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229 Posts tagged with the publishing tag

Title issues

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 26, 2017


What I am about to do is open a debate that could be so controversial that it will rock the literary world. There are passionate views on both sides of the issue, but I feel it is something that must be discussed. The conversation can help those novice writers struggling to know where to start.

Here we go.

I begin with a question. When do you come up with the title for your book?

I can tell you from my own experience that when I do "find" the title of a book, I write with a kind of unbridled creativity. The words come oh so much easier. Sometimes I find the title before I write the first word, and other times I find it after toying around with the characters and plot on the page. I can write aimlessly for 40 plus pages before the title comes to me, and when it does, it hits me like a bolt of lightning. I feel energized, and I can't wait to sit down in front of my laptop every day and carry out the theme indicted by the title. Sometimes that theme is subtle and sometimes it's implicit. It may not be obvious to anyone else, but I know the underlying meaning.

So, I open this controversial question here. When do you come up with the title for your book? Before your start writing? After you start writing? Or, heaven forbid, after you've finished your manuscript? There are no wrong answers. Everyone has their own process. What's yours? 

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


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The title sets the tone


Can your Book Title Affect the Way You Write?





1,185 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: publishing, title, genre, author_advice, book_advice

Word by Word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 13, 2017

If you haven't read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's memoir and book on writing, I highly recommend it. The title refers to an incident involving her brother when they were children. He had a report on birds due the next day, and he hadn't written a word. He gathered all his research material and immediately became paralyzed by fear. The enormity of the project just became too much. That's when his father put his arm around him and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."


The second I read that passage I had a moment of clarity that I have never experienced before. I had never heard a more accurate description of how to write a book. It really is that simple. "Bird by bird," or to put it more accurately, word by word.


Writing a book is an enormous task. Even if it is a labor of love, it is still an enormous task. Sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated, it is hard to keep going. Like Anne Lamott's brother, you can become immobilized by the prospect of tackling such a big project. The only thing you can do is take it word by word.


Don't complicate the book writing process. Yes, plot, character development, dialogue, they're all aspects of writing a novel, but when you get down to it, they consist of words, and words are your specialty. They are your purview. Just take a deep breath, picture Anne Lamott's father putting his arm around her terrified brother and saying those magic words, "Bird by bird, buddy."


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

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Writing a word a day

Increase your productivity with interval writing

1,010 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: book, publishing, writing, draft, writing_advice

The selfie paradox

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 27, 2017


We all know what a selfie is, right? In case you've never heard of the favorite marketing tool of every self-obsessed celebrity over the last fifteen years or so, here's how Wikipedia defines the term "selfie":

A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services....They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. "Selfie" typically refers to self-portrait photos taken with the camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, as opposed to those taken by using a self-timer or remote.

Now, 99.999% of you didn't need that definition. You know what a selfie is, and you probably have a very strong opinion regarding the act of one taking a picture of oneself and posting it on the internet for the world to see. It just seems unnecessary.

I have both decried the selfie culture and participated in the selfie culture. I won't attempt to explain my own hypocrisy because there is no rational explanation that is satisfactory. I simply know the value of selfies when it comes to branding for indie authors. You are the brand. Brands need a face, and what better face than your own face. So, I have turned on the front-facing camera on my phone and snapped a picture or two or three or more over the years. But, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, I have never donned a duck-face in my entire life. My selfies are usually reserved for events or vacation spots. I may have even snapped a picture of myself in excruciating artistic pain as I rewrite an old manuscript. The horror!

My point is, don't be so fast to ditch the selfies because you just can't bring yourself to be that self-absorbed. They are valuable tools for building an author brand and building an author brand is one of your primary jobs as an indie author.

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

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The Marketing Tool Many Authors Neglect

Six-Second Branding with Apps

768 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, publishing, writing, promotions, selfie


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 Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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





1,504 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing

You never know when you're going to meet someone who wants to buy your book, so it's good to always have a copy handy. But not everyone carries around cash or a checkbook, so I highly recommend the following three payment options:

  1. PayPal
  2. Venmo
  3. Square


If you have a free PayPal account (, others who have a PayPal account can send money directly from their account to yours without a transaction fee. They can also send money through a credit card, in which case you can decide if you or they pay the transaction fee. (This is a judgment call you will have to make.) With PayPal you can also send someone a "payment request" via email, which is essentially a stripped-down invoice.


