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359 Posts tagged with the self-publishing tag
10

Refresher on IT'S/ITS

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2018

Are you confused by when to use IT'S and when to use ITS? If so, you have every right to be, because the correct way to use ITS goes against the general rule we're taught about apostrophes. Here's a refresher on the difference between IT'S and ITS:


We normally use an apostrophe when something belongs to someone or something - in other words, to indicate possession:


  • This diary belongs to Daphne.
  • This is Daphne's diary.


  • I like going to that movie theater because the seats there are super comfortable
  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.


However, when something belongs to IT, no apostrophe is needed:


  • That movie theater's seats are super comfortable.
  • I like going to that movie theater because ITS seats are super comfortable.


  • Daphne's diary has a green cover.
  • That's Daphne's diary, and ITS cover is green.


We also use apostrophes as a contraction for a noun plus the verb IS or HAS:


  • This seat is super comfortable.
  • This seat's super comfortable. (Seat + IS)


  • Gloria has seen that movie three times.
  • Gloria's seen that movie three times. (GLORIA + HAS)


Following the contraction rule for apostrophes, IT'S is used as a contraction for IT IS or IT HAS:


  • IT IS getting dark, so I really should go home.
  • IT'S getting dark, so I really should go home. (IT + IS)


  • Are you okay? IT HAS been weeks since I've heard from you.
  • Are you okay? IT'S been weeks since I've heard from you. (IT + HAS)


Do the above examples make sense? Essentially, ITS as the possessive form of IT is an exception to the rule regarding apostrophes, so it comes down to memorization to get it right.


-Maria

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


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Two abbreviations that are easy to confuse

Are you making this common grammar mistake?

1,370 Views 10 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, book, self-publishing, writing, grammar, tip, it's_vs_its
3

The questions

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 24, 2018

 

Really bad writers tell readers how great their characters are. Writing is about showing your readers how great your characters are, and the quality of your characters hinge on one thing. This one thing is actually an innate skill that successful writers possess. In a lot of books, authors construct a story based on this one thing.

 

This one thing is really a series of things, but it is the same concept repeated over and over again. The quality of your characters depends on the questions they have to face. If you're writing a mystery novel, it's chock full of questions. How your characters deal with these questions is the linchpin to their development.


And it's not just mysteries. Every genre of fiction is nothing more than a series of questions your characters face from page to page and chapter to chapter. Your readers learn about what your characters are really made of as each question is explored. The conflicts that drive plot provide your characters with the big questions, but smaller questions arise from the journey dealing with these conflicts.


These questions don't just exist in fiction. We all face unspoken questions every day of our lives, some small, some big, and the way we deal with these questions reveal our character. The stories we write simply mirror reality, most likely on a much grander scale and with much bigger stakes, but the concept is essentially the same.


If you want to write better, more engaging characters, pay attention to the questions you face in a day or week, and then put your characters in your shoes. Where would they diverge from your decision making? Where would they make the same decisions? What does that show you about their character?


-Richard


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

 

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Torture your characters

 

What would your characters do?

 

 

 

 

1,027 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: books, self-publishing, writing, characters, fiction, plot
2

When I'm working on a book, I find that one of the hardest things about the process - in addition to coming up with what to write - is getting myself to sit at my desk and focus. "Focus" is the key word here, because once I let myself stop and check my email, browse Facebook, etc., it's amazing how quickly what I intended to be "a quick break" morphs into the whole day. Once I engage with the outside world, any creative spell I've been under is instantly snapped, and it's hard to get that back.


On the flip side, if I stay in the zone and ignore the lure of the Internet and my phone, it's amazing how much writing - good writing - I can get done in a short amount of time. It's like when Han Solo and Chewy switch the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive. Suddenly, they're halfway across the galaxy!


So there you have it. Stay away from your devices to improve productivity. That sounds so simple, but I know it's not because I still have trouble doing it! (Tools such as Freedom will block the Internet for you if your will power repeatedly falls short.)


In a way, sitting down to write is like working out. You may have the best of intentions to do it, but actually working out means not doing something else, and the pull of the "something else" tractor beam is powerful. If you can get yourself dressed in your workout gear and out the door, that's half the battle. Actually, it's probably most of the battle. So think of disconnecting as the digital equivalent of putting on your workout clothes. Put your phone on mute, turn off your Internet browser, and get to work!


