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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

3,557 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

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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

3,077 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, blurbs
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Quick Tips to Help You Tighten Up Your Writing - Catherine, Caffeinated

Author and writing coach C.S. Larkin shares six tips to improve your writing.           

                                                    

Behind the Microphone ? Internet Radio Is a Great Online Marketing Strategy - The Future of Ink

Build your brand and sell books by being a guest on internet radio shows.    

 

Film

                                                        

How to Sharpen Your Movie Hook (So You Get Noticed) - Filmmaking Stuff

How to make investors and moviegoers care about your movie.   

                                          

The Three Rules I Saw Broken at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival - Script Magazine

Technology has created an indie filmmaking revolution, and like any revolution, rules are being broken.     

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Vocal Tone: What It Is, Why We Change It -Judy Rodman

Your vocal tone is a key component of communication, even when it comes to singing.    

 

Music, Mind and Meaning - The Case for the Science of Music  - Hypebot.com

Why do we like music? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 28, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 21, 2014

3,400 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, music, movies, writers, writing, drafts, film_festival, writing_process, musicians, fim_editing, vocal_tone
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I have a confession: for the most part, I don't write at a very fast pace. There are times when I can crank out a sizeable word count, but those times are rare. I tend to be deliberate and a tad overly analytical when it comes to writing a novel. I wish that wasn't the case; I'd love to be a much more prolific writer.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

-Richard

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

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The Most Powerful Word

The Tragedy That Motivates

3,599 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, publishing, writing, drafts, publishing_timelines, author_tips
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If your biggest fans aren't authors themselves, there's a good chance they have no idea how much you need their help to spread the word about your work. So why not tell them? I created a "buzz" page on my website. It lists easy ways to spread the word about my novels, and anytime I interact with fans on a personal level, I ask them to check out that page.

Here are some examples:

 

1)  My newsletter: Anytime someone signs up for my monthly newsletter, I reply with a personal note asking why they chose to do so. Many are aspiring authors looking for writing and marketing advice, but just as many say they signed up because they love my books. If they're fans, I tell them how important word-of-mouth is and how much I would appreciate their help. For example, I suggest they post something about my books on Facebook. It's important to make it as easy as possible for your fans to take action.

2)  Goodreads: When people begin to "follow" me on Goodreads I also send them a personal note and follow the same protocol as with the newsletter. Most people who follow me on Goodreads are voracious readers and love to share what they are reading with others. They also love hearing from authors!

3)  Twitter: If I see that I have a new follower, I repeat the same protocol mentioned above. My Twitter followers are mix of writers and readers, and they always appreciate a personal tweet.

 

You'd be surprised how happy your readers will be to hear from you - and how willing they are to help you if you tell them you need help. The key is to give them the tools they need, which is why a buzz page is great.

-Maria

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

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How to Support an Indie Author

Three Easy Marketing Ideas

10,193 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, goodreads, twitter
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Back in my days of writing ad copy for print and electronic media (before the internet and social media), I learned a very valuable lesson about advertising and marketing. As a newbie to the ad world, I mistakenly thought that the ad was the only thing that really mattered. As long as you conveyed your message clearly and created an emotional attachment to the ad, you had done a bulk of the leg work, and you were going to strike gold. But then I saw what came next and realized that the real work had just begun.

 

What came next? The media buy. I knew nothing about the process. As far as I knew, you picked the most popular show you could afford and ran your commercial during that time slot. And as far as print goes, I assumed you picked a spot in the section of the Sunday paper that was most relevant to your product and placed the ad there. I could not have been more wrong. I was in for a real education. Ratings books were consulted. Reader and viewer demographics were pored over. Everything was crucial to the media buy: income, age, gender, occupation, and family status.

 

I learned the buyer wasn't just trying to find a way to reach the most people that fit the demographic; they were trying to find a location (on air or in print) where people in the desired demographic would see the ad over and over again. They wanted people to see the ad seven to ten times. The number of people wasn't as important as how many times the people would be exposed to the ad.

 

So, as you move forward and consider jumping into the world of advertising for your book, keep this little lesson I learned in mind. The key to your ad's success is how many times it's seen by the same people. Being viewed by a large number of people means nothing if they only see it one or two times. It's not about reaching the most people; it's about reaching the right people over and over and over and over again.

 

-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

The Key to Succeed as an Author

3,347 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, advertising, promotions
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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 Write a Fast-Draft Novel - Writer's Digest

Prep work is your best strategy to writing a novel in a short period of time.          

                                                    

40 Things an Author Absolutely Must Do to Succeed - Author Culture

Author Kevin Parsons shares his long list of common sense ideas on how to succeed as an author.    

 

Film

                                                        

Indie Filmmaking is Surging despite the Odds - Variety

While the number of studio-financed films are going down every year, the number of independently financed films are going up.   

