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503 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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A lot of people out there are afraid to use the pronoun "me." I think the aversion must start in elementary school, when you proudly declare "Me and Gloria are best friends!" and your mom shakes her head and says, "Gloria and I are best friends."

 

Mom is right because in that instance "I" is a subject. However, "me" is correct when you need an object.

 

Here are some examples of how to use "I" and "me" correctly:

 

*Gloria and Maria are in charge of the team

*Gloria and I are in charge of the team (CORRECT)

*Gloria and me are in charge of the team (INCORRECT)

 

That was super obvious, right? How about these:

 

*That's a great photo of Gloria and Maria

*That's a great photo of Gloria and me (CORRECT)

*That's a great photo of Gloria and I (INCORRECT)

 

In this case "me" is the correct choice because it's an object.

Confused? Remove Gloria from the sentence, and the answer becomes more obvious:

 

*That's a great photo of me (CORRECT)

*That's a great photo of I (INCORRECT)

 

Here are some more examples:

 

*You can call Gloria or Maria with that information

*You can call Gloria or me with that information (CORRECT)

*You can call Gloria or I with that information (INCORRECT)

 

The correct choice here is "me" because it's an object. Again, removing Gloria makes it more obvious:

 

*You can call me with that information (CORRECT)

*You can call I with that information (INCORRECT)

 

When you're not sure whether to use "I" or "me," ask yourself, Is this a subject or an object? And if you're still not sure, get rid of the other person in the sentence, and you'll know the answer. (Sorry Gloria!)

 

-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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Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

Grammar Tip: Who vs. That

3,067 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, grammar_tips, i_vs_me
1

There are few things I enjoy more than getting fan "mail"--in whatever form it arrives. This morning I received a wonderful tweet from a woman named Yasminda that made me smile. I replied with my email address and asked her to send me a note. When she did, I checked her address in my database and saw that she wasn't subscribed to my newsletter. I also realized she wasn't a fan of my Facebook page or my Goodreads page. I asked her if she was aware I had those things. She said she was not aware but that she was happy to sign up, like the pages, etc.

 

This was a good lesson for me because I'd always kind of assumed that the fans I have on Twitter are the same fans I have on Facebook, etc. And while I imagine there is a significant amount of overlap, it's not comprehensive. Case in point: If I didn't have a Twitter profile, I might never have heard from Yasminda.

 

In our email conversation I told Yasminda how much I would appreciate her help in spreading the word about my books, and she jumped to action! Within minutes she posted a nice note about my books on Facebook (with a link to my fan page), and she also ordered signed copies from me as a gift to her mother. How cool is that?

 

There's no magic formula for connecting with your readers, but having a presence in more than one place will make it easier for fans to contact you. If all you have is a website, make sure the contact tab is easy to find. When it comes to book sales there's nothing more powerful than word of mouth, so the more you can do to interact directly with your biggest fans, the better!

 

-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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Ramping Up Facebook Activity for the New Year

Your Fans are Your Brand

2,676 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions, fan_interaction
1

I recently attended a workshop for playwrights. The medium is different from a book. The structure is different. Consumption of the material is different, but one piece of advice I got from one of the facilitators after my short play was read is universal. It can be applied to any storytelling platform.

 

The scene I had written focused on four different characters. I got fairly positive feedback from participants. Even the negatives were presented constructively. Overall I was satisfied with the experience, but what the facilitator said opened my eyes to a truth I already knew but had forgotten.

 

He felt one of the female characters wasn't as developed as the other characters. Paraphrasing, here's what he said:

 

I don't feel like you know her as well as the others. Why is she in the scene? I don't mean to ask why you put her in the scene. I mean, why did she choose to be in the scene? You have to know her motivation. You don't have to include that information in your play, but you have to know it. Once you know, the audience will get it. They will feel your connection to the character.

 

He was 100% correct. I hadn't connected with the character in question like I had with the others. I was using her as a device to advance dialogue, and that creates a shallow, underdeveloped character that shortchanges audiences and readers alike.

