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July 2012
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The Author Pitch

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 31, 2012

What kind of author are you? What do you write? These are two questions I get a lot when I'm meeting someone new and they discover I'm an author. I'm sure you've also been asked one or both questions. How you answer constitutes your author pitch, and it can determine whether or not someone purchases your book or tells others about the author they met.


More important than what you say in response to these questions is how you say it. If you stumble and blush, the person who asked could associate negativity or uncertainty with your book(s) and brand when they recall the conversation later. A negative experience will translate into a missed opportunity to nab your word-of-mouth army. Confidence is the key to presenting your author pitch to prospective readers and/or followers of your brand.


Here are three things to know to reply to questions with confidence:


  1. Know your genre. This is a crucial piece in your author pitch. A lot of writers are tempted to avoid discussing genre because their book(s) cover many different genres. They believe pigeonholing it to one may alienate potential readers. That may be true, but trying to be genre-less will definitely alienate. If you can't or won't identify your genre, you're introducing confusion to your pitch. Confusing someone you're trying to sell yourself to is never a good thing.
  2. Know your influences. Name the author or authors (limit it to two) who compelled you to write. Assuming they are well-known authors, the person you're talking to will immediately get a sense of what kind of writer you are. It's a common practice in creative pitch meetings to compare one's work to well-known works for a simple reason: it's effective.
  3. Know as many other authors in your genre as you can. Whenever I tell someone I write young adult science fiction, they ask me if I've ever read books by another author in the genre. They are forgiving if I haven't read books by them, but they aren't so forgiving if I haven't even heard of the author they mentioned. You can't possibly read every book in your selected genre, and you can't even know every author in the genre, but learn the names of as many as you can.


The theme here is to be in the know, not just about yourself, but about your profession. You are an author. You should proclaim it with confidence and knowledge about your craft and industry. Now, what kind of author are you?


-Richard

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


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How Not to Pitch Your Book

Brand Audience vs. Book Audience

3,609 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, self-publishing, self-publishing, self-publishing, promoting, promoting, promoting, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing
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In my last post, I shared themes from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) Summer Conference, which took place July 19-22 in Seattle. I'd now like to relay some tips, organized by topic, from the sessions I attended. Each event was hosted by experienced agents, authors, editors, and marketers in the industry.


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/images/PNWA_Crowd_m.JPG

An attentive crowd attends a PNWA session.


Tips on Writing

  • Catch the reader by surprise; make him or her feel something true and honest, but not something expected. That makes the story more alive.
  • Avoid using "neon" emotions in prose. These are words that express easy, obvious, or loud emotions, like hate, rage, fury, lust, etc., and they can be dull to readers. Search for these sorts of words in your manuscript and try to use a more unexpected emotion so that you make a bigger impact.
  • A journey, or arc, is not something that just happens to a character at the end of the book. It's an inner struggle that takes a long time and a lot of steps to unfold. To find your journey, ask yourself: What has your protagonist never told anyone? What was the character's worst mistake? Who would be the most hurt or disappointed if they knew the truth? What would be the worst moment for that truth to come out? What's the greatest length your protagonist will go to conceal or deny the secret? How does he balance his life with his mistakes? After the journey, what changes outwardly for the character? What changes symbolically because people have changed?
  • To create a more interesting character, write down two ways in which your protagonist is like everybody else. Then make one of those characteristics totally different and out of the ordinary.


According to Jason Black, "show, don't tell" is about three things:


  1. Meaningful vs. Mundane. Tell the boring stuff - setup, dull but necessary actions, filler dialogue - and show the interesting stuff. Use showing and telling to contrast between the meaningful and the mundane. Showing is vivid, but if you show everything nothing stands out.
  2. Writing over the gap. A gap exists between the story you show on your pages and the "real story," which is the one that happens in the reader's mind. The one that really matters is the reader's. If you're a good writer that shows, then the conclusions the reader draws are what you had in mind.
  3. Visible vs. Invisible. The difference between showing and telling is the difference between invisible and visible. Showing is the process of manifesting the invisible, or showing things that aren't physical elements of the world or immediately perceptible to the senses, such as hopes, fears, goals, etc.


