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594 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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I've read many times how important it is for authors to start their marketing campaigns well before their books come out, but rarely do those articles or blog posts give examples of what to do. Here's a specific tactic that's worked twice for me: Ask people to help you choose a cover.


My latest novel comes out in a couple months, so I asked for help in choosing the cover design. After I narrowed it down to two options I loved equally, here's what I did:


  1. I posted both covers on my personal Facebook page, along with a one-line description of the book, and asked all my real-life friends to weigh in
  2. I posted both options on my Facebook author fan page and asked all my fans to vote
  3. I had Waverly Bryson, the protagonist of my first four novels, post both options on her Facebook page
  4. I tweeted both options from @mariamurnane
  5. I sent both options to everyone on my mailing list (sign up on any page of www.mariamurnane.com)
  6. I blogged about the cover vote on my website and asked people to email me their choice


I set a clear deadline, then tallied all the votes and announced the winner to all of the above audiences. Many of those who participated have told me that they can't wait for the book to come out because they feel invested in the process--yay!


For your cover vote campaign, if it's your first book, the initial audience you reach might be small, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. Ask your Facebook friends to share the request with their friends, retweet it on Twitter, etc. Then build those channels as you go. You have to start somewhere, 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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Book covers can affect sales

Book marketing tip: make it easy for your fans to help you

357 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, contests, promotions, marketing_campaigns
1

Re-readable books

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 20, 2017

 

My wife recently read a book from start to finish in a single evening. The next night, she cracked open the same book and read it again. No, it wasn't one of my books, but that's OK. We have an understanding. She's allowed to enjoy books I didn't write.


In talking with her about it, I quickly realized what made the book so enchanting to her. It was the characters the author had created. My wife shared with me aspects of their lives, dialogue, relationships, backstory. She talked about them as if they were people she'd known her whole life. What we didn't talk about was the plot of the book. It almost seemed irrelevant to her.


Well-developed characters can not only make a book readable, they can make it re-readable. Think about it. The allure of a mystery that relies on clever plot twists and the unknown to hook readers doesn't quite have that same allure once the twists are revealed and the unknown is known. You may have enjoyed the book immensely, but chances are you aren't going to read it again.


The exception to this would be the same book, but with extraordinary character development. Then the book has an appeal that extends beyond the mystery it reveals. You may re-read the book just to reconnect with the characters you miss. You know the mystery within, but that no longer matters because you're a fan of the characters.


If you want to write a book that is re-readable, the part of your craft you need to develop is character development. It is the one aspect of storytelling that keeps readers coming back over and over again.


-Richard

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


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Start a dialogue with your characters

Advice on character development

620 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
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You've got a protagonist. You've got a villain. You may even have a co-protagonist or two. And the bad guy has a past filled with characters that made him...well, bad. Then there are the background characters that need fleshing out in order for the reader to truly appreciate what they add to the story. And the protagonist has a dog. Your readers are probably going to want to know what the dog's thinking. And your classic villains always have cats. The cat deserves to be understood. What's it like to be a villain's cat?


Add all this up and you've got a messy character stew that is hard to digest. There's just too much going on. Who's who and why do readers need to care? If you divert their attention by giving them too many characters to keep up with, you run the risk of losing them. Lose a reader, and it will be harder for you to find the next reader.


That's not to say there aren't exceptions to my rule. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is a notable example. It not only has multiple characters, but as many as 15 of them are, at some point in the story, handed the reins of narrator. It is a classic literary work of art. What Faulkner was able to pull off is remarkable. It's also a very difficult read that was written in a different era.


My advice is to keep it simple when it comes to character development. Keep the focus on just a few characters and concentrate on drawing your reader deeper into their stories.


-Richard

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


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Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

 

The Stranger in the Room

 

353 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, characterization
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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


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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

754 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, blogging, publishing, writing, blog_idea
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In a previous post I recommended developing a mailing list for a semiregular newsletter to keep in touch with fans between books. You might not have a book launch on the near horizon, but that doesn't mean you don't have other news to share.


Another good way to stay connected to your fans between books is through Facebook. Here's how I use it:


For my author fan page, I share the same things that I do in my newsletter, e.g., event photos, news about upcoming translations of my books, promotions for signed copies, photos of fans holding up my books (which encourages other fans to send me similar pictures), awards my books have won, etc.


If right now you're thinking, "But I don't have any awards or event photos, etc.," why not post a photo of yourself working hard at your desk? Or do you write at Starbucks? How about a photo of that? Be creative! This is an art, not a science. You can do it!


