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480 Posts tagged with the books tag
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If you have published a second book or more, you may be missing a very simple marketing opportunity. It's a way for you to build a loyal reader base: readers who race from one of your books to the next. You become one of their go-to authors, and they are more likely to spread the word for you.


This simple marketing strategy is as easy as making a list of your books. In fact, that's exactly what it is, making a list of your books. It's something you include in the front matter of your book, so it's one of the first things a reader sees. At the top of the list you write, "Other titles by (Author Name) you may enjoy." And boom, you've just marketed all of your books to a reader.


By the way, I used the word "may" purposely. I have seen some books that use the word "might." Might strikes the wrong chord. It's wishy-washy. You're literally saying that, yes, they might enjoy these other titles, but you're also saying they might not. May, on the other hand, is a non-presumptive way of saying you are giving them permission to enjoy your other books. It's a subtle difference, but as we writers know better than anyone, words matter.


Don't let this simple marketing opportunity slip through your fingers. You can even re-publish your first title with a list of your other works. That's the beauty of the digital, publish-on-demand world we live in. Updates can be made without disruptions. So, go. Give readers permission to enjoy all of your books.


-Richard


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

 

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Exclusive versus inclusive

Unconventional marketing ideas for mystery books

 

 

 

 

2,073 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, self-publishing, publishing, branding, author_brand
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I'm on the distribution lists of many indie authors who occasionally send out promotional emails about their books. Marketing is a lot of work, so I respect the efforts of these individuals to boost their sales. Unfortunately, however, many of the emails I receive are peppered with errors, and that doesn't instill much faith that the books being promoted are going to be good. The books might in fact be excellent, but if people don't want to read them because of errors in the marketing emails, that shows the power of a negative impression.

 

We all make mistakes, which is why it's important to proofread your messages several times before sending them out. My brain plays tricks on me when I write, especially after I've been cutting and pasting and moving things around. Sometimes I simply don't see mistakes because my brain sees what it thinks should be there. To help counter that, I have my mom read my newsletters before I send them out. If you don't have someone like that to help you, try reading your content out loud to catch errors.

 

If you were promoting yourself as a dentist or a mechanic, errors wouldn't be so detrimental. But, you're a writer, and you're promoting your writing! So think of your messages as a way to showcase your talent, to give the recipients a taste of what you can do. If your content is engaging, well written, and free of errors, it is more likely to encourage potential readers to pick up a copy of your book.

 

Note: I prefer to use a newsletter program instead of email. Mailchimp is free if you have fewer than 2,500 subscribers, and it's easy to use. If your distribution list is smaller still, bulk emails can also work fine. Just be sure to use the blind copy feature for the recipients.

 

-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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Watch for Errors in Marketing Materials

Book Marketing Is a Numbers Game

792 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, marketing, self-publishing, writing, promotions, writing_tips, grammar_advice
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Do you have a mailing list of readers who enjoyed your writing? If so, good for you! Whether it's through a newsletter program or email, reaching out to your fans is a good way to keep a connection with them. The question is, what do you tell them?


In my semi-regular newsletter I include one piece of "news." Here are some examples:


  • Photos of my events such as book signings, book clubs, speeches or panel discussions
  • News about upcoming translations of my books
  • News about sales milestones
  • Promotions for signed copies (this is good to do around the holidays for gift ideas)
  • Photos of fans holding up my books at home or at stores (they send them to me sometimes!)
  • News about distribution agreements, e.g., in certain bookstores or wholesale clubs
  • Awards my books have won


In each newsletter I also include links to my recent blog posts as well as a note about my consulting services. I also encourage my fans to tell their friends about my books, so I can afford to keep writing them.


While I like to keep my newsletters strictly about my professional life, some author friends of mine have chosen a more personal route. One recently sent out a message about her engagement, while another tackled her feelings about the presidential election. Yet another addressed with humility how hard it was proving to be to get people to buy her book.


