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April 2012

In my last post, I relayed my general observations from The London Book Fair, which took place April 16-19 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre. When I wasn't chatting with authors at the CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing booth, I was attending several educational sessions throughout the show. These featured a variety of industry-related topics as well as ready-to-apply tips from successful authors and experts. Read on for the some of the best tidbits from each.

Session Takeaways

Session: Global Publishing Markets

Dr. Rudiger Wischenbart relayed research on basic statistics and patterns of the worldwide publishing industry.

  • Dr. Wischenbart reported that traditional publishing sales in the larger U.S. and European markets are either flat or down, but the number of titles are going up.
  • According to the research, the top ten largest book markets in terms of revenue are the U.S., China, Germany, Japan, U.K., France, India, Italy, Spain, and Korea.
  • Germany has some of the highest English-language translation imports, and the U.S. and U.K. are leading the digital book revolution.
  • Dr. Wischenbart summed it up this way: "New ways to publish are emerging, and we have to open our minds to embrace all the new models."

Session: Author of the Day

British crime novelist Peter James talked about his writing process during an interview at the English PEN Literary Café.

  • James spoke a lot about the importance of the editing process, stating he typically has 5 people read his manuscript before it even gets to the editor. He stated, "I think the relationship between a writer and editor is crucial. As an author, you get so close to your book, that the only way to truly distance yourself would be to put it in a drawer for 3 years."
  • All in all it takes him about a year (with editing) to write a crime novel. Since he finds the first line and beginning to be so important, he spends about a month just on the first chapter. Then, he plans the book with the key action points, always knowing the ending.

Session: CEO Keynote - The Great Transformation 2012

Tom Allen of the Association of American Publishers moderated a panel including Donald Katz (Audible), John Mitchinson (Unbound), George Lossius (Publishing Technology), and Richard Charkin (Bloomsburg).

  • Don Katz of says the publishing business model has always been in flux, and that publishers are now being forced to get back to basics and expand their lists through digital. He wrapped up all of his commentary throughout the session by stating "all that really matters is the author and the reader."
  • John Mitchinson of Unbound says the reports that "nobody reads anymore" are untrue - twice as many people are reading books now than they were in the 1930s and 40s. "Books are a very diverse product, so they should be making a ton of money. Why aren't publishers plugged into this energy? Because publishers use a B-to-B model and aren't plugged in to readers. It's important to bring readers and writers together. In the digital world, people want access, openness, and to be involved."
  • Richard Charkin, executive director of Bloomsberg countered the question of whether the current publishing model is sustainable what he thinks is a better one: "Is the current business model desirable?" He thinks publishers should be trying out different models to see what works.


Session: This is Social Commerce

Guy Clapperton offered a few tips on how to best use social media to make sales.

  • On Twitter, having the right followers is more important than having the most followers. Focus on saying the right things that will engage your audience.
  • His primary advice to writers using social media? "Keep at it. Make sure you have a lively blog to lead to. Get lots of good online reviews. Keep being available. Thank your readers when they say something nice. Establish yourself ahead of time as a person that's interesting to follow in your area by joining relevant groups in your channel."

Session: Has Anyone Spoken to the Author?

John Mitchinson moderated a panel of authors including Ilana Fox, Robert Llewellyn, Nick Harkaway, and Salena Godden, who shared their thoughts about what it means to be a writer in the 21st century.

  • Nick Harkaway, author of Angelmaker, reminded us that being an author is hard work. He stated that a lot of authors want to believe they'll have an amazing experience with a publisher and excel with audiences as a result, but it's not that easy; success requires the author's proactive work. Later, he commented on not avoiding distractions to get the work done: "I don't turn off the internet when I'm writing. If what I'm writing isn't more interesting than those distractions, it won't be more interesting to the reader."
  • Ilana Fox, author of All That Glitters, talked about the modern author's responsibilities: "You won't get much of a marketing budget or PR time; publishing companies are leaving it up to the author. We're supposed to be performers, we're supposed to engage with everyone, but publishers aren't teaching authors how to do that, or even asking if they want to. Who decided authors should be salespeople?"
  • Actor and author Robert Llewellyn shared his thoughts: "I wanted to publish another book, but I didn't want to go through a publisher. I didn't want an advance, because 10 years later I'm still getting letters from my publisher telling me how much of my advance I'm yet to pay off. Do everything you can to get straight to your audience. If you don't have an audience, your job is to start creating it."

