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Your value

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 27, 2016

If your author brand has no value, it won't succeed. That's really all it boils down to. You can examine various ways to market your brand. You can implement strategies to expose your brand to more potential readers. You can take to social media and follow the advice of the gurus and do what they've told you to do to build awareness for your brand. You can do all these things and perhaps achieve brief blips of success, but sustained brand success is tied directly to its value.


So, in the case of an author of fiction, what is this brand value? To simplify things let's divide it into two parts. First, it is a mastery of one's craft. The quality of the writing matters. The skill to tell a compelling story is the most crucial element of this value strategy. Your job as an author is to take every opportunity to improve your writing, word by word.


The other part of the value strategy is the art of persistence. With a few exceptions, author brands are built on books, not just one book. To give your brand even more value, you need to establish a publishing track record, and you shouldn't bring a book to market without adhering to the first part of the value strategy. Publishing a lot of books that are poorly written doesn't get you any closer to showing your brand has value.


If there's a third element to the value strategy, I would say it is time. Value isn't something that can be established quickly. It is the product of dedication. Dedicate your time to building value into your brand.


-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



1,222 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, branding, author_brand, brand_identity
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I'm a big fan of applying for awards, but like every book marketing strategy, it has its drawbacks. I asked Lauren White of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) for her honest take on the pros and cons of applying for awards, and here's what she had to say:


Pros

 

Book awards are so effective because they judge books based on merit, and buyers and readers understand how rare and valuable that judgment is in today's age of paid reviews and social media self-promotion. And for self-publishers, the legitimacy and publicity that follow an award win can be unfortunately crucial to getting in the door with booksellers, librarians, and readers; with thousands of books to choose from, that shiny seal of approval from a reputed contest can make a world of difference.


Not to be overlooked is the morale boost and affirmation that come with an award. A panel of judges has understood and valued your unique message, and your work has not gone unseen. For many, that is the impetus and inspiration to continue writing and sharing stories.

 

Cons

 

Like many marketing services, awards cost money--usually an entry fee from $50-$125. Winning a prestigious award is absolutely worth that fee; relative to other marketing options, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your title. But there is a catch: unlike other marketing options, there is no guarantee your money will result in anything, as there is no guarantee you will win. If you are operating on a very tight budget, that $100 might be best spent on a promotional service that is less of a gamble.

 

Furthermore, not winning can be disheartening. Always remember that the competition is fierce, and that your words have value regardless of the contest's outcome!


Thanks to Lauren for her candor! To learn more about the IPPYs, click here.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Book marketing tip: apply for awards

Should you attend a writers conference?

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,133 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, promotion, book_awards, awards
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I have long been a proponent of "reader blindness" when it comes to writing. That is to say, I don't think that writers should consider readers when they write novels. I believe doing so compromises the quality of the writing.


But let's talk about rewriting. Should you consider your readers when you rewrite your novel? At the risk of contradicting my earlier statement, I think you should. In fact, I think it's impossible not to consider readers during the rewriting stage. I say this because most of my major rewrites have come after I've received feedback from a reader or two or three or four pre-publication.


These early readers will let me know what worked and what didn't. They have been chosen by me because I trust them to give me constructive criticism. The implication of me asking for their feedback suggests that I will consider their opinions when I rewrite. They represent all readers.


By considering the reader, I don't mean catering your story to meet their expectations. I mean to make sure that your prose is palpable, concise, engaging, that you've crafted a story they can follow with deep, rich, multi-dimensional characters and limited exposition. This is how you protect the integrity of your art but still take your readers into consideration at the same time.


Your first draft is done with your blinders on. It's the story that dictates the words, path, and structure of the book. Your rewrite is done with the blinders off. Now your job is to take readers into consideration and to do so without compromising your artistic integrity.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Stage five of writing - gut or beta

 

The perils of rewriting

 

 

1,284 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, readers, writing, craft, rewrites, writing_advice
1

 

When I speak to authors who are struggling to gain traction for their books, I like to ask them what has worked for them, however small the scale. In my experience, most authors have done at least one thing that has led to a few sales. They have also usually tried a few tactics that were a big fat bust. (I certainly have!)

 

 

Then I tell them two things:

 

1)    Do A LOT more of whatever you did that worked.