  • When using show: Surprise the reader. Look for unexpected metaphors/similes, and use words in an unexpected context.
  • When using tell: Summarize the necessary but pro-forma, such as indirect dialogue and transitions ("Three days later...").


Tips on Pitching


  • From one agent: "The new normal as I see it is for new authors to self-publish in a very high quality way, and then traditional publishers may show interest."


Dos of Pitching & Submitting:

  • Give context. Say what type of book it is and what you could compare it to that's hot on the market.
  • Tell about your platform. Explain your expertise and show your visibility in the market.
  • Know your genre and the standards of that genre (e.g. if you write YA, your character should be a teenager).
  • Practice, practice, practice. Know how to talk about your project and express its essence in a nutshell.
  • Name which category you see the work in.
  • Research an agent before you contact to them and know what they like and don't like.
  • Remember what got you so excited about the book. Excitement is vastly underestimated, and it comes across.
  • Say what the hook is, but say who YOU are, too. Selling the author is as important as selling the book.
  • Give the genre, title, word count, and info about who the main character is and what he or she is up against.
  • Do your research. Look at the submission guidelines and follow them.
  • Make your query specific to the agent you're submitting.
  • Only submit polished work.
  • Express how your book is different and better. How will it stand out in the marketplace?
  • Be short and concise.
  • Always use good grammar.


Don'ts of Pitching & Submitting:

  • Don't over-explain it. Leave the agent wanting to read and hear more.
  • Don't be too wordy. Get to the essence of your book as quickly as possible. Don't pitch anything irrelevant.
  • Don't be too defensive; remember that criticism is meant to be constructive.
  • Don't talk yourself down. A pitch is a job interview. Be confident!
  • Don't forget to breathe.
  • Don't compare yourself to huge blockbusters. Relate your book to successful titles, but not Harry Potter.
  • Don't send out queries via mass email. Personalize your messages for a better response.


Tips on Marketing


  • Everyone gets bad reviews. Don't respond to them, because you'll never be able to change people's minds.
  • Bring people back to your blog by reading and commenting on other blogs.
  • Be careful what you post online, because it's all searchable and could create a negative impression. People should see that you handle every situation with grace and dignity.
  • When managing time, the most important thing is finishing your book. Disconnect from the internet while you're working. There's no point in building an online presence if you don't have a product to deliver.


Craig English's tips for doing public readings of your work:


  • Be prepared. Pick the right material for the environment, the age of your group, and the setting. If you're in a really public place, don't pick a quiet passage. If it's an intimate setting, choose something gentle.
  • Know your time limit. Practice at home, get comfortable reading your piece, and time it.
  • Practice. Know what you want to emphasize in the story. Note difficult passages so you better prepare.
  • Bring water. Your mouth gets dry when you're nervous, and talking for any length of time will make you thirsty.
  • Bring a clean copy. Don't bring something you're editing. Print it on paper in large font. Bring in a back-up piece in case you decide the original isn't right for the environment or if you're asked to read more.
  • Plan your introduction and conclusion beforehand. Keep it short, perhaps even just saying the book's title and where you can find it. At the end, you can thank them and give your website or contact info, but keep the selling to a minimum.
  • Be loud enough so people in the back can hear you. Ask if you're not sure.
  • Breathe before you start a sentence and in between sentences.
  • Slow down. Many speakers naturally go too fast. Remember, people are there to hear your words.
  • Know the audience is on your side.
  • Don't hide your face. Keep the page down, but your face still visible.
  • Look up. If you're nervous making eye contact, look to the back of the room. Be sure to keep your spot on the page with your finger so you don't lose your place.
  • Enjoy yourself. Having fun with it will carry over to the audience.
  • If reading fiction, don't assume the persona of each character individually by trying to do voices. The audience will get it if you just give the flavor of each character.
  • Be gracious by always thanking the audience.


That wraps up my PNWA coverage! I hope these tips gave you some information you can apply to your book project. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the next show!


-Amanda

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


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Writers Unite: PNWA Summer Conference 2012 Recap

BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Session Takeaways

1,106 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, publishing, association, promotions
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways to Balance Writing and Life - Writer's Digest

You have to live life to find the inspiration to write.

