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502 Posts tagged with the writing tag
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Antagonists are fun to write because they challenge our personal beliefs. That is to say, bad guys have bad thoughts and do bad things because it is in their nature. But in most cases, those bad things are not in the writer's nature. Creating such a character requires writers to withhold judgment about what's right and wrong and simply observe without comment. It also requires a blind ambition to let the antagonist be as bad as he can be without pointing a figurative finger at him as if to say, "I don't like him either, but he has to be this bad for the story to work."

 

I'll let you in on a little secret: As a reader, I have liked something about every bad guy I have ever written. I dislike much more, but I have always managed to find something that draws me to them. As the writer, I make it a point to neither like nor dislike their behavior, but when I work through the final draft, I put my reader hat on and let the judgment fly. 

 

One strategy I use to create what I deem to be likable bad guys is the same philosophy a debate team uses in academia. I pick a topic, take the position I don't believe in and defend it in a paragraph or two as if I am the antagonist. This is something that will never see the light of day, and it's not always necessary for me to practice it, but it is a go-to when I'm having trouble writing without judgment.

 

In order to write bad guys, you don't have to be a bad guy, but you do have to understand what makes them tick and what they believe in. Putting yourself in the position to adopt opposite beliefs for a paragraph or two just might be the trick to get you in the right frame of mind to create the perfect antagonist.       

 

-Richard

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

 

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You Aren't Your Characters

Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

3,813 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, characters, creativity, character_development, creating_characters
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I love reading. I read on the subway, before I go to sleep, while waiting for various appointments - all the time! I read both fiction and nonfiction in a variety of genres. I'm not the fastest reader, but I'm always reading something. Not only do I read for education and entertainment, but also because reading other people's work makes me a better writer.

 

Reading good writing is inspiring and educational. When I run across a clever turn of words, or a vivid description that makes me feel like I'm right there with the characters, it motivates me to create a similar effect in my own work. When an author does a great job of developing a protagonist, I want to do the same with mine.

 

I learn from other authors by experiencing the impact of their work firsthand, i.e. as the reader. For example, if you react strongly to a particular scene, ask yourself why. Is it because the author uses a lot of details? Or does the dialogue ring true? Are there a lot of colors? Smells? Actions? Emotions? All of the above? There's no exact formula for writing a great story, just a lot of potential ingredients that - if mixed together correctly - could result in something special.

 

Reading a book you don't like can also help you improve for the same reason, just flipped around. Why don't you like it? What does the author do that bothers you? Pay attention to the answers, and then ask yourself if you do the same things in your own writing.

 

Writing is hard work, and it takes a lot of time to complete an entire book. I recognize that for many authors the idea of spending more time with words on a page, especially ones that aren't your own, might be the last thing you want to do. But I promise it's worth it.

 

-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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Being an Obsessive Reader

 

The Most Powerful Word

6,520 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, reading
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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

2,503 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, self-examination
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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 Characters So Real You'll Be Tempted to Add Them to Your Christmas List - The Seekers

Author Lisa Carter explains how she approaches character building.    

         

8 Reasons Every Book Needs a Business Plan to Achieve Success - Writer's Digest

Indie authors don't need to create a book proposal, but they still need a business plan.    

 

Film

 

5 Tips for Recording Better Location Audio When Shooting As a One Man Band - Norm Kroll

A bad audio capture can ruin a good film.   

 

'3 Days to Kill' Director McG Shares Six Golden Rules of Filmmaking - nofilmschool

Besides having the coolest name in film, McG knows how to make a blockbuster.     

         

Music

 

How Are You Listening to Music? - Musician Makers

An infographic that shows the listening behavior of today's typical music lover.

 

Clever Way to Make Your Song Lyrics More Tweetable - Musicgoat.com

Given the character limitations of Twitter, lyrics seem to be tailor made for tweets.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 7, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 28, 2014

2,817 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: filmmaking, business, writing, lyrics, character_development, character_arc, music_production, film_location
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I've written about the long-standing "show it, don't say it" rule in fiction on this blog before. It's one of those writing guidelines that's hard to explain to beginning writers and sometimes even more to experienced writers. Often, there is an inclination to write everything you're thinking in relation to a scene or include unnecessary details and long passages of exposition in your story. Neither is good for storytelling.

 

I came across a meme on Facebook the other day that struck me as the perfect definition for this crucial rule of fiction. It was a comment about the role of a teacher, but it's relevant to writers as well. The quote, attributed as anonymous, read as follows:

 

"We can show them where to look, but we can't tell them what to see."

