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457 Posts tagged with the books tag
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I have learned over the years that there is a somewhat murky divide in this, the community of novelists. On one side, you have the group that counts themselves as writers. Prose is pieced together with painstaking precision. On the other side there are those that count themselves as storytellers. Here a clever plot structure is valued most. I am of the belief that one style is not better than the other. Both have their readership, and both contribute important works to the world of literature.

 

So what are you? Writer? Storyteller? Or are you that rarest of animals, both? Here are the distinctions as I seem them.

 

  • Writer - Think Herman Melville. Think William Faulkner, James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, etc. Writers challenge the reader, not with intricate plots and unexpected twists, but with language and deeply philosophical passages. There is usually more than one meaning to even the simplest of sentences. The writer plants a hidden message within the unfolding story and isn't terribly concerned if the reader ever finds it. The writer's love for words is usually apparent in the way they express themselves on the page.

  • Storyteller - Think Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham, James Patterson, etc. Where writers construct dense prose, storytellers often craft twisting plots with layers of engaging complexity. The language used is, for the most part, simple and straightforward, and the passages rarely wade too deeply into the literary waters. The storyteller loves to enthrall the reader with the unexpected conclusion that leaves them awed and breathless.

I don't mean to say that writers aren't good storytellers and vice versa. I think there is plenty of crossover, but I do think when an author sits down to write a book, they approach it from one of these two vantage points. So, what say you? From which vantage point do you approach a book?

 

-Richard

 

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

 

 

 

 

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Storyteller vs. Writer

Write without Judgment

3,487 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, book, author, writers, publishing, writing, story, storyteller, telling, writing_advice
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A few weeks ago I received a nice email from a reader of my blog named Tanja. She had recently self-published a book and had a brief, specific question for me about contacting reviewers. (I appreciated that because I get a lot of emails that simply ask "How should I market my book?")

 

She and I chatted a bit, and she asked if I would have a look at the first few pages of her book on Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. In our conversation she had mentioned that she planned to buy some of my books, so I figured I would check out hers in return. However, I immediately noticed some big grammatical errors, so I stopped reading. I was hesitant to tell her, but I decided to be honest.

 

Her response? She was extremely gracious and appreciative. She explained that she'd had the entire manuscript professionally edited except for the initial pages I'd read, which she had tweaked slightly and forgotten to send back to the editor. She said she would correct the mistakes immediately.

 

My response? I told her I wanted to write a blog post about her response.

 

The last time I encountered a similar situation, the (many) errors I encountered were in the author's bio on Amazon. However, when I pointed them out and explained that they made me wary of reading his book, his less-than-gracious reply was along the lines of "no one reads author bios anyway." Thus my joy at this recent experience.

 

I hope you will check out Tanja's book, Heroes and Heroines, Stories of Love. I think she deserves a little love herself for allowing me to use her errors as the basis for this post. That takes courage!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Why Grammar Matters

When YOU'RE Writing Marketing Materials, Be Careful with YOUR Grammar

2,486 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, editing, author, writing
1

In last week's post, Book Marketing Is a Numbers Game, I discussed how important it is to cast a wide net when reaching out to people and organizations about your book. Today I'd like to address the difference a personal touch can make once you've established contact with an individual who has agreed to help you in some way.

 

Several weeks ago I received a donation request from a woman I consider a casual friend. She was entering a bike race for charity, so I chipped in some money. A day or so later I received an e-mail from her and was excited to catch up a bit because I hadn't seen her in over a year. However, when I opened the message I was disappointed to realize it was a short, generic thank-you for my support. There was nothing personal in the message. And you know what? It made me feel a little used. Maybe that's childish on my part, but it's how I felt, and most likely I won't donate to her event next year.

 

Whenever I receive a message from someone about my books, whether it's to let me know one will be featured in a newsletter, book club, review, etc., or just to tell me they've enjoyed reading them, I make a point of replying with a personal note. (If you've ever contacted me through my website, you will know this is true.) It's important to me that my fans know how much I value their support, and that's hard to do with a generic auto-reply.