                                          

Legally Speaking, It Depends: Music in Film - Script Magazine

Just how does a filmmaker go about getting clearance to use a song in a movie?     

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

An Exercise in Goal Setting - Musicgoat

You won't believe how easy it just might be to achieve a goal.    

 

Shift Happens: Are You a Reader, a Listener or a Watcher? - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Have podcasts made blogs irrelevant? Bob Baker doesn't think so. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 21, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 14, 2014

3,845 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, music, filmmaking, author, ideas, movies, drafts, blogs, creativity, musicians, goals, filmmakers, creative_writing, music_exercises
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I watched a documentary about J.D. Salinger recently, and it turned my mind to the changing world of publishing. Salinger did something that people who experience success rarely do: He turned his back on the trappings of success without hesitation. He wrote a book that was called the voice of a generation and then chose not to publish another novel in his lifetime. He continued to write, but he just didn't continue to publish.

 

 

This was a time in publishing when most authors went a number of years between novels.  I'm sure people expected that Salinger would indeed publish again. But, as each year passed and no new Salinger book hit the market, his life as a recluse became as compelling to some as his book, "The Catcher in the Rye." His refusal to publish was as rebellious as anything Holden Caulfield would have done.   

 

 

Could this "model" of publishing work today? We live in a very different world than when "The Catcher in the Rye" was published in 1951. Could one book make an author a literary icon? Can one be a true recluse in this age of social media?

 

We all know that social media is key to building a brand and gaining readers in today's super-connected world. We've all seen books we didn't like become popular because of marketing campaigns, and I'm sure there's a book out there by an indie author that will change your life, but you haven't heard of it because the author doesn't know how to play the branding game. The only real chance you might have to discover this unknown author is if he or she keeps publishing and building readership with each publication. As romantic as the idea of the "reclusive author" may be, I'm afraid it is a phenomenon we may never see again.

What are your thoughts on the recluse in the age of social media?

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Offline Branding

2014: The Year of Participation

3,985 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: selling, networking, promotion, publishing, social_media, online_marketing
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When someone asks, "What's your book about?" it's important to be able to answer in a sentence or two. This is often described as an "elevator pitch," because you should be able to explain your book during a short elevator ride. Who knows what Hollywood producer might happen to ask - or be listening?

 

Creating a brief yet compelling description of your book is essential. Not only does it give you something to say when people ask you about it, it can be used for the following proactive marketing purposes:

 

1)  In your (personal) email signature: Every email program comes with a "signature" option. Including a quick description of your book, or even the tone of your book, is a great way to let people know what your book is about without being pushy. For my first book, I included this description in the signature of my personal email address:

 

Maria Murnane, award-winning author of "Perfect on Paper," a novel for anyone who has ever run into an ex while looking like crap

I've lost track of how many people have told me they laughed at my email signature and ended up buying my book as a result. And as you can see, the little blurb doesn't necessarily have to say anything about the actual plot of your book. The key is to convey the essence of your book so potential readers will know what to expect when they pick up a copy.

 

2)  On business cards that feature your book's cover: Why not put your one-line description on the back? Be sure to carry the cards in your wallet at all times. If that Hollywood executive you meet in the elevator likes what he or she hears, you'll have a business card to hand over.

 

Coming up with a compelling one-liner can be challenging, but it's worth spending time to create a good one. With most people, you only get one chance to grab their attention, so you want that description to sparkle.

 

-Maria

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

 

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Relay Conflict in Your Quick Pitch

Can You Do More?

6,540 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, elevator_pitch
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The Lasting Brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 24, 2014

When thinking of marketing and branding, it's important to keep a perspective on what matters. Even in the world of creating virtual public personas, viral marketing campaigns, blog tours, giveaways and so on, the one thing that matters above all else is quality.

 

The brand you want is one that will stand the test of time, a brand that will survive changing technology. You want a brand that represents a book that is as enjoyable to read in paperback as it is to read on your Kindle as it is to read on your smartphone as it is to read on whatever we will be using to read 50 years from now. You want a brand that represents an outstanding storyteller who writes compelling books that have the DNA to entertain, move and transfix generations of readers.

 

A brand built on quality is a lasting brand. As an author, if you want the potential to leave a legacy, you need to constantly grow your skill set and knowledge of writing. You do that by writing and testing the boundaries. You also do that by reading other great writers: legends, traditional powerhouses and rising indie authors. Finally, you do that by committing to your craft.

 

Quality matters. It may matter more today than it ever has because of the sheer number of books published every day. To stand out and gather readers over time and through the years, to be a lasting brand, the quality of your writing is what matters most.

 

-Richard

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

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A Writer's Brand Identity

Going Indie? Don't Skimp on Quality

6,358 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writers, branding
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Staying Connected: You're Not Alone - The Book Deal

When you're out of the writing zone, it can sometimes feel like you're alone.         

