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Read It Forward

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 21, 2014

Have you read a good book lately? How about a good book by an indie author? I'll admit to not having read enough indie books. It's a serious shortcoming that I'm not proud of. I am an indie author – I should be participating as a reader in the same arena where I participate as a writer.

 

We, as indie authors, have a responsibility to build up the indie market's reputation. I don't mean we should shower each other with false praise and disingenuous hype; I mean we should wade through the indie offerings and showcase those gems we stumble upon, just as we would a book in the traditional publishing world. We need to make the indie market a story-worth-reading friendly environment.

 

If we aren't good citizens of our own indie world, how can we expect the average reader to embrace us? The more indie books of exceptional quality that we shine a light on, the bigger the readership grows for all of us. In other words, if we read it forward, there will be big dividends for all indie authors.

 

In response to this post, I know the temptation will be to pepper the comments and retweets with a plug for your own book. It's a natural response. I get it, but I'm going to encourage you not to do that. Instead, start the read-it-forward ball rolling by plugging an indie book written by someone other than you. Give us a gem that you, as a reader, think is worthy of recommending. If we make such recommendations a habit, we all benefit and reap the rewards.   

 

-Richard

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

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A Basket Full of Books

Supporting Indie Authors

3,690 Views 9 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, promotion, writers, independent_publishing, reading, craft, branding, marketing_ideas, indie_authors
17

First-time novelists tend to commit two basic mistakes when writing dialogue (don't worry, you're not alone!):

 

1)    All the characters sound the same.

 

Dialogue is a great tool for character development because it gives your readers a direct line into your characters' heads. If they all sound the same, however, it can be confusing. When crafting a conversation, think about how the people in your own life talk. Some of them may have pet phrases, or a particular gesture they like to use when making a point. Having your characters do the same will differentiate them from the pack.

 

Tip: Once I finish the first draft of a novel, I go back and check the dialogue to make sure what my characters are saying is consistent with their personality. My characters tend to evolve as I write, so I often end up rewriting some of their earlier lines because they just don't "fit" anymore. When you find yourself thinking, "That doesn't sound like something Sally would say," you know you're on the right track.

 

2)    The characters use a flurry of overly descriptive replacements for "said."

 

When I began writing my first novel, I thought I was supposed to use as many words as I could to convey the concept of "said," when in fact all I needed to use was "said" or nothing at all. When you use words such as "declared," "announced," "inquired," "teased," or "suggested" instead of just using "said," you're telling the reader instead of showing the reader through the actual words and actions of the character. (If you're not sure about the difference between show and tell, see my blog post on it.) You always want readers to draw their own conclusions.

 

These mistakes are very common for first-time authors, so don't feel bad if you recognize them in your own work. I used to make them too - trust me!

 

-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, Chocolate for Two, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Listen to Someone Read Your Story

Reexamining Dialogue Attribution

11,227 Views 17 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, character_development, writing_dialogue
0

Beyond your first and foremost obligation to the story as a writer, you have a sacred responsibility to the reader, and that responsibility is to make him or her feel. Whether it's fear, anger, happiness or sadness, you publish a book with the promise that if someone takes precious time out of his or her life to read your book, that reader will experience an emotional jolt of some kind, somewhere within the confines of your story.

 

Such a responsibility can weigh heavily on writers' shoulders - so heavily, in fact, they may become conscious storytellers and step away from their instincts. The second they do that, they lose perspective and crank out page after page of thin, one-dimensional writing. Nobody wins when that happens.

 

Here's the key to telling a sad story: Include some laughs. The key to telling a funny story? Make them cry a few times. Balance is the foundation of depth. A writer who tries to manipulate the primary emotion of his or her genre usually doesn't write a book worth reading. On the other hand, a writer who steps outside the emotional bounds associated with the genre delivers a story that draws readers in and gives them a wholly satisfying experience. Make your horror novel scary, but make it poignant and funny too.

 

To fulfill your emotional contract with readers, provide them a story that includes a spectrum of emotions. If you give them a little balance as they read, it will mean that much more when you knock them off their feet with your pivotal emotional moment.