 

Keep this in mind as you approach your book marketing. It's completely fine to use stock copy about your book, but personalizing the messages even a little bit will make a big difference to the recipient. If you respect and appreciate people, people will respect and appreciate you back!

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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The Power of a Personal Connection

Remember to Say Thank You

2,245 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, author, writing
0

The results from your beta readers are in, and now you're faced with what to do with all the constructive feedback you've received. Keep in mind: just because it's constructive doesn't mean it should be implemented. It simply means it's a thoughtful opinion. Ultimately, you have to decide whether it's a valid opinion.

 

 

If you followed my suggestion of creating a questionnaire where beta readers could provide anonymous feedback, a lot of the guess work can be eliminated from which path to take. I created a rating system for various aspects of the story that I specifically wanted addressed. That rating system was your basic 1-5 scoring, with one being the lowest score. In addition, the beta readers were given the opportunity to leave a specific comment for each aspect of the story they were asked to evaluate. If any portion collectively scored a three or lower, I went to the comments and looked for a consensus opinion. If it was there, the fix was easy. If it wasn't, the fix wasn't as easy, but I still knew I had a rewrite ahead of me. If readers weren't getting what I was trying to say, they weren't getting it. The problem was mine, not theirs.

 

 

Now, there were points of contention for some readers that were countered with points of praise from others. That's when your gut becomes your guide. You have to decide, as the artist, if you hit the mark. For me, some of the criticism I received had less to do with the story and more to do with the reader's personal feelings about a topic. In that case, I didn't make changes. My job isn't to make everyone happy. Sometimes my job is to make people uncomfortable.

 

 

In those close races where your gut is telling you one thing, but your beta readers are telling you another, go with your gut. In the end, it's your story, and your author name is going to be attached to it. Do what the artist in you tells you to do.

 

 

-Richard

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

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2,233 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, author, blogging, writing, promotions, writing_tips, author_advice
1

You've given away proofs. Now it's time to pick a release date. This is the target where you'll concentrate all your initial marketing hoopla. It will feature an explosion of fanfare and excitement.

 

Here are five items to keep in mind when planning your release date:

 

  1. "Release date" does not mean the day it is available for sale ? Much like a brick-and-mortar store does a soft-opening before a grand opening, I recommend doing a soft-release before your official release date. Make the official release date the focus of your marketing (advertising, interviews, press release, etc.), but keep the soft-release as inside information for your online community. When the book is available for sale, send out a breaking news announcement alerting them to buy, buy, buy before the official release date.

  2. Avoid the temptation to just get the book out there. Look for a date on your calendar that is relevant to you, to the book, or to the season. I know you're anxious to get reader feedback, but there may be an invaluable marketing hook that you're squandering in your desire to make the book available ASAP. Think as a marketer, not as an author.

  3. When the release date arrives, take to social media like an author possessed. Pin, tweet, update, blog, and vlog your heart out. Be excited. Be humble. Be grateful.

  4. Use your volunteer sales force (readers) to help get the word out. Find some way to reward them within your means. If that's simply a heartfelt public thank you, share it with the world. If you have deeper pockets, go as deep as you can. It is a gesture they are not likely to forget or let go unnoticed.

  5. Track your sales for the day for no other reason than to evaluate your marketing strategy for the release. If sales are good to great, you have a formula you can repeat for the next book. If sales didn't reach expectations, a new direction is in order. Pick your strategy apart and pinpoint what caused you to fall short.

 

We will get into more detail on item five next week when we examine your final marketing stage, the postmortem.

-Richard

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

 

 

 

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Stage Two of Marketing a Book: Outreach

Stage Three of Marketing - Proof Giveaway

3,025 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, selling, book, author, self-publishing, writers, writing, book_marketing, promotions
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Make a Living with Your Writing - The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn reveals how she turned a passion for writing into a writing career.          

                           

Practice the Process - Retinart

To get good at what you do, you have to know how you do what you do.          

 

Film

                                                        

From the Archives: Famous Filmmakers - Huffington Post

Three filmmakers, known for taking risks, sit down with HuffPost Live to discuss the art and business of filmmaking.        

