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448 Posts tagged with the self_publishing tag
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By now many of you know that I began my career as a self-published author, and that one of the reasons (if not the reason) my first novel (Perfect on Paper) got picked up by a publisher was because of all the grass-roots marketing I did to get it noticed. (Click here to check out my webinar explaining exactly what I did.)

 

One key component of my marketing campaign was to apply for awards. I knew that with awards comes credibility, and I was right! Perfect on Paper won almost all the awards for which I applied. That helped open doors to organizations such as book clubs, which led to more positive reviews, which led to speaking engagements, which helped open more doors, etc. That's the thing about marketing - it's all about getting one thing to lead to another. You never know what's going to work, so you have to keep trying a lot of things.

 

While some of the awards Perfect on Paper won are no longer around, here are some still available to indie authors:

 

National Indie Excellence Book Awards

 

Independent Publisher Book Awards

 

USA Best Book Awards

 

eLit Book Awards

 

Global eBook Awards

 

This article lists some more.

 

Applying for awards takes time (and sometimes money, depending on whether or not there's an entry fee), but I can say from personal experience that if you win, it's worth it! And even if you don't win, going through the process of applying for an award is a good experience because it shows you the importance of presenting your work in the best light, from the description and cover design to the manuscript itself.

 

You can also use the materials you prepare for an award application for other marketing purposes, such as reaching out to book clubs, newsletters, alumni magazines, etc. Now get applying!

 

-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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Using Book Awards to Market

Book Marketing Is a Numbers Game

586 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, book_awards, promotions
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Tick. Tock. That is the sound of suspense. In real life, deadlines are points on the calendar that are, more often than not, sources of anxiety. As an example, April 15 is a "taxing" day for a lot of Americans. It's a race against the clock that many don't look forward to running. In the suspense novel, a time-sensitive plot device is almost imperative. The reader is drawn deeper into the story as each tick of the imaginary clock sounds out on the page.

 

Here are four tips to writing a "race against the clock" thriller:

  1. The deadline should be clear. Don't be ambiguous. Readers have to feel time running out. That can only happen if they know the time frame that your characters are dealing with.

  2. Give the readers a sense of where the story is in relation to the deadline from chapter to chapter. Be careful that you're not too on-the-nose with your references to how much time is left. It can feel like you're spoon-feeding your readers. Find a way to let them feel the pressure of another hour or day passing without resolution.

  3. Make the consequences for not meeting the deadline clear. If readers know the price of failure, they will feel more invested in the story.

  4. Your characters should have to suffer personally for their pursuit to meet the deadline. They should be so desperate that they will step outside of their normal behavior to beat the clock. It has to mean that much to them.

 

Writing a story with a time-sensitive plot device is a blast. If you do your job right, it can be a blast for your readers as well.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Elements of a Page-turner

Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense?

489 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, triller
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A few weeks ago I received a nice email from a reader of my blog named Tanja. She had recently self-published a book and had a brief, specific question for me about contacting reviewers. (I appreciated that because I get a lot of emails that simply ask "How should I market my book?")

 

She and I chatted a bit, and she asked if I would have a look at the first few pages of her book on Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. In our conversation she had mentioned that she planned to buy some of my books, so I figured I would check out hers in return. However, I immediately noticed some big grammatical errors, so I stopped reading. I was hesitant to tell her, but I decided to be honest.

 

Her response? She was extremely gracious and appreciative. She explained that she'd had the entire manuscript professionally edited except for the initial pages I'd read, which she had tweaked slightly and forgotten to send back to the editor. She said she would correct the mistakes immediately.

 

My response? I told her I wanted to write a blog post about her response.

 

The last time I encountered a similar situation, the (many) errors I encountered were in the author's bio on Amazon. However, when I pointed them out and explained that they made me wary of reading his book, his less-than-gracious reply was along the lines of "no one reads author bios anyway." Thus my joy at this recent experience.

 

I hope you will check out Tanja's book, Heroes and Heroines, Stories of Love. I think she deserves a little love herself for allowing me to use her errors as the basis for this post. That takes courage!

