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528 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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"

 

419 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

 

529 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

 

390 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

 

291 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

 

442 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, writing_distractions
1

Sometimes when people I encounter find out I'm an author, they share with me their own ambitions of writing a book. While some of these individuals go on to reach their goals, in my experience that's usually not the case. I've lost track of how many times an aspiring author has told me that he or she once started writing a book, but then for various reasons it went nowhere. Some of the most common explanations I hear include:


*I got too busy with work/family

 

*I wasn't sure where the plot was going

 

*I was afraid it was awful

 

*It seemed like so much work

 

*I set it down and just didn't pick it up again

 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above, but here is the truth: Yes, they are reasons, but they are also excuses. It's completely fine if you don't finish your book or even if you never start your book. No one is telling you that you must write a book. It's your life, and you should live it as you choose. But if you truly want to write a book, you're the only one who can make yourself do it. That's really all it comes down to.

 

Much like losing weight or getting (and staying) in shape, writing a book takes discipline and commitment over a long period of time. There are always going to be reasons for why you can't eat right every day or work out every day. Always. But if you really want to lose weight by eating right regularly, you will. And if you really want to be in shape be exercising regularly, you will.

 

Writing a book is challenging and scary and not always fun. And once you're done, there's no guarantee that you'll sell a single copy. But who cares? For the vast majority of authors, writing a book isn't about the money. It's about writing a book. So if you really want to be an author, get out of your own way and make it happen. I promise you'll be glad you did.

 

-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 Takes Discipline

 

Think You Can't Write a Book While Working a Full-time Job? Think Again.

 

1,001 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, writing_a_book, excuses
0

Recently I read a story that was fairly engaging with well-developed characters. I found myself reading anxiously. You might even say it was engrossing. That is until I got to the end of the conflict. It ended abruptly, and it was resolved without warning. What's worse is that it was resolved using a solution that came out of nowhere. I read the story again to see if I had missed even the smallest hint that the resolution presented was a possibility. It wasn't. I felt cheated. There was no pathway for me to follow to the solution.


If the author had used just the tiniest bit of foreshadowing, I would have been a satisfied reader. I may have even enjoyed an "A-ha!" moment, a feeling that the outcome made perfect sense given the information I absorbed previously in the reading. Foreshadowing is an excellent plot device that helps the reader be part of the story. The trick is to not give overt indications of what's to come but to share subtle possibilities, clues that are disguised as background information.


Foreshadowing can be overdone and cross over into exposition. You run the risk of explaining plot points and spoon-feeding information to the reader, a development that will make readers feel just as cheated as springing a resolution on them out of the blue. Incorporating foreshadowing takes skill, and when it's done right, it can take a story to the next level.


Conflicts have to be resolved using logic, even in genres that are as far removed from reality as possible. Foreshadowing can give your resolution the logic it needs.


-Richard


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


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Twist

Is Predictability in Storytelling Good or Bad?

822 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, character_development, foreshadowing
2

 

Lately I've heard so many people confuse "went" with "gone" that I decided it was worth a blog post on the topic. "Went" and "gone" are both variations of the verb "to go" but are used in different tenses. Here's an explanation of the difference:


 

WENT is the simple past tense of TO GO:


 

Yesterday I went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday you went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday he/she went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday we went sailing for the first time

 

Yesterday they went sailing for the first time


 

GONE is used in the present perfect and past perfect tenses of TO GO:


 

Present perfect:

 

In the past month I have gone sailing twice

 

In the past month you have gone sailing twice

 

In the past month he/she has gone sailing twice

 

In the past month we have gone sailing twice

 

In the past month they have gone sailing twice


 

Past perfect (also known as pluperfect):

 

Before today I had gone sailing only once

 

Before today you had gone sailing only once

 

Before today he/she had gone sailing only once

 

Before today we had gone sailing only once

 

Before today they had gone sailing only once


 

I hear the mistake most often when people say "have went" when they should say "have gone." For example:


 

I should have went sailing instead of coming here (INCORRECT)

 

I should have gone sailing instead of coming here (CORRECT)

 

We could have went sailing instead of coming here (INCORRECT)

 

We could have gone sailing instead of coming here (CORRECT)


 

A clever trick for remembering the difference is to say the following out loud: "Correct answer, where have you gone?" Your ear probably knows that question is phrased correctly, so modeling it will tell you the answer.


