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January 2012
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Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Imagine for a moment that you - the author, the creator - are staring down at a blank world. In it, you place a character and a road on which the character is traveling. First, to create the character, pick three or four of the following individuals from your past and incorporate your most vivid memories about them into your character:


  • Your best friend from elementary school
  • Your least favorite high school teacher
  • Your first significant other
  • The boss from your first real job
  • A shop owner from the town you grew up in
  • A grandparent
  • A sibling, but from a moment when you were still kids
  • Your nanny or babysitter
  • An annoying or difficult neighbor
  • A friend of yours with a noticeable obsession


Now place your newly-formed character on the road and let his or her personality shape this new environment. Are the surroundings familiar or foreign to him or her? Would this person normally be in a place like this? What is the character's reaction? Where is he or she going? Does your character have a destination at all?


Finally, instead of following your character step by step down the path, picture the road from the perspective of the creator. You can see it all at once: each twist, every peril, the great and small rewards. From this mélange of adventures, pluck one particular instance and write it down as though you are several chapters into a novel and this is just one of your protagonist's many escapades. Begin with the line "(S)he stumbled against..."


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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WordPlay: Challenging Your Perspective
WordPlay: A Casual Conversation

2,100 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, exercise, writing, writer's_block
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The internet has contributed a number of opportunities and advancements to the information age. We get news we need (and news we don't need) almost instantaneously. It's changed the way the world does business. The internet is a source of knowledge available to us 24/7, and people are plugging into this "virtual brain" to learn whatever they can about what interests them.


Among those searching for information are beginning writers. They are eager, fledgling artists looking for all the information they can on writing, publishing, even public speaking. Anything they associate with the craft and business of writing, they want to know.


New writers are searching for knowledge, and you should aspire to be a chief source of information for them. By virtue of having a book available for sale, you already know more than many of them. You have writing experience, publishing experience, and experience marketing your book. You've been through the fire, so to speak. We learn from those that have been there before us, and we remember those who teach us.


There are two reasons I believe you should share your war stories. One, it will make for a pool of better-educated writers contributing to our society, something from which we all benefit. Two, by sharing your knowledge, you become a mentor of sorts to writers potentially all over the globe. Those who get the direct benefit of your authoritative advice are more likely to become part of your word-of-mouth campaign.


So I urge you to share your writing experiences on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or any other social networking tool you utilize. You can even try to contribute articles on the topic to media outlets. It's a way for you to give back to your art form, and in the long run, you will get benefits in the form of fans and relationships that will help you sell books.


-Richard

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


Finding Readers in Waiting Rooms

How to Manage Your Volunteer Sales Force

2,600 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, marketing, book, blog, writers, blogging, publishing, writing, blogs
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.


Books/Publishing


10 Ways to Improve Your Writing While Thinking Like a Comedy Writer - Writer's Digest

Are you reckless enough with your writing? 


Scott Berkun on Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing - Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog

A traditionally published author discusses why he tried self-publishing and liked it. 


Film


George Lucas Talks About Filmmaking - USA Today

Learn why the legendary filmmaker prefers independent filmmaking over the studio system.   


Making Your Own Movie? Pros Offer Their Advice, Encouragement - The Florida Times-Union

Filmmaker Patrick Barry discusses the changing film industry and the booming independent film community.  


Music


For The Fans Or Brands? Tiesto Becomes First Artist to Play Live On Twitter - Live Fix

Will your next gig be a Twitter gig? 


The Dos and Don'ts of Co-Writing - Blogging Muses

Music entrepreneur Cliff Goldmacher shares some sage advice on how to co-exist with another songwriter on a project.  


-Richard

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


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Weekly News Roundup - January 20, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - January 13, 2012


2,044 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, book, book, music, music, film, film, publishing, publishing, films, films, newsletter, newsletter
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The other day, a high school friend posted something fantastic on Facebook. It was Rachael Ray on the cover of a magazine, with the following caption below her picture:


Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking her family and her dog


She cooks her family and her dog? Yikes.


While that example may be a bit extreme (yet hilarious), it shows that punctuation is important! Too often writers are lazy about using commas correctly, but as demonstrated above, one or more missing ones can completely change the meaning of a sentence.


A missing hyphen can also have the same effect. Consider the following:


A) My book is a financial guide for small business owners.

