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38 Posts tagged with the author_tips tag
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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

 

 

quo

510 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: revisions, writing, draft, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice
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One function of adverbs is to modify adjectives, in other words to describe something that already describes something. That alone should give you an idea of how necessary - or unnecessary - they are when used for this purpose.


For example:

  • He drives really fast.
  • She is very happy.
  • We are super glad to be here.


While the above sentences are fine in conversation, in written form they come across as uncreative, maybe even bland. Astute readers view using adverbs as lazy writing, so it's good to avoid them as best you can.


When I catch myself using an adverb to describe an adjective because the adjective doesn't sound right by itself, I try to come up with a more descriptive adjective or an analogy.


For example:

 

Instead of:

  • He drives really fast.

Change to:

  • He drives as if he were on the Autobahn.

Instead of:

  • She is very happy.

Change to::

  • She is ecstatic.


Instead of:

  • We are super glad to be here.

Change to:

  • We are thrilled to be here.


Another way to get around using adverbs is to include a beat (description of an action) that shows the reader what the adverb was meant to convey.


For example:


Instead of:

  • "Do we have to go in there?" Gloria asked nervously.

Change to:

  • Tiny beads of sweat broke out on Gloria's forehead. "Do we have to go in there?" she asked.


Instead of:

  • "It looks like we didn't get the contract," David said glumly.

Change to:

  • David's face fell. "It looks we didn't get the contract."


Do you see the difference? It's not that using adverbs is grammatically wrong, rather that writing that doesn't include a ton of them is more original and engaging. And if your readers find your writing original and engaging, you are doing something right.


-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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Use Adverbs Sparingly, Especially in Dialogue

 

The Rhythm of Dialogue

 

 

 

 

1,388 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: help, writing, grammar, adverbs, author_tips, grammar_tip
1

 

I found out recently that I know someone who works for a think tank, and I am so envious. I've always wanted to work for a think tank. As a writer of fiction, I'm pretty sure I'd love just mulling over the issues that do and will affect society. To top it off, they pay you to think.


But, sadly, I don't see a job at a think tank in my future, but that doesn't mean I can't do what I do best and create my own fictional think tank. I have problems that need to be solved. Namely, how am I going to sell more books?


While I'm having a little fun here, I actually don't see why you and a few of your writer friends couldn't form your own little think tank that spends a couple of hours each month discussing marketing and branding strategies for authors. I'm talking about meeting in person or over video chat and hammering out ideas and building a solid plan that could benefit all of you.

 

Call it a collective or open-based branding. You are all working together to help each other traverse the rugged terrain of marketing. As a group, putting you heads together and constructing a plan, you are more likely to see the pitfalls and potential successes before you implement them. Be open to all suggestions and be respectfully honest with your feedback. Every member of your think tank has a vested interested in the success of the strategies you develop.


Now, get out there and start your own think tank.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Brand Buddies

 

Form an Author Co-op

 

 

 

 

1,167 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, author_marketing, author_brand, author_collaboration, author_tips, author_advice
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We all have our own systems for managing our lives. For example, I use a paper calendar and not the calendar on my phone. I know that's old school, but I love my paper calendar! I also have a paper to-do list that I keep on my desk, and I constantly have alarms going off on my phone to remind me of things on my to do list when I'm not at my desk. It's a hodgepodge system, but it works for me, which is the most important thing.


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


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

 

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


 

Excel spreadsheet for media/blogger outreach


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


 

Email in-box as a virtual to-do list

 

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


What systems do you use to keep organized? Please let me know in the comments!


-Maria

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

 

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Marketing tip: connect with book bloggers

 

Marketing tip: ask your fans to promote you

 

 

 

 

1,469 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, organization, author_tips, author_advice
1

 

I often wonder what some of our legendary authors would do in today's publishing world when it comes to branding. I think we all have this notion that they would look down their noses at such pedestrian tactics--that they'd never stoop to marketing themselves, and I have to say, I disagree. I think they'd be branding machines.


