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Social media in 2016

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 27, 2016

     Since we are fast approaching the mid-point of 2016, we should probably examine the current state of social media. After all, it is not a static platform. People are participating in all sorts of different ways, and some approaches are more effective than others. I'm going to keep the information fairly general, but for specifics feel free to search for "Social Media in 2016," and you will find a plethora of data to support what you read here and even more detailed information on how you can more effectively utilize your social media platform.


  1. The fastest-growing group of social media users will be those who are 65 and older.
  2. The younger demographics will see the slowest amount of growth, but they will still outnumber the older demographics by a wide margin.
  3. Videos offer the most opportunity for engagement by a huge margin.
  4. Specialized social media sites are starting to emerge as significant players. If you've got an interest, who knows? There might be a social media site devoted to that interest.
  5. Live streaming is becoming more and more popular. It's as easy as downloading a live streaming app to your phone and turning on the video camera.
  6. Online marketing companies are trending toward creating mobile marketing strategies first. Consumers are just spending more time on their mobile devices than laptops and desktops these days.
  7. Social media analytics are all the rage. Tracking your social media activity means you can identify how and where to find engagement. Engagement creates brand loyalty. Brand loyalty generates sales.
  8. Social media users trend toward supporting brands that adopt a cause and devote a portion of their social media real estate to that cause.
  9. The selfie trend will continue to grow for every demographic except the fastest-growing social media users, the 65 and older crew. They will continue to hate the selfie trend.
  10. Video profiles will continue to grow in popularity. Think of it as an author photo with motion and sound.


 

For the most part, it is business as usual in the social media kingdom. I urge you all to check for trends frequently so you can become an early adopter and find much more success than a late arriver.


 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Marketing: Begin with Your Strengths

 

Social Networking Sells Your Brand

 

 

 

 

1,168 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, blogging, social_media, vlogging, social_platform
1

Be original

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 20, 2016

If you've followed along in previous posts, I'm sure you've made your Author's Declaration, you've established your platform priority, you've plotted out how to use your secondary planks to support your main plank, and you've become a strident believer in developing a schedule. The last bit of brand-building inventory we need to discuss is the type of content you'll be showcasing on your platform.


In this case, when I say "type," I'm referring to the origin of your content. From where will it come? If you take nothing else from these blog posts on brand building, remember this one thing: original content is king. Material that comes from you has the greatest potential to be tied to your brand. The goal is to produce something that is worthy of being shared. When it's shared on social media platforms, friends of friends and followers of followers and so forth and so on are linked back to your brand's platform. The more share-worthy material you produce, the greater the opportunity that your brand's outreach will grow.


With your commitment to scheduling, you've established half of the consistency quotient. The other half has to do with your brand’s focus. Yes, you’ll be discussing your books, but it can’t be just about your books. You have to include other passions in your brand identity too--and I do mean passions. If you're into gardening, produce original content about gardening. If politics is your thing, jump into political topics with both feet. Sports, relationships, television, theatre, or whatever captures your interest, make room for it on your platform, and do it consistently. Give your brand depth based on your passions. It's the most effective way to give your author brand staying power.


-Richard


 

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


 

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Blogging - "Why would anyone care what I have to say?"

Setting Goals for Your Brand

 

466 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, branding, brand_building, be_original
0

 

    I talked about prioritizing your platform in a previous post. By that, I mean give your platform three planks from which you operate. One of those planks will be used as your primary source for brand exposure. The other two planks will be used as support planks. In other words, they will be used in the following ways:


  1. You will use them as funnels to your primary plank. Let's say you've decided to make video your primary online plank. When you complete a new video and post it to your online channel, use your support planks to drive traffic to your video. Or if your blog is your primary plank, use your support planks to drive traffic to your latest post.
  2. Your support planks can be used to satisfy the need for immediacy. Let's say you've just sold the movie rights to your novel. Use your support planks to send out a headline-worthy announcement with the promise of more details to follow in your primary plank. Whenever you need to get out the word quickly, your secondary planks can come in handy.
  3. Your support planks can also be used to engage your readers in special Q & A chats. This is a strategy that can come in handy for your newest release. You more or less reverse your plank priority in this case. Use your primary to give a detailed account of the release and the time and date of the Q & A, then just make yourself available to respond to questions as they come in on your chosen secondary plank.

 


The structure should be fairly obvious. Your primary plank is for long-form content and your secondary planks are for short-form communications. The point is to form a synergistic relationship between all the planks and give your brand room to grow.