 

How to Create Stronger Bonds with Readers through Author Appearances - The Creative Penn

The virtual world is great for meeting readers, but the real world is great for bonding with readers.    

 

Film

 

12 Early Short Films by Famous Hollywood Directors - Mental Floss

Every great filmmaker was once a beginning filmmaker.   

 

Actor or Character? - A MOON BROTHERS Film Blog

Should an audience be drawn to a film because of the characters or the actors playing the characters?     

                                    

Music

 

Facebook Now Lets You Ask Friends for Music Suggestions - Kings of A&R

An interesting development for musicians on Facebook.    

 

10 Music Bloggers Who Write about Unsigned Artists - Entertainment Divaz

Here's where you start building your list of movers and shakers in the always changing music industry.

 

-Richard

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

 

3,622 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, music, filmmaking, movies, short_film, blogging, characters, films, musicians, social_media, book_tour, author_appearance
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I'm going to sum this blog post up in one word, but I'm going to save that word until the end. This single word is the key to becoming exponentially more productive as a writer. It will set your mind free and allow ideas to flow. It will turn your focus to creative thought and expression.

 

Here's the kicker: You know this word, and it's not going to surprise you just how powerful it truly is. You know its meaning and just how liberating it can be. Every time you interrupt a writing session to see what's happening in the world, this word most likely flashes in your brain. Every time you pop on over to Facebook to see what your friends are up to, this word smacks you in the face. Every time you construct a tweet and set it free on Twitter, this word wraps itself around your gut, telling you to take heed. 

 

Spending a day in the glory of this word, observing its meaning with discipline and dedication can make all the difference to your writing. It can clear your path of distractions and lift your artistic spirits. You will write more if you just listen to this word. In fact, if every time you feel the need to pull up your browser, you say this word to yourself instead, you will find the time and the passion to write. It's inevitable.

 

And just what is this word? It is that six letter gem: UNPLUG. 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Writing Takes Discipline

When Are You Most Productive?

4,581 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, drafts, writing_process, craft, writer's_block, author_tips
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I'm no stranger to writer's block, which at times can feel paralyzing. And stressful. And did I say stressful? I recently began writing my seventh novel, and this time around I'm prepared to battle this dreaded affliction with three strategies I've learned from my previous bouts.

 

1)  It's important to keep the story moving forward, so when I feel stuck on a scene, or if the creative muscle to write clever dialogue or interesting descriptions just isn't there, I make placeholders and move on. For example, in my new novel I've already written general placeholders such as:

 

·         DESCRIBE RESTAURANT HERE - HAVE IT RUSTIC AND ON THE BEACH

·         HAVE HER WALK ALONG THE BEACH ALONE AND FEEL SAD

·         ADD IN SOME DETAIL HERE ABOUT THEIR PREVIOUS TRIP TOGETHER

 

Yes, I use all caps. It's not pretty, but it works because it keeps me focused on the plot. If I've learned anything at all about writing novels, it's how important it is to keep the story moving forward. You can also go back and edit later.

 

2)  When I've done the above but have no idea where to take the plot next, I go to the gym and bring my phone. I jump on the stationary bike with my Kindle Fire and start watching TV. Inevitably I'm struck by an idea, so I whip out my phone and email myself a note. I'm not sure why exercising helps me so much, but it works every time - and it keeps me in shape. A win-win!

 

3)  When I come up with an idea for something to include at some point in the book, I add it to a cleverly named document called "To include at some point." This is basically an eclectic list of bullet points, but it's a great way to make sure those bursts of inspiration don't get lost.

 

How do you manage writer's block? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments.

   

-Maria

 

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

 

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Can Your Book Title Affect the Way You Write?

 

Can Visualization Help You Finish That Manuscript?

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Call this an open letter to friends and family members of indie authors (authors, you can share this with your personal networks if you agree).

 

This is an answer to the question I hear most often from the people in my life who want to support my career as an indie author: "What can I do to help you sell more books?" The answer is simple, and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with you buying a book from the indie author in your life. All that is required is that you help spread the word. I don't mean in an organized manner or by using some grand gesture full of fanfare and hype. I simply mean that you mention the book in conversation or include a link to the book in a status update on Facebook and/or Twitter. That's it. If you've read the book, you could go that extra mile and share your review online, but that is your call. Your real value is as a personal advocate, an active supporter of the indie author in your life.

 

Your word carries a lot of weight. Statistics show that the number-one reason people choose to read a book is because of recommendations from a friend or family member. Do you see the power you have? Now, it isn't your responsibility to support an indie author's dream, and I don't want you to feel like it is an obligation. I just want you to be aware of how easily your support can be expressed.

 

Thanks for reading, and may you all find your way to achieving your own hopes and dreams with a little help from family and friends.

 

-Richard

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

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The Key to Succeed as an Author

It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

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