B) My book is a financial guide for small-business owners.


Is your book a guide for owners of small businesses, or is it a guide for business owners who happen to be small people? One hyphen. Two very different meanings.


The above is an example of omitting a hyphen where one is needed, but I often see hyphens where they shouldn't be: after adverbs. Adverbs don't require hyphens. If you're not sure what adverbs are, they usually end in "ly," and they are often used to modify adjectives. For example, "extremely" and "highly" are adverbs. Here are examples of correct and incorrect usages of a hyphen:


CORRECT: He wrote an extremely funny novel that became a huge hit.

INCORRECT: She wrote an extremely-humorous query letter but didn't get a reply.

CORRECT: She was a highly paid attorney before becoming an author.

INCORRECT: He turned down a highly-lucrative job offer to be here.


Commas and hyphens may be little, but they matter, just like small business owners do. And Rachael Ray's family.


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Don't Be Afraid to Use Pronouns!

Look Who's Talking

2,399 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, grammar
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After the First Draft

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 25, 2012

There aren't many combinations of words that make you feel happy and sad and relieved all at once, but for me, typing "The End" on the bottom of the last page of a manuscript can elicit just such a jumbled mess of emotions. We writers invest so much of our time and ourselves into a book that by the time you reach those final glorious words, it almost feels akin to birthing a child and marching him or her through every major milestone into adulthood. The question we almost immediately confront is "Now what?"


Every writer handles the completion of the first draft differently, and I can only share with you how I approach the limbo-like state between the first and second drafts. So what does my "ritual" entail?


  1. I celebrate. I just finished a story that has taken up weeks or months of my time. Why wouldn't I celebrate? For me, it's usually dinner and a movie, but I've known authors who will schedule a weekend getaway or buy themselves some new toy they've told themselves they had to earn. Reward yourself anyway you see fit. It's important.
  2. I revisit unfinished manuscripts. I have a ton of books I've started and stepped away from before completion for whatever reason. My writing aura is peaking after I finish a first draft, so it makes sense for me to look up those in-process projects and see if there's anything there worth pursuing. If there is, I write a rough outline.
  3. I let it rest. Normally, I will close the file of the first draft and not open it for a couple of weeks. I find the time away allows me to step out of the emotions I have wrapped up in the story and return to it with a fresh perspective. I know of one particular author who sets it aside for six weeks. I've never been able to wait that long, but we've all got our process.


That's how I approach the letdown and joy of finishing a first draft. How about you? Do you have a post-first draft ritual to clear your head before you start rewrites, or do you just dive right in?


-Richard

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


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Book Editing Tips

5 Tips for Instantly Improving Your Novel


3,309 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, drafts, draft, rough_draft
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It's time again to rattle the old imagination cage with a new creative writing prompt! Read through the following set-up and then take the story from there, writing as much or as little as you like:


It's shockingly cold for June in the little mountain town of Ouray, Colorado. Snow still lingers in patches in the darker parts of the woods, and the thundering of Box Canyon Falls, a near-three hundred foot tall cascade, can be heard in the distance. You've been staying in this quiet little town for a few weeks, enjoying the fresh air and taking in the scenery. In fact, you've been taking longer and longer hikes through the woods, exploring the abrupt basin in which this minute municipality resides.


Today, your walk has led you down one of the more faded paths along the basin's slope. The air is getting thinner the higher you climb, but the view is breathtaking, and you can see a dark ledge maybe a hundred feet or so above you. It looks like an old mining camp, and tantalizing glints of mineral and metal catch your eye and pique your curiosity. After another 15 minutes, you haul yourself, panting, onto the ledge of the coal-black cut.


There's not much left: twists of rusting metal rail blend with rotting plant matter and last year's fallen leaves, and a dark swath of coal and sparkling mica winds through the middle of the ledge, growing wider toward your right. A massive boulder blocks your view in that direction so, once you catch your breath, you make your way around the corner.


The boulder is covered in a fine, deep moss, and as you casually admire the contrast of dark green on silver gray, you notice fresh cuts in the moss at about waist height. They're long scrapes and there's more than one of them. You ponder this for a moment as you round the corner, remembering that you took a pretty old and rarely used trail to find this remote spot, when suddenly...