-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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Growing and Cultivating Your Online Community

 

An Active Author Brand

 


 


1,080 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, brand, branding, social_media, author_marketing, author_brand
1

A few weeks ago I received a nice email from a fan of my books. She said she's also an author and hoped I might check out her debut novel, which had recently been released. In her email signature she included a link to her website--good for her! I'm always looking for an interesting read, so I clicked on the link to have a look.

 

What I saw inspired me to write this post because, unfortunately, it was not pretty. Here's why:

 

  1. The font was way too small: If visitors to your website have to squint to read it, they probably aren't going to stick around for long. Maybe whoever designed this particular author's website has superhuman vision, or maybe he/she wears magnified lenses and didn't realize how tiny the font is, but I could barely see it.
  2. The background was black, and the font was blue: I'm all for being different, but blue font on a black screen is not a good look. It's jarring to the eyes and difficult to read, so I highly recommend against it.
  3. The home page was way too busy: There was so much happening on the home page that I found myself physically recoiling from my computer screen. I had no idea where to begin reading because it was all such a jumble. Combine that with the tiny font and the weird colors, and it's not hard to see why I gave up and left the site without ever reading about the author's book.

 

It's hard to get potential readers to visit your website, so you want to make sure those who do visit have a positive experience. Your site doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be user-friendly. Avoid the above pitfalls, and you'll be on the right track.

 

-Maria

 

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

 

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A Few Reasons to Have a Website

 

Marketing Tip: Put Your First Chapter on Your Website

 

924 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, website_design, writers, promotions
2

I recently happened upon an interesting marketing idea that I wanted to share with readers of my blog. For a limited time the print version of one of my books was for sale on Amazon at a significant discount over the normal list price, so a good friend of mine, who is also a huge fan of my books, sent out an email to about 30 of her friends encouraging them to buy it. She also copied me on the email.


 

One of the recipients (I'll call her Annie) replied directly to me and told me that she'd already read the book but would love to buy signed copies for 10 of her friends. Would that be possible, she asked. I live in New York and she lives in California, so we decided that the easiest way to handle things would be for her to order the books on Amazon and have them shipped directly to me. She emailed me a list of names for the inscriptions, and once I received the books I signed them and mailed them to her in a single box. Using the media mail rate, sending 10 books didn't cost much at all--I believe it was only around six dollars--so I was more than happy to do it.


 

Normally when fans want to buy one or two signed copies, I sell them directly (I have a stash in my living room). I also charge more than the list price to cover my own costs, not to mention the time it takes me to go to the post office and wait in line. In this case, however, it was more important to me to get my books in the hands of 10 new readers than to make a little extra money. If those readers enjoy the book and tell their friends...well you know how that works!

 

-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: Offer to Send a Book

Marketing Tip: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

 

1,052 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, promotions, signed_copies
0

 

The other day I received a call from my friend Kristen, who recently opened her own business in the wedding-planning industry. She remembered that close friends of mine had recently been featured in the Vows section of the New York Times, and she wanted to know if an introduction to the reporter who wrote the piece would be possible.

 

While I'm still working on getting that contact for Kristen, I was impressed by her willingness to reach out to her network in order to help promote her business. As she and I were chatting, I thought of an indie author I knew who had published a book about lessons learned over 50 years of marriage, so I offered to put Kristen in touch with her to explore possible joint-marketing opportunities. Who knows what their conversation might lead to, but it got me thinking. What if that indie author reached out to her network in the same targeted (and personalized) way that Kristen had done to me? What introductions might that lead to? What doors might it open?

 

While there are some fundamental steps for promoting a book that you can (and should) take, such as creating an author page on Amazon, writing a compelling book description, etc., there's no magic formula for success. Much of book marketing is doing everything and anything you can think of to try to spread the word, seeing what works and what doesn't, and repeating whatever works--over and over.

 

However small it may be, all of us have a network, so chances are you have friends or colleagues who know people who could be helpful in your efforts to promote your book. Why not ask them? You never know what might happen, and it sure can't hurt to try.

 

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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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Tips for Networking with Other Authors

The Power of a Personal Connection

 

847 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, marketing_tip
2

For some reason that I have yet to uncover, over the past week I've received several emails that all say more or less the same thing. Here are snippets of three of them:


Dear Maria Murnane, I have recently come across your book, Wait for the Rain, available on Audible and on Amazon, and due to both its quality and plot, it qualifies to be promoted in our community of readers.