 

-Richard

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

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Don't Insult Your Readers

Feeling Emotion for Characters

2,074 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, laugh, cry, emotion
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Social Media Quiz ? Which Social Site Is Right for You? - Author Marketing Experts

An interesting exercise in choosing the social media path that suits your needs and matches your talents.        

                                                    

Dos and Don'ts for Choosing a Title -Tips, and a Free Tool, Too - Beyond Paper Editing

A great set of guidelines for works of fiction and nonfiction.      

 

Film

                                                        

Film Schooling: Insider Insights on Indie Filmmaking - Pre-production and Locations - Bleeding Cool

The location you choose for your film has a bearing on more than just your story's setting.   

                                          

Great Filmmakers and Their take on Filmmaking and Style - Filmmaker IQ

Style is the most essential element of filmmaking.      

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

5 Basic Recording Tips for the Hi-hat - The Audio-Technica Blog

Learning to properly record your hi-hat can make or break your mix.

 

Music Marketing Ideas: Where to Find the Best Ones - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Do you know where to find those hidden marketing ideas?  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- May 9, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- May 2, 2014

2,126 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, filmmaking, nonfiction, fiction, social, music_marketing, social_media, style, music_production, writing_advice
0

Are you excited? I mean really excited! Are you jumping up and down and doing a victory dance? Or is the fist pump your thing? Whatever your chosen expression of excitement is, it's time to show it.

 

What's the call for all this excitement? You published a book. Before that, you devoted a great deal of your time and life to writing said book. Before that, you dreamed of publishing a book. Why shouldn't you be excited? Now that you've gone through this obstacle course and reached the very goal you set for yourself, you need to not just be excited; you need to let the world know just how excited you are.

 

Enthusiasm sells. Specifically, your enthusiasm will sell your books. If it's not special enough for you to get excited about, why should potential readers be excited? I understand that patting yourself on the back may not be in your nature, and I'm not suggesting you take to the virtual waves and tell everyone how awesome you are. In fact, I highly discourage you from doing just that.

 

I'm suggesting you take to your blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and any other part of your platform and tell everyone why this accomplishment is so special to you. Make it personal. Let everyone know why you wrote this book and why you want people to read it. Make your case, and do it with a confident smile.

 

Whether this is your first book or your 101st book, it is a big deal. Let the world know how much it means to you.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Do I Really Have to Self-promote?

Marketing: Begin with Your Strengths

3,268 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, selling, writers, first_book, publishing, social_networking, social_media, target_audience
3

Book club organizers are always on the lookout for what to read next, so why not throw your hat in the ring? Offering to attend a book club in person is a great way to spread the word about your work and establish a personal connection with your readers. Plus it's a lot of fun! Most of the book clubs I've attended have never met an author in person before, so they're just as excited as I am about the whole experience. A win-win!

 

Here are two great ways to find book clubs:

 

1)    Do a search on www.meetup.com

 

I love this site! You can search for appropriate book clubs within a specified radius of where you live, then send the organizer a friendly note about your book and yourself. (Note: This is why it's good to have basic marketing materials prepared - you don't want to have to reinvent the wheel every time you reach out to a potential reader.)

 

2)    Contact local college alumni chapters

 

Go to the national alumni page of your alma mater, which should link you to the pages of local groups across the country. Many chapters have a book club and include the contact information for the person in charge. As a fellow graduate, you already have a legitimate connection, so send a note and introduce yourself. Don't be shy!

 

As with any outreach strategy, it's important to attack your book club "campaign" realizing that not everyone will respond to you - in fact, most people won't. But if you contact enough groups with a compelling, targeted pitch, you will get some replies. Just like sales (and dating!), book marketing is a numbers game. You just have to keep at it until you find the right match.

 

-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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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The Reader's Guide

Offline Branding

8,278 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, promotions, meetup, book_clubs
0

How to Be Cool

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 12, 2014

I have a confession: I want to be cool. Call it vanity. Call it shortsighted. Call it shallow. I can't help it. I want to be cool like Fonzie. The fact that I referenced a character that hasn't been on TV in 30 years gives you some idea how far from cool I actually am, but it's a goal nonetheless.