2)    Share what you;ve learned on your blog, website, Twitter account, etc.


Many authors have no idea what to blog or tweet about, so their social media feeds are a stream of announcements that sound painfully like the following:


Tweet #1: BUY MY BOOK!

Tweet #2: MY BOOK IS ON SALE!

Tweet #3: MY BOOK IS AMAZING!

Tweet #4: BUY MY BOOK!


When I see Twitter feeds like that, I immediately tune out. However, imagine a Twitter feed that intersperses useful information and encourages user interaction in between promoting the author's work. For example:


Tweet #1: Here's how I sold 10 signed books in one afternoon (include link to a blog post).

Tweet #2: Hi fellow authors, I tried selling my novel at a book fair, but I felt like it was a waste of time and money--have you had better luck? Please respond and RT!

Tweet #3: Exciting news! My novel (name) is on sale today for just (price). Click here if you'd like to check it out (include hyperlink to Amazon page).

 

While book promotion is important, no one likes a chest-beater. Remember that a fair amount of those who read your posts are probably in the same boat as you, i.e., fellow authors. Respect your audience by sharing more than selling, and you'll probably get better results.


-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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Social Networking Sells Your Brand

 

Don't make this marketing mistake

 

 

 

 

9,685 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, promotion, publishing, social_media, marketing_tips, marketing_advice
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Chamber of commerce

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 7, 2016

A chamber of commerce is an association created to promote and protect the interests of local business owners. You are a local business owner. Your business is writing. There's a good chance you don't have employees, but you may avail yourself of the services of other local business owners like editors, graphic designers, web designers, etc. In short, you are part of the local business community, and it's not just a chamber of commerce, it is your chamber of commerce.


I tell you this because most indie authors consider themselves lone wolves without much in the way of support. That can cause focusing on making a go of it that much harder. When you feel alone, you feel underappreciated, and sometimes it's hard to find the motivation to get out there and promote your work.


Your chamber of commerce is in place to assist you. One of the ways they do that is by providing networking opportunities. Most chamber of commerce organizations across the country host monthly after hours parties for small business owners of every size where they can mingle and make connections that can help increase their bottom lines. Your success as an indie author helps the local economy just as much as the local software company. You should be attending these parties and making the connections that will help your bottom line.

 

You are not alone. You are a small business owner trying to make a buck. Don't shy away from attending networking events at your local chamber of commerce. Mingle and start building your support system.


-Richard


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


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You are an artist

Building an author brand: Networking


 


1,005 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, networking, author, community, local_marketing
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In 1994, a new form of media began. It was ignored at first, reaching only a select few readers, but over the years that followed it grew and soon became an alternate source of information to the established media outlets. This new media was called blogging, and while it;s grown from sites that were nothing but basic text to sites that incorporate media-rich content, there is one constant that was true in 1994 and that is still true today: original content is king.

 

 

 

    If you want to build viewership for your blog and have it grow consistently over time, you must create original content for the blog on a regular basis. It is the surest way to build not just a following, but a loyal following, and that is the key to brand success. When you are a source of information, you grow your brand through blogging on several fronts.

 

  • You become the sharing point: Your friends and followers link to your site for their friends and followers.
  • You become the starting point: When you prove to be a consistent source of information, your blog will be the first stop and not an afterthought
  • You are the trusted point: With consistency and a growing following, your credibility grows, and your brand grows exponentially.

 

 

 

It is not enough to have a blog. It has to be an active blog that shows a commitment to well written and reliable posts that offer personal insight and useful information. It is today as it was in 1994. Original content is king.

 

 

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

 

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3 Reasons Original Content is King

 

 

Build Your Brand with Original Content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3,594 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, blog, self-publishing, promotion, content, blogging, post, social_media, original_content
2

In last week's post I addressed how using too many exclamation marks in dialogue can (negatively) affect the reader's experience. To catch the issue, I suggested that authors read their dialogue out loud.


While that was a post was about an overuse issue, reading your work (not just dialogue) out loud can also help identify another common problem I see in books that haven't been professionally edited: underuse of pronouns.


Too often I encounter writing like the following, which is similar to the language in a book I recently read. Actually, that's not accurate. I gave up reading after about 50 pages because I couldn't take it anymore. I've changed enough words to protect the identity of the author.


