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Genre cultures

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 18, 2017

 

Genres are funny things. They don't just describe and categorize a book. Genres reveal a lot about their readers, especially devoted readers. Much like a region of the country may have a different culture from another region, genres have their own cultures. It's not only a fascinating component of a genre. It's actually a good thing from the point of view of a marketer.


As someone who has a book in a specific genre, you may be well aware of the cultural aspects of that genre. You may even be deeply influenced by that culture. That's great. You not only know where to find your readers, you know how to talk to them without committing a genre faux pas. If you are not familiar with your genre's culture, my advice is to start studying. True fans of a genre gravitate toward authenticity. When they believe you're an authentic member of their genre tribe, they will be a powerful volunteer sales force for you.


You want to know the benchmark literary pieces in your genre. You want to know the literary masters of those works. In fact, knowing this information isn't enough. You want to have an opinion on the great works in your genre. Read them. Study them. Talk confidently about them. Once you develop a reputation as a connoisseur of your genre, your social media community will be filled with folks who admire your knowledge and trust your opinion. You will have a legion of fellow genre-ites who will happily tell their friends and followers about you, growing your brand in the process.


-Richard

 

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

 

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Connect with Your Volunteer Sales Force

 

How to Manage Your Volunteer Sales Force

 

 

 

 

188 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, readers, publishing, promotions, branding, author_advice
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I get that many (most?) people hate the "who vs. whom" thing, are convinced they'll never understand it, and wish it would just go away forever. If you fall into that group, here's a simple way to look at "who vs. whom" that might shed some light.


If in a similar structure you would use the pronouns I, HE, SHE, WE, or THEY, use WHO.


To illustrate, the following are similar structures:


  • WE live on that street. We are the people WHO live on that street.
  • THEY went to the movies. They are the people WHO went to the movies.
  • SHE will do a great job. She is someone WHO will do a great job.
  • HE wrote the novel. He is the man WHO wrote the novel.


If in a similar structure you would use the pronouns ME, HIM, HER, US, or THEM, use WHOM.


Again, to illustrate, the following are similar structures:


  • You can trust ME. I am someone WHOM you can trust.
  • You believe HER. She is a person WHOM you believe.
  • You saw THEM at the movies. They are the ones WHOM you saw at the movies.
  • You chose US to babysit your kids. We are the people WHOM you chose to babysit your kids.


While the above examples are straightforward, it's easy to get tripped up by more complicated sentences such as:


  • She is someone WHO I believe will do a great job.


It's understandable to want to use WHOM in this example, because it's followed by "I believe." But you're not believing HER, you're believing that SHE will do a good job.


Rearrange that sentence, and the correct answer becomes clear:


  • She is someone WHO will do a good job, I believe.


I hope that helps clear up the confusion!


-Maria

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


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Grammar Tip: Be Careful with Tenses

Why Good Grammar Matters

257 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar_tip, who_vs_whom
1

I know this a blog for authors, but allow me to jump into a discussion about a television show today. This show isn't just any show. It is perhaps the greatest show since Norman Lear's All In the Family. I am of course talking about Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad. Having binged watched the entire series three times, I feel like I have an intimate knowledge of each character, and as a result, I know why the show works.


It doesn't work because Walt is a genius who uses his brain to get out of the toughest spots. It doesn't work because Hank is a crack DEA agent with incredible instincts. It doesn't work because Skyler is a devoted mother who will do what it takes to keep her children safe. It doesn't work because Saul is the greatest legal mind in New Mexico. It works because Walt, in pursuit of doing a noble thing, commits horrible atrocities and ultimately puts his family in grave danger. It works because Hank is so single-minded that he bends the law to bring down the bad guys. It works because Skyler loses sight of the best way to keep her family safe and thinks she can safely manage a criminal empire.


In other words, it's the flaws of the characters that make the show so innovative and great. If they were good people who never violated common (and even uncommon) morality, the show wouldn't have lasted a full season. Remember that as you write your next novel. It's not the good that your characters do that sets them apart, it's bad they do in pursuit of good.


-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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Character traps

Make Your Own Rules

325 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, character_flaws
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Your author manifesto

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 11, 2017

If you've lost your way, it is time to take a stand. It is time to take ownership, to dive in head first, and shout out what you believe with passion and vigor...Well, don't shout it. Write it down.


Speaking as an author, I know how hard it is to build a brand and sell books. In a word, it can be daunting. You can get frustrated, even disheartened along the way when things aren't going as well as you imagined they would. This can lead to a lack of enthusiasm and focus. Your branding efforts will falter, and you may even be tempted to walk away from your dream.


