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July 2011
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From Twitter to Best Seller

Meet author John Green. John doesn't do a lot to build his brand. I mean, he has more than 900 hours of personal videos uploaded on YouTube, and yeah, more than a million followers on Twitter that he almost obsessively updates. And I guess teaming up with his brother to utilize an even larger base of online fans is pretty smart, but other than that...okay, he does a lot to build his brand, but does it really pay off? Absolutely.

 

In a feat that even the best-selling writers might envy, young-adult author John Green's latest novel is No. 1 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com even though he's still working on it from his comfy La-Z-Boy in Indianapolis... Mr. Green's runaway train started like this: On Tuesday afternoon, he posted the title of his new book on Twitter, Tumblr and the community forum YourPants.org. An hour later, he upped the stakes by promising to sign all pre-orders and the entire first-print run, while also launching a YouTube live show. Mr. Green discussed his plans for signing the book and also read a section to give viewers a sense of what "The Fault in Our Stars" would be about.

 

You can read the entire article on The Wall Street Journal's website: Tweeting from a La-Z-Boy, An Unfinished Book Hits No. 1

 

Can You Make Money with Your Film?

It's a question a lot of indie filmmakers don't ask themselves, but let's be honest: if you want filmmaking to be a career, you have to make money from your films. Doing it for the art is noble and lauded by your peers, but does it pay the bills? Filmmaker Jason Brubaker thinks that having an idea for a movie isn't enough. You need a plan to make money from your film if you're a serious filmmaker.

       

The trick is figuring out which of your many movie ideas actually have a chance of flickering across the big screen. And beyond imagination, which of your many movie ideas have the best chance for success? As a serious entrepreneurial filmmaker you may have heard a lot of different advice when it comes to making movies. In fact most filmmakers will tell you it's better to take action and do something rather than doing nothing. And while I agree with this sentiment, in a world flooded with cheaply produced backyard indies, I urge you take a few moments to consider your chances for making money.

 

You can read the entire article on Filmmaking Stuff's website: I Have A Movie Idea

 

Max Q, the Space Band

Here's a band that can actually live up to the billing, "out of this world!" NASA is known for heroic outer space adventurers. It's a group of brilliant minds conquering some of the most difficult and trying tasks on and off this planet. But the one thing NASA isn't particularly known for is its music. The truth is, music is a big part of the NASA tradition. Songs are carefully selected to wake the sleeping astronauts while they hurl around the globe, and since 1987, Max Q has been the only band comprised entirely of astronaut musicians.

 

Music has also played an important role in the space program back on Earth. Former astronaut Brewster Shaw remembers when the shuttle fleet was grounded after the Challenger disaster in 1986. "Morale, as you can imagine, was pretty low," says Shaw. "We weren't flying. And we'd killed seven of our buddies. And people were struggling with the future. So somebody came up with an idea: Let's have a sock hop." Shaw had played guitar in a band in college, and he knew a few other astronauts could play. So in June 1987, the world's first and only all-astronaut band, Max Q, took the stage for the first time. Max Q has been performing ever since, whenever its astronaut members can find the time to rehearse. The founding members all retired years ago, but new astronauts stepped in to take their places. Brewster Shaw says he's not surprised that so many astronauts are also passable musicians.

 

You can read the entire article on NPR's website: How Astronauts Fill Their Space With Music

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 22, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 15, 2011

2,359 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, promotion, promotion, band, band, twitter, twitter, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, branding, branding
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If a complete stranger walked up to you on the street and said, "I've written a scary novel that is a real page turner...You should totally buy it," chances are you'd nod politely and quickly walk away. However, if that same person pointed across the street and said, "Is that George Clooney?" I'm willing to bet you'd turn and look. Am I right?

 

The same principle applies to book marketing. Whether your work is fiction or nonfiction, to get people to pay attention you need to come up with a brief, compelling description. In industry jargon, this is called a "hook," and a good one will encourage your target audience to pick up a copy of your book and start reading. Now.

 

Here are some excellent examples I've seen:

 

·         Easy-to-follow financial advice for young professionals just getting started

·         A thriller set in a small town where the women have mysteriously stopped having children

·         A step-by-step guide for women looking to reenter the workforce after raising kids

·         A must-read for anyone who has ever run into an ex looking like crap (full disclosure alert: this is for one of my novels, Perfect on Paper)

 

As you begin your marketing efforts, the first thing everyone is going to ask you is "What is your book about?" so it's important to get this down early. You can tweak and refine as you learn what resonates with readers, but you should have something ready from the get-go. And even if you do zero marketing (which I don't recommend!), people in your life are inevitably going to ask you this question as well, so it's worth taking the time to prepare an answer.

