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January 2011
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Whenever I visit a website or blog that has a poll, I will usually cast a vote if the question pertains to my interests. It's just human nature to want to share your opinion about the things you care about. Participating in a poll online gives you the added bonus of keeping your anonymity.

 

Knowing my own affinity for polls, I deduced that other people might feel the same way, so I started incorporating polls into my blog a few years ago. Some polls have fallen flat, some have drawn minimal interest, and a few have exploded. Whether or not the polls are directly related to your project, they can still be a great way to generate interest in your blog and your brand. My primary goals with polls are to create traffic or generate discussion. If a poll can do both, that's a win-win. Here are some examples:

 

Football Playoff Poll - In addition to being a writer, I have a passion for college football. One year, I was complaining in my blog about there being no playoff system in the highest division of college football, so I decided to create one through polling. Each week, I posted polls pairing two teams in a head-to-head matchup, and the team with the greatest number of votes would advance to the next round. I let a few friends know via e-mail about the polls and votes started trickling in. Then a couple of college sports message boards picked up on what I was doing, and the traffic took off. I was getting thousands of votes for each team by the time the championship game rolled around. So how did this help my brand and my books? A subject line on one of the boards was "Some author is doing a playoff on his website. Your vote needed." Not only were they sending traffic to my blog, but they were telling everybody I am an author.

 

The King and Prince of Pop - When I was in high school and college, there were two major stars on the pop scene: Michael Jackson and Prince. I had my favorite, but I was curious what other people thought. I posted the question in the form of a poll and not only did get it a few hundred votes, but a lot of people felt compelled to lobby for one artist over the other. This created healthy discussions that kept people on my blog longer...and may have led to regular readers who might read about my books in future posts.

 

Neither of these polls was related to my books, or literature at all for that matter, but they were still relevant to my personal brand. Why? Because the topics are things that I am passionate about, and your brand should be a reflection of not only your work, but who you are. This helps others make a personal connection with you. I talk on my blog about my books and writing and have even done a few polls concerning cover design, but when it comes to personal brands, diversity is crucial. I'm in this for the long haul, and polls are a way for me to attract and engage visitors. If I can get them to come back over and over again, that's when they will check out the listing of books on my blog.

 

Do you use polls on your blog? What are some poll topics you've found effective?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

Need to Blog, but Short on Time?

1,923 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, blogging, promotions, blogs, brand, branding
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What to Do with a Deceased Author's Unfinished Manuscript?

 

Stieg Larsson, author of international mega-selling Millennium novels (The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest), may be dead, but that doesn't mean he won't publish again. It seems that Larsson was working on a fourth book in the series when he passed away at the age of 50. His girlfriend of 30 years, Eva Gabrielsson, has the unfinished, 200-page manuscript in her possession, and she's determined to finish the book.

 

Larsson's partner has refused to reveal details of the partially completed novel's plot, but promised that its charismatic but damaged protagonist Lisbeth Salander "little by little frees herself from her ghosts and her enemies." And, she said, she will only finish the book when she gets undisputed rights to Larsson's work from his family, who inherited the author's assets when he died intestate.

 

You can see the entire story on The Guardian's website: Stieg Larsson's partner plans to complete final Millennium novel

 

The Art of the Pitch

 

Turns out some filmmakers aren't attending festivals just for the films. They're attending to participate in pitch sessions sponsored by festival organizers. It's a rising trend in industry conferences, as well. It can be a daunting task to sit down with someone who has the power and money to make your dreams come true, but it is an age old song-and-dance that every filmmaker needs to hone.

 

"Sometimes people get funded at the paper stage, before anything has been shot," said (Lesley) Norman. "Each pitch is different. A well-researched pitch, regardless of where they are in the process, can be the best pitch. Or a good trailer can make it or break it. It can also depend on the filmmaker's track record. Although I've seen a first time filmmaker bring an audience to their knees. A filmmaker must be good on his feet and speak with passion [to win]."

 

You can read the entire article on The Independent's website: Are Pitch Sessions the New Black?

 

And One Time, at Rock 'n' Roll Band Camp?