Particularly Hemingway. I imagine that he just couldn't resist taking to Twitter or Facebook and firing off a comment about the day's events. He was a journalist, after all. He loved to comment on the news, especially war-related stories. I imagine he wouldn't be shy about using one of the most important branding tools used today in the world of social media. That is to say, I think he would be particularly adept at author engagement. If someone commented on one of his status updates or tweets, I like to think he'd respond and engage the reader. Granted, he would perhaps get into a verbal tussle or two with those who had dissenting opinions, but I also think he'd happily respond to those who were in agreement with him.


If you aren't engaging with your readers on social media, you are missing the opportunity to create dedicated fans--those who will see you as more than just some random author, but as someone they've made a connection with. They also become devoted members of your volunteer sales force. They will be more likely to spread the word about your book.


So, in conclusion, be like Hemingway (as I imagine him), and engage with your readers.


-Richard

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


 

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Word of mouth is still king

 

Community engagement prompts

 

 

 

 

908 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand, author_tips, author_platform
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Workshops

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 22, 2017

I have been approached a few times about putting together a workshop based on the theme of a series of young adult novels I've written. I've resisted because I don't feel qualified. The topic is bullying, and while I wrote about it, I am certainly no expert. I wrote a fictional tale that incorporated the issue of bullying to advance a story.


It has occurred to me lately that I don't necessarily have to be an expert on bullying to organize a workshop or seminar on the topic. I could approach local experts on the topic and invite them to present important information about bullying. I would act simply as the facilitator. I would, of course, do my due diligence to make sure that the people I approached were credible and possessed the necessary credentials.


Why would I want to undertake such a task? Simple. It's a way to associate my brand with a topic that is crucial to the theme of my books. If that sounds crassly commercial, I suppose it is. But that's not necessarily bad in this case. I would be providing a valuable service to the community. That would be the primary focus of the workshop. The secondary benefit is the association with my brand and book.


Do you have a topical theme that drives the plot of your story? If you're not a qualified expert on the topic, you can still organize a workshop that addresses it. Do your homework and find the folks in your community that are experts, and you have the working parts to create a valuable workshop that can also help build your brand.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Invest in your writing

 

Sell yourself as an enthusiast

1,090 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: workshops, author_marketing, writing_tips, author_tips, writing_practice
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Keep it simple

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 14, 2016

 

    When you sit down to outline your marketing strategy, there is one thing above all others that you want to keep in mind. Keep it simple. Don't feel like you have to reinvent the wheel. The tried and true work; otherwise, they wouldn't be tried and true. Here are three reasons why keeping your marketing strategy simple makes for more effective results:


  1. Keeping things simple offers the least number of obstacles. If you try to overthink it and come up with something never seen before, you are creating impediments that will likely frustrate you and could lead you to not follow through. Study what others have done before you and repeat.
  2. Overcomplicated planning usually makes for overcomplicated outcomes. Being creative with your marketing strategy isn't bad, but being too creative can confuse the readers you are trying to reach.
  3. Keeping things simple most likely means you are incorporating strategies that have been tested before, which means you most likely have data to justify your strategy. It worked before. It will most likely work again. The hard work has been done for you. Most of the obstacles we discussed earlier aren't there. You can just plug in your book and go.


Of course, keeping things simple with your marketing strategy doesn't mean it will be easy. You are still going to have to do your research and determine what will work for you, but the good news is that the research is usually just a search engine away. Good luck, and keep it simple.

 

 

 

 

-Richard

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

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Exclusive versus inclusive

 

The Grassroots Marketing Ripple Effect

 

 

 

 

1,793 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, writing, author_tips, writing_tip
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Previously, I talked about the importance of setting your author brand apart from others. What makes you different from the author brands out there--particularly those who share your genre? Today, I'd like to talk about the opposite strategy. What makes you similar to other author brands, or what makes your book like the best seller that was at number one for ten weeks?


Back in the "long time ago land," I wrote screenplays. In fact, I wrote twelve of them. I only talked to various production companies and studios about two of them, and neither were ever produced, but enough of the sad part of the story. The relevant part of the journey is that what I was asked most consistently by these companies was, "What current film does your script resemble?" This was important for a number of reasons. Primarily, they wanted to gauge what kind of box office they could expect. But they also wanted to know what kind of interest they could expect from financiers and A-list actors. I always tried to stress the originality of the screenplays, and that turned them off. The word "originality" connotes risk. Risk is not something Hollywood is really known for.