In the following paragraph, Lucy is alone:


Lucy crossed her arms in front of her chest and sighed as she gazed out over the water, feeling sad and lonely. It wasn't the first time Lucy had felt this way, but that didn't make it any easier. There was just so much history there, and so much pain. Lucy knew she needed to move on with her life, but she just couldn't.


I find it hard––if not impossible––to believe that if the author of that passage were to read that paragraph out loud, she wouldn't immediately realize how jarring it sounds to hear the name Lucy over and over again. It's clear that the scene is about her, so it's not necessary to keep repeating her name. After the first reference, a simple "she" will do just fine.


If that's not making sense to you, think of it this way: When you tell a funny story about something your dad did when he was on a solo fishing trip, most likely you begin with "My dad was fishing by himself," and from then on you'll use "he" or "him." There's simply no reason to use "my dad" more than once because it's not necessary.


Just like listeners to anecdotes about your dad, readers of your novel are smart enough to "get" it, so respect them! If not, they might not make it past the first 50 pages.


-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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Listen to Someone Read Your Story

 

Writing Tip: Be Careful, Don't Overuse Uncommon Gestures and Actions

 

1,514 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, writing, pronouns, writing_tip
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A character stew

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 20, 2016

I wrote a play last year that is, I'm happy to say, going to be produced this coming January. I bring it up here because during one of the many public readings, I got the inevitable question about what inspired me to write the story. Specifically, they wanted to know if my characters were based on people I knew.


I cringed at this question even though I knew it was coming. The story is about three siblings: a sister and two brothers. My wife just happens to have two brothers. The story takes place at a vacation home on a lake. My wife's brothers, their wives, and the two of us just happened to have vacationed together on a rental property on a lake. One would think that based on this information you could draw a straight line between the characters in my play and my wife's family. One would think that, but one would be wrong.


The vacation and the family structure in the play were obviously inspired by real life, but the characters in the play and their backstories bear no resemblance to the source of inspiration. I took that week together, and I said what if it were six people stuck in a house together, all with secrets and all with conflicting personalities. That is something that could be interesting. If I chose to write about my wife's family, it would be a boring play full of people being supportive of one another, offering zero conflict to capture the audience's attention.


With this in mind, I answered the question thusly: I don't create characters based on anyone I know. I write characters based on everyone I know. That is the best way I can describe the character development process. I start with a germ of an idea of what a character is like, and then I let my subconscious beg and borrow from all the people I've met in my life, and I create a character stew.


 

-Richard


 

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


 

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A Kramer by Any Other Name

 

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

 

780 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, characters, character_development
5

I have a love/hate relationship with rules when it comes to writing. I'm an artist. Rules, I once believed, were the destroyers of art. I know now that rules are the sparks that twist the creative mind into finding solutions to be artistic without breaking the rules. One must find the creative wherewithal to adhere to the rules while remaining true to one's artistic sensibilities. That is a neat trick when it's pulled off.


To that end, I would like to introduce you to my four rules for writing a novel. They are my own personal guidelines that help me be consistent while forcing myself to be more creative.


  1. A protagonist has to have a dark side: I just think heroes are more interesting when they aren't perfect. I don't like characters that don't have to face their own moral dilemma at some point in the story. It helps me dive deep into character development and paint a more realistic picture of the good guy (that's the gender neutral form of "guy").
  2. Warts are more interesting: I don't connect with beautiful people, mainly because I can't relate. My stories rely heavily on my characters' imperfections. Warts are far more fascinating to me than beauty marks.
  3. Conversations don't follow a straight line: In real life, when people talk to one another, they don't always listen to one another. The dialogue veers from alternate point to alternate point before the original point ever finds its footing. This is the type of dialogue I like to include in my novels. It's more realistic, and it gives the characters more depth.
  4. Know the ending before you start writing: While I have created outlines, I don't believe they are necessary in order to write a novel. I do think it behooves you, however, to know the ending of your story before you start writing, or at the very least, before you meander pointlessly until you finally figure out what your story's about. Knowing where you're going helps you build steps to the ending.


These are my rules for writing a novel. What are yours?


-Richard

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


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When do you know the ending?

