Skip navigation
1 2 3 ... 41 Previous Next


608 Posts tagged with the writers tag

A smart way to encourage influential people to read your book - think bloggers, book club moderators, social media addicts, etc. - is to offer to send them a copy. The cost to you will depend on how aggressive you are in your efforts (I've given away hundreds of books over the years), but here are three ways I've learned to save money:

1) Offer to email a digital copy.

If you can get a reviewer to read a Mobi or PDF version of you book, great! It won't cost you a penny. Some reviewers refuse to accept electronic files, but it's always worth asking.

2) Use the "send as a gift" option on Amazon for a Kindle or print version.

If the person you want to read your book will accept a Kindle version but isn't tech savvy enough to manage a Mobi file, offer to purchase a Kindle version of your book through Amazon. The reviewer will receive a link to download it within seconds, and you'll get a royalty on the sale! (The same goes for print versions, which can be a good option if you have Amazon Prime and the free shipping that goes along with it.)

3) Request the "book rate" at the post office.

I like sending books the old fashioned way because it allows me to include a personalized inscription for the reader, which I think is a nice touch. If you choose this option be sure to request the book rate, which will cut the shipping cost WAY down. The only downside is that to get the book rate you can't use the self-service kiosk and thus have to wait in line, but the money you'll save over time is worth it.

What are you waiting for? Get pitching!

-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

Are you making this marketing mistake?

Marketing tip: Stay organized!

1,721 Views 13 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writers


It's time to explore building your brand outside of the boundless arena of the virtual world and look at how you can build your brand in the real world. And the best way to do that is using a tool that most people dread, public speaking. Here are three ways to help you improve your public speaking skills.

1. Toastmasters: You've no doubt heard about this organization. There is a nominal fee to join, so it's not free. You will be both a speaker and listener as you practice the art of public speaking and help other members develop their skills as public speakers. The criticism is constructive and meant to help you grow. It is a well-known organization for a reason. It works.

2. Acting Classes: I know. I know. You didn't become an author to advance your career as an actor. Acting may be something that doesn't interest you in the least or it may even terrify you beyond belief. But the point of joining an acting class isn't to start your journey to winning an Oscar. It's for you to get comfortable with "performing." Giving a speech or doing a reading is just that, it's a performance. An acting class can help you own the podium and make your appearance memorable.

3. Improv Classes: Again, I know. Doing improv is most likely not your fondest desire. But thinking on your feet is a crucial tool as a public speaker. Not everything is going to go as planned, so being able to respond gracefully and seamlessly with humor is a key component to giving a successful speech or reading. As the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared. In this case, preparation deals with handling the unexpected.

Public speaking isn't a natural fit for most people. The only real way to succeed at public speaking is to practice public speaking. Doing so in a group with other motivated learners is the best way to master it and overcome your fear.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

Offline brand building

How to scare readers

880 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, writers, promotions, public_speaking, branding


If your book is done and published, you've already learned that the first question most people ask when they find out you've written a book is, "What's it about?"

Do you have a good answer to that question? If not, you might have a problem.

Coming up with a good hook (or angle, or one-line description) isn't easy, but it's important. Movies are supposed to have good hooks, but sometimes they can get away with "STARRING INSERT HUGE NAME HERE." That doesn't fly with a book, especially one that doesn't have a massive marketing machine behind it.

To come up with a compelling one-line description, I suggest you brainstorm a handful - they don't have to be polished or even grammatically correct at first - and then try them out on people you trust to be straight with you. This is important, because while many people like to help, not everyone is cut out to provide honest feedback. Do you have a friend who has no problem sending a meal back at a restaurant if it's not cooked just right? That's the kind of person you want for this job!

Even if your helpers haven't read your book, you should be able to tell by their facial expressions if they find your description interesting. Your initial options should be quite different, which will allow you to pick one that generates the best reaction. For example, should the one-liner be about a fire that devastated a neighborhood, or a burned jewelry box that revealed a family secret? Those things could both be true about your story, but which one gets the best reaction from your test group?

After you've narrowed down the options to one or two key angles, play around with a handful of descriptions for each angle, then whittle the overall list down again. Keep repeating this process until you have a winner!

-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook

Kick-start your year with these two marketing ideas

928 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writers, hook, one-liner


We have established that an author brand is not a corporate brand and it isn't quite a personal brand. It's a hybrid. You are selling a product and that product is tied to your brand, but the public has certain expectations when it comes to author brands that they wouldn't accept in a corporate brand. They expect authors to be much more candid than corporations, one might even say they expect author brands to show more emotions than corporate brands. Don't get me wrong, corporate brands do have an emotional identity, but it's usually a safe emotional identity. Author brands are given more leeway to be more expressive.