 

Remember: the description doesn't have to appeal to everyone, but it should pique the interest of those who would most enjoy your book.

 

- Maria

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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So You've Published Your Book - Now What?

New Blogger on the Block!

12,068 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, description, description, description, description, description, description, description, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, hook, hook, hook, hook, hook, hook, hook
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Poor Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Despite all that he accomplished as a writer and statesman during his lifetime, he is known in his afterlife as the man who penned what many consider the worst - albeit popular - opening line to a novel in the history of the written word. You know the one: "It was a dark and stormy night."

 

 

I have to be honest with you. I have seen much worse. I've most likely written much worse. I've studied the debate over this line for some time now, and while the line is hated by many, a lot of people don't understand why it's so bad. Lest you think that Bulwer-Lytton was a hack, the man was quite adroit at turning a phrase. He also originated "the pen is mightier than the sword" and "the almighty dollar," among others. He was a prolific best-selling novelist during his day.

 

 

So why is "It was a dark and stormy night" reviled in literary circles? Because that's not all there is to it. "It was a dark and stormy night" is just shorthand for the entire first line. It goes on and on, and that's what gets Bulwer-Lytton in trouble. See for yourself:

 

 

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

 

 

As you can see, it is a bit verbose. The sad thing is that Bulwer-Lytton worked with an editor. He was even friends with Charles Dickens and often critiqued his work before publication. One of Bulwer-Lytton's stories, "The Haunted and the Haunter," was lauded by H.P. Lovecraft as "one of the best short haunted house tales ever written." So he knew good writing. One wonders how he let this one slip through the cracks.

 

 

Here is a fun challenge for you writers: Try rewriting the line in your style. Make it better. In other words, edit poor Edward Bulwer-Lytton to create a first line that would keep today's readers reading!

 

 

-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

1,963 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, editing, writers
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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 5 Most Stolen Books - PWxyz

Oh, to be so revered as an author that your books have to be placed behind the counter for fear of thievery...

 

Put Your Personality at the Center of Your Brand - We Grow Media

Here is the endless loop of personal brands: You are your brand. Your brand is you. Repeat.            

 

Film

 

Filmmaking on the Run: What Books and Film Schools Can't Teach You - BZ Film

An interesting article on one filmmaker's struggles to learn the craft of filmmaking outside of the United States. 

 

The Most Difficult Part of Independent Filmmaking - Addovolt Productions

I have to admit I have never given this element of filmmaking a lot of thought. Is it because it's not glamorous enough?

 

Music

 

Dissertation on Digital Music - eleet music

Digital music marketing guru Kevin English discusses his thoughts and experiences in the industry.         

 

The Internet versus Book Publishing: A Lesson for Musicians - Pampelmoose

The parallels are often drawn between the way the internet changed the music business and way it's changing the publishing business. What can the two industries learn from each other?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - July 19, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - July 12, 2011 Edition

825 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, indie, indie, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, branding, branding
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Of all my failures as a writer (and yes, I have failed miserably at times), perhaps my greatest failure is not taking a good photo. It sounds silly and like it shouldn't matter, but the author photo is so important in today's world of online schmoozing and selling that to ignore it could be a detriment to your writing career. I say this knowing full well that I have yet to take a decent author photo.

 

My problem (besides my questionable looks) is that I try way too hard to look like a writer in all my pictures. I've done the tweed jacket thing, the thinker at the typewriter thing, the brooding artist thing, etc. You name a typical writer pose, and I've tried to strike it.

 

My struggles with taking the perfect author photo have led me to two conclusions, which you may be able to apply to yourself. First, whenever I get the opportunity, I preach the importance of authenticity in your personal brand. The author photo is an intricate part of my personal brand. Therefore, I should be striving to be authentic in those photos and be who I am, not who I think people want to see.  Second, I shouldn't leave the photo to an amateur. Since the photo is quite literally the face of my personal brand, it's worth it to me to hire a professional.

 

It's possible that you feel the same way about your author photo and also are having a hard time figuring out what to do. If so, I invite you to take my advice and share your results. Or perhaps you already have an author photo that makes you proud. If that is the case, we'd love to know your secret: how did you get that winning photo?

 

-Richard

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

 

You may also be interested in...

 

The Author Bio is an Important (and Often Overlooked) Marketing Tool

So You've Published Your Book - Now What?

1,216 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, promotion, photo, promotions, author_brand
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Are We Entering a Golden Age for Writers?

Is it possible? Could it really be? Is there a chance that employment opportunities are on the rise for writers and authors? According to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, it is absolutely true. Jobs for writers are projected to increase by 15% between 2008 and 2018. Given the economic forecast for that same time period, I'll take it. Why the rise in employment opportunities for writers?

