source of the advice.


 

I'm not asking you to strain brain cells to come up with this advice. I'm asking you to draw from your experience and research and share. That's it. It's simple, but it can be an invaluable brand-building tool.


-Richard


 

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

 


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Branding 101: What is Author Branding?

 

Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

 

 

 

 

1,067 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, blog, blogging, social_media, author_brand, marketing_ideas, author_advice
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If   you've got a vacation on the calendar this year, might I suggest you make it a working vacation? Not an ugly work vacation, but a fun, author's work vacation. Use the opportunity to make contacts in the area to help expand your network and grow your brand. Here are a few suggestions on organizations to contact. Note: Contact them at least four to six weeks before your visit. Definitely don't wait until the day before you are scheduled to leave.

 

  1. Local Artists Associations: Even smallish communities today have associations dedicated to promoting local artists. While it's true these organizations normally cater to the needs of local artists, they may be open to working with you in finding contacts to do various local signings. You could even organize a mini book tour in art galleries in the area
  2. Visitors Center: If you're about to visit a town that thrives on tourism, chances are they have a visitors center that would be happy to share information with you. They can provide you with information on various hot spots for the literary minded. They may even have names of businesses that would be interested in hosting a book signing. At the very least, they will have a calendar of events in their area that may include festivals and trade fairs where you can set up a table with your book
  3. Libraries: Libraries don't just house books for patrons to check out and read. They host events for writers and readers of all stripes. They are looking for ways to bring people into their facilities. What better way than to host a reading from a visiting author?
  4. Writers Groups: No matter the size of the community you'll be visiting, I'm willing to bet it is home to a writers group or two. Any of the previous organizations might be able to point you in the right direction, or you could contact theaters in the area to find out if they have open workshops for playwrights. It's always good to make contacts with other writers. Since you'll be visiting the area anyway, you might as well make new friends who share your passion for writing and books.

 

Vacations aren't just great for relaxing. If you're an author, they are a perfect opportunity to get your face out there and expand your brand in the real world.

 

-Richard

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

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Social Networking Sells Your Brand

 

Find Advocates with Free Books

 

 

 

 

895 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, self-publishing, writing, promotions, branding, author_tips
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Distractions. They're so…distracting. They can be a writer's worst enemy. Here are three ways to help you avoid them and get you on the road to finishing your novel.


  1. Unplug from the Internet. Social media, while an invaluable resource to build an author brand, is also a huge time killer. Checking Facebook or Twitter or any of the other half-dozen sites for updates can become addictive. You have to make a contract with yourself that when it's writing time, it's not time to compulsively check social media. It's a hard contract to keep, but it gets easier over time.
  2. Reward yourself with distractions. I know that sounds a bit counterintuitive, but hear me out. Give yourself a word count goal for the day. Make it fairly significant. Now, divide that count into four smaller goals. When each goal is met throughout the day, allow yourself a distraction for 10 or 15 minutes. You choose which kind. It doesn't matter. This type of reward system can spur you along and keep you more focused.
  3. Schedule around distractions. Michael Crichton used to? wake up at four in the morning to start his writing day. There aren't a lot of distractions at that time in the morning--nothing ongoing at any rate. If mornings aren't your thing, take your chances with a late, late night schedule. While this strategy is a bit more extreme, if you have kids, this may be the only one available to you that makes sense.

 


Whatever method you use to rid your life of distractions, practice it with regularity so it becomes a habit that will make those distractions less…distracting.


-Richard

 


 

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


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Being Online = Not Writing

 

Is the Early Bird More Creative?

 


 


1,149 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, publishing, writing, overcoming_distractions, distractions
1

Last fall I had an interesting encounter with an indie author, and it inspired me to write a post for this space. At the time of our meeting he gave me a little postcard about the book he had written, so after I finished the blog I fished out the postcard so I could send him a link. The postcard, however, didn't have any contact information, so I went to Amazon to find his email address or website link on his author page. Unfortunately, he didn't have an author page, so I did a search to see if he had a website. Again, nothing. All I could find was the listing for his book, so I included that in my post. Not knowing what else to do, I moved on to my next blog topic.


