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538 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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Reviewer network

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 13, 2016

The biggest mistake you can make is to reach out to a reviewer only when you're looking for reviews. They get those requests all the time. They have a backlog of those types of requests from thousands of authors. They can't read a fraction of the books they want to read.

 

Find reviewers when you don't need them. Be a presence in their worlds. Create relationships with them that go beyond author and reviewer, and let that relationship evolve around mutual interests and benefits.


Above all, reviewers are people. They don't want to feel used. When you reach out to them just when you need them, you're creating a one-way relationship that only benefits you. It's made up of a taker and a giver.


So, be more than just another author. Be someone in the reviewer's networking circles. Your goal isn't to butter them up, so when you do finally ask for a review, they reciprocate with a glowing review of your work. Your goal is to simply be moved to the front of the line. Instead of being just like any other unknown author that contacts them, you'll be a known participant in their network.


Brands are built on relationships. The reviewer/author relationship is vital to your brand's success. Building a network of reviewers and cultivating those relationships outside of your need for reviews, makes good brand sense. Don't be pushy. Don't appear desperate. Just add value to their reviewer brands, and they will remember you when you eventually do ask.

 

-Richard

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

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Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

 

A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

561 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, reviews, networking, self-publishing, review, book_reviews
1

 

Yesterday I received a rather desperate email newsletter from an indie author in which he essentially begged for people to review his book on Amazon. I empathized with him because I know firsthand how difficult and frustrating it can be to get reviews, especially for self-published books. But then the author did something that made my jaw drop, and not in a good way. In his plea he encouraged us to give his book a positive review--even if we hadn't read it!


I didn't respond to the email, and I won't be reading­, or reviewing­­­, the author's book. As both a fellow author and an avid reader, I'm disturbed--appalled, actually--by his lack of integrity. Reader reviews are supposed to mean something. If they're all just fakes to pump up a friend's book, what is the point? The review system is based on an honor code that should be respected. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't care because I'm also right.


I began my career as a self-published author, and I worked my tail off to find people willing to read and review my first novel--legitimately. Not once did I ask someone who hadn't read the book to review it. The thought never even crossed my mind. I equate soliciting fake reviews to cheating, and I don't cheat.


If a stranger, or even a friend, proactively tells you that he or she enjoyed your book, then by all means, ask that person to write a review. In fact, I encourage you to do so! There's also nothing wrong with asking for reviews via an email newsletter. But there's a clear line between supporters and readers. If you cross that line and ask supporters who aren't readers to post fake reviews, you're sullying the author honor code.


-Maria


 

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


 

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Watch for Errors in Marketing Materials

 

Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

 

1,096 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, promotion, writing, marketing_tip, marketing_mistake
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Wants

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 27, 2016

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


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


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


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


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


-Richard


 

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


 

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Your Characters, Warts and All

 

Write an Obituary for Your Characters

 

509 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, character_development
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A character stew

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 20, 2016

I wrote a play last year that is, I'm happy to say, going to be produced this coming January. I bring it up here because during one of the many public readings, I got the inevitable question about what inspired me to write the story. Specifically, they wanted to know if my characters were based on people I knew.


I cringed at this question even though I knew it was coming. The story is about three siblings: a sister and two brothers. My wife just happens to have two brothers. The story takes place at a vacation home on a lake. My wife's brothers, their wives, and the two of us just happened to have vacationed together on a rental property on a lake. One would think that based on this information you could draw a straight line between the characters in my play and my wife's family. One would think that, but one would be wrong.


The vacation and the family structure in the play were obviously inspired by real life, but the characters in the play and their backstories bear no resemblance to the source of inspiration. I took that week together, and I said what if it were six people stuck in a house together, all with secrets and all with conflicting personalities. That is something that could be interesting. If I chose to write about my wife's family, it would be a boring play full of people being supportive of one another, offering zero conflict to capture the audience's attention.


With this in mind, I answered the question thusly: I don't create characters based on anyone I know. I write characters based on everyone I know. That is the best way I can describe the character development process. I start with a germ of an idea of what a character is like, and then I let my subconscious beg and borrow from all the people I've met in my life, and I create a character stew.


 

-Richard


 

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


 

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A Kramer by Any Other Name

 

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

 

481 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, characters, character_development
5

I have a love/hate relationship with rules when it comes to writing. I'm an artist. Rules, I once believed, were the destroyers of art. I know now that rules are the sparks that twist the creative mind into finding solutions to be artistic without breaking the rules. One must find the creative wherewithal to adhere to the rules while remaining true to one's artistic sensibilities. That is a neat trick when it's pulled off.


To that end, I would like to introduce you to my four rules for writing a novel. They are my own personal guidelines that help me be consistent while forcing myself to be more creative.