 

The report is a rare, (near) total bright spot in a time of employment uncertainty, especially within industries that are sometimes seen as non-essential, or at least not-as-essential. The positive projections are due in large part to the arts' embracing of technology. The report states: "Skilled writers are needed for online publications, websites, and newsletters to attract customers."

 

You can read the entire article on Publishers Weekly's website: Good News for Writers, Fine Artists, and Designers: Job Growth Expected

 

Big Concept, Small Budget

At one time, the thought of making an independent science fiction film was unheard of. The term "science fiction" connotes huge special effects, makeup, CGI, and a list of expenses that goes on and on until you've created a budget of monstrous proportions. But a new film that made some waves at Sundance this year introduces the idea of making a small movie centered on a science fiction theme. It's called Another Earth, and it's really a fabulous study in creative independent filmmaking.              

 

Another Earth was very much a DIY project on the part of Brit Marling and Mike Cahill. They started out with a single image, which wound up being the very end of the movie, and then worked their way backwards into a film about a second Earth appearing in our skies?The movie's budget was so low, Marling had to touch up the makeup for her costar, Lost's William Mapother, herself, in between takes. And a crucial question was whether they could afford to pull off the movie's one big special effect: the vision of a second Earth hovering in the sky. Cahill says he created it himself, using basic motion tracking and CG compositing.

 

You can read the entire article on io9.com: Secrets of Another Earth, the Science Fiction Movie that Rocked Sundance

 

Be Careful What You Name Your Band

Band names are fun to create even if you're not in a band. But if you are in a band, creating a band name needs to be more than just fun. It needs to be a carefully thought-out moniker that has the ability to stand the test to time. The name should be original and fit the band's personality. Some would say that most of all, it probably shouldn't contain any sort of pop culture references. Just ask Harry and the Potters. The name has served them well for the last 10 years, but with the final movie coming out and no new books on the horizon, they may have an uphill climb ahead of them.  

 

With a discography that includes a number of EPs and a handful of live albums and full-lengths, the 32-year-old Paul (DeGeorge) concedes that the duo's mission to "fight evil with rock music" may be winding down. The songs, however, such as "Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock!" and "My Teacher Is a Werewolf," will live on forever. For now, Harry and the Potters will tour libraries through the end of the month, and then the band that spawned the genre that's now known as "wizard rock" (see also: Draco and the Malfoys, the Parselmouths and others), may be vanishing onto more grown-up pursuits.

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: Harry and the Potters: Is there a wizard rock life after 'Deathly Hallows'?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 15, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 8, 2011

1,728 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, sci-fi, sci-fi, writers, writers, writing, writing, films, films, scifi, scifi, science_fiction, science_fiction, musicians, musicians, bands, bands
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You've done it! You've written, rewritten, polished, proofread, and published your book. Congratulations!

 

Now what?

 

If you've independently published, your book is available online for anyone in the world to buy. That is a significant accomplishment, but the unfortunate reality is that you have a LOT of competition - I'm talking tens of millions of other titles. That makes the chances of a reader randomly stumbling upon your title extremely slim. Many independent authors have no idea how to get the word out about their books, which is one reason they may not sell as many copies.

 

If you want your book to stand out, you have to be creative, and you have to work hard. There are many things you can do to promote an independently published title, but before you do anything, I strongly recommend creating the following basic materials:

 

  • One-line description of your book - In industry jargon, this is called "the hook." It should answer the question "What is your book about?" AND grab a potential reader's attention, so make it compelling!
  • One-paragraph description of your book - Here you can provide a bit more detail. The goal is to explain what your book is about in a way that makes the target audience want to read it.
  • Brief author bio, including something interesting about you
  • High-resolution headshot and cover art

 

When you begin your marketing efforts, you'll be asked for these materials over and over, so it's best to have them prepared from the get-go. You can tweak and refine as necessary, but creating templates will save you a lot of time and energy.

 

Starting next week, I'll begin to dig deeper into how to prepare and use each of the above materials!

 

- Maria

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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New Blogger on the Block!

The Author Bio is an Important (and Often Overlooked) Marketing Tool

5,557 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, indie, indie, indie, indie
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Many of us have writing rituals. We may use a pen and notebook as opposed to a laptop. We must have our coffee before we sit down to write. Maybe we take a walk before we begin our writing day. Whatever the rituals, we've adopted them because we believe they help us write.

 

But are rituals the best tools to spur creativity? Some argue that the brain disconnects from the creative vein when it is faced with the same old, same old day after day. I've written before on this blog about experimenting with taking different routes to work or going someplace new for lunch to try and restart your brain when it stalls. Perhaps try to take that strategy one step further and shake up how you write.