Do you know your emotional identity, and does your emotional identity match your genre? Before you answer that question, remember that I constantly preach that your author brand should be nothing more than a reflection of who you really are. Don't manufacture an online persona to match what you think you readers expect from you. For example, if you write horror novels, don't feel pressured to post macabre thoughts and creepy poetry to convince your readers that you are your genre. Be yourself.

But, your emotional identity is tied to more than how you express yourself online. It's also tied to what you share. Horror book and movie reviews, horror-themed convention and book fair news, and Halloween events: these are all horror-themed shares that will help establish your emotional identity without having to fake a "haunting" persona. The same strategy can be used for any genre and subgenre. Yes, be expressive, much more so than a corporate brand, but don't fake it. Be true to yourself.

If you've never asked yourself if your brand's emotional identity matches your genre, it's time to do so. 


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in…


You are the brand not your book


Building your author brand





939 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: writers, genre, branding, brand_identity, author_advice


Has it hit you yet? You are an author. No. You're more than that. You are an indie author. You possess something authors working under the restraints of a book contract don't possess. You have freedom. Freedom to write and publish whatever you wish. There is no one to tell you no or question your every literary move. You are in complete control.

With this power comes great responsibility. You have a sacred contract to fulfill as an indie author and that is to take advantage of your freedom and honor your independence. Take risks. Give readers something they could never get from a traditional publishing house.

I'm not suggesting you arbitrarily take a risk. I'm suggesting that you not always make the commercial choice. Write what your heart tells you to write. In essence, be true to yourself. It's what will set your books apart from other authors.

You not only owe it to you and your readers. You owe it to the industry. Change is the key to not just sustaining the publishing industry. It's the key to growing the publishing industry, and if traditional publishers are sticking to formulaic storylines and cookie-cutter characters, there is only one place that all important change will come from, you and your fellow indie authors.

So, I ask you again. Has it hit you yet? You are an indie author, and that makes you a pivotal part of the entire publishing industry. The constant state of change needed to keep the industry relevant starts with you.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


You may also be interested in…


Living the Indie Author Dream


Your Job as an Indie Author





1,535 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing

Want to write a successful book? Here are the three key elements as I see them to penning a novel that will stand the test of time and reach a broad audience.

1. Deep rich characters: Great characters can be genre benders. J. K. Rowling wrote a young adult fantasy novel about wizards, magic, and fantastic creatures that appealed to more than young adults with an affinity for wizards, magic, and fantastic creatures. Rowling made her characters believable. Even though they carried wands and attended a school for wizards, she made them vulnerable and flawed and essentially like the rest of us muggles. Her Harry Potter books are the very definition of genre benders. They definitely reach demographics beyond the young adult fantasy readers.

2. A tight plot: Nothing drives me crazier than a sloppy plot. A tight plot means a logical progression of information that leads to a satisfying conclusion. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's unique or clever. It means that there is a place for everything and everything has its place. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith is a fairly common conceit. Three guys find a bag of money, and their attempt to keep it and split it three ways leads to corruption, paranoia, and murder. The book is an entertaining read because Smith stays on point with the plot. He never loses sight of it.

3. Passion: Readers can sense when a writer phones it in. It's hard to explain, but when an author approaches a story with passion it becomes the book's DNA. The reader can feel it in the pages. Write with passion. If you're not feeling it on a particular day, walk away. Leave it for when the passion comes back.

There you have it. Three areas to help hone your craft. Focus on these and the other elements of story will follow.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

The bestseller formula

The plot

1,450 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, plot, character_development, story_elements

There is no doubt about it. More and more people have short... Oh, look a squirrel. Neat. Okay, back to what I was saying. People have very short attent... Cool, the squirrel's back, and he's eating something... ATTENTION SPANS! People have short attention spans because there are so many distractions in the world today. There's social media, videos, TV, streaming, gaming, etc. Capturing the attention of a reader online these days is extremely difficult, and there are more ways to drive them away than to attract them to your content.

What you don't want to do is give them huge chunks of material to digest once you do get them to notice you. Online content shouldn't be novel length. Your videos shouldn't be feature film length. You want to write short and concise blog articles, and your videos should ideally be around three minutes. Long form is not your friend online.

There are exceptions to the rule, and those exceptions usually are associated with established brands. TED Talks are an example of long form video that works because they've built their brand on that sort of thing. Long posts about politics get special consideration because they are normally about politicians with their own brands.