 

-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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Why Grammar Matters

When YOU'RE Writing Marketing Materials, Be Careful with YOUR Grammar

1,254 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, editing, author, writing
1

Welcome to the wonderful world of the author pitch, that tool in your brand-building arsenal where you get to talk about yourself in a glowing and weighty manner. I know, yuck, right? There are enough megalomaniacs out there tooting their own horns on social media. We don't need to add one more braggart to the mix, right? No, we certainly don't, but when you're a brand, you have to present your credentials. So, obviously the answer is to present your indie publishing achievements humbly and with palpable reluctance, right?

 

As it turns out, that's not the correct approach either. According to a Harvard study, the humblebrag - an attempt to tout one's own achievements using self-deprecation as a way to hide the fact that you are trying to draw attention to your accomplishments - is an ineffective tool to build a brand. The social media citizenry has caught on to the tactic, they see it for what it is and they are not amused. In fact, it could do more harm to your brand than good.

 

The study suggests that outright bragging is more acceptable than the humble, awe-shucks, announcement. Personally, I'm not comfortable with boasting about my achievements even though it is the preferable approach. Fortunately, there is a middle ground. There is the gracious method where you present your accomplishments to enhance your brand and make your author pitch pitch-worthy. Be straightforward with a touch of just how thankful you are for the acknowledgment.

 

As an example, which sounds better?

 

  • I don't know how, but I've managed to win a lot of awards here and there.

  • I've won a lot of awards.

  • I'm grateful to have received numerous awards over the years.

 

I think most people are drawn to gracious winners, so in my mind the third option, the one that features gratitude, is a way to work achievements into your author pitch without alienating friends, fans and followers.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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Zen and the Author Brand

Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

1,444 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions, author_pitch
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In last week's post, Book Marketing Is a Numbers Game, I discussed how important it is to cast a wide net when reaching out to people and organizations about your book. Today I'd like to address the difference a personal touch can make once you've established contact with an individual who has agreed to help you in some way.

 

Several weeks ago I received a donation request from a woman I consider a casual friend. She was entering a bike race for charity, so I chipped in some money. A day or so later I received an e-mail from her and was excited to catch up a bit because I hadn't seen her in over a year. However, when I opened the message I was disappointed to realize it was a short, generic thank-you for my support. There was nothing personal in the message. And you know what? It made me feel a little used. Maybe that's childish on my part, but it's how I felt, and most likely I won't donate to her event next year.

 

Whenever I receive a message from someone about my books, whether it's to let me know one will be featured in a newsletter, book club, review, etc., or just to tell me they've enjoyed reading them, I make a point of replying with a personal note. (If you've ever contacted me through my website, you will know this is true.) It's important to me that my fans know how much I value their support, and that's hard to do with a generic auto-reply.

 

Keep this in mind as you approach your book marketing. It's completely fine to use stock copy about your book, but personalizing the messages even a little bit will make a big difference to the recipient. If you respect and appreciate people, people will respect and appreciate you back!

 

-Maria

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

 

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The Power of a Personal Connection

Remember to Say Thank You

1,422 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, author, writing
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Twist

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 15, 2015

We all want to sneak up on a reader, to give them an unexpected turn in a tale that leaves them floored, emotionally spent and elated all at once. It's what's known as a twist in the publishing biz, and it's a target that is hard to hit.

 

There's no magic formula for setting up a plot to end in a twist. The most obvious piece of advice I've received over the years is to avoid just that, the obvious. But, as I have learned writing and rewriting book after book, it's not that simple. Writing a twist takes a great deal of finesse. Here are some general rules of thumb to observe as you construct your grand twist.

 

  1. It can't come out of the blue: You can't expect your readers to accept the unexpected unless there's a logical path that has been secretly leading them to that conclusion. Revealing Bill as the killer only works if he has had some role in the story other than the killer. If Bill only shows up in the last chapter to claim the mantel of murderer, that's not much of a twist. If Bill plays a minor role and makes frequent innocuous appearances throughout the story, casting him as the killer could be a welcomed surprise.

  2. Temper the foreshadowing: Making it obvious that the perpetrator possesses special knowledge that only a skilled outdoorsman would know is fine, but referring to someone's role as an Eagle Scout as nonessential information to their role in the story is a dead giveaway that he will, in the end, be the guilty party. Some foreshadowing is necessary, but too much dilutes your twist.