 

Put pen to paper if it's not your normal method of writing. Experiment with a different style of prose. It may not be something you ever publish, but it could help get the creative juices flowing by mixing things up. Changing patterns may make you see the project you're working on in a whole new light.

 

And that's the point here. Make things new. Newness brings a sense of discovery, and discovery revs up the creative engine. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you instinctively strive to turn this new "space" you're trying out into your new comfort zone. I'm not saying to discard your current routine all together. Come back to it from time to time. In fact, switching between your old routine and new, untried ones could become a routine of sorts. In fact, it could be the only routine to help you avoid those nasty writing ruts.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Unblocking Writer's Block

Can Exercising Your Brain Make You a Better Writer?

1,534 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, creativity, writing_process, 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

 

Don't Forget Word Of Mouth Advertising for Your Book - Marketing Tips

Yes, you've heard it before, but it bears repeating. Word of mouth is all the rage. All the cool authors are doing it and so should you.

 

7 Steps to Getting Unstuck and Becoming More Productive - Michael Hyatt

If it wasn't for all those darn distractions, I would have finished writing my 200th novel this year.         

 

Film

 

What Are Your Filmmaking Goals? - Filmmaking Stuff

Are your filmmaking goals exciting enough to get you motivated, or are they safe enough to keep you bored?             

 

How to Make a Living as a Filmmaker - Filmmaker IQ

An interesting video of a panel at Tribeca Film Festival featuring experts with varied film backgrounds sharing their best advice on how to make a living as a filmmaker.

 

Music

 

How to Get Your Band on Wikipedia - Hypebot.com

Getting on Wikipedia isn't as much about your music as it is about your notoriety. Are you notable enough to make the cut? You might be surprised.         

 

Tune Your Room... - Renegade Producer

You may not be getting an accurate picture of how you sound if your room is out of tune.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - July 12, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - July 5, 2011 Edition

785 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, promotion, promotion, musicians, musicians, goals, goals, filmmakers, filmmakers
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We live in an era where the term "out of print" has become less and less relevant. Print on-demand started the perpetually "in print" revolution by making a book something you could store digitally. The need for physical storage space was, and is, no longer an issue. Added to that is the e-book movement, which made books conveniently available to read digitally. With these digital advancements in place, the books you publish today can be on the market and in print for as long as you want them to be.

 

This being the case, I urge you not to rest on the laurels of publishing a single title. By having multiple titles that include your author brand, you have greater potential to sell your first title. Call it the power of multiples. The more well-written books you have on the market, the more copies you sell of each. People have a greater chance of discovering you at an accelerated rate. Part of Amanda Hocking's success has to do with the fact that she has several books available for sale. Her readership grew at an exponential rate because she had multiple offerings.

 

What gives the power of multiples its power? There are a lot of things at play here. The more quality books you have with your name on them, the more seasoned and polished you appear. The more books you have available for sale, the more points of discovery you've made available for readers. The more books you publish, the more offerings you serve up for your word-of-mouth army. You're giving your fans a reason to talk about you and your books.

 

Today, more than ever, authors have the opportunity to build off the momentum from previous publications. Whether you choose print on-demand, e-book publishing, or both, the digital realm is your chance to harness the power of multiples. Take advantage of it!

 

-Richard

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

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Plotting a Book Series

You Have More Than One Book Inside of You

1,840 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, promotion, series, craft
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Love Him or Hate Him, Hemingway Wouldn't Care Either Way

The only thing studied more than Ernest Hemingway's work is the man himself. There is an air of boldness about the man that transcends the typical arrogance of a brilliant writer. He gobbled up life like many of us tear into a rare steak. He was feared, admired, loved and hated, and one gets the very real sense that none of it mattered to him. The only thing that seemed to matter to him was his writing. Author Marty Beckerman explores Hemingway in his new book The Heming Way.

 

"I think there's a lot of lessons that Hemingway taught that definitely could apply to modern guys," Beckerman says. "I think that guys today aren't really living on our own terms and have lost a certain passion. Everything we know comes from Wikipedia, and everything Hemingway knew came from adventure. Get off your iPad and get off your smartphone and go slaughter some bulls and some lions!"

 

You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: Rethinking Hemingway 50 years after his death

 

Is 3-D a Creative or Commercial Choice?

Los Angeles Times' film critic Betsy Sharkey has had it with 3-D films. The rise of 3-D offerings has gone from five in 2008 to 40 by the end of this year, and she's not happy. Her biggest beef isn't really with the technology itself, but with the way it's being used. She doesn't feel like filmmakers are using it as a creative tool, but as a commercial tool.              