-Maria

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


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Writing tip: keep a notebook by your bed

Writing tip: be careful not to overdo the beats

1,093 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, procrastination, writing_tip
5

"Be a sadist."

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 2, 2018

Today we begin with a quote from an American literary legend:


"Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader may see what they are made of." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Bagombo Snuff Box


Add to this sadistic advice what my wife recently said to me. She told me about a frustrating situation she'd recently experienced, and she finished her story by saying, "It's one of those bad situations where I guess you're supposed to learn something. I'm really tired of learning from bad situations. I'd like to learn from a good one every now and then."


Bad stuff happens. In life and in fiction, bad stuff is constantly making an appearance. That bad stuff is a useful tool in building character. That's what Vonnegut was saying. If you have a story that doesn't involve struggles and obstacles, your characters will never learn. They will never display their true selves. They will never have the opportunity to change and grow. As a writer, you are responsible for bringing bad stuff into your characters' lives. As a writer myself, I can tell you that's not always easy to do. I have become emotional for what I have had to do to various characters over the years. You probably have as well. That's a good thing. If we feel it, the readers will feel it.


As Vonnegut says, "Be a sadist." Do bad things to your characters because it's how you add dimensions to them, and it's how you advance your story.


-Richard

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


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Write an Obituary for Your Characters

Why the development of secondary characters matters

864 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, character_development, kurt, vonnegut, sadist
2

Ernest Hemingway famously wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms anywhere from 39 to 47 times, depending on if you count the fragments of rewrites as a full rewrite or not. For a man with such a sparse writing style, that is a remarkable fact. He spent hours crafting and recrafting an ending, looking for the right words to make the final draft, and perhaps more importantly, find the right words to cut.

 

The alternative endings remained unread until 2012 when a version of Farewell to Arms was released with the original ending and the others that Hemingway discarded. One can make a reasoned argument that doing such a thing could be construed as a violation of Hemingway's art, but that aside, there is something to be learned from reading the alternative endings, especially if you are a writer.

 

You can see the emotion explicitly put into the ending, and then over the course of the rewrites, you see the emotional passages eliminated, but somehow leaving the emotional context behind. It's really remarkable and an actual record of the old writing tenet that less is more.

 

The alternative endings also show how deliberate Hemingway was in his writing. He didn't just sit down and pound out pages on his typewriter. He agonized over every word. Just because he was a literary legend doesn't mean writing came easy to him. He honed his craft and the page earned every word.

 

Yes, you can overthink and overwrite and spend too much time rewriting, but it's okay to be obsessive about your craft. Take your time and find the right words to use and cut. 


-Richard

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

 

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Rewrite for New Life

 

The rewriting steps

 

 

 

 

963 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, revisions, writing, drafts, rewriting, writing_advice
3

 

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


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


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


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


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


-Richard

 

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

 

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Living the Indie Author Dream

 

Your Job as an Indie Author

 

 

 

 

1,586 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing
4

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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

1,452 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, readers, publishing, promotions, branding, author_advice
17

Auditing your readers

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 27, 2017

 

Businesses, big and small, do frequent audits to gauge their success. They inventory product. They perform extensive ROI (return on investment) on advertising and marketing campaigns. They research and evaluate the demographics of their customer base. They evaluate the effectiveness of their workforce. They look at everything from the amount of money they spend on staples to the salaries of executive officers, all in the interest of maximizing their productivity.


You are an indie author, which means you are technically a small business owner. You should be auditing your business just like the major corporations. You won't know how to grow unless you know where you stand.


Start with your readers. You might be asking how you can possibly audit your readers. How can you possibly know who your readers are? Because you know your genre. Genres are demographic-specific by design. By-in-large, they attract a common core of readers who are from the same age group and in a lot of cases, the same gender. Depending on your genre, you can even narrow down even further. Find out as much information on the demographic that represents the typical reader of your genre. A simple query with your favorite search engine should get you started. Dive deep. Know their likes, their dislikes, and where they are most likely to share their likes and dislikes with others in their demographics. Know them like you know members of your own family.


Auditing your readers is the best way to build effective marketing campaigns and give you confidence that you are spending your branding time wisely.