There's no magic formula for any of this, and every author's pot of potential "material" is different. So play around with it and see what works best for you. And if/when you begin working on a new book, include your fans in the process! I once had my fans vote on two cover options for a book, and it worked out so well that I'm considering asking them to vote on the title of my next one.


-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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Make it easy for readers to find you

The power of a personal connection

1,349 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, writing, promotions, newsletters
1

You shouldn't just be in a writers' group. You should run one, or co-run one, at the very least. Here are five tips to running a writers' group:


  1. Introduction: At the opening, introduce yourself and invite attendees to do the same one at a time. Acknowledge the space and the party responsible for letting you use it. Go over any "house rules," and then get into the rules pertaining to the readings.
  2. Focus on the Reader: If at all possible, don't let the author read his or her own material. They need to hear the pages. The reader should be the focal point of the room. If you have a stage, all the better. Place them on it and give them the go ahead to start when they're ready.
  3. Focus on the Author: Once the reader is done, the author now becomes the focal point in the room. Again, if you have a stage, he or she will now take it. Ask the author what kind of feedback they would like to hear. Encourage the author not to respond unless specifically asked to respond. Your goal is to make sure the author doesn't start defending his or her material.
  4. Criticism: Keep the criticism on track. If someone veers off into territory that you don't feel is appropriate, politely cut them off and move onto the next question or dismiss the author.
  5. Closing: When the night is done, thank everyone for their participation, and make sure you have everyone's email address so you can send out reminders for the next scheduled reading.


A writers' group can be much more than a number of artists sharing their passion. It can be a group of friends supporting one another's craft.


-Richard


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


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Form an author co-op

Why novelists should join a playwrights' group

2,183 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_groups
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I'm not a huge best-selling author. I don't appear on morning talk shows. I don't own yachts, sports cars, or multiple homes. I'm just a regular guy who writes and publishes books. I sell enough to put a smile on my face and encourage me to keep writing and publishing.


I say all that to say this: there is a very successful author out there who has acquired incredible wealth through his writing. So, he's hit a sweet spot I haven't yet found. He knows the marketing end of the business better than anyone, and yet, I'm not wild about a trend he's trying to start. He's writing and publishing short books that, in his words, don't include the boring parts.


I like the boring parts. Stories have a rhythm, a beat, if you will. That rhythm, in my opinion, needs the boring parts to balance out the action. Stories have to have room to breathe. They need spots where you develop character in quiet moments. These quiet moments reflect reality. Realism draws readers in and allows them to make connections with characters. These connections create avid readers who become totally engrossed in a story. It seems to me that a book without the boring parts creates casual readers who don't experience any sacred moments in the reading of such a book.


Embrace the boring parts. Allow yourself the room to draw your readers in. Buck the trend. Take the risk. Your readers will love you and your book for it.


-Richard


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


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The Boring Parts of a Novel

Exposition or Extraneous?

1,305 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, story_development
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Bending genres

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 3, 2016

Genre is not a dirty word. Recently I had a conversation with an author that got somewhat heated because he thought it was tacky to identify one's work in terms of "genre." He felt it prevented an author from being taken seriously. There was no convincing him that genre-identification was a crucial marketing tool. It is, in fact, a service to readers. It helps them discover authors and books that match their tastes.


The key is to not run from genre-identification. The key is to embrace the genre tag and write genre-bending material. How? It's all about the characters. If you create rich, multidimensional characters who are deeply flawed while remaining likeable and relatable, you have written a book that has appeal beyond its genre. As difficult a task as that might be, it is a clear-cut path to writing a book that has the potential to reach mass-market appeal.


Shunning genre-identification because you feel it hurts your chances of being taken seriously as an artist is a bit short-sighted. An artist should always challenge social convention. What better way to do that than to expand a genre, to write something that adopts the basic construct of a genre but also grows it at the same time. That is a spectacular feat, and dare I say, a noble endeavor.


That is my challenge to any and all authors reading this blog post. Adopt a genre, embrace it, and then change it. Make it yours. Take risks and give the readers something they've never seen before.