 

It's the Details, Writers! -Alan Rinzler

Your story will come alive in the details you provide.

 

Film

 

8 Top Tips for Writing a Great Short Film Script - Projector Films

One of the best tidbits here is to write to please just one person.

 

Steve Balderson Perfects the Art of Low-budget Filmmaking - The Kansas City Star

How to make the most of your tiny budget and still use exotic locations.

 

Music

 

Teaching Children Math Using Music -Noise Addicts

Could academic music be the key to teaching students math?

 

Instead Of Building a Fake Following On Twitter, Why Not Build a Fanbase? - Hypebot.com

Following everybody on Twitter to get them to follow you back is not the way to build a fanbase.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 20, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - July 13, 2012

784 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: author, author, self-publishing, self-publishing, writers, writers, promotions, promotions, filmmakers, filmmakers
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Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) Summer Conference in Seattle. The event drew approximately 600 writers and professionals in the region, and CreateSpace set up a table and hosted a session to answer any and all questions about independent publishing.


https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/images/PNWA_Table_m.JPG

The team holds down the fort between sessions.


Three top themes emerged as I attended educational events and participated in interesting discussions with authors and experts at the show:


  • Writing Is a Team Sport After All. Their books may be different, but the authors at PNWA had a lot in common. They shared similar goals of producing high-quality books and getting them into the hands of readers. Regional writing groups like PNWA give authors a place to share their triumphs and challenges with a group of peers who understand what they're going through. Watching them support one another through readings, pitches and casual conversations - even in the coffee queue - was inspiring.


  • Success Stems from Quality Content. The educational sessions at PNWA focused heavily on the craft of writing. Most of the expert presenters agreed that to sell a book, authors should start with a quality product; a book with stellar writing, editing, and design is more likely to succeed.

 

  • What Is the Agent's Role? Most attendees were seeking representation (and validation) from agents, even if they were intending to publish independently. Some have argued that an evolving publishing landscape that eliminates middlemen calls the agent's role into question, but they still have lots of insight to share about what sells. The agents at PNWA dispensed valuable advice to authors in one-on-one pitch sessions.

 

  • Authors Want Publishing Options. Attendees felt traditional publishing is still a viable option, but many were looking for alternatives, like indie publishing, to get their work out there. Most understood the value of both publishing avenues, but more than anything, authors just wanted options.


Watch for tips from sessions on writing, pitching, and marketing in my next blog post. Until then, I'd love to hear from you about your experience at writers' conferences or about any of the topics I touched on above.


-Amanda


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


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BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Recap

BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Session Takeaways

2,267 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, publishing, promotions
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I have heard and read a plethora of complaints about the collapse of the art of writing due to technological advances in communications that have made us all lazy. It is said that emails, text messages, and social media posts have moved us from carefully crafted letters to hastily written musings consisting of seemingly nonsensical strings of letters and smiley faces. "Brief" is too long a word to describe today's prevalent writing style, and many think it is a style that is not suited for long-form works like novels.

 

I don't necessarily subscribe to that line of thought. I am of the belief that sites like Twitter are good training grounds for future and even present novelists. Yes, I do agree that over time short form communication will shrink one's vocabulary, but those who want to write and publish will be forced to expand their vocabularies. That's actually the easiest part of learning to write a book.

 

The hardest part is learning to write concisely. That requires a form of critical thinking that is developed and honed on social networks like Twitter. Having to express a complete thought in 140 characters is not easy. It's not even that easy to do it in a series of 140-character tweets. It takes skill to get to the point quickly and coherently. Granted, not everyone masters it. But I say those who do have a great future as novelists.

 

If brevity is the soul of wit, Twitter is one of the most soulful places around. And honestly, don't we need more writers with soul?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Using Word Count to Stay on Track

Save the Wordsmithing for Later

1,225 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writers, promotions, twitter, social_media
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I give workshops on book marketing, and a common question I get from attendees is, "What should I blog about?"


Good question.


Blogging is an art, not a science, so there's no exact formula for doing it right. However, if you're an author, I think it's best to blog about things that have to do with your book in one way or another.