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: A Strange Note

WordPlay: Universal Language

2,780 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, screenwriting
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I drove my wife to a doctor's appointment not long ago, and I had a choice: I could sit in the waiting room and thumb through some magazines, or drive five miles to the nearest bookstore. Of course, I chose the bookstore.

 

It occurred to me while I was searching for my next Cormac McCarthy book that waiting rooms in doctor's offices are prime marketing real estate for authors. Not for selling books, but for finding potential readers for their word-of-mouth armies. Why not approach the office manager at a doctor's office about supplying them with books for their waiting room?

 

Now, there are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to pursue this strategy. First, you are looking for exposure, not direct sales. The sales will be a residual effect of getting your books into the hands of readers. This means there will be a cost without an immediate return on investment. You will be donating the books to the doctor's office with the understanding that their patients could take a copy with them when they leave with no expectation that they have to return it. In fact, you should write a note on the title page inviting them to take it, courtesy of the author. Be sure to also include your website, Facebook information, and Twitter handle. In short, this is an opportunity to connect with a new reader.

 

You should also remember that not every book is appropriate for all doctors' offices. Do some research before approaching the office manager. How? Simply by looking at the current magazines they provide patients in their waiting rooms. If you see a lot of news and special interest magazines, my guess is that mysteries, thrillers, children's books, and select YA titles would be a good fit. If you see a lot of religious or spiritual themed material, novels that are similarly themed would be a good fit. Some nonfiction books would be appropriate, but titles about medical treatment or diet may be rejected because the doctor doesn't want to appear to be endorsing something he or she hasn't had time to research.

 

How many books you provide the doctor's office and how many offices you approach is up to you. I would start small and expand as needed. Pick one office, leave 3-5 books, and check back in two weeks or a month. Resupply if needed or desired or move on to a new location.

 

The most important part of this particular strategy is to remember that the office manager for a doctor's office is pressed for time. Be sure to approach them with a concise pitch for both your book and your plan to provide them with free books. If you're lucky, they may ask for one for themselves. Good luck!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Shoot For the Stars: How to Get Testimonials for Your Book

Giving Books Away: A Strategy that Still Works

3,326 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, promotion
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice, and opinions from around the virtual globe.


Books/Publishing


How "Literary" and "Entrepreneur" Are Becoming Intertwined - Jane Friedman

Brad Listi discusses his role as an author and entrepreneur in an interview with John Warner.


Can Great Novels Be Great Movies?- PWxyz

If care is applied, a movie based on a great book can be great, too.


Film


A Game-Changer for Television- Sesame Street Will Be First Interactive Show - The Wrap

How much will gaming systems like Kinect and Wii change our future viewing experiences?


Why filmmakers should aim for the Oscars before getting out of bed - Film Industry Network

Should you make your film with awards in mind? Iain Alexander thinks you should.


Music


Donate To Your Favorite Artist Via HumanFankind - Hypebot.com

Is this a legitimate fund raising strategy for musicians? It has its critics and supporters. Decide for yourself.


With Enough Bandwidth, Many Join the Band - The New York Time

Technology has created a new revenue stream for master musicians. If you have a high speed connection and a camera, you can teach music students all over the world.


-Richard

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


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Weekly News Roundup - January 13, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - January 6, 2012

2,986 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, book, book, book, music, music, music, film, film, film, publishing, publishing, publishing
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For many authors, both traditional and self-published, marketing a book is harder than writing one. If you don't have a background in marketing, you may feel confused, overwhelmed, and even a little freaked out by the idea of it. Plus you may equate marketing with advertising and immediately think, Marketing is expensive, there's no way I can do it! But the truth is you can. You just need to be clever about how you go about it.


Here are three things you can do today - for free - to generate some buzz for your book:


1.  Put the entire first chapter of your book on your website and include a link to it in your email signature. If you don't have a website yet, build one tonight! GoDaddy.com has free templates with very inexpensive hosting packages. (Appropriately, it's called Website Tonight.)

 

2.  Add your book to your own "reading list" on LinkedIn so it will show up anytime someone views your profile. (You can do this under the "more" tab along the top.) If you're not on LinkedIn, setting up an account is free and super easy.