-Richard


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


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Write a Genre-Bending Novel

A Genre Conundrum (and Solution)

1,471 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, writing, genre, characterization
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Earlier this year I did something I never thought I'd do: I pulled the plug on a novel I'd been working on for more than a year. It was sad and painful and caused me a great deal of stress to make that decision, but you know what? I should have done it a lot earlier for two reasons:


1.    It wasn't an interesting story


If I've learned anything about writing novels, it's that you have to have an interesting story to tell. In my case I'd just finished a previous novel and put too much pressure on myself to begin a new one too fast. I did this because my books pay my bills, so if I'm not writing I feel incredibly guilty and stressed out. Instead of stepping back and taking time to come up with a solid idea, I started writing with only a half-baked plot that wasn't compelling, and then I dug myself into a hole and kept digging and digging.


2.    Writing it wasn't making me happy


Normally I enjoy the writing process, but in this case it was making me miserable. I would spend most of the day procrastinating before sitting down and forcing myself to hit my word count (1000), and even then I would find myself adding adjectives to beef it up. More than once my mother commented on how I'd clearly lost my love for writing, which she found alarming. But I didn't listen to her because I thought I could get through it and turn my uninteresting story into something worthy of publishing. I was wrong.


After I (finally) pulled the plug on the novel, within two months a new idea came to me. And it was a good idea. I ran it by my editor, and she agreed. So I sat down and started to write, and last week I finished the first draft, less than three months after I began. Now I have 1) an interesting story that 2) made me happy while writing it. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to get here. 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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Writing tip: don't be afraid to cut

 

When to walk away from a story

 

9,111 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_process
1

I'll never forget when my older sister's childhood friend Julie had her first child. She was in her early 30s at the time, and she told my sister that even though she and her husband didn't think they were ready for the responsibility of being parents, they decided to go ahead and do it because they realized that they would probably never be ready for that responsibility, even though they knew they wanted kids. I thought--and still think--that was one of the wisest things I'd ever heard.


In my opinion, if you want to write a book but are dragging your feet because you don't feel you're ready, you should take Julie's self-awareness to heart. You may not feel like you're ready to write a book, but when will you truly be ready? Probably not anytime soon, right? Writing a book is hard. Period. It takes discipline, mental effort, and a lot of time. It's never going to be something you can do in a weekend.


I'm not suggesting you should start writing a book without an idea for a plot. If you have trouble putting a sentence together and need to work on that first, you should. But if you have an interesting story that you want to tell, tell it. It really comes down to that. You can take as many writing classes as you want or put together as many outlines as you want, but be careful not to use those things as a method of procrastination. It's always going to be easy to put off writing that first sentence/scene/chapter, but if you want to be an author, at some point you just have to sit down and start. You can do it!


-Maria


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


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Writing tip: stay committed to the process

Writing tip: don't let fear hold you back

 

1,539 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, author, self-publishing, writing
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Wants

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 27, 2016

We all have wants. We wake up with them. We drift off into thought about them. We hope for them. We even talk about them with passion and enthusiasm. Our wants define us as much as anything in our lives. They say a great deal about who we are as people.


Do you know what your protagonist wants? I'm not just talking about within the context of your plot and story. I'm talking about the mundane wants that get her through the day. What does he hope for? What wants carry her from one moment to the next?


The same question can be asked about your antagonist. His wants are just as crucial to revealing his true character. Again, I'm not just referring to the wants that are tied to your story. I'm talking about the wants that weave in and out of her everyday life.


Knowing all your characters' wants can help you make a connection with them you wouldn't make otherwise. When you know something as intimate as their wants, you feel closer with them. I know that's an odd thing to say about imaginary people, but it's true. You feel their pain, joy, disappointments, triumphs, etc., on a deeper level, as if they are real people.