Here are some suggestions:


If your book is nonfiction, your marketing goal is to position yourself as an expert about a specific topic. A blog can help you do that, whether it's reporting on industry news, sharing your experience at a specific industry event, or just offering your opinion on something related to the field. You can also blog about the experience of becoming an author, especially if you're venturing down the path of self-publishing. There are a lot of people out there wondering if indie publishing is for them, and they love to read about the firsthand experiences of others.


If your book is a novel or a memoir, your options are bit more limited because positioning yourself as an "expert" might not necessarily be part of your marketing plan. However, you too can blog about your experience of becoming an author, which is always interesting. Or you can do what I do, which is blog about the process of writing and marketing books. You could also blog about subjects related to your book. For example, if your book is a political thriller that takes place in DC, you could blog about the upcoming presidential election.


You don't have to blog every day. The key is to provide interesting content over time that makes you seem interesting. Then, eventually, your blog readers may just buy your book. I will never understand why people blog about what they ate for breakfast, but maybe that's just me.


-Maria

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.


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Never Too Boring to Blog

Bloggers, Ask Yourselves These Five Questions

1,800 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, self-publishing, self-publishing, self-publishing, writers, writers, writers, blogging, blogging, blogging, writing, writing, writing
2

Building an author brand is easy. There's just not that much to it. I can describe the process to you in six steps, and they aren't six steps that require any kind of special training or know-how. Mostly, it just takes time and an unwavering desire to succeed in the publishing industry.

 


  • Step 1 - Publish. It goes without saying that you can build a brand before you publish, but it's not an author's brand until you publish. That's not to say you shouldn't take to the virtual waves and talk about your book before it's in print. You should, and often. But for our purposes, author brand- building officially launches when your first book hits the market. Think of it as your grand opening.


  • Step 2 - Promote with humility. You can be incredibly proud of yourself for publishing a book. Pat yourself on the back for the occasional five-star reviews. Jump up and down every time your book climbs up in sales rankings. Celebrate all your accomplishments, but do it with humility. People rarely buy books from a braggart.


  • Step 3 - Acknowledge compliments. When someone pays you a compliment, thank them. I'm not suggesting you scour the internet for positive reviews of your book, but if a reader reaches out to you via email or social media and compliments your book, do the polite thing and acknowledge them with a thank you.


  • Step 4 - Don't respond to criticism. On the flipside, if you happen to read a scathing review of your book or get a nasty communication from a reader, DO NOT RESPOND. Let it go. Not everyone is going to like your work. That's just the way it is. Allow it to sting for a moment, and then simply move on. Trust me: the pain doesn't last.


  • Step 5 - Study your craft. Commit to improve as writer. Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can. Investigate what sets the masters of writing apart. If you continue to grow as a writer, your author brand will get stronger and stronger.


  • Step 6 - Repeat steps 1-5. The obstacles to publishing no longer exist. Take advantage of that fact and publish book after book.


 

That's it. It's that simple. If you haven't been following any of these steps, that's okay. You can start your author brand-building efforts today!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Brand Audience vs. Book Audience

Should Authors Ever Reinvent Their Brands?

3,677 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, marketing, marketing, author, author, publishing, publishing, promotions, promotions, branding, branding
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

4 Ways to Turn Twitter.com into Your Social Media Powerhouse -Michael Hyatt

Are you suffering from social media overload? Michael Hyatt might be able to help.

 

An Illusion that Explains Why Typos Are So Hard to Catch -i09

As long as the first and last letters of a word are correct, you are more likely to overlook typos.

 

Film

 

The Importance of Being Prolific - Chicago Tribune

Do filmmakers need to crank out films every year in order to stay relevant?

 

10 Famous Directors on Making Their First Feature Films - Flavorwire

Even the greats were once novice filmmakers.

 

Music

 

Music & Money: How to Get Paid What You're Worth -Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Hint: don't start with a low quote. Start off high and work your way down if necessary.

 

Branding Your Voice: Artistic Definition - Judy Rodman

If you're a singer, don't overlook the fact that your voice is your brand. Judy explains.

 

-Richard

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

 

You may also be interested in...