                                          

DIY or DIE: 10 No Budget Filmmaking Musts - Indiewire

Simple ideas that help you stay under the smallest budget. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Music Marketing with YouTube: Four Ways to Beef up Your Channel - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

The power of video has long been a marketing asset for musicians.  

 

The Many Hats of an Indie Musician - Day in the Life of a Commercial Musician

It's a juggling act, but you get to do what you love.   

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- May 8, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- May 1, 2015

2,180 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, selling, music, author, self-publishing, promotion, movies, writers, writing, promotions, musician, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding, practice
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In our second stage of writing a book, we need to establish the miles you'll be logging on this journey. We've discussed word count on this blog before in a number of different ways. Today, we want to establish what your final word count will be, or if not establish, at the very least, estimate.

 

Wait, you say, I've only just begun. How can I possibly know how many total words my book will be? Establishing a word count goal can be tied to many different factors. Genres adhere to unofficial word count parameters. The type of book – novel, novella, or novelette – comes into play when deciding word count. Are you doing a novel and releasing it in a serialized format? That can impact your total word count on a per release basis. You are a factor in establishing a final word count. Are you on a timetable? Do you have an outline that maps out plot points precisely, and in order to keep to your vision, a certain word count works that breaks the unwritten genre rules?

 

Unfortunately, there's no formula for coming up with a definitive word count, but I will say that every time I've set a word count total, I have either reached that total or surpassed it by 10-15 percent. There's something about knowing how far you need to go that allows you to find your pacing.

 

If you want to make an educated estimate, you can search this blog or the internet for word counts based on genre. That is your best place to start before making your final decision.

 

-Richard

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

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General Word Count Guidelines

Stage One of Writing a Book: Idea Exploration

2,833 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, editing, writing, craft, words, word_count, writing_tips, editing_process
8

I recently bought an indie book written by a very nice man I met at a conference a few years ago. He and I have stayed in touch since then, so I wanted to support him and his writing. I really hoped to enjoy his debut novel, but unfortunately I didn't get very far before I put it down for good.

 

The reason? The dialogue.

 

To be specific, no one used contractions, so everyone sounded like robots.

 

Well written dialogue draws you into the story and makes you feel like the people speaking are real. So to write good dialogue, use language that sounds the way people actually talk. And in English, that includes contractions. A lot of them.

 

Quick refresher: A contraction is when you use an apostrophe to shorten one or more words. For example:

 

Did not becomes didn't

Is not becomes isn't

Do not becomes don't

I am becomes I'm

He is becomes he's

 

Contractions aren't often used in formal writing, but they are for informal conversation, especially in the United States.

 

When I read dialogue with no contractions, to me everyone sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and eventually I get so distracted by the unnatural-sounding cadence that I give up on the story. Perhaps read your own dialogue to see if it passes the robot test. I'm pretty sure that if the author of this novel had done so, he would have made a large number of edits before sending the book to print.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Writing Tip: Does Your Dialogue Sound Realistic?

Finished Your Manuscript? Check Your Dialogue

8,622 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing_dialogue
2

Here's a small marketing idea that could lead to expanded exposure on a global scale. It's not groundbreaking, but it won't break your budget either. It's a long-haul plan, so don't expect an immediate return on your investment. Think of it as a side project that has the potential to grow your brand in a big way.

 

I live in a community that has a fairly large number of bed-and-breakfasts, small inns not affiliated with national chains, and vacation rental homes. The amount of amenities varies from establishment to establishment, but virtually all of them have a bookshelf filled with books. The titles usually cover a number of different genres and categories to match the variety of tastes of the different guests that stream in and out throughout the year. Why can't some of those books be written by you?

 

These places are either independently owned or run by small rental companies. It would be easy to find contacts and offer to send signed books for them to place in their properties. You would, of course, include a personal note in each copy inviting guests to join you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Presumably, these guests could come from all over the globe. This could be a real opportunity to make contacts far and wide.

 

I've stayed in a number of these establishments myself, and even though I have an electronic reading device, I always end up going through the book collections made available to guests looking for a physical book. Who knows? Maybe next time I'm staying at a bed-and-breakfast, I could be reading your book.