Session: Twitter to Woo?

Tom Hall (Lonely Planet), Julia Lampam (Wiley), and Joe Pickering (Penguin) shared the benefits of using social media in the publishing world.

  • Joe Pickering, publicity manager for Penguin, gave suggestions for how to stand out in social media: What makes you different than everyone else? Be generous with information and make your social page the go-to source for info. Take your time, don't expect instant results, and don't expect to be a social media expert immediately. Think about your personality online; don't be afraid to have an opinion, don't take yourself too seriously, and don't make attacks on other authors. Get involved in all the channels, and don't only tweet about work or your own books.
  • After giving these guidelines, Joe summed it up: "Don't be bound by constraints. There are no rules. Think about what YOU like to hear and how you like to hear about it, and act accordingly."
  • Tom Hall, Lonely Planet's online editorial director, also provided a list of guidelines: Judgments are quick in social media, so make your intent clear in your descriptions. Curate content rather than just self-promoting to entertain and build credibility and trust. Reply to people who talk to you, keeping in mind that a big audience isn't everything if they aren't actively interacting.

That wraps it up for this year's London Book Fair. Stay tuned for my report from the next trade show we attend, Book Expo America in New York City, June 5-7. If you'll be there, be sure to stop by the CreateSpace booth - #4170 - and allow us to make your acquaintance. Cheers!

Holding down the fort: Thom, Brittany, Amanda, Brian, and Hande.

See you in New York!


Amanda is the editor of CreateSpace's educational resources and social media channels.

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London Calling: The Book Fair Recap

Self-Publishing Book Expo Recap: Tips for Indie Success

1,925 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: author, author, self-publishing, self-publishing, promotion, promotion, indie, indie, book_fair, book_fair

On the ride from Heathrow Airport to London's Kensington district last week, I made small talk with one of the city's famously friendly taxi drivers about the reason for my visit. Upon learning I'd be attending The London Book Fair at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, he made a statement that resonated throughout my stay: "Londoners love their books." By lunchtime on the show's first day, I had learned the driver's comment could actually apply to the U.K. and Europe as a whole.


Why The London Book Fair?


People travel from all over the world to attend The London Book Fair, described on its site as a place to "hear from authors, enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, and explore innovations shaping the publishing world of the future." It was for these reasons that CreateSpace exhibited at the fair for the first time.

A shot of the CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing booth as the show opened.


Trade shows allow us to connect with authors face-to-face. We answer questions, listen to and capture feedback, brainstorm marketing strategies for their books, or just chat about their latest titles. Regardless of the topic, one thing remains true: we walk away from each conversation having learned something. In this respect, our experience at the London Book Fair was no different.


Three Observations


Similar to its U.S. show counterparts like Book Expo America (BEA), I noticed some overarching themes emerging after three days at The London Book Fair. What three things did I pick up on most?

  1. Indie is Gaining Steam. Self-publishing was the subject of a good bit of show buzz, and it came up everywhere from sessions outlining the current and future state of the publishing industry to conversations in the coffee queue. It seems presenters and attendees alike were taking a hard look at old publishing models vs. the new opportunities in the industry today. As expected, there was some healthy debate about the merits of both sides; many of the discussions came down to the author's experience. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, one thing was clear: the indie revolution is changing the whole conversation.
  2. An eBook Version is a Must. eBooks were an especially hot topic around the show, which was indicative of the ever-growing popularity of digital books. It seemed authors were getting on-board with having multiple formats - both Kindle and print versions - of their titles in order to cast the widest net with potential readers. Our boothmates, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), answered questions about creating eBooks and invited two top-selling U.K. authors, Rachel Abbott and Kerry Wilkinson, to share their experiences with indie publishing. Read more in Publishers Weekly.
  3. It's All About Distribution. Many of the authors we talked to at the CreateSpace booth echoed the same sentiments: distribution is vital to success. They recognized the importance of making a book available to as many distribution channels as possible in order to increase sales opportunities for their titles. I found these one-on-one conversations especially interesting as CreateSpace looks to continuously innovate in this area.


In addition to these overarching themes, I also attended several educational sessions about the book industry, the modern author, and tips for success. Next week, I'll outline some of the most interesting points from each London Book Fair session I attended. Thanks for reading!