All the rage with Millennials and also free, Venmo ( account holders can send each other money on their mobile phones at no cost by entering in the recipient's phone number, email address, or Venmo username into the Venmo app. Payments can also be made through the Venmo website.


With a free Square ( card reader that plugs into your mobile phone, you can swipe credit cards for a small per-transaction fee. As with PayPal, it's up to you to decide whether to pay the fee or pass it along to the buyer. In my experience, most people are happy to pay a little extra for the convenience of using a card.

If these options seem like too much of a hassle, look at it this way: You want to make it easy for those who express a sincere interest in buying your book to do so. Yes, they can always go online later and order a copy, but even those with the best of intentions can easily get busy and forget. I'd put that percentage in the ballpark of...very high. Why take that chance?

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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

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Marketing tip: always carry a book with you

A holiday book marketing idea

1,130 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, publishing, writing, payment, promotions

Set a goal

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 1, 2017

If you are reading this blog, there's a better than good chance you call yourself a writer. More than that, you love to write. It's a calling. We write because we feel compelled to do so. That doesn't mean we are always chomping at the bit to sit down and set words to page. There are times when we just don't have the physical and/or mental energy to do so. Let's face it, life is exhausting, and it can make finding the inspiration to write hard from time to time. The good news is there is a simple fix to those days when you just can't write. The bad news is it will take discipline.

Set a deadline. If you've ever participated in NANOWRIMO, you know the power of having a deadline. The key to making it work hinges on having a target word count. In the case of NANOWRIMO, the target word count is 50,000 words. It's a good start, and depending on the category and genre of your book, it's a perfectly acceptable word count. But if you're writing a fantasy novel, for instances, 50,000 words won't do if you want to meet genre expectations.

Once you have your target word count, set a daily word count total that is realistic. Only you know your schedule, so for me to suggest a daily word count would be arbitrary and unfair. My only suggestion is to not make it too aggressive, and when you reach the word count for the day, stop. Even if you have a flood of thoughts on where to go next in your story, stop. Walk away from a writing session knowing where you're going to start the next writing session.

To overcome those times you just don't want to write, give yourself a manageable deadline and feel the satisfaction of meeting your goal step by step.    

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


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The milestones you should track during NaNoWriMo


Stage three of writing – the daily word count theories





1,029 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: publishing, writing, nanowrimo, craft, writing_advice, deadlines

Genre cultures

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 18, 2017


Genres are funny things. They don't just describe and categorize a book. Genres reveal a lot about their readers, especially devoted readers. Much like a region of the country may have a different culture from another region, genres have their own cultures. It's not only a fascinating component of a genre. It's actually a good thing from the point of view of a marketer.

As someone who has a book in a specific genre, you may be well aware of the cultural aspects of that genre. You may even be deeply influenced by that culture. That's great. You not only know where to find your readers, you know how to talk to them without committing a genre faux pas. If you are not familiar with your genre's culture, my advice is to start studying. True fans of a genre gravitate toward authenticity. When they believe you're an authentic member of their genre tribe, they will be a powerful volunteer sales force for you.

You want to know the benchmark literary pieces in your genre. You want to know the literary masters of those works. In fact, knowing this information isn't enough. You want to have an opinion on the great works in your genre. Read them. Study them. Talk confidently about them. Once you develop a reputation as a connoisseur of your genre, your social media community will be filled with folks who admire your knowledge and trust your opinion. You will have a legion of fellow genre-ites who will happily tell their friends and followers about you, growing your brand in the process.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Connect with Your Volunteer Sales Force


How to Manage Your Volunteer Sales Force





1,361 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, readers, publishing, promotions, branding, author_advice

Your author manifesto

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 11, 2017

If you've lost your way, it is time to take a stand. It is time to take ownership, to dive in head first, and shout out what you believe with passion and vigor...Well, don't shout it. Write it down.

Speaking as an author, I know how hard it is to build a brand and sell books. In a word, it can be daunting. You can get frustrated, even disheartened along the way when things aren't going as well as you imagined they would. This can lead to a lack of enthusiasm and focus. Your branding efforts will falter, and you may even be tempted to walk away from your dream.