 

When you connect with your characters, you write with passion and care. You understand their motivations, and that understanding shows in your writing. Connect with your characters, and your readers will make the same connection.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

1,997 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, characterization, developing_characters
0

A few weeks ago I went to cheer on my pal Kelly, who was running the New York Marathon. That is twenty-six miles--and change! Insane, right? It's not like you can just roll out of bed and wing it. Preparing for a marathon is no joke. Kelly has a pretty demanding job, but she was determined, so for months she dragged herself out of bed before work and on weekends to put in the miles.

 

Her distance increased weekly until she was literally running for hours at a time, by herself, while her friends were off having fun doing other things. Yes, at times the training was boring (she's the first to admit it), and yes, at times she wondered why she was putting herself through such torture (she admits that too), but she knew her body wasn't going to get in marathon shape by itself. So she put in the work, day after day after day.

 

Kelly finished the marathon and is (deservedly) extremely proud of herself. She should be! She worked her tail off, and no one can ever take that accomplishment away from her.

 

Writing a novel is similar to running a marathon in the sense that it takes a great deal of time, effort, and discipline. A book isn't going to write itself, no matter how desperately you might want it to. Trust me; I've experienced that feeling a lot. To complete NaNoWriMo you have to sit down at your computer every day, before work or after work, or both, and write, day after day after day. Push the story forward, and keep going until you're done. Just like Kelly, you'll have worked your tail off to achieve your goal, and just think of how great that will feel.

 

-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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Productivity vs. Perfection

Writing Takes Discipline

678 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, nanowrimo, national_novel_writing_month
0

The best way to grow as a writer is to invest in your writing. Here are three ways you can do just that:

 

  1. Buy a book on grammar and editing: I know, I know. Why do you need a book on grammar and editing when that kind of information is at your fingertips online? I'm a supporter of something I call "tactile commitment." When you own the information in book form, it's my belief that you'll be more likely to reference it. Don't worry; this isn't the part where I link to a book on the topic that I've written or get commission for selling. The decision of which book to own is yours. All I want to do is encourage you to make such a book a part of your permanent library.
  2. Take a creative writing class or join a writing workshop: One of the best investments I've ever made has been the investment of time spent learning from other writers. I meet with two different groups every month. In the meetings I read my own new material and critique material written by other authors. It's a supportive and constructive environment. I get the benefit of improving my material and forming relationships with fellow writers. It's a win-win.
  3. Teach a class or workshop: Contact a library, theater, or independent bookstore and offer to conduct your own workshop. Teach other writers your style and philosophy. You're a writer. Spread the knowledge. You will more than likely learn something invaluable by teaching others.

 

Your goal as an artist is to improve. The only way to improve is to make an investment in your craft. As you can see, from a monetary standpoint, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. For the most part, it will cost you time, but I promise you it will be time well spent.

 

-Richard

 

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

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Why Novelists Should Join a Playwrights' Group

Your How-to-Be-a-Novelist Syllabus

1,365 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, indie, writing, craft
1

I have a friend who is always doing things outside of his comfort zone. It all started when he joined the military and entered the elite Special Forces program. He served with distinction, then entered the private security industry as a medical specialist where he traveled the world and met a lot of high profile individuals in private industry and government. Recently, he took six months off to complete a solo thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He is constantly forcing himself to take on new challenges to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.

 

I tell you about my friend because I want you to apply his lifestyle to your writing life. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Have you mastered the art of writing in first-person point of view? Great. Now master the third-person narrative. You may be one of the best thriller writers on the market, but what about a good old-fashioned romance? Can you deliver literary magic with love at the core of your story?

 

The point is to shake it up. Grow as an artist. Surprise your readers instead of giving them what they've come to expect from you. Show them that you are a multidimensional writer with the ability to explore different styles and genres. You may stumble, but that's what happens when you face a challenge. Risk is where growth comes from because if forces you to learn new methods and helps you fine-tune a new skillset. Risk is the artist's best friend.

 

Your assignment is to abandon the natural need for comfort. Put yourself out there and embrace the risk that will make you a better artist.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Rewriting: Relax, Reconnect, Rethink

WordPlay: Challenging Your Perspective

801 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, comfort_zone
0

Give Them a Reason

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 2, 2015

Do you know why someone should read your book? This isn't a rhetorical question. I'm asking only to then reveal brilliant insights on how to sell more books. It's a question that has an answer, but only you know it. People need a reason to read your book, and you have to give them that reason.