 

In the indie publishing world, originality is expected. It's cherished. It's rewarded. But, I maintain that it's also OK to compare yourself to other authors and your material to other books. Don't emphasize it, but make it a part of your pitch to give readers a taste of what they can expect.


-Richard

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

 

 

 

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Brand modeling

 

Building an author brand: the author brands you promote

 

 

 

 

2,045 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author_marketing, author_brand, author_tips, author_platform
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?



1,412 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, help, writing, craft, writing_tips, author_tips, author_advice
1

You CAN write a book

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 26, 2016

This morning I received an email that made me smile...or maybe even grin. It was from an aspiring author named Becca. In particular, I loved this part of her message:


"Reading through your blog has been very educational and exciting for me. I love all your knowledge, advice, and mostly your encouragement to not give up when it gets hard. I don't expect that starting into this will be easy; however, I think it will be so fun to try! My husband and my kids are all very much on board and supportive."


Go Becca! I love her positive attitude. And to all the Beccas out there reading this, you CAN write a book! No, it's not easy, but yes, it's fun to try. And at the end of the day that's all it really comes down to--trying. And trying. And trying! If you keep pushing yourself forward, day after day, week after week, eventually you'll have a book. It may not be very good, but that's okay. My first effort wasn't very good either. But once I had that first draft, I went back and rewrote it a few times, and that part was fun. In my experience, editing and tweaking is always more enjoyable than coming up with something from scratch.

 

Writing an entire book takes discipline--and patience. It's not going to happen overnight. Focusing on moving the story forward little by little will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. And then one day, after many days of plodding along, your manuscript will be done. Done! If you're like me, when that happens you'll probably take a step back from your keyboard, exhale, and ask yourself, "Did I really just do that? How did I do that?"


Then, you'll do a little dance and go celebrate!

 

-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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Writing Tip: Stay Committed to the Process

 

Writing Tip: Keep the Story Moving Forward

 

 

 

 

1,879 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: book, author, self-publishing, blogging, writing, promotions, writing_process, author_tips
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Inventory. If you've ever worked retail, you know the tedious task of taking inventory and balancing the receipts. No one likes it, but it's necessary to keep your business profitable and nimble. If you know how you've performed, you have a much better chance of improving performance.


So, over the next few weeks I'd like to discuss how authors should take inventory in order to gauge performance and improve as a brand. I believe improving your craft as a writer is more important, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the business side of writing. Your brand is your signage. It's how people identify you. To some writers, that may be a grossly crass way to put it, but there's really no clearer way to demonstrate how crucial your brand is in this business.


Your first assignment in examining your inventory is for you to develop an Author's Declaration for your brand. I'm not talking about describing your dreams. I don't want to know that you plan on writing the Great American Novel or write a book that will become an international bestseller. Those are great aspirations to have, but they have nothing do with your Author's Declaration.


     The two things your Author's Declaration should cover are as follows:


  1. How are you going to serve your craft? What type of a writer do you strive to be? Do you want to be a master of plot or do you want to be the king of character development? Is dense prose your style, or do you feel more comfortable devising realistic dialogue? Look to your influences to help you address these questions. They are your influences for a reason
  2. How are you going to serve your reader? What type of author do you strive to be? And yes, there is a difference between the writer in you and the author in you. Not to get too corny, but the writer is the soul and the author is the public face. What will you involve yourself in as the author? Politics? Genre news? All things literary? Beyond your books, how will you connect with your readers?


Moving forward, you will write your Author Declaration in present tense. You will keep it short, 250 words or less, and you will write it in third person. Remember, you are describing a business. Be creative, but keep on point.


Your Author Declaration spells out your guiding principles, and these principles will help inform your decision making as you develop your brand.


-Richard

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

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Evaluating Your Author Brand

 

The Graduation Keynote Evaluation

 

 

 

 

1,474 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, readers, publishing, author_brand, author_tips, author_exercises
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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

 

 

 

 

1,159 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, self-publishing, writing, promotions, branding, author_tips
1

 

Going offline and into the real world to market your book can be an expensive and risky proposition if you don't find the right venue. For example, I think you're making a big mistake by trying to get your book into a bookstore. More books is something they don't need, and you won't necessarily stand out. My advice is to find locally owned businesses that don't normally feature authors and their books. Here are three types of businesses I believe that will be open to featuring your book.


