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As a reader, I have found that the perfect villain is actually likeable. I look forward to scenes and chapters that feature the villain. There are times I may even secretly pull for the villain because he is so darned charming. And in many ways, I find my affinity for these villains the most chilling aspect of a good book. What is it about me that wants the bad guy to win?

 

It's not me (at least I hope it's not). It is the writer's strategy to create a villain that is more than just a bad guy. The villain has layers. In other words, he isn't all bad. He will show glimpses of decency buried under that hard heart. There has to be a speck of humanity in even the worst villain for me to enjoy a book. Maybe he's a serial killer who loves dogs, or a gangster devoted to his mother, or a scheming politician who manages to do some good on his way to ruthlessly destroying those who do not serve his cause, or maybe he's a madman with a really good sense of humor.

 

If you want to create a villain no one is drawn to and who ruins an otherwise good story, make him one-sided. Inundate your readers with passage after passage of his heartless actions without a word about his ability to show compassion. If, on the other hand, you want readers to enjoy the bad guy so much that they question their own pureness of heart, give your villain depth and a small sense of humanity.

 

-Richard

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

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Defend Your Antagonist

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

3,068 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, likeable_villain
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Misuse of Pronouns

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 1, 2014

I spent a good chunk of February sitting on my couch watching the Olympics - so fun! I love cheering on the athletes, no matter what their nationality, and it's entertaining to hear the informed commentary that accompanies the competition.

 

This Olympics, however, the grammar that accompanied the commentary wasn't as stellar as the athletic feats being described. The most common infraction I heard from Sochi was the misuse of pronouns. The following are two examples that were so outrageous I actually paused the TV, rewound to listen again, then recorded them with my phone:

 

Example One:

 

What was said: "It has all gone away for John Daly. Heartbreaking for HE and his family and friends."

 

What should have been said: "It has all gone away for John Daly. Heartbreaking for HIM and his family and friends."

 

Explanation: Object pronouns (him) follow prepositions (for). I doubt the commentator would have said "heartbreaking for he" if that had been the end of the sentence.

 

Example Two:

 

What was said: "So he's a really really great guy, and it was so fun to be with him. I saw HE and his wife here earlier, and they just were in tears over how excited they were."

 

What should have been said: "So he's a really really great guy, and it was so fun to be with him. I saw HIM and his wife here earlier, and they just were in tears over how excited they were."

 

Explanation: This case requires a direct object pronoun, which is "him." I doubt the commentator would have said "I saw he" if that were the end of the sentence.

 

The commentators seem to be under the impression that "he" is correct at all times. "He" is the appropriate pronoun if it's referring to the SUBJECT, but when it's referring to the OBJECT, "him" is the correct choice.

 

He sees me, and I see him.

 

See?

 

-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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Is It "I" or "Me"? Use the Switcheroo Technique to Get It Right

Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

3,495 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, pronouns
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With change come those resistant to change. It's no secret that the publishing industry has changed dramatically in the past five years or so. Indie authors, once a rare breed of scribe, have now become the norm. But indie authors aren't just independent writers; they are independent promoters. Most of them do not have a paid publicity team to spread the word about their books. The initial promotion of a book and an author is left to...well, the author, and if all goes well, the readers chipping in when passion demands.

 

A few established authors who started their journey before the rise of the indies have a hard time grasping this notion of self-promotion. Publicizing one's own book seems a bit tacky and crass to them. Their stomachs turn when authors they count as colleagues take on the practice of promoting their own work on social networks and other venues. But with shrinking marketing dollars in the traditional publishing world, authors' self-promotion has become necessary.

 

I'll let you in on a secret. If I didn't have to do my own self-promotion, I wouldn't. Talking about myself in any forum isn't my favorite thing to do, and I imagine that's the case for 90 percent of the authors reading this. It's just an awkward position to be in. But that is the price of being an author, and it is a small price to pay when you consider I get to write and sell books as a result.