Chances are, you're not an exception. You aren't an established brand. You are building a brand. That being the case, keep your online content short, concise, and easily digestible. As your brand becomes more mainstream, then you can graduate to longer content.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

Top five listicle about listicles

Social media best practices

1,031 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, promotion, writers, social, branding, social_media, author_brand, online_content

It is time to repeat an oft-repeated theme on this blog. In fact, I think it's something that can't be said enough. We are authors, and as authors, we feed off each other's successes. That is to say that if you write a book that becomes wildly popular and brings you fame and riches, I benefit, too. All indie authors do.


The point is other authors, even in your category and genre, are not your competition. They are your colleagues. Why? Because when a reader falls in love with a book, they don't put the book down and never read again. The opposite happens. They scour social media and the internet looking for a new book to devour. A reader that connects with a book inspires that reader to read more.


In point of fact, we are indie in that we have complete editorial and publishing control over our books, but we aren't indie in that we are in this alone. We all rely on each of us doing well. Success for one indie author can only lead to success for other indie authors.


Look, I know it's easy to look at the meteoric rise of an author and ask yourself, "Why not me?" But try not to think of it that way. Think of a fellow author's success as your future success. They are simply clearing a path and creating readers who hunger for more books to read and cherish. One of those books could be yours.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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



You may also be interested in...

Supporting Indie Authors

When to promote other indie authors

1,168 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writers, author_collaboration, author_advice

The publishing industry has developed word count standards for various genres. In the past, we've talked about those here on this blog. We may have even suggested using the word count totals as guidelines for your novel. My suggestion today will appear to go against that previous suggestion, but hear me out.


When writing your first draft, I would suggest that you not word count watch. Don't curb your creativity in an effort to meet a standard. The first draft is for letting go and letting the passages fly. Having a target word count can add undue stress and slow you down as you try to force creativity. On the first draft, set the target aside and just write.


Too many writers set up roadblocks to first drafts before they even start writing. As I've said many times, your first draft should be bad, so bad that you never want anyone to see it. Use your first draft to get the story from your head to the page. Once you've completed the first draft, the polishing begins.


Now, when you reach the rewrite stage, use the word count target as a guideline again. Cut or expand as necessary. That's what rewrites are for. The standards exist for a reason, and while ignoring them all together is your prerogative, adhering to them helps your book meet the expectations of your genre's reader base. A few thousand words above or below the standard are fine, but anything beyond that and you run the risk of chasing fans of your book's genre away.


To recap, standards such as word counts are good, but not when it comes to writing the first draft.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


You may also be interested in?

Word Count Paralysis

How to Get Through the First Draft

1,026 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writers, writing, drafts, craft, word_count, writing_tips, writing_help

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

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

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

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

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

Defend your antagonist

Write an obituary for your characters

1,776 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, writing, villain, characterization, antagonist


    As an author seeking publicity, you are more than likely going to be asked to do an interview via email, podcast, social media, etc. There are almost countless opportunities to be interviewed as an author of a book. It's better to prepare yourself for those interviews now so you're ready when you're actually asked. Here are the top three questions you will likely be asked:


  1. What is your book about? Stick to the main plot. Don't include subplots or what you think are interesting side notes. Ironically, providing too many details can make it seem as if you don't know what your book is really about. If your main plot is an allegory for broader social issues, feel free to provide that information, as well.
  2. Who are your influences? Don't just name authors. List the reasons why. Charles Portis is one of my influences. Why? Because I love the way he subtly incorporates humor to make a story compelling, and he's also a master at writing realistic interactions between characters.
  3. What best-selling book is closest to yours in style and tone? We all want to be original, and it may be tempting to bypass this question or even tout how original your book is. That would be a mistake. This is a great opportunity for you to reach the fans of a best-selling book. Name a book that truly is similar to yours, and send a signal to readers that they should read your book.

In addition to these three questions, come up with two or three more of your own--questions you would want to be asked that are specific to your book and genre.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...


Don't sweat your first radio interview!


The author pitch





1,307 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, promotion, writers, interview, author_marketing, author_appearance, author_interview

We are approaching 2017, and we still don't have flying cars and food replicators. Nope. The utopic Jetsonian future has yet to become a reality. And yet there have been advancements in the last 10 years that have been truly inspiring--a lot of them in the publishing industry. We can now read books on our smartphones. We can carry devices that weigh less than an average sized children's book that hold thousands of titles. We truly are living in a golden age of indie publishing.

The one thing that hasn't changed is that the best way to sell books is through word of mouth. Recommendations from friends and other trusted individuals is the number one way readers discover new books to read, and it's not likely to be supplanted by another method any time soon.

Your job is clear. Engage your readers. Find the influencers in your group and let them know about new reviews, upcoming events, awards, etc. The more information you feed them, the more they have to pass along to their spheres of influence. You're not bragging or begging for attention. You're keeping highly persuasive members of your volunteer sales force informed.