 

So, you're middle-aged, and you're well on your way to two-and-a-half kids, a three-bedroom walk-up with a white picket fence, and two-car garage. Your youthful days of kicking around in a band are way behind you. The days of dreaming of playing a gig in front of a screaming audience are long gone. You don't have time to do something like that, right? Well, you do if you have a week to devote to Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp.

 

The Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp is the creation of David Fishof, a former sports agent who expanded into the tour promotion business when he began handling artists like the former Beatle Ringo Starr. He organized the first camp in Miami in 1997, more than a decade after baseball fantasy camps began proliferating, thinking of it, he said, "as a one-off." That venture, he said, "lost a lot of money," but he tried again in 2002 and found that a market had developed.

 

You can read the entire article on the New York Times' website: Rock Stars for a Night, and for a Price

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - January 21, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - January 14, 2011

1,701 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, book, book, music, music, pitch, pitch, festival, festival, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Writing an obituary is one of the oldest tricks in the books when it comes to fleshing out your characters. It's an exercise I learned years ago in a college creative writing class. At first, I thought that, in addition to being a little morose, the exercise was ridiculous. I wanted to write, after all. I didn't want to waste time making up a life for a person that didn't really exist. Sure, I knew what the instructor wanted me to get out of it. She wanted me to know the characters inside and out, so I would know how they would react to any situation or development the story might throw their way. And the opportunity to get to know your characters better will always prove beneficial.

 

Here's what I didn't expect to get out of the exercise: I made an emotional connection with the characters when I wrote obituaries for them. Maybe it was the act of defining a life and making it matter. Maybe it was a phantom feeling of loss that I developed while writing the obituary. Or maybe the supposed bond was created because I felt like I knew the people well enough to write their obituaries. Whatever it was, the attachment I developed when writing fictional obituaries allowed me to add even more depth to the characters throughout the course of the story. I don't know if that was my instructor's goal with the obituary assignment, but it certainly was a wonderful side effect.

 

Why not give this exercise a try? Start by picking up a local paper and scanning the obituaries. Note how they are usually worded and their typical length, and construct obituaries for your two leading characters. Write them as a friend or family member would write them, focusing on the characters' accomplishments, loved ones, and legacies. Think about the age of the characters at the time of the obituary, and what their life circumstances might have been like at the time of their death. Remember, no one is perfect, but an obituary isn't the place to air your characters' dirty laundry. The story is where you'll get to do that by telling the events that ultimately add up to the life described in the obituary.

 

This is just one of countless creative writing exercises out there. What other tricks do you use to hone your craft?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Too Many Characters in the Kitchen

Creative Writing Exercises

14,239 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, book, book, book, book, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, characters, characters, characters, characters, craft, craft, craft, craft, character_development, character_development, character_development, character_development
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Create a Podcast - The Creative Penn

Break out your radio voice, because it's time to record your podcast. Joanna has some advice on how to get started.

 

First vs. Third: Point of View and Character Development - The Other Side of the Story

Sometimes choosing the point of view of your book comes down to the central character. Is s/he entertaining enough to tell a story? Janice Hardy has some other thoughts on the matter.

 

Film

 

Films Based on True Stories: More Interesting for Audiences, Daunting for Hollywood - Gather

With the film rights to a true story comes much responsibility.

 

The Uses of Social Media for Filmmakers - The Valley Advocate

Social media isn't perfect and may feel impersonal at times, but it is a fantastic tool for filmmakers to build an audience for their projects.

 

Music

 

What to Eat Before You Sing - Judy Rodman

Feeling a bit peckish before a performance, but afraid eating will affect your vocals? Never fear, Judy Rodman is here with foods that won't interfere with your singing voice.

 

Negotiating Chord Changes on Guitar - Music After 50

Gigs are only as good as your chord changes. No one hates sloppy play more than the guy playing the axe.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - January 18, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - January 11, 2011 Edition

1,738 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, marketing, marketing, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, promotion, promotion, writing, writing, podcast, podcast, musicians, musicians, craft, craft, filmmakers, filmmakers, social_media, social_media
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In past blogs, we've established that your marketing plan should begin with creating your brand as an author. Brand identity will help you develop a consistent and clear message in regard to you, as an author, and your titles. Remember, you're an author, not a corporation, so it's not necessary to be as rigid as your typical corporate brand. Your brand should match your personality, because, in the end, that is essentially what your author brand is - you. Your brand will be on display on your blog, on social media sites, and in personal videos. It will take time and commitment to build brand awareness, but the only real requirement is for you to be you.