 

Self-promotion is not a dirty word. It shouldn't be looked down upon. It is the hallmark of the independent spirit. Can it be overdone? Absolutely. Striking the balance between drawing the right amount of attention and unnecessarily singing one's own praises is always tricky to find. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You should. Proudly. The more you do it, the more you'll know where to draw the line.

 

-Richard

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

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Promote Your Book with Goodreads

Book Marketing Tip: Make It Easy for Your Fans to Help You

3,304 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, self-promotion
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Writing Lessons Inspired by Famous Writers - Writer's Digest

Did you know Jack London received over 600 rejection letters from publishers? He proves that persistence pays off.         

                                                    

Book Marketing: On Changing Book Covers - The Creative Penn

If a book isn't selling like you expected, a new cover might be the answer.    

 

Film

                                                        

How to Make a Video Using 7,000 Post-it Notes - Videomaker

Stop motion filmmaking isn't just cool. It's a great way to hone your pre-production skills.   

                                          

Do You Invest in Movies? - Filmmaking Stuff

To find investors, you have to know how an investor thinks.       

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Your Most Important Music Biz Relationship - Bob Baker's BuzzFactor.com

You've heard the expression "it's all about who you know." The "who" you should know are your fans.

 

 

How to Get Some Radio Play for Your Tuneage - Musicgoat.com

If you're having trouble getting radio play, don't worry - there are opportunities beyond the commercial market.

 

-Richard

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Weekly News Roundup- March 21, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- March 14, 2014

3,242 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: selling, self-publishing, indie, movies, writers, radio, videos, films, promotions, inspiration, cover_design, musicians, self_promotion, relatonships
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Write Non-linearly

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 26, 2014

For writers, getting from point A to point B isn't always easy. In fact, it can be painful to get to point B. Writing takes a certain amount of attention to detail. You have to think for every character. You have to keep track of the past, present and future of your fictional world all at once. Simple things like trying to remember if your character already lit a cigarette in the scene you started six days ago will wreak havoc on your writer-mind as you piece your story together from beginning to end. At times, it can be so daunting a task the wheels in your head stop turning and you get stuck, unable to write another word.

 

Here's a tip if you find yourself in such a state of mind: Stop piecing it together from beginning to end. Give up the linear mentality and allow yourself to think non-linearly. If you're stuck on a scene, leave it and move onto another one. Rewrites are for nailing things together in their proper structure. Writing is for putting together the building materials you need to tell the story. 

 

There is no law that requires you to write a story chapter by chapter in the order in which it will be read. You are free to write the book out of order. Don't force yourself to muddle through a chapter just because you want to get to the next part of your book. Simply leave the chapter unfinished and move on to the next chapter. 

 

Writing in a non-linear fashion may be just the thing to finally cure your writer's block.

 

-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?

Tips for Finishing Your Manuscript

6,543 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, drafts, development, writing_process, character_development
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Book festivals don't offer the same networking opportunities as writers conferences, but they can still be a good learning experience. (Click here for my post on why it's a good idea to attend a writers conference.) Most book festivals are free, and many offer panel discussions with the same topics as those at writers conferences, so for that reason alone they are worth attending. For example, I've given my workshop called "I want to get published. Where do I begin?" at book festivals at no cost to anyone.

 

In addition to attending panel discussions and workshops, a great way to learn at a book festival is simply to wander up and down the aisles and strike up conversations with the people manning the booths. Most of them will be more than happy to chat about why they are there. Some will be selling books they wrote and published on their own. Others will be representing publishing houses and independent publishers. Still others will be promoting services that may be useful to you at some point, such as writing workshops, design expertise or book marketing help. If you keep asking questions, I guarantee you'll come away with some useful nuggets.

 

If anything, attending a book festival might give you the motivation and/or inspiration you need to finish the manuscript you've been working on - or perhaps to finally start it. Writing is a lonely craft, so taking the time to mix and mingle with those who share your passion is a good reminder that, while you may spend a lot of time alone at your laptop, you're not in it alone.

 

-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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Covering the Convention Beat

BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Recap

3,257 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, book_festival
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Fume and Delete

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 24, 2014

Grrrr. You all are going to have to pardon me as I get, as they say, "real" for a minute. There are some things that have been bothering me, and I just have to air them in a public forum so they will live forever in the digital world and eventually come back to haunt me.  My frustration has reached a point of no return. I have to get this out now! Here it goes!