Amanda is the editor of CreateSpace's educational resources and social media channels.


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Self-Publishing Book Expo Recap: Tips for Indie Success

BEA Recap: Day 6 - A Business Model for Your Book

2,570 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, author, author, author, london, london, london, trade_show, trade_show, trade_show, recap, recap, recap

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




3 Dos and 3 Do Nots of Requesting Book Reviews -Duolit


Advice on how to get your foot in the door with some reviewers without turning them off.


The Secret to Overnight Book Marketing Success -Marketing Tips


SPOILER ALERT: Kukral doesn't think you should rely on being an overnight success.




Indie Filmmakers to Greenlight Themselves -Moviefone


How does the JOBS act impact your fundraising efforts?


Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling - LA Weekly


Some filmmakers are trying to stem the tide of digital filmmaking.




Branding Yourself in a Niche Market


Shikhee, founder of the eclectic band, Android Lust, discusses the nuances of the niche music scene.

Classical Musicians as 21st Century Entrepreneurs -


Classically trained musicians are learning to think outside of the orchestra room and expand their business knowledge.

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

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Weekly News Roundup - April 20, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - April 13, 2012

1,323 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, marketing, marketing, reviews, reviews, music, music, film, film, self-publishing, self-publishing, movies, movies, branding, branding

I'm working on a new book at the moment that clued me in on how I approach a story. I don't know why I wasn't aware of it until now, but I'm happy I stumbled upon it because it's helped me with what I find to be one of the most difficult aspects of writing: identifying a centralized theme. My brain delivers a book to me in chunks. I'll see characters and settings and hear bits and pieces of conversations as I develop a story. When I say develop, I mean before I even start the writing process. By the time I sit down to write those first 40 pages or so, I may not even know the purpose of the story. I'll know the who, what, where, and when, but the why usually works itself out after the first 8,000 words. I'll plot and outline from there.


In writing this new book, I realized that one of the first things I do after completing the early pages is map out the most crucial scene of the book. Everything I've written to that point is the foundation for the scene that will define the story. It is the flashpoint of my centralized theme. Discovering this has been a revelation for me. Why? Because when I write the description of my book, I will go back to that crucial scene. When I have to put together my elevator pitch, it will come from that same scene. If I should get off track while writing the book, I can right myself by keeping that scene as my focal point. That scene is the lifeblood of my story.


We all approach writing a book differently, and there is no wrong way. If it works for you, it works. There's no arguing with that point. But if you find yourself having trouble identifying what your book is about in the simplest terms, ask yourself what is the most crucial scene in your book. Chances are that once you discover it, the theme of your book will become crystal clear.


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


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Can Visualization Help You Finish That Manuscript?

Unblocking Writer's Block

1,490 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writing, storyline, theme

After one of many NFL games I watched this year, the commentator offered a candid opinion on why a certain team had lost so many games throughout the season: He thought it was the quarterback's fault. In fact, he said something along the lines of this:

"With a different quarterback, this team could have went far."


As soon as the word "went" left his mouth, my football brain left the room and the grammar police took over.

The past tense of the verb "to go" is conjugated as follows:

  • I went to the movies.
  • You went to the movies.
  • He/she went to the movies.
  • We went to the movies.
  • They went to the movies.

However, the present perfect tense of the same verb is as follows:

  • I have gone to the movies.
  • You have gone to the movies.
  • He/she has gone to the movies.
  • We have gone to the movies.
  • They have gone to the movies.

The pluperfect (or past perfect) tense is as follows:

  • I had gone to the movies.
  • You had gone to the movies.
  • He/she had gone to the movies.
  • We had gone to the movies.
  • They had gone to the movies.

Could have gone, would have gone, and should have gone are all correct conjugations as well, as in could have gone far.

That famous commentator isn't the only public figure to commit this offense. Last night, I read a quote from a baseball player who thanked his fans "for supporting me through everything I've went through over the last couple of months." Yikes. Then, I heard a celebrity judge on a reality show open her comment on an aspiring singer's outlandish outfit with this grammatical gem: "If she would have came dressed..."

If more of these celebrities had paid attention in English class, I could have gone to sleep early last night instead of staying up to write this post!

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper and It's a Waverly Life. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at

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More Grammar Pet Peeves!

Just Say No to Random Capitalization!