 

To me, that's the essence of storytelling in a nutshell. Not literally, of course. We still have to paint a picture with words. I get that. But showing the reader where to look is describing the location and characters using brief details. You may include out-of-place or striking elements, but do so cautiously. Don't point it out with great fanfare using over-the-top modifiers; simply show it to the reader.

 

For example, you can write a scene in which you draw the reader&'s attention to the crooked smile of a homeless man soliciting for food. There is no need to explain why the man is smiling. Allow readers to arrive at the reason for that smile on their own. The more readers participate in a story by filling in those details you leave out, the more they become part of the experience. 

 

When it comes down to it, we writers have to learn to trust readers to see the details we leave out. That's how you show your readers where to look without telling them what to see. 

 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

Too Much Exposition

2,813 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, description, drafts, craft, show_vs_tell, writin_process
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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

5,958 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
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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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I have a confession: for the most part, I don't write at a very fast pace. There are times when I can crank out a sizeable word count, but those times are rare. I tend to be deliberate and a tad overly analytical when it comes to writing a novel. I wish that wasn't the case; I'd love to be a much more prolific writer.

 

We live in an age where speed is the order of the day in publishing. Gone are the obstacles that prevented so many writers from getting their books to market. As quickly as you can type your final word, you can have a book uploaded and plugged into the publishing process. Hours or a few short days later the book is available for sale. 

 

I know so many authors who have taken full advantage of this new industry model by publishing seven, eight, nine, or more books in a year. They know the drill: the more they publish, the more books they'll sell overall. 

 

This strategy is not without its critics. The quality of books written so quickly does come into play, and it's a fair discussion to have. The question arises: can you publish too frequently?  Are hyper-productive authors stretching themselves too thin? 

I am of the opinion that publishing numerous books of high quality in a year can be done as long as the author is committed to the writing and not solely the publishing. When you pen a novel with the purpose of telling a story and not with the purpose of having a product to sell, you are writing with passion, and you're writing for the right reasons. The world needs those types of books. If that motivation drives you to publish 100 books in a year, do it. But, if you find yourself panicking because you haven't published in a couple of months, and that panic leads you to forcing a story that's written just for sake of publishing, don't do it.  Instead of helping you sell more books, it may have the opposite effect. 

 

Don't worry if you're not publishing enough, or if you're publishing too frequently. Take a deep breath and honor your nature as a writer. As long as you do that, the success will come.   

 

-Richard

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

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The Most Powerful Word

The Tragedy That Motivates

3,022 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, publishing, writing, drafts, publishing_timelines, author_tips
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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

8,153 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, goodreads, twitter
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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?

4,826 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, elevator_pitch
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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?

3,475 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?

4,800 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

4,955 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions
1

Coping with Criticism

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 11, 2014

Learning how to handle criticism is an important step for every author. No matter how good a book is, not everyone is going to like it, and no work is ever going to receive five-star reviews across the board. But trust me, I understand that your first book is your baby, and once it's finally out there for the world to read, receiving anything less than glowing feedback can be downright painful.

 

I recently met a former TV anchor named Pallas Hupe Cotter who now specializes in helping professionals in many industries deal with challenges. She and I agree that criticism can make you stronger if you have the right attitude about it. Here are her tips for first-time authors:

 

1) Be prepared: Be aware that you are vulnerable when you share your words. They do reveal a vulnerable part of you and you need to ready yourself for an inevitable reaction.


2) Take a step back: The closer you feel to your work, the harder it is to separate yourself from the work itself. Remember, criticism of your words isn't a rejection of you as a person.


3) Don't let emotion rule your reaction: Everyone has emotional reactions to criticism. Allow yourself to feel the emotion but then move through it.

 

4) Process and take action: A writer's job isn't just to write, but to edit. That requires feedback. Scan criticism to see how it can improve your work, and then act on it.


5) Take responsibility: When someone gives feedback, drill deeper -
ask questions. Even if it's positive and someone says "I loved it," ask why. Find out specifics that will help you improve.


6) Consider the source: Remember, a critic's job is to stir the pot and spark a reaction. One bad review out of 100 positive ones can get under your skin. Ask yourself, "Is this voice really more important than the others?" Put criticism in perspective.


I know firsthand that it's never going to be easy to listen to criticism, but Pallas is right. If you set your ego aside and learn to approach feedback as an opportunity to improve your writing, your next book (or draft) will be better.

 

-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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Is It Good Enough?

Your Gift to Yourself

3,174 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, criticism
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