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755 Posts tagged with the writing tag
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The Blank Wall Method

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 21, 2015

Here's how I want you to start writing your next book. Give yourself a wall. Don't build one. Just clear the wall in front of your desk of everything but the paint. This bare wall is your canvas, and this is where you are going to bring your story to life.

 

Things are going to get messy. Resign yourself to the fact that you may have to repaint the wall once your book is complete, but creativity, if done right, is a chaotic mess that you are in charge of controlling and applying order to. This wall is where you will organize your thoughts. You'll likely stare at it a great deal of the time, but the rest of the time, when you're not pounding away on your keyboard, you will be covering the wall one-by-one with note cards. These cards are for your flashes of inspiration. Carry them with you wherever you go. When an idea hits, jot it down, and add it to your wall when you get back to your writing corner. Most of what you stick on your wall won't make it into your book. Think of the note cards as your story's brain cells, and they're connected by synapses that fire off and give life to the chaos.

 

You'd be surprised how this method will help you constantly visualize your story and help you stay in the creative zone. There's something about seeing the physical manifestation of your thought process in front of you. You're able to grasp how the thoughts build on one another and give you a complex and engaging story.

 

Now, clear that wall and get started building your story's brain.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Can Visualization Help You Finish That Manuscript?

Write Non-linearly

872 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, writing_methods
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Author-signed books make great gifts. Your biggest fans, however, might not have any idea that they can buy them from you, so why not tell them? You can do this via email, Twitter, Facebook, your newsletter, etc. How much you charge per copy is up to you, and you can even offer to wrap the books yourself and mail them directly to the recipient of the gift.

 

With the holidays just around the corner, I decided to email a couple of friends who are also fans of my books to see if they wanted to buy any signed copies as gifts for their friends. Within an hour both replied with orders for a total of 10 signed books--or $200 payable to me.

 

I think I'm on to something.

 

Today I plan to look through my contacts list and reach out to other friends who are also big fans of my books. I'm not talking about a mass email to everyone I know--I mean personalized, tasteful messages that are more than just sales pitches. Yes, that's time consuming, but book marketing is time consuming. There's simply no way around that.

 

As for physically mailing the books, I strongly suggest going to the post office and asking for the book rate. It's much cheaper than regular shipping, and it includes tracking! I often receive emails from readers of my blog asking if they can send me copies of their work--and if I say yes, the book usually arrives via FedEx or some equally expensive method. Each time that happens I feel bad because that's a double expense for the sender (the book itself and the big shipping fee). The only downside about the book rate is that you can't request it at the self-serve kiosks, so you have to wait in line, but the money you'll save over time is well worth it.

 

-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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Hold a Holiday Contest

Two Easy Ways to Save Money in Your Book Promotion

744 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, promotions, signed-copies
2

Moving On

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 14, 2015

Whenever I launch a new book, I struggle with what I call a post-release hangover. Everything I've had for the past six months to a year has gone into the writing, editing, and publishing of the book, and it is just tough to move on. My creativity has been locked up in one project, and my mind is flooded with "what if" and "maybe I should have..." thoughts when the book is finally made available for sale.

 

Bear with me because I don't know how to put this without conjuring up a possible spontaneous outbreak of a popular song from a popular animated motion picture, but there's no other way to put this: Let it go. Letting go of a book you've published and vanquishing it from your every thought is an enormous undertaking, but it's the only way you can start focusing on your next book. Here are my top three tips for letting go:

 

  1. Don't check reviews over and over again. Allow yourself one day a week to check for new reviews. Doing so more frequently doesn't allow you to move on as quickly as you could.

  2. Surround yourself with other people. I find a night of cards with close friends leads to hours of talk that is not focused on the book.

  3. Binge watch your favorite show. It's a mindless activity that removes you from the book world. A weekend of Breaking Bad always knocks the thoughts of my newly released book from my head. In fact, I often feel inspired to start my next story.

 

One of the best ways to succeed in publishing is to publish multiple titles. If you can't stop thinking about your last release, your publishing career may stall. Don't let that happen. Let it go.

 

-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

The "What If" Notebook

799 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, book_launch
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Your Average Reader

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 9, 2015

Read any advice about marketing, and you will invariably find a common refrain: know your average reader. That's easy to write, but how do you know whom your average reader is or where your average reader can be found? Here is my best advice on how to easily locate your average reader.

 

  1. Genre: Your book belongs to a certain genre, and that is great news. Genres come with baseline demographics. True, it won't provide a representation of every reader you want to reach, but it gives you a good indication of whom your average reader is.

  2. Other Books: As original as your book may be, it still bears some similarity to other books. Again, that is great news, particularly if the book was a bestseller. You will more than likely find fan groups online, and you will get an ideal virtual snapshot of your average reader.