In addition to my author fan page, I created a Facebook profile for Waverly Bryson, the protagonist of four of my novels. Every day I log in and see which of her friends are celebrating a birthday, and I'll have her write each one a personalized birthday greeting. (If I've released a book within the past year I'll also include a link to the first chapter as a "gift.") Now and again I have Waverly comment on other people's posts, and sometimes I even have her post funny photos or videos of her own. Sometimes Waverly's friends post photos or notes about the Waverly Bryson books on her page, which I then "share" with all of her friends. It's fun for my fans and fun for me: a win-win!


How do you use Facebook to promote your writing? I would love to know, so please share in the comments section below.


-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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How to Connect with Your Readers

Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

 

602 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, mailing_list, promotions, fan_page
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One of my favorite parts about finishing a first draft, outside of the profound feeling of accomplishment, is that after months of hard work I'm finally able to sit back and read the entire story from beginning to end. It's impossible for me to experience my work with completely fresh eyes--that's why I strongly believe that every manuscript needs a developmental edit--but it is possible for me to evaluate the dialogue and see if it rings true for the characters I've created.


I find that my characters' personalities tend to evolve as I write, so by the time I'm done with the first draft, they may be quite different from how I had imagined them at the onset. As a result, when I go back and read from the beginning, I often tweak the dialogue to make it sound more authentic. I love this part of the process, because when I find myself thinking, "She would never say that," or nodding in agreement with what's already on the page, I know I've created characters that are believable, with realistic dialogue to match.


Reading dialogue from the beginning also helps me identify when a prominent character isn't developed enough. If, for the life of me, I can't tell if a line sounds like something so-and-so would say, then maybe so-and-so needs a little more attention.


One of the common criticisms of first-time novelists is that their characters all sound the same when they talk, which makes it hard for readers to follow along. I've experienced this as a reader, and when it happens too often, I usually end up putting the book down--for good. If you can give your characters distinct voices that are consistent throughout the story, you have a much better chance of getting your readers engaged--and keeping them that way!


-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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Quirks Make Characters Real

What would your characters do?

651 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, dialogue, character_development
3

Yes, bad reviews can be soul-crushing. They can make you question your abilities as a writer. They can leave you feeling hurt and depressed. You shouldn't let them have that much power over you because it literally is only an opinion. It isn't a formula devised by the reviewer that proves your book is bad. There is no concrete evidence in a review that proves you can't write. It's a collection of words that paints a subjective view of your book.


I've attended many public readings of works in progress, and you wouldn't believe the stark differences of opinion from those in attendance. Some were blown away by the reading, and others didn't get it. The same material was judged completely differently by two, three, sometimes by a half dozen people. Reviewers would get in heated arguments about their diverging opinions. Here's the thing, neither side, for or against, could provide absolute proof that their opinion wasn't just opinion but bona fide fact. It just wasn't possible to prove.


When you read a bad review of your book, keep this in mind: it's not a statement of fact. Accept it for what it is, a skewed view based on the reviewer's taste. I can&'t stand the movie The English Patient. A lot of people loved it. In fact, it won a truckload of awards. My opinion of the movie is based on my own personal taste. It doesn't mean I'm right. It just means it's not for me.


Don?t let bad reviews ruin your day. They're nothing more than opinions.


-Richard


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

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Bad Reviews & Great Company

Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

551 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, reviews, review, writing, book_reviews, branding
3

 

This morning I woke up and knew I'd come up with an idea for the book I'm currently writing, but I had no idea what it was. Absolutely none. Instead of fretting about the lost inspiration, however, I reached for the notebook in the drawer of my nightstand and read the following, which I had jotted down in sleepy chicken scratch sometime during the night:


  • At BK Flea: "So nothing for Derek then?" "No. Argh, **** it. I forgot to call him." "Has he called you?" "No."
  • Mention Daphne toast to Skylar


The above notes may look insignificant, but they are anything but. They resulted in additional scenes/conversations that added considerably to a side plot and the emotional growth of the main character. Both areas had been giving me trouble, but I'd been unable to figure out what to do about them. If I hadn't written down those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night, I would have come up with a solution eventually, but it sure was nice to have it right there in front of me. In my opinion the writing is often the easy part; it's coming up with what to write that is hard.


I've learned my lesson about the notebook thing. More than a few times I've woken up at 2 or 3 a.m. with an idea but no notebook nearby and thought, I'll remember it in the morning, then promptly fallen back asleep. How many times have I remembered those ideas? Zero. Now, no matter how tired I am, I force myself to reach for my pen and make a note when an idea strikes. Often that paper ends up in the recycling bin and I ask myself, what in God's name was I thinking, but just as often those flashes of creativity end up in the pages of a book. Better safe than sorry!


