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949 Posts tagged with the authors tag
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Has it hit you yet? You are an author. No. You're more than that. You are an indie author. You possess something authors working under the restraints of a book contract don't possess. You have freedom. Freedom to write and publish whatever you wish. There is no one to tell you no or question your every literary move. You are in complete control.


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


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


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


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


-Richard

 

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

 

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Living the Indie Author Dream

 

Your Job as an Indie Author

 

 

 

 

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


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


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


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


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


-Richard

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


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Uniting author brands

Selling others sells yourself

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


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


Does this happen to you?


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


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


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


-Maria

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


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Three writing tips for aspiring authors

Writing tip: Start before you're ready

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

Make a change

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 13, 2017

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


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


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


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


-Richard

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


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How to Kick-Start Creativity

Write o'clock

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

Setting goals

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 6, 2017

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


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


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


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


-Richard

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


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Setting Goals for Your Brand

A Marketing Calendar

479 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, marketing_strategy, setting_goals
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When's the last time you sent a handwritten thank-you note in the mail? When's the last time you received one? If you've sent or received even one within the past year, you're probably in the minority. So think about what a positive impression you can make by sending one when appropriate. Everyone likes to feel appreciated!


Here are some examples of where a physical thank-you note could (not will—no guarantees in book promotion!) make a difference in your marketing efforts:


  • A reviewer who has a mountain of books in her to-be-read (TBR) pile. A thank-you note for "taking the time to read my book" might bump your title to the top of that stack. (Note: be sure to sign the book too.)
  • The editor of an alumni publication that mentioned your book. Your thank-you note might open the door to other opportunities for coverage down the road, e.g. a profile, or an invitation to participate in a regional alumni event.
  • The organizer of a book club that has selected your book. People who run book clubs are usually voracious readers who love to talk about books - and about the time they got a real thank-you note from an author. The more people who talk about you and your book, the better.
  • The organizer of a book club that hasn't selected your book because there are too many books currently in front of yours. A personalized "thanks for considering my book" note might increase your chances of being the book club's selected read down the road.


Ask a hundred authors if there's a magic formula for selling books, and you'll probably get close to a hundred NO answers. But ask a hundred people if they like receiving thank-you notes in the mail, and I bet you'll get close to a hundred YES answers. So what do you have to lose? It certainly can't hurt, and, as a bonus, it feels pretty good to do something nice for someone else.


-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 a personal touch when reaching out or following up

The power of a personal connection

585 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, thank-you_notes
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I am constantly in search of ways to build a brand. I come across article after article that breaks down the brand-building process into easily executable steps. I'm sure I've even written an article or two that features similar steps. Although, I hope I never presented the steps as easy. Granted, it's not rocket science, but building a brand is anything but easy.


One element of the process is particularly hard. Hard might be the wrong word. It is laborious, but it is a labor of love. I am, of course, talking about the quality of writing. Building a brand around a poorly written book is nearly impossible. I can sense some of you screaming, "There are plenty of badly written books that become bestsellers!" I agree, but those are exceptions to the rule, not the rule itself. An author who pens a poorly written bestseller or bestselling series rarely repeats the feat.


If you want a brand that will stand the test of time, you have to invest significant time into developing your craft, and you don't just develop your craft by writing. You develop your craft by studying the masters, attending workshops, mentoring other writers. You develop your craft by challenging yourself to grow as an artist.


A brand built on good writing has the potential to be more than financially rewarding. It can be utterly fulfilling. It is worth the investment of your time, and it will make the rest of the steps to building an author brand just a tad easier.


-Richard

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


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The foundation of your brand

That one thing

496 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, branding, author_brand
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I get that many (most?) people hate the "who vs. whom" thing, are convinced they'll never understand it, and wish it would just go away forever. If you fall into that group, here's a simple way to look at "who vs. whom" that might shed some light.


If in a similar structure you would use the pronouns I, HE, SHE, WE, or THEY, use WHO.


