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654 Posts tagged with the writing tag
1

Not long ago, I attended a writer's workshop where writers had their material read aloud while they sat and listened to critiques from the audience without the ability to defend their work. It was a frightening experience, but it was completely exhilarating at the same time. I received great feedback that helped me address some problem areas in a story I'd been working on.

 

The number one complaint expressed by the "critics"; was that most of the readings contained too much exposition. In many cases, I felt like the criticism was unwarranted. Not in my particular piece, but in those of the other writers. I may have been in part responsible for the avalanche of exposition criticism because I had addressed it in my own piece before I was critiqued. Every piece after mine featured an issue with exposition. It occurred to me that a lot of the people there that night, writers and critics alike, didn't really understand what exposition is, and when it crosses the line into extraneous.

 

Narratively speaking, exposition in its simplest form is explaining background information. It is a necessary device to establish a motive and character details. For instance, a character may walk with a limp because he suffered a permanent injury saving a baby from a burning building. His heroics occurred before the story contained within the book, but it's important because it helps the reader understand his character. He's the kind of guy that saves babies from burning buildings. Exposition, used sparingly, can even be used to describe a character's inner turmoil and unspoken thoughts.

 

I felt like most of the criticism in the workshop wasn't about exposition, but extraneous information, passages that did nothing to further the story or give character insight. I wanted to hear the details of a fight between a father and son that led to mutual animosity because when the passage was read, I felt the emotional toll in the aftermath. That was useful exposition. I didn't want to hear a mother explain to her family what they were having for dinner that night. That was extraneous information that added nothing to the story.

 

I realize I may be dipping into the realm of semantics here, but not all exposition is bad. As a writer and critic, ask yourself if the "exposition" in question gives you insight into the emotional state of a character or if it drives the plot forward. If it doesn't, it's extraneous information that doesn't do anything but frustrate the reader. Cut it and move on.     

 

-Richard

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

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How to Get and Stay Motivated

My Beta Readers Experience

1,585 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, advice, characters, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice
1

Today I'd like to talk about tenses, specifically when to use the preterit (past) tense versus the pluperfect (past perfect) tense. While both tenses refer to things that have already happened, the pluperfect reference point is earlier than the preterit reference point.

 

Here are two examples:

 

Preterit tense: I wrote a book

Pluperfect tense: I had written a book

Both together: He wrote to me yesterday to tell me that he had read my book (he read my book before he wrote to me about it)

 

Past tense: Last year was hard for me

Pluperfect tense: Things had been hard for a while

Both together: It was hard to open the window because someone had nailed it shut (the window was nailed shut before I tried to open it)

 

I recently read a book that was written in the preterit tense. The problem was that the author kept using preterit and pluperfect tenses as if they are  interchangeable. This resulted in a bunch of sentences that sounded really strange and didn't make much sense together.

 

For example:

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR WROTE:

Things were now much more difficult. Over the last six months my disease progressed to the point where I was in constant pain.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN:

Things were now much more difficult. Over the last six months my disease HAD progressed to the point where I was in constant pain.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR WROTE:

He knew what he needed to do. He fell in love with her, and it was time to tell her.

 

WHAT THE AUTHOR SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN:

He knew what he needed to do. He HAD FALLEN in love with her, and it was time to tell her.

 

Do you see the difference between the tenses? If you confuse your point of reference, you will confuse your readers. And you want your readers to be entertained, not confused!

 

-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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More Grammar Pet Peeves!
Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

1,869 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writing, craft, grammar, spelling, writing_advice, author_tips, grammar_tip, grammar_advice, writing_tip
2

I sense a coming disturbance in the Force, and that disturbance is of my own making. I'm going to discuss something brand-related today that is completely superficial. It's not something I take joy in, but it's something that we must talk about because it matters. Fair warning: Some of you may become agitated by what is said here today. Now, let's jump right into it before I lose my nerve.

 

Do you pay attention to your physical appearance? It's a weird question to ask someone who wants to write for a living. After all, it's a profession that requires a lot of alone time. Sitting in a room by yourself and living inside your head for huge stretches of time doesn't exactly require proper grooming or presentable attire.