  3. Avoid the obvious: I know I just said it's not that simple, and it's not, but avoiding the obvious is still a piece of the "twist" puzzle. As you develop your plot, come up with the most obvious ending to your story. Write it down. Keep it near your computer. Read it every day as a reminder of the route you don't want to take.

  4. Some people won't see it coming, others will: You aren't going to surprise everyone, and you'll most likely hear from either extreme of the twist spectrum. People who were totally surprised will be eager to seek you out and let you know. Unfortunately, people who weren't surprised at all will do the same thing. People love to be surprised almost as much as they love to be right.

 

Twists are lovely little story devices. The best way to master the art of the unexpected is to read as much as you can and write even more.

 

-Richard

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

 

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A Satisfactory Ending

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

1,896 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, unexpected_turn, foreshadowing
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I often say that it's important to make it easy for people to help you promote your book. One great way to do that is to offer to send them a free copy! I know that sounds obvious, but given how many emails I receive from indie authors asking me to review their books without offering to send me one, I think it is worth repeating. (I've also said many times here that I don't review books, so now I'm wondering if anyone is actually reading my blog. Hmm....)

 

Anyhow, when reaching out to people/organizations with news about your book, offering to send a copy isn't required, but I highly recommend it. You never know what might happen if the right person reads your book - and loves it!

 

Some examples:

 

  • Alumni magazine of your alma mater
  • Regional alumni clubs of your alma mater (and their newsletters and book clubs)
  • Fraternity/sorority national magazine
  • Fraternity/sorority regional alumni clubs (and their newsletters and book clubs)
  • Local newspapers
  • Other book club organizers (www.meetup.com is a great way to find them)

 

While "gifting" a book to an e-reader is possible, I much prefer sending a signed physical copy along with an old-fashioned note. This way the recipient's experience is much more personal. And who doesn't love receiving a package in the mail? Note: when sending books from the post office, be sure to request the book postage rate. It's much cheaper that way.

 

In my personal experience, it's much easier to ignore a book on my e-reader than one on my desk or nightstand. Plus, a signed book is special, period. So there's another reason to go the old-fashioned route if I hadn't already convinced you.

 

Now get signing - and sending!

 

-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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Watch for Errors in Marketing Materials

How to Help the Author in Your Life

2,475 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
9

After years of referring to herself as a "professional dater," a good friend of mine finally tied the knot last summer. She was, of course, joking about her title, but in a way it was true! She was determined to find the right match for herself, so she dated and dated and dated until she found him. To her, meeting the one was essentially a numbers game, and she was right. She played it until she got what she wanted.

 

Book marketing, like sales - and dating - is also a numbers game. If you go into it thinking you're going to strike gold right out of the gate, you're bound to be disappointed.

 

I once met an indie author who had targeted five key people who were in a position to help him spread the word about his book. He had contacted them all and had heard back from two or three of them but was distraught that since then, they hadn't been as responsive as he'd hoped. He was at a loss for what to do, believing his marketing had been a failure.

 

My advice to him (and to any author reading this post) was twofold:

 

1)  Contacting five people is not enough. You should be contacting hundreds of people.

2)  If someone expresses interest in your book and then disappears, you need to follow up! People are busy, and it's not their job to help you promote your book. It's your job to make it easy for them to help you. No one is going to fault you for being too organized.

 

Book marketing takes time and effort, and I know how demoralizing it can be when you feel like you're not making any progress. The key is to be persistent - and consistent. You have to cast a wide net if you want to catch a few fish, so don't give up!

 

-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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Connect with Your Volunteer Sales Force

The Power of a Personal Connection

5,239 Views 9 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotion, writers
3

Yesterday I received a bulk email from an acquaintance about a book his son had recently self-published. The well-crafted, perfectly appropriate message explained that the son had asked his father to forward a note, written by the son, about the book. The father, conscious of spamming his friends, threw in a line about how any parent would do the same for his kid. He also said that his son was a lot funnier than he was.

 

Who could blame the man for helping out his son? I certainly couldn't. He also used blind copy in the email, a nice touch in my opinion.

 

The forwarded note from the son, however, raised the hair on the back of my neck. In it he explicitly asks people to post a review of his book on Amazon, regardless of whether or not they had or planned to read it.