 

3.  Sign up for a free Square account so you can take credit card payments with your phone. Then start bringing a book with you everywhere you go. You never know who your next customer-and future fan-might be! I've sold books in some pretty random places, including on a plane, because I was able to accept payment via credit card.


Grassroots marketing is about being creative, not about spending a lot of money. If you're willing to put in the effort, you can do it!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Marketing Based on Content

Guerrilla Book Marketing Tactic

4,467 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, selling, selling, selling, selling, selling, selling, selling, book, book, book, book, book, book, book, author, author, author, author, author, author, author, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions
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There is usually one common element among first time writers that I spot soon after we start talking about their writing; a lack of confidence. It manifests itself in sheepish looks and the pattern of stops and starts in their speech. They seem to be searching for the safest thing to say that won't make them look like braggadocios or, heaven forbid, remotely self-assured about their writing.


Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of humility. And, let's face it, the act of judging writing is in large part subjective. So, one should never be cocky about their writing ability. What I would like to see from new writers is confidence in their writing style. If you can identify your style, it shows that you are knowledgeable about your craft. If you know your craft, it shows a commitment to writing that I expect out of authors.


Do you write dense, engaging prose like David Foster Wallace? Or maybe your style is fast paced with snappy dialogue like Elmore Leonard? Perhaps your style is gritty and unflinching like Cormac McCarthy. You'll notice that I've referenced three authors when referring to style. Your style came from your primary influences. Sure you've added your own special flare to whatever style you generally practice, but chances are it is very similar to the books you enjoy reading. If you enjoyed them, they influenced you in some way. Embrace that influence.


If I ask a new writer about their writing, I'd love for them to say "Virginia Woolf's books were a big influence on me, so I'd have to say my writing style is similar to hers," or insert whatever writer you like in that sentence. The point is it shows me that the writer knows their voice and from whence it came.


Who are your influences? Can you see the similarities between your style and theirs? Take five minutes and write down your major influences and identify the writing DNA they passed on to you. When you start seeing their influences in your own writing, it will give you more confidence.


- Richard


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


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Gaining Perspective When Writing

Is Writing a Talent or a Skill?


4,426 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, books, books, books, book, book, book, book, book, book, book, confidence, confidence, confidence, confidence, confidence, confidence, confidence, writer, writer, writer, writer, writer, writer, writer, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, inspiration, writing_style, writing_style, writing_style, writing_style, writing_style, writing_style, writing_style, influence, influence, influence, influence, influence, influence, influence, style, style, style, style, style, style, style
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Ready for a round of spontaneous writing? Try this quick exercise to stretch out those tired creative muscles:


Don't move. Wherever you are right now, continue to look at this computer screen. Now, without turning your head, note as many of the objects in your line of sight as possible. Where things become blurry in your periphery, try to remember what they are or imagine what they might be. Got it? You can turn away now, but only to write down everything that you saw. The list can be as long or as short as the circumstances allow.


Once you have all of the items down, take those objects and write them out randomly on a single sheet of paper or text document. The result should look something like this:



                                                          coffee

 

camera                                                                  lamp

 

                   Altoids                                                                    tumbler

 

 

 

map                                

 

dictionary



Now for the fun part: starting at the top of the page, begin to write about a detective arriving unexpectedly at the scene of a crime. As you come to the objects, incorporate them into the text. For example:


Mulroney slipped the lock pick back into the front pocket of his overcoat and eased into the bookie's office. The room was pitch black and the smell of coffee left too long on the burner lingered like a talkative drunk at last call.


An old camera hanging from a coat rack thumped into his arm as he fumbled for a lamp...


Write as much or as little as you like and if you enjoy it, keep going. Happy writing!


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.

 

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Creative Writing Exercises

Wordplay: A Strange Note

3,052 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, author, author, author, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, craft, craft, craft, writing_style, writing_style, writing_style
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Sometimes I get a little uncomfortable when I receive an email from an author friend or see a Facebook status from an author I follow begging me to spread the word about their book. Desperation is not a great sales technique. Word of mouth is the best free advertisement a first time author can get and people are much more likely to spread the word for you when you approach them from a position of confidence.


I am a fan of enlisting your friends to join your "volunteer sales force," but they're only going to do that if they're excited about your book, and they're only going to get excited if you feed them a steady stream of positive news about your book. The bottom line is that people pull for the underdog with the right attitude. They want to contribute to that person's overall success.


