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968 Posts tagged with the writing tag
1

When I'm working on a book, I find that one of the hardest things about the process - in addition to coming up with what to write - is getting myself to sit at my desk and focus. "Focus" is the key word here, because once I let myself stop and check my email, browse Facebook, etc., it's amazing how quickly what I intended to be "a quick break" morphs into the whole day. Once I engage with the outside world, any creative spell I've been under is instantly snapped, and it's hard to get that back.


On the flip side, if I stay in the zone and ignore the lure of the Internet and my phone, it's amazing how much writing - good writing - I can get done in a short amount of time. It's like when Han Solo and Chewy switch the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive. Suddenly, they're halfway across the galaxy!


So there you have it. Stay away from your devices to improve productivity. That sounds so simple, but I know it's not because I still have trouble doing it! (Tools such as Freedom will block the Internet for you if your will power repeatedly falls short.)


In a way, sitting down to write is like working out. You may have the best of intentions to do it, but actually working out means not doing something else, and the pull of the "something else" tractor beam is powerful. If you can get yourself dressed in your workout gear and out the door, that's half the battle. Actually, it's probably most of the battle. So think of disconnecting as the digital equivalent of putting on your workout clothes. Put your phone on mute, turn off your Internet browser, and get to work!


-Maria

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


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Writing tip: keep a notebook by your bed

Writing tip: be careful not to overdo the beats

748 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, procrastination, writing_tip
3

Twenty seventeen is behind us, and it's time to build your brand in 2018. Here are three strategies to make your brand bigger and better in the coming year.


1. Pick a lane. I know I've encouraged you to spread yourself around on as many social media platforms as you can manage, but 2018 is the time to switch gears. Pick one social media site to spend a large majority of your time. Make one site yours. Treat it like your home and build your community with confidence.


2. Make it your mission to cultivate influencers in your genre. Influencers have large followings, and they boost book sales as well as boost your own community's numbers. Tag them in posts. Private message them to let them know when you blog about them. And, yes, find reasons to blog about them. I'm not suggesting you heap artificial praise upon them. I'm suggesting you honor their status as influencer and get on their good side.


3. Twenty eighteen will be no different than 2017 in one aspect. The content you post has to be share-worthy in order to be useful. You're a writer, a creative person, creating share-worthy content is not beyond your grasp. It is very much in your wheelhouse. It's what you do.


In a lot of ways, the list looks familiar to last year's. Technologies will no doubt change how we use social media, but the methodology will always remain pretty much the same. Build a following on a platform. Interact and build relationships with influencers, and content is and always will be king.  


-Richard

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


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You are the brand not your book

Your brand's obit

1,200 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, branding
4

"Be a sadist."

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 2, 2018

Today we begin with a quote from an American literary legend:


"Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader may see what they are made of." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Bagombo Snuff Box


Add to this sadistic advice what my wife recently said to me. She told me about a frustrating situation she'd recently experienced, and she finished her story by saying, "It's one of those bad situations where I guess you're supposed to learn something. I'm really tired of learning from bad situations. I'd like to learn from a good one every now and then."


Bad stuff happens. In life and in fiction, bad stuff is constantly making an appearance. That bad stuff is a useful tool in building character. That's what Vonnegut was saying. If you have a story that doesn't involve struggles and obstacles, your characters will never learn. They will never display their true selves. They will never have the opportunity to change and grow. As a writer, you are responsible for bringing bad stuff into your characters' lives. As a writer myself, I can tell you that's not always easy to do. I have become emotional for what I have had to do to various characters over the years. You probably have as well. That's a good thing. If we feel it, the readers will feel it.


As Vonnegut says, "Be a sadist." Do bad things to your characters because it's how you add dimensions to them, and it's how you advance your story.


-Richard

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


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Write an Obituary for Your Characters

Why the development of secondary characters matters

645 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, character_development, kurt, vonnegut, sadist
3

In my old life, I sold broadcast video equipment. One of the products we sold was a character generator for live broadcasts. I was tabbed as the trainer for the equipment and sent to Waterloo in Toronto, Canada, to spend a week at company headquarters to learn as much as I could about the product. With the exception of the airline losing my luggage, it was well worth the trip. My company liaison gave me a tour of the facility and our first stop was research and development. I was shocked to see their primary competitor's product sitting in pieces on one of the work tables. My tour guide chuckled at my confused look and said, "That's what you call reverse engineering. Don't worry. We paid for the machine."

 

Turns out this is a common practice in the corporate world. What better way to know how to beat your competition than to know how they construct their product? You can do the same, even though you really don't have competition as an author. Remember, my philosophy about books is that a well-written book by a fellow author only helps you sell more books because readers always want more. It's a healthy addiction.

