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The key word in marketing today is "community." We are a community. That's why sites like Facebook and Twitter are doing so amazingly well. They provide us with the ability to join and build communities that bypass geographical hurdles. Our communities can expand around the globe.

 

Why is that important? Because ultimately, we are a community of savvy consumers. We don't trust advertising like we used to, since we've been surrounded by ads since the day we were born. We've grown wary of over-hyped products and services. So what is today's consumer to do? We turn to our communities for recommendations and reviews.

 

As an author, you should be doing more than selling your own books to your community. In fact, you will probably lose their trust if that's all you're using your community for. You should be selling other authors to your community. I'm asked all the time for book recommendations from people in my community, and I'm more than happy to tell them. I actually get excited by the prospect of recommending a good book.  It's fun.

 

When you become a source of good books for the members of your community, you become a trusted authority. You gain gravitas in the eyes of your community. And, while I have no scientific proof or studies to support me on this, you may fill your literary karma coffers with all kinds of wholesome goodness that could eventually lead to an in-kind recommendation from another author. If you have a blog (and if you don't, why not?), let the author write a post about their book on your blog. Give them some space to sell their books and they may return the favor. Even if they don't, you have nothing to lose.

 

In short, serve your community and other authors at the same time. It can only benefit you.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Do You Have a Marketing Partner?

Be of Service to Other Writers

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Our second day in New York was spent at the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Publishing University. In addition to publishers of all shapes and sizes, entrepreneurial authors made up a large part of the attendees. Some of the most enlightening sessions we attended focused on book promotion and marketing in today's digital world. Below are some key takeaways from each session.

 

Marketing 101 in the Digital Age

In this session, we heard from savvy book marketers Dave Marx, Todd Bottorff, and Brian Jud (fun fact: Brian hosts CreateSpace's monthly webinars). Some highlights from their session:

 

  • Marketing is all about awareness and availability. Word of mouth is a great way to increase awareness; for readers, a recommendation from someone they know is immensely valuable. For availability, make it easy for readers to buy the book and have it available in multiple formats.
  • Brian: "I always say authors will make more money when they stop selling books. People don't buy books, they buy the information and content within them. Remember, you're selling a product."
  • Spend time developing a good, 30-second pitch. It also pays to fill in the blanks in this sentence to briefly describe your book: "I help [target audience] who want [problem your book solves] get [results your book delivers]."
  • Brian: "Book marketing is as simple as PIE: Plan, Implement, and Evaluate."
  • Todd: "You need to develop and communicate value to your end customer."
  • The 4 Ps of marketing that are being revolutionized by the digital age: product, price, placement, and promotion. These should affect the way you think about your book from creation to sale. In these digital times, you can communicate the value of your product to anyone in the world because of the internet. Prices are lowering and becoming more efficient to the end consumer. The placement of a product has shifted from a store rack to a digital presentation on a screen. And there has been a mass democratization of the promotion of books, because there are no gatekeepers and everyone has access to the same information. Also, all consumers are now potential book reviewers.
  • Set aside some time to do at least one thing every day. Deciding what that thing is will depend on your resources, but the most important thing is to do something to get your book out there.

 

Book Promotion in an E-World

Book promotion experts Marika Flatt, Mary Agnes Antonopoulos, and Kate Bandos shared some invaluable publicity tips and ideas for authors and publishers looking to increase visibility of their titles online. Some takeaways from this session include:

 

  • Types of news outlets where you may want to look for reviews: Trade magazines (ex. Publishers Weekly, ForeWord, Library Journal), regional magazines, regional and local newspapers, and online outlets (ex. blogs and topical websites).
  • Besides reviews, other ways to get coverage for you and your book might be to develop an article on a topic specific to your book and offer it to media outlets, including blogs. Consider offering an excerpt from the book to the media, or crafting your press release in article format. If you have a particularly unique or interesting story, a media outlet may want to do a feature story on you, the author. Also, offer yourself up as an expert.
  • Mary Agnes: "With publicity and promotion, the end game is not the media coverage, it's that somebody sees you. Book promotion is all about audience building. What you're really selling is yourself. The book is just your calling card. Instead of publicity bringing the audience, the audience can bring the publicity."
  • BlogTalkRadio.com is streaming online radio that can be very effective for author promotion. With this channel, you brand a channel to yourself and start broadcasting. You will create a library of radio shows that live online and are searchable forever. Some tips on broadcasting include reading excerpts of your books or blogs and positioning yourself as an expert, keeping shows brief (approx. 20 minutes) to retain listener attention, including a solid intro and exit and putting your shows on YouTube with slides. You can also invite guests who compliment your subject matter to take advantage of reaching both their audience and your own. You can even do private shows and sell them as teleseminars.
  • Meetup.com is a social network that revolves around setting up live, in-person events. You can use this site to plan meet-and-greets, book signings, or book launches. You also can go to other Meetup groups that have an interest in your book's subject matter.
  • LinkedIn: Join groups specific to the readers you're trying to reach. Don't actively sell your title to these groups, but create useful discussions and include your book title in your signature.
  • At the beginning of a publicity campaign, create a press kit and make it available as an electronic PDF. Make sure you have a professional headshot.
  • The relationship you build with the media is extremely important. Be respectful, knowing who each journalist you contact is and what he or she covers. It's also important to understand you might not be the right fit for every media outlet. Keeping good media relationships may lead to additional publicity opportunities in the future.