Don't. Sit down and write your author manifesto. Turn that disappointment into passion. Why did you write a novel? What do you want readers to get out of books? Are you a storyteller that just wants to get characters from point A to point B or is there subtle commentary on the state of the world in your work? Write everything that writing means to you. Remind yourself why you devoted time and passion to writing your book. Feel that passion again.


You can do this privately or publicly. I leave that aspect of the manifesto to you, but be aware, if you choose to go public, you are inviting others to comment. That can be a vulnerable position. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a little nerve-racking.


Find that burning desire you once had to write your book again. Write your author's manifesto. 


-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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Why did you write your story?

Quashing self-doubt



610 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: author, publishing, writing, draft, craft, branding
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Word-of-mouth is a powerful force, and there's nothing wrong with encouraging your fans to tell their friends about your book. The key word here is fans. It's clear that a person is a fan of your book if she writes a favorable review on her blog, if he sends you an email telling you he enjoyed it, if she signs up for your newsletter, etc. In those situations, ask away!


What I don't recommend is asking people who are not fans to act like they are. I recently received an email from a self-published author, whom I hadn't met, asking me to forward a one-page description of his novel, which I hadn't read, to my network of contacts. The "description" he included was essentially a glowing review of his book. It was also written in the first person. That meant that if I did send it to anyone, it would appear that I'd written it.


What would you have done in that situation? I imagine the same thing I did, which was to thank the author for getting in touch and to tell him I couldn't promote a book I hadn't read. I felt bad for him because he had clearly put a lot of effort into his outreach. His email to me was personalized, which got me to read it - good! If he'd only added in the additional step of offering to send me a copy so I could read it before possibly recommending it, who knows what might have happened. I'm always looking for a good read.


If right now you're thinking, "I don't know if I have any fans to ask for help," you can start by including a note in your email signature along the lines of, Did you enjoy my book? Please tell your friends! If it results in a recommendation, it will be an honest one.


-Maria

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


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


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Marketing tip: make it easy for readers to contact you

Marketing idea: encourage your fans to spread the word

428 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, promotions, word_of_mouth
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Want to write a successful book? Here are the three key elements as I see them to penning a novel that will stand the test of time and reach a broad audience.


1. Deep rich characters: Great characters can be genre benders. J. K. Rowling wrote a young adult fantasy novel about wizards, magic, and fantastic creatures that appealed to more than young adults with an affinity for wizards, magic, and fantastic creatures. Rowling made her characters believable. Even though they carried wands and attended a school for wizards, she made them vulnerable and flawed and essentially like the rest of us muggles. Her Harry Potter books are the very definition of genre benders. They definitely reach demographics beyond the young adult fantasy readers.


2. A tight plot: Nothing drives me crazier than a sloppy plot. A tight plot means a logical progression of information that leads to a satisfying conclusion. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's unique or clever. It means that there is a place for everything and everything has its place. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith is a fairly common conceit. Three guys find a bag of money, and their attempt to keep it and split it three ways leads to corruption, paranoia, and murder. The book is an entertaining read because Smith stays on point with the plot. He never loses sight of it.


3. Passion: Readers can sense when a writer phones it in. It's hard to explain, but when an author approaches a story with passion it becomes the book's DNA. The reader can feel it in the pages. Write with passion. If you're not feeling it on a particular day, walk away. Leave it for when the passion comes back.


There you have it. Three areas to help hone your craft. Focus on these and the other elements of story will follow.


-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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The bestseller formula

The plot

689 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, plot, character_development, story_elements
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Auditing your brand

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 4, 2017

 

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of auditing in the business world. It's a practice conducted on a regular basis in order to gauge past performance and current levels of inventory. Essentially, it's used to get an accurate barometer of where a company stands financially. The results of the audit determine how the company will move forward in the most productive way possible.

 

 

 

As an author selling a product, you are a business, and you should be doing periodic audits just like companies with thousands of employees. Before, I encouraged you to audit your readers. Today, I'd like to explain the importance of auditing your brand. You want to take a deep, hard look at what brand practices have been hurting your business and what brand practices have been helping your business. It can be a comprehensive and difficult task, but here are few core metrics you will want to understand in order to build your brand.

 

 

 

1. Where: What platforms are you using to build your brand? Hopefully, you're using multiple platforms. If you aren't, consider changing your strategy and incorporate two or three to help grow your brand's community. If you are using multiple platforms, rank them. Determine which one results in the most engagement and make that your primary plank in your platform. Look into ways you can advertise on the site in a cost-effective way, and bring more people into your brand's community.

 

 

 

2. How: Are you sending a consistent message? Remember, an author brand shouldn't be all things to all people. It reflects your true self. The best way to stay on message is to do just that, be you. Don't try to be what the reader expects you to be.

 

 

 

3. How often: Are you active enough on social media? Are you posting a status update or tweeting only a couple of times a week or are you doing it multiple times a day? Like it or not, the more active you are, the better your opportunity to grow your brand and sell more books.