 

Here are three questions to help you evaluate and identify your brand. When you can define your brand as an author, it will be much easier for you to construct uniform messaging.

 

Is your author brand bold?

Bold is in the eye of the beholder, but a touch of vulnerability should accompany your brand. Some authors are passionately political or staunchly religious or wickedly funny. These can be risky brand types to adopt since you could turn some potential readers off, but, at the same time, risk does have its rewards. When you're bold or make a statement, your followers can be fanatical in spreading the word about your brand since they connect with the passion in your message. If you're passionate about something, make that topic an integral part of your brand and speak your mind.

 

Does your author brand really reflect who you are?

Creating a brand that doesn't really reflect who you are in real life is not the best avenue to take. It's hard to manage, and you'll likely resent keeping up the persona after a while. Believe it or not, most authors who create an alternate personality for their brands do so because they don't think they're that interesting. In reality, that doesn't matter, because there is a group of followers out there for every brand. Be yourself, and they will follow.

 

Does your brand include emotion?

Emotion is a big factor in driving people to purchase something. If you want people to buy into your brand, open up to them. Write a blog post about a childhood memory or an event that made you happy or sad or angry. Whenever I've done this on my blog, I'm always surprised when I get a comment or email from somebody who could relate. Emotional messages help you connect with your readers. Don't be afraid to express yourself.

 

Author brand building isn't hard to do, but it does take time and it requires you to be yourself. The hardest part is to get past those moments when you don't feel like anyone's getting your message. Don't let those doubts prevent you from moving forward. Keep at it, and just assume you're breaking through. Your persistence will eventually pay off.

 

What other ideas do you have for evaluating your author brand?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Do You Need a Brand or a Personal Brand?

Brand Yourself

4,991 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, brand, brand, brand, brand, brand, brand, branding, branding, branding, branding, branding, branding
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Where to Find the Readers

 

If the readers won't come to you, maybe you should go to the readers. Luckily, a study by America's Most Literate Cities has done the legwork and found the most literate cities in the United States for you. Number one on the list is Washington D.C. In this case, literate isn't limited to books. It measures six different areas: newspapers, bookstores, magazines, education, libraries and the Internet. The big winner in the study seems to be libraries.

 

The use of public libraries has remained consistently strong over the years, particularly in manufacturing towns. Toledo, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Ind., for example, were in the bottom half overall but were two of six Rust Belt cities in the top 10 for library resources.

 

You can see the entire list on USA Today's website: D.C. tops rankings for USA's most literate cities

 

The New Studio Model

 

There was a day when Hollywood studios hired producers to find property to develop and bring to screen. That is looking more and more like an outdated business model in Tinseltown. Today, companies like Radical Studios that already own intellectual properties are becoming movie studios and developing their own material for screen.

 

Against this fragmenting media backdrop sit companies like Radical Studios. Mr. (Barry) Levine started in 2008 by publishing comics and graphic novels. That gave him a revenue stream and a library of intellectual property to use as collateral. Radical now has 72 publishing properties with more than 1,000 characters. The circulation for some has reached 30,000, which is viewed as strong.

 

You can read the entire article on the New York Times' website: Film Studio Born of Comic Books Grabs Hollywood's Attention

 

Are You Liking the Right Music?

 

Liking a song is an objective choice made by the listener, right? Not so fast, says Anthony Padilla, especially when it comes to music reviewers. He's felt for a long time that they focus on the wrong things when it comes to judging a song. In fact, he doesn't even think the song itself gets much consideration when it comes to music reviews. So he decided to do something about it by creating a set of standards on his website by which you can compare one song with another, which in effect gives you a truly objective opinion of a song.

 

Most importantly, however, How To Listen To Music stands as an exercise that drives individuals to think about why they like the music they hold most dear. Sure, Padilla's videos can be polarizing - either affirming or questioning one's previously held beliefs about a particular song. But in doing so, Padilla challenges his readers to formulate their own opinions on music - an accomplishment resonating larger than any individual review ever can.

