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July 2013
4

We are in an age of publishing that embraces the concept of speed. Manuscripts can be turned into market-ready books in hours. HOURS! To fully appreciate that feat, you must understand that the same process used to take months. The standard turnaround time for a manuscript to go from author's draft to a book sold via retailers was about 18 months. And this was in the not-so-distant past.

 

So, with a year and a half vanishing from the process of publishing a book, authors now have the ability to capitalize on trends like never before. The question is, should you? It is tempting. Let's say a western romance novel featuring two-headed aliens becomes a phenomenal success. Twitter explodes with tweets about this incredible novel. Facebook is flooded with status updates from fans of this new pop culture hit.

 

You're a writer. You know how to construct a good story. Why not sit down and write your own western romance novel featuring two-headed aliens? There is absolutely no reason not to...IF the genre speaks to you. If it reaches out and touches your artistic soul, go for it. If you feel that strongly about it, chances are you'd add something of value to the world of two-headed alien love stories. 

 

But if you decide to write such a story to strictly capitalize on the trend, I wouldn't recommend doing it. You'll put yourself in the position of faking it and most likely will create an imitation of the novel that sparked the trend. That has the potential to leave readers disappointed. 

 

Instead of attempting to capture a trend, why not start one? Use your talents and your passion and pour them into a genre that means something to you. Those kinds of stories will make a connection with readers and have a chance to become a trend all their own.

 

-Richard

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

 

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The Evergreen Era of Publishing

Short-Form Works: The New Author Strategy

3,329 Views 4 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: publishing, writing, development, craft, writing_trends, publishing_timelines
1

Every month or so, I receive an email from a friendly indie author (whom I met just once) about an upcoming book signing for his novel. The events are always several thousand miles away from where I live, but I admire his efforts to promote his book.

 

Unfortunately, however, his messages regularly make me cringe.

 

Why? Because he sends them to dozens of people, all of us on the recipient line of the same email. This not only looks bulky and unprofessional, it is also bound to tick off potential supporters of his work. He also regularly commits another faux pas with his messages, which is to attach enormous PDF files. The last one he sent was nearly 7MB, which dramatically slowed down my small email program.

 

I always recommend using a free newsletter program such as MailChimp for email marketing campaigns. MailChimp is simple to use and creates a professional impression for your announcements, even if you only have a handful of subscribers. There also are many other email marketing tools to consider out there. These programs allow people to quietly unsubscribe without having to ask you to remove them. While it may sting when they do so, this ensures that your list is comprised of people who truly want to hear from you.

 

If you're resistant to a newsletter program and still want to use regular email, be sure to use the blind copy (BCC) feature. No one wants his or her email address out there on a massive list that could easily be forwarded and absorbed into questionable email marketing practices. We all get enough spam already.

 

As an author, you want the people on your email list to root for you, not dread hearing from you, right? Put yourself in their shoes before you send your next message, and that should prevent you from making awkward email missteps.

 

-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, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Make It Easy for Readers to Find You

To Be a Professional Writer, Make a Professional Impression

3,687 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, mailchimp, blind_copy
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The Author Press Kit

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jul 29, 2013

A lot of marketing has moved online, but author press kits still matter. Press kits are traditionally thought of as physical tools, but they are effective digitally as well. In fact, a digital press kit can be used to facilitate your marketing efforts in online venues as well as the brick-and-mortar realm. Here's what to include in your digital author press kit:

 

  1. Author photo - Make it count. You most likely don't want to use a photo you took of yourself or one your significant other took of you in front of the fireplace. Invest in a professional headshot if you can.
  2. Author bio - We've discussed in detail how to construct an effective author bio. You can provide a little more information in this environment than you can in the bio on your book cover.
  3. Cover image - Make sure all of your images are the highest quality allowed by your hosting site.
  4. Full synopsis of book - You can use the description you use for the book cover.
  5. One-sentence book description - When an organization is promoting your appearance, it would make their lives much easier to describe your book in a single compelling and concise sentence.
  6. Book details - This includes ISBN, page count, genre, etc.
  7. FAQ - Provide a list of the most frequently asked questions about your book along with your answers. If you haven't been asked questions about your book, it's okay to anticipate what readers may ask you.
  8. Sample - Include a short excerpt from the book.
  9. Buzz - If you've received positive reviews in the media or any other kind of media coverage, provide a link to the material.