 

But, that doesn't mean you can't look at successful authors in your genre and deconstruct their brand to help you understand how to build yours. How often do they post to social media? Do they use email newsletters? Do they do a lot of personal appearances? Do they utilize personal videos?

 

Knowledge is power. You can learn a lot just by reverse engineering another author's brand.

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

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Reverse Journaling for Your Brand

Evaluating Your Author Brand

752 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, branding, author_marketing, author_brand, brand_identity
0

Ernest Hemingway famously wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms anywhere from 39 to 47 times, depending on if you count the fragments of rewrites as a full rewrite or not. For a man with such a sparse writing style, that is a remarkable fact. He spent hours crafting and recrafting an ending, looking for the right words to make the final draft, and perhaps more importantly, find the right words to cut.

 

The alternative endings remained unread until 2012 when a version of Farewell to Arms was released with the original ending and the others that Hemingway discarded. One can make a reasoned argument that doing such a thing could be construed as a violation of Hemingway's art, but that aside, there is something to be learned from reading the alternative endings, especially if you are a writer.

 

You can see the emotion explicitly put into the ending, and then over the course of the rewrites, you see the emotional passages eliminated, but somehow leaving the emotional context behind. It's really remarkable and an actual record of the old writing tenet that less is more.

 

The alternative endings also show how deliberate Hemingway was in his writing. He didn't just sit down and pound out pages on his typewriter. He agonized over every word. Just because he was a literary legend doesn't mean writing came easy to him. He honed his craft and the page earned every word.

 

Yes, you can overthink and overwrite and spend too much time rewriting, but it's okay to be obsessive about your craft. Take your time and find the right words to use and cut. 


-Richard

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

 

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Rewrite for New Life

 

The rewriting steps

 

 

 

 

776 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, revisions, writing, drafts, rewriting, writing_advice
0

What is a blog tour?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 19, 2017

A blog tour, also sometimes called a virtual book tour, is when a number of book blogs post a review of a title during a set period of time, e.g. a couple weeks or a month, usually right around when the book launches. As with a traditional book tour, the goal of a virtual one is to create "buzz" by reaching avid readers (i.e. potential customers) through multiple channels. If they suddenly see your book popping up everywhere, they are more likely to check it out - or so the thinking goes. Along with a book review, the blog may also feature an author spotlight, a Q&A, a guest post, a giveaway, an excerpt of the book, or a combination of any of those things, depending on what you're willing to do.


If you're raising your eyebrows right now wondering what book blogs are, they're exactly what they sound like: blogs dedicated entirely (usually) to book reviews. I say "usually" because some also review additional products according to the taste of the blog's owner.


There are plenty of companies that will coordinate a blog tour for a fee (a simple Internet search will turn up many), but you can also set one up yourself if you have the time and the energy. All you need to do is reach out to book bloggers (ideally a few months before your book comes out) and politely ask them if they'd like to review your book. You can also offer to do a Q&A, a guest post, etc. (Click here to see my post on how to find book bloggers.) Always offer to email a MOBI or PDF file, which doesn't cost you anything. If a blogger will only accept print copies, be sure to request the book rate at the post office to keep your costs down.


It takes a lot of coordination and follow-up to set up a blog tour on your own, but you can do it. I promise!


-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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What Is a Virtual Book Tour?

Marketing tip: How to find book bloggers

734 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, blog_tour
1

Always be learning

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 18, 2017

When I was younger, I entered the world of sales for a company that sold professional grade audio visual equipment. I jumped into the job with enthusiasm because I was familiar with the equipment as an end user. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to sell the equipment I knew so well. I was wrong. I would soon learn that, as much as writing, selling is a craft.


My boss sat me down on my first day and gave me a quick tutorial on sales. "There are two things you need to know about sales," he said. "One, once you ask the customer if they are going to buy, shut up. Don't say another word. If you talk first, you've lost the sale. Two, remember your ABC's. Always Be Closing. Introduce yourself, get the customer's name, repeat the customer's name, make your pitch, and then ask them how they want to pay. The first time you ask, they're going to think you're crazy. The second time you ask, they're going to think you're a pushy salesman. The third time you ask, they're going to give you their credit card number." That was it. That was my only training before I got on the phones and started practicing the craft of sales.


When I turned to writing and publishing as a career, I realized the ABC principle could be applied to branding because branding, as much as sales and writing, is a craft. Instead of closing, I would substitute the concept of learning. Always Be Learning. It's the best way to grow your brand. Research and read about branding. When you run across a branding principle three times, incorporate it into your brand-building strategy. It may work. It may not, but the point is to constantly expose yourself to new ideas. It's the only way to structure a brand that can stand the test of time.


Always Be Learning.