-Richard

 

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

 

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Create a reader profile

 

Categories, genres, and subgenres

 

 

 

 

2,919 Views 17 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, self-publishing, readers, writing, genre, social_media
1

A couple years after my first novel was released, I noticed a title on Amazon with the same name. I read that book's description and realized it was also in the same vein as mine, which had been featured on the front page of the Life section of USA Today and also (briefly!) reached No. 2 overall on Amazon. In other words, it was not hidden under a rock for those in the publishing world. Curious as to why the author (and/or her publisher) would choose the same title as my book, I went to her Author Page on Amazon. It was blank. Then I looked her up on LinkedIn. Nothing. Then I typed her name into Google. Zip. Then Facebook. Nada.


If I'd been able to connect with my book-title-twin author, who knows what might have happened? Maybe we'd have ended up sharing marketing stories. And ideas. And readers. Now we'll never know.


Are you easy to find online? If you're not making tons of money off your book(s), you should be, because you never know what opportunities might pass you by because no one can find you. Opportunities don't come around every day for authors, but if you're reading this post then you already know that.


Even if you do nothing else to market your book, why not fill in your Amazon Author Page and provide some contact information? It's so easy. And it's free! It's not like you're giving away your Social Security number and your mom's maiden name. A simple email address will do. If you're worried about being deluged with messages, you can set up a specific email address just for this purpose.


Here's a link that explains how to complete your Amazon Author Page.

Here's what mine looks like.


What are you waiting for? 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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Marketing Tip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

Have you created your Amazon Author Page yet?

1,931 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, promotions, author_central
3

 

There would have been a time that I would have steered authors away from participating in short story collections. Such collections appeal to a niche audience. Traditionally, they don't sell as well as novels or even novellas, and they usually offer no financial benefit to the author. But, upon further consideration, I have a different attitude today about short story collections.


It is precisely because they have niche appeal that they could be highly successful in today's fractured publishing terrain. Today, genres and subgenres and sub-sub-genres are the norm in publishing. Readers who prefer paranormal young adult techno-punk romance most likely will find exactly what they are looking for with just a few minutes of browsing on their favorite retailer's website. And those readers are likely to have hundreds or thousands or even more like-minded readers that they are connected with who will spread the word about books they've discovered that match their very specific tastes.


It just stands to reason that a pool of readers who enjoy short story collections also exists. With that in mind, I now see the value in short story collections, but there is a catch. These collections can't be random stories. The stories must share a theme. For example, having a collection of short stories written by new indie authors isn't likely to do well, but having a collection of short horror stories written by new indie authors has some promise. Define the genre down to the sub-genres and even deeper, and your collection of short stories has an even better chance of finding niche readers en masse.


Whether you're putting together a short story collection or you?re asked to participate in one, make sure the collection has a theme that will appeal to your readers.


-Richard

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

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The Rise of the Sub-genre

Find Smaller Markets to Sell More Books

 

 

 

 

1,044 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, story, genre, craft, collections, writing_advice, subgenre
2

It is time to repeat an oft-repeated theme on this blog. In fact, I think it's something that can't be said enough. We are authors, and as authors, we feed off each other's successes. That is to say that if you write a book that becomes wildly popular and brings you fame and riches, I benefit, too. All indie authors do.

 

The point is other authors, even in your category and genre, are not your competition. They are your colleagues. Why? Because when a reader falls in love with a book, they don't put the book down and never read again. The opposite happens. They scour social media and the internet looking for a new book to devour. A reader that connects with a book inspires that reader to read more.

 

In point of fact, we are indie in that we have complete editorial and publishing control over our books, but we aren't indie in that we are in this alone. We all rely on each of us doing well. Success for one indie author can only lead to success for other indie authors.

 

Look, I know it's easy to look at the meteoric rise of an author and ask yourself, "Why not me?" But try not to think of it that way. Think of a fellow author's success as your future success. They are simply clearing a path and creating readers who hunger for more books to read and cherish. One of those books could be yours.

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

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Supporting Indie Authors

When to promote other indie authors

1,212 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writers, author_collaboration, author_advice
2

If I taught a class in writing, the following would be the outline for my syllabus:

 

1. Character – The care you take in crafting your characters is probably the most important time and talent you will spend writing. The goal is to create characters with whom your readers will make an emotional connection. That means you need to have more than a passing knowledge of what makes your characters tick. You need to do a deep dive on their background and relationships.

 

2. Plot – The temptation will be to show off and demonstrate to your readers how clever you are, but resist that temptation. Keep your main plot simple. Limit the number of twists and turns to just a few. Remember, character is what's driving this book. The plot should serve the characters not the other way around.