 

By creating a digital author press kit, you are simplifying things for anyone who invites you to do a personal appearance or anyone who writes about you and your book. Your best strategy to achieve success is to be prepared for it.

 

-Richard

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

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Passive Income and Marathon Branding

Find Advocates with Free Books

7,594 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotions, press_kit
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Finish Your Book's Second Draft - The BookBaby Blog

There is a blueprint to completing a second draft.

                                                    

5 Profitable Places to Sell Your Books - The Future of Ink

The non-bookstore item in this list is particularly interesting.

 

Film

                                                        

This Is Your Brain on Movies: Neuroscientists Weigh In on the Brain Science of Cinema - Truth Seekers

Can studying the effects of movies on the brain lead to creating better films?

                                          

Building a Movie - A Moon Brothers Film Blog

Creating a film is a lot like building a house.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Maybe You Should NOT Do Vocal Exercises - Judy Rodman

If you feel like you're doing your vocal exercises wrong, you're probably doing it wrong.

 

Tips on Getting Music Placed and Listened To -Musicgoat

Tips on reaching out to radio shows and podcasts to get your music heard.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 19, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - July 12, 2013

2,300 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, filmmaking, promotion, publishing, manuscript, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, social_media, mdistribution
0

A good story has three main components that give it stability. There are countless minor components that give a story style and genre appeal, but as I've studied the art of storytelling, I've identified these primary components as the foundation of a good story:

 

  1. A likable protagonist - If you've crafted an engaging plot where every twist and turn is carefully conceived and orchestrated, it will be all for naught if your protagonist isn't likable. Notice I used the word "likable." In my experience, the most likable people (real or imaginary) are deeply flawed. They aren't perfect. They don't always make the right decisions. What makes them likable is their desire and struggle to be better.

  2. An unpredictable antagonist - Bad guys are truly terrifying when they are uneven. They dole out punishment in unequal measures. You never know if they are going to bring down the hammer or simply an admonishing glare. And it's important to note that your antagonist doesn't always have to be a person. It can be human, beast, disease or anything else you can imagine

  3. A well-defined conflict - A reader should be able to identify and describe the main conflict of a story in one concise sentence. "Michael loves a woman who is out of his league." "Susan faces a battle with stage 4 lung cancer." "Detective Franks hunts down a cunning serial killer." Of course there's more to your story, but this is the anchor conflict. This is how your readers will ultimately describe your story.

 

That's the crux of a story. Call it the three-legged stool definition. In order for your story to grab a reader's attention and keep your stool from tipping over, these three elements must be constructed with precision and care.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Is There Value in Formulaic Writing?

Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

58,530 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: writers, writing, characters, fiction, drafts, creativity, conflict, craft, character_arc
0

I recently received an email from a new subscriber to my newsletter. The message was quite long and didn't contain a single paragraph break - not one. I found myself confused as I read, because the various points he was making began to blur together into an enormous block of text.

 

Somewhere in his message the man mentioned that he is an aspiring novelist, so when I replied to thank him for getting in touch, I also gently suggested that in future correspondence he employ paragraph breaks to keep the recipient's interest from straying. I even included a smiley face so he would know I was trying to be helpful, not mean.

 

He didn't listen.

 

Over the next couple of days, he sent me three or four more emails, each one a massive paragraph that had me squinting at my computer screen. And when I say "massive," I mean longer than this entire blog post. I don't think I even finished reading the last message, because I just couldn't take it anymore. He is a very pleasant man, and clearly very bright, but his writing is weighed down by this one tic that unfortunately overshadows the intended meaning of his words. If this is the impact the tic has on a few emails to me, I can only imagine what it's doing to the novel he's working on.