 

I've sat in many a marketing meeting in other industries where the question of consumer motivation was the focal point of discussion. You can't just create a product or service and expect the consumer to develop their own reason to shell out their hard-earned cash for it. Put another away, readers want to read your book; they just don't know why yet.

 

Think of how the marketing world sells products. They tell us something is new and improved. They tell us special pricing is available for a limited time. They tell us when something is one of a kind. They tell us when something is classic or bold or life changing. Marketers are not shy in creating a need for the products or services they're trying to sell.

 

You can't approach marketing your book with the mindset of an author. You have to design a marketing campaign with a commercial zeal. Indie authors are in the unique position of wearing multiple hats, but all those hats fit your entrepreneurial role. You are the artist. You are the publisher. You are the marketing department. Approach each position without fear.

 

Now, why should someone read your book? What need will be satisfied by reading your book? More importantly, how are you going to convey that need in the simplest terms possible?

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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The Marketing Maze

Three Marketing Websites for Authors

1,150 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing
0

Free your mind, and the first draft will follow. And once you have your first draft, you'll almost be ready to write your novel. Let me be clear, the first draft of your book is not your book. It's the blueprint for the outline you will use to write the second draft of your novel. That second draft is what you will hone and rewrite until it becomes the file you upload into a publishing system and make available for sale.

 

If this sounds like a lot of work, that's because it is. I've tried every way you can think of to get around the laborious rewrite process, but it is unavoidable from my standpoint. Is it mandatory? No, of course not, but it is highly recommended. I understand not all writers do it. One of my favorite authors, Erskine Caldwell, famously submitted the first and only draft of his manuscripts for publication.

 

I've grown to love outlines, and I've found them to be most helpful as a blueprint if I wait and create them after I've completed a first draft. I've come to view the first draft as my very detailed idea. Developing an outline based on that idea only makes sense.

 

When I say outline, I mean I write a short description of each chapter. That description usually consists of one line describing the character arc in that chapter and another line that explains the story arc of the chapter. Seeing the book in parts helps me see the best way to make it one cohesive unit and give it consistency.

 

If you've never written off of an outline, I'd urge you to try it--but only after you've written your first draft.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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The Perils of Rewriting

After the First Draft

1,228 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writers, writing, drafts, outlines
1

I've said countless times in this blog that if you want to get people to read your book, you have to give away a lot of copies. To reviewers. To bloggers. To the editor of your college alumni magazine. To the women in your yoga class. To the guy who cuts your hair. To the people you meet at Starbucks. Basically to anyone and everyone you think might like the book enough to spread the word about it.

 

That can be a lot of books. But you have to do it!

 

I always recommend giving away print copies with a personalized inscription for two reasons. First, because it's classy. Second, because it's harder for someone to "forget" to read a (signed) physical book than an eBook buried in a Kindle library.

 

How to save money

 

If you're going to mail signed copies, use the book rate at the post office. It's almost half the price! The one downside is that you have to wait in line because the self-service kiosks don't offer the book rate, but it's worth it to save so much money.

 

To give away eBooks, I recommend "gifting" a copy via Amazon. All you need is the email address associated with the recipient's Amazon account. Click "Give as a Gift," type in a personal note before sending, and you're done! And guess what? You get the royalties on the sale, which brings the purchase price down.

 

Note: Multiple indie authors who read my blog have contacted me offering to email me a "free PDF" version of their book. You know what that does? It makes me feel like they want my endorsement, but not enough to (pay to) send me a real book. Not the best approach, in my opinion.

 

-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: Always Carry a Book with You

Book Marketing Tip: Be Resourceful

1,442 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, signed_copies, free_copies
1

Imagine you're at a cocktail party and someone tells a brief story about his friend Buddy. Chances are the storyteller will name Buddy just once and use "he" from there on because everyone listening to the story knows he's talking about Buddy. If the storyteller were to say, "Buddy did this, and then Buddy did that, and then Buddy went there," it would sound weird, right?

 

The same goes for books. Read the following two paragraphs out loud. Which one sounds more natural to you?