Spend some time when you're not working on your story making a list of your various characters' wants. The items don't have to be huge revelations. It could be as simple as what kind of coffee they want to drink in the morning or what kind of car they dream of owning. Just make a list of all their wants, and as you continue to write your story, you'll notice a closeness with your characters that wasn't there before.


-Richard


 

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


 

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Your Characters, Warts and All

 

Write an Obituary for Your Characters

 

1,100 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, character_development
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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

1,283 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, author, indie, pitch, descriptions, elevator_pitch
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Your main characters don't appear on the pages of your novel alone. They are surrounded by and, in most cases, vastly outnumbered by your supporting characters. As the name indicates, they offer your story and your protagonists and/or antagonists support. Their development is as critical as your main characters'. Here are the four primary roles of supporting characters in most works of fiction:


  1. Establishing setting: Setting isn't just landscape and architecture. Supporting characters are just as crucial to setting. Accents, dialects, attitudes, cultural norms, etc., are just a few details that supporting characters can lend to a story's setting.
  2. Acting as comedic vehicle or voice of reason: Supporting characters can give a story balance. If you're writing an intense thriller or mystery, a supporting character can provide a handful of laughs to allow the reader to breathe. If you're penning a novel where your main character is on a journey of self-discovery, supporting characters can show him or her the way.
  3. Adding a curve or two to your twist: Sometimes authors use supporting characters as a diversion. What is a seemingly innocuous supporting character may actually either be the springboard to your main plot twist or he or she may be the actual twist.
  4. Contributing a piece of the puzzle: Why is your main character a steely eyed tough guy or a sharp-witted policewoman with finely honed investigative skills? Such people aren't born, they are made, and they are made by the people in their lives--supporting characters.


As you develop your supporting characters, concentrate on what purpose they serve. If they don't meet the criteria of any of the above roles, there's a better-than-good chance they are weighing your story down and can be trimmed during rewrites.


-Richard


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


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Too Many Characters in the Kitchen

Who Are You Trying to Please?

1,356 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, supporting_characters
2

 

I keep reading (and hearing) authors use the pronoun "that" when they should be using the pronoun "who," so I thought I'd do a refresher post on the difference between the two.

 

WHO refers to people:

 

  • I am the one who is writing this blog post.
  • You are the one who is reading the blog post.

 

 

THAT refers to things:

 

  • The blog post that grabbed my attention the most was the one about pronouns.
  • The topics that seem to be the most popular with my readers are grammar, writing, and book marketing.

 

1) From an interview about a debut novel:


WHAT HE SAID: "I have two boys that judged me at every turn."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE SAID: "I have two boys who judged me at every turn."


(Reason: Boys are people, not things.)


2) From an author bio:


WHAT IT SAYS: Lisa's daughters were the ones that encouraged her to write, saying she should turn the bedtime stories she made up for them into a book.


WHAT IT SHOULD SAY: Lisa's daughters were the ones who encouraged her to write, saying she should turn the bedtime stories she made up for them into a book.


(Reason: Daughters are people, not things.)


3) From a book description:


WHAT IT SAYS: The story takes place in a dystopian society where teenagers are the ones that rule the land.


WHAT IT SHOULD SAY: The story takes place in a dystopian society where teenagers are the ones who rule the land.


(Reason: Teenagers are people, not things.)


Got it? People: WHO, things: THAT. Now get writing!


 

-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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There vs. they're vs. their

The dreaded "who vs. whom"

 

1,860 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, grammar_tip, that_vs_who
1

 

I've taken part in a lot of conversations. I've listened to a lot of conversations. I've even eavesdropped on more than a few. I've discovered one secret key element of conversations that makes them interesting, maddening, and authentic all at once, and I'm going to reveal that secret to you.

 

But first let me explain how I came to discover this secret: I discovered it by reading. That's right, I didn't notice it until I identified it in a book called The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. This component of conversation is so engrained in our culture that we don't even know it's there. It's a stealthy stitch that ties verbal communication together and builds relationships in awkward and fundamentally human ways.