To illustrate, the following are similar structures:


  • WE live on that street. We are the people WHO live on that street.
  • THEY went to the movies. They are the people WHO went to the movies.
  • SHE will do a great job. She is someone WHO will do a great job.
  • HE wrote the novel. He is the man WHO wrote the novel.


If in a similar structure you would use the pronouns ME, HIM, HER, US, or THEM, use WHOM.


Again, to illustrate, the following are similar structures:


  • You can trust ME. I am someone WHOM you can trust.
  • You believe HER. She is a person WHOM you believe.
  • You saw THEM at the movies. They are the ones WHOM you saw at the movies.
  • You chose US to babysit your kids. We are the people WHOM you chose to babysit your kids.


While the above examples are straightforward, it's easy to get tripped up by more complicated sentences such as:


  • She is someone WHO I believe will do a great job.


It's understandable to want to use WHOM in this example, because it's followed by "I believe." But you're not believing HER, you're believing that SHE will do a good job.


Rearrange that sentence, and the correct answer becomes clear:


  • She is someone WHO will do a good job, I believe.


I hope that helps clear up the confusion!


-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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Grammar Tip: Be Careful with Tenses

Why Good Grammar Matters

514 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip, who_vs_whom
1

I know this a blog for authors, but allow me to jump into a discussion about a television show today. This show isn't just any show. It is perhaps the greatest show since Norman Lear's All In the Family. I am of course talking about Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad. Having binged watched the entire series three times, I feel like I have an intimate knowledge of each character, and as a result, I know why the show works.


It doesn't work because Walt is a genius who uses his brain to get out of the toughest spots. It doesn't work because Hank is a crack DEA agent with incredible instincts. It doesn't work because Skyler is a devoted mother who will do what it takes to keep her children safe. It doesn't work because Saul is the greatest legal mind in New Mexico. It works because Walt, in pursuit of doing a noble thing, commits horrible atrocities and ultimately puts his family in grave danger. It works because Hank is so single-minded that he bends the law to bring down the bad guys. It works because Skyler loses sight of the best way to keep her family safe and thinks she can safely manage a criminal empire.


In other words, it's the flaws of the characters that make the show so innovative and great. If they were good people who never violated common (and even uncommon) morality, the show wouldn't have lasted a full season. Remember that as you write your next novel. It's not the good that your characters do that sets them apart, it's bad they do in pursuit of good.


-Richard

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


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Character traps

Make Your Own Rules

558 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_flaws
2

Want to write a successful book? Here are the three key elements as I see them to penning a novel that will stand the test of time and reach a broad audience.


1. Deep rich characters: Great characters can be genre benders. J. K. Rowling wrote a young adult fantasy novel about wizards, magic, and fantastic creatures that appealed to more than young adults with an affinity for wizards, magic, and fantastic creatures. Rowling made her characters believable. Even though they carried wands and attended a school for wizards, she made them vulnerable and flawed and essentially like the rest of us muggles. Her Harry Potter books are the very definition of genre benders. They definitely reach demographics beyond the young adult fantasy readers.


2. A tight plot: Nothing drives me crazier than a sloppy plot. A tight plot means a logical progression of information that leads to a satisfying conclusion. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's unique or clever. It means that there is a place for everything and everything has its place. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith is a fairly common conceit. Three guys find a bag of money, and their attempt to keep it and split it three ways leads to corruption, paranoia, and murder. The book is an entertaining read because Smith stays on point with the plot. He never loses sight of it.


3. Passion: Readers can sense when a writer phones it in. It's hard to explain, but when an author approaches a story with passion it becomes the book's DNA. The reader can feel it in the pages. Write with passion. If you're not feeling it on a particular day, walk away. Leave it for when the passion comes back.


There you have it. Three areas to help hone your craft. Focus on these and the other elements of story will follow.