 

The other day I received an email from him. Somehow he'd stumbled across the blog post and wanted to let me know how thrilled he was about it. I was thrilled too, because I'd felt bad that I hadn't been able to reach him.


 

Are you easy to find online? Take my experience and extrapolate to a much larger stage. Let's say that instead of just writing a post about this man, I'd wanted to invite him to speak to an audience of hundreds--or even thousands. Or what if I'd wanted to order a large amount of signed copies of his book? Or what if I'd wanted to interview him on TV?

 

 

If you don't have an author website, at the very least you should have an author page on Amazon. (Here's how to set one up.) There you can write a little blurb about yourself--and include your email address!

 

 

 

To give you an example of an Amazon author page, here's mine. It's a simple, easy way for your readers to find (and contact!) you, so take advantage of it. You never know who might be looking for you!


 

-Maria


 

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


 

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A Few Reasons to Have a Website

 

Marketing Tip--Business Cards

 

 

 

 

1,355 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotion, writing, internet_presence
2

The word of the day is "portable." It's a word you wouldn't think has much to do with the marketing world, but it's a concept that fits with the way people communicate today. Whether it's social media or texting, people are primarily using volleys of short messages to communicate. If you want your book to be part of that conversation you have to develop a marketing message that is portable enough to fit into this environment.


Today, more than ever, the one-sentence book description is essential to spreading the word about your book. Impossible, you say? There's just no way you can convey the complexity of your multi-layered story into one sentence, you insist? I'm here to tell you it can and must be done, and you do it by ignoring the complexity of your story. You want to concentrate on the main theme and the main theme only. Forget all the layers but one--the surface.


What is your story's hook? What was the "What if" question that compelled you to start writing? That is what you will build your portable marketing message around. The intricacies of character don't matter. A hint of a possible plot twist doesn't matter. There are only two things that you want to make clear in your one-sentence description: the main plot and the genre. Identifying the genre in such a small window may prove to be tricky, but it's just a matter of finding the right adjectives.


To be frank, making your marketing message portable enough to fit into today's world of texting, tweeting, and updating isn't easy, but it is well worth the time and the effort. Be concise. Be informative. Be portable.

 

 

 

-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook

 

I'm Sure Your Book Is Wonderful, But Don't Tell Me So

 

 

 

 

1,153 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, publishing, writing, media, promotions, social, hook, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, writing_tips, marketing_advice
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I receive a lot of emails from authors who read this blog, and by far their biggest reason for getting in touch is to express how discouraged they feel about their book sales. To let all you know that you're not alone, I thought I'd share a personal story.


A couple weeks ago I received a text message from one of my best girlfriends. I won't quote it directly, but in it she said that she was embarrassed to tell me that she'd finally read my sixth book, which came out a year and a half ago.


I had to laugh at her message. You know why? Because I dedicated the book to her. She even came to one of my launch parties and co-signed a few copies for fun. But despite all that, it wasn't until recently that she actually sat down to read the book. She said she tore through it in three days and loved it, which was great to hear, but the reality is that she's just not a big reader. It's nothing personal against me, it's just how she is, and I understand that. That's what you have to keep in mind when your book comes out. Just because you wrote a book, not everyone you know is going to rush out and buy it, much less read it or tell their friends to read it.

 

 

That's what I try to convey to disillusioned authors who contact me. It's so easy to get discouraged, but you have to keep your chin up and keep doing whatever you can to spread the word about your book. Yes, you're going to feel disappointed at times, but that comes with the territory, and you just can't let it stop you. If I had let it stop me, I wouldn't be where I am right now.

 

 

-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 Ways to Increase Your Opportunity for Sales

 

Book Marketing Takes Persistence

 

 

 

 

1,065 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, promotion, writing, book_sales
1

You may be a master at developing a thrilling plot or creating a sizzling romantic story line. You may have even become a maestro of horror and the macabre. It’s possible that you’ve nailed every element that defines your chosen genre. But, have you committed to developing the one aspect of story that tends to show up in every genre? Are you bringing the funny to your writing?