 

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for tidbits from BEA, and come back tomorrow for takeaways from our second day at the IBPA Publishing University.

 

Cheers!

-Amanda

 

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BEA Recap: Day 1 - The DIY Revolution

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Welcome to the first of several blog posts all about Book Expo America. We're attending some of the most interesting sessions on behalf of you, our authors, and passing along some of their most valuable insights. I hope you'll join me on this journey and sound off in the comments about what you agree with, what you don't, and your overall experience navigating indie publishing.

 

Our week in New York kicked off today with the DIY Authors Conference and Marketplace. BEA officially embraced DIY in 2010 by instituting a special event dedicated to indie publishing, and most of the industry leaders we met showed a wonderful enthusiasm for our industry. The echoing sentiment at each and every seminar we attended? Independent publishing is more than a smart way for authors to get their books to market, it's the future. Below are some key takeaways from each session (lots to cover today, so fair warning: this will be a long one!).

 

Why the DIY Revolution Has Made It the Best Time Ever to Be an Author

Alan Rinzler, whose resume include such credits as executive editor at Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons, started the day with the keynote address. An early advocate and champion of independent publishing, Alan proclaimed that DIY is "the cutting edge of a brave new world of literary art and commerce." Some highlights:

 

  • There has been a shift in the balance of power that makes now the best time ever to be a writer; the power has shifted to the author.
  • People are most definitely still reading! Their choices for how to read have changed, but the reasons they read have remained the same. "Digital publishing and the spontaneous democratic ground-up practice of social networking has revolutionized the book industry."
  • What sells books now is buzz. Buzz is when people are talking about and recommending your book to others. Readers don't care who published a book, they just want it to be good and come recommended from their network and community.
  • Publishers these days don't create buzz, because readers want to hear from the author directly. For the first time, authors can reach their market without an intermediary. Book bloggers, websites, Facebook, YouTube and other social networking channels all sell books, no matter what the genre. Traditional publishers are now expecting the author to do this kind of self-marketing..."If publishers rely on marketers to sell their own work, then who needs publishers?"
  • "Self-publishing has become the most powerful and effective device for test marketing your book. If you can sell a book on your own, it proves you know your market, that there is a market and that you know how to reach it. More publishers are actively acquiring self-published books."
  • To succeed, authors need to write and rewrite their books many times with the support of a developmental editor (not just proofreading) and need to devote much time to marketing, being authentic and passionate.

 

Advance Your Career with DIY Publishing: Tips for Success from Authors Who Have Gone Before You

In this session, featured authors B.V. Larson and Ray Sabini talked about their experiences with independent publishing via Kindle and CreateSpace. Some highlights:

 

  • Ray, an author of humor books for young readers, talked about the importance of establishing a fanbase via Facebook and Twitter. He also advised authors to reach out to bloggers to ask for reviews, as they're always looking for good content.
  • One novel idea Ray discussed was author video conference visits. He often conferences in to a classroom via Skype, which allows him to connect directly with readers everywhere without being there physically.
  • B.V. Larson, a very successful Kindle author, stressed the importance of having good content first and foremost. Then, he feels the next 5 things to get absolutely right to be successful are your book's price, cover, title, description, and categories. One marketing method that has worked for him? Each time he released a new book, he'd post chapters online to entice readers to read more.

 

Building Community Before Your Book is Published

Dan Blank, founder of We Grow Media, works with publishers and writers to help them build their communities online. Some highlights:

 

  • "It's not enough to just write a great book, but you should have the right topic, the right time, the right support network and the right marketing savvy. Don't place a bet on just ONE of these things."
  • Start a blog as soon as possible. Many well-known authors were blogging and engaging with people years before their books came out and they "hit it big."
  • For social media, it's not about the quantity of connections, but the quality. Bring in the right people and build a relationship with them instead of focusing on your number of followers.
  • Benefits of building a community pre-publication: Get ready for a successful launch, extend relationship with audience, understand your audience/market, and have levels your can pull (blog, social media, newsletter)
  • Set long-term career goals beyond just selling your book. Develop milestones to gauge the size of your audience and how well you are engaging them.