 

And we're back. What? You didn't really expect me to write something inflammatory and potentially career-ending did you? I mean I did write it. You just never read it, and you never will. That's because I practice the "write and delete" method of exorcising my frustrations. 

 

Here's how it works: I come across a blog post, article or social media update that infuriates me. I walk away from the computer fuming. I come back, open Word, and write an incisive and clever response. Then I go about my author duties for the day. Finally, when my day is behind me, I read the Word document with my carefully crafted retort to whatever set me off in the first place. Then, I delete the document. 

 

Why? Because with distance comes perspective. I realize that I wouldn't be adding anything but fuel to the proverbial fire by actually posting what I have written. The need to initially insert myself into the discussion fades because there's literally no need or point. 

 

The next time you come across something that pushes you over the edge, I invite you to try my "fume and delete" method of ridding yourself of angst and frustration. I promise you'll feel better without all the messy regret that comes with actually going public with rabble-rousing remarks. 

 

-Richard

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

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When Your Words Offend

2014: The Year of Participation

3,044 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, blogging, writing, write_and_delete
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Keep-It-Simple Marketing Tips for Indie Authors - Marketing Tips for Authors

Do you know what your "bumper niches" are?     

 

How to Create Your Marketing Funnel the Right Way - The Future of Ink

Funnels, circles, and books, oh my!    

 

Film

 

Questions for an Open Call Audition - A Moon Brothers Film Blog

Here's how a typical open audition works.   

 

Shoot Something Every Two Weeks: A Conversation with Phil Hughes and Jenn Daugherty - Making the Movie

A look at how a couple of filmmakers are trying to raise funds for an independent feature.     

                                    

Music

 

Two Key Mistakes Your Band Needs to Avoid - Music Makers

The music matters most.

 

How Flight Drummers Got 500,000 YouTube Views in 10 Months - Hypebot.com

A case study on the effective use of YouTube. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 14, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- March 7, 2014

3,429 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, filmmaking, promotion, films, bands, filmmakers, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy
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Antagonists are fun to write because they challenge our personal beliefs. That is to say, bad guys have bad thoughts and do bad things because it is in their nature. But in most cases, those bad things are not in the writer's nature. Creating such a character requires writers to withhold judgment about what's right and wrong and simply observe without comment. It also requires a blind ambition to let the antagonist be as bad as he can be without pointing a figurative finger at him as if to say, "I don't like him either, but he has to be this bad for the story to work."

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Richard

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

 

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You Aren't Your Characters

Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

5,551 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, characters, creativity, character_development, creating_characters
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I love reading. I read on the subway, before I go to sleep, while waiting for various appointments - all the time! I read both fiction and nonfiction in a variety of genres. I'm not the fastest reader, but I'm always reading something. Not only do I read for education and entertainment, but also because reading other people's work makes me a better writer.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Being an Obsessive Reader

 

The Most Powerful Word

8,711 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, reading
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In order to grow, you have to subject yourself to a little self-examination. In the corporate world, managers make their subordinates undergo the oft-dreaded employee reviews. While the process sometimes seems arbitrary, they do serve a purpose. They give employees an approximation of their professional growth. They can see where they've been and where they need to go in order to advance.

 

We all want to advance. As Matthew McConaughey put it at the Oscars, we all need someone to chase, even if that someone is ourselves. In the indie author world, advancing means growing as an artist and selling more books, and just like our corporate counterparts, we need to undergo our own brand of evaluation.

 

I say our own brand of self-examination because, as creative types, we should have a little fun with it. I suggest skipping the checklist of "meets or exceeds" expectations and letting the imagination take over. One of my favorite strategies is to pretend as if I've been asked to be the keynote speaker at a graduation. My job is to describe the life of a storyteller to the gallery of impressionable minds based on my experience. I lay it all out there for them: my philosophy on writing, my struggles, my triumphs, my regrets, my moments of joy, etc. I speak to them from the heart and give them the tools to make their way as indie authors.

