What is the purpose of Dialogue Tags? Identifying who is speaking in a manuscript for a reader. That’s it. The focus should always be on the dialogue itself. You don’t want a reader to get distracted by the tag

This is a trap new writers often fall into by trying to spice up their dialogue tags. They think words like "asked" or "said" are boring or repetitive, so they try to get creative and use more interesting alternatives. Trust me: The dialogue tag is not the place to get fancy. 

Dialogue tags should be a seamless bridge that moves the reader into the action of the characters words. "Said" and "asked" are all you really need. Resist the urge to use "queried" instead of "asked," or "exclaimed" instead of said.  

Now that you have a quick guide on choosing dialogue tags, let’s talk about how often you should use them. The answer: only as often as you need to, and no more. Quite honestly not every line of dialogue needs a tag. If you feel the reader can't follow the interaction of your characters without a dialogue tag introducing each remark perhaps you need to deepen your character profiles.

But fear not, we'll have a blog post for that!  

Happy editing!
Check any self-publishing forum, do a Google search on self-publishing success, and there will be literally over 5 million results all claiming that self-published authors either don't make money, can't be sold traditionally, or must pay exorbitant amounts of money for the "secret to success."  Well here's the truth.  I spent a weekend at the FAPA Conference (that's Florida Author and Publishers Association) and met two types of writers.  Those that were making a living, and those that were hobbyists.  No, I am not saying they played with toy trains!  They make less than $500.00 a year and sell very few books. 

Now you may think 'tough break, those guys really aren't very good writers.'  But a few of those not earning a substantial income were winning awards and had won others.  Some of them I bought their book, and would highly recommend.  So why do some self-published authors fall off the radar while others seem to sky rocket? Is it luck?  Very rarely.  Is it who they know?  Why, yes!  It is who they know.  Their market, not just their audience.

To paraphrase an astute book marketer and fellow FAPA member, Brian Jud, from his book "How to Make REAL, money Selling Books,"  'It is said great doctors treat patients while mediocre doctors treat diseases.'  The same can be said of successful vs. unsuccessful authors. If you limit your market, you limit your sales. 

Just because you know who the book is written to be read by, doesn't mean you've taken the time to actually identify who will buy it.  And that makes all the difference.  If you write children's books for example, then your audience is children, but your market is parents, grandparents, educators, librarians, and those who buy gifts for children. Not many five-year-olds have a line of credit!

Now that is a rather simplified example, but it should get you thinking.  Take a piece of paper out and write down to whom does your content speak?  That is your audience. Now create a profile for them (age, gender, employment, marital status, and yes give them a name!).  Now you have an avatar!  This is a complete 'person' who you can now question what they do that makes this content appeal to them and where do they go that would be an excellent showcase for this content?

Let's say you write the "Hostess with the Mostest Cocktail Guide."  Asked where this would sell most authors will answer, "In the cooking section or entertaining at the bookstore or on Amazon."  The unspoken rest of this reply is ‘with the other 500,000 cookbooks and entertaining guides’.  And maybe you'll even sell a few there, and on Amazon, too. 

But I ask you, are you a hobbyist or a professional writer? A professional writer makes a living selling their books. So the best answer to where does your book belong is-

"At the liquor store, at the home goods store in the patio section, at the home and garden show in a vendor booth, or even better get a local BBQ vendor at the show to buy your books to give away with each new grill as a premium. "

So if you're planning your marketing campaign, or want more from your publisher just take a walk in your avatar's shoes. Think outside the bookstore, and you'll find markets that are ripe for sales and without the competition to get into the hands of your audience!  

In the last four weeks, I have spoken with over 20 authors who want to propel their work to "the masses."  But strangely enough when I asked them why the "masses" would buy their books they only had a variety of confused looks to share with me.  Granted some of those faces were quite entertaining. And even more so when I asked them to identify who the "masses" were.