  3. The Mirror: Provided you haven't written a young adult novel or a book for children, your average reader could look and act a lot like you. After all, the odds are you wrote with passion, and that passion came from being a fan before you started writing your first book. Reverse engineer your own habits and hangouts.

  4. Subject Matter: Let's say you've written a crime novel featuring a protagonist who psychically communicates with cats. You, my friend, have a niche book, and niche books have well defined average readers. I'm guessing it would take you no time at all on a search engine to find groups that are fascinated by cats with psychic abilities.

 

Once you've found your average readers, reaching out is a matter of getting involved in their online communities and introducing yourself as an author. Don't push. Participate. Be a valued member of their communities, and they will become curious until they aren't just average readers, but your readers.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Find Smaller Markets to Sell More Books

It's Not Just a Hobby, It's a Marketing Opportunity

3,589 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, selling, readers, writing, craft, branding, target_audience
4

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

 

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

 

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

 

*Gloria and Maria are in charge of the team

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

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

 

That was super obvious, right? How about these:

 

*That's a great photo of Gloria and Maria

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Here are some more examples:

 

*You can call Gloria or Maria with that information

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

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

 

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

 

*You can call me with that information (CORRECT)

*You can call I with that information (INCORRECT)

 

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

 

-Maria

 

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

 

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Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

Grammar Tip: Who vs. That

3,107 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, grammar_tips, i_vs_me
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Indie authors are--well, independent, as independent as you can get in the publishing industry. Those who have chosen the indie route call the shots at every stage of the publishing process, from soup to nuts, from the words on the page to the marketing of the finished product. It's a simultaneously envious and frightening position to be in. Succeeding as an indie author requires unshakable discipline.

 

Such independence without the needed discipline can create a meandering publishing experience that will eventually careen off course and crash. My advice is to embrace your freedom by imposing deadlines. Yes, that sounds counterintuitive, but the goal here is to give yourself, as an indie, a voice, a book that people will read and rave about, a book that will make them hunger for your next book. That requires a type of passion that can burn brightly and burn out quickly. The trick is to give them that next offering while interest is hot.

 

Deadlines help you do two things: they help you ride that wave of interest and capitalize on your readers' hunger for more. And, I have also found that they help you stay focused. With a deadline looming, your brain finds chunks of story at every moment. They aren't all worth committing to paper, but they help you cycle through until you find something that takes you to the next point in your story. My experience has been that a deadline helps me move on more quickly through the various stages of a manuscript. I let the story grow outside of my head and get a fresh perspective. It is a constraint that forces me to be more creative, and personally, I find deadlines fun.

 

As an indie author, deadlines offer you more freedom as an artist, and they give you the discipline to succeed. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Discipline to Write

Reward Yourself

1,036 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, self-publishing, writing, deadlines, independent_authors
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I recently received an email from an author named S.J. (That is a purposefully androgynous pen name.) S.J. was doing a blog tour to help promote the launch of his/her first novel and wanted to know if I would consider letting him/her do a guest post on my personal website.

 

I'd never had anyone do a guest post, but S.J. mentioned that he/she had read all my books, so I wanted to help. Why wouldn't I? S.J. had supported me, so I wanted to support S.J. in return. (S.J. is also a loyal reader of my blog and even mentioned his/her favorite post in the message.)

 

S.J. had been writing professionally for many years but was a first-time novelist, so I thought my readers would appreciate some thoughts on what he/she had learned from the process. Here's the post on my website.

 

The same week I received an email from another debut author, whom I won't name. He asked me if I wanted to interview him on my website. I asked him if he'd read any of my books, and he said no. Then I asked him if he'd ever read my blog, and he admitted that no, he hadn't. I never heard from him after that.

 

Do you see the difference a personal touch can make? S.J. took the time to personalize his/her outreach to me, and it resulted in a guest post on my blog. The other author used a copy/paste/generic approach, and it resulted in nothing. If he had opened his message with "Hey, I haven't read any of your books, but I just ordered a couple for my sister..." our interaction would have been very different. Keep that in mind that next time you reach out to a fellow author for help!

 

-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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The Power of a Personal Connection

Use a Personal Touch When Reaching Out or Following Up

765 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, promotions, personal_touch
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Reward Yourself

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 30, 2015

The movie version of The Martian was released on October 2 of this year, and I was pretty stoked to see it. I had seen a trailer for the film months before, when I wasn't even aware that the book had been independently published and had become a viral sensation. The story appealed to me, and I was anxious to see the film.