-Richard

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


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The bestseller formula

The plot

945 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, plot, character_development, story_elements
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Auditing your brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 4, 2017

 

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of auditing in the business world. It's a practice conducted on a regular basis in order to gauge past performance and current levels of inventory. Essentially, it's used to get an accurate barometer of where a company stands financially. The results of the audit determine how the company will move forward in the most productive way possible.

 

 

 

As an author selling a product, you are a business, and you should be doing periodic audits just like companies with thousands of employees. Before, I encouraged you to audit your readers. Today, I'd like to explain the importance of auditing your brand. You want to take a deep, hard look at what brand practices have been hurting your business and what brand practices have been helping your business. It can be a comprehensive and difficult task, but here are few core metrics you will want to understand in order to build your brand.

 

 

 

1. Where: What platforms are you using to build your brand? Hopefully, you're using multiple platforms. If you aren't, consider changing your strategy and incorporate two or three to help grow your brand's community. If you are using multiple platforms, rank them. Determine which one results in the most engagement and make that your primary plank in your platform. Look into ways you can advertise on the site in a cost-effective way, and bring more people into your brand's community.

 

 

 

2. How: Are you sending a consistent message? Remember, an author brand shouldn't be all things to all people. It reflects your true self. The best way to stay on message is to do just that, be you. Don't try to be what the reader expects you to be.

 

 

 

3. How often: Are you active enough on social media? Are you posting a status update or tweeting only a couple of times a week or are you doing it multiple times a day? Like it or not, the more active you are, the better your opportunity to grow your brand and sell more books.

 

 

 

These are just three areas of your brand strategy you should examine first. The more you conduct these audits, the more nuanced they will get, but for now, set dates on your calendar to audit your brand four times a year to examine these three key elements of building your author brand.

 

 

 

 

 

-Richard

 

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

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Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

 

How to build a brand without even really trying

 

 

 

 

711 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, promotions, brand, branding, author_brand, author_advice
1

One of my favorite books is The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. If you aren't familiar with Portis, he's probably best known for his novel True Grit, the same True Grit Hollywood adapted not once but twice for the silver screen. True Grit is a great book, but it features characters with extraordinary...well, grit. And beyond grit, a couple of them are skilled at dealing with bad guys.


The Dog of the South features a protagonist by the name of Ray Midge. There is nothing extraordinary about Midge. He's just a normal guy whose wife has left him for another man, and they've left for Mexico and Central America in Ray's car. Ray sets out on a journey to get his car back. He doesn't have any special skills. He doesn't even have grit. He just wants his car back, and if he gets his wife back, he'd be okay with that too.


For my money, the ability to make Ray Midge so compelling is much more impressive than making a character like Rooster Cogburn compelling. Cogburn had his demons. He had a rough and tumble past. He lived a life that left scars. He's ripe for the spotlight. Ray was just an everyday Joe who had a bad break. From a storyteller's perspective, building a story around that type character takes a yeoman's effort. Through Midge, Portis demonstrates his own extraordinary skill at character development, and I tip my hat to him.


How about you? Can you name a book that features an ordinary character in such a compelling way?


-Richard

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


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Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

Why the development of secondary characters matters

738 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, protagonist
2

I'm currently enrolled in a screenwriting program to adapt one of my novels for film. When the instructor brought up the concept of outlines in a recent class, I found myself leaning forward to hear his thoughts. In the eight books I've written, not once have I worked from a detailed outline, and I've always wondered if I was going about it wrong. Would my stories be better if I put more planning into them? I was afraid to know the answer. Several times I've tried to write an outline, at least a bare-bones one, but I've never stuck to it, not even close. In each instance the story went in a different direction, and when I finished the first draft I looked back at the outline and thought, "Well that didn't work out how I thought it would."


Getting back to the class - I was not expecting what the instructor said about outlines, which was essentially that they are worthless because he always ends up throwing them away. But immediately after he said that, he qualified that he was talking about his own experience, and that outlines work great for other people. So once again I found myself wondering if I should learn to use an outline...or not.