 

But I'm not referring to your "writer look." I'm referring to your "author look." Before you snap a selfie or step in front of a video camera, do you take the time to make sure your image matches the brand you're trying to cultivate? Now, understand what I'm saying. From the beginning, I've encouraged you to present a brand that reflects the real you. Don't manufacture a persona that you think people expect you to be. Be you. That philosophy is still at play here, but with a slight caveat. Don't let your appearance reflect your mood of the moment; let it reflect your normal state of being. If you are a laid-back cowboy that writes about your experiences on the range, don't step in front of a camera wearing a three-piece suit because you want to look nice. The same goes for buttoned-down attorneys writing legal thrillers. If you show up at an appearance in a sleeveless T-shirt and bicycle shorts because you just didn't feel like dressing up, you may throw your fans for a loop.

 

When you are building your brand, appearance matters. But it doesn't matter that you dress to the nines. It only matters that you dress in a manner that accurately represents your brand.

 

-Richard

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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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An Active Author Brand

Productivity vs. Perfection

1,505 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, writing, brand, branding, author_brand, marketing_strategy, brand_identity, author_appearance, marketing_advice, marketing_tip
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Why Every Writer Should Keep a Travel Journal - Writer's Digest

Your experiences on the road may be worth some money.        

                           

Write More: Seven Tips for Dealing with Writing Distractions - Beyond Paper Editing

Maybe it's time to go old school and ditch your fancy laptop for a more low-tech approach.          

 

Film

                                                        

Ed Burns on The Brothers McMullen, Finding Your Voice, and the Meat Grinder of Independent Filmmaking - The Week

The filmmaker who helped usher in today's modern independent filmmaking movement.      

                                          

Becoming a Full-time Filmmaker: When to Quit Your Day Job - Filmmaking.net

When should you let go of your security net?  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Three Email Marketing Mistakes Musicians Make that Cost Them Fans and Money [Podcast]- Musicgoat.com

How to make your email marketing more engaging.  

  

Vocal Strain: What is it and What Can You Do about It? - Judy Rodman

Don't ignore vocal strain, or you might do permanent damage.    

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 27, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- February 20, 2015

1,084 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, film, author, self-publishing, movies, writers, publishing, writing, journal, promotions, filmmakers, branding, social_media, independent_film, email_marketing, vocals, writing_exercises, writing_tip
0

What's at Stake?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 4, 2015

This is a post about breaking through writer's block. By now, you've probably come across a 1,001 blog posts on the Internet about getting unstuck and finishing your novel. That should tell you that there is no magic bullet to ending writer's block. What works for one author won't work for another. But don't fret. You will find the solution. Just keep looking.

 

I've brought myself out of the writing depths in the past by asking myself what's at stake for the characters. Sometimes I lose sight of the story because I'm struck by inspiration, and I jump into a writing zone where the words fly with ease. But that inevitably ends at some point, and when it does, I find myself word-drunk and confused. I'll read the passages I've written and wonder where I was headed with these new pages. What was I thinking?

 

Well, I wasn't thinking, and that's the point. When you're in the zone, you're relying on instinct, and that's a beautiful thing. The fix to finding my way is determining what my characters want in the words I've committed to the manuscript. You may even find me wandering the hallways of my home muttering to myself like a madman; "What do they want? What do they need to get there?" When I know what's at stake for the characters, the path ahead becomes clearer, and when I see a clear path, I'm anxious to get back to my laptop and start typing away. If I'm lucky, I'll find another writing zone.

 

-Richard

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

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Unfinished and Happy

1,392 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, writer's_block, author_tips
3

Most of us read books because we love to escape (temporarily) from reality and immerse ourselves in alternate worlds inhabited by colorful, interesting characters whose lives are much more exciting than our own. That's certainly why I read! However, while the lives these characters lead might be less than realistic, it's important (to me, at least) that their dialogue is realistic.

 

When I read a book with dialogue that doesn't ring true, instead of getting sucked into the story I find myself thinking, "Who talks like that? No one would say that." And as I've said a million times in this blog, you want your readers focused on the story, not on the problems with your writing.

 

(Note: I'm referring to contemporary fiction, not tales of dystopian societies, intergalactic wars, or Downtown Abbey type romances. If you're writing any of the above, may the conversational Force be with you.)