 

What's troubling in the move from unusual to ubiquitous is that the choice to go 3-D has increasingly become a commercial rather than a creative one. We all realize that making movies is a for-profit business. Instead, let's talk about the fear factor. There is the worry that a studio saying no to 3-D might offend a filmmaker it seriously can't afford to offend. But more often, it's fear that "we the audience" want, desire, even demand 3-D in this technocentric age. So does that mean it's up to us to somehow stop the madness? Or are studios simply not listening to the actual word on the street?

 

You can read the entire article on the Los Angeles Times' website: 3-D in the movies: Getting in too deep

 

When Life Imitates Art that Imitates Life

Justin Timberlake played Facebook kingpin Sean Parker to some acclaim in the award winning movie The Social Network. He apparently enjoyed the role so much that he's now the proud minority owner of his own social network, MySpace. The site that put the social in social network has fallen on hard times as of late, and Timberlake joined a group of investors to buy the site for a bargain. What are his plans for MySpace? 

 

Justin Timberlake's longtime manager Johnny Wright has said that the singer is considering a talent contest as one way of reviving MySpace. Timberlake took an ownership stake in the declining social media site after the advertising network Specific Media bought the company for $35 million from News Corp last week.

 

You can read the entire article on Rolling Stone's website: Justin Timberlake May Revive MySpace With Talent Competition

 

-Richard

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

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 8, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 1, 2011

1,612 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, filmmaking, filmmaking, film, film, myspace, myspace, musicians, musicians, 3d, 3d
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Hello CreateSpace authors! I wanted to take a few minutes to introduce myself, as I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to write a new weekly guest blog for CreateSpace. Why? Because while my book is traditionally published now, I started off going the indie route. My novel, a romantic comedy called Perfect on Paper, was initially turned down by several major publishing houses, and I was crushed. Crushed! But rather than give up on my dream, I independently published through CreateSpace and implemented a creative, grassroots marketing campaign in an effort to prove the big houses wrong. And it worked! Within a year, my book was picked up by AmazonEncore. Since then, Perfect on Paper has also been published by Random House in Germany and Cor Leonis in Hungary, and I've signed on with the same Hollywood film rights agency that represents the authors of Capote and Legend of the Guardians! My next book, a sequel called It's a Waverly Life, is scheduled for release by Amazon Publishing in November 2011, and I've recently begun writing a third novel in the series.

 

While I've certainly worked hard, NONE of the above would have happened without independent publishing. My novel would still be languishing in obscurity on my laptop as a Word document, gathering e-dust. Instead, I have thousands of fans clamoring for my next book, and I'm excited to be working on my third! Along the way I've learned a tremendous amount that I'm eager to share in this blog, including tips for completing that first manuscript, self-publishing mistakes to avoid, and creative ideas for getting the word out. If you have any specific topics you'd like to see me address, please include them in the comments below. I'm writing this to help YOU get to where YOU want to be as an author based on my own experiences, so your input is extremely important to me. I can't wait to get started - watch for my next post next week!

 

- Maria

 

https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

2,660 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, selling, selling, promotion, promotion, blogging, blogging
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I much prefer warts over beauty marks. They are far more interesting. Of course, I'm talking about characters and their flaws, both external and internal. It's a personal preference. Not every writer approaches characters in the same way, nor should they. The great thing about today's literature is that there is something for virtually every taste.


But for my money, the deeply flawed character is the best character. I don't want my heroes to be squeaky clean and to make perfect decisions. I don't want them to be classically beautiful. Right or wrong, I have a preconceived notion that beautiful people don't struggle in very interesting ways. When I pick up a book that describes a character with finely chiseled looks and 6 percent body fat, I don't connect with that character, and in turn, I don't empathize with that character.


The struggle is everything for a reader. It's what draws them into the story. Those warts we hate in the real world because they make our lives complicated and unpleasant are the same warts that we see in the literary world and say to ourselves, "I know exactly where that guy is coming from."


Now, I recognize this inability to connect with beautiful characters as my own personal flaw, if you will. I'm curious to hear how other authors approach characterization. Do you see value in muscles, high cheekbones, and impeccable decision-making skills for your characters? There is no wrong approach here. There's a chance I'm missing out on some great stories because I can't get past this hurdle. What's your preference, warts or beauty marks?

 

-Richard

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

 

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The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

1,323 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, characters, characters, characters, craft, craft, craft, 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

 

Speed: Writing Fiction That Reads Fast - There Are No Rules

Speed may kill, but it also makes for killer prose. Susan Cushman lays out an excellent strategy for revising your way to creating compelling fiction.    