 

You can read the entire article on Paste Magazine's website: How To Listen To Music

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - January 14, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - January 7, 2011

2,021 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, reading, reading, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, literacy, literacy
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I found a blog a while ago that focused on the craft of writing. Most of the posts were entertaining and useful, but one irritated me. The subject of the post was dead giveaways that something is written by a novice writer. The most significant "giveaway" was that new writers use some words way too much. This particular poster's belief was that their limited writing talents led to limited use of words.

 

I disagree. I'm not saying you should use the same word for a certain action or description ad nauseam, but good writing relies on the rhythm of the prose. Once you establish a certain rhythm, the reader is more likely to make a connection with the story. Breaking out the thesaurus to find a different way to say a word you've used before is a good way to lose that rhythm and lose the reader in the process.

 

I decided to "look" up some of the words on the poster's list that are overused by novice writers and "see" how successful writers like Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Cormac McCarthy, and Anne Lamott used them, or "overused" them, as the case may be. I chose one book by each author at random and came up with an average among the four for each word. Here's what I found:

 

  • See - Occurred an average 163 times. This does not include the word seeing.
  • Look - Occurred an average 134 times. This does not include the word in all its forms (i.e. looked, looking, looks)
  • Turn - Occurred an average 38 times. This does not include the word in all its forms (i.e. turns, turning, turned)
  • Breath - Occurred an average 18 times. This does not include the word in all its forms (i.e. breathes, breathed, breathe)

 

The bottom line of my unscientific experiment is that sometimes it's necessary to use the same word repeatedly. Don't beat yourself up trying to find an alternative. Your story has a rhythm, and you shouldn't let someone else's rules of writing destroy that rhythm. Your talent as a writer isn't dictated by the variety of words you use. It's the way you use words to tell your story that matters. So, take a deep breath, turn to a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say, "I'll only use the words that I need to use to tell my story. No more. No less."

 

See, don't you feel better?

 

-Richard

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

 

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When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

Making Up Words: How Much is Too Much?

3,318 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, craft, words
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

The Evolution of How I Use Twitter - There Are No Rules

Writer's Digest's Jane Friedman gives her best tips for authors on how to use Twitter to build their brands.

 

You Should Self-Publish - A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

Author Joe Konrath makes a compelling argument for self-publishing. He's on board, and he thinks you should be, too.

 

Film

 

I'll Work for the Promise You'll Pay Me Eventually - Joke and Biagio

In the film industry, it's not uncommon for you to do the work with just the promise of pay.

 

Briefcase of Prop Money: BFX: DIY - Indy Mogul

How to make fake money for that briefcase full of ransom or any other scene where you need stacks of realistic looking currency.

 

Music

 

In Social Media, the Best PR Person is Yourself - Mr. Tunes

No one is better at being you than you. Why give your social media channels to a PR person?

 

MySpace Dying as Facebook Grows - dmusic

Reports of MySpace's resurgence may have been premature. Even Tila Tequila has left the once-thriving social media site.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - January 11, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - January 4, 2011 Edition

1,720 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self_publishing, books, books, authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, self-publishing, self-publishing, films, films, twitter, twitter, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, social_media, social_media
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Does Silly Sell?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 17, 2011

I've never breached the silly line when it comes to promotional ideas. I've come close, but I've never done an all-out silly video or stunt to sell books. Why? Because I don't know if I'm really that funny. I think I'm funny. I think other people think I'm funny...but I don't know if I'm amusing enough to pull off funny without looking foolish. My main point is that being funny without damaging your personal brand is extremely difficult to do.

 

Think of it this way: have you ever been to a comedy club or some other venue where an unfunny comedian is performing? It is utterly painful to watch. You feel humiliated for the person. You look away. You search for the nearest exit and wait for a time to vacate the premise discreetly. It's just dreadful to watch.