 

A good way to avoid having unrealistic dialogue in your own writing is to read it out loud. This may sound a little corny, but I swear it works! I did it when I wrote my first novel, and over time I got the hang of crafting conversations that sound the way people actually talk. Now, "your dialogue is so realistic!" is one of the most common compliments I get from readers about my books.

 

You want to create strong, believable characters that your readers will care about, so take the time to give them lines that will allow that to happen. With every conversation you write, ask yourself "Does this sound believable?" That might seem daunting at first, but over time it will get easier. I promise. And it will be well worth the effort. Your readers - and your characters - will be grateful.

 

-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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Look Who's Talking

Turn the Beat Around

3,045 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, dialogue
1

Last week, we discussed the importance of identifying your core values from the standpoint of building an author brand. Remember, just because we're talking about marketing doesn't mean we're talking about building an artificial persona to sell books. We're focused on the real, authentic you. By identifying your core values, you can proceed with confidence and expand your network.

 

Now, let's remove the mystique around networking. Before 2003, it was a concept that had very little to do with the online world. When you talked about networking pre-social media, you were more than likely referring to a social gathering of individuals in the business world building contacts in a relaxed atmosphere. It was about building relationships that were beneficial to you and your career.

 

Today, networking is much more broadly used. It's not just about building business contacts. It's about building your social circle outside of your geographic area. In short, it's about meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. From an indie author's perspective, there is still an inevitable commercial benefit from these connections. Your network is your volunteer salesforce. Without doing anything other than being themselves, the people in your network will spread the word about your book. And the obvious rule is that the bigger your network, the bigger your volunteer salesforce. Your role is to socialize: be an active participant in your own network, engage with your network, interact with your network and always look for opportunities to grow your network by meeting new people.

 

Networking is one of those things that's not difficult to understand, but it can be difficult to master if you're not active. So, go forth and network. Build relationships, and watch your volunteer salesforce grow.

 

-Richard

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

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Elements of the Author Brand

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

1,392 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, networking, writing, branding
0

Don't Force an Ending

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 25, 2015

I just want to warn you that there's this little-known song from a movie that barely made any money at the box office that I'm going to reference in this blog post. It comes from an obscure animated flick called Frozen and the song title is "Let It Go." Oh, you've heard of it? Good, then I can spare you the video of me singing this catchy tune.

 

 

That is the wisdom I wish to impart on you today: let it go. Can't find an ending for that book you've worked so hard on for months? Let it go. What? You say it's been years? Let it go. Endings can't be forced. Well, they can, but they usually come off sounding that way. Your best strategy is to move on to the next project. Shed the frustrating missteps from your mind when it comes to finding the perfect ending, and redirect your creativity.

 

 

Albert Einstein didn't come up with the Theory of Relativity sitting in front of a chalkboard hammering out formulas and chasing mathematical equations down a rabbit hole. He came up with the idea as a clerk at the patent office staring out the window. In other words, he wasn't focused on revolutionizing physics. He was daydreaming. Had he been focused on making a great discovery at that particular moment, who knows, would he have developed the most famous scientific discovery of the modern age?

 

 

The ending will come to you when you let go of the need to find the ending. In a weird metaphysical way, stories don't like to remain unfinished. Your brain will find its way there on its own. If you force it, your brain will fight you and give your story an unsatisfying ending. Stop fixating, and start daydreaming. Let it go.

 

 

-Richard

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

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When Do You Know The Ending?

Know Thy Story

1,645 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, book, writers, publishing, writing, craft, ending, writing_advice, writing_tip
1

There's no rule in fiction that says everything - or anything, actually - has to be factually accurate. However, today I'd like to make a case for why you should be careful not to be too loose with details if you set your story in a real place.

 

I recently read a book that mostly takes place in my hometown. Unfortunately, within two pages the author mentioned a major street in a way that made no sense, causing confusion. I could have let that slip, but then it happened again, and again, and again, each lapse taking a different shape or size - yet each one distracting my focus from the plot. (For example, one scene described a quick cab ride to another town that took about ten minutes, a trip that in real life would take at least an hour, if not more.)