 

3 Ways to Make Your Online Relationships Matter - Marketing Tips

The chief "There Are No Rules" blogger, Jane Friedman, writes a great piece for Marketing Tips on utilizing your social networks more effectively.

 

Film

 

The Kids Are All Right: The Basics Still Inspire Aspiring Filmmakers - IndieWire

Proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same, kids are still inspired to do Raiders of the Lost Ark remakes.

 

Film School On Demand - Pre Production - Filmmaking Central

Ever wonder how to get crew, cast, locations and producing partners? Wonder no more.

 

Music

 

Advice for DIY Artists from an Indie Music Publisher - MusicianCoaching.com

Heather Trussell, vice president of Memory Lane Music Group, shares her pearls of music industry wisdom.

 

Ch-Check it Out: You Wanna be in a Band for a Night? - Indie Actuary

Here's an interesting promotional approach. Florida musician Ben Cooper has put out the call for choirs to perform with him on his upcoming tour.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - July 5, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 28, 2011 Edition

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Anyone who writes a book, produces music, or makes a film wonders the same thing: how do I ignite a word-of-mouth publicity campaign? It can be more frustrating and cause more mental anguish than the creation of a work of art. How did J. K. Rowling do it, or Amanda Hocking, or Oren Peli? How did they break through and get noticed? How did they get their message to stick?

 

Believe it or not, it all began with one person. We talked earlier on this blog about the message and the messenger. Which mattered more? Two people can present the same message with very different results. The person with the most connections will likely have a greater impact. The difficult part for you is finding that person with connections.

 

Finding those connectors is intimately linked to the theme and genre of your work. This is why it so important for you to pigeonhole yourself. It sounds like a bad thing, but hear me out. Fans of specific genres are experts of that genre. They communicate with other fans of that genre, they educate other fans of that genre, and they are enthusiastic about that genre. As an author trying to break into a genre, you need that expertise, those connections, that enthusiasm. 

 

The Harry Potter books are unapologetically a series of young adult fantasy novels. Amanda Hocking's books unmistakably fall under the paranormal romance genre. Oren Peli's movie Paranormal Activity is a horror film. They have a definite identification. That identification comes with a built-in audience. Once you know where your work belongs, you know where to find your fans. Put yourself in situations that will put you in front of them. Attend conferences that cater to that group. Join genre-specific message boards and online groups. Reach out to those fans. Think of each connection you make as striking a match for a fire you're trying to light under windy conditions. You've got to keep striking those matches until one ignites that log. Give it time. Have patience. Keep striking those matches. Eventually, you'll find the right one that will ignite your word-of-mouth campaign.

 

-Richard

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

 

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What Matters More: The Message or the Messenger?

The Pursuit of the Retweet

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Ingredients for a List: Pen, Paper, and the Oxford Comma

So, you've created a list. You've checked it twice. You're just making sure if you really need that comma after the second to last item on your list that comes before the "and." You know the one. It looks something like this: "I need avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, lime, and jalapenos to make my world-famous guacamole." Some have argued that the serial comma is not only unnecessary, but it actually creates an unintended pause in the sentence structure. Reports were rampant recently that the comma, known as the Oxford comma, was deemed unnecessary by none other than Oxford University Press. It seems the reports were not entirely accurate.

 

Yesterday, Mediabistro's GalleyCat ran a post that made it seem like Oxford University Press was dropping the use of its eponymous comma, also known as the serial comma. The story took off and became a Twitter meme so big that by today it had its own Associated Press story. But unfortunately for GalleyCat (or maybe fortunately, because it seems to be getting them a lot of clicks), it wasn't exactly true. The instruction to do away with the comma, which follows the last word in a series, appeared not in the OUP style guide, but rather the guide issued for the University of Oxford Public Affairs Directorate.

 

You can read the entire article on Atlantic Wire's website: Oxford Comma's Non-Demise Brings Twitter Comma Creation Fest

 

Microbudget Filmmaking Can Be Tough

At one time, when filmmakers didn't have a lot of money to make their films, they turned to low-budget filmmaking. But a funny thing happened on the way to low-budget filmmaking: it got really expensive. So, as creative people often do, cash-strapped filmmakers invented a new concept and gave it a label that will help keep the cost down: microbudget filmmaking. It's an affordable, but difficult approach. Todd Looby describes the process.        

 

Now, let me make sure I'm clear in my views that I respect microfilmmakers more than any other filmmaker, simply because it's more difficult. I also tend to like the first films by many directors more than their subsequent studio efforts, simply because you see the inventiveness and the brilliant ways they worked around constraints, pushing the boundaries of the medium and brilliantly transforming the subtle and ordinary to the profound.