 

Authors and Twitter/Facebook: A Roadmap to Success

Kathleen Schmidt is a public relations and social media consultant whose background includes stints in the publicity departments of Penguin and Atria Books. She hosted a session on using Twitter followed by a seminar on Facebook. First, key takeaways for mastering those 140 characters:

 

  • Before you begin, observe the Twitter feeds of other authors. Ask yourself: Why are you using Twitter? What do you hope to accomplish? Making connections is the primary reason to use Twitter. Just keep in mind that Twitter is a public space, so you should be mindful of your "online legacy."
  • For your Twitter profile, use your own photo as your avatar and get creative with your background. Include the URL to your website, and make your bio witty, avoiding words like guru, expert, etc. since everybody is using those these days. Don't protect your tweets, which makes them private, as this defeats the purpose of making Twitter connections. Also, you don't have to disclose your exact geographical location if you'd prefer not to. Saying something like "NYC Area" is just fine.
  • For the actual tweets, your tone should be polite, useful, and unique, but most importantly, your voice should come across in every tweet. Take the extra time to check spelling and grammar, then make sure your links work. Always credit another tweeter if you use a link they posted. With this simple step, people will do the same with you. Twitter is a real community, so be a part of the conversation.
  • Follow people who have similar interests. Both Mashable and Mediabistro have great Twitter lists for authors, agents, and publicists. When choosing who to follow, take a look at their past tweets to see what they're like.

 

Here are some highlights from Kathleen's talk on Facebook:

 

  • Your Facebook fan page should be an extension of your online identity as an author. It's better to create an author page for yourself rather than for each individual title. You can always edit your page to include more titles but build your audience in one place.
  • Some logistics: Administrators for fan pages must have a personal Facebook account. Use the link http://www.facebook.com/pages/create/php to start, and choose a category for your page ("Author" is located in the "Artist, Band or Public Figure" category). Add your bio, favorite books and website URL, and be sure to add book titles and include a profile picture of yourself.
  • For photos, make a photo album of your book jackets. Post photos of book events or things relevant to your book. Think about the sequence of photos that will appear on your page, and if you use other people's photos, be sure to credit them.
  • You can build customized areas of your page ("tabs") that are linked to the left on your fan page. Generally, you must use a 3rd party application to create and publish content for tabs. Consider adding a "Books" tab to feature your book covers and links to buy copies, and an "Events" tab to list tour information.
  • Tell people about your fan page via other social networks, and cherry pick "likes" to add to your page (only select relevant pages). Posts should be interesting and invite engagement - the more you post, the more you will hear from people. Don't constantly self-promote, and look at other author fan pages to get an idea of what you'd like to do.

 

Landing Book Reviews for DIY Authors: How to Look For Love in All the Right Places

Patti Thorn, managing partner of BlueInk Reviews used her background as a journalist and book editor to provide advice for obtaining book reviews. Some highlights:

 

  • Try to reach niche audiences. Consider newsletters, alumni magazines, community newspapers, trade publications, and blogs that reach your audience. Use the blogroll on your favorite blogs to compile list of bloggers to contact for possible reviews.
  • When contacting an editor, keep in mind they're really busy and require special handling. Don't chit chat, and don't send long emails. Journalists get a lot of emails, and delete quickly if their attention is not held, so keep the most important stuff at the top of the message and have an interesting subject line. Know about the editor and the publication. Figure out why that particular editor would be interested in your book, and go with that. Be persistent, but never demanding or annoying. Try flattery; let them know that you enjoyed a column or review they wrote, but be genuine. Also, if you offer a review copy, go ahead and send the book so the reviewer has it on hand.
  • Where do you use the reviews? Book cover (both front and back), press releases, advertisements, your website, postcards, bookmarks and announcements.

 

Well, that wraps up a busy and inspiring Day 1 at BEA. Our team greatly enjoyed meeting all the talented authors who stopped by our table today; thank you! Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for tidbits from BEA, and come back tomorrow for our take on the IBPA Annual Publishing University.

 

Stay tuned!

-Amanda

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Break Out Your Hankies

It seems the road to books sales is paved with sadness. Not just any ordinary sadness. Sales for books in the grief memoir genre are doing quite well. This begs the question, why are readers interested in other peoples' mourning? Are they looking for answers, inspiration, or is it just a natural progression of our voyeuristic society? Author Raina Wallens doesn't see it that way. In fact, she thinks there aren't enough grief books on the market.        

 

I don't know if 5 grief memoirs means we should make way for a new genre, but I do hope these books open up a discussion about grief and mourning, love and loss, resilience and renewal. And pave the way for other books that revolve around death to get published. Because I like breezy-light books as much as the next person, but there's only so much I can read about Labrador Retrievers.