 

I cringed when I read this. How would you feel if you bought a book because of its positive reviews, only to find out they had been written by friends of the author who hadn't even read it? If you liked the book, you might not care—but what if you didn't like the book? What then?

 

Here's my stance on Amazon reviews: If someone you know reads your book and proactively tells you that he/she loved it, then by all means, ask him/her to write a review. Otherwise, don't go there. It's not illegal to request reviews from friends and family, but to me it borders on unethical. Plus good or bad, you'll feel like a real author knowing your reviews are from legitimate readers. For what it's worth, I joke with my friends that when I got my first hate email, in a strange way I felt like I'd arrived.

 

-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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Marketing Tip: Follow the 80/20 Rule in Social Media

 

Life Outside of Writing

2,527 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions
3

You've documented your book-writing journey, and you've done outreach to other bloggers and reviewers to raise author brand awareness. By now you're reaching that pivotal moment when you upload your files and order a proof so you can get a look at your masterpiece in print before you make it available for sale.

 

When I get to the proof stage, I order the maximum amount and then announce a pre-release giveaway on my blog and Facebook page. Proofs are the perfect marketing tool. They are sneak peeks for lucky winners of your giveaway. They are the catalyst for you to take to your piece of internet real estate and talk about your book with vigor and verve, not just once, but daily during the giveaway period, a period that should last no more than six weeks and no fewer than two. If you have five proofs to give away, my suggestion would be to do one giveaway per week for five weeks.

 

This is a buzz-building exercise. It has to mean something to you in order for it to mean anything to your readers. Don't just talk about it. Talk it up. We authors tend to be introverted, and we can come off as reserved. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't garner a lot of enthusiasm for a marketing event like a proof giveaway. Use as much fanfare as you can muster. Do everything short of throwing a parade when you announce the winners. Actually, if you can afford a parade, go for it. Think of the news coverage you'll get.

 

Next week, we'll enter stage four of marketing with a look at planning for a release date.

 

-Richard

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

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Stage One of Marketing a Book: Journaling Your journey

Writing Tip: Use Contractions in Dialogue

2,118 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, 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 Make a Living with Your Writing - The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn reveals how she turned a passion for writing into a writing career.          

                           

Practice the Process - Retinart

To get good at what you do, you have to know how you do what you do.          

 

Film

                                                        

From the Archives: Famous Filmmakers - Huffington Post

Three filmmakers, known for taking risks, sit down with HuffPost Live to discuss the art and business of filmmaking.        

                                          

DIY or DIE: 10 No Budget Filmmaking Musts - Indiewire

Simple ideas that help you stay under the smallest budget. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Music Marketing with YouTube: Four Ways to Beef up Your Channel - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

The power of video has long been a marketing asset for musicians.  

 

The Many Hats of an Indie Musician - Day in the Life of a Commercial Musician

It's a juggling act, but you get to do what you love.   

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- May 8, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- May 1, 2015

1,527 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, selling, music, author, self-publishing, promotion, movies, writers, writing, promotions, musician, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding, practice
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In our second stage of writing a book, we need to establish the miles you'll be logging on this journey. We've discussed word count on this blog before in a number of different ways. Today, we want to establish what your final word count will be, or if not establish, at the very least, estimate.

 

Wait, you say, I've only just begun. How can I possibly know how many total words my book will be? Establishing a word count goal can be tied to many different factors. Genres adhere to unofficial word count parameters. The type of book – novel, novella, or novelette – comes into play when deciding word count. Are you doing a novel and releasing it in a serialized format? That can impact your total word count on a per release basis. You are a factor in establishing a final word count. Are you on a timetable? Do you have an outline that maps out plot points precisely, and in order to keep to your vision, a certain word count works that breaks the unwritten genre rules?

 

Unfortunately, there's no formula for coming up with a definitive word count, but I will say that every time I've set a word count total, I have either reached that total or surpassed it by 10-15 percent. There's something about knowing how far you need to go that allows you to find your pacing.

 

If you want to make an educated estimate, you can search this blog or the internet for word counts based on genre. That is your best place to start before making your final decision.