 

You can read the entire article on the Filmmaker Magazine's website: THE MICROBUDGET CONVERSATION: A FILMMAKING TOOL

 

A Song That Wouldn't Exist Without Social Media

Technology changes music in more ways than the production and delivery. Technology inspires lyrics. Where would Lionel Richie be without the telephone? Where would The Buggles be without video, or the radio for that matter? Songwriters write about their lives and today's songwriters' lives include social media. Enter Greyson Chance, a 13-year-old pop sensation that makes Justin Bieber look like a social security recipient, and his new song Unfriend You.

 

As for why the YouTube phenomenon felt the heartbreak tune was fitting as the lead single off his debut album Hold On 'Til the Night, Chance explained, "I think 'Unfriend You' is an amazing record because, one, it's a breakup song, which breakup songs are always fun, and two, it's referencing social media, especially in this day and age, I think it's very important to reference social media in music."

 

You can read the entire article on MTV's website: Greyson Chance Gets Revenge In 'Unfriend You' Video

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - July 1, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 24, 2011

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I did an appearance at a school not long ago that sparked the topic of today's post. At the conclusion of my presentation, I invited questions. A young man immediately raised his hand with a burning question: "In the first book," he said, "Lou is completely different by the end than she was at the beginning. Did you mean for that to happen?" I smiled and said, "You bet." I went on to explain how crucial character growth was to storytelling.

 

After that appearance, I realized I take this particular aspect of writing for granted, and that's a mistake. I don't pay close enough attention to the changes my characters go through. I sat down later that evening and identified the basic elements that go into a character arc.

 

  1. Clearly defined character traits - You can't change a character that isn't clearly defined. Consistency is the best way to establish a character's initial nature. For example, if your character has trouble committing to anything, you have to establish that character trait by presenting him with numerous opportunities to demonstrate that particular flaw.

  2. Subtle foreshadowing - Foreshadowing gets a bad rap because when it's done poorly, it can ruin a story. But if foreshadowing is subtle, it can entice and draw a reader in. When it comes to contributing to character change, foreshadowing can give the reader a hint that a character has a desire to change. Maybe our commitment-phobic character meets a lonely elderly character who is living the life he is destined to lead if he doesn't change.

  3. A gradual pace - A character cannot be one way on page one and completely different on page two. If that's the case, there's no reason to go on with the story. The change must present itself gradually over the course of the story in order to allow the reader to be invested in the need to change. The reader should want the character to change as much as the character needs to change to fulfill the promise of the story. They need to anticipate it. Anticipation comes from making them strategically wait.

  4. The change must link with your overall plot - Change for the sake of change doesn't work in fiction. The plot of your story has to contribute to your characters' changes. You know you have a character that is afraid of commitment, so how will you get him to embrace it? You devise a plot that makes it imperative for him to commit. Maybe he needs to get married in order to inherit a large sum of money. In his search for a phony marriage, he unwittingly learns what true love is and commits to the girl of his dreams. On the other hand, you couldn't have him marry for the money and never learn to commit. There's no payoff in that strategy.

 

Defining the change your primary characters will go through before you write can help you develop your plot. It can help you write a preliminary synopsis and write at a faster pace with a clear vision of where your story is headed. Give your characters a clear path for change and you will make your readers care about the people in story. And if they care, they keep reading.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

Write an Obituary for Your Characters

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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

 

Read Faster with Spreeder - PWxyz

A pretty cool little application that trains you to read and comprehend faster.

 

What Is Distant Reading? - The New York Times

I've heard of not reading a book because you're waiting for the movie to come out, but Franco Moretti has a completely different strategy. He's waiting for the data to come out.

 

Film

 

Hi-Technical Knockout: Movie Games or Game Movies? - Diehard GameFAN

Which is better or worse: games based on movies or movies based on games?

 

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez on Technology, Creativity, and the Need for "a Bigger Gun" - Geek Wire

The man who started his career with low-budget films talks about making the most of all your resources.

 

Music

 

Quick Tip for Low Notes - Judy Rodman

Having trouble getting down low with your vocals? Judy has a solution.

 

How 'Unbelieving' In Yourself Helps Finish Music - Mr. Tunes

Could too much confidence in your talent and skill be holding you back? Mr. Tunes offers a different theory on what it takes to get motivated.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 28, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - June 21, 2011 Edition

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The word "platform" became forever linked to the word "author" for many of us when the world of Web 2.0 became a part of our everyday existence. Publishers, marketing experts, and publicists introduced us to the concept of the author platform. In short, it is all the elements used by authors to reach the book-buying public. It's the foundation of your brand. Before the internet, platforms were built and maintained by specialists for authors.