-Richard


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


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The Lasting Brand

Evaluating Your Author Brand

756 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions
0

Word by Word

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 13, 2017

If you haven't read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's memoir and book on writing, I highly recommend it. The title refers to an incident involving her brother when they were children. He had a report on birds due the next day, and he hadn't written a word. He gathered all his research material and immediately became paralyzed by fear. The enormity of the project just became too much. That's when his father put his arm around him and said "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird."

 

The second I read that passage I had a moment of clarity that I have never experienced before. I had never heard a more accurate description of how to write a book. It really is that simple. "Bird by bird," or to put it more accurately, word by word.

 

Writing a book is an enormous task. Even if it is a labor of love, it is still an enormous task. Sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated, it is hard to keep going. Like Anne Lamott's brother, you can become immobilized by the prospect of tackling such a big project. The only thing you can do is take it word by word.

 

Don't complicate the book writing process. Yes, plot, character development, dialogue, they're all aspects of writing a novel, but when you get down to it, they consist of words, and words are your specialty. They are your purview. Just take a deep breath, picture Anne Lamott's father putting his arm around her terrified brother and saying those magic words, "Bird by bird, buddy."

 

-Richard

 

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

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Writing a word a day

Increase your productivity with interval writing

867 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: book, publishing, writing, draft, writing_advice
1

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is free for a basic account, so if you don't already have a profile, I highly recommend creating one. Here are some ways to promote your writing along with your other professional accomplishments:


Include the cover image of your book as the background to your headshot


To change the blue template background that appears on most LinkedIn profiles, click on the little pencil on the right side of your profile. That will open the Edit Intro window. Once inside the window, click on the little pencil on the upper right side to upload a file from your computer. (See my LinkedIn profile for an example.)


Describe your writing style and website in your headline and/or summary


The headline appears directly below your headshot, and the summary appears a few inches below that (beneath the city in which you live). To edit either or both, click on the little pencil on the right side of your profile. For example, my headline says "Bestselling novels, about life, love and friendship," and my summary says, "I write contemporary fiction and occasionally give speeches on the crazy story behind how I became an author: www.mariamurnane.com." (Depending on your profession, you might prefer to have your headline about your day job and your summary about your book.)


Add writer/author to your work history


Even if you have a full-time job, why not cite that you're also an author in your work history? Scroll down to the Experience section of your profile and click on the little pencil to open the Edit Experience window. When asked to name an employer for your author position, add your author website.


Add your book (or books) to your profile


Scroll down the Accomplishments section and click on the "+" icon to open the window. One of the options to click is Publications. Here you can include a description of your book(s), as well as links to purchase pages on Amazon.


Note: In addition to individual profiles, LinkedIn also hosts countless private groups that could prove helpful in providing networking opportunities, e.g. college alumni, fraternity/sorority clubs, writing groups, etc. It's worth poking around to see what you can find!


-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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How big is your digital footprint?

Are you making this marketing mistake?

699 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, linkedin
2

In a recent post, I explained the importance of obstacles as a way to bring conflict into your story. Another way to create conflict is to consider multiple ways a character could view a situation—then have her choose the worst one. Why do this? Because how your character responds to this choice shows your readers who that character truly is.


For example, let's say that Gloria, your protagonist, has just exited a deli with a bag of warm bagels when she spots Alison, a classmate from her weekly photography class, walking half a block ahead. Gloria picks up her phone and dials Alison's number, only to see Alison screen the call and toss her phone into her purse without answering it.


What does Gloria think about this situation?


If she thinks, "Alison's probably thinking about something important so doesn't have time to chat right now," where's the conflict?


However, imagine that Gloria thinks, "Alison just sent me to voice mail! Maybe she doesn't like me!" Now you have something interesting for your readers to chew on.


The way you have Gloria respond to her line of thought will show your readers what kind of person she is. Does she throw a bagel at Alison and make a joke about it? Does she go back to her office, shut her door, and eat the entire bag of bagels? Does she avoid Alison in class, or does she make a point of sitting next to her and chatting her up? Those questions are for you to answer, but how you choose to do so is a wonderful way to provide insight into 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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Advice on Character Development

First person or third person? That is the question.

719 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_flaws
0

Today's blog topic can be best summarized by bestselling author Neil Gaiman.


Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there'll always be better writers than you and there'll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you.


Allow me to make two points about this quote:


1. Gaiman isn't suggesting you write without confidence. He's not saying you aren't a good-to-great writer by saying there will always be better and smarter writers than you. I believe he's saying putting all your efforts into being the best writer on the planet is fruitless because ours is an industry that is based on the opinions of readers and those opinions are as varied as snowflakes. In essence, trying to get everyone to love you by trying to be brilliant leads to poor writing.


2. Gaiman is saying that the only thing that you can do brilliantly is being you. There is no one on the planet that can "out you" you when it comes to writing. Don't try to write a better horror novel. Try to write a horror novel that expresses your artistic nature, one that entertains you and stays true to the development of your characters. The same advice goes for any genre. Sure, the influence of the writers you admire and inspired you to be a writer will show in you writing, but there will be something slightly different about your writing, and that something different is you.