 

My problem was that I was in the middle of rewrites. Since I had agreed to a deadline with a third party, I had to crack the whip more fiercely and more frequently than ever before. I told myself, "You can see the movie when you're done with the rewrites." So, it began. I deconstructed the manuscript, rebuilt it, and deconstructed it again. During breaks, I would hop online and read Facebook posts by friends talking about how great the movie was.

 

"Maybe I could just take a couple of hours and go see the movie," I thought, but I refused to give in. The movie would be my reward. I moved forward with the rewrites, even picking up the pace. Not only was I anxious to get the book to my editor, I was anxious to see The Martian. And then it happened, ten days before the deadline, I turned in the manuscript. The very next day I was sitting in the movie theater watching The Martian.

 

Rewards should be a part of your writing process. Yes, writing the book should be reward enough, but on those days or for those books where you need a little extra push, give yourself something to work for. You'd be surprised how much more special it makes your achievement feel.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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AAUGH! Rewrites!

Rewrites: Make the Hardest Changes First

652 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, writing, writing_process, rewrites, rewards
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Competency

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 25, 2015

What makes someone successful? How does someone make it to that next level? It's a question I ask myself as an author all the time. How did famous author John Doe go from unknown to mid-list to well known? Is he a better writer than me? Is he luckier? Is he more handsome? When somebody makes it and you don't, you either pick apart their success or you pick apart your lack of success.

 

As somebody who's studied the issue ad nauseam, I think I've uncovered the formula for succeeding as an author. Talent and luck do play a factor, no doubt. But the driving force behind success for an author, for an athlete, for a politician, for a manager of a grocery store is competency. Knowing your craft, knowing the market, knowing your genre, knowing your readers, these are all the building blocks of competency. Competency doesn't happen by accident. It's a consequence of focus. Once you possess this competency, your marketing efforts will become a bit more effortless and a lot more effective.

 

Notice I didn't use the word confidence. Confidence and competency are two different things. You can be confident and lack competency. However, very few competent people lack confidence. So, yes, I think confidence is key to success, but only if it's born out of one's competence. Confidence without the competency anchor isn't a reliable ingredient for lasting success.

 

So, get the focus. Concentrate on improving your craft. Develop the curiosity to know your readers. Study your genre. Do these things, and the competency will follow. Soon after comes the success.

 

-Richard

 

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

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How to be a Confident Writer

How to Find Success

920 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, promotion, sales, writing, success, craft, author_advice
1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Maria

 

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

 

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Ramping Up Facebook Activity for the New Year

Your Fans are Your Brand

2,704 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions, fan_interaction
1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

2,002 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, characterization, developing_characters
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A few weeks ago I went to cheer on my pal Kelly, who was running the New York Marathon. That is twenty-six miles--and change! Insane, right? It's not like you can just roll out of bed and wing it. Preparing for a marathon is no joke. Kelly has a pretty demanding job, but she was determined, so for months she dragged herself out of bed before work and on weekends to put in the miles.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Maria

 

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

 

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Productivity vs. Perfection

Writing Takes Discipline

680 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, nanowrimo, national_novel_writing_month
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The best way to grow as a writer is to invest in your writing. Here are three ways you can do just that:

 

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

 

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

 

-Richard

 

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

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Why Novelists Should Join a Playwrights' Group

Your How-to-Be-a-Novelist Syllabus

1,371 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, indie, writing, craft
2

Your book's description is a great way to grab a potential reader's attention, so you want to make the most of that opportunity by using language that shows readers what they're in for instead of language that tells them. In other words, if you think your book is funny, don't say that in your description. Instead, write a description that is funny!

 

That may sound like common sense, but I've lost track of how many times I've checked out a book on Amazon but have declined to click "purchase" because the brief description says something like, "This entertaining, hilarious story will have you falling off your chair." I'd be much more inclined to buy the book if the description made me chuckle, even a little bit. Now if a reviewer writes things like that about your book, by all means use them, in quotes and with attribution, as often as you can. That's called third-party credibility, and it's golden in marketing.

 

To explain the concept of show vs. tell, I often use the analogy of online dating. Just like the endless selection of books available, there are countless online profiles vying for your attention. Imagine yourself scrolling through profile after profile, each of which includes a brief self-summary. Would you want to go on a date with a man who calls himself "smart, charming, and fun to be around?" Or would you rather meet a man whose self-summary clearly shows that he is smart, charming, and fun to be around­­? I would certainly choose the latter.

 

Now imagine a reader scrolling through endless options of books in search of a funny read. If he laughs or even cracks a smile when he gets to your description, what do you think he's going to do?

 

-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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I'm Sure Your Book Is Wonderful, But Don't Tell Me So

Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook

3,435 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, amazon.com, promotions, book_description
1

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Rewriting: Relax, Reconnect, Rethink

WordPlay: Challenging Your Perspective

808 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, comfort_zone
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