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In order to grow, you have to subject yourself to a little self-examination. In the corporate world, managers make their subordinates undergo the oft-dreaded employee reviews. While the process sometimes seems arbitrary, they do serve a purpose. They give employees an approximation of their professional growth. They can see where they've been and where they need to go in order to advance.

 

We all want to advance. As Matthew McConaughey put it at the Oscars, we all need someone to chase, even if that someone is ourselves. In the indie author world, advancing means growing as an artist and selling more books, and just like our corporate counterparts, we need to undergo our own brand of evaluation.

 

I say our own brand of self-examination because, as creative types, we should have a little fun with it. I suggest skipping the checklist of "meets or exceeds" expectations and letting the imagination take over. One of my favorite strategies is to pretend as if I've been asked to be the keynote speaker at a graduation. My job is to describe the life of a storyteller to the gallery of impressionable minds based on my experience. I lay it all out there for them: my philosophy on writing, my struggles, my triumphs, my regrets, my moments of joy, etc. I speak to them from the heart and give them the tools to make their way as indie authors.

 

By doing this exercise annually, you'll be able to track your growth as an indie author, and you'll have a little fun while doing so. Plus, bonus! You'll have a keynote address should you ever be asked to deliver one.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Keep a Private Journal

 

Your Gift to Yourself

2,505 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, self-examination
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If you read my blog with regularity, you know I'm a big advocate of creative approaches to book marketing. However, there's a difference between being creative and being inappropriate.

 

I recently received an e-mail that left me scratching my head. The sender (I'll call him Sam) was writing on behalf of an author I'd neither met nor heard of (I'll call her Sally). In his message, Sam said Sally had a new book coming out, and he asked if I wanted to participate in her "book tour." He included a blurb about the book, plus a link to her website. I had no idea what he meant by "book tour," so I politely e-mailed him back and asked him to clarify. In his response he said that he wanted me to talk up Sally's book on my website. He went on to say that this is "something authors do to support each other," and that Sally would "appreciate my help." He didn't offer to send me a copy of Sally's book to read - he just wanted me to promote it, sight unseen.

 

I wrote back again and asked if Sally had read any of my books or promoted them in any way. Sam did not reply. I'm still confused by all of this.

 

There's nothing wrong with reaching out to others about your book, but Sam is going about it the wrong way. If you're going to ask another author to endorse your book, common sense says you should probably read their book(s) first. You should also offer to send them a copy of your book to read. How would you feel if you found out you'd bought a book based on the recommendation of someone who hadn't even read it? Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I would feel duped.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Supporting Indie Authors

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

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Blurb with Caution

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 10, 2014

At one time in my life, there was a particular author that I read religiously. As soon as I finished one of his books, I raced to buy his next book or find an old book of his that I had not yet read. I was crazy about this author. Quite simply, he was my favorite writer. On one occasion, when I had no more of his books to read, I picked up random titles in the same genre and flipped through the pages to find something that grabbed my attention. This went on for far too long. I just couldn't find something that pulled me in until I started reading some of the blurbs. Lo and behold, right there between two quotation marks was a glowing endorsement by my favorite author. If the book was good enough for him, it was good enough for me. I bought the book, took it home and cracked it open, ready to be whisked away on a magical fictional journey.

 

 

Two chapters in, I hated the book. It was nothing like my favorite author had promised it would be. I read other reviews online, and most agreed with me. I went in search of another book and found another one endorsed by my favorite author. I didn't like that one either. Turns out my favorite author didn't have a similar taste to mine...or he was being less than honest in his blurbs.

 

Fast forward to the release of his next book - I had no interest in reading it. His blurbs for less-than-deserving books somehow ruined my excitement for his own books. I can't explain it. I just felt like he had violated a sacred trust between reader and scribe. He used his brand to sell bad writing that wasn't even his.

 

 

Consider this a precautionary tale. While it is incredibly flattering to be asked for a blurb by a fellow author, make sure you are endorsing something you truly believe in, and the book is worthy of being associated with your brand. Anything less and you run the risk of tarnishing your own brand and losing readers.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Sell Yourself as an Enthusiast

A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

2,657 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, blurbs
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Quick Tips to Help You Tighten Up Your Writing - Catherine, Caffeinated

Author and writing coach C.S. Larkin shares six tips to improve your writing.           

                                                    

Behind the Microphone ? Internet Radio Is a Great Online Marketing Strategy - The Future of Ink

Build your brand and sell books by being a guest on internet radio shows.    

 

Film

                                                        

How to Sharpen Your Movie Hook (So You Get Noticed) - Filmmaking Stuff

How to make investors and moviegoers care about your movie.   

                                          

The Three Rules I Saw Broken at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival - Script Magazine

Technology has created an indie filmmaking revolution, and like any revolution, rules are being broken.     