Be what other writers can't be. Be you.


-Richard

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


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The Great American Novel

You are the change that keeps the publishing industry relevant

733 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, genre
0

What I'm about to write, I've written before, but it bears repeating. Every NaNoWriMo it becomes an especially relevant topic of discussion, and that is when to self-critique your manuscript. My feeling is clear on this. Your first draft is supposed to be terrible. The first draft is essentially a blueprint. That's not to say you should set out to write something incomprehensible. Write your story as you feel it. Entertain yourself. Get the idea out of your head.

 

You can repair what you've written during subsequent rewrites. The first draft is where you develop your idea. It's where the little flakes of your story build and build and create an accumulation of characters, settings, dialogue, and plot that amounts to a complete story. Let it out with passion. As I said, write your story as you feel it. I use the word "feel" purposefully. The first draft is when you are closest to feeling the story you are writing. Stopping to critique your story as your creating the first draft interrupts those feelings.

 

So, I implore you. Write. Make mistakes. Be careless. Let the typos fly. Make your first draft embarrassingly bad. It is for your eyes only. Your test-readers, your editor, everyone else will see your first rewrite. But this first draft, it's just for you. It's a data dump straight from the space in your brain that houses your imagination to the page. Let your fingers fly across your keyboard and don't look back until you write “The End.”

 

-Richard

 

 

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

 

 

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How to get through the first draft

Writing tip: when you get stuck, use all caps and move on

 

 

quo

490 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: revisions, writing, draft, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice
0

 

More than once in the past few weeks I've heard the word "reactionary" used to describe someone who reacts or has reacted to something. I flinch each time this happens, because the word that should be used in these cases is "reactive."


Reactive vs. Reactionary


  • Reactive means responsive, or reacting to something.
    • His reactive nature drove him to address the problem before it had a chance to develop into something serious.

 

  • Reactionary means ultraconservative in politics.
    • His reactionary style invigorated his conservative followers while infuriating his detractors.


Do you see how confusing the two could inadvertently lead to a problem in today's environment?


Here are some other words that sound quite similar but have different meanings:


Historic vs. Historical


  • Historic means having great importance or lasting meaning.
    • Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was a historic moment for mankind.
  • Historical means something based on facts of history.
    • Gloria's book is a historical romance set in the English countryside one hundred years ago.


Literally vs. Figuratively


  • Literally means in a literal (true/real) manner.
    • Gloria wanted to buy a pack of gum, but there were literally zero people working behind the counter.
  • Figuratively means in a figurative (not real) manner.
    • I'm speaking figuratively when I say that Gloria thought Dave was going to make her die laughing.


One of my closest friends uses "literally" when she's not speaking literally SO FREQUENTLY that it (figuratively) drives me nuts. For example:


  • I was so hungry this morning that I literally thought I was going to starve to death. (INCORRECT)
    • Why it's incorrect: My friend might have been hungry, but it's highly unlikely that she truly believed she was going to starve to death.


What words do you hear being used incorrectly? Please share in the comments!


-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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Don't Cook Your Family, Rachael!

Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

650 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, grammar_tip
0

The selfie paradox

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 27, 2017

 

We all know what a selfie is, right? In case you've never heard of the favorite marketing tool of every self-obsessed celebrity over the last fifteen years or so, here's how Wikipedia defines the term "selfie":


A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services....They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. "Selfie" typically refers to self-portrait photos taken with the camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, as opposed to those taken by using a self-timer or remote.


Now, 99.999% of you didn't need that definition. You know what a selfie is, and you probably have a very strong opinion regarding the act of one taking a picture of oneself and posting it on the internet for the world to see. It just seems unnecessary.


I have both decried the selfie culture and participated in the selfie culture. I won't attempt to explain my own hypocrisy because there is no rational explanation that is satisfactory. I simply know the value of selfies when it comes to branding for indie authors. You are the brand. Brands need a face, and what better face than your own face. So, I have turned on the front-facing camera on my phone and snapped a picture or two or three or more over the years. But, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, I have never donned a duck-face in my entire life. My selfies are usually reserved for events or vacation spots. I may have even snapped a picture of myself in excruciating artistic pain as I rewrite an old manuscript. The horror!


My point is, don't be so fast to ditch the selfies because you just can't bring yourself to be that self-absorbed. They are valuable tools for building an author brand and building an author brand is one of your primary jobs as an indie author.


-Richard

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


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The Marketing Tool Many Authors Neglect

Six-Second Branding with Apps

614 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, publishing, writing, promotions, selfie
2

 

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

 

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

 

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Living the Indie Author Dream

 

Your Job as an Indie Author

 

 

 

 

1,358 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing
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