  1. A protagonist has to have a dark side: I just think heroes are more interesting when they aren't perfect. I don't like characters that don't have to face their own moral dilemma at some point in the story. It helps me dive deep into character development and paint a more realistic picture of the good guy (that's the gender neutral form of "guy").
  2. Warts are more interesting: I don't connect with beautiful people, mainly because I can't relate. My stories rely heavily on my characters' imperfections. Warts are far more fascinating to me than beauty marks.
  3. Conversations don't follow a straight line: In real life, when people talk to one another, they don't always listen to one another. The dialogue veers from alternate point to alternate point before the original point ever finds its footing. This is the type of dialogue I like to include in my novels. It's more realistic, and it gives the characters more depth.
  4. Know the ending before you start writing: While I have created outlines, I don't believe they are necessary in order to write a novel. I do think it behooves you, however, to know the ending of your story before you start writing, or at the very least, before you meander pointlessly until you finally figure out what your story's about. Knowing where you're going helps you build steps to the ending.


These are my rules for writing a novel. What are yours?


-Richard

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


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When do you know the ending?

Creating a bad good guy

1,197 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, rules_for_writing
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Beyond the visuals

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 16, 2016

I am the son of an ophthalmologist, and my father was the son of an optometrist, and there are a few more eyesight specialists who appear in my lineage. You might say I am hyperaware of visual acuity and the mechanics behind it. I am also aware that vision is a bit of a cheat when it comes to creative writing. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have sight rely heavily on visual elements when it comes to character description, setting, and even action passages.


Here is my creative challenge to you today: write a descriptive piece that leaves the visuals out. Rely on your other senses to convey your message. I read a new book by a fairly well-known author recently, and I rolled my eyes on a number of occasions. Everyone was beautiful and athletic. The women had pinup girl looks and the men had chiseled features. To be honest, I felt cheated because I wanted to know more about the characters than their looks. I wanted to know what they smelled like, the timbre of their voices, the way they breathed. Telling me that they were all athletic and beautiful was a shortcut that prevented me from connecting with the characters. This author did the same with the scenery. It was how everything looked and nothing else. Sounds, smells, temperature--they all provide deeper anchors of connection with the reader.


Think beyond the visuals. Give your book depth by using the other senses. We live in a multi-sensory world, so don't limit your story to just one. Incorporate them all.


-Richard


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


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Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

The Stranger in the Room

597 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, senses
1

I'm going to sound like a hypocrite today. On this blog, I've frequently shared the advice to stay true to the art of writing. I've often said that you shouldn't consider the reader while you write. Your only consideration should be for the story and the characters in your story. Your first draft should be a no-holds-barred work of storytelling wizardry.


But when I talk about rewrites, my advice switches gears somewhat. This is where I don't mind if you give some consideration to the reader. I'm not suggesting you ditch your artistic integrity, but I am suggesting that you're now in a better position to blend the interests of your readers with the interests of your characters. You've gone on a journey that is tens of thousands of words long, and you now have a better understanding of how far you can bend the story without breaking it.


The concept to remember as you rewrite is tweaking it to make it more marketable. I know that may sound antithetical to honoring the craft and art of writing, but the two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive. You can find a happy medium that embraces both the risk of art and the relative safety of commercial appeal. In fact, finding such a medium may be your greatest artistic achievement.


The first draft is where you let the imagination fly, sometimes wildly, in order to get words on the page and make a connection with your characters. The rewrites are for you to use that connection to artfully give your story marketability. You always want to choose the artistic path when possible, but taking brief excursions onto commercial paths is not a bad thing.


-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Use Two Brains for Writing and Rewriting

The Perils of Rewriting

 

558 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, manuscript_rewrites, book_marketability
3

As I've mentioned before, I read a lot about book marketing and publishing. The other day I came across an article about an indie author who had recently published a novel about baseball. I love sports and thought his book sounded interesting, so I looked it up on Amazon. There were just two reviews, one of which was five stars and had the title: Great book. Among other glowing things, the review said the book was "a nice easy read for kids of all ages" and "well worth the time and money."


Then I noticed that the name of the reviewer looked strangely familiar. I scrolled to the top of the page and realized it was the same as the author! I couldn't believe someone would have the gall to give his own book a five-star review, but there it was, staring me in the face.


Needless to say, I didn't buy the book. How could I support such unethical behavior?


I've said more than once in this space that I believe asking friends and family to positively review your book is a bad idea. It puts them in an awkward position (what if they didn't like your book?), and it's just not credible. Reviewing your book yourself is even worse. Of course you think it's worthy of five stars; you wrote it! But that's beside the point. For reviews to mean anything, they need to be written by objective readers. That's the point of reviews.


The only time I think it's OK for a friend to write a review is if that person proactively tells you that he/she enjoyed your book. In that case, feel free to say, "Thank you! Would you mind putting that into a review?" Otherwise, don't do it. All you're going to do is shoot your credibility--and your sales--in the foot.