-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: Save Deleted Scenes and Language

Writing Tip: Keep a Synopsis as You Go

560 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_ideas, writing_tip
4

I'm not going to lie. A lot of people make me angry, and the older I get, the easier it is to set me off. Science tells me it's because of my shrinking frontal lobe, but I think that's just overthinking what's really going on, which is that some people just do stuff that ticks me off, so I get perturbed.


I won't say who these people are or what they've done, not here and not hidden in a storyline in one of my books--not intentionally anyway. My books are no place to exact revenge on people I feel have done me wrong.


One of my favorite coffee cups actually says, "I am a writer. Don't make me angry, or I'll put you in my next book." It's funny in the abstract, but actually carrying out such a threat is a bad idea. It misinforms your writing and causes you to wedge in themes and plot points that ruin the organic feel of a story. It takes away from your main priority as a writer, and that is to serve the characters in the story, not the author. You are but a vessel to bring fiction to life. Once you start purposely inserting your beliefs in order to settle a score, you're likely going to take the reader out of the story by doing so.


The best way to get someone back for their mistreatment of you is to succeed. Become a better writer and attract more readers. Whatever you do, don't carry your grievances onto the pages of your book.


-Richard


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


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The Purpose of Fiction

Fiction Writing vs. Nonfiction Writing

627 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_fiction, revenge_writing
2

No one wants their authors to be all business. If you take to your virtual space and constantly post about your books or about the world of publishing as a whole, you are going to chase potential readers away.


Your author brand has to be multidimensional. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you can&'t focus all your energy on your role as an author when branding yourself as an author. You are a commodity. It sounds simplistic, but it&'s true. There are millions of books available to buy. What sets your book immediately apart is you, the author. Yes, the issue of style and the quality of your writing and storytelling are crucial, but there is no denying that the author is often the draw.


So, as you build your platform, plan on devoting a good chunk of your online time to discussing and participating in topics outside of your books. Reviewing books in your genre, discussing hobbies, sharing stories about your passion projects outside of writing, these are all things you can focus on. You can even go totally astray and publish fluff pieces about your pets, family, friends, etc. Your options are unlimited.


The point is that you are more than an author. You are a human being who dabbles in real life as much as any respectable human being. The more adventurous you are, the greater the material you'll have at your disposal. So, get out there and jump at the opportunity to do something interesting, if for no other reason than it will beef up your author brand.


-Richard

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

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Building an Author Brand: You are What You Share

An Active Author Brand



671 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, selling, writing, social_media, brand_identity, author_platform
0

 

When I got my latest novel back from my longtime developmental editor, as usual, she offered helpful suggestions for how to improve plot, pacing, character development, etc. This time, however, she also mentioned that my main character smiled--"a lot."


Curious as to what my editor meant by "a lot," I used the search function in Word to count just how many times the words "she smiled" or "Daphne smiled" appeared in my first draft. Let's just say it was way too many. I smiled (no pun intended) at my oversight and immediately got rid of a bunch of them. Thank you, Christina!


It seems like no matter how hard I try, my first drafts are always overloaded with crutch words or phrases such as "she smiled." Other favorites I've found myself overusing include "she nodded," "she raised her eyebrows," and "she walked home slowly/she slowly walked home." Usually I catch them myself when I read over the manuscript, but not always, as this recent experience demonstrated. (If you're not familiar with the search function in Microsoft Word, it's usually a box at the top right corner of any open document that says, "Search in Document" or "Find." Type in the word(s) of interest and hit the Enter key, and viola!)


Do you also suffer from this affliction? I think most writers probably do, but the key is to identify them before your book goes to print. Otherwise you risk irritating your readers, who might wind up focusing on the repetition and not the story. This is especially true if your crutch words or phrases are unusual or dramatic. Imagine seeing "He was flabbergasted" or "She screamed at the top of her lungs" more than once in the same book. I think I would immediately notice and might be a little annoyed. Would you?


-Maria


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


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Avoid Word Repetition

Watch Out for Repetition in Your Writing

908 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, crutch_words, dialogue_tags
2

What do you smell?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 6, 2017

 

When we write, we use various methods to try and get the reader to connect with a passage. Visuals play a huge role in making that connection. For example, the color of someone's eyes is a common visual trigger, or the physical build of a character is often used to help readers make a visual connection. Not to mention there's the illustrative writing used to describe setting.


We use sound too. The sound of a character's voice for example. There are the constant, steady beats used to heighten suspense in thrillers--a heartbeat, the sound of footsteps, etc. It's not as common as using a visual descriptive, but it is still fairly prominent in storytelling.


Perhaps the most underutilized descriptive tool is the sense of smell, and in my opinion that's a shame because I believe odors to be the most powerful of the senses when it comes to making a connection with a reader. If you describe it correctly, the thought of a smell can elicit a subconscious link between the story and a hidden memory in a reader. That will make it likely that the reader will have an emotional bond with the book that he or she wouldn't have otherwise had.