 

 

 

These are just three areas of your brand strategy you should examine first. The more you conduct these audits, the more nuanced they will get, but for now, set dates on your calendar to audit your brand four times a year to examine these three key elements of building your author brand.

 

 

 

 

 

-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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Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

 

How to build a brand without even really trying

 

 

 

 

578 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, promotions, brand, branding, author_brand, author_advice
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Here are three building blocks of a good marketing campaign, with resources for each:


1)   Website



Andiamo Creative: www.andiamocreative.com

Author Support: www.authorsupport.com


Note: Andiamo Creative recently revamped my website if you'd like to have a look: www.mariamurnane.com.


If you're good with design tools and/or your budget is tight, free services such as Wix, Website Builder, and GoDaddy are options. (Just be careful not to end up with a site loaded with advertising, which can look gauche and turn off potential readers.)


2)   Newsletter

I recommend using a newsletter program over email for multiple reasons, such as the option for subscribers to opt in (or out), and your ability to track subscriber engagement. Two solid vendors are:


Mailchimp: www.mailchimp.com

Constant Contact: www.constantcontact.com


I use Mailchimp, which is free for unlimited messages to less than 2500 subscribers, and $30+ per month on a sliding scale of subscribers from there. (Click here to see what a recent newsletter looks like.)


3)   Business cards, postcards, bookmarks, etc.

Easy-to-carry giveaways with information about your book are a great marketing tool, and the following vendors offer fantastic pricing:


Vista Print: www.vistaprint.com

Got Print: www.gotprint.com


I recently ordered 250 customized, two-sided, color business cards from Vista Print for $22.99. (I believe there are also more basic card options for free.) Each of my cards includes my website color, logo and tagline: Bestselling novels about life, love and friendship.


Book marketing is hard work and takes a lot of energy, which can leave authors of every genre feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. While there's no magic formula for conducting a marketing campaign, the basic elements above will get you started, and in my opinion that's half the battle.


-Maria

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


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


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Marketing Tip: Business Cards

Book Marketing Tip: Be Resourceful

703 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, websites, promotions, newsletters, email_campaigns
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One of my favorite books is The Dog of the South by Charles Portis. If you aren't familiar with Portis, he's probably best known for his novel True Grit, the same True Grit Hollywood adapted not once but twice for the silver screen. True Grit is a great book, but it features characters with extraordinary...well, grit. And beyond grit, a couple of them are skilled at dealing with bad guys.


The Dog of the South features a protagonist by the name of Ray Midge. There is nothing extraordinary about Midge. He's just a normal guy whose wife has left him for another man, and they've left for Mexico and Central America in Ray's car. Ray sets out on a journey to get his car back. He doesn't have any special skills. He doesn't even have grit. He just wants his car back, and if he gets his wife back, he'd be okay with that too.


For my money, the ability to make Ray Midge so compelling is much more impressive than making a character like Rooster Cogburn compelling. Cogburn had his demons. He had a rough and tumble past. He lived a life that left scars. He's ripe for the spotlight. Ray was just an everyday Joe who had a bad break. From a storyteller's perspective, building a story around that type character takes a yeoman's effort. Through Midge, Portis demonstrates his own extraordinary skill at character development, and I tip my hat to him.


How about you? Can you name a book that features an ordinary character in such a compelling way?


-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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Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

Why the development of secondary characters matters

494 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, protagonist
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Auditing your readers

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 27, 2017

 

Businesses, big and small, do frequent audits to gauge their success. They inventory product. They perform extensive ROI (return on investment) on advertising and marketing campaigns. They research and evaluate the demographics of their customer base. They evaluate the effectiveness of their workforce. They look at everything from the amount of money they spend on staples to the salaries of executive officers, all in the interest of maximizing their productivity.


You are an indie author, which means you are technically a small business owner. You should be auditing your business just like the major corporations. You won't know how to grow unless you know where you stand.


Start with your readers. You might be asking how you can possibly audit your readers. How can you possibly know who your readers are? Because you know your genre. Genres are demographic-specific by design. By-in-large, they attract a common core of readers who are from the same age group and in a lot of cases, the same gender. Depending on your genre, you can even narrow down even further. Find out as much information on the demographic that represents the typical reader of your genre. A simple query with your favorite search engine should get you started. Dive deep. Know their likes, their dislikes, and where they are most likely to share their likes and dislikes with others in their demographics. Know them like you know members of your own family.


Auditing your readers is the best way to build effective marketing campaigns and give you confidence that you are spending your branding time wisely.


-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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Create a reader profile

 

Categories, genres, and subgenres

 

 

 

 

594 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, self-publishing, readers, writing, genre, social_media
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