1,763 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writers, writing, grammar

Today it may seem like I'm dipping my toe into the waters of the metaphysical because I'm going to discuss a form of visualization that I think will help you achieve your goals. While on the surface it appears somewhat ethereal in nature, I do believe there is a practical interpretation as to why it works. This method can be used for anything in your life, but for our purposes, we're going to focus on branding.


This form of visualization is custom-built for writers because it involves the practice of journaling. Traditionally, we use a journal to document events in our lives. But we are not going to use our journal in that way. We are going to document what we want to happen as if it has happened. Picture yourself 40 years into the future. Every dream you've had for your writing career has come true. From this place of achievement, write down how you got there. Since we are focusing on branding, you're going to reveal how you built your successful author brand. How many social media followers and interactions did you accumulate over the years? How many total views did your personal videos collect? How popular was your blog? On which TV shows did you appear? Describe in as much detail as you can how your brand became so widely known.


Now, do I believe that because you've written it down in a journal that your brand will take off on its own? No, but I do believe that using this method will help you see what it truly takes to build an author brand and help you come up with a strategy that works for you. There may be something to the axiom, "If you believe it, you can achieve it." But I'm more inclined to believe it's easier to get somewhere if you know how to get there. Consider giving this form of reverse journaling for your brand a try, and see if it can show you how to achieve your goals.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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Branding 101: Brand Sabotage

Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

3,221 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, author, author, author, journaling, journaling, journaling, brand, brand, brand, branding, branding, branding, visualization, visualization, visualization

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




How to Use Quotation Marks & Punctuation [Infographic] -Ebook Friendly


Here's a single-page resource for the most important rules on quotation marks and punctuation.


Why You Should Write Like a Little Kid -GalleyCat


Maybe it's not time to put away childish things.




Writing and Directing POV -Projector Films


Are you ready to tackle a POV project?


Movie Audiences Want More Imaginative Film-Making - Yahoo! Finance


This research shows audiences prefer a good story over special effects.




How To Get Gigs Using a Weird Trick I Learned From Tony Soprano -Promote Your Music


Don't worry. It's legal.


The Science Behind Why People Share Music - The Musician's Guideline


Has Marcus Taylor uncovered the formula for going 'viral'?


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


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Weekly News Roundup - April 13, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - April 6, 2012

1,526 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self_publishing, author, author, writers, writers, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers

Your manuscript is complete. Do you know where your plot points are? If you don't, there's a good chance you have some major rewrites ahead of you. Without plot points, you may have just a series of short, incomplete stories with the same characters throughout. If that's the case, don't feel bad. You're in good company. That's how the editor who helped bring Harper Lee's classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird to life described Lee's first manuscript. It took the author two and a half years to reshape the manuscript with separate plot points that tied the whole thing together.

So what are plot points? They are those moments in the book that propel your story in defined directions. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Lee established two major plots, and she used points, or inciting incidents, to drive the storylines along. Atticus defends a black man in pre-civil rights America for a crime he did not commit, and Scout, Jem, and Dell become embroiled by the mystery of Boo Radley. There are plot points throughout that compel the storyline in certain directions. One of my favorites is the mystery created when the children discover small gifts hidden in the crook of the tree in front of the Radley house. Another one is when we discover that Atticus' client could not be guilty because he lost the use of his arm in a cotton gin accident as a young child.

What events, or plot points, tie your scenes together and send your story in a certain direction? Can you identify them? Before you start your rewrites, go through your manuscript and find those plot points that keep your story from falling apart. Start your rewrites there. Make those scenes perfect. They are the glue holding your story together.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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3 Rules for Writing a Scene

When You Cut a Scene You Like, Save It!

2,902 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, editing, writing, plot, storyline

But I don't feel bad enough to write badly.

I have a friend who has a pet phrase. When she feels compassion or sympathy for a person, she often says "I feel badly." I bite my tongue every time she says this, because it's wrong. (By the way, my friend went to Harvard, so don't feel bad if you are guilty of this error too.) As demonstrated in the previous sentence, the correct way to express sentiment is "I feel bad."

To understand when to use bad vs. badly, let me give a quick lesson on transitive and intransitive verbs:

Transitive verbs require a direct object to complete a sentence:

  • I buy the cat.
  • I touch the cat.
  • I pet the cat.


Intransitive verbs require no object to complete a sentence:


  • You smell.
  • I sleep.
  • He died.