True, not every day is going to bring earth shattering news in relation to your book, but chances are you receive little "victories" centered around your book on a regular basis, so be sure you're not letting them slide by unannounced. Maybe you unexpectedly sold a couple of books on a particular day. A small note via email or Facebook stating that you're excited about book sales and you just wanted to thank everyone for spreading the word is not only acceptable, it's thoughtful. Maybe you get a good review. Again, share it with your volunteer sales force and thank them for their help.


People want to feel invested in your success. Give them that opportunity by making them feel like they are a part of your success, and remember to thank them every step of the way.

 

-      -Richard


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


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Take Control with Marketing Central

The Power of a Personal Connection

3,193 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, book, book, book, author, author, author, writer, writer, writer, writers, writers, writers
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice, and opinions from around the virtual globe.


Books/Publishing

 


Paranormal Romance Writer Amanda Hocking Scored With E-Books - USA Today

How did the woman who turned the publishing world on its ear celebrate her amazing accomplishments in 2011?


10 Ways to Harness Fear and Fuel Your Writing - Write's Digest

If you're trying to avoid fear, you may be hurting your writing career.


Film


Edward Burns, Director of Newlyweds, on the Changing Face of Indie Film Distribution - The Daily Beast

The man known for his indie success discusses how the changing face of distribution has altered the way he approaches filmmaking.  


Hollywood Says Goodbye to Celluloid - The Telegraph

A technology that has been the backbone of the film industry for 120 years is giving way to the digital age.  


Music


The Phish Method for Success in Music - Mr. Tunes

This jam band adopted the Grateful Dead's guerilla marketing techniques and created a phenomenon that could be the future of music marketing. 


2012 Music Marketing Trends & Predictions - Part 1 - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Are you prepared for the changes on the horizon?   


-Richard

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

 


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Weekly News Roundup - January 6, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - December 30, 2011

3,082 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, books, music, music, music, music, music, film, film, film, film, film, publishing, publishing, publishing, publishing, publishing
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No matter who is publishing your book, you should have a launch party! In fact, most traditional publishers don't throw launch parties unless the author is famous. For the rest of us, that means we're on our own.


Many indie authors think that book launch parties need to be elaborate, which translates into expensive. But that's not true! All you need to do is find a local watering hole with a friendly manager who is willing to give you a little space to sell books in exchange for bringing paying customers with you.


For my most recent book launch, I wanted to have parties in New York City, where I currently live, and San Francisco, where I lived until two years ago. To find a venue I went online (yelp.com is a good place to start) and searched for bars and pubs in fun neighborhoods. Then I started making phone calls. The response I got ran the gamut. In Manhattan, the first place I called wanted $2,500 to let me sit in a corner and sign books for two hours! I tried not to laugh, then politely declined and kept calling others. Soon I found a great bar in the West Village that was more than happy to have me come in for no fee at all.


I had the same experience in San Francisco. It took a few calls, but I found a great pub that is not only going to provide me with plenty of space to sell and sign books, but is also going to help promote the event through social media.


Smart bar owners won't turn down potential business, so take the time to do a little digging - you'll be glad you did!


-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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How to Do a Book Launch

How to Give a Great Interview

22,420 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, promotion, writers, writing, promotions
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Or put into plain English, tackling dialect in your book. There are two schools of thought when it comes to writing dialogue in the dialect of a certain region. There are those who say that, for the sake of authenticity, you have to write in the dialect of your characters. Doing anything else will deprive your story of the realism most fiction needs to suck the reader into your world. On the flip side, there are those who say writing in dialect can put an unnecessary speed bump into your story. It could cause the reader to misread and reread certain passages, which makes for a very confusing and unpleasant reading experience.


I come down somewhere in the middle on the debate. As someone who lives in the South, I experience the use of "y'all" and "ain't" and "yeh-sir" on a daily basis. As a consequence, when I write a Southern character, I sprinkle in a little bit of dialect. But I try not to overdo it. If I were to include every dropped letter and every extra syllable into common words that I actually hear on a day-to-day basis, it would almost appear as hieroglyphics. I don't want to put readers in the position of having to decipher a passage I've written.