 

Humor helps balance your story. We, as storytellers, are responsible for creating conflict. It’s our job to turn up the heat and put our characters through an emotional wringer. That kind of intensity needs to have a release valve to help the reader settle into the story--to give them a breather from all that conflict. Here are what I call my three "stays" of adding humor to a novel:


  1. Stay away from cheap humor: The last thing you want to do is to have your readers roll their eyes at your attempt at humor. Cheap humor is the surest way to start their eyes rolling. What's cheap humor? It's any laugh you can see coming. The laughs with the highest value are the ones the reader will never expect.
  2. Stay away from pop culture references: Including a pop culture reference to solicit a laugh may work great at the time you write and publish your book, but will it be relevant in a year or two? For your answer, think backward and see what the shelf life was for pop culture references a year--two--five years ago.
  3. Stay in character: Make sure the right character is delivering the laugh, and make sure that he or she is not delivering the laugh in the author's voice. Authors sometimes get so eager to add humor to their stories that they force it, and when they do, their voice slips into the narrative. Stay on voice.

 

I realize not everyone is funny. That's okay. No one expects you to be Louis C.K. or Richard Pryor. They are expecting a little reality in the form of levity in your fictional tale. Humor can be the perfect dose of realism to keep them engaged.

 

-Richard

 

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

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Give Your Characters Virtual Depth

Taking a Character from Good to Bad

935 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, humor
1

It's that time of year again: the beginning! Why not start yours and join me in making the following resolution?

 

In 2016 I will do (at least) one thing every day to promote my book(s).

 

I know that marketing is a foreign language to many authors, and even those who are familiar with it don't usually enjoy it. But if you want people who aren't your friends and family to buy your book, it's something you simply have to do.

 

If right now you're saying to yourself, Okay I'm on board with the resolution, but what specifically should I do?, here are some suggestions--some broad and some granular--that should get you going:

 

  • Create or update your Amazon author page
  • Craft or update a short, compelling bio
  • Create or update a snappy description of your book
  • Check all of the above for grammatical errors
  • Update your headshot
  • Create a website
  • Create a Goodreads profile
  • Insert a hyperlink to your Amazon page or website in your email signature
  • Send a signed book to your college alumni magazine
  • Research local alumni chapters of your alma mater and reach out to them--many have monthly newsletters
  • Research book clubs near you--then offer to attend the meeting if they choose your book
  • Put a few copies of your book in the trunk of your car--you never know when you'll need them

 

Asking "How do I market a book?" is kind of like asking "How long is a ball of string?" You get out what you put in, but over time hard work and persistence can (and do) pay off. You just have to keep at it and try to keep a positive attitude. Remember, you wrote a book! That's an incredible accomplishment in and of itself. Happy New Year!

 

-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: Make It Easy for Your Readers to Contact You

Marketing Tip: Show vs. Tell in Your Book Description

2,365 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotions, marketing_resolution
1

Expand Your Brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 30, 2015

Your author brand is dynamic. By that I don't mean flashy or animated. I mean that it is in a constant state of change--or at least it should be. You want to present a brand that reflects growth. If you let it stagnate, it will become ineffective, and you will lose readers.

 

Here are three ways to keep your author brand ever-evolving and fresh:

 

  1. Use your author platform for more than just promoting your books. Use it to promote all your interests. The more interests you highlight, the larger your community. The larger your community, the more opportunity for engagement and growth.

  2. Step outside of your comfort zone. As well as your personal interests, document your attempts to expand into other interests. I'm not suggesting you take up skydiving to appear more exciting, but maybe you have phobias you want to get over. Conquering those fears can add to your brand and inspire others.

  3. You are becoming a master of your craft. That is part of your brand. Mastering a craft isn't easy. You will experience a lot of failure. Share those failures with your community, so they can see that it's part of succeeding. Adding a mentoring through example element to your brand can not only make your brand dynamic, it can make it accessible.

 

While it is true that consistency can help your author brand become more popular, that doesn't mean your brand shouldn't evolve. Grow your brand gradually by documenting your interests and sharing your struggles to surmount professional and personal challenges.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

Evaluating Your Author Brand

3,166 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, publishing, branding, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, marketing_advice
1

Common Word Mix-ups

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 29, 2015

Today I'd like to give a little refresher course on two sets of similar words that can be a little tricky. Here we go:

 

Imply vs. Infer

 

To imply means to suggest or indicate something without actually saying so:

 

  • After David tasted the wine, the look on his face implied that he didn't like it.
  • The tone of Gloria's voice implied that she was upset with David's decision to leave the party early.