"Feel" can be a transitive or intransitive verb depending on its intended meaning. In the case of my friend, it is an intransitive verb. She's not actually touching something, like a cat's fur, so "bad" is the correct adjective to describe her state of mind. "Badly" is an adverb to describe an action, and adverbs are used only with transitive verbs. So if she's terrible at feeling the cat's fur, then she could say she feels badly. Got it?


I watched an important college football game in January where the poor kicker missed three field goals, including one that could have won the game as time ran out. Instead of being the hero of the day, however, he kicked badly. And he definitely felt bad as a result, because his team lost.


Too bad.


-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper and It's a Waverly Life. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at

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More Grammar Pet Peeves!

Refer vs. Recommend

1,955 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, book, writing

Because your brand is created by you being you, it doesn't usually require much problem-solving. However, one cannot count on luck to build a successful brand. By and large, brands are built through one simple element: consistency. Rather than just popping up, brands are built over time after accumulating a history of a consistent style and approach.

No one can dictate to you as an author what your personal style is, but I can offer a recommendation on how to acquire that consistent history that will eventually define your brand: set branding activity goals. In short, schedule when you're going to blog, Tweet, vlog, etc. If you're new to the branding game, you'll want to start off slowly and increase your activity over time. Ideally, you should be contributing to the history of your brand every day. Here's an example of goal-setting for beginning brands:

  • Daily Goal - Social Media: Use social networks to cultivate your closest virtual relationships. Contribute to sites like Twitter and/or Facebook every day. Set your goal in the beginning to tweet a favorite quote, quick writing update, book-related news, or commentary on current events at least once a day. One short, but sweet tweet may seem like a drop in the bucket, but if you stick to daily tweeting, at the end of the year you'll have accumulated 365 pieces of content that add to the record of your brand. Chances are you'll fall into a pattern and end up exceeding one Tweet a day. For me, Facebook is the social network of choice. It's fun to connect with my community, and it's helping me establish my brand.

  • Weekly Goal - Blog: Pick a number of times you want to post to your blog every week. I used to recommend doing daily blog posts, and I still don't think that's a bad strategy. But if you are active in the social networking community, blogging once a day isn't as crucial as it once was. I now recommend blogging at least three times a week. If in a year you have begun posting meaningfully to your blog daily, bravo on accelerating your brand-building history!

  • Monthly Goal - Vlog: Do a short personal video once a month for the first six months. Get used to the format and concept, and then increase the number of videos you create. You could set your goal to schedule one vlog each week, which helps personalize your brand, build your history, and make your brand more dynamic.

Track your progress on a calendar. If you miss a scheduled branding activity, find a way to make it up. The bottom line is you can't have a brand without a branding history. Setting and keeping small goals like the ones above will help you create that history and help you build a successful brand.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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

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You Know More Than You Think You Do!

Keep Track of Your Successes

3,141 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, blogging, blogging, blogging, blogging, blogging, branding, branding, branding, branding, branding, social_media, social_media, social_media, social_media, social_media

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




Felicia Day Launches YouTube Channel with Book Club -GalleyCat


Will book club web series become a trend? Let's hope so.


How to Shine as an Exhibitor at a Tradeshow -Color Your Life Published


Learn how to master the art of exhibiting at tradeshows and book fairs.




Screenwriting Rhythm: Two Extremes -The Athletic Nerd


Are you a zone writer or a pause writer?


'No One Can Make a Viral Video' by Vampire Mob's Joe Wilson - Film Courage


Is a web series a good way to showcase your storytelling talents?




Vocal Careers: How to Find Success -Judy Rodman


Judy's done a great job of laying a very specific strategy to plan and measure success as a singer.


4 Awesome Beginner Music Production Tips -


Are you being creative and having fun as a music producer? If so, you're halfway there.


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


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Weekly News Roundup - April 6, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - March 30, 2012

1,516 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, music, author, self-publishing, writing, films

I have a strange theory about creativity. It may sound counterintuitive, maybe even crazy, but hear me out: I believe rules inspire creativity. The second I learn that I have restrictions on what I can write, my brain doesn't recognize those restrictions as obstacles. It sees them as opportunities to be more creative.