 

Weekly News Roundup - July 13, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - July 6, 2012

885 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, author, author, self-publishing, self-publishing, blogging, blogging, promotions, promotions, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers
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As authors, we spend a lot of time talking about the inclusion of twists when it comes to crafting a story. We've been taught that a well-placed twist reels a reader in, keeps them reading, gets them talking, and helps you sell books. Pick up any book that's classified as a "hit," and you're likely to find a twist or two behind its success. The twist, we are told, is the cornerstone to a good story. The twist is even how authors take a familiar story and make it their own.

 

Thinking about this led me to an interesting question: is there such a thing as a story without a twist? Let me rephrase that: is there a story worth telling that doesn't contain a twist? Even true stories seem to have an element of surprise or disbelief that captures the attention of the readers. In your own life, when you regale your friends with stories of something you've experienced, that experience is probably something that is at the very least exciting or unusual. In essence, those bits of living that drive us to share the experiences at parties or other gatherings are twists in their own right.

 

I am unable to find an example of a work of fiction or nonfiction that exists without a twist. So, I turn to the CreateSpace community with this question: does such a story exist? You may be asking yourself why it's worth it to search for such a thing. From an author's perspective, I believe it's a great exercise in fine-tuning your own skills as a writer. To find a story without a twist, you'll have to deconstruct stories along the way. In that deconstruction, you examine how these stories are built. What better way to learn the craft of writing than to cut it open and look at it from the inside out?

 

So how about it? Is there such a thing as a story without a twist? Better yet, have you ever written one?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Does Screenplay Structure Work for Novels?

The Most Crucial Scene

1,137 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, twist
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When you're writing a book, it can be tempting to spend hours and hours tweaking your content to get every sentence just right. However, that approach is incredibly time-consuming and can keep you from the main task at hand: completing your first draft.


If you don't complete the first draft, you will never complete your book.


I recently finished my fourth novel. My goal each day was to write at least 1,000 words, ideally more, but at least 1,000 before I would let myself call it a day - or a night. On the days I kept focused on the story, I easily reached my goal, sometimes so quickly that I couldn't believe it. However, on the rare days where I found myself wordsmithing too much, I would literally spend hours in front of the computer and only have a few hundred words to show for it. Not only did that make me depressed, it often ended up being a complete waste of time. Why? Because after I finished the manuscript and went back to read it as a complete story, I ended up cutting a lot of the little things I'd fussed over along the way.


After you finish your first draft, you're going to do a lot of editing no matter what, so you might as well get the entire thing finished, then go back and work on the details. It takes discipline to keep plowing ahead.


I like to think of the editing/tweaking as the "dessert" of the book-writing process. It's my favorite part, and well worth the wait. What about you? Is wordsmithing a part of your writing process, or do you save that for later?


-Maria

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.


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Wordplay: When _____ Gets In the Way of Writing

Is There Value in Formulaic Writing?

1,910 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, editing, editing, editing, editing, self-publishing, self-publishing, self-publishing, self-publishing, writers, writers, writers, writers, writing, writing, writing, writing
0

You are an author, which means you serve two audiences: the audience for your book and the audience for your brand. It may surprise you that the two groups are different. One would logically assume that since you're an author, those who read your books are the only ones who will be drawn to your brand, and vice versa. While it is true that a majority of people will ostensibly be fans of both your books and your brand, you will have some who know you only by your book and others still who know you only by your brand.

 

Why on earth would someone be interested in your brand but not your books? There are a number of reasons, but the simplest one is that they are not fans of your genre. Perhaps they've come across your blog or they've chatted with you on a social network or forum because of something you shared with the community, and they maintain consistent contact with you. These followers of your brand can be just as valuable to you as readers of your book, because while they don't read the types of books you write, they most assuredly know someone who does. In short, they are part of your word-of-mouth army because they will, at the very least, pass along your information to readers of your genre if they are compelled to do so.

 

For me, an example of this audience is parents. I write young adult fiction, so many of the adults I talk to don't have an interest in the genre. However, they've introduced my books to their kids because of the relationship we've developed, and they've passed along my book information to other parents and teachers.