My advice is to use dialect just enough to establish character. You will recognize the sweet spot you are looking for when you sit down to do rewrites. If you're not sure about something you've written, share it with a few trusted readers and get their feedback. They'll let you know if they had trouble translating what you character was trying to say.

Good luck to y'all, and happy writ'n'!


- Richard

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


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How to Establish Your Characters: Openings

How to Set SMART Writing Goals

3,447 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink
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Think of what it is like to buy a fragile item. When you open the box, the object can be so buried in packaging that you wind up with way more filler than product. Writing can be similar.


Often when one is trying to convey an idea, he or she may use two, three, or even four or five words that basically mean the same thing. This isnt always a bad thing-many great literary lines have been tautological in nature-but tautology can also bog down prose and leave readers struggling through bubble wrap and puff peanuts as they look for the storyline.


Tautology, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, is "the needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word." For example, "huge mountain," "free gift," and "it's déjà vu all over again."


Other less obvious examples come in the form of acronyms: "ATM machine (Automated Teller Machine machine)" or "PIN number (Personal Identification Number number)."


Do you find yourself getting a little tautological from time to time in your writing? It might not be as obvious as the examples listed above, but when you're reading through your manuscript, consider whether or not certain phrases are needed or are simply repeating the same statement twice (now that's tautology!).


And that brings us to this week's exercise:


The Department of Redundancy Department


It's your first day at the DRD department and your job is to go through a stack of statements, all of which are suspected of being tautological. If they are, you have the full authority of the DRD to reprimand the scurrilous scribe with a scathing correction to his or her excessive verbosity. Which of the following statements should be corrected and how would you correct them?


  • Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: your noble son is mad: Mad call I it; for, to define true madness, what is't but to be nothing else but mad?
  • Thanks to their joint collaboration, the archaeologists found the handwritten manuscript in the destroyed ruins of the monastery.
  • She herself had written her autobiography of her own life in just two weeks.
  • The flour is adequate enough for the recipe.
  • She watched the duel take place from a hiding place in close proximity.
  • The fisherman woke up at 4 a.m. this morning so he could catch the tide.
  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


-Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: Idioms

WordPlay: Putting Your Worst Foot Forward

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What Is A QR Code?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 10, 2012

I'm sure you are much smarter than I am, and you haven't been baffled by the rise of something known as a QR code. It appears to be an object out of a science fiction movie that can transport you to new worlds and destinations. If by chance you feel underinformed about this marketing device, allow me to shed for you what little light I have on the topic.

 

QR codes are barcodes with superhero powers. They appear in real and/or virtual space as a square arrangement of little boxes and squiggly lines. Click here for an example of a typical QR code (and for some information on a unique way in which authors are using QR codes) - QR Codes - the Gateway to Augmented Reality Books. When scanned by a special device, barcodes will give you the basic information about an item. When QR codes are scanned by mobile devices with the proper application, you will be sent to a website or a video, or to a downloadable file that is related to the item.

 

For instance, an author may use a QR code as a profile picture on Facebook. When the QR code is scanned, the trailer for his or her latest book pops up on the user's mobile device. Or in another case, you may be walking down the street and see a flyer with a QR code for an author hanging on a light pole. Scan the QR code, and a website with information on the author's upcoming appearances in the area will pop up on your mobile device.

 

Here is a free website where you can experiment with QR codes: Qurify. Most new mobile phones are equipped with QR code readers as a standard application, but just in case, here's a website where you can learn more information on QR code software for your mobile phones: QRStuff.com.

 

Are QR codes for you? It's hard for me to advise you on something like that. I will say that if you have a highly organized marketing strategy, it might be the perfect complement to your plan. If nothing else, they give the appearance of someone in tune with today's high tech world.


- Richard

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


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Ramping Up Facebook Activity for the New Year

Take Control with Marketing Central

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


Books/Publishing


Reading 55 Books in 2011: What I Learned - PWxyz

Is there such a thing as reading too many books?  Can you overload your brain with the written word?


Awakening Your Creative Genius - Huffington Post

Arielle Ford discusses breaking down the barriers that are preventing you from tapping into your creativity.


Film


Filmmaking Should Be a Collective Effort - The Hindu

Romanian filmmaker Adrian Sitaru discusses the importance of collaboration and preparation in filmmaking.  