I didn't always feel that way. The first time I wrote a corporate video script and sent it up the ladder for review I got back two notes from the same person: make it shorter and add more information. I was baffled by the instructions. How could I possibly accomplish both objectives when they seemed to be opposing ideas? It seemed impossible until a close friend who was working with me on the project pulled me aside and said, "You get paid to be creative, so be creative." He was right. I didn't need more time to add more information. I just needed to be more creative. So, with a few well placed graphics and signs, we made the video shorter and added more information.


It's this experience that convinced me that rules are an artist's best ally. And it's why I think there is great value in formulaic writing, which is writing under a set of expectations and rules. For example, if you're writing horror or romance or mystery or any genre fiction, there are certain elements that are usually tied to those types of stories. They aren't hard-and-fast rules. You won't be kicked out of the genre club if you don't follow the rules, but following those rules can help you be more creative and provide helpful guideposts for mapping out your story.


Don't shy away from formulaic writing. Embrace it, but put your own spin on it. It's your opportunity to do what you get paid to do: be creative.


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

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


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When You Cut a Scene You Like, Save It!

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

64,254 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, books, books, author, author, author, author, author, author, indie, indie, indie, indie, indie, indie, publishing, publishing, publishing, publishing, publishing, publishing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, writing, creativity, creativity, creativity, creativity, creativity, creativity

Give and Take

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 10, 2012

I received an email the other day from a self-published author with a description of his book and a link to where I could buy it. I had never met the man, and the email was generic, so it was obvious that he was spamming a lot of people with the same message.

I replied politely, asking him if he had read (or even bought) my books. He replied sheepishly that he hadn't, and I never heard from him again. Big surprise there.

I decided to blog about the incident because it wasn't the first time something like that had happened to me. Over the years, I've received many emails from authors with similar requests. I've also received many emails from aspiring authors asking me to read their entire manuscripts and provide feedback, for free. When I reply asking if they've read my books, their answer is always no.

The following may sound like common sense to most of you reading this, but apparently it's not to a lot of other people out there, so I'm going to say it here: If you're going to ask authors who are complete strangers to buy or read your books, you'd better buy theirs first.

There's nothing wrong with trying to generate interest in your book by reaching out to potential readers. In fact, I encourage it. But if those potential readers are also authors, you've got to put yourself in their shoes before hitting "send." Authors make their money by selling books, so it's only courteous to buy one before asking them for help. If their book isn't up your alley, buy one and give it to a friend. Just buy one. Then send an email that begins with "Hey, I just bought your book..."


If you use a give-and-take approach, I guarantee you'll have better luck getting a positive response.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper and It's a Waverly Life. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at


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Remember to Say Thank You

When It Comes to Marketing, Always Follow Up!

2,565 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, self-publishing, writers

You are more than an author. You are a brand. It's a little hard to grasp at times even for me, but it's true. As crass as it sounds, I am a product. Why? Because - right or wrong, good or bad - we live in a personality-driven marketplace. Your personality is your brand.


Some authors aren't comfortable with that concept. They think it somehow taints the sanctity of what it means to be a writer. They want to remain free of commercial aspirations. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that line of thinking, but it's my opinion that we live in an age where avoiding your brand is becoming increasingly difficult. That's why it's so important to develop a brand consciousness - that is, control the brand you're presenting to the world and be aware of how it is perceived.


In today's Web 2.0 society, we are consistently and closely monitored. Thanks to social media, there are hundreds of millions of people on the internet reporting on the world around them. Information webs form and word travels fast as a small community surrounding one person overlaps with another person's community that intersects with another person's community. In short, the old "it's a small world" adage has never been truer than it is today. Your online persona can grow without you even having much of an online presence. If you don't get out in front of it, you can lose control of it. If you don't have a previous branding history and others build your brand through rumor and supposition, they have more influence over it than you do.


Take part in your own brand by building a brand consciousness. Accept the responsibility of being an author in today's online world. Even if you don't do it to sell books, you should do it to protect what is yours: your identity as an author. As we've discussed on this blog before, branding isn't really difficult. It's just you being you. Your behavior equals your brand. That's it. The only thing you may have to learn is to express yourself publicly via social media, blogs, and/or vlogs, but that comes with practice. The point is you have a choice: control your brand or risk others controlling it for you.


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


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Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

Is Your Brand Built for Controversy?

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




The Importance of Genre -Self Publishing Advisor


Knowing where your book belongs can help you write and sell it.


The History of 7 Bizarre English Words -The Huffington Post


Don't be a fopdoodle. Learn the history of these seven words.