 

But when the world became accessible through high-speed internet connections, authors began to build their own platforms. It was a movement met with resistance at first, but now authors everywhere are not only encouraged to build and maintain their own platforms, they are expected to do so.

 

What does it take to build an author platform? It's really very simple. Every platform is built using three basic planks. You can experiment and extend beyond these three elements, but they will be the building blocks of your author platform.

 

  1. The Message - This is fairly obvious. What are you trying to say? It may not be unique. It may have been said a million times before. Don't concern yourself with your spin on a particular topic when it comes to identifying your message on any given day. Simply identify what you're trying to say.

  2. The Messenger - Now's the time to start thinking about your spin. If you are commenting on something that has been covered ad nauseam, how will you make others think of it differently from all the other messengers? Do you have inside sources? Do you find something tragic funny or something funny tragic? How one presents his or her message defines the messenger.

  3. The Medium - What is the primary delivery point for your message? Will you use a personal blog as your platform's home base? Will it be Twitter or Facebook? Or maybe you have your own radio program or television show to deliver your message.

 

Building a platform is not a static activity. It's not something you construct and then walk away from. It's something you participate in every day. An author's platform is fluid and changes and grows with the author. The more you add to your platform, the more strength it has. The great and scary thing about today's publishing world is that authors are now responsible for their own platforms. Own that responsibility, and build a strong foundation for your brand!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Keep a Brand Journal

What Matters More: The Message or the Messenger?

3,453 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, promotion, promotions, brand, message, branding, messenger, platform
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Is "Pottermore" the Future of Publishing?

Struggling author J.K. Rowling is bound and determined to make a name for herself in the world of publishing. She's taking her little-known Harry Potter series of young adult novels beyond the printed and eBook pages and is developing an interactive reading experience for her small number of hundreds of millions of fans. I, for one, hope she can finally make a go of it (and that you appreciate a little good-natured sarcasm).  

 

Pottermore launched at noon Thursday in England, and fans of Harry Potter swiftly crashed the site's email sign-up. The buzzed-about website appeared suddenly last week, promising a new and exciting announcement from J.K. Rowling; Thursday, she appears in a video explaining what's in store. "I'm thrilled to say I am now in a position to give you something unique, an online reading experience unlike any other," J.K. Rowling says to her readers in the video announcing Pottermore. "It's the same story, with a few crucial additions. The most important one is you." The site, which will be free, will be open to all in October. Fans will be able to read online and help expand and build the Harry Potter world.

 

You can read the entire article and watch the video on The Los Angeles Times' website: Pottermore: It's an interactive reading experience. But it's not online yet.

 

Filmmaker Flips Debut Movie

By now, you've heard of the Flip video camera. It's a video camera the size of your average cell phone that is capable of shooting HD footage. It was built for the YouTube era. You wouldn't think of shooting a feature-length film with a Flip camera. Why would you when you can use two Flip cameras to shoot a movie like filmmaker David Guy Levy did with his film, A Love Affair of Sorts?        

 

The movie, shot over 15 days, is the product of them toting their Flip cams everywhere, shooting every insignificant word and action. "Not having a relationship with her or any sort of trust beforehand was important," Levy said. Bordán "didn't know who I was or what I was capable of, so she wouldn't know if I was messing around or it was really me." The fact that a Flip is only a few inches tall helped create an intimacy that bigger, fancier cameras couldn't offer. Awkward pauses, spasms of expressions and subtle drama are captured as the audience "secretly" watches from the coffee table or the bedside.

 

You can read the entire article on the on The Los Angeles Times' website: The Flip side of filmmaking

 

Did You Know "Grrr" is a Note Used in Classical Music?

Ken Ueno is kind of a big deal in the world of classical music. He's an associate professor of music composition at the University of California at Berkeley, and he's been awarded the Rome Prize and the Berlin Prize. He's unusual in that he counts Jimi Hendrix as one of his influences. And he's also unusual because he's known for what can be best described as melodic guttural groaning.   

 

I am a composer and a vocalist, but not in the traditional classical sense. As a vocalist, I have learned how to make sounds inspired by different vocal traditions from around the world - sub-tone singing and screaming from heavy metal, throat singing from Tuva and Tibet - and have also invented new techniques like singing multi-band multiphonics inspired by jazz saxophonists. In each new piece I compose, I start by finding a sound that embodies a feeling that I want to be central to the piece. I write pieces for myself and for others to perform.

 

You can read the entire article and watch a video featuring Ueno on The New York Times' website: Finding the Score Within

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 24, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - June 17, 2011

925 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, publishing, publishing, industry, industry, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, flip, flip

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