Most children's books authors for example do not start out writing for an audience outside the broad spectrum of "children."  Every day I speak with authors who have no idea whom their audiences are. If asked, “Who’s your audience?” Inevitably they say, “Well, everyone!” Of course!

This leads to the preponderance of comments and questions I see hourly on writer’s social media posts as to why their marketing is not working.  I answer them simply, "Your marketing is suffering from a split personality disorder."

You're firing scattershot with boosted posts, paid ads, general metadata, and off topic blog posts to reach everyone, and in turn, no one is able to find you or connect with your message.

Here’s a secret I’ll share with you.  Are you ready?

“Not everyone is going to buy your book.”

There I’ve said it!  And I won’t take it back not even if you’re Stephen King, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, or even you, Mr. James Patterson.  “Everyone,” is not an audience.  And as a special bonus secret to you children’s book authors:  Children do not buy books, they don’t have jobs, credit cards, or PayPal accounts, so please quit focusing your marketing content to just children.

Okay, so now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, I again ask “Who is your audience?”

This four-word question when answered properly should then allow you to market successfully to just those people who will buy your book(s).  Not all of them will of course because that’s just reality.

Get a piece of paper out right now and list who will buy your books and why.  Do not put “Because they are good!”, as any of the answers.  If you take the time to do this one little exercise, you’ll find your ROI (return on investment) much greater. 

Marketing should be approached with just as much care as you took to write your book. 
Do your research;

1) Where is your audience? Go there to reach them.
2) What are their desires, fears, etc.? Speak to these emotions.  Choose your words!
3) What is your competition doing successfully? Emulate it!

These simple tasks will get you on your way to creating successful marketing campaigns.

Want more information and help on target marketing and how to build a marketing campaign? Contact us for information on our one-on-one live workshops, or our self-guided on demand webinars by clicking here .

Today there are so many ways to make your dream of publishing come true without breaking the bank.  CreateSpace, Bookbaby, Lulu, and IngramSpark are the major players in today's affordable and POD (print on demand) publishers.  CreateSpace and Lulu offer no upfront fees for publishing and a pay per print option which is great for making your book a reality.  And Bookbaby and IngramSpark offer more options, such as hard cover and formatting included in their pricing, yet still at a low cost.  Amazing that within the last 10 years we've gone from sitting and waiting for an acceptance, and unfortunately more often a rejection, to immediate publication for anyone with the computer skills to send an email!  But as with anything that seems too good to be true, it usually is. 
Ease of publishing and the promise of sales on Amazon have led to an oversaturation of self published authors.  And quite frankly, a lot of crappy books.  Since you don't need to have your book professionally edited, beta read, or even proof read, you can pretty much upload a formatted PDF of gibberish, use a free ISBN, and have your name and book for sale on Amazon, BAM.com, and BN.com in under 48 hours!  Now if you are a serious writer and have taken all the proper steps to create an exquisitely written, well edited, and highly received story that you are self publishing through the same main stream POD or self publishing giants, you're now on the virtual shelf right next to the Art of Gibberish published immediately before you.  So how do you differentiate yourself?  How do you get on library shelves and the shelves of those big book retailers (what's left of them)?  That's actually very simple.  Do your research!
Every retailer from Wal-Mart to Barnes and Noble, and each public library system in the country has a link on their websites on "how to sell" your book or product to them.  Is that a lot of reading and research?  YES!  But if you are an author and worthy of big exposure, then you'd better already be used to doing a lot of reading and research. 
So now we come to the part where you're scratching your head and saying "so what does the title of this post have to do with anything?".  Well my friends I'll tell you a little secret that will give you a short cut through the quagmire of conditions that each and every retailer, and library require to get your space on their shelves; A free ISBN provided by the printing publisher of a POD service will not be accepted for standard retail and library applications to carry your title.   An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is used by all retailers, libraries, and schools to locate and order your books.  That number identifies your book by it's publisher, author, type,