 

-Richard

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

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Marketing Tip: Set up an Author Page on Amazon

The Brand and the Pseudonym

2,566 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, self-publishing, promotion, book_marketing, craft, social_media, author_brand, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, book_exposure
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The Plot Plight

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 22, 2015

My favorite book is an obscure title first released in 1933 called God's Little Acre by Erskine Caldwell. Well, it's obscure now. When it was released, it was actually both a commercial hit and the subject of controversy because it was deemed vulgar by some. By today's standards, it's not nearly as provocative as it was in the 1930s.

 

I write about it today because I can make the argument that the book is without a main plot. The catalyst for the action in the beginning is the patriarch of a deeply impoverished family's obsessive search for gold on his dying farm. It's a fruitless endeavor that ruins the farmland. This search for riches serves as a backdrop to the lives of the family members and the hardships that weave them together. There's an illicit affair that tears the family apart. There's a strike at a nearby cotton mill that ends in tragedy. There's a murder. The book is basically a scrapbook of events that paints the sad portrait of a family plagued by poverty. The futile search for gold is less a plot than it is a shadow cast by the family's endless misfortune.

 

A plot is described as the main event of a book that gives a story meaning. Other events, subplots, give a story depth. My dissection of God's Little Acre has me questioning my sanity. A book, I've been taught, must have a clearly defined plot. I've been encouraged to establish the plot early in a story. And I've been told repeatedly that a book cannot end without some sort of resolution to that plot. Caldwell did none of those things in God's Little Acre, but he managed to write a compelling, truly enriching story. How is that possible?

 

So, here's my question to you, dear writer, what is your philosophy on plot? Where is it established in your story? How clearly defined is it? Can you think of a book that contains a muddled plot, but still manages to deliver a gripping story?

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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The Importance of Plot Points

The Purpose of Subplots

1,959 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, author, writing, characters, plot, development, craft, writing_tips, plot_point
2

We all know subplots are basically a device to give your story a word count that will make it a book-worthy document, right? Wrong. Subplots weren't created to fatten up stories to please consumers. At least, they shouldn't be.

 

Here is what subplots can really do for your book:

 

  • Subplots allow you to add depth to your characters. Your plot may revolve around a murder mystery, but a subplot involving a troubled marriage or a struggle with alcoholism gives you the opportunity to dive deeper into a character's life. Your characters have a place in your plot and can even drive the plot. Giving them subplots gives them their own place in the story.

  • Subplots can serve as a thread to tie books in a series together. A subplot that snakes through the background of one book can grow into the main plot for the next book. It gives your story layers that can shift from book to book.

  • Subplots give your story a reality that would otherwise be vacant. Real life is messy. Books are a series of carefully constructed events. Subplots give the illusion of chaos. They make things seem real-world crazy and messy.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't use subplots to beef up your book. I am, however, suggesting you don't consider upping your word count as beefing up your book. Readers will see it for what it is: padding. Subplots should be used to give your characters and story depth. That is how you beef up your book.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Turning Subplots into Plots

The Importance of Plot Points

7,041 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, writing, characters, craft, writing_style, writing_tips, writing_advice, pace, plot_points, subplot
1

A gentleman by the name of Matthew Jockers "did some distance similarity metric calculations and machine clustering" to determine how many different kinds of basic plot structures exist in the world of storytelling. 90% of the time when he ran the test, the answer was that there are six different plot structures, and 10% of the time, the answer was seven. Either result suggests that we are all drawing from the same plot designs over and over again.

 

 

These results beg the question: how are we coming up with so many different variations of the same plots? The answer is fairly clear. It's the amount of "you" that goes into the story you're writing. You have a style. You may not even know what your style is, but you do have one. I've suggested before that it's important that you be able to identify what that style is. It will give you more confidence as a writer, and it will give you a less cluttered path to plotting your next story.

 

 

In a monthly workshop I attend, the one question that is asked of every writer after reading their material is "What makes today different than any other day in your story?" The same can be asked when trying to define your style. What makes your story different from the other stories that share the same plot? Is it your choice of character? Is it your choice of narrator? Is it your choice of setting? What constant theme pops up in everything you write and sets you apart? What is the "you" in your writing? 