 

I bring this up because I recently read a couple of blogs and articles that discussed promotional ideas for authors. One idea featured an author in a chicken costume running a road race. I suppose that would work for a certain type of book. For example, if you wrote a children's book with a chicken as the main character, then I could see you running a race in a chicken costume. Or if you had a cookbook filled with chicken recipes, then perhaps you'd want to put on your running shoes and cluck your way through the race. But, if you've written a murder mystery, a romance novel, or a literary masterpiece, dressing like a chicken and parading around in public may have people feeling embarrassed for you. They may become so distracted by the silliness of the stunt that they miss the end-message of what you're trying to market.

 

Here's a general rule of thumb: attention does not necessarily equal book sales, but the right kind of attention can generate sales. It's always a good idea to introduce unique or innovative ideas into your marketing plan, but be sure they correlate with what you're marketing. Ultimately, only you can determine what promotional idea is appropriate for your book. You should gauge each tactic carefully and ask yourself if the idea projects the kind of image you want for your title and your personal brand. If you're not sure, it may be best to bypass the silly in favor of a more grounded marketing strategy.

 

-Richard

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

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Do I Really Have to Self-promote?

Brand Yourself

1,853 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, selling, selling, selling, promotion, promotion, promotion, sales, sales, sales, promotions, promotions, promotions, branding, branding, branding
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Is This the Year of the E-book?


The day that many have predicted may be here. E-books outsold print books the week after the holidays on USA Today's top-50 list. Sure it was only a week, but it's a pretty significant development. Like it or not, e-books are growing in popularity and the trend does not appear to be stalling anytime soon.


USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, to be published Thursday, will show digital's new popularity: E-book versions of the top six books outsold the print versions last week. And of the top 50, 19 had higher e-book than print sales. It's the first time the top-50 list has had more than two titles in which the e-version outsold print. "Lots of consumers woke up Christmas morning with new e-reading devices ready to load them up with e-books," says Paul Bogaards of Knopf, American publisher for Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, which holds three of the top four spots on the list.


You can read the entire article on USA Today's website: Week after holidays, e-book sales outdo print


Did Lucas Unnecessarily Air His Back Story?

There is no doubt that George Lucas is a filmmaking genius, and I get a little uncomfortable being overly critical of his choice to create the three prequel movies to his Star Wars empire (that's empire with a lowercase "e"). But let's face it: the first three films were groundbreaking in scope and structure. They changed film. The prequels did not. So, what was different? Why didn't they have the same impact? The Moon brothers' assessment is that the prequels were just a bunch of unnecessary back story.   


The problem that the prequels had, especially for those who were around when the original trilogy came out, is this: Our imagination is so strong, usually it's hard to top. We put together the clues to form the full backstory in our minds. Put the two trilogies back-to-back, and you'll find that there are little inconsistencies. Backstory and story don't quite match, especially regarding the reasons and circumstances surrounding the turn of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side.


You can read the entire article on the Moon Brothers website: The Backstory of Star Wars


Is Simple the Key to Success in Songwriting?

It is human nature to lament the state of popular music. My generation does it. The generation before me does it. Cavemen did it when a three syllable grunt was something you could dance to. Someone is always unhappy about the current crop of songs getting the most attention. Jon Pareles of the New York Times is the latest to hate the string of songs played over and over again in various venues. 


The pressures on musicians to keep things simple are obvious. What have become all-too-familiar 21st-century refrains - too much information, too little time and the diminished attention spans that result from trying to cope - have only grown more insistent through the decade. The recording technology of loops and samples encourages unimaginative producers to repeat something merely adequate for the length of a song rather than developing or enriching it. 


You can read the entire article on the New York Times' website: Want a Hit? Keep It Simple


-Richard

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


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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - January 7, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - December 31, 2010

2,334 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, movies, movies, ebooks, ebooks, songwriting, songwriting
3

I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to speak to a group of kids, parents, and teachers a few weeks ago. It's an invitation that would have sent me into a panic-induced coma less than a decade ago, but not anymore. You see, I had a problem with public speaking that almost prevented me from putting together a coherent sentence if I was speaking to more than three people at a time. But I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone in 1999 by taking a sales job that I had no aptitude for, and I slowly learned how to talk to people. The groups grew larger and larger over time until I was comfortable speaking to a room full of people. It became easier to do, especially when I realized that the audience wanted me to succeed as much as I wanted to succeed. It's as uncomfortable for them when a speaker bombs as it is for the speaker.