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Vocal Tone: What It Is, Why We Change It -Judy Rodman

Your vocal tone is a key component of communication, even when it comes to singing.    

 

Music, Mind and Meaning - The Case for the Science of Music  - Hypebot.com

Why do we like music? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 28, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 21, 2014

2,909 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, music, movies, writers, writing, drafts, film_festival, writing_process, musicians, fim_editing, vocal_tone
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If your biggest fans aren't authors themselves, there's a good chance they have no idea how much you need their help to spread the word about your work. So why not tell them? I created a "buzz" page on my website. It lists easy ways to spread the word about my novels, and anytime I interact with fans on a personal level, I ask them to check out that page.

Here are some examples:

 

1)  My newsletter: Anytime someone signs up for my monthly newsletter, I reply with a personal note asking why they chose to do so. Many are aspiring authors looking for writing and marketing advice, but just as many say they signed up because they love my books. If they're fans, I tell them how important word-of-mouth is and how much I would appreciate their help. For example, I suggest they post something about my books on Facebook. It's important to make it as easy as possible for your fans to take action.

2)  Goodreads: When people begin to "follow" me on Goodreads I also send them a personal note and follow the same protocol as with the newsletter. Most people who follow me on Goodreads are voracious readers and love to share what they are reading with others. They also love hearing from authors!

3)  Twitter: If I see that I have a new follower, I repeat the same protocol mentioned above. My Twitter followers are mix of writers and readers, and they always appreciate a personal tweet.

 

You'd be surprised how happy your readers will be to hear from you - and how willing they are to help you if you tell them you need help. The key is to give them the tools they need, which is why a buzz page is great.

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

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How to Support an Indie Author

Three Easy Marketing Ideas

8,186 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, goodreads, twitter
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Back in my days of writing ad copy for print and electronic media (before the internet and social media), I learned a very valuable lesson about advertising and marketing. As a newbie to the ad world, I mistakenly thought that the ad was the only thing that really mattered. As long as you conveyed your message clearly and created an emotional attachment to the ad, you had done a bulk of the leg work, and you were going to strike gold. But then I saw what came next and realized that the real work had just begun.

 

What came next? The media buy. I knew nothing about the process. As far as I knew, you picked the most popular show you could afford and ran your commercial during that time slot. And as far as print goes, I assumed you picked a spot in the section of the Sunday paper that was most relevant to your product and placed the ad there. I could not have been more wrong. I was in for a real education. Ratings books were consulted. Reader and viewer demographics were pored over. Everything was crucial to the media buy: income, age, gender, occupation, and family status.

 

I learned the buyer wasn't just trying to find a way to reach the most people that fit the demographic; they were trying to find a location (on air or in print) where people in the desired demographic would see the ad over and over again. They wanted people to see the ad seven to ten times. The number of people wasn't as important as how many times the people would be exposed to the ad.

 

So, as you move forward and consider jumping into the world of advertising for your book, keep this little lesson I learned in mind. The key to your ad's success is how many times it's seen by the same people. Being viewed by a large number of people means nothing if they only see it one or two times. It's not about reaching the most people; it's about reaching the right people over and over and over and over again.

 

-Richard

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

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A Basket Full of Books

The Key to Succeed as an Author

2,753 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, advertising, promotions
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Write a Fast-Draft Novel - Writer's Digest

Prep work is your best strategy to writing a novel in a short period of time.          

                                                    

40 Things an Author Absolutely Must Do to Succeed - Author Culture

Author Kevin Parsons shares his long list of common sense ideas on how to succeed as an author.    

 

Film

                                                        

Indie Filmmaking is Surging despite the Odds - Variety

While the number of studio-financed films are going down every year, the number of independently financed films are going up.   

                                          

Legally Speaking, It Depends: Music in Film - Script Magazine

Just how does a filmmaker go about getting clearance to use a song in a movie?     

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

An Exercise in Goal Setting - Musicgoat

You won't believe how easy it just might be to achieve a goal.    

 

Shift Happens: Are You a Reader, a Listener or a Watcher? - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Have podcasts made blogs irrelevant? Bob Baker doesn't think so. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 21, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 14, 2014

3,119 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, music, filmmaking, author, ideas, movies, drafts, blogs, creativity, musicians, goals, filmmakers, creative_writing, music_exercises
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When someone asks, "What's your book about?" it's important to be able to answer in a sentence or two. This is often described as an "elevator pitch," because you should be able to explain your book during a short elevator ride. Who knows what Hollywood producer might happen to ask - or be listening?