 

In the world of storytelling and writing, being cool means that I must write something that's clever and innovative. I have to dig deep and come up with a passage, plot or character that is subtly unique, something that strikes a chord and bends a genre. It is the equivalent of scoring a touchdown.

 

Here's the trap I try to avoid: I can't force "coolness." I'm in the early stages of writing a new novel, and by early stages, I mean I've written one line and devoted a lot of daydreaming to plot points and dialogue. I've come up with what I think is a really cool sequence of events that will culminate with some really killer dialogue and can't wait to incorporate it into the storyline. The problem is I have no idea at this point if it will fit into the storyline, and no matter how much I love this series of events, I can't wedge it into my story just because I think it's cool.

 

Don't let your love for elements of a story prevent you from cutting it if it doesn't fit with the rest of the book. As a writer, you can explore and take risks with a story. As an editor, you have to give yourself permission to cut and slash scenes, characters, chapters, dialogue, whatever doesn't add value to your novel. Sometimes you have to be ruthless on rewrites in order to be really cool.

 

-Richard

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

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When You Cut a Scene You Like, Save It!

A Good Writer Can Ruin a Good Story

2,838 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, cool
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Writing a One-Page Business Plan: 5 Questions a Self-Publisher Must Ask - Self-Publishing Review

Tap into the entrepreneurial segment of your creative mind.    

                                       

How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending - Writer's Digest

Have you mastered the fourth part of storytelling?      

 

Film

                                                        

10 Surprising Ways Famous Film Special Effects Were Made - Tech Radar

The answer to "How'd they do that?"   

 

10 Films That Can Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Cinematography - Taste of Cinema

Recording movement to establish a mood - that's what cinematography is all about.      

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Practice Your Voice without Irritating the Neighbors - Judy Rodman

The apartment complex conundrum: how to warm up your pipes without being a bad neighbor.

 

The Future of Music Discovery Is In the Numbers - Hypebot.com

Tracking who's listening to what is changing the music industry like never before.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- May 2, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- April 25, 2014

2,955 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, business_plan, strategy, voice, music_business, cinematography, plot_development, film_editing, music_exercises, special_effects, sel
1

To truly know your characters, you have to spend time with them outside of the book - away from the plot and surroundings they are used to. You have to pluck them from their cozy storylines and throw them into an unfamiliar situation to understand what makes them tick.

 

One of the most common character-building exercises when I was taking creative writing classes was to imagine a setting where your character is a stranger in a room full of people. As he or she progresses into the scene, others will make judgments based on appearance and awkward interactions. How will your character respond? What will he or she say or do? How will your character judge the others in the room?

 

The most common setting for this exercise is a school lunchroom. Many of us have memories of entering the cafeteria for the first time and getting a lay of the land, both physically and socially. If you've ever been a new kid at school, this memory is likely especially etched into your brain. It borders on traumatizing for some, while others find it exhilarating. Where on the spectrum would your character fall?

 

It doesn't have to be a school cafeteria. It can be the break room at work or a party or wherever. That's your call, but to truly flesh out your character and dive deep into his or her psyche, make sure he or she is the only stranger in the room. The stress of being unknown is a great way to see your character from a new perspective.   

 

-Richard

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

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Building Character

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

6,164 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development
3

I'm currently working on my seventh novel, and one of the most valuable lessons I've learned about the writing process is when to hit pause on a particular scene/sentence/description and move on. If you're a perfectionist or Type-A personality, that can be hard to do, but it's extremely important. Trust me!

 

When I was writing my first novel, if I wasn't sure where to take the story next, I would spend countless hours tweaking, editing, refining, and tinkering the words I already had written. Where did that get me? Nowhere! The problem with spending too much time on a particular area of the book is that you aren't moving the story forward, and if you don't move the story forward, you will never finish the book. I'm convinced this is why it takes some people ten years to complete the first draft of a novel. They work so hard making every sentence perfect that it takes forever to get to the finish line.