 

All this means one thing: your brand should be diverse and multidimensional. If you spend all your brand recognition promoting your books, you're missing an opportunity to connect with people who will never be enthusiastic fans of your work. Certainly don't avoid talking about your books, but expand your scope of topics online to reflect all your interests. Who knows? That online observation you made about last week's NASCAR race may introduce your brand to a racing fan whose brother loves reading the books you write.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Branding 101: Brand Sabotage

Your Fans are Your Brand

932 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, author, author, author, author, author, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, writers, writers, writers, writers, writers, branding, branding, branding, branding, branding
0

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


Books/Publishing


Simon & Schuster CEO Reidy on Taking Publishing Risks -Digital Book World

"Publishing is really based on passion." - Carolyn Reidy


5 Ways to Promote Your Book Right Now -GalleyCat

The folks at GalleyCat have posted links to help you promote your book for free.


Film


Top 5 Mistakes in Documentary Funding - Filmmaking Stuff

"Never go it alone" and "know when to stop asking" are just some of the tips from filmmaker Faith Fuller.


Martin Scorsese Gives Up on Film - Shoots Digital - Filmmaker IQ

Is the clock ticking on the film format when a legendary filmmaker joins the digital revolution?


Music


3 Reasons to Be Thankful You're a Songwriter -Blogging Muses

Life is full of silver linings, especially when you're a songwriter.


Two Reasons You Should NOT Sing - Judy Rodman

Sometimes powering through throat problems can do permanent damage.


-Richard

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

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


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Weekly News Roundup - July 6, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - June 29, 2012

960 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, authors, music, music, film, film, self-publishing, self-publishing, promoting, promoting, movies, movies, musicians, musicians
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Author modeling doesn't involve fashion shoots or runways. It involves imitating the voice of your literary influences to write an original story using their style. It's not something I suggest you do to replace your own style. Your voice is your voice, and you don't want to vanquish it in order to "sound" like a successful writer. It's merely a way for you to identify what it is about a certain author's voice you find engaging, and possibly find a trick or two that you can adapt for your own writing style.

 

Are you a fan of Edgar Allan Poe? Pen a quick story in his gothic, pulse-pounding style. What about Cormac McCarthy? Toss out the quotation marks and set aside the dense prose. Want to know what it's like inside Charles Portis' head? Find the humor in even in the most objectionable of characters. You might even try modeling successful authors you don't like in order to broaden your perspective. They managed to find an audience somehow. Maybe if you type out a few pages in their voice, you might find something that will help your own unique style expand.

 

The goal of this exercise isn't necessarily to write a piece you can sell. The goal is to hone in on your craft. Writing, like every skill, takes a great deal of practice to master. Baseball players will mimic the batting stance and swing of homerun hitters in order to improve their own hitting skills. The same principal is in play with author modeling. You're simply examining the style of a successful author in order to improve your own writing skills.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Is Writing a Talent or a Skill?

How to be a Confident Writer

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Sequels can be tricky. I'm currently writing the fourth in a series of novels, and I'd like to share a few things I've learned along the way.


1.  Some backstory is required.


Not everyone who reads a sequel will have read the original, so you must include some backstory. However, you don't want to begin a novel with a long, drawn-out explanation of what happened in the previous book. What I like to do is weave relevant backstory into both the narrative and the dialogue. I have the narrator explain directly to the readers, but I also have the characters discuss previous events in conversation. That way, for example, my readers will know why a particular character moved to a new city or recently began a new job, and the information doesn't come across as forced.


2. You can't use the same jokes and/or descriptions.


One way to make your characters seem real is to have them act real. For example, one character might complain every time she sees a man wearing a certain article of clothing. But if she does the same exact thing in a sequel, it will come across as tired, and you will lose your readers' attention. Think of a different way to make her funny.


3. Your characters must grow.


If your readers are going to spend hundreds of pages with a character, they're going to expect to see some growth. They deserve to see some growth. And that's just in one book. If you include the same characters in a sequel or sequels, you've got to evolve them in some way. If not, you run the risk of disappointing - or boring - your fans.


Note: In this post I'm talking about sequels. If you plan to write several standalone murder mysteries featuring the same detective, that's a different ballgame, which I'll address in a future post.


-Maria

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.