 

The lesson here is this: Whether it's an email to a friend or a scene in your novel, keep the reader in mind as you write. Breaking up text not only allows the most salient points to have their chance in the spotlight, it also keeps your readers from losing focus - and interest.

 

-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, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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To Be a Professional Writer, Make a Professional Impression

What Do You Wish You Knew Before You Wrote Your First Book?

2,283 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, promotions, craft, paragraph_breaks
4

You can generate multiple streams of income from a single title. There's no magic involved. You don't need access to a parallel universe. You don't even have to sell books a page at a time. A single title has the potential to give you more than one way to put money in your pocket.

 

How? You can create different formats and versions of your book. You most likely already have two formats of your book on the market: print with CreateSpace and eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing. Thus you have two possible ways to earn income from one title.

 

But there are more formats to be had. For instance, there's the audiobook format. Thanks to services such as Audible's Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), creating an audiobook is relatively easy. With ACX's help, you are able to let a community of narrators know you're looking for voice talent, and then audition the talent online, work with the talent as they provide you chapter-by-chapter recordings of your book and make the book available for purchase with various online retailers.

 

In addition to creating different formats, you can also create different versions of your book, such as foreign language editions. Sure, you may not know how to translate your book to Spanish or German or Japanese, but you'll find many translators with such expertise out there in the virtual world. Where do you find them? It will take some searching, but my advice is to reach out to members of a trusted writing community and ask for leads. If that fails to turn up anything, look for reputable freelance writing websites and put out some feelers. It may take some time to find the right fit, and it may even entail a substantial investment, so be sure your book has sales potential in foreign-language markets before you start. The long-term benefits could outweigh your initial costs by opening new revenue streams.

 

We are fast approaching a time when having a book exist in a single format or even single version doesn't make a lot of sense for indie authors, because it's akin to leaving money on the table. So look at your options and make your book available however readers want to consume it.

 

-Richard

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

 

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What Is a Platform?

Make It Easy for Readers to Find You

14,744 Views 4 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, format, author, promotions, income, audiobooks
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Most Common Mistakes: When Your Scene Focuses on What Isn't Happening - Wordplay

If you're going to write about what your characters don't do, make sure it counts.

                                                    

How to Make Ordinary Characters Compelling -Writer's Digest

A character doesn't need unusual abilities or knowledge in order to be fascinating.

 

Film

                                                        

How Does P.T. Anderson Start Writing a Story? - Making the Movie

Paul Thomas Anderson discusses the coffee shop method for breaking through writer's block.

                                          

10 Tips for the Video Producer on Location in Summer's Heat - Videomaker

The dog days of summer are upon us. Do you know how to beat the heat so it won't ruin your production?

                                                                                                                       

Music

 

Co-creating a Fanbase with Music Curation and What Artists Can Learn From Bloggers - Hypebot.com

Sharing and cross-promotion can help you build your fanbase.

 

What Are the Benefits of Listening to Music? -Musician Makers

Music matters on so many different levels.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 12, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - July 5, 2013

2,212 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, music, film, indie, movies, writers, blogging, writing, films, filmmakers, social_media, film_location
0

Last week, I attended CraftFest and ThrillerFest VIII, an annual event hosted by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) in New York City. Hundreds of writers packed the educational sessions that featured tips from bestselling authors and experts. Here are some things I learned about writing and marketing:

 

From Steve Berry, author of The King's Deception

  • Every single story must have structure. The beginning, middle, and end are equally important.
  • The beginning (Act 1) should be 20% of the book. In it, you establish character, conflict, and the crucible (the thing that gets a character to do what they'd otherwise never do).
  • The middle (Act 2) is 60% of the book. It should be a series of complications.
  • The end (Act 3) is 20% of the book. It includes the crisis point (the moment when everything comes to a peak) and the conclusion.