Filmmaking Titans Talk About Their Motion-Capture Collaboration - The Miami Herald

What happens when Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg use a technology developed by James Cameron?  Movie magic! 


Music


15 Indie Artist Revenue Opportunities for 2012 - Hypebot.com

Clyde Smith shares the best revenue streams for the independent artist. 


How to Fail at (Music) Blogging - Culture Bully

Blogger Chris DeLine takes a look at the numerous pitfalls and traps many music bloggers fall into. 


-Richard

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


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Weekly News Roundup - December 30, 2011

Weekly News Roundup - December 23, 2011

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People can be flakey. It's unfortunate, but true. Professionally and personally, not everyone has the ability to stay on top of everything. That's why, when it comes to marketing your book, following up often and multiple times is crucial.

 

As you promote your book, you're going to reach out to a lot of people, and while many of them may have the best of intentions, life will often get in the way. You might have a great conversation with someone about arranging a review or an event, but at some point he or she might forget to e-mail or call you back - even if it's technically his or her turn. In ninety-nine percent of those cases, if you don't get the ball rolling again, that will be the end of it. Believe me.

 

In a previous post I discussed the importance of keeping a marketing spreadsheet to track your efforts. If you can be diligent enough to make a note each time you send someone an e-mail or leave a voicemail, it will pay off in the long run by reminding you to get back in touch with those you haven't heard from. It's easy to send an e-mail or leave a message and expect a reply, but unfortunately that's not always the way it works. Another good trick is to keep a "waiting to hear from" list with dates indicating the last time you reached out to different individuals.

 

Someone else's job and family are always going to come before your book, and that's completely understandable. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll stop feeling neglected and start being more proactive.

 

- Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Shoot For the Stars: How to Get Testimonials for Your Book

Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

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The New Year has come and gone, which means you've probably made some New Year's resolutions. Since you're a writer, a pledge to complete that unfinished novel is probably somewhere on your list. Or perhaps you want to finally start writing that idea for a novel you've had for a long time. Or maybe you've simply made an oath to write more.


If writing is one of your resolutions, let me share an accelerated writing method I've been experimenting with in order to complete a book by the end of the year. On December 2, 2011, I had 18,010 words written on a planned sixty thousand-word novel. I had had those 18,010 words since August 11, 2011. In other words I was stuck, and frankly I needed some motivation to get back on track.


Late night on December 1, I turned on the TV and saw an infomercial for an exercise program that centered on an interval training system. You do twenty to thirty seconds of cardio at full speed and then you do twenty to thirty seconds at a relaxed speed. You repeat that cycle over and over again. Believe it or not, I started thinking about this process in relation to my writing sessions. Normally, I would sit and write until I couldn't write anymore. Sometimes it was hard to enter my office because I knew I would be sitting there for hours trying to reach a respectable daily word count. I ended up forcing myself to write, which isn't exactly fertile ground for creativity.


The next day, I applied the interval concept to my daily writing. I sat down and wrote five hundred words, then I got up and distracted myself with another activity for thirty to forty-five minutes. I came back and wrote another five hundred words. After typing the five hundredth word, I did another activity for thirty to forty-five minutes. When all was said and done, I had easily tripled the number of words I usually write in a day. What's more, I found that I was much more focused on my story during those five hundred-word sessions. On December 17, I finished the first draft of the novel I had been stuck on for months. I missed one day of writing during that fifteen day period. On my most productive day, I typed a total of six thousand words (That included a couple of writing assignments apart from the novel). On my least productive day, I typed a total of 2,700 words.


I invite you to try the interval writing program for yourself. It doesn't have to be five hundred-word sessions. You can customize it to fit your lifestyle and free time. I chose five hundred words because I found that without the pressure of reaching an inflated word count for the day, I could comfortably produce about five hundred words in around thirty minutes. The key is to relieve yourself from the pressure that normally comes from marathon writing sessions. I'm confident you'll be more focused during short bursts of writing and as a consequence you'll be more productive. Who knows, you may even finish more than one novel in 2012 using this method.


Happy New Year and happy writing!