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The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

Look Who's Talking

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While every book award is different, most have a number of things in common. Whether you are most concerned with the entry period, the category, or the cost, there are some tricks of the trade that can help you enter (and maybe even win!) book awards with ease. Here are few tips for seamless submissions:

 

  1. Each award has different requirements, so be sure to examine entry requirements on each award's website. Your best plan of attack is to follow the directions of the award exactly; judges appreciate attention to detail and easy-to-handle entries.

 

  1. Send in your entry as soon as possible. Some awards, like the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest(ABNA), have short entry periods, while others accept entries year-round. In the case of the latter, many awards offer a discounted rate the earlier you enter, so you can save money by being the early bird. Another benefit: these books spend more time with the judges, whether or not they have a rolling judging process.

 

  1. There are a handful of materials you can prepare in advance and use in multiple awards submissions. You should have a few print and/or eBook copies on hand, as nearly every award requires you to send a copy free of charge. Some awards request a press release or bio, and many awards have an entry fee, so have your author/book info and credit card at the ready.

 

  1. Make sure the award you're entering suits your budget. Some awards are free, some are not, and price and prestige don't always match up. Many book awards charge an entrance fee to cover costs for the promotional materials that you may end up using. Also, your entry fee is covering the judges' time to review your book and helps make it possible for the awards program to operate. Look into a few awards in your price range and decide where your book will be most competitive.

 

  1. Spend time choosing your category. As we've said in previous blogs, the category can make or break you as an award winner. Do your research on winning books from years past, speak with awards directors, and enter one  or two categories where your book is likely to succeed.

 

As you're hunting for the right book award(s) to enter, I suggest keeping a running list with entry deadlines, costs, and your own personal notes on the types of books, the reputation of the award, etc. You can also follow up with awards directors and winning authors to learn more about the awards so you can put your time, effort, and money to the best possible use. Remember: a prepared entrant is the best entrant!

 

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Jillian Bergsma, for Independent Publisher


This post was written for CreateSpace by Independent Publisher. Visit www.IndependentPublisher.com for more information and articles about book awards and the independent publishing movement. IndependentPublisher.com 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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Book Awards: 5 Tips to Increase your Chances of Winning

Why Enter Book Awards?

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"Choose your friends wisely." It's a concept many parents try to instill in their children. The people with whom they associate help determine which paths in life they take, but they also reflect on their reputations. Rightly or wrongly, we are all judged by the company we keep.

 

The same advice can be given when it comes to safeguarding the reputation of your brand. We live in a fairly "auto-pilot" virtual world. That is to say, when we get friend and follow requests from strangers on social networks, we usually happily accept them without much consideration. We are trying to build a fan base, after all. Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Yes, it is...kind of.

 

You do want to remain mindful of who these strangers are to some degree. When I receive a request in social media channels, I click on the person's name and try to get as much background information on him or her as possible before I accept or reject the request. That's not to say I've always chosen wisely; there have been a couple of times where I found it necessary to undo a virtual connection with someone because I felt their views were a bit too volatile to be associated with. I feared they would comment in bad taste on something I posted, or worse yet, offend another commenter. I don't want anyone to feel disrespected in my tiny little sphere of influence.

 

Perhaps a day will come when the number of fans you have will outgrow your ability to manage every little response and interaction that occurs in your virtual world, but until that day comes, try to surround yourself with people who will help you grow your brand in a passionate, yet positive, way.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Better Than Twitter and Facebook

5 Tips for Promoting Your Facebook Page

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


Books/Publishing


Stumbling on New Readers by Anita Brady -Marketing Tips

StumbleUpon has been around for a while now, but could it be a new way for authors to market their books?


Writing Craft: Action Vs. Active Openings to Grab Attention -Pub Rants

Your opening scene doesn't have to be action-packed to be an effective hook.


Film


In Film There is NOTHING More Important than Sound -The Vagabond Filmmaker

Lights! Camera! Roll sound! Action!


Digital Dailies Speed Filmmaking - Variety

Film labs and post facilities are adapting to the digital age by offering onset dailies for smaller-budget films.


Music


Music Marketing Tips and Tricks: Getting Your Music Heard -Musicgoat.com

Blogger Tracy Keebler lays out a do-it-yourself music marketing guide.


How to Succeed in the Music Business: 7 Tips -Noise Addicts

Practical advice on finding success in the sometimes chaotic and increasingly crowded music industry.