 

From Michael Connelly, author of The Black Box & The Lincoln Lawyer

  • If you want to write series fiction, forget about writing a series and just focus on writing one book. If you concentrate on not sowing seeds for future books, those seeds will be sown anyway.
  • If you have momentum as a writer, the reader will have momentum with your passages.
  • The history you create for your character will help you create future books. Layer in the character's past to plant seeds for your series (but don't get bogged down with backstory).
  • The best part of writing is that first draft, but then you have to assess what you have. Rewriting really makes books come together.

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The team with Michael Connelly

 

From David Morrell, author of Murder as a Fine Art & First Blood

  • Be a first rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of another author.
  • Writing is a vocation, not a profession.
  • For setting, choose a location and mine it for everything it can give to you. Forget about sight and concentrate on feeling. When someone says writing is one-dimensional or flat, it's because the writer is relying too much on sight, almost like looking at an image on a movie screen. If you incorporate two other senses, you'll create more textured details and make readers feel like they're more in the setting.

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David Morrell signs books

 

From Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, authors of Two Graves

  • Getting a writing partner is like getting married; that's where the real work begins. (D.P.)
  • Find a writing partner whose experience, knowledge, talent and discipline matches your own. (L.C.)
  • You need to be able to take criticism and have a thick skin. Check your ego at the door. (L.C.)
  • Rather than assigning chapters, assign sequences to each other. Then you can merge them and revise so there's no change in prose style and they're seamless.
  • With a writing partner, divide everything 50/50. But you'll always FEEL like you're doing three-quarters of the work. (D.P.)

 

From Leonardo Wild, author of Artificial Self

  • When you are writing, you should analyze what subtext you'll be bringing out in your turning points. You can achieve subtext by microdetailing, omission, or hinting.

 

From M.J. Rose, author of Seduction

  • No book is dead anymore. Every book is new to a reader who's never heard of it.

 

From C.J. Lyons, author of Blind Faith, winner of ITW's Best eBook Original Novel award

  • Every author has the chance to become the CEO of his or her own global publishing empire.
  • Here's the secret: Write a great book. Give your readers time to find it and tell their friends. Repeat.

 

From Kristen Lamb, author of Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World

  • If you're a novelist, you're a storyteller. "High-concept" blogging is universal, emotional, and it gives the reader something to contribute or take away. It has a higher potential to go viral than just posting about the writing process or "buy my book." You'll also be able to reach past the small pool of avid readers into the much larger pool of people who read more casually.
  • With a blog, you're creating something personal, emotional, and becoming a friend. If you can hook someone with a 500-word blog, it's not a stretch that you'll hook them for 50,000.

 

From Meryl Moss, founder/president of Meryl Moss Media Relations

  • Figure out how the material in your book relates to what people are passionate about out in the world. That's what you should blog about.
  • When marketing, build from the inside. Getting your regional audience excited about your book is still a good idea.

 

From Douglas E. Richards, author of Wired

  • People think that giving books away means less sales, but that's not true. You never run out of purchasers, and those people will lead to word of mouth. Everybody doesn't have to love your book, but the people who do must love it so passionately that they tell all their friends about it.

 

From Dana Kaye, publicist

  • When reaching out to the media, you should be thinking creatively. There are more ways to pitch yourself than just saying you're an author. Don't dismiss your background, hobbies, or day job - they're interesting and could be media pitches.

 

From Kathleen Murphy, media specialist

  • Get to the point within a couple seconds when working with the media. They won't have time to read long emails.
  • Video and audio is where everything is going on social media, especially video. The media and readers need to hear and see you.

 

It was great fun seeing so many authors networking, sharing stories, learning from one another, and getting advice from bestsellers. You may want to consider joining a similar organization that gives you the chance to collaborate with your peers. Next up, you'll find us at the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta July 17-19 and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in Seattle July 25-27.

 

Are you part of any writing organizations?