 

-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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Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

Dos and Don'ts of Soliciting Book Reviews

 

1,083 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, sales, writing, promotions, book_reviews
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Your main characters don't appear on the pages of your novel alone. They are surrounded by and, in most cases, vastly outnumbered by your supporting characters. As the name indicates, they offer your story and your protagonists and/or antagonists support. Their development is as critical as your main characters'. Here are the four primary roles of supporting characters in most works of fiction:


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


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


-Richard


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


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Too Many Characters in the Kitchen

Who Are You Trying to Please?

568 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, supporting_characters
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You've written an engrossing mystery novel. Now what? It's time to dive into the marketing end of the publishing process and to do so with as much gusto as you showed writing the book. You are going to want to incorporate a mixture of conventional marketing strategies and…nontraditional strategies.


     Since you can use your favorite search engine to find a plethora of conventional book marketing strategies, let us focus on the nontraditional route in this blog post. Did I mention that nontraditional means fun?

 

  1. Murder mystery themed gala: Yeah, I know. Gala sounds expensive. Don't worry. All it really means is a party or celebration, but if you use the word "gala" in your marketing material, you add a little bit of panache to your event. This is a simple idea that requires a lot of planning. You're going to use friends and family to stage a murder mystery game in the middle of your gala, using characters and themes from you book. You won't follow the conclusion of your book or reveal little twists, of course. You don't want to give away any spoilers, but you do want to give attendees a taste of your story. They'll still have a blast. If you have the budget to hire a troupe of actors, all the better.
  2. Ten-minute plays: Speaking of actors, approach a local theater about renting their space for an evening of 10-minute plays based on material from your book. You'll want to focus on those passages and chapters in your book that emphasize character development. I'll be taking this route myself for an upcoming release, and I won't be writing the 10-minute plays. I'm handing material to a group of playwrights whom I know and trust and letting them have fun with it.
  3. At the movies: Thrillers and mystery films are never in short supply at your local movie theaters. Before the movie starts and before they show trailers of upcoming films, they usually show ads for local businesses. You are a local business. Your ad doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be effective.


The mystery genre has a number of marketing opportunities that other genres don't have. Go the traditional book marketing route, yes, but don't be afraid to use your imagination and explore crazy ideas. Those crazy ideas have the biggest potential to become shared events on social media. The most important thing to remember is to have fun.


-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

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Should you spend money on traditional advertising?

 

Take your book to the theatre

 

 

 

 

1,050 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, self-publishing, promotion, writing, novels, mystery, promotions, writing_advice
2

 

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

 

WHO refers to people:

 

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

 

 

THAT refers to things:

 

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

 

1) From an interview about a debut novel:


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


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


(Reason: Boys are people, not things.)


2) From an author bio:


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


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


(Reason: Daughters are people, not things.)


3) From a book description:


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


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


(Reason: Teenagers are people, not things.)


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


 

-Maria


 

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


 

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There vs. they're vs. their

The dreaded "who vs. whom"

 

1,015 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, grammar_tip, that_vs_who
1

I saw an interview with Will Smith years ago where he talked about his movie selection process. Apparently, he and his representatives sat down one day and listed the biggest blockbusters in all of cinema at the time, and they concocted a formula based on the similarities all these movies shared. If a script matched the criteria outlined by this formula, Will Smith would agree to do the movie. This was before he had reached mega-star status. The formula apparently worked because he's done a number of huge blockbuster movies that have made him one of the best paid and most respected actors in the film industry.

 

So, the question is, can a writer develop this same kind of formula to write a bestseller? The answer is probably yes. In fact, without even doing a search engine dive, I can guess there have been a good deal of books written on the topic. I don't know how effective such a tactic would be, however.

 

Why? In my mind, the most prevalent element of any book that becomes a bestseller is the passion that went into writing it. When an artist pours his or her heart into a project, they connect wholly with their characters, and it's that connection that captivates readers. I have no scientific proof of this, by the way. Call it a gut instinct based on observation of the industry for a number of years.

 

Trying to write a book that adheres to a formula is different from writing a book that obeys the unwritten rules of genre. Those are often innate characteristics that happen organically, usually because a writer is a fan before he or she is an author. The makeup of a genre is hidden in their storytelling psyche. A formula is an artificial construct that dictates everything from basic character descriptions to number of romantic, violent, humorous, etc., encounters. In other words, it removes the passion from the writing process. Such a result may match the criteria of the formula, but it lacks the je ne sais quoi that catapults books into bestseller status.

 

If want to increase your chances of writing a bestseller, write with passion and develop your craft. Forget about the formulas.

 

-Richard


 

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


 

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The bestseller quandaryMega-authors

Mega-authors

 

1,050 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, bestsellers, writing_a_bestseller
1

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Richard


 

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


 

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Improving Dialogue

 

Start a Dialogue with Your Characters

 

653 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, authentic_dialogue
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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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


 

-Richard


 

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


 

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

The "What If" Notebook

 

The Power of the Mindless Task

 

631 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_distractions
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