I'm not a professional speaker, and the audience knows it. I enter the room with as little pressure on me as possible. I don't memorize anything, I don't write a word-for-word speech, and I prefer not to use slideshows. I like when it's just me and an outline of topics I want to cover. Here's a list of ways I prepared for my latest personal appearance that you may want to apply next time you're planning your own:


  • I asked the organizer why the audience would be attending the presentation. If they were coming to hear me, then I knew I could focus more on my books and my journey as a writer. If they were coming to find out more about publishing and writing, then I would focus more on the business of writing as a whole. Turns out on this occasion it was going to be a mixture, so I created an outline that broke the presentation into three sections: the current state of the publishing industry, my place in it, and my writing process.
  • I prepared a few pages of what I'm currently writing to read to the audience at the end of the hour-long presentation.
  • I gathered copies of my books to give away after the presentation.
  • I gave myself plenty to do on the day of the presentation so I wouldn't harp on what I was going to say that night. The more I think about a speaking engagement, the more nervous I make myself, so keeping busy lets me effectively block it from my mind and go into the event feeling loose.


As cliché as it sounds, open with a joke. I like to refer to the person who introduces me because he or she usually says something overly glowing and totally undeserved about me. It's easy to come up with a self-effacing line when you follow such an introduction.


I considered the appearance a rousing success. I spoke for an hour and fifteen minutes, signed copies of my books until I ran out, and then promised those remaining that I would return when I had more books and finish the signing. They were thrilled, and I'm scheduled to return next month.


Look for opportunities to do some public speaking. The interaction you have with a group of people is invaluable. You get a real feel for the people you're trying to reach with your writing, and you build a special relationship with the people who are ultimately going to be your word-of-mouth campaign. Remember, your audience is pulling for you to succeed - they are on your side!


I'd love to hear about any experiences you may have had addressing a group about your books or writing. Any tips or advice you'd like to share?


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


You may also be interested in...


Do I Really Have to Self-promote?
Four Tips for Real-Life Networking

11,647 Views 3 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, marketing, marketing, book, book, networking, networking, author, author, promotions, promotions, public_speaking, public_speaking, speaking, speaking
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.


Books/Publishing


How to Write a Book to Build Your Personal Brand - Author Thought Leadership

We live in the age of the personal brand. If you're an expert in something, you can boost your brand and business with a book.

 

 

Why I Stopped Reading Your Blog - Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt shares his tips and tricks on how to keep your readers coming back over and over again to your blog.

 

 

Film


Being Invisible With Green Screen Film Making - EzineMark

If you have a green screen, there is almost nothing you can't do on film or video.


 

Ten Filmmaking Trends for 2011 - Filmmaking Central

Are you ready to go mainstream? Get ready for small productions to be big this year.


 

 

Music


 

'No Pain, No Gain' in Life - and Songwriting - Music after 50

Songwriter Ellen Blum Barish learns that inspiration often comes from a broken heart.


 

Flute Made on a 3D Printer - SynthGear

I dare you to watch this and not be amazed. Just think: you may be able to make your own musical instruments from your house in the very near future.


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


 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - January 4, 2011 Edition
Tuesday's Blog Roundup - December 28, 2010 Edition

2,160 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: filmmaking, filmmaking, writers, writers, writing, writing, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, songwriting, songwriting, social_media, social_media
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People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions. (Source: Power to Change)


So, how are those New Year's resolutions coming along? Me? I'm still fat, but I'm working on it. But that's a discussion for another day. Today, I'm more interested in your writing goals. Last year, I gave you a strategy on how to keep your resolutions in my post titled Keeping That New Year's Resolution. Back then, I suggested that your resolutions be broken down into four parts: a list, a plan, an action item, and a tracking method. Here's the example I gave from my own list of resolutions:


  • List Item: Finish new book
    • Plan: Develop one-sentence elevator pitch for book with target total word count of 65,000 words.
    • Action: Write book using "one word a day" strategy.
    • Tracking: Tweet daily word count of book to keep myself motivated.