Don't. Sit down and write your author manifesto. Turn that disappointment into passion. Why did you write a novel? What do you want readers to get out of books? Are you a storyteller that just wants to get characters from point A to point B or is there subtle commentary on the state of the world in your work? Write everything that writing means to you. Remind yourself why you devoted time and passion to writing your book. Feel that passion again.

You can do this privately or publicly. I leave that aspect of the manifesto to you, but be aware, if you choose to go public, you are inviting others to comment. That can be a vulnerable position. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a little nerve-racking.

Find that burning desire you once had to write your book again. Write your author's manifesto. 

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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Why did you write your story?

Quashing self-doubt

1,292 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: author, publishing, writing, draft, craft, branding


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 Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Exclusive versus inclusive

Unconventional marketing ideas for mystery books





2,148 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, self-publishing, publishing, branding, author_brand

Blog content ideas

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 8, 2017

Finding the right material for your blog can be time-consuming, particularly if you're trying to find material that never grows old. Here are five ideas for content to include on your blog.

  1. Top writing tips: You're a writer. You have tips. Give them. Chances are, you won't make dramatic changes to your writing philosophy over the years. If you do, just amend your tips to match your new methods.
  2. Historical piece: Write a blog post that deals with the history of your genre, your hobby, passion project, etc. A historical blog post is excellent for drawing visitors over a sustained period of time. The information contained within is used as a point of reference for the curious, and inquiring minds tend to crop up every day.
  3. Plant evergreens: Link to or embed evergreen (always relevant) material in your blog. Pick a topic that is applicable to your author brand, and make it a staple on your blog. You can always find "how-to" or "tutorial" videos to embed in a blog post. These videos are particularly useful for drawing in a steady stream of new visitors.
  4. Seasonal topics: Write about seasonal topics on your blog. You won't get a steady stream of visitors throughout the year, but you will see an increase in visitors as the season approaches every year.
  5. Write time-independent material: Do you have a killer recipe for brownies that you can post? How about a family remedy for a persistent cough? Whatever timeless material you can think of would make great material for your blog.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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Resources to Help You Blog Daily

Never Too Boring to Blog

1,616 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, blogging, publishing, writing, blog_idea


Recently an old high school friend asked if I would speak to his brother, Scott, who had written a novel and wasn't sure what path to publication he should pursue. I agreed and had a brief email chat with Scott to set up a time to meet for coffee when I was in town to visit my parents later that month.

Scott had a link to his website in the signature of his email (smart!), so I clicked on it to have a quick look. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found: good writing. The site was just one page and sparse on copy, but what was there was crisp, engaging, and funny. It wasn't a sample from Scott's book, but it was a sample of Scott's writing, and Scott's writing made me want to read Scott's book. See how that works?

I told Scott as much when we met in person, and he was surprised. He hadn't thought of his website copy as a "writing sample." He didn't even think of himself as a real writer because his book hadn't been published. But he is a writer. He wrote a novel, and he should be proud of that, no matter what happens next.

In previous blogs I've recommended putting the first chapter of your book(s) on your website, and I still do. Much like in an ice cream store, offering potential customers a free taste increases the chances they will want more--assuming they like it. But in addition to the first chapter, I encourage you authors out there to think of all the words you put out into the world--be it via your blog or your bio page or your Twitter posts--as writing samples, as chances to capture the interest of potential readers. Getting someone's attention is hard, so why not use all the tools available to you?

-Maria 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




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Marketing tip: put your first chapter on your website


Marketing tip: tap your network for contacts



1,830 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, website, help, publishing, writing, social_media, marketing_adivce

Elections can excite voters. They can enrage voters. They can disgust voters. They can inspire voters. Elections are orchestrated chaos that remind most of us that nobody really wins when we talk politics. That's why I don't want to do that here, but I would like to try to do the impossible. I would like to talk about the elections while avoiding the political nature of elections.