 

By doing this exercise annually, you'll be able to track your growth as an indie author, and you'll have a little fun while doing so. Plus, bonus! You'll have a keynote address should you ever be asked to deliver one.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Keep a Private Journal

 

Your Gift to Yourself

3,009 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, self-examination
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Create Characters So Real You'll Be Tempted to Add Them to Your Christmas List - The Seekers

Author Lisa Carter explains how she approaches character building.    

         

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

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

 

Film

 

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

A bad audio capture can ruin a good film.   

 

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

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

         

Music

 

How Are You Listening to Music? - Musician Makers

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

 

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

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

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 7, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 28, 2014

3,295 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: filmmaking, business, writing, lyrics, character_development, character_arc, music_production, film_location
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I've written about the long-standing "show it, don't say it" rule in fiction on this blog before. It's one of those writing guidelines that's hard to explain to beginning writers and sometimes even more to experienced writers. Often, there is an inclination to write everything you're thinking in relation to a scene or include unnecessary details and long passages of exposition in your story. Neither is good for storytelling.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

Too Much Exposition

3,571 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, description, drafts, craft, show_vs_tell, writin_process
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If you read my blog with regularity, you know I'm a big advocate of creative approaches to book marketing. However, there's a difference between being creative and being inappropriate.

 

I recently received an e-mail that left me scratching my head. The sender (I'll call him Sam) was writing on behalf of an author I'd neither met nor heard of (I'll call her Sally). In his message, Sam said Sally had a new book coming out, and he asked if I wanted to participate in her "book tour." He included a blurb about the book, plus a link to her website. I had no idea what he meant by "book tour," so I politely e-mailed him back and asked him to clarify. In his response he said that he wanted me to talk up Sally's book on my website. He went on to say that this is "something authors do to support each other," and that Sally would "appreciate my help." He didn't offer to send me a copy of Sally's book to read - he just wanted me to promote it, sight unseen.

 

I wrote back again and asked if Sally had read any of my books or promoted them in any way. Sam did not reply. I'm still confused by all of this.

 

There's nothing wrong with reaching out to others about your book, but Sam is going about it the wrong way. If you're going to ask another author to endorse your book, common sense says you should probably read their book(s) first. You should also offer to send them a copy of your book to read. How would you feel if you found out you'd bought a book based on the recommendation of someone who hadn't even read it? Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I would feel duped.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Supporting Indie Authors

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

7,362 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
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Blurb with Caution

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 10, 2014

At one time in my life, there was a particular author that I read religiously. As soon as I finished one of his books, I raced to buy his next book or find an old book of his that I had not yet read. I was crazy about this author. Quite simply, he was my favorite writer. On one occasion, when I had no more of his books to read, I picked up random titles in the same genre and flipped through the pages to find something that grabbed my attention. This went on for far too long. I just couldn't find something that pulled me in until I started reading some of the blurbs. Lo and behold, right there between two quotation marks was a glowing endorsement by my favorite author. If the book was good enough for him, it was good enough for me. I bought the book, took it home and cracked it open, ready to be whisked away on a magical fictional journey.

 

 

Two chapters in, I hated the book. It was nothing like my favorite author had promised it would be. I read other reviews online, and most agreed with me. I went in search of another book and found another one endorsed by my favorite author. I didn't like that one either. Turns out my favorite author didn't have a similar taste to mine...or he was being less than honest in his blurbs.

 

Fast forward to the release of his next book - I had no interest in reading it. His blurbs for less-than-deserving books somehow ruined my excitement for his own books. I can't explain it. I just felt like he had violated a sacred trust between reader and scribe. He used his brand to sell bad writing that wasn't even his.

 

 

Consider this a precautionary tale. While it is incredibly flattering to be asked for a blurb by a fellow author, make sure you are endorsing something you truly believe in, and the book is worthy of being associated with your brand. Anything less and you run the risk of tarnishing your own brand and losing readers.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Sell Yourself as an Enthusiast

A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

3,084 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, blurbs
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