  1. Coffee Shops/Cafés: I've long been a proponent of approaching locally owned coffee shops about doing readings. It is as natural a fit as you will find in the world of books. But beyond coffee shops, cafés in general are also excellent establishments to approach about displaying a poster featuring your book or even setting up a consignment deal with them to sell your books. There's a small café down the street from my house that specializes in soups, and they feature artwork for sale by local artists. Why not authors?
  2. Theaters: I am a season ticket holder to three theaters in my area. Two of them have featured books for sale by local authors. One of those authors just happens to be me. How did I get my book in there? I asked. Simple as that.
  3. Independent Movie Houses: This may be unique to certain areas, but if you happen to live in a community with an old movie theater that's independently owned, you have a place that may be open to selling your book on consignment or at the very least allowing you to hang a poster or flyer. Independent movie houses are special places that usually show smaller budget films and attract older audiences. They're perfect places for an author to advertise a book.


Whatever types of businesses you approach, be prepared to provide them with support material. I suggest going beyond the flyer route and having a poster made up or even bookmarks they can hand out at the counter. If you want to set up a consignment deal, do your research before approaching them and know the industry standard and procedure for such an arrangement. The more professional you are the more likely they are to say yes.


-Richard

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

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Giving Books Away: A Strategy that Still Works

 

Finding Readers in Waiting Rooms

 

 

 

 

1,885 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, selling, book_marketing, promotions, marketing_ideas, author_tips, author_advice
3

So, this isn't the first time I've floated this idea out there, but it's something I like to touch on from time to time to remind indie authors what an author brand really is. Using the word brand suggests that there's an artificial construct involved. That you as an author are being directed to create a persona that you think meets readers' expectations.

 

Every time I get into this discussion with people I'm reminded of a scene from the classic television show Seinfeld. When Jerry and George are pitching a show to the television network executives, they're asked what it's about, and George excitedly proclaims that it&'s about nothing. The network executive is confused because it can't be about nothing. It has to be about something, but George insists that it's not. Jerry interjects that even nothing is something.

 

That exchange encapsulates what an author brand is. It's nothing. That is to say it's nothing false. It is you. It is your interests, your opinions, and your personality. It is everything you love. It can even be everything that drives you crazy. Wherever your passions lie, that's your brand. There is nothing to do to build a brand other than to be yourself, genuinely, fervently, and openly.

 

Building and maintaining an author brand is, at its core, you being honest about who you really are. If you are, your brand will thrive and help grow your community. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen as long as you stay committed to that principle. In turn, your community will help grow your readership.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Evaluating Your Author Brand

Building an Author Brand is Easy

6,205 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, branding, author_brand, marketing_ideas, author_tips, author_advice
2

Read and Report

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 4, 2015

I saw the following meme today, and it spoke to me: "Don't be afraid of artists who are better than you." I support the sentiment wholeheartedly, and I'm also puzzled that such a thing needs to be stated. The idea of comparing one's artistic talents with another's is foreign to me. It's a great big world, and there's room for all of us.

 

The meme actually ties in with the post I had planned to write today, so thanks be to serendipity. Instead of fearing other artists--authors in our case--whom you feel are better than you, be inspired by them. Be grateful for them. Envy is not a useful motivator; it's a step towards cynicism, which is not fertile ground for creativity.

 

Here's an assignment to help you gain perspective. Pick an author whom you feel has mastered his or her craft. Take your favorite book by that author and pick it apart. Examine every aspect of the story and analyze it. Set aside some time each week to report to your online community what you've discovered about this virtuoso. Encourage feedback. If you find weaknesses, point them out. No writer is perfect. Criticizing someone who inspires you is healthy. Personally, I love the imperfections as much as the perfections.

 

We aren't individual writers trying to make our way as authors. We are a community of artists supporting and learning from one another. Don't look at other writers as competitors; look at them as teachers. Take advantage of the lessons they offer.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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You Are an Artist

Four Steps to Become More Creative

1,379 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, revisions, feedback, creativity, criticism, writing_tips, author_tips
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