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-Amanda

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

 

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The London Book Fair, Starring Authors

BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Session Takeaways

2,350 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, author, promotion, writers, writing, craft, social_media, trade_show, conference, thrillerfest, craftfest
2

I publish a number of different titles. A few of them are standalone books, but I've also published six titles as part of a linear series. I have been fortunate enough to get a small following of readers that will periodically contact me via email, social media or my blog and very kindly let me know they enjoy the books. I am grateful beyond belief for their support. 

 

 

Some of the readers take their support a step further and give me advice on where they think I should take the story in the next book. It's usually friendly. They'll say things like "It would be so cool if you..." Some of the ideas are quite good and imaginative, and I will take their suggestions to heart, but in the eight years since I published the first book in the series, I have yet to include a reader's suggestion.

I'm not arrogant enough to think my ideas for the story are infallible and sacred. It's just that I find incorporating a reader's idea can lead to "forced" storytelling because it conflicts with my vision as the storyteller. Does that mean I don't care about the readers' input? Not at all. I'm deeply flattered by it, and I'm pleased they've taken such ownership of the story.

 

Crowdsourcing a story can be a wonderful way to connect with readers. I applaud any author who can demonstrate the skill to gather input from readers and weave it into his or her work. However, as an author, you should never feel pressured to include readers' ideas for a future book. It's tempting to do because it will please the readers and ignite their passion for the book. There's a greater potential they'll become advocates for your brand as well. It seems like a win-win, but if the suggestions conflict with your vision, don't do it. Put the story first. All of your readers will be better off for it. 

 

-Richard

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

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Make It Easy for Readers to Find You

Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

3,753 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, indie, help, writers, readers, publishing, fans, craft
8

Reviews are an important element of a book-marketing campaign, but some authors exercise poor judgment in securing them. Here are my thoughts on where they go wrong, as well as some suggestions for how to do it right:

 

DON'T ask friends and family to post reviews.

 

An author's loved ones would never say anything negative about her book. How would you feel if you bought a book based on its glowing reviews, then found out they had been planted by the author's friends and family? I would feel cheated, and I imagine you would too. So don't do that for your own book.

 

DON'T trade reviews with other indie authors.

 

This is a bad idea because it puts both authors into an awkward position. If Author A thinks Author B's book is terrible, is Author A really going to skewer Author B's book? Of course not. Reviews need to be completely objective to be credible, and the nature of this arrangement keeps that from happening.

 

DO reach out to prolific reviewers who have posted reviews of books in your genre.

 

It may take some digging, but you can find them. For example, many reviewers on Amazon list their contact information in their profiles.

 

DO ask readers who proactively tell you they enjoyed your book to write a review.

 

If someone takes the time to contact you with positive feedback about your book, by all means, ask him to put his thoughts into an honest review. It would never occur to many fans to post a review, so if they reach out to you, there is nothing wrong with suggesting they share their feedback with a public audience.

 

For any review system to maintain credibility, the reviews must be objective. That doesn't mean they will all be positive, but at least they will be honest, and that is more important. For more tips on getting reviews for an indie book, check out my webinar on book marketing at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

-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, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Amazon General Review Creation Guidelines

To Be a Professional Writer, Make a Professional Impression

11,170 Views 8 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, promotions, book_reviews
0

We have defined the term "evergreen" on this blog, but for those of you who need a quick refresher, it simply means that because of the digital environment, your book will never go out of print unless you choose to take it off the market. Indie authors are the benefactors of a segment of the publishing industry that no longer requires inventory in order for a book to be made available for purchase.

 

Why is that significant? It gives you the potential to earn passive income forever. "Passive" may be a little misleading because it suggests that you aren't required to do anything to sell books. I suppose technically that is true; you may sell a few books by doing nothing, but it takes something akin to a miracle for that to happen. By passive, I mean you aren't required to take a single order, package your book or ship it. That is all done for you. Your only job is to put your entrepreneurial energy into marketing and branding. Do you see the possibilities? This isn't a fleeting, get-rich-quick, money-making scheme. This is a long-lasting, income-generating opportunity. The more you participate, the greater your possibilities of success.