 

EXAMPLE A

 

Buddy arrived at the office brimming with confidence, knowing today was his day to shine and show the world his potential. Buddy strode toward the interview room with a spring in his step. "I can do this," Buddy said under his breath as he reached for the doorknob.

 

EXAMPLE B

 

Buddy arrived at the office brimming with confidence, knowing today was his day to shine and show the world his potential. He strode toward the interview room with a spring in his step. "I can do this," he said under his breath as he reached for the doorknob.

 

Example A makes me want to put the book down. Example B makes me want to keep reading.

 

I just finished reading an indie novel in which the author used the main character's name (I'll also call him "Buddy") over and over and over when a simple "he" would have done. The story was interesting, but the overuse of "Buddy" was so distracting (and annoying) that it undermined the reading experience for me and will prevent me from recommending the book to others. A professional editor can help flag these problems before your book goes to market, so if you're going the indie route, I strongly recommend hiring one.

 

-Maria

 

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

 

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Two Mistakes Indie Authors Should Avoid

A Wonderful Example of How to Handle Constructive Criticism and Feedback

3,007 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, pronouns
1

Do You Need Swag?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 19, 2015

When I first got into indie publishing, I had to deal with a huge learning curve. I knew writing. I had been doing it for a couple of decades before I released my first title. The part I didn't know was what to do with a book once it's written, so I went on a self-taught publishing journey to find out how authors sell books. I got into blogging to support book sales. I tried personal videos to support book sales. I dove into social media to support book sales. I was building a platform. Then I went to Book Expo America, and I saw something I didn't expect to see in the literary world. I saw swag.

 

I wandered the floors of the convention hall, and I saw tote bags sporting images of book covers. I saw T-shirts. I saw magnets. I saw pens. I saw ties. I saw things at Erotica booths that I can't even mention. It blew my mind. Publishers and authors were giving stuff away by the truckload to help get the word out about their books.

 

I had a signing at some point during the show, and I sat next to an author who had boxes of this swag that she gave away with each book she signed. I had nothing, and I actually started to feel like I was shortchanging the people who got signed copies of my book. For the rest of the convention, I continually saw that author's name on a tote bag somewhere in the enormous facility. I even saw one of her ties on the streets of New York a few days later.

 

Swag works. Do you need it? Not necessarily, but if you've got a signing coming up, do yourself a favor, and bring some items with your name and book's title on it to give away. People eat that stuff up, and you may get some free advertising out of it.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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The Grassroots Marketing Ripple Effect

The Marketing Maze

930 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, book_signing, promotions, swag
0

In my last post, I said that for the overwhelming majority of authors, it's important to make an effort to connect with your fans. The same goes for having a good headshot. If you're selling millions of copies of your books each year, no need to read further.

 

Almost daily I receive an email from an author asking me a variation of the same question: "How do I market my book?" For those who have websites or author pages on Amazon (two things I've recommended in previous posts), I almost always look them up to see if I might want to interview them for a blog post, to check out their books, etc. And you know what? Nine out of ten times I cringe at the headshot because it looks so unprofessional. If your headshot looks like it was taken at Sears in the 1970s or cropped out of a group photo at a barbeque, it's time to get a new one.

 

If you're going to present yourself to the world as a professional writer, you need to look professional. Speaking engagements are a perfect example--put yourself in the shoes of a person deciding between two author candidates with roughly the same qualifications. Would you choose the guy in the flower shirt holding a spatula, or the woman in the tasteful suit sitting next to an elegant vase filled with flowers? They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but we all know everyone does.

 

Contrary to popular belief, a headshot doesn't have to cost a lot of money--or any money. I bartered for a recent one with a woman I met at a business networking group who needed some help editing her website. I got what I needed, and she got what she needed, a win-win!

 

-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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Lights, Camera, Smile!

Book Marketing Tip: Be Resourceful

1,244 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, headshots
0

How to Be Retweetable

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 12, 2015

Before social media the goal of an author was to write something memorable. It's still the goal today, but there's the added goal of writing something retweetable. Twitter is a mecca of viral content just waiting to be shared via retweet over and over again. The trick is writing something in 140 characters that moves your followers and their followers to retweet your content.

 

Here are some good rules of thumb to craft retweetable content and build your brand across the Twitterverse.