-Richard

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


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Weekly News Roundup - June 29, 2012

Weekly News Roundup - June 22, 2012

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Let's get weird today. I've been asked more than a few times where I get my story ideas, and most of the time I can't give a satisfactory answer. I suspect that they are some crazy amalgamation of actual events, dreams, hallucinations during dental procedures, and bits of information I collect while I experience mental drifting when my wife is telling me something exceptionally important. All that "stuff" pops off in my brain like little lightening storms and zaps a story into existence, much like Dr. Frankenstein brought his monster to life.

 

But there are those who believe that stories actually come from a place, a higher source, if you will. And that the story you tell is being channeled through you from this place for a greater purpose. In other words, writing is more or less a supernatural event. Most people call this place "the blue." We've all received stories out of the blue. We're driving to work, or walking downtown, and BAM, an idea for a story hits us like a meteor falling out of the sky. We have no idea from whence it came.

 

To get even weirder, if you are to believe, as Napoleon Hill believed, that thoughts are things, does that mean that these stories we are creating actually happen? Not in the "real" world, of course, but in that place we call the blue or an ethereal world adjacent to the blue? Are our characters living storylines in an imaginary world that's circling an imaginary sun in a galaxy that's as far away as a thought?

 

I throw all that food for thought out there to end with this: how do you answer the inevitable question from readers? Where do your stories come from?

 

-Richard

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

 

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The First-Line Ritual

What Do You See?

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Twitter can be a great marketing tool, but many authors have no idea what to tweet after they've announced that their book is available. On the flip side, many authors tweet all day long about things that are so irrelevant and/or annoying that it makes me not want to read their books.

 

Here's my advice for how to do it right:

 

If your book is non-fiction, a smart marketing strategy is to position yourself as an expert in a particular area, and Twitter can help you do this. Let's say your book is a guide to financial management for parents with young children. Of course you can tweet tips and statistics pulled directly from your book, but you can also tweet interesting tidbits, articles, and general news about financial management that aren't in your book. You can even provide links to information about parenting in general. The key is to be seen as a trusted resource for information that is relevant to your target reader. (If you write novels, like I do, you can tweet about writing or publishing, or maybe even things related to the themes in your book.)

 

How do you find this information? One way is through Google Alerts. If you set a Google Alert for a particular term (e.g. financial management), the search engine will notify you any time that term pops up in a new piece of online content. Then you can quickly evaluate the link and decide if it's something you want to share with your followers. (To set a Google alert, do a web search for the term "Google alert." It's very easy.)

 

The key to building a Twitter following is to provide useful information in a consistent manner. Unless you're a celebrity, people don't care what you ate for breakfast (except maybe your mom).

 

-Maria

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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 www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Twitter Challenge: 21 Days, 21 Prompts

5 Tips for Promoting Your Facebook Page

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The one constant about Madonna is that she is always reinventing herself. In fact, you might say that her brand is a reinvention brand. The pop music industry is known for being a fickle business, so to keep selling music, it is necessary to change with the times. The question is, can authors repurpose their brands and reinvent themselves?

 

It could be argued that the same need for brand reinvention isn't as prevalent in the publishing industry as it is in the music industry. In fact, stability is usually the author brand's most powerful tool. But occasionally, an author may want to leap into another genre, and he or she may find that his/her brand doesn't fit into its new surroundings. For instance, an author known for hardcore horror writing is going to have a hard time selling his new historical romance to his current following. It will be necessary to show a softer, gentler side in order to find the appropriate group of readers.

 

However, abandoning your old brand to satisfy fans of your new genre is not a smart move. Expanding your brand to show your diversity is a much more prudent path. Bear in mind, having success in one genre does not mean you will skyrocket to the top of the charts overnight in a totally different genre. In essence, you are starting from scratch. You must employ the same tactics and strategies you used to succeed when you first started building your brand. Connect with the readers. Whether it's through social media or trade shows or personal appearances, interact and build relationships with the fans of your new genre. Be patient; as long as you're making an effort to build an authentic brand, your new readers will come.

 

-Richard

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

 

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What Type of Car Is Your Brand?

Can You Oversaturate Your Brand?

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