 

-Richard

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

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General Word Count Guidelines

Stage One of Writing a Book: Idea Exploration

2,082 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, editing, writing, craft, words, word_count, writing_tips, editing_process
8

I recently bought an indie book written by a very nice man I met at a conference a few years ago. He and I have stayed in touch since then, so I wanted to support him and his writing. I really hoped to enjoy his debut novel, but unfortunately I didn't get very far before I put it down for good.

 

The reason? The dialogue.

 

To be specific, no one used contractions, so everyone sounded like robots.

 

Well written dialogue draws you into the story and makes you feel like the people speaking are real. So to write good dialogue, use language that sounds the way people actually talk. And in English, that includes contractions. A lot of them.

 

Quick refresher: A contraction is when you use an apostrophe to shorten one or more words. For example:

 

Did not becomes didn't

Is not becomes isn't

Do not becomes don't

I am becomes I'm

He is becomes he's

 

Contractions aren't often used in formal writing, but they are for informal conversation, especially in the United States.

 

When I read dialogue with no contractions, to me everyone sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and eventually I get so distracted by the unnatural-sounding cadence that I give up on the story. Perhaps read your own dialogue to see if it passes the robot test. I'm pretty sure that if the author of this novel had done so, he would have made a large number of edits before sending the book to print.

 

-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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Writing Tip: Does Your Dialogue Sound Realistic?

Finished Your Manuscript? Check Your Dialogue

6,393 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing_dialogue
1

In stage one of marketing a book, we covered sharing your journey and building your community through journaling. For stage two we'll focus on reaching readers outside of your community. This is something you should do before you've finished writing your book. In fact, this is something you should ideally do when your book is still just a spark of an idea. If you've already begun a book, it's not too late to jump on this strategy. Even if your book has been published, you can do an outreach and set the wheels in motion for your next book.

 

The good news is the outreach stage is not rocket science. It will take some research on your end, but the payoff is worth it. You need to be a voice in your genre. It's time to start reaching out to blogs, online magazines (e-zines), mainstream websites, etc. Be an active member in their online communities. Add value to the conversations they start. Better yet, contact the editors and volunteer to provide posts and articles to help bring traffic to their online presence. Be visible, and be vocal.

 

Remember, you're establishing a brand – your brand as an author. Present yourself in a compelling and clear manner that will establish your reputation as a good writer with something valuable to contribute to the community. Most of all be respectful of other members of the community. Allow for criticism and disagreement with your contribution without argument. Respectful counterpoints are fine, but terse, sarcastic responses to such feedback can be devastating.

 

Stage two of marketing a book: Outreach. Find those communities outside of your own that cater to your genre, and start participating as a community member.

 

-Richard

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

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The Art of Commenting

Today's New Media

2,519 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
2

Let's turn the strategy of compartmentalizing to the writing of a book from beginning to end. As I've stated before, reaching a goal is much easier when you break the journey to that goal down into manageable parts.

 

Writing a book begins with the idea. Stephen King calls this the "What if" moment. Essentially, an idea for a book comes to you when you start exploring the possible outcomes of that "What if" question. What if an elderly fisherman in a small boat in the middle of the ocean hooks a fish too big to bring in? I'm not saying Hemingway started with that premise, but that's one way to find the meat and bones of The Old Man and the Sea.

 

You are going to run into fits of inspiration and mountains of frustration as you develop your idea, and if you're like me, that's exactly what the beginning of your book is, an idea. My projects don't usually turn into books until I hit page 40. That's usually the point where the confidence kicks in and I feel like I know where the "What if' is going, and depending on the book, it may take me months to get to that benchmark.

 

The inspiration and the frustration have to be approached with caution. Both can burn you out if you don't control them. Hemingway himself suggested to stop your writing day when you know what's going to happen next. In other words, don't write until the inspiration is gone. And certainly don't stop writing because you feel frustrated. Write anything, even if it's horrible, to break through to the other side.

 

The first stage of writing a book is exploring an idea. Exploration means you will take wrong turns. You will make mistakes. You will doubt yourself. That's okay. You'll find your artistic groove if you keep exploring.

 

-Richard

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

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Embracing Inspiration from Real-Life Moments

The "What If" Notebook

3,246 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, idea_exploration, what_if
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