Your goal is to find as many of these influencers as you can. The best way to do that is to be an active member within your genre's community. Find groups online and even locally that discuss other books in your genre and/or films, and be a valued member of that community. Once you get to know all the personalities, you'll know who to enlist in your volunteer sales force to be crucial cogs in the word-of-mouth campaign.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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



You may also be interested in...


What Ignites Word of Mouth?


A Marketing Tool You Control


2,823 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, self-publishing, writers, genre, social_media, engage, influence


I get it. You want success now. You want to sell books by the truckload tomorrow. You want to wake up in the morning and find your name on a best sellers list. You will search the Internet far and wide looking for the magic marketing formula that will put you over the top. Your day job? In the rearview mirror. You want to be a full-time author, not just a weekend writer, a midnight scribe. You want writing to pay the bills.

Here's my advice. Slow down. I've seen too many writers burn themselves out trying to stay one step ahead of the game. Victories are more likely to come in the form of small steps rather than huge leaps in this industry. Your best course of action is to enjoy the journey and not focus on where you're headed. You will get there when you get there.

You are not in a competition with anyone but yourself. Remember that. We tend to look at other authors' successes and wonder, Why not me? Think of a book the same way you think of a viral video. There's usually no amount of manipulation that will force a video to go viral. It happens when the right material finds the right audience and strikes an emotional chord. The same is true with an indie book. It becomes a best seller when it finds the right audience and strikes an emotional chord. That emotional response is what creates a best seller. You can't make that happen.

Your best course of action is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep your social media outreach in a constant state of growth. Oh, and above all, take pleasure in the journey. Don't burn yourself out trying to reach your destination.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...




How to find success





16,291 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: book, writers, revisions, writing, drafts, social_media, writing_advice

Sometimes I think my favorite part of the writing process is when, after months of toiling at my desk, I finally get to the point where I type in "The End," sit back in my chair, and exhale. I'm not exactly sure why I enjoy this part so much because it's not as if the hard work is done--far from it!

After you finish your first draft, there are no set rules for what to do with it next, but here's what I recommend:

1.    Let it sit for a week, then go back and read it again.

Not only will your batteries be recharged, but after time away you'll be able to look at your work with fresh eyes and make necessary changes to improve it. I'm not talking about catching typos--I mean having a hard look at things like character development, plotlines that may not flow as well as you hoped they would, or even how you chose to begin (or end) the story. It's amazing how much perspective you can get in just a few days away from your manuscript. For example, I know I've created a good character when I find myself reading an early conversation and thinking, This doesn't sound like something so and so would say, then tweaking the dialogue to make it ring true.

2.    Rewrite based on the above.

3.    Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary.

Once your manuscript is in a place where you can't imagine changing a thing, it's time for the next step:

4.    Send it to people you trust to be honest with you no matter how much it stings.

For me that's Terri, who is my sister Michele's mother-in-law, and Tami, my gal pal. They will read the draft and give me the honest feedback I need for another rewrite. Or two rewrites. Or three.

After the content of your manuscript is good to go, it's time for the final step:

5.    Find a proofreader who is anyone but yourself.

For me, this is my amazing mother, who always manages to find several hundred mistakes. She's like a freak of nature with the red pen.

After you've finished the above steps, your path to publication is up to you. But, you'll know that whatever route you choose, your manuscript is in good shape!

-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

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

You may also be interested in...

Coping with criticism

Save the wordsmithing for later

1,231 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, revisions, first_draft

The arts community

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 11, 2016


I fear that you are missing a fruitful networking opportunity. You are more than a writer. You are more than an author. You are more than an entrepreneur. You are an artist. Even if you write commercial fiction, you are an artist. It's a label we indie authors are reluctant to claim. But let me assure you, you are an artist, and as such, your peer group expands beyond the writing community. You are in the broader community that includes playwrights, musicians, actors, filmmakers, screenwriters, etc.

You may already be a member of a local writers' group or association, but what about organizations that cater to the entire artistic community? You can go online and search for meet-ups in your city, and I'm willing to bet you will find a number of networking opportunities. I belong to playwrights' groups as well as groups for novelists, and by expanding my network, I've met musicians, painters, actors, and filmmakers who have explored the same kind of network expansion. We're all interested in supporting one another because we all know how hard it is to make it in the arts.

That's the key to making this type of networking effective. You have to support your fellow artists passionately. Go to their plays. Attend their gigs. Participate in their showings. Be a familiar face. They will appreciate your support. When you have a book release, they'll remember you were there for them. They'll be happy to return the favor by helping you spread the word.

Go. Expand your network. Embrace the arts community.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


You may also be interested in...


You Are an Artist

Building an Author Brand: Networking


1,025 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, entrepreneur, arts_community
1 2 3 ... 41 Previous Next