 

It was clear that the author knew very little about my hometown, which is hardly a crime, but as I read, I couldn't help but wonder why the author didn't just do a little bit of fact checking. (By the way, I'm not talking about a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. Even Google maps would have done the trick.)

 

My new book (Wait for the Rain) is set mostly on a tropical island that I made up, which meant I didn't have to worry about any of the above issues. However, a few scenes take place in a Midwestern city I've visited but only briefly. To make sure I got everything correct, I consulted with two friends who live in the area. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I suggest you do the same. You want readers to get lost in your story, not fixate on inaccuracies that yank them back to reality.

 

-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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Fiction Writing vs. Nonfiction Writing

Productivity vs. Perfection

1,676 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, fiction, fact_checking
0

For some authors, there is a very understandable hesitation at associating their writing efforts with marketing efforts. In short, authors don't like to be thought of as a brand. They don't like everything they do to be associated with building said brand. They have a strong distaste for brand talk, and I get it. After all, isn't branding just a contrived exercise, made up of insincere tactics, to create an image for an author that appeals to as many people as possible?

 

No, but that is how many authors perceive branding. Branding, in the realm of the author, is nothing more than a public representation of your true self. It's you being you on a blog, within your social media circles, or on your YouTube channel. It's not you being what you think your readers want or what will help you sell the most books. That's called spin, and it has a short shelf life that eventually will spin out of control and cost you sales.

 

Like it or not, you are a brand, and your brand identity stems from your core values. Your basic beliefs dictate your brand decisions. So, do you know what your core values are? I know it sounds like an insane question. Most people know what they believe, right? Not necessarily. They know what they like and what they dislike, but, more times than not, they can't identify why.

 

Here's my challenge to you: identify the top three things that make you happy and three things that make you angry. Provide a short defense for each item in your list. Explore why each item made the list. When you're done, you'll have a better understanding of your core values, and moving forward, your brand will have a more authentic and confident voice.

 

-Richard

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

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Is Podcasting Right for You?

Social Media Swap

1,885 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, branding
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Commonly Confused Words: How to Avoid These Grammar Gaffes - Huffington Post

Direct objects, nouns, verbs, time sequences and comparisons: These are things to guide you down the grammar path.        

                           

How to Get Influencers to Notice You - The Future of Ink

Looking for an endorsement for your next book?          

 

Film

                                                        

Nine Things Artists Do to Hold Back Themselves and Their Work - Film Courage

Avoid the chaos and move forward.      

                                          

Using a Motivated Key Light - Filmmaker IQ

What do you get when you mix practicals with additional lights?   

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Simple Rhythm Hacks for Musicians - Artiden

When you're a pianist, drills alone won't help you find your rhythm.  

  

Five Steps: How to Record Better Vocals - Made 2 Create

Quit relying on technology to fix vocal mistakes.    

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 13, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- February 6, 2015

1,416 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, music, filmmaking, author, indie, writers, writing, films, musicians, filmmakers, grammar
1

The Horoscope Prompt

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 18, 2015

I will admit to reading horoscopes. I don't necessarily take them seriously, and most of the time the predictions are so general they could apply to the first five random people I meet on the street, but they are fun to read. They are basically great little story prompts for writers.

 

Think about it. Horoscopes contain general descriptions of angst that a character may be experiencing. They hint at possible solutions to that angst. They may allude to the possibility of romance or the meeting of an important person in one's life. Or maybe there's the promise of an unexpected financial windfall. Horoscopes are fertile ground for the basic elements of a compelling story.

 

So, here is my challenge to you: take a week and track your daily horoscope and the horoscope for one other astrological sign. In essence, you're following the lives of two fictional characters. At the end of the week, take these 14 horoscopes and build a single synopsis for a story. Before you start, decide the genre of the story and bend the elements of the horoscopes to fit your style.

 

When you're done, you should have a page or two that gives a fairly detailed description of a story. You will likely have caught a creative wave in the writing and expanded upon what the horoscopes offered, but that's okay. That's how developing a story works. It grows in the telling.

 

Finding a story isn&'t that difficult. They are all around you if you take the time to look. In this case, they are figuratively in the stars.