 

Creating a brief yet compelling description of your book is essential. Not only does it give you something to say when people ask you about it, it can be used for the following proactive marketing purposes:

 

1)  In your (personal) email signature: Every email program comes with a "signature" option. Including a quick description of your book, or even the tone of your book, is a great way to let people know what your book is about without being pushy. For my first book, I included this description in the signature of my personal email address:

 

Maria Murnane, award-winning author of "Perfect on Paper," a novel for anyone who has ever run into an ex while looking like crap

I've lost track of how many people have told me they laughed at my email signature and ended up buying my book as a result. And as you can see, the little blurb doesn't necessarily have to say anything about the actual plot of your book. The key is to convey the essence of your book so potential readers will know what to expect when they pick up a copy.

 

2)  On business cards that feature your book's cover: Why not put your one-line description on the back? Be sure to carry the cards in your wallet at all times. If that Hollywood executive you meet in the elevator likes what he or she hears, you'll have a business card to hand over.

 

Coming up with a compelling one-liner can be challenging, but it's worth spending time to create a good one. With most people, you only get one chance to grab their attention, so you want that description to sparkle.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Relay Conflict in Your Quick Pitch

Can You Do More?

4,828 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, elevator_pitch
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The Lasting Brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 24, 2014

When thinking of marketing and branding, it's important to keep a perspective on what matters. Even in the world of creating virtual public personas, viral marketing campaigns, blog tours, giveaways and so on, the one thing that matters above all else is quality.

 

The brand you want is one that will stand the test of time, a brand that will survive changing technology. You want a brand that represents a book that is as enjoyable to read in paperback as it is to read on your Kindle as it is to read on your smartphone as it is to read on whatever we will be using to read 50 years from now. You want a brand that represents an outstanding storyteller who writes compelling books that have the DNA to entertain, move and transfix generations of readers.

 

A brand built on quality is a lasting brand. As an author, if you want the potential to leave a legacy, you need to constantly grow your skill set and knowledge of writing. You do that by writing and testing the boundaries. You also do that by reading other great writers: legends, traditional powerhouses and rising indie authors. Finally, you do that by committing to your craft.

 

Quality matters. It may matter more today than it ever has because of the sheer number of books published every day. To stand out and gather readers over time and through the years, to be a lasting brand, the quality of your writing is what matters most.

 

-Richard

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

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A Writer's Brand Identity

Going Indie? Don't Skimp on Quality

5,330 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writers, branding
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I'm going to sum this blog post up in one word, but I'm going to save that word until the end. This single word is the key to becoming exponentially more productive as a writer. It will set your mind free and allow ideas to flow. It will turn your focus to creative thought and expression.

 

Here's the kicker: You know this word, and it's not going to surprise you just how powerful it truly is. You know its meaning and just how liberating it can be. Every time you interrupt a writing session to see what's happening in the world, this word most likely flashes in your brain. Every time you pop on over to Facebook to see what your friends are up to, this word smacks you in the face. Every time you construct a tweet and set it free on Twitter, this word wraps itself around your gut, telling you to take heed. 

 

Spending a day in the glory of this word, observing its meaning with discipline and dedication can make all the difference to your writing. It can clear your path of distractions and lift your artistic spirits. You will write more if you just listen to this word. In fact, if every time you feel the need to pull up your browser, you say this word to yourself instead, you will find the time and the passion to write. It's inevitable.

 

And just what is this word? It is that six letter gem: UNPLUG. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Writing Takes Discipline

When Are You Most Productive?

3,484 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, drafts, writing_process, craft, writer's_block, author_tips
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I'm no stranger to writer's block, which at times can feel paralyzing. And stressful. And did I say stressful? I recently began writing my seventh novel, and this time around I'm prepared to battle this dreaded affliction with three strategies I've learned from my previous bouts.

 

1)  It's important to keep the story moving forward, so when I feel stuck on a scene, or if the creative muscle to write clever dialogue or interesting descriptions just isn't there, I make placeholders and move on. For example, in my new novel I've already written general placeholders such as:

 

·         DESCRIBE RESTAURANT HERE - HAVE IT RUSTIC AND ON THE BEACH

·         HAVE HER WALK ALONG THE BEACH ALONE AND FEEL SAD

·         ADD IN SOME DETAIL HERE ABOUT THEIR PREVIOUS TRIP TOGETHER

 

Yes, I use all caps. It's not pretty, but it works because it keeps me focused on the plot. If I've learned anything at all about writing novels, it's how important it is to keep the story moving forward. You can also go back and edit later.

 

2)  When I've done the above but have no idea where to take the plot next, I go to the gym and bring my phone. I jump on the stationary bike with my Kindle Fire and start watching TV. Inevitably I'm struck by an idea, so I whip out my phone and email myself a note. I'm not sure why exercising helps me so much, but it works every time - and it keeps me in shape. A win-win!

 

3)  When I come up with an idea for something to include at some point in the book, I add it to a cleverly named document called "To include at some point." This is basically an eclectic list of bullet points, but it's a great way to make sure those bursts of inspiration don't get lost.