I'm happy to tell you the strategy worked. I did indeed finish and publish the book. Here's why I think this strategy works: it is specific. It's "chunked" down into small, doable tasks. And, most importantly, it was designed so I focused on the goal every day.


Resolutions fail when they are grand general statements with no thought into how you're going to accomplish them. In order to accomplish a goal, a lot of times you have to create new habits, and that is not easy. You have to break old patterns and create new ones. Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, determined through his research that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Given that information, I suggest adding one more part to my resolution strategy: assess your progress every 21 days. I mean that literally. Get out your calendar and set an appointment for yourself to review what you've accomplished on your resolutions every 21 days. I'm referring specifically to your writing, publishing and marketing resolutions, but you could apply this strategy to all your resolutions.


Obviously, this is not a passive resolution approach. It requires you to be extremely engaged in the process and that's the point. The only way you're going to make your resolutions work for you is if you work your resolutions. Finally, when you accomplish one of your goals, celebrate! Pat yourself on the back. You've done something a lot people don't do, which is follow through. Good luck and happy New Year!


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


 

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Keeping That New Year's Resolution
How to Set SMART Writing Goals

1,833 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writers, writing, resolutions, goals
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When Good Young Adult Fiction Gets Bleak
It seems that things are trending toward the dark side in today's young adult fiction. Authors are filling their YA tomes with stories of oppressive governments gone awry and opening up the door to apocalyptic themes. And the young readers seem to be lapping it up. Books with a bent toward bleak futures are hitting the bestseller lists. The question is, why? Author Paolo Bacigalupi shares his theories with The New York Times.


As a teen, I remember that I craved truth-telling as well, and devoured it wherever I could find it. Unfortunately, the truth of the world around us is changing, and so the literature is morphing to reflect it. Teens want to read something that isn't a lie; we adults wish we could put our heads under the blankets and hide from the scary story we're writing for our kids.


You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction


Getting the Facts Straight in Films Based on True Events
The fallback for most filmmakers when changing the facts in films based on true stories is that they are using creative license to make the film more entertaining. But is that crossing an ethical line, or could they actually be crossing a legal line? The Los Angeles Times examined the question recently, and here's part of what they found.


When director Danny Boyle began making "127 Hours," the real-life tale of hiker Aron Ralston, who amputated his arm after five days pinned under a rock, he knew he had a compelling story to tell and an even better resource. After all, who better to steer the director through difficult dramatic terrain than the outdoorsman himself? But for Boyle, an in-the-flesh, on-set guide like Aron Ralston also came with a liability: Aron Ralston. The hiker insisted, for example, that his character (played by James Franco) let out a big laugh at the moment he cut off his arm, just as he says he did in real life. The director objected, saying a laugh felt out of place. Boyle eventually gave in.


You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: From real to reel: In fact-based films, reality and storytelling collide


Is 2011 Filled with Hope for Musicians?
It's a new year, but does that mean change is in the cards for the music industry? Music industry professional Bruce Houghton hopes so. He's put together a wish list of changes he'd like to see in the industry, and he's keeping his fingers crossed that Father Time will deliver the goods in 2011. What is he wishing for? Here's one item on his list.


New School Execs Takeover The Major Labels - Will 2011 be the year when a new era of music executives finally dominate the top executive positions at the major labels? I don't mean SVP of Digital; I mean seats on the Board Of Directors. It's long overdue and it may be the only thing that can save the big four labels from themselves.


You can read the entire article on Hypebot.com: Bruce Houghton: 8 Things I Hope For The New Music Industry In 2011


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


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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - December 31, 2010
Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - December 24, 2010

1,721 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, film, film, movies, movies, writers, writers, musicians, musicians, screenwriting, screenwriting, filmmakers, filmmakers
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I included a prologue in one of my books, and I can't honestly tell you if it was completely necessary. As a reader, I actually get annoyed at times when I crack open a book and see the word "Prologue" at the top of the page. I think it sometimes feels like reading expository or even spoiler-laden content when you just want to jump into a book at page one. Conversely, prologues can act as teasers to introduce unique elements or twists to grab the reader's interest right from the start. In my case, I included the prologue because the book was part of a series, and I wanted to expose the readers to a little twist in the ongoing story. I felt like I needed to lay some groundwork before I threw the reader into the fray.