How about you? Do you use odors in your descriptive passages? Can you think of an example in any of your favorite books, and could that explain why they are indeed your favorites?


Remember, writing a descriptive story isn't always about what you see or hear. It's also about what you smell.


-Richard


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


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WordPlay: Wine Tasting

Beyond the visuals

617 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, sense_of_smell
0

 

If you're not familiar with the "show vs. tell" rule, the gist of it is that you want to show your readers events or feelings instead of telling them.


I frequently see this rule broken in dialogue by authors who choose overly descriptive verbs that force-feed us the character's sentiment. When I encounter too much of this I find myself pulled out of the story--and kind of irritated because I feel the author is treating me like a child instead of allowing me to use my brain.


For example, here are some sentences that tell instead of show:


  • "Get ready for a bumpy ride," she warned.
  • "Sounds like you're really climbing that corporate ladder," she noted.
  • "I can't believe how huge this airport is," he remarked.
  • "You wish I would join your team," she retorted.


I think sentences like the above happen because some authors believe they should use any word other than "said" in their dialogue, when in reality "said" is exactly what they should be using, if anything at all.


The solution


To improve your writing, get rid of (most of) the substitutions for "said" and sprinkle in some beats. Beats are physical movements that show us what the characters are doing as they speak.

 

 

For example:

  • "Get ready for a bumpy ride," she said as she fastened her seatbelt.
  • She arched an eyebrow. "Sounds like you're really climbing that corporate ladder."
  • He swiveled his head in all directions. "I can't believe how huge this airport is."
  • She scoffed. "You wish I would join your team."


Do you see the difference? The first sentences tell us, while the second ones show us. Readers will enjoy your story more if they can visualize what is happening, so work on allowing that to happen! Don't go overboard with beats, though. As with most things, moderation is best.


-Maria


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


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


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Show vs tell: do you know the difference?

Just say it!


792 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_dialogue, show_vs._tell
1

I've created some pretty morally reprehensible people as a writer. Killers, swindlers, drug dealers, you name it, I've given some of my bad guys the worst traits. If they were real, I'd never want to have a thing to do with them. I'd do all I could to avoid even hearing their names.


But, here's my weird, totally illogical confession: I like the bad guys I create. I enjoy spending time with them during the process of writing a book. I love hammering out their character and exploring their pasts, trying to figure out why they are the way they are. When or if they die in one of my books, I feel genuinely sad. He or she wasn't just a good foil for my protagonist, we connected on an ethereal, totally fictional level.


I may be trying to justify my feelings, but I think my affinity for the bad guys I create is healthy. I think it's natural. As a writer, it's not my job to judge the actions of my characters. It's my job to observe and report. If I put myself in the position of making judgments of my characters' behavior, I will most likely start censoring myself and instinctively try to fix them. A fictional life isn't in service to anyone or anything but the story. The bad they do, they do for the good of the narrative.


If you haven't already, I encourage you to find a way to connect with your villains. Love them. Don't judge them.


-Richard


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


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Defend your antagonist

Write an obituary for your characters

903 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, writing, villain, characterization, antagonist
1

 

There was a time when getting T-shirts printed was a costly and time-consuming endeavor, but thanks to the Internet, that's no longer the case. So why not make some T-shirts to promote your book? I did this for my Waverly Bryson series, creating shirts in blue and pink with the following quotes from my protagonist:


"Is it worse to be fake or bitchy?" --Waverly Bryson


"I know nothing, but at least I know that." --Waverly Bryson


"Beer goggles are the lonely girl's Cupid." --Waverly Bryson


"Do not post what you ate for breakfast on Facebook." --Waverly Bryson


Almost every time I wear one of the shirts, someone stops me and asks where I got it. I explain that it's a quote from one of my novels, then smile and hand them a business card with a link to my website. Boom--a potential reader! I even wore one of the T-shirts to a Northwestern University alumni networking event in New York City, and I got a lot of attention not just for the books, but for my marketing ingenuity.


I've given away countless T-shirts at book signings and events, and I've even sold some on my website. I've also included them as a bonus gift when fans contact me to order signed copies of my books. People love free stuff, so it's a win-win. And the more people who laugh at what Waverly Bryson has to say, the better chance I have of selling more books.


If you're scratching your head right now wondering what you could put on your own T-shirts, that depends on the subject matter of your work, but I'm sure you can come up with something. It's a matter of creativity, and if you wrote a book, you are creative. Remember that.


-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 Idea: Set Up a Card Table on the Sidewalk

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

1,467 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, t-shirts, marketing_ideas
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