 

-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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Why Good Grammar Matters

 

More Grammar Pet Peeves!

 

815 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip, went_vs_gone
0

 

Seinfeld is an iconic TV sitcom that re-imagined the format in a lot of ways--not the least of which is that they famously and proudly proclaimed to be a show about nothing. They did an entire show about waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. That's barely a concept for a conversation let alone a TV show, but they pulled it off with ease.

 

The show is also famous for having an ensemble cast of four characters that were integral to every single episode. They all brought their own brand of insanity to each storyline, and the result is gold, Jerry, gold (pardon the inside Seinfeld joke). The most wonderfully insane character is Kramer, the crazy neighbor that lives across the hall from Jerry.

 

What makes him especially fascinating is that he's based on a real person whose name is Kramer. A little-known fact is that the show's co-creator, Larry David, didn't want to name the character Kramer. He thought it would open them up to legal issues, but he and Jerry Seinfeld wrote the pilot using the name Kramer until they could come up with a substitute. They even did the table read with Kramer as the character's name. The network approved the script with Kramer as the character's name. Finally, David insisted that they name the character Kessler, and they shot the pilot with Kessler living across the hall from Jerry instead of Kramer.

 

Everyone agreed the name didn't work. The character's name was Kramer. There was just no way around it. They decided to take a chance and use the name Kramer for the simple fact that no other name fit. Now, had they written the original script with the name Kessler, maybe it would have worked. But as it was, there was no escaping the allure of Kramer.

 

The lesson is be careful of those names you use as placeholders. They can inhabit characters and prevent you from changing the names when you do your rewrite. Whether we realize it or not, we associate certain characteristics and behaviors with names, and we subconsciously include those various traits when we write. That's not necessarily a bad thing, unless the time comes that you want to make a change. Then, you might find it difficult to do so.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Building Character

 

The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

 

685 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_names
1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Maria

 

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

 

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A Few Reasons to Have a Website

 

Marketing Tip: Put Your First Chapter on Your Website

 

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

     To some writers, procrastination is a dirty word. It's the bane of their existence. I don't mind it. I actually find it productive in a weird way, but for those of you who want to find a way to beat procrastination, here are three strategies to keep in mind:


  1. Disconnect: Let's face it, where there's Internet, there's a plethora of procrastination material. At times, the allure of surfing the web is just too powerful to resist. You need a strategy that removes you from the Internet's irresistible pull. I have a cheap computer that doesn't even have WiFi. It can be directly connected to the DSL line, but that's a task that involves some extra steps, and those steps keep me from jumping online. If you are so inclined, you could leave your devices at home and take off to a coffee shop with pen and paper and keep things analog.
  2. Reward: Give yourself a word count for the day. Break the word count into four sections. Reward yourself with your favorite activity after you complete each section. Write and reward is an excellent way to beat procrastination.
  3. Procrastinate: Putting actual words to the page is an important step in the writing process, but living your life is as important. Procrastinating is part of living. Ideas and solutions come to us creative types when our minds are busy doing other things. Give it other things to do. Procrastinate.

 

 

Distraction-free writing is a nice goal, but in today's world, it's not completely realistic. There's just a lot of cool stuff to see and do on a daily basis. If you can devise a way to keep procrastination at bay, great. But, getting off track and allowing yourself to needlessly waste time is not the end of world.