 

So the message here is don't treat the publication of a book like a sprint. This isn't about getting the word out about your book weeks before publication and then putting a lot of time and effort into creating buzz for a relatively short period after it hits the market. You are engaged in an endless marathon. This is about building a brand for yourself as an author with a growing catalog of books available for sale. In the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross, there's a memorable scene where the salesmen are taught the ABCs of sales. It turns out ABC is an acronym for Always Be Closing. I would like to impart upon you a similar sentiment.

 

In order to truly harness the potential of a passive-income environment, you have to consistently build your brand. It is something you never stop doing. You should Always Be Branding!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Passive Marketing is Important Too

Book Marketing Takes Persistence

3,051 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, branding
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Start Building Your Fanbase - The Book Designer

Don't put it off. Read this blog post now!

                                                    

Mining Your Central Plot Nugget: A Lesson in Writing from John Grisham -The Creative Penn

When a bestselling author speaks, it's probably best to listen.

 

Film

                                                        

Fail to Plan and Your Film Fails - Filmmaking Stuff

What you don't plan for can carry a heavy price. 

                                          

6 Filmmaking Tips Directly from David Slade -Film School Rejects

Words of wisdom from the man who brought you the horror classic 30 Days of Night.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

To Cancel or Go On with the Show When You Are Sick - Judy Rodman

How to save your voice and your relationships when the show just can't go on.

 

Success in the Music Industry -Music Coaching.com

This is part two of an interview with Rick Goetz about marketing tools for musicians.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 5, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - June 28, 2013

2,113 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: filmmaking, promotion, writing, music_marketing, fans, craft, social_media, producing, writing_advice
0

The success of your story is weighted heavily toward one simple element: the likability of your protagonist. That's not to say the other elements of your story are unimportant. They matter, but they're meaningless if the character who's carrying your story is unlikable.

 

Likable does not mean nice or friendly or honest. Literature is chock-full of protagonists who haven't been particularly good people. If you knew them in real life, they might not even be the type you'd hang out with.

 

One of the best examples of this is Dexter Morgan, the forensic blood spatter pattern analyst and serial killer who first appeared in Jeff Lindsay's novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter in 2004 (Dexter later became a hit Showtime TV show, now in its final season). Who among us would want to spend some alone time with a true psychopath like Dexter? I certainly wouldn't. Sure, it would be interesting at first, but it would turn wholly terrifying when you're struck by the realization that you're spending time with a man who remorselessly kills other human beings.

 

But here's the interesting thing: Dexter is without a doubt likable. Why is that? Has Lindsay hypnotized us into thinking his psychopathic protagonist is likable when he's really not? Is part of his appeal that he satisfies his bloodlust by killing really bad people? No, I'd say Dexter is likable because he wants to be good, but he struggles with it. In his own twisted way, he wants to do the right thing even if it is untoward and disturbing.

 

To make a protagonist likable, even one who's not a model citizen, give him an inner conflict between serving a greater good and satisfying his own self-interest. That sacrifice your protagonist makes to forego his or her own selfish desires and indeed serve the greater good is what makes him or her likable.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Character and Action

Elements of a Page-turner

4,994 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: action, writing, story, characters, craft, character_development, protagonist
1

I receive a lot of email messages from authors who read my blog. Many of them believe they have the next big thing in literature on their hands, so they reach out to me in hopes that I will spread the word. Unfortunately, however, their emails often lend the impression that their books are most likely not very good, or they don't inspire me to get the word out. Here are three reasons why:

 

1. THEY WRITE THEIR EMAILS IN ALL CAPS.

When you send someone an email in all caps, no matter what you write, IT COMES ACROSS AS SHOUTING. End of story. And right or wrong, this creates a negative impression. Nobody likes to open emails and feel as if someone is yelling at them.