 

  1. You don't really have 140 characters: If you're using up all the characters allotted in a tweet, you're not allowing for followers to add their own two cents. You'd be surprised how many want to add their points of view to a message. If you can come in at 70-100 characters, your message is all the more retweetable.

  2. Pick your spots: According to Track Maven, Tuesday and Wednesday are the days with the highest volume of tweets, but weekends are where the largest number of retweets occur. The point? Your followers will be more likely to see your tweets during the week, but on weekends there's a greater likelihood that a smaller number or your followers will retweet your content and share it outside of your network, exposing your brand to a larger number of people.

  3. #usehashtags: Hashtags do get you retweeted, and the more you use, the more likely it is you'll be retweeted. A lot of people limit them or avoid them altogether, but there are a number of studies that say three to five hashtags in a tweet increases your chances of being retweeted.

  4. Three words that will greatly increase your retweet volume: By simply putting, "Please Retweet Now" in your tweet, you will see a marked increase in the number of retweets you receive.

 

Of course, the best way to receive a lot of retweets is to take advantage of the social aspect of Twitter and engage with followers, so they are more likely to support your career as an author, and make sure it's a two-way street. Support their dreams, too.

 

-Richard

 

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

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Twitter: A Global Tool That's Great for Connecting with Your Local Media

Can Twitter Make You a Better Writer?

1,252 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, promotion, writing, twitter, retweet, retweetable
0

Have you ever finished a great book and thought to yourself, I would love to send a note to the author, only to find yourself at a loss for how to do so? In my opinion, by not including contact information at the end of their books, those authors are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with their readers.

 

Here are some other things you can include in your books to connect with your readers:

 

1)   The first chapter of your next book:

Including the first chapter of another book, whether it's a sequel or an entirely different story, is a great way to both alert your readers to its existence and to encourage them to buy it right then and there. If you don't have another book ready, why not include a brief note about something you have planned or have already begun?

 

2)   A sense of your personality in the acknowledgements:

I'm always a little disappointed when the acknowledgments page of a book is nothing more than a list of names. In addition to thanking people in this section, you can share a little bit about yourself with your readers. It doesn't have to be anything overly personal, but there's no harm in offering your fans a glimpse of who you are, how hard you worked to write the book, and how much you appreciate anyone out there who is actually reading it.

 

3)   Your website and/or newsletter information:

I absolutely love receiving emails from fans, so I put my website (www.mariamurnane.com) and/or email address everywhere I can. On my website there's a "Contact" button that provides my email address (maria@mariamurnane.com). I also have a "Sign up for Maria's newsletter!" button on every page of my site.

 

Granted, there are some authors out there who are so successful they don't need to interact with their readers to sell more books, but the rest of us should be doing everything we can to establish a connection with our fans. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful sales tool in the world, so anything you can to do to engage with your readers is well worth your time.

 

-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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Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

Book Marketing Tip: Make It Easy for Your Fans to Help You

3,764 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions
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It's been said before, but it bears repeating: you are an expert. In what? Writing. Story structure. Character development. Every element that goes into writing and selling a novel is a subject matter in which you are an expert. You may not feel that way, but your experience says otherwise.

 

That expertise is a marketing opportunity. I'm assuming that you have at your disposal a computer with online access. You, my indie author friend, are a webinar away from taking your expertise global and growing your brand beyond your wildest dreams. Take that knowledge you have about writing, publishing, and marketing, and create a series of educational webinars that will position you as both an author and expert.

 

Webinars are relatively simple to create and host. There are a number of online webinar tools to help you deliver your material in a professional and highly interactive manner. You just have to provide the knowledge. You'll build your webinar audience via your social network. Attendance will be small at first, but if you keep at it and commit to a regular webinar schedule, you'll pick up more and more attendees, and those attendees will add to your reader base as well. It's a mutual-propagating relationship. One group will feed into the other and vice-versa.

 

I know it sounds like a huge time commitment, and in the beginning, it will be. Over time, though, you will develop a system with a built-in audience that will require minimal effort. Maintaining a regular webinar schedule can be both personally and financially rewarding.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Host Your Own Webinar

Sell Yourself as an Enthusiast

782 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writers, webinar
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