    You see, I think elections provide us mega-sized examples of concentrated brand-building efforts, and we, as authors, can learn from them--both from the successes and the failures within an election season. Here is a list of successful tactics by candidates that authors should keep in mind as they build their own brands:

  1. Consistent messaging wins the day. Forget the substance of what any politician says. A message that is repeated over and over again influences hearts and minds. It's an old advertising strategy. Seeing an ad once doesn't move a consumer to consume. Seeing the same ad/message over and over again moves a consumer toward consumption.
  2. The more you're seen, the more you're heard. Politicians who succeed are politicians who get the most coverage. They seize every opportunity they can to own the narrative of an issue.
  3. Frequent contact is essential. Politicians are not shy about reaching out to their followers for either financial support or help in spreading the word. Email lists, social media platforms, and good old fashioned real world glad-handing keep supporters enthused and engaged.
  4. Personal appearances are crucial. No politician sits in his or her basement making YouTube videos, forgoing the opportunity to be seen in public. They get out and speak to groups of people. They literally put a face, style, and voice on their brand. They encourage the dissemination of these appearances far and wide via the internet and mainstream media outlets. They make themselves a product, and focus on the most optimal placement of the product so it can be seen by as many voters as possible
  5. Speak to your demographics. Politicians know their typical supporters inside and out, and they spend a lot of time and energy making them happy and getting them fired up.

Not everything is a lesson worth learning from a politician building a brand, but there are a lot of proven strategies that authors should modify and adopt for their own brand-building efforts. You never want to lose yourself in building a brand. You just want to showcase yourself and your work. Whether you agree with them or not, that's exactly what successful politicians do.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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Repeat, repeat, repeat

Book marketing is a numbers game

1,156 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, publishing, brand, author_brand, marketing_strategy


An author brand is not a corporate brand, and an author brand isn't just a personal brand. An author brand is unique in that it combines approximately nine-parts personal brand and one-part corporate brand. Incidentally, you should know that part of my brand identity involves making up numbers to illustrate a point.



The point is that your author brand will reflect your personal identity while preserving the reality that you are also involved in a commercial endeavor: selling books. That is to say, you have the luxury of being candid about your beliefs and lifestyle, a strategy that corporations don't employ in an effort to appeal to as many consumers as possible. Your aim as an author is to find a narrow group of passionate consumers who will become your advocates and volunteer sales force. In order to engender this level of passion you will have to make a personal connection with your readers. In other words, your beliefs and lifestyle are essentially commercial tools to make that personal connection.



Your aim is to become a cultural representative, and that culture is of your own making. You set the rules. You define the philosophies. You guide the community that you will inevitably create, and you do all this by championing your own set of principles. You are a movement. Think about it, books can start conversation. They usher in trends. They can unite people from around the globe. A book is a powerful tool, and as an author you have the opportunity and responsibility to build a brand that becomes a cultural bellwether by simply being you.



-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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



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Branding 101: Tools for Branding



Passive Income and Marathon Branding





1,187 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, promotion, publishing, author_marketing, author_brand, author_advice, personal_identity


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



Then I tell them two things:


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

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

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

Tweet #1: BUY MY BOOK!



Tweet #4: BUY MY BOOK!

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

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

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

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


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

-Maria 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

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Social Networking Sells Your Brand


Don't make this marketing mistake





10,063 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, author, promotion, publishing, social_media, marketing_tips, marketing_advice


Onward we march in our "taking inventory" strategy. Last time we discussed developing an Author Declaration so you can easily identify your guiding principles as you develop your brand. Today let's get a bit more practical. Let's prioritize your platform.




Your platform is your base of operations. You will engage, entertain, and educate fans with original content via your platform. Now, your platform consists of several online outlets. It's rare these days for an author to use one online vehicle to build a brand. You want to be versatile, but you also don't want to spread yourself too thin. My suggestion is to find three of these conduits you feel comfortable with and make them your platform mainstays.




You are not going to divide your time equally among all three. That is as ineffective as just using one to build your brand. This is where the prioritizing comes in. One plank in your platform is going to be your primary launching point, while the other two are support planks.



I know one author who has a tremendously successful blog, and about 70% of his time and efforts go into maintaining the blog as his primary brand-building tool, while Twitter takes up approximately 20%, and the remaining 10% is spent on Facebook. Another author has a wildly popular YouTube channel, and that's where most of his efforts go, but he still uses smaller portions of his time utilizing Twitter and Facebook.




Pick the online tool that best plays to your strengths and throw yourself into it, using two other tools as secondary planks that support your brand.




-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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




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Social Media Best Practices



The Short and Long of Blog Posts





1,443 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, promotion, blogging, publishing, media, social, marketing_strategy, marketing_advice
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