 

A good trick I've learned is to use the ALL CAPS function. My current manuscript is filled with notes in ALL CAPS such as:

 

  • WRITE SOMETHING FUNNY HERE
  • FLESH OUT THE DESCRIPTION OF THIS RESTAURANT
  • ADD IN SOMETHING HERE ABOUT WHY THEY GOT DIVORCED
  • FIX THIS- SOUNDS WEIRD
  • MAKE THIS DESCRIPTION BETTER
  • DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

 

It would be easy to spend days, if not weeks working on the above issues, but at the end of the day, they are details that aren't critical to the story. If I want to finish the novel, my focus has to be on progressing the story.

 

Once you finish the first draft, then it's time to go back and fix all the problem areas you've put in ALL CAPS along the way. That's where the fun begins, because you know you're in the home stretch!

 

-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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Save the Wordsmithing for Later

How to Get Through the First Draft

7,339 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, all_caps
0

Let's go offline and local today with our marketing discussion. We all want to master the Internet and become a global sensation, but a better strategy may be to develop a following in our own communities and let the word spiral out like a growing galaxy of influence.

 

Now, just because it's your hometown doesn't mean finding readers is going to be a cakewalk. You are still going to have to do the leg work, and you may even have to shell out a few bucks here and there. I am of the opinion that spending time and money on local advertising could have a better return on investment than putting money into an online outlet that reaches readers around the world. Why? Because everyone wants to discover a new local literary talent.

 

How can you reach these readers? Here are three offline and off-the-wall suggestions to get you started. Feel free to sprinkle in your own ideas too.

 

  1. Advertise in local alternative newspapers. Most cities, big and small, have weekly newspapers that cater to the artsy crowd. The advertising rates are usually much cheaper than your typical newspaper, and the newspaper may even be willing to do a story on your book. Remember, one ad won't do. A series of ads over a number of weeks is more effective in a print environment.

  2. What about that restroom for customers in your favorite restaurant? I'm not kidding. A lot of restaurants and bars work with third-party advertising companies to rent out space on their bathroom walls. Think about it. There's a lot of idle time spent in bathrooms. The grocery store down the street from my house even has ads for local businesses in their bathroom.

  3. Anyone ever tell you that your book would make a great movie? Maybe you don't have the funds to produce a movie based on your book, but what about an ad that can be shown in the theater before the feature starts? We've all seen local businesses being advertised in a movie theater. Why not your book?

 

With a little research on the marketing opportunities in your hometown, you could discover that starting local is a great way to go global.

-Richard

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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Offline Branding

Small Marketing Steps

4,288 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, advertising
0

Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Get Helpful Feedback from Beta Readers - Beyond Paper Editing

Make sure to give your beta readers guidelines.  

                                                    

Four Secrets: How to Market Your Book to the Locals - The Future of Ink

Your local market may have the highest potential for sales and marketing opportunities.     

 

Film

                                                        

5 Positive Things You Can Take Away from a Horrible Movie - Film Industry Network

Turn that bad movie experience into a tool from which to learn.   

                                          

10 Crowdfunding Sites to Fuel Your Project - FilmFestivals.com

The folks at FilmFestivals.com have put together a list of their preferred crowdfunding sites.       

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

It's All about the Music - Musician Makers

A "Where, What and When" music infographic.

 

Why Bands and Musicians Should Have a Blog - Musicgoat.com

A website is not enough. You have to have active content to draw visitors.     

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- April 25, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- April 18, 2014

3,539 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: reviews, movies, feedback, music_marketing, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, crowdfunding
0

I had a conversation once with a high school English teacher about my books. He gave very eloquent reasoning for what he saw as the moral of each story we discussed, and I was deeply flattered that he had put so much thought into something I had created. I also felt just a tad bit stupid because I didn't purposely write any of the underlying messages he pointed out. In fact, until he brought them to my attention, I had not even noticed them.

 

I do not possess the talent to write a story with an intentional message. I tried in my early days, but each effort turned into a verbal proselytizing matted mess. When I threw out the "moral of the story" game plan, I discovered that messages naturally spring up, and they're not always obvious, even to me. 