 

-Richard

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

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Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

To Be a Professional Writer, Make a Professional Impression

3,076 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, selling, book, filmmaking, author, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, writing_tips
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Are You Ready for a Book Signing? This Checklist Will Help - Book Marketing Tips

An infograph to help your next book signing be a success.         

                           

Marketing Versus Sales with Jim Kukral - The Creative Penn

Marketing is the setup, and sales is the close.        

 

Film

                                                        

Attention, Filmmakers: Six Tips for Getting Your Film Financed - Indiewire

You will find financing if you are confident, prepared and persistent.

 

Filmmaking Advice from Seven Directors with Feature Films at Sundance - No Film School

Don't wait to get experience to start your career in film; learn as you go.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Start My Music Career - Hypebot.com

Are you prepared for the many hats you'll be required to wear?  

 

Additive Synthesis - Give me more! - AudioFanzine

The art of stacking audio sounds.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 13, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- March 6, 2015

2,041 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, book, music, filmmaking, audio, author, promotion, feature, movies, writers, writing, book_signing, films, promotions, musicians, social_media, book_sales, filmming_cost
2

I sense a coming disturbance in the Force, and that disturbance is of my own making. I'm going to discuss something brand-related today that is completely superficial. It's not something I take joy in, but it's something that we must talk about because it matters. Fair warning: Some of you may become agitated by what is said here today. Now, let's jump right into it before I lose my nerve.

 

Do you pay attention to your physical appearance? It's a weird question to ask someone who wants to write for a living. After all, it's a profession that requires a lot of alone time. Sitting in a room by yourself and living inside your head for huge stretches of time doesn't exactly require proper grooming or presentable attire.

 

But I'm not referring to your "writer look." I'm referring to your "author look." Before you snap a selfie or step in front of a video camera, do you take the time to make sure your image matches the brand you're trying to cultivate? Now, understand what I'm saying. From the beginning, I've encouraged you to present a brand that reflects the real you. Don't manufacture a persona that you think people expect you to be. Be you. That philosophy is still at play here, but with a slight caveat. Don't let your appearance reflect your mood of the moment; let it reflect your normal state of being. If you are a laid-back cowboy that writes about your experiences on the range, don't step in front of a camera wearing a three-piece suit because you want to look nice. The same goes for buttoned-down attorneys writing legal thrillers. If you show up at an appearance in a sleeveless T-shirt and bicycle shorts because you just didn't feel like dressing up, you may throw your fans for a loop.

 

When you are building your brand, appearance matters. But it doesn't matter that you dress to the nines. It only matters that you dress in a manner that accurately represents your brand.

 

-Richard

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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An Active Author Brand

Productivity vs. Perfection

2,049 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, writing, brand, branding, author_brand, marketing_strategy, brand_identity, author_appearance, marketing_advice, marketing_tip
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Why Every Writer Should Keep a Travel Journal - Writer's Digest

Your experiences on the road may be worth some money.        

                           

Write More: Seven Tips for Dealing with Writing Distractions - Beyond Paper Editing

Maybe it's time to go old school and ditch your fancy laptop for a more low-tech approach.          

 

Film

                                                        

Ed Burns on The Brothers McMullen, Finding Your Voice, and the Meat Grinder of Independent Filmmaking - The Week

The filmmaker who helped usher in today's modern independent filmmaking movement.      

                                          

Becoming a Full-time Filmmaker: When to Quit Your Day Job - Filmmaking.net

When should you let go of your security net?  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Three Email Marketing Mistakes Musicians Make that Cost Them Fans and Money [Podcast]- Musicgoat.com

How to make your email marketing more engaging.  

  

Vocal Strain: What is it and What Can You Do about It? - Judy Rodman

Don't ignore vocal strain, or you might do permanent damage.    

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 27, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- February 20, 2015

1,750 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, film, author, self-publishing, movies, writers, publishing, writing, journal, promotions, filmmakers, branding, social_media, independent_film, email_marketing, vocals, writing_exercises, writing_tip
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