In the Vanguard of a Film Revolution -tes


Never before has so much been available to filmmakers working on shoestring budgets.


Why Did Disney's 'John Carter' Flop? - Los Angeles Times


Can an independent filmmaker learn from the mistakes made by big-budget studio film?




If You Want to Be a Successful Musician, Get Out of Your Comfort Zone -The Musician's Guide


Marcus Taylor has created a calculator to help you find your comfort zone.


6 Essential Elements for Every Artist's Homepage -


David Dufresne, CEO of Bandzoogle, shares his advice on how to make the best first impression on your website.

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


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Weekly News Roundup - March 30, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - March 23, 2012

1,874 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, music, music, film, film, self-publishing, self-publishing, indie, indie, movies, movies

According to R.R. Bowker publishing statistics, about a million new books are hitting the market each year. And short of being J.K. Rowling or John Grisham, it can be hard to get your book the notice it deserves.

One way to try to earn your book additional notice is to enter book award contests. Book awards are an easy and affordable marketing option, and if you win or place in the competition, the returns can be substantial. Not all awards will earn you celebrity status, but reputable awards do have the potential to attract attention. Here are some of the benefits of winning a book award:

1. Gain notice from readers. Putting a book award seal on the front cover of your book or listing it in your book description or author bio makes it stand out and signals that it is a book to pay attention to. Your award seal says, "I'm a book that's been honored. Look at me first. You can be assured that I'm a quality book worthy of your attention." Award-winning status can get your book reconsidered or noticed by readers for the first time and help it stand out from other similar books on the market.

2. Get credibility and prestige in a challenging marketplace. Winning a book award or even being a finalist demonstrates your book's quality and value. The credibility gained with a distinguished book award has the potential to gain attention for your book from journalists, reviewers, distributors, and buyers. And we all know readers gravitate toward award-winning books; think of an award seal like a stamp of approval akin to an Oscar, Emmy, or trophy in other fields.

3. Increase your PR possibilities. Being an "award-winning author" can lead to newspaper and magazine articles, radio and television appearances, book reviews, and newsletter and blog mentions. Obtaining media interest often takes a good bit of time and effort, but being an award winner could help your chances of press coverage. For more information about communicating with the media, see Preparing Your Online Media Kit or watch the webinar How to Land and Perform on More TV and Radio Shows.

4. Increase your sales and get your book in new markets. As a winner, you can actively spread the word about your success. Chances are your award can help create positive perceptions among your audiences. That can translate into increased book sales and expanded market opportunities.

There are dozens of book awards in the U.S., not to mention those offered in other countries. Some awards are wide open, some are only open to members of literary groups, and others have detailed eligibility requirements for entry. There's always a chance you could come across a phony award, so be sure to look into the credibility of the program by talking with the award director and other writers. Your first step is to look for awards that suit your book, your budget, and your promotional goals, which begins with a simple Internet search. To get you started, see 2012 Competitions for Independently Published Books for ideas.

Still have questions? Stay tuned. In future posts, we'll explore more details about entering book awards with confidence and what it takes to win. Contributors/JillianBergsma_m.jpg

  Jillian Bergsma, for Independent Publisher

This post was written for CreateSpace by Independent Publisher. Visit for more information and articles about book awards and the independent publishing movement. is owned and operated by Jenkins Group Inc. of Traverse City, Michigan, a publishing and marketing services firm founded in 1988.


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How Not to Pitch Your Book

Online Book Reviews for Independent Authors

21,702 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, self_publishing, self_publishing, books, books, books, marketing, marketing, marketing, author, author, author, book_awards, book_awards, book_awards, promotions, promotions, promotions

Quashing Self-Doubt

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 4, 2012


I am a firm believer that if you don't experience self-doubt on a regular basis, you are probably dead. Self-doubt just comes with the territory of being human. It's not something to fear. In fact, you should welcome self-doubt, because life would be boring without it. Uncertainty is life's way of giving your brain a little exercise.


Self-doubt is bad only if it brings you to a complete halt and makes you abandon a path you want to pursue. For our purposes, we are looking at it from a writer's perspective. Crippling self-doubt can tank a manuscript that's in the process or crush a marketing campaign for a book that's already on the market. My biggest moments of self-doubt have usually followed a bad review or some other outside influence.


You can't let the self-doubt do you in. Here are a few things I tell myself during those moments of meditation when I'm trying to reload enough courage to keep moving forward.