 

2. They use an unprofessional email address.

I always suggest that authors use a professional email address, e.g. john@johnsmith.com. When I receive an email from flirtygirl107@aol.com, it is hard to take the sender seriously. For contacting your friends or family, use whatever account you want. But if you're reaching out to strangers and asking them to take you seriously as a writer, a professional address makes a much better impression.

 

3. They spell my name wrong.

My name is Maria Murnane, and my email address is maria@mariamurnane.com. However, I get a lot of emails that begin with "Hi Marie" or "Hi Ms. Murname." The senders who do this lose me before I even read their messages. How can I think of them as amazing writers with well-edited books and good attention to detail if they don't even check that they have written my name correctly?

 

These are basic but important things to keep in mind the next time you're conducting email outreach for your book. It's usually the small things that make the biggest impressions!

 

-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, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Why Good Grammar Matters

Just Say No to Random Capitalization!

3,042 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writers, promotions, impression
0

You may have heard or seen folks in the publishing industry use the term "evergreen" in recent years. I've even thrown it around without providing the complete context. A literal definition of "evergreen" involves nature; it's a term used to describe plants that maintain live, healthy leaves through all four seasons. Evergreen in publishing is a similar concept. It simply means your book, thanks to technology, will never go out of print.

 

To those of you new to the publishing game, you may be giving that particular notion a shoulder shrug. Big deal; it never goes out of print. But if we look at the not-so-way-back past, this is an incredible development in publishing. It used to be that in order for a book to be published, physical inventory of the book had to exist. Physical inventory meant you usually needed a large quantity of print books and a facility for storage. Factor in shipping and returns, and you can imagine the expense that went into publishing a single title. It just wasn't practical to keep most books in print for years at a time.

 

Hence the publishing industry would frontload a book with marketing dollars in order to recoup their costs as quickly as possible. There was a real sense of urgency to sell copies of a book in the early days of its publication. Only a select few made it to second print runs. Fewer still went through third print runs and beyond. In very rare cases, a constant inventory was kept for decades for some titles.

 

That's the old model of publishing. In today's world of print on-demand, books are evergreen because physical inventory is no longer necessary. It means books can be publicized way past their dates of publication. When inventory isn't an issue, you can still promote and sell your older titles.

 

You have entered the world of publishing at an incredible time for indie authors. Your book will never be out of print. It is something that has the potential to bring you passive income for years, even decades, to come. Welcome to the evergreen era of publishing.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Going Indie? Don't Skimp on Quality

Why Print On-Demand?

2,557 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, evergreen
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways to Use Pinterest for Book Promotion - Duolit

Is it time for authors to start pinning?

                                                    

Exclusive Dialogue: When Readers Don't Know What Your Characters Are Talking About -Wordplay

Is it ever a good idea to keep readers in the dark when it comes to conversation between characters?

 

Film

                                                        

How to Succeed as an Independent Filmmaker - good in a room

Sheri Chandler, online marketing expert for filmmakers, shares her keys to success for indies.

                                          

How to Promote Your Film Online -Film Shortage

Making the film is the fun part. Selling it is the real work.

                                    

Music

 

Tips on How to Make Electronic Music - Musician Makers

Before the machines take over the world, they'll get down and rock a little.

 

Music Crowdfunding without a Fanbase -Hypebot.com

If you don't have fans yet, how do you get people to fund your first album?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - June 28, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - June 21, 2013

1,940 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, music, filmmaking, promotion, movies, films, book_promotion, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding, social_media, independent_film
1

I recently wrote a book that was outside of my normal genre. It was a fairly big divergence for me, but it was just one of those projects that I was compelled beyond free will to write. I had to do it. I don't know any other way to put it.

 

The problem was that the book was so far outside of my comfort zone that I didn't know what to do with it. I couldn't publish under my name and brand because I'm known for books that cater to a youngish demographic and this new material had some "adult" themes. In addition, the book wasn't only outside my normal genre ? it really didn't even have a well-defined genre at all. It was part thriller, part mystery, with a little humor and some literary fiction all rolled into one. 