Creating a bad good guy

1,715 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, rules_for_writing
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There is something about going to an event and being an active participant that makes it more special than if you're just a passive participant. When you take part in an event, you claim part ownership in that activity. You invest yourself.


As an author building a brand, you may want to keep this in mind when you're planning an event. Instead of doing a standard reading or signing, plan something that requires those who attend to participate. Gear the activity around elements of your book to create a natural tie-in of course, but break out of the standard mold and be bold.


Perhaps your book is a suspense novel about a cross-country runner being stalked in the woods. Why not get with a local charity and organize a fun run with you as the host and ads for your book on every scrap of paper and signage. Maybe a cat or a dog plays a major role in your novel. Why not organize a small un-adopted pet pageant with your local shelter to raise awareness for both them and you.


These are just random ideas, but you get the point. Find an activity and cause that have associations with your book, and create an environment where attendees have to participate. Such a strategy will create a buzz among those attending and their cadre of friends and followers online. It will give all an opportunity to share pictures and videos from the day's festivities, spreading word about your brand even wider.


Remember, people are having fun when participation is required.


-Richard

 

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

 

 

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Preparing for a Personal Appearance

 

How to Make an Author Event Eventful

 

1,347 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, events, author_brand
0

If you're an aspiring author, get ready to hear the following question approximately 10 billion times:

 

"What's your book about?"

 

As you already know if you've already written a book, pretty much everyone and anyone in your life will ask you that question, from people you know well to people you just met in the waiting room at your dentist's office. So it's really important to be able to answer it quickly.


Short and sweet.


Make it count.


Pique their interest.


You get the point.


If you start describing your book as, "Well, it's kind of hard to explain, but...there's a good chance that you've already lost the interest of whoever is on the other side of the conversation. If your pitch grabs someone';s attention, however, he or she might whip out a smartphone right there and then to order your book on Amazon. That's happened to me many times, so I'm not just saying that in a "you never know" kind of way. Trust me; I know! Every interaction you have is a potential sale.

 

While it's critical to have a concise, compelling description of your book when it's available for purchase, having one as you're writing it is also important. Why? Because it ensures that you have an interesting plot. Trust me, I know this too, because I recently spent way too many months struggling to write a novel for which I never had a clear vision. I should have realized that I was in trouble early on because anytime someone asked me what I was working on, I found myself uttering the dreaded "Um...well it's hard to explain, but..."


You know what happened to that manuscript? Nothing! Once I (finally) realized I didn't have an interesting story, I pulled the plug on it. It was a painful lesson to learn, and I wish I'd read a blog post like this one to save me a lot of time and effort. So please, learn from my mistake!


-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: Know When to Be Concise

How to Craft a Compelling Book Description

1,184 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, author, indie, pitch, descriptions, elevator_pitch
0

Social media is a fairly ubiquitous term these days. It encompasses a vast array of virtual space and includes hundreds of millions of people. An author can easily get lost in the clutter of brands trying to get noticed. What you need is a social media influencer to champion your brand! That is, you need someone with their own well established brand to make their followers aware of your author brand.


A social media influencer isn't just somebody who has a large following, and that's too bad because those individuals are easy to find if you just do the smallest amount of research. A true social media influencer has the right kind of following--that is to say, one that is relevant to your author brand. As an author of a genre, you are most likely a fan of that genre outside of your own work, which means you may already be participating in a group dynamic with one or more social media influencers, and you just didn't know it.


Social media influencers pride themselves on being innovators, early adapters, and trendsetters. They want to know the newest offerings in their world. You will be doing them a favor by contacting them and letting them know about your book(s). Don't be shy. Normally, indie holds a special place in social media influencers' hearts because it gives them a greater chance of being the source influencer, meaning the word starts with them and gives them more credibility. Think of social influencers as a news agency trying to get the scoop. You are the scoop.

 

Find social media influencers who are relevant to your author brand, and who have a large, loyal following, and give them the opportunity to discover your work.