 

3. Subplots – This is where I have fun with secondary characters. I give them their own adventures within the story, a strategy that gives them much more depth. I believe it's crucial that your readers not only connect with the main characters but with supporting characters, too.

 

4. Conflict – There have to be clear stakes for your characters if they don't succeed, and those stakes have to be personal. The potential loss has to be painful and life-altering. Not only will that drive you to be more creative when things get tough, it will draw your readers in even more. The greater the stakes for a character they've connected with, the greater their interest.

 

5. Endings – You've caused your readers to bond with your characters. Give them an ending that reflects real life. What happens in real life? It goes on. Whatever happened to your main character, life doesn't end when the book does. Give a hint at what's to come next, even if you're not writing a series.  

 

Why did I share this with you? Am I trying to tell you how to write? No. I want you to do the same. Create a five-topic outline for a syllabus, not because I want you to teach a class, but I want you to be able to identify your own writing philosophy. Once you know that, you'll write with more confidence and approach each project with much more energy and enthusiasm.

 

-Richard

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

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Your writing philosophy

Your how-to-be-a-novelist syllabus

1,808 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, self-publishing, indie, writing, characters, drafts, plot, author_advice, writing_help
0

Every once in a while, it's good to remember that old adage that nothing stays the same. Things change. After all, if things didn't change, I'd be carving this blog post on a cave wall somewhere using crudely drawn pictures instead of words.


Perhaps nothing has changed more than publishing. For the most part, books aren't made the same way. They aren't read the same way. In a lot of instances, physical copies of books don't even exist until they are purchased. That means warehousing books isn't the problem it once was. Stacks of old books aren't carted away to make room for new titles. Those old books, once remaindered and forgotten, still have value in today's publishing world.


I've used the following term before, but commit it to memory. Your book is "evergreen" material. That is to say it won't go out of print unless you choose to stop selling it. That is the beauty of digital and print-on-demand publishing. No warehouse space is needed. There's no push to make room for new titles, because virtual space is a lot roomier than actual space.


Given that, why would you ever stop promoting a book? Why wouldn't you come up with a cyclical marketing plan that you follow every year. Keep the wheels of commerce moving with your book, a book that will never go out of print. What was once a rare occurrence, is now the norm in publishing, and that gives you a huge advantage over past generations of authors. You have an opportunity writers-of-old strived to earn. Don't waste it.


-Richard

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


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The Evergreen Era of Publishing

When to Stop Marketing a Book

961 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, promotions
5

 

Do you know the difference between e.g. and i.e.? If your answer is no, or that you think you do but you're not sure, you're not alone. Here's a quick refresher on how to use them correctly:


E.g. means for example. For example:


  • There are many things to do on this island, e.g., snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving. (CORRECT)
  • There are many things to do on this island, for example, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving. (CORRECT)
  • I have many friends who love grammar as much as I do, e.g., Gloria, Alison, and Peggy. (CORRECT)
  • I have many friends who love grammar as much as I do, for example, Gloria, Alison, and Peggy. (CORRECT)


I.e. means that is. For example:


  • Kathy's three favorite hobbies, i.e., snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving, can all be done on this island. (CORRECT)
  • Kathy's three favorite hobbies, that is, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving, can all be done on this island. (CORRECT)
  • The place Gloria calls her second home, i.e., her office, is in Oakland. (CORRECT)
  • The place Gloria calls her second home, that is, her office, is in Oakland. (CORRECT)


When I hear people get tripped up, it's almost always by using i.e. when they should be using e.g., and rarely the other way around. For example:


  • The dessert menu was full of yummy options, i.e., chocolate cake and pudding. (INCORRECT)
  • The dessert menu was full of yummy options, e.g., chocolate cake and pudding. (CORRECT)
  • She gave us a long list of color choices, i.e., pink, yellow, and blue. (INCORRECT)
  • She gave us a long list of color choices, e.g., pink, yellow, and blue. (CORRECT)


If you're still confused, use this trick: e.g. looks like egg, and egg sounds like the beginning of example. That should help!


-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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Refer vs. Recommend

Grammar Tip: Don't Overcapitalize

1,634 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, grammar_tip
0

 

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

 

 

 

 

2,179 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, self-publishing, publishing, branding, author_brand
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