In the class I was sitting next to a lawyer, and we got to chatting about our respective projects. He had his entire story outlined in detail and said that was how his brain worked. When I told him I was jealous because my brain does not work that way, he said that he had outlines for several books and screenplays but had never gotten past the outline phase, so he was jealous of me. We laughed at how the grass is always greener.


Do outlines work? Please share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear what you have to say! Bottom line though - do what works 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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Writing tip: start before you're ready

Writing tip: stay committed to the process

642 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, outline, screenwriting
1

After decades of writing and rewriting, typing my fingers off, pouring my heart and soul out onto page after page after page of prose, after studying my craft, learning the structure of a story, and how to hook the reader in the first sentence and leaving them wanting more after the last word, I have finally figured out how to write the Great American Novel. It's so easy. I don't know how I couldn't figure it out earlier. It's really just a one-step exercise, and lucky you, I am here to share it with you today on this very blog.


Are ready for this? It will blow your mind. In order to write the Great American Novel you must do the following:


1 of 1: Don't try to write the Great American Novel.


We all want to be literary giants. We want to write something that will be taught in English lit classes for the next 100 years where our work is enjoyed, picked apart, interpreted, and misinterpreted by millions of book lovers. We want our name spoken in the same sentence with Hemingway, Lee, McCarthy, Steinbeck, etc. Why? Because that is the pinnacle of success in the publishing world. That's where we leave our mark and our work influences the American culture for generations to come. It's a way to find immortality.


But trying to write the Great American Novel is the surest way not to do so. Just write your story. Practice your craft. Service the characters in your book. Don't worry about the readers. Don't worry how the book will be perceived. Just write.


-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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Our Responsibility to Language

Use the Chunking Method to Write Your Book

612 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, great_american_novel
10

 

In a recent post I explained that the seasons of the year should not be capitalized, nor should job titles that don't come directly before a person's name. Here are two other areas in which I frequently see capital letters where they shouldn't be:


Fields of study/work


Unless it's a language, fields of study or work aren't capitalized.


  • Gloria majored in Math. (INCORRECT)
  • Gloria majored in math. (CORRECT)


  • She's not sure yet, but she's thinking about pursuing a career in Physics. (INCORRECT)
  • She's not sure yet, but she's thinking about pursuing a career in physics. (CORRECT)


  • David teaches high school Chemistry. (INCORRECT)
  • David teaches high school chemistry. (CORRECT)


  • Maria studied both english and spanish in college. (INCORRECT)
  • Maria studied both English and Spanish in college. (CORRECT)


  • He's a world-renowned professor of History and French. (INCORRECT)
  • He's a world-renowned professor of history and French. (CORRECT)


Degrees


When spelled out, undergraduate and graduate degrees are not capitalized.


  • Gloria has a Bachelor's Degree from UCLA. (INCORRECT)
  • Gloria has a Bachelor's degree from UCLA. (INCORRECT)
  • Gloria has a bachelor's degree from UCLA. (CORRECT)


  • David wants to get a Master's Degree in chemistry at Harvard. (INCORRECT)
  • David wants to get a Master's degree in chemistry at Harvard. (INCORRECT)
  • David wants to get a master's degree in chemistry at Harvard. (CORRECT)


  • She received a Bachelor's in math and a Master's in English from Berkeley. (INCORRECT)
  • She received a bachelor's in math and a master's in English from Berkeley. (CORRECT)
  • She received degrees in math and English from Berkeley. (CORRECT).


Unfortunately, capitalization rules are frequently flouted on corporate websites and in press releases, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't follow them. Just read any article in a major newspaper and you will see that professional writers still take them seriously.


-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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Grammar tip: don't overcapitalize

Are you making this common grammar mistake?

1,469 Views 10 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, capitalization, grammar_tip
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