Maria Murnane's Blog (279)

Editing Too Much Can Hold You Back

Do you spend hours tinkering with a single paragraph to get it just right? I used to do that too. When you're not sure what to write next, do you go back and polish what you've already written? Same here. When I was writing my first novel, Perfect on Paper, I spent a lot of time tweaking every little…

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Added by Maria Murnane on March 28, 2017 at 3:59pm — No Comments

Stay Connected With Your Readers Between Books

Do you have a mailing list of readers? If so, good for you! Whether it's through a newsletter program or email, reaching out to your fans is a good way to keep a connection with them. The question is, what do you tell them?

In my semi-regular newsletter I include one piece of "news." Here are some examples:

  • Photos of my events such as book signings, book clubs, speeches or panel discussions
  • News about upcoming translations of my books
  • News about sales…
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Added by Maria Murnane on March 27, 2017 at 8:30am — No Comments

Marketing Tip: Link Your Blog Posts to Goodreads and Amazon

When it comes to author blogging, there are two questions I hear more than any others:

1.    What should I blog about?

2.    How can I get people to read my blog?

Regarding the content of your blog, that's up to you. For the most part, I like to blog about grammar, book marketing, and the writing process itself, but other authors take a more personal approach and share details about their daily lives. Those who write nonfiction often blog about the topics…

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Added by Maria Murnane on March 20, 2017 at 9:16am — No Comments

Watch Those Dangling Participles

If there is one grammar term that I never understood until recently, it was "dangling participle." Now that I finally know what it means, I thought I'd explain it here.

participle is a form of a verb. For example, writing and written are participles of the verb to write. 

  • I am writing this blog post (present participle)
  •  I have written this blog post (past participle)

 

dangling…

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Added by Maria Murnane on March 13, 2017 at 8:54am — 1 Comment

Marketing Tip: Ask Your Fans to Promote You

If you're like most authors, promoting your work doesn't come naturally to you. The same goes for the vast majority of your readers. They may love your book(s), but it would never occur to them to actively spread the word. And even if they want to help get the word out, they probably don't know how. That's why marketing is so hard!

One way to get your fans to help you is to create a list of easy ways they can promote your work. Then, when readers tell you they enjoyed your…

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Added by Maria Murnane on March 6, 2017 at 10:24am — No Comments

Examples of "Show Vs. Tell"

If you're an author, aspiring or published, chances are you've heard of "show vs. tell," but that doesn't necessarily mean you have a solid grasp on what it means. At times I struggle with the concept myself, as evidenced by the "Stop telling!" comments my editor makes on the early drafts of my novels.

I recently read a book that helped me understand why it's so important to show and not tell. Throughout the novel the author explicitly told me how the characters were feeling…

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Added by Maria Murnane on February 27, 2017 at 10:17am — No Comments

Three Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors

Every author has a different way of getting to the finish line, but is there a best way? Expert Anne Janzer, who wrote a book called The Writer's Process, says the path to publication includes…

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Added by Maria Murnane on February 21, 2017 at 9:30am — No Comments

Two Easy (and Free!) Ways to Spread the Word About Your Book

By far the most common complaint I hear from authors, especially those who go the indie route, is, "I have no clue about marketing!" A close second is, "I have no money to spend on marketing!"

Here are two things you can do that won't cost you more than time and effort:

1.    Reach out to book clubs and offer to attend their meetings (or call in) if they select your book

A great way to find book clubs is to create a free account on meetup.com. Using…

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Added by Maria Murnane on February 6, 2017 at 12:06pm — No Comments

Are You Confusing These Words?

The following words are super easy to confuse with each other, so here's a quick explanation of the difference:

Complement/Compliment, Complementary/Complimentary

To complement (verb)is to complete or make whole

  • That necklace really complements your outfit

complement (noun) is something that completes or makes whole

  • That necklace is a great…
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Added by Maria Murnane on January 30, 2017 at 12:27pm — 4 Comments

Scouting locations for book launch parties

Last August I met up with a friend to visit a store I wanted to describe for a scene in the novel I was writing at the time. It was dreadfully hot that day, so after I'd finished my research we made a beeline for a quiet (and air conditioned!) pub on a random side street in Manhattan. After we ordered our drinks I looked around and thought to myself, This would be a great spot to have a book launch party. I didn't even know what the place was called, and it would be months and…

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Added by Maria Murnane on January 23, 2017 at 2:22pm — No Comments

When to Pull the Plug on Your Book

Last spring I did something I never thought I'd do: I pulled the plug on a novel I'd been working on for more than a year. It was sad and painful and caused me a great deal of stress to make that decision, but you know what? I should have done it a lot earlier for two reasons:

1.    It wasn't an interesting story

If I've learned anything about writing novels, it's that you have to have an interesting story to tell. In my case I'd just finished a previous novel…

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Added by Maria Murnane on January 16, 2017 at 9:56am — No Comments

First Person or Third Person? That Is the Question

Many novelists, especially those who are writing a first book, create protagonists who are based on themselves, so it is natural for them to write their stories in the first person. (I did this with my first four novels.) Other authors choose to write in the third person.