Hi Maria, I hope you don't mind me reaching out, but I wanted to say that I think your book would be well received with our subscribers. We were wondering if you'd like to be featured in our newsletter.


Good day, I discovered your book online and wanted to invite you to promote it alongside other similar authors.


Each of these "communities," which I imagine is nothing more than a massive list of email addresses, claims to have tens--if not hundreds--of thousands of "subscribers" who are eager for new books to read. The prices the sales reps quoted were all around $20 to be "featured," whatever that means.


I declined to participate in any of the offers because they seemed to me like a waste of money. But in spite of that, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe I should have tried just one to see what would happen. Then I realized I could ask the many readers of this blog to chime in with their own experiences, so that's why I'm throwing it out to you. For those of you who have tried one of these email blast services, do they work? Is $20 to reach 100,000 potential readers a good idea? Do these lists actually generate sales? Or are they a huge rip-off?


Please share your experiences in the comments section below. While I'm unable to respond, I look forward to reading them and hope to get a productive discussion going!


-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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Book Marketing via Email: Blind Copy and Newsletters

Book Marketing Tip: Apply for Awards

947 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, email_marketing, email_blasts
1

     Social media is a wonderful tool to use for brand building. It gives you a unique opportunity to expand your reach beyond your physical community, and it gives you that opportunity for the low, low cost of nothing more than an internet connection. The only real investment it requires is your time, and that, my friends, is a bargain. Here are the three best practices to keep in mind as you use social media to build your author brand:


  1. Be active: Joining a social media site is a huge step toward building your author brand--if you are an active presence on the social media site. If you're not posting multiple times a day, you are essentially wasting a brand-building opportunity. No one is expecting you to write updates that rival the length of War and Peace. On the contrary, short, concise messages or links to material on the internet you find interesting will better suit your needs.
  2. Be interactive: Comments from friends and followers are gifts. It's someone in your community reaching out to you and giving you the opportunity to make a deeper connection. Do not let comments go without a response. Interact with them, and strengthen your community.
  3. Be careful: Sharing is a good thing. Oversharing, on the other hand, can do some pretty serious damage to your brand. You're an artist, which means you have a little more leeway than a corporate brand has as far as what types of things you can share, but that doesn't mean you want to inundate your fans with post after post of bad news. On the flip side, you can never spread too much hope. Keep it real and keep it positive to create a brand with a solid foundation.


In 2016 it may be unnecessary to say, but I'm going to say it anyway, social media is your gateway to book sales. Use these best practices, and your investment of time will be well spent.


-Richard

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


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5 Tips for Promoting your Facebook Page

Social Media Advertising vs. Social Media Marketing

4,443 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, advertising, social_networking, social_media, author_brand, marketing_strategy
1

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


 

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


 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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


 

-Maria


 

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


 

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A Few Reasons to Have a Website

 

Marketing Tip--Business Cards

 

 

 

 

1,343 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotion, writing, internet_presence
0

I was perusing Facebook one day, and a meme popped up on my newsfeed. It was an image of a smiling man accompanied by a quote. I knew both the man and the quote. I knew the man because I'm friends with him on Facebook, and I knew the quote because it came from one of his books, a book I had read and enjoyed.


 

He meme'd himself, and I loved it. Technically, I liked it on Facebook and shared it. Creating a meme to build your author brand is an excellent strategy. I don't know if this particular meme caught on, but he should do more. He should create as many memes as he can--his author photo with a quote from his book, his brand with his product. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.


 

You should do the same. If you don't want to use your author photo, I can understand that. I don't think it's a bad thing if you do or if you don't. Use an image that fits the quote. If you can find an occasion to create a meme that is relevant to current events, all the better. Be sure to identify the source of the quote, which is your book.


 

Memes are made to be shared. They can help spread the word about your brand perhaps better than an email newsletter, a personal video or just about any other marketing tool. The key is to create a lot of them, and share them as often as you can. Repetition is crucial.

 

 

-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

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Social Media Advertising vs. Social Media Marketing

 

The Grassroots Marketing Ripple Effect

 

 

1,194 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, advertising, branding, social_media, author_brand, social_post
0

Picture This

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 20, 2016

This is "generation share." That is the crux of marketing in a world dominated by social media. If you want to build a brand today, you have to create share-worthy content to do so. That's not to say your book doesn't matter. It does, but you'll have to lead them to your book by building a brand first, and you do that with your blog, writing original posts about whatever you feel passionately about. Your posts will be as engaging as your books. They will be inspirational, and they will generate interest.