 

It's a strange and wonderful thing to write a story with no intention other than to get from point A to point B, only to discover that your characters made some fairly significant stops along the way. Events, small and large, have forced them to make moral choices. You, the writer, may not even know why they made the choices they did at the time you wrote the book. You just had a gut feeling based on how well you had come to know your characters and how they would react to whatever was thrown their way.

 

So, how do you approach a story? Do you have a "moral" in mind, a message that you want to get through to your readers? Or do you just write and let the messages spring up naturally? There is no right or wrong way to tell a story. I'm just curious how other writers go about it.

 

-Richard

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

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Write Non-linearly

Who Do You Write For?

3,273 Views 0 Comments Permalink
0

Including hyperlinks in your marketing materials is a great way to send people to your Amazon page, or your website, or your Facebook page or anywhere you want them to go. But the actual links can be long and quite unsightly, so I suggest using the text function to make them look clean, pretty and professional.

 

Let's use the e-mail signature as an example. Including a clever blurb about your books and a hyperlink or two in your e-mail signature is a fantastic marketing strategy that I've been recommending for as long as I've been writing this blog. However, I often receive e-mails from authors that include crazy long links. To protect the guilty, I'm making up the following author name and blurb and using hyperlinks to my own content.

 

EXAMPLE OF AN ATTRACTIVE E-MAIL SIGNATURE:

 

Name, author of ABC and XYZ, thrillers that make you scared to sleep

Check out my books on Amazon

Like me on Facebook

 

EXAMPLE OF A MESSY E-MAIL SIGNATURE:

Name, author of ABC and XYZ, thrillers that make you scared to sleep

 

Check out my books on Amazon!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cassidy-Lane-Maria-Murnane-ebook/dp/B00FAH87IU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

 

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Paper-Adventures-Waverly-Bryson-ebook/dp/B002WGC8JG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=09QT2D7WPHMFSVXP5T3R

 

Here's my Facebook author page!

https://www.facebook.com/mariamurnane

 

To make a clean hyperlink in a Word document, type in the text you want to use, then highlight the text and right click. Choose the "hyperlink" option in the drop-down menu. Under the "address" function, paste in the actual hyperlink.

 

The hyperlink option varies by e-mail program, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out in the "signature" option.

 

Much of book marketing is making a positive first impression. Clean and pretty looks professional. Messy and unwieldy? Not so much. Which of the above e-mail signatures would impress you? Play around with your own until you come up with something good. I know you can do it!

 

-Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

Three Easy Marketing Ideas

3,562 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, hyperlinks, email_signatures
0

Outline Swap

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 28, 2014

There's a story going around that intrigues me about a prolific famous author. I'll withhold the name of the author in case the story is more urban legend than fact, but the identity of the author isn't important. The facts (whether based on rumor or reality) are what led to an idea I call the outline swap.

 

This author allegedly has become more of a brand than a writer. The demands for his books are so high he can't realistically keep up with the call for the release of new titles. Instead of putting his reading public off while he pens a new book, he simply does an outline handoff. He sketches out the idea for a story in a detailed outline and then hires another author to write a book based on his outline. The title is released as a coauthored novel. This process has allowed him to release approximately 20 books in a three-year span.

 

Now let's take that idea and convert it to an indie-friendly version. For this to work, we have to acknowledge that an indie author is more of a writer than a brand, though indie authors do tend to have motivated communities built around their author brands. What if we take two authors with active readerships, and instead of releasing one coauthored book, they release two coauthored books simultaneously? How? By having each author create a detailed outline for separate books, and then swapping the outlines, after which they write each other's novel. Set a time frame (three to fourth months) to complete the manuscripts, and then set up a campaign for the concurrent release of both books.

 

Like any coauthored effort, this will take an incredible amount of cooperation, trust and coordination, but think of the potential payoff. Two indie authors will pull their communities together to release two co-written novels. Each author's fan base is likely to expand, and the sales for their previously written titles could expand as well.

 

What do you think? Could you see yourself participating in an outline swap?

 

-Richard

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

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Form an Author Co-op

Advice for Co-authoring a Book

2,777 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, branding
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