Here's a quick refresher on the difference between the two in case you're not sure:

First person uses I:

  •  I was glad it was coming to an…
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Added by Maria Murnane on January 3, 2017 at 10:06am — No Comments

So You've Finished Your First Draft-- Now What?

Sometimes I think my favorite part of the writing process is when, after months of toiling at my desk, I finally get to the point where I type in "The End," sit back in my chair, and exhale. I'm not exactly sure why I enjoy this part so much because it's not as if the hard work is done--far from it!

After you finish your first draft, there are no set rules for what to do with it next, but here's what I recommend:

1.    Let it sit for a week, then go back and…

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Added by Maria Murnane on December 26, 2016 at 11:37am — 3 Comments

How to embed hyperlinks in marketing copy

Last week I received a lovely email from a man named Keith. He'd recently self-published his second book and signed up for my newsletter looking for any and everything he could learn about marketing. Beneath the message he included his name and a (long!) hyperlink to his book's Amazon page, so in my reply I suggested that he embed the link into the text to keep the signature cleaner. This is something I recommend authors do not just in email signatures but in all marketing materials, e.g., a…

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Added by Maria Murnane on December 19, 2016 at 4:46pm — 2 Comments

Marketing Tip: Create a Social Media Presence for Your Main Character

A great way to get your readers to tell their friends about your book is to stay in touch with your readersA newsletter is certainly one method to do this, but it's not the only one. A creative way to maintain a relationship with your readers over time is to bring your main character to life through social media. I've done this for the protagonist of my Waverly Bryson series via…

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Added by Maria Murnane on December 12, 2016 at 8:51am — 3 Comments

Writing Tip: Start Before You're Ready

I'll never forget when my older sister's childhood friend Julie had her first child. She was in her early 30s at the time, and she told my sister that even though she and her husband didn't think they were ready for the responsibility of being parents, they decided to go ahead and do it because they realized that they would probably never be ready for that responsibility, even though they knew they wanted kids. I thought--and still think--that was one of the wisest things I'd ever…

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Added by Maria Murnane on December 5, 2016 at 9:08am — No Comments

Marketing Tip: Connect With Book Bloggers

When I speak with indie authors about their marketing efforts, one thing I hear quite often is that they have no idea how to find people who will review their books. For many this is a huge source of frustration, not to mention disappointment, which is completely understandable given all the time and effort they spent writing the book.

If you're in that boat, one great way to secure reviews is to reach out to book bloggers. Book bloggers love reviewing books, and most of them…

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Added by Maria Murnane on November 28, 2016 at 8:38am — 2 Comments

Have You Created Your Amazon Author Page Yet?

Did you know that you automatically have an Amazon Author Page if you have a book for sale on Amazon.com? To find yours, do a search on the site for your book's title, then click on your name, which appears directly under the title. If you haven't touched your Author Page yet, you'll see just a list of your book(s), but you have the option of adding things like the following for your current (and future!) fans to enjoy:

  • Your bio—Tell your readers something interesting about…
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Added by Maria Murnane on November 21, 2016 at 9:49am — 10 Comments

Are You Mixing Up These Words?

Some words are hard to remember. I have to look up "supercilious" every time I come across it. Others are confusing. I still don't get what "camp" means when used as an adjective. Others are hard to remember and confusing. For the life of me, I don't know how to use "cheeky" correctly.

Then there are the dreaded words, or pairs of words, that are so similar it's easy to mix them up. Here are some common ones:

Affect & Effect

For the…

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Added by Maria Murnane on November 14, 2016 at 9:46am — No Comments

Pros and Cons of Book Awards

I'm a big fan of applying for book awards. My first novel (Perfect on Paper) was originally self-published, and I believe that one of the reasons it got picked up by a traditional publisher was that it won multiple awards. However, like every book marketing strategy, applying for awards has its drawbacks. I…

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Added by Maria Murnane on November 7, 2016 at 9:39am — 9 Comments

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