But, as is usually the case, I often second-guess that decision. Did I need to approach it that way? In some cases, a prologue seems to remove the reader from the story before the story even begins. In basic terms, the prologue is an introductory device that gives readers information they will need in order to understand the story, but it isn't always necessary or appropriate.


I definitely think there is a right time to use a prologue. Historical novels are generally a good fit for a prologue to help give the readers perspective on setting and significant players. In a memoir where you're writing about a specific event in your life, you might include a prologue that gives background information on your life before or after the event. Some fantasy novels may require a prologue to provide a brief description for your made-up, fantastical world. Or maybe you've written a mystery or thriller and want your prologue to provide intrigue and set the tone of the book right from the start.


There are many other books where prologues may be particularly useful. My overall feeling about the prologue remains: that it can set up the novel, but the substance should really lie within the body of the story.


Do you feel you've mastered the prologue? What do you think is the best way to use this literary device?


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


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Your First Line Can Help You Sell Books
The Importance of Endings

4,280 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writers, writing, craft
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.


Books/Publishing

 

Book Publishers See Their Role as Gatekeepers Shrink - Los Angeles Times

Here's something we've been seeing for a while. DIY publishing is making an impact that is being felt throughout the entire  industry.


Wanted: Young Readers to Build Book Buzz - The Washington Post

When publishers want to know what kids think about the books they're publishing, they go to this young group of readers for answers.


Film


Vimeo Turns Its Video Site into a Film School - MediaBeat

Vimeo has created some 800 instructional videos on filmmaking. From basic to advanced techniques, it's all there.


A Woman Director Faces Many Biases: 'Turning 30' Filmmaker - sify movies

This is an interesting article on women and filmmaking in Bollywood. It's a struggle, but it seems to be getting better.


Music


Do Artists Today Really Need Their Own Website? - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion

Isn't social media enough to promote a band? Bob Baker says no, you need your own website.


How to Avoid Failure in Your Social Media Campaign - Hypebot.com

Are you managing your band's social media site in a way that benefits your career or yourself personally?


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


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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - December 28, 2010 Edition
Tuesday's Blog Roundup - December 21, 2010 Edition

1,633 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, filmmaking, filmmaking, self-publishing, self-publishing, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, social_media, social_media
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For many people, saying something positive about themselves can be one of the most difficult things to do. It just doesn't feel natural, and it can often create negative impressions in everyday social situations. My mother told me on more than one occasion, "Nobody likes a braggart." But a conundrum is brewing in our Web 2.0 world. We are moving into the age of the personal brand, where a healthy dose of self-promotion is not only helpful, it's the only way your brand as an author will get off the ground.


So, how do you create a positive impression when you talk about yourself? In other words, what's the best way to self-promote without coming across as self-involved? It's an art that requires a touch of "me-me-me-ism"combined with heaping dose of humility. For my own brand, I've even chosen to include a sprinkle of self-deprecation, which you may or may not choose to employ for your personal brand. As I've said many times on this blog, your personal brand is really just a slightly amplified version of who you really are. As a result, you're going to know what works best for you as you move forward. Here's an example of how I recently walked the self-promotion tightrope.


I was invited to speak at a school in December. It was a perfect opportunity for me to meet some readers in person and move some past the "casual fan" category to the "spread-the-word fan" category. They would get to see my brand up close and personal. If they liked what they saw, I could benefit greatly from the appearance. I had received a great review from a child's mother that I really wanted to share with them, but I couldn't just blurt it out. So, I saved it until the end, and worked in two negative reviews (that I carefully lampooned) at the beginning of the appearance. The strategy worked. A few of those in attendance are now part of my group of Facebook friends.


The greatest help to me in getting over my reluctance to talk about myself was when I came to the realization that I wasn't necessarily talking about me, I was talking about my personal brand. Even though they are virtually the same thing, they are different enough that I am able to detach myself and look at it not so much as self-promotion, but plain old promotion.


Do you also struggle with self-promotion? What are your tricks for overcoming any fears associated with talking about yourself?


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


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Do You Need a Brand or a Personal Brand?
The Author Bio is an Important (and Often Overlooked) Marketing Tool

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