-      Richard

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


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How to Set SMART Writing Goals

Oh, Those Random Thoughts

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1

Welcome to a new year. You have twelve months in front of you to gradually step up your branding activity. Let this be the year that you commit to building your brand. To make it easy on yourself, start by increasing your presence on Facebook. In my opinion, Facebook is better suited for people who aren't necessarily comfortable with the concept of social networking. Why? It allows you to expand your interactions beyond bite-sized communications. There are character restrictions on wall postings, but you're allotted more than enough space to convey your thoughts. In other words, you won't have to shorthand your brand.

 

How do you use Facebook to build your brand? Here are three actions you can take every day to do just that:

 

1. Update your status - Too many authors join Facebook and either let the account sit dormant or only comment on someone else's status. Try initiating the conversation. There are a few ways to do so and none of them are too taxing. I will often post a link to an interesting article on my wall or a link to my own blog. I frequently post status updates that have to do with writing or my books. I've seen authors ask for reviews or post reminders that their book would make a great gift. I'm not sure that's the best strategy, but posting about your latest review or your favorite e-mail from a fan is something you would share with a friend, so it's appropriate for Facebook.

 

2. Engage - Initiating the conversation doesn't mean you should ignore other members' status updates or comments on your status updates. Engage your friends. The true power of social networking is the give and take between author and reader. When you engage a reader on Facebook, you're likely raising that reader's level of commitment to spreading the word about your book.

 

3. Friend invitations - You're on Facebook, but does anyone know? Do you have a link on your blog? Is it in your e-mail signature? Do you tell people you meet at parties or other social gatherings to "friend" you on Facebook? You should be building your friend base at every opportunity. The more friends you have, the bigger your word of mouth campaign becomes.

 

There you have it - three easy steps that you can take every day to build your brand via Facebook. Once you develop the habit of incorporating these steps into your everyday routine, I think you'll find that it doesn't take that much time out of your day, and it's actually fun.

 

-Richard

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

 


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Branding 101: Tools for Branding

Email Signatures: What's In a Name?

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Sometimes what holds us up during the writing process is not so much the next step in the story, but the best way to say it. So often it comes down to one word that perfectly embodies what you're trying to convey and you just...can't...remember...it. The whole story might grind to a halt as you run through the alphabet in an attempt to kick the word to the front of your memory.

 

One helpful resource for this problem is a website called OneLook Reverse Dictionary. It's not all that accurate and it usually takes the vague "it sounds like..., but not quite like..." parameters a bit too literally, but I usually wind up finding my way, if not to the word itself, to something that works just as well.

 

Another solution is flashcards. I know this sounds somewhat collegiate, but a little brain boost once in a while can do wonders for one's vocabulary. And you don't have to walk around with a pack of 3 x 5 index cards in your back pocket, either. If you have a smart phone, you can download the application for both Dictionary.com and Dictionary.com Flashcards.

 

Dictionary.com is great for writers because, if you allow it to send you push notifications, a new word will pop up on your phone daily. When you click on it, you can scroll through to the Spanish Word of the Day, The Question of the Day (ex: "What is the etymology of asparagus?") and a daily discussion on words and grammar.

 

Then there's the flashcards feature. Say you're sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic or you're waiting for someone to show up for dinner, get home from work, etc. Just pick a flashcard category and bulk up on your personal lexicon. While the flashcard topics change on a daily basis, all of the decks are stored online and you can access past collections at any time. Some recent flashcard categories include "Adjectives to Charm Your Instructor" with words such as ebullient, phlegmatic, and perspicacious; and "Confusable Combinations that are Almost Cruel," which pairs commonly confused words such as essay and assay, estate and ansate, and axis and accent.

 

Once you study your cards, you can quiz yourself to see how many words you've retained and how quickly you can remember their definitions. Not only will your new verbal skills help you sound like the professional wordsmith that you know you are, it will increase your perspicacity on the page.

 

And that brings us to this week's exercise:

 

What a word

 

Take a moment to learn a new word and see how many ways you can use it in a day. Use it in an e-mail, work it into a casual conversation, or write a sentence with it. By repeatedly using the word in its correct context, you have a better chance of retaining it and ultimately you'll spend less time fumbling for words during crucial moments of inspiration.

 

- Kristin

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Kristin is a content media coordinator with CreateSpace. She draws from a strong background in journalism and creative writing to help authors hone their skills and flex their artistic muscles.


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WordPlay: The Rum Runners' Retreat

Don't Be Afraid to Use Pronouns!

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