 

How do you manage writer's block? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.

   

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Can Your Book Title Affect the Way You Write?

 

Can Visualization Help You Finish That Manuscript?

4,802 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing
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Call this an open letter to friends and family members of indie authors (authors, you can share this with your personal networks if you agree).

 

This is an answer to the question I hear most often from the people in my life who want to support my career as an indie author: "What can I do to help you sell more books?" The answer is simple, and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with you buying a book from the indie author in your life. All that is required is that you help spread the word. I don't mean in an organized manner or by using some grand gesture full of fanfare and hype. I simply mean that you mention the book in conversation or include a link to the book in a status update on Facebook and/or Twitter. That's it. If you've read the book, you could go that extra mile and share your review online, but that is your call. Your real value is as a personal advocate, an active supporter of the indie author in your life.

 

Your word carries a lot of weight. Statistics show that the number-one reason people choose to read a book is because of recommendations from a friend or family member. Do you see the power you have? Now, it isn't your responsibility to support an indie author's dream, and I don't want you to feel like it is an obligation. I just want you to be aware of how easily your support can be expressed.

 

Thanks for reading, and may you all find your way to achieving your own hopes and dreams with a little help from family and friends.

 

-Richard

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

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The Key to Succeed as an Author

It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

4,959 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Create an Antihero That Readers Love - Writer's Digest

You don't need to fix antiheroes to make themlikeable.  

                                                    

Prequels Build Buzz! - The Book Deal

Could a short teaser before the release of a full length novel be a way to build your audience?

 

Film

                                                        

The Art of Editing - Filmmaker IQ

Filmmaker Peter Haas shares his wisdom on editing.

                                          

Aspiring Screenwriters: Read Screenplays - Stephan Vladimir Bugaj

Stephan VladmirBugaj makes the case that you can't write a screenplay if you've never actually read one.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Want to Reach 18-35 Year Olds with Your Music? Social Media Is the Answer - Hypebot.com

Bottom line, millennials care what their peers have to say on social media.

 

The 5 Biggest Music Publicity Mistakes (and How to Fix Them) - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Despite the saying, not all publicity is good publicity.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup-February 7, 2014

Weekly News Roundup-January 31, 2014

2,331 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, filmmaking, writers, series, musicians, filmmakers, branding, social_media, audience, prequals, film_editing
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I've talked quite a bit about teaming up with other indie authors to bolster your marketing efforts. It's just a way for you all to support each other and share fan bases, with the goal of creating a pool of readers that grows at a faster rate than if you were to go it alone. The more authors you have in your group, the greater the opportunity to expand your fan base.

With that philosophy in mind, I'd like to present an idea for you and your group of fellow indie authors. Recently, I was asked to donate signed copies of my books to a fundraising event for a school. They bundled my books with a few others into a basket for a silent auction. That gave me an idea.

 

Your group of indie author friends could put together a similar basket of your own books and have a drawing among your fans to give the basket of books away. Give yourself a four-week lead time so you all can promote the drawing heavily. Each indie author should take to their separate social networks and provide instructions on how to enter, making sure to post frequent reminders about the drawing. When the winner is announced, everyone in the indie author group should make a big deal about it and congratulate the lucky fan with a personal message of gratitude for his or her participation.

 

Sharing the burden and responsibility of marketing with fellow indie authors has great potential. The giveaway idea above is just one possibility. Just think of all the other ideas you could come up with once you put your heads together! 

 

-Richard

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

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Form an Author Co-op

Supporting Indie Authors

5,242 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, social_networking, author_brand, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, author_collaboration
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Last February, Bestseller Labs published Goodreads CEO Reveals A Remarkably Easy Way To Sell More Books. The article is about a survey that Goodreads did of their members inquiring, among other things, how they chose a book to read. The number one answer to that question was really no surprise: referral by a friend. That has been the number one way people have chosen what book to read since cave paintings were bestsellers.

 

Perhaps the most edifying information to come out of the survey stemmed from the question, "What do you want to do when you get to the end of a book?" Eighty-three percent of those polled said they sought out other material written by the author. That represents a huge number of your readers who are anxious to read your next book. 

 

Why am I bringing this poll up a year later? To remind you that things haven't changed. Word of mouth is still the best way for your book to be discovered, and once a new reader finishes your book, they're going to want to read more of your books.

This is indie publishing. Your success is in your own hands. The results from this survey suggest to me that the best way to fuel your success is to provide consumers with multiple titles to read. I know time is of a premium and there never seems to be enough of it, but I urge you to find the time to write and publish more. Your success as an indie author may depend on it.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Create a Reader Profile

Writing a Series? Tips from a Superstar

1,681 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, selling, book_marketing, book_reviews, criticism
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