 

To infer means to conclude based on evidence:

 

  • From the look on David's face after he tasted the wine, Gloria inferred that he didn't like it.
  • Given the tone of Gloria's voice, it wasn't difficult for David to infer that she was upset with his decision to leave the party early.

 

I find that a good way to remember the difference between the two is that imply (has an M) comes before infer (has an N), just like M comes before N. You need an implication before you can have an inference.

 

Note: Some informal schools of thought say that infer can also be used to mean "imply or hint." However, to quote Webster's Dictionary, this usage "is found in print chiefly in letters to the editor and other informal prose, not in serious intellectual writing."

 

Refer vs. Recommend

 

To refer (used with an object) means to direct someone (to something):

 

  • Gloria referred David to her real estate agent.
  • David's family doctor referred him to a specialist named Dr. Greene.

 

To recommend means to mention favorably:

 

  • Gloria recommended her real estate agent to David.
  • David's family doctor recommended a specialist named Dr. Greene.

 

If you're still having trouble with these two, here's a handy trick: In a letter of recommendation, you're being praised. In a doctor's referral, you're being directed somewhere.

 

If you want people to recommend your books or refer their friends to your work, you will infer from this post that correct word usage is important!

 

-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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More Grammar Pet Peeves!

Why Good Grammar Matters

1,121 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, grammar_tips
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Are you missing an untapped revenue stream? Classrooms and books go together like toast and butter. Your book could be a perfect fit for a classroom environment. It doesn't even necessarily have to be a book for young adults. There are countless opportunities to reach students of all ages and backgrounds, and you increase your chances of reaching such a market by doing one thing: creating a teacher's guide for your book.

 

Here is what to include in a teacher's guide should you choose to tap into the classroom market:

  1. One sentence description: This should explain the main conflict of the book.

  2. Short but detailed summary of the book: Write it in present tense and use adjectives sparingly. This is a cut-and-dried summary that covers plot and sub-plots from beginning to end.

  3. Detailed character descriptions: Include your secondary characters.

  4. Summaries for each chapter: Include questions for classroom discussions.

  5. Author interview: Create 10 questions that you think are relevant to the book and offer engaging responses.

 

There are two options you can pursue with the teacher's guide: you can offer it in print-on-demand and eBook formats and make it available for sale, or you can create a PDF that can be downloaded from your website for free. The first option provides you a new direct stream of revenue. The second option can be a loss leader that could lead to more sales of the book overall. Either method gives you the opportunity to reach more readers and make more money.

 

-Richard

 

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


 

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The Reader's Guide

Building an Author Brand: Networking

1,140 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, selling, pdf, distribution, author, writing, promotions, classroom, marketing_ideas, teacher's_guide
2

Author-signed books make great gifts. Your biggest fans, however, might not have any idea that they can buy them from you, so why not tell them? You can do this via email, Twitter, Facebook, your newsletter, etc. How much you charge per copy is up to you, and you can even offer to wrap the books yourself and mail them directly to the recipient of the gift.

 

With the holidays just around the corner, I decided to email a couple of friends who are also fans of my books to see if they wanted to buy any signed copies as gifts for their friends. Within an hour both replied with orders for a total of 10 signed books--or $200 payable to me.

 

I think I'm on to something.

 

Today I plan to look through my contacts list and reach out to other friends who are also big fans of my books. I'm not talking about a mass email to everyone I know--I mean personalized, tasteful messages that are more than just sales pitches. Yes, that's time consuming, but book marketing is time consuming. There's simply no way around that.

 

As for physically mailing the books, I strongly suggest going to the post office and asking for the book rate. It's much cheaper than regular shipping, and it includes tracking! I often receive emails from readers of my blog asking if they can send me copies of their work--and if I say yes, the book usually arrives via FedEx or some equally expensive method. Each time that happens I feel bad because that's a double expense for the sender (the book itself and the big shipping fee). The only downside about the book rate is that you can't request it at the self-serve kiosks, so you have to wait in line, but the money you'll save over time is well worth 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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Hold a Holiday Contest

Two Easy Ways to Save Money in Your Book Promotion

939 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, promotions, signed-copies
0

I recently received an email from an author named S.J. (That is a purposefully androgynous pen name.) S.J. was doing a blog tour to help promote the launch of his/her first novel and wanted to know if I would consider letting him/her do a guest post on my personal website.