 

After self-publishing, I discovered I had no idea how to market the book or who to market it to. I couldn't for the life of me decide on a genre. I changed the listing at least four times in the first six months. It was maddening. That is, until I decided to enter the book into a competition for independent authors.

 

I picked the competition's thriller category, sent the book in and promptly forgot about it because I had another book to write. When the announcement of the award winners came, my book was nowhere to be found among the thrillers. I then received an email from the contest organizer letting me know why I wasn't on that list of winners: my book wasn't a thriller. But she followed that with the news that they had decided to move the book to the proper category, and it did indeed win an award. They defined it as a Southern novel, and as soon as they pointed it out to me, I could see it as clear as day.

 

Solidifying the genre of the book made things so much easier. I could then talk about the book with more confidence, reach out to the right readers and market it purposefully. Finding the right genre for my book was the solution to all my marketing woes.

 

Have you been in a similar situation? How did you tackle your genre conundrum? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Write a Genre-Bending Novel

Find Smaller Markets to Sell More Books

2,835 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writers, fiction, genre, craft, target_audience
1

I often hear from authors who are frustrated because they aren't getting much traction with their book marketing efforts. However, when I dig deeper, I usually discover that their "efforts" haven't amounted to all that much. They just don't realize it.

 

Here's an example: a very nice man wrote a book about Jewish history, and he wanted to speak at synagogues to help promote it. He conducted an outreach campaign but said he got very little response and was quite discouraged. When I asked him for details about what exactly he'd done, he said he had emailed five rabbis and that two had expressed tentative interest and would let him know. Nearly two months had passed, and he hadn't heard from them again.

 

His strategy was a good one, but he made two big mistakes in his execution:

 

1)    Contacting five synagogues is not enough!

 

When I was an indie author, I contacted hundreds of organizations about my book. Only a small fraction got back to me, but over time I was successful because I cast such a wide net and kept at it. If I had stopped at the first five, I certainly wouldn't be where I am today. Just like sales, book marketing is often a numbers game.

 

2)    It's up to the author to follow up.

 

Even if two of the five rabbis expressed interested (and 40 percent is actually a great response rate), it is highly unlikely that either of them will get back in touch. Why? Because they are busy. People are busy, and despite their best intentions, the vast majority of them will flake if you leave things to them. It is critical to understand this. They may indeed be interested in whatever you are proposing, but it is up to you to keep the ball rolling.

 

If you keep at it over time, you'll be more successful in your efforts. I promise!

 

-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, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Passive Marketing is Important Too

Marketing: Begin with Your Strengths

8,880 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, author, promotions, branding
1

Your first book is behind you. You've had it edited impeccably. You've done the best you can with your marketing. You're working your brand every day. In short, you're now a veteran of the publishing game. Okay, maybe not a veteran, but you have something you didn't have before you started writing your first book: you have experience.

 

It's time to use that experience. Before you start your next project, take a moment to reflect on what worked and what didn't as you wrote, edited, and promoted your first book. Consider it an author's version of the employee evaluation.

 

In the bold world of indie publishing, you aren't just a writer. You aren't just an editor or a marketer either. You aren't just the boss. You're all those things, and it's important you grade yourself and chart a map for where you performed well, and where you need to improve. No one is perfect. No one will ever be perfect. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep striving for perfection.

 

If you sit down and list every aspect of your job as an indie author and then evaluate your performance in each of the categories, you're likely to easily spot what you do well and where you need to up your game. You may even decide you have no facility for one aspect of your role as indie author and decide to farm out that particular task.

 

The key to success for any entrepreneur is constantly evaluating every aspect of your business. It gives you perspective on where you started, where you are and where you need to be. It's very hard to take a journey without a guide, and in this case, you are your best guide.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Split Personalities of Indie Authors

Passive Marketing is Important Too

2,983 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, promotions, craft

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