 


 

-Richard

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Reward Yourself

 

Being Online = Not Writing

 

2,797 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, procrastination, writing_tips
2

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


 

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


 

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

 

-Maria

 

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


 

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Marketing Tip: Offer to Send a Book

Marketing Tip: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

 

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

 

I would like to announce that I'm totally dedicating myself to improving my craft. I am going to spend every waking hour I have sitting in my office and tapping away on my keyboard. Every waking hour! Writing is all I will think about. I'm serving my family notice. No more phone calls. No more holidays together. And to my friends, stop inviting me to parties, and no, I don't want to go to dinner and a movie. Poker nights? Canceled. I have writing to do. You all can have a life. My life is the written word and only the written word.

 

Of course, now that I think about it, I get a lot of my inspiration from my friends and family. Those "out-of-the-blue" moments that writers like me live for normally happen when I'm not in my office, sitting behind my computer, honing my craft. They mostly happen when I'm laughing it up during a night of poker or spending time catching up with family. The ideas that mean the most to me are the ones that seemingly find me by accident, in a moment that is far removed from the physical act of writing.

 

Okay, new plan. I'm going to have balance between my writing life and my personal life because they are so closely tied together that they are essentially the same thing. I write because I have a life outside of writing. One cannot write in a vacuum. You have to be surrounded by people and partake in activities that engage your humanity. If you do that, your writing can't help but improve.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Embracing Inspiration from Real-Life Moments

 

Life Outside of Writing

 

1,061 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, improving_your_craft
0

 

Recently a friend of mine came over for a visit, and as we were chatting he noticed a short book sitting on my coffee table. I explained that an indie author had sent it to me in hopes that I might enjoy it enough to promote it in some way. My friend picked up the book and began leafing through it, then looked up at me and asked, "What's up with the weird formatting? This looks like a Word document."

 

All I could do was shrug and say, "That happens a lot with self-published books."

 

The "weird formatting" that caught my friend's attention included the following:

 

  • The book was double-spaced, both within paragraphs and between them
  • The first chapter started on page 17

These issues made the book look amateur, almost like a pamphlet. My friend doesn't know anything about publishing, but he does know what books usually look like, and the irregularities made a negative impression on him because they just didn't look right. The book in question had other problems in addition to the formatting, namely a ton of grammatical errors, but to the casual reader those are less obvious. Formatting issues are always obvious. If your book doesn't look like the ones found on the shelves of a bookstore, people are going to notice.

 

Uploading your book to a self-publishing platform may be free, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't spend money getting the manuscript in shape. If you aren't familiar with formatting programs, hire a professional to do it for you. Otherwise you risk turning off readers on the very first page, regardless of how good the actual content of your book may be. And if that happens, you probably aren't going to sell very many copies.

 

-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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Three Mistakes to Avoid When Self-publishing a Print Book

 

Going Indie? Don't Skimp on Quality

 

1,300 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, formatting, writing
3

The Pantser Technique

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 14, 2016

You can't see it, but the word "pantser" has a little red squiggly line underneath it signaling that it is not a real word, at least according to my word processing software. And I admit that up until last year, I had not heard of the word before. While it conjures up images that have nothing to do with writing, I promise it is writing related.


So, what does "pantser" mean? It means authors who write without a plan. They write by the seat of their pants. Of the twelve books I have written, I would say I have used the "pantser" technique eight times. There are pluses and minuses to such an approach. The pluses are easy to peg. You have the freedom to go where the characters take you instead of dictating where they will go. The writing feels more like an organic process. You will experience moments of surprise, as if you were a reader discovering a twist. It can be really fun. The minuses really boil down to just one. You can meander and get way off topic. You can get so far off track and frustrate yourself to the point that you'll give up on a story rather than starting over.


So, what say you, fellow authors? How do you view your technique? Are you a plotter or a "pantser"? There is no right or wrong way to write a book--it all comes down to preferences. I like to dabble in both, sometimes even with the same book. I will be a "pantser" for the first 40-100 pages, and then I'll switch to a plotter strategy. What is your preference?


-Richard


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


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Make Your Own Rules

Is There Value in Formulaic Writing?

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