  1. Writing is an art that depends entirely on the artist. The world you've created is yours. The choices you've made within the confines of that world are yours and yours alone to make. People might not like the choices you've made, but that's their opinion, and they are entitled to it. It doesn't mean they're right. It just means you see the art differently.

  3. Don't write for others. Write for yourself. It's nice when other people like your work, but that shouldn't be your primary focus. You won't be able to please everyone who reads your work, so don't try. When you write for yourself, you write for the story. When you write for the story, you always make the right move.

  5. There's always another story. We live in a world where anyone with a manuscript and a computer can publish a book. If one story doesn't find an audience, maybe the next one you write will. The point is you are not limited to one story. I have written books that I love that haven't taken off like I imagined. Am I disappointed? Sure. But I moved on to the next story. I didn't focus on the failure of the last book. I focused on the new world I was creating. It's actually a great escape.

Don't let self-doubt prevent you from doing the things you love. Don't focus on whether you're making the right or wrong choices for the market. Focus on the world you're writing, and do what artists do: create.


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


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You Might Be a Writer If...

Discipline to Write

2,445 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writers, writing, self-doubt

Imply vs. Infer

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 3, 2012

In a recent post I explained the difference between recommend and refer, which people sometimes confuse. This week, I want to discuss imply and infer, which people OFTEN confuse. In fact, I hear these two words used incorrectly at least once a week and sometimes more than that.

Imply means to indicate or suggest. You imply something to someone, and this action constitutes an implication.

Infer means to guess or draw a conclusion. You infer something from someone or something, and this action constitutes an inference.

Note: Some informal schools of thought say that infer can also be used to mean "imply or hint." However, to quote Webster's Dictionary, this usage "is found in print chiefly in letters to the editor and other informal prose, not in serious intellectual writing."

In other words, don't use it that way.

Here are some examples of correct usage of imply and infer:

  • He didn't come right out and say it, but his body language implied that he doesn't think I'm smart enough to be a doctor.
  • He didn't come right out and say it, but I inferred from his body language that he doesn't think I'm smart enough to be a doctor.
  • She hasn't officially announced it yet, but the implication in that email was that she's going to quit soon.
  • It's just an inference at this point, but everyone who read that email is convinced she's going to quit soon.

Here's a trick to help you keep the two straight. Imply starts with IM, and infer starts with IN. M comes before N, and something has to be implied before it can be inferred. The implication here is that I believe you're smart enough to get it right. I hope you infer that from this smiley face. J

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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

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Solving the Mystery of Lie vs. Lay

Between You and ME

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We've discussed reaching out to local radio and television about your mini-tour. Now, let's look at local print opportunities. Despite what you may have heard about the newspaper industry shrinking, there are plenty of papers doing very well. In particular, readership for alternative papers seem to be going strong. In large part, that's because of their content and the fact that they don't rely on subscriptions.


Alternative newspapers are those publications you usually find on racks in restaurants, coffee shops, and grocery stores in most cities. They are typically available for free and cover topics a lot of mainstream newspapers either avoid or give very little space to, such as entertainment. My favorite part about alternative papers is their schedule of local happenings. That's where your mini-tour comes in. With your tour, you have a local event that these publications will probably be more than happy to add to their calendars. In addition, they are most likely looking for special interest stories with a local angle to cover.

To find alternative newspapers in your area, check out this listing. After you find the paper's website, your first contact about your tour should be the editor of the events calendar. Save him or her some time by sending a professionally written press release presenting the facts (who, what, when, where, and why local readers will care about your event and book). If it is well written, you have a greater chance of receiving coverage for it in the paper's weekly print and/or online editions. If you've never written a press release before, this Problogger article should help you get started: How to Write a Press Release that Gets Attention.

By steering you toward the "alternative" route, I don't mean to suggest that you shouldn't bother approaching mainstream newspapers. I think you should. I'm simply saying that my experience has been that I get a much better response from alternative weeklies.

That concludes our "Small Steps" series for now. I hope you've found some of these tips useful to get started organizing and promoting a mini-tour with other indie authors. Remember, there is strength in numbers. If each of you takes a small step in the process, you may find you have more success than going it alone.

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


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Small Marketing Steps: TV

Small Marketing Steps: Venues for Personal Appearances

2,522 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, marketing, author, promotion, indie, newspapers