 

 

-Richard

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

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WordPlay: The Rum Runners' Retreat

WordPlay Writing Prompt: Diamond in the Rust

1,768 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, craft, writing_advice, writing_excersises
1

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of the podcast Serial. On the slim chance you haven't heard of it, allow me to inform you. Serial is an audio series by Sarah Koenig that tells the true story of a murder in Baltimore, Maryland. Each of the 12 episodes tells one aspect of the story. It is a simple, yet compelling telling of a mystery that has become wildly popular.

 

That last bit is important for those of us looking for marketing ideas. Serial has become so talked about it has reached zeitgeist status. The podcast trend is officially on the rise thanks to Koenig. People with nothing more than a smartphone are starting to record and upload their own podcast masterpieces in the hopes of duplicating the same viral magic.

 

The problem is that these things can rarely be duplicated because there's an effort to duplicate something that already exists. If you want to start a podcast in an effort to build your author brand, make it true to your brand - not Sarah Koenig's brand. Be you; don't be her.

 

The first thing you're going to want to decide is if podcasting is right for you. One reason Serial worked is because it was a planned 12-episdoe series that was carefully crafted with stellar production values. Do you have that in you? Another reason it worked is because the material was ripe for the telling. You have great material, but can you design it episodically to enthrall listeners and keep them coming back for more?

 

If you decide that podcasting is for you and your material, then congratulations! You have an excellent tool not just for storytelling, but for building your brand.

 

-Richard

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

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Introverted Authors: More Bang for Your Book

Marketing: Begin with Your Strengths

1,620 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, serial, social_media
2

You Are an Artist

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 11, 2015

You are not just a writer. You are an artist. If you create, you dabble in the arts. There is just no escaping it. So, what are you doing to build your brand as an artist in your local community?

 

Chances are you are not doing anything, and that's okay. A lot of authors neglect to sell themselves as artists. We adopt the mind-set that ours is strictly a commercial endeavor, when that's only half the story. We are artists, same as painters with galleries, same as playwrights and actors working in theater, same as photographers with upcoming exhibits. These are our peers.

 

I'm stressing your classification as an artist because I want you to start presenting yourself as an artist and building connections within your local arts scene. The best way to do that is to become a participant on a board or committee for various organizations that support the arts. For example, if there's a community theater in your area, chances are they are in need of volunteers to either serve on the board or assist during productions in some capacity. A museum or art gallery in town may need volunteers to help organize shows. Or there may be a local film society that needs your creative input.

 

By getting involved in the art community and volunteering your time, you're building contacts and your reputation as a serious contributor to the art scene. You'll have support for your next book launch or reading.

 

Remember, you are not just a writer. You are an artist. Reach out to your fellow artists, and start the process of building your local artist brand.

 

-Richard

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

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Science Can Help You Be a Better Artist!

Four Tips for Real-Life Networking

3,301 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, artist
1

As we make our way into 2015, I suggest making a concerted effort this year to have at least one copy of your book with you wherever you go. You never know when you're going to come across a potential reader, so it's best to be prepared. I've sold many books over the years simply because I had a copy with me. The reality is that most people will go their entire lives without meeting an author, so when it happens, they are often excited to buy a signed copy. Why? Because even if they don't plan to read it, having a personalized autographed copy of a book is cool! And who knows? Maybe they will read it, love it, write a glowing review about it on Amazon and Goodreads, then tell their friends to read it, or even buy copies for their friends as gifts.

 

Here are some places I have sold and/or given away my books:

 

  • Airplane
  • Train
  • College alumni networking event
  • Dentist's office
  • Holiday cocktail party
  • Starbucks
  • Optometrist's office
  • Yoga studio
  • Friend's barbecue

 

As I mentioned above, I've also given many copies away, which is a good strategy when the recipients are the kind of people who are likely to share their opinions on social media, etc., or are in a clear position to help you if they enjoy the book.

 

I realize that carrying a book around isn't always practical, especially if you don't use a purse. But if you have a car, it is definitely doable. Just toss a few copies in the trunk, and you're good to go. The key is to do your best to be consistent because you just never know whom you're going to meet while waiting in line for that latte.

 

-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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Guerrilla Book Marketing Tactic

Why You Should Give Away (Some) Books for Free

1,801 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
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