 

-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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Building an Author Brand: The Author Brands You Promote

 

Mingle Marketing

 

 

 

 

1,175 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, branding, social_media, platform, author_brand, author_platform, social_media_advice
2

     It sounds like a stupid question. What purpose do writing rituals serve? Duh. They make you more productive, right? Yes, overall that’s the effect, but the question is why do writing rituals make you more productive? There are a few notable reasons for this;


  1. Comfort: Rituals provide a comfort zone of sorts for writers. They provide a space (both physical and mental) that puts an author at ease. When an author is more at ease, it’s just common sense that he or she will be more productive.
  2. Discipline: Rituals are disciplines in disguise. When you get up at 4:00 a.m. to write because that’s your ritual, you are a disciplined writer. When you write 500 words before you take a break, that’s discipline. When you meditate before you write, that’s discipline.
  3. Strategy: Rituals are building blocks to your overall goal. When you set a goal to write a 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days, you probably put a strategy in place to help you reach that goal. That strategy consists of rituals you will follow to hit the 50,000 word mark.
  4. Control: Rituals are your way of controlling the process. When you’re in control, you’re more confident, and you’re more productive.


Rituals make you more productive because they help you focus. They strip you of the stress of having to deal with the unfamiliar. They aren’t for everyone. Some authors use the unfamiliar to help get the creative juices flowing, but many authors like the structure that rituals provide them, and it makes them more productive.


-Richard


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


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The Rituals of a Writer's Life

Are Writing Rituals Good or Bad?



1,323 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, help, writing, craft, writing_tips, author_tips, author_advice
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Many debut authors don't know what to put in their bios. That's understandable! In fact, I recently met a debut novelist--I'll call her Lucy--whose bio at the end of her book was one line long. It said exactly this:


This is Lucy's first novel. She lives in San Francisco.


She laughed and said she knew it wasn't much, but she had no idea what else to write. She had't won any awards. She'd never written anything before. She didn't feel she had any relevant professional experience.


If you're in the same boat as Lucy, here are my two cents on the issue: I don't think what you write in your bio is as important as how you write it.


By "how you write it," I mean two things:


1)    You write it well. That means no grammatical errors, no crazy long sentences, and no weird syntax.


If you're putting yourself out there as a professional writer, be sure that's reflected in your bio. (For example, I've lost track of how many indie authors refer to themselves as Authors in their bios.)


2)    Your bio shows readers what they can expect in your writing.


If your book is positioned as a comedy, make your bio funny! If your bio makes me laugh, I'm much more likely to want to read your book. If your book is a mystery, write something mysterious about yourself. (I could never write a mystery, so I'm not sure what I would do in this case, but you get my point.)


Of course if you have specific life experience that relates directly to the content of your book (e.g., you were a police officer for 20 years and the book is about a detective, or if you're a nurse or a doctor and the novel is about life in a hospital), of course include that information in your bio. For the rest of us who simply make things up for our stories, I truly believe that elements one and two are enough. So stop stressing and get writing!


-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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Marketing Tip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

Why Grammatical Errors in Your Author Bio Can Sink Your Sales

 

1,324 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, promotion, writing, author_biography
3

As I've mentioned before, I read a lot about book marketing and publishing. The other day I came across an article about an indie author who had recently published a novel about baseball. I love sports and thought his book sounded interesting, so I looked it up on Amazon. There were just two reviews, one of which was five stars and had the title: Great book. Among other glowing things, the review said the book was "a nice easy read for kids of all ages" and "well worth the time and money."


Then I noticed that the name of the reviewer looked strangely familiar. I scrolled to the top of the page and realized it was the same as the author! I couldn't believe someone would have the gall to give his own book a five-star review, but there it was, staring me in the face.


Needless to say, I didn't buy the book. How could I support such unethical behavior?


I've said more than once in this space that I believe asking friends and family to positively review your book is a bad idea. It puts them in an awkward position (what if they didn't like your book?), and it's just not credible. Reviewing your book yourself is even worse. Of course you think it's worthy of five stars; you wrote it! But that's beside the point. For reviews to mean anything, they need to be written by objective readers. That's the point of reviews.


The only time I think it's OK for a friend to write a review is if that person proactively tells you that he/she enjoyed your book. In that case, feel free to say, "Thank you! Would you mind putting that into a review?" Otherwise, don't do it. All you're going to do is shoot your credibility--and your sales--in the foot.


 

-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

 

1,635 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, sales, writing, promotions, book_reviews
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