 

They will, that is, if your blog post is accompanied by an image. Without one, there's a likelihood no one will discover your blog post because it won't be shared as often. An image is your hook. It is the face of your post, the spark that can ignite interest and do more than prompt someone to read your post--it can lead them to share your post.

 

The problem is coming up with an image. Paying for the use of images every time you write a blog post would be prohibitively expensive. Paying a professional photographer or graphic artist to provide you with original images would be even more costly. You have a couple of options. You can create the images yourself if you possess the desire and aptitude, or you can do an online search to find resources for free stock images or public domain images.  Take care to read any user agreements before you download them. You don't want to violate the rules, particularly if the images are being made available for free.

 

Don't let your share-worthy original content go unnoticed. Give it a face, and start building your brand.

 

-Richard

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

 

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Building an Author Brand: You are What You Share

Social Media Swap

1,192 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, promotion, blogs, author_brand, social_post, auhtor_image
2

The word "said" is the most common dialogue identifier. That is to say, authors use it to break up a conversation and apply a character name or the appropriate pronoun to help the reader keep track of who is saying what at any given time. It can be overused. It can be underused. The trick is finding the right balance.

 

"Said" is declarative. Technically. In the strictest sense. But to an artist, strict is not always applicable. With that in mind, I've had a debate on a number of occasions about the use of the word "said" beyond its declarative nature.

 

By declarative, I mean "said" is usually applied thusly in a novel:

 

"Mike is coming over this morning," I said.

 

The declaration is that Mike is coming over this morning. Simple. So, how do we use "said" in a non-declarative sense? We use it when a character says something in the form of a question--but in a situation when it's not necessarily a question. Primarily, it can be used to convey disbelief, as in this example:

 

We all saw her enter the room, but I was the only one who saw her destiny. The entire rest of her life flashed before my eyes, and I couldn't stop grinning. Without thinking, I said, "I'm going to marry that girl."

 

"You?" Brian said. "You can't even talk to girls."

 

Not my best writing, but quality aside, to use the word "asked" as the identifier for Brian seems inappropriate to me because he's not really asking a question. He's making a statement of disbelief. His friend just said something that completely goes against his character. In essence, Brian is declaring his skepticism.

 

So, what say you, fellow writers? Can you say a question when it's not really a question but a statement of disbelief? Is "said" the appropriate identifier in this case?

 

-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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Does Grammar Matter?

"Not adverbs," He Said Angrily.

1,095 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, dialogue_identifier, declarative
3

I am going to make a claim that will undoubtedly make a lot of folks groan and roll their eyes. I speak from personal observation, and I'm willing to concede that my conclusion is not universal in nature. In other words, I may just be really weird.

 

Like many of you, I get marketing emails all the time. They come from all sorts of organizations and individuals. I ignore 99 percent of them. I've been conditioned to do so. The one percent I don't ignore come from an e-tailer that sends me about three to four emails a day. I see their name under the "From" column over and over again. The name of the company takes a subliminal hold in my subconscious. Even if I don't actively follow the links in the emails they provide, they are definitely my go-to resource for online shopping.

 

On the flip side, I am on a couple of email lists for authors. I get emails from them at most once a month. Given the volume of marketing emails I get, these messages from authors announcing a new book or some other development go unnoticed. Beyond missing the content of the email, the subliminal effect of seeing the sender's name on a continuous stream of emails is also absent.

 

My point is that email marketing works, but not if you use it infrequently. In a supposition that admittedly defies what we've been taught, I believe email marketing works when it floods into your inbox. Some call it spam. Some call it junk mail, but it works on the premise that has served the advertising industry well for as long as there has been an advertising industry. Repetition is the key to creating top-of-mind awareness and increasing sales.

 

You may agree or disagree, and I'm not advocating using such a strategy, but I am curious to know how you use or view email marketing.

 

-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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A Marketing Calendar

Competency

1,269 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, selling, self-publishing, promotion, social_media, email_marketing
1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Maria

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

 

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

 

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Marketing Tip: Make It Easy for Your Readers to Contact You

Marketing Tip: Show vs. Tell in Your Book Description

2,351 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotions, marketing_resolution
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

 

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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Evaluating Your Author Brand

Building an Author Brand is Easy

5,749 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, branding, author_brand, marketing_ideas, author_tips, author_advice
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