 

Okay, here's the secret. Are you ready for this? People spend huge chunks of conversations not listening to one another. They are so consumed with interjecting and making their points about a topic that they zone out and make non sequiturs that jumble conversations up into nearly incoherent exchanges. In most conversations, the people involved have their own agendas, and they put a great deal of effort into fulfilling those agendas, even at the expense of listening. Here's the kicker. Somehow the communicators always seem to find their way back to salient points.

 

For most people, getting to the point of a conversation is a long, winding road. When you're writing dialogue for your characters, taking tidy steps where characters are responding to each other on point instead of servicing their own conversational agenda doesn't give you a realistic back and forth. Try playing around with the "not listening" technique and see if that adds a dose of authenticity to your dialogue.

 

-Richard


 

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


 

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Improving Dialogue

 

Start a Dialogue with Your Characters

 

1,244 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, authentic_dialogue
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Sometimes I get the feeling non-writers don't understand what writing actually is. They think it's 100% what I'm doing at this very moment: putting words to the page, digital or otherwise. Frankly, it is where I spend the least amount of time as a writer. The bulk of my writing time is spent formulating plots and developing characters as far away from my computer as I can get. It's playing and replaying a scene in my mind until the details fall into place, and I can essentially describe the scene in the form of a written passage before I've even put fingers to keyboard.

 

But in my estimation, even that time, the time spent running a story through the neuron marathon in your brain, isn't the most important part of what a writer does. For me, my best writing is done when I'm not devoting any time--be it physically writing or thinking--to a story. As much as I will deny it to my wife, I love doing the dishes. It is prime non-writing, non-thinking writing time. Trying to figure out how to load a dishwasher efficiently is a weird challenge to me that allows me to devote barely essential thoughts to a menial task and have it take up prime gray matter real estate. I'm not applying precious thought power to my latest story at all. I'm thinking of ways to insert bowls between the blunted rubberized spikes to allow for the most plates in my dishwasher. What's the best way to insert a coffee cup--handle toward the front or toward the back? This simple task is my most valuable writing time because it has zero to do with writing. By unhooking from a story, I'm allowing for the unexpected to find its way into the development of a story.

 

In essence, I'm never not writing. That is the blessing and curse of being a writer. We observe without observing. We record without recording. We unhook but remain unwittingly tethered to a project. Distractions are the unsung heroes of a writer's life.


 

-Richard


 

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


 

You may also be interested in...The "What If" Notebook

The "What If" Notebook

 

The Power of the Mindless Task

 

1,015 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_distractions
2

Sometimes when people I encounter find out I'm an author, they share with me their own ambitions of writing a book. While some of these individuals go on to reach their goals, in my experience that's usually not the case. I've lost track of how many times an aspiring author has told me that he or she once started writing a book, but then for various reasons it went nowhere. Some of the most common explanations I hear include:


*I got too busy with work/family

 

*I wasn't sure where the plot was going

 

*I was afraid it was awful

 

*It seemed like so much work

 

*I set it down and just didn't pick it up again

 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above, but here is the truth: Yes, they are reasons, but they are also excuses. It's completely fine if you don't finish your book or even if you never start your book. No one is telling you that you must write a book. It's your life, and you should live it as you choose. But if you truly want to write a book, you're the only one who can make yourself do it. That's really all it comes down to.

 

Much like losing weight or getting (and staying) in shape, writing a book takes discipline and commitment over a long period of time. There are always going to be reasons for why you can't eat right every day or work out every day. Always. But if you really want to lose weight by eating right regularly, you will. And if you really want to be in shape be exercising regularly, you will.

 

Writing a book is challenging and scary and not always fun. And once you're done, there's no guarantee that you'll sell a single copy. But who cares? For the vast majority of authors, writing a book isn't about the money. It's about writing a book. So if you really want to be an author, get out of your own way and make it happen. I promise you'll be glad you did.

 

-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 Takes Discipline

 

Think You Can't Write a Book While Working a Full-time Job? Think Again.

 

8,582 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, writing_a_book, excuses
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