 

I'd never had anyone do a guest post, but S.J. mentioned that he/she had read all my books, so I wanted to help. Why wouldn't I? S.J. had supported me, so I wanted to support S.J. in return. (S.J. is also a loyal reader of my blog and even mentioned his/her favorite post in the message.)

 

S.J. had been writing professionally for many years but was a first-time novelist, so I thought my readers would appreciate some thoughts on what he/she had learned from the process. Here's the post on my website.

 

The same week I received an email from another debut author, whom I won't name. He asked me if I wanted to interview him on my website. I asked him if he'd read any of my books, and he said no. Then I asked him if he'd ever read my blog, and he admitted that no, he hadn't. I never heard from him after that.

 

Do you see the difference a personal touch can make? S.J. took the time to personalize his/her outreach to me, and it resulted in a guest post on my blog. The other author used a copy/paste/generic approach, and it resulted in nothing. If he had opened his message with "Hey, I haven't read any of your books, but I just ordered a couple for my sister..." our interaction would have been very different. Keep that in mind that next time you reach out to a fellow author for 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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The Power of a Personal Connection

Use a Personal Touch When Reaching Out or Following Up

892 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, promotions, personal_touch
0

Reward Yourself

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 30, 2015

The movie version of The Martian was released on October 2 of this year, and I was pretty stoked to see it. I had seen a trailer for the film months before, when I wasn't even aware that the book had been independently published and had become a viral sensation. The story appealed to me, and I was anxious to see the film.

 

My problem was that I was in the middle of rewrites. Since I had agreed to a deadline with a third party, I had to crack the whip more fiercely and more frequently than ever before. I told myself, "You can see the movie when you're done with the rewrites." So, it began. I deconstructed the manuscript, rebuilt it, and deconstructed it again. During breaks, I would hop online and read Facebook posts by friends talking about how great the movie was.

 

"Maybe I could just take a couple of hours and go see the movie," I thought, but I refused to give in. The movie would be my reward. I moved forward with the rewrites, even picking up the pace. Not only was I anxious to get the book to my editor, I was anxious to see The Martian. And then it happened, ten days before the deadline, I turned in the manuscript. The very next day I was sitting in the movie theater watching The Martian.

 

Rewards should be a part of your writing process. Yes, writing the book should be reward enough, but on those days or for those books where you need a little extra push, give yourself something to work for. You'd be surprised how much more special it makes your achievement feel.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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AAUGH! Rewrites!

Rewrites: Make the Hardest Changes First

893 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, writing, writing_process, rewrites, rewards
0

Competency

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 25, 2015

What makes someone successful? How does someone make it to that next level? It's a question I ask myself as an author all the time. How did famous author John Doe go from unknown to mid-list to well known? Is he a better writer than me? Is he luckier? Is he more handsome? When somebody makes it and you don't, you either pick apart their success or you pick apart your lack of success.

 

As somebody who's studied the issue ad nauseam, I think I've uncovered the formula for succeeding as an author. Talent and luck do play a factor, no doubt. But the driving force behind success for an author, for an athlete, for a politician, for a manager of a grocery store is competency. Knowing your craft, knowing the market, knowing your genre, knowing your readers, these are all the building blocks of competency. Competency doesn't happen by accident. It's a consequence of focus. Once you possess this competency, your marketing efforts will become a bit more effortless and a lot more effective.

 

Notice I didn't use the word confidence. Confidence and competency are two different things. You can be confident and lack competency. However, very few competent people lack confidence. So, yes, I think confidence is key to success, but only if it's born out of one's competence. Confidence without the competency anchor isn't a reliable ingredient for lasting success.

 

So, get the focus. Concentrate on improving your craft. Develop the curiosity to know your readers. Study your genre. Do these things, and the competency will follow. Soon after comes the success.

 

-Richard

 

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

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How to be a Confident Writer

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