 

You can read the entire article on The Rumpus' website: Does Sad Sell?

 

Get Ready for Revisionist History with Fangs

It's one thing to adapt a novel for the silver screen, but it's quite another to adapt a horribly inaccurate historical novel for 3-D screens. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is currently in production; believe it or not, the filmmakers are striving to make it as historically accurate as possible...with the small exception that old Abe is a champion vampire hunter. And, I have to say, I am pretty psyched about this film.          

 

The film's production designer, François Audouy, has an unexpected approach to the historical aspects. He uses both computer effects and actual locations to blend the real and the artificial in ways that could only be imagined when Woody Allen posed with Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover in "Zelig" and Forrest Gump received a Medal of Honor from Lyndon B. Johnson. In the production office here in Louisiana recently, where the film will be shooting into next month, Mr. Audouy's associates were sorting through a stack of seemingly authentic Civil War maps, just a tiny sampling of the myriad props that are turning "Vampire Hunter" into a true period epic.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Aside From the Vampires, Lincoln Film Seeks Accuracy

 

Smells Like Teen Spirit...Wait, Is That Miley Cyrus?

Kurt Cobain personified the anti-establishment rocker. He wrote and performed songs that revealed a deeply passionate and confused artist. He was the brooding front man of a ragtag trio of musicians that called themselves Nirvana and defined the Seattle grunge rock movement. They had a tortured, soulful sound that spoke to a generation of disenfranchised music lovers. So how is it that Miley Cyrus, the young lady who gave us her bubble gum pop alter ego Hannah Montana, wound up performing Nirvana's signature song "Smell Like Teen Spirit" on stage recently?        

 

A video of Miley Cyrus performing Nirvana's breakthrough hit, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," in Ecuador this past weekend has been spreading around the Internet in the past couple of days - and inevitably, this performance has been widely criticized and declared blasphemous by rock fans who have no love for the teen pop icon. But Cyrus is hardly the first pop singer to take on the grunge classic. As it turns out, "Teen Spirit" isn't just one of the most frequently covered rock songs of the past 20 years. It's practically become a cornerstone of mainstream pop.

 

See who else has covered Smell Like Teen Spirit on Rolling Stone's websiteHypebot.com: The 12 Most Unlikely Covers of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - May 13, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - May 6, 2011

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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Social Networking: Twitter v. Facebook - BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency

You knew this day would come. Twitter or Facebook: for gaining readership, which one wins when they go head-to-head?     

 

When E-Ink Crinkles - PWxyz

If this is real, it's awesome. Years ago, I actually sat in on a meeting with a major video manufacturer that said they had prototypes of this very thing.

 

Film

 

Nuts and Bolts of Film Making, Duncan Jones Reveals All - Claps and Boos

The filmmaker behind Source Code talks film production and earning his stripes in the world of commercials.                  

 

Schickel on Scorsese - Southern California Public Radio

Here's your chance to listen to a great audio file featuring an interview with master filmmaker Martin Scorsese. 

 

Music

 

Why Being a Pro Ruins Everything - Mr. Tunes

Are artists better when they're eager and hungry or when they're successful and cautious?  

 

3 Ways to Get More Samples and Loops - Renegade Producer

Apparently, you can never have too many samples and loops.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - May 10, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - May 3, 2011 Edition

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Try Out a Trade Show

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 16, 2011

I know I have been a cheerleader for Web 2.0 marketing on this blog for the most part, but that doesn't mean I'm not a fan of more traditional marketing methods as well. I like events where authors have the opportunity to interact with the public. Beyond the neighborhood bookstore or coffee shop, trade shows are excellent venues for authors to meet readers.

 

There are two types of trade shows that can benefit authors:

 

Industry-Specific Trade Shows: What better place to meet readers, book buyers, and publishing professionals than at a book industry trade show? The biggest such show in the U.S. is Book Expo America (BEA). Usually held at the Javits Center in New York City, it's a wonderland of books, publishers, and authors. As an author, you can contact show organizers about joining an autographing session or even setting up an exhibitor's booth. My advice would be to join forces with other independent authors and share a booth and other expenses. In addition to offsetting the costs, you can help each other man the booth and guide traffic to your table. In addition to participating in the show as an exhibitor and author, you can also attend highly educational seminars where you can learn tricks of the trade from respected industry professionals.

 

Topic-Specific Trade Shows: I remember attending a home and garden trade show a few years back and seeing a long line at one particular booth. My curiosity got the best of me, and I made my way to the front of the line to see what the big attraction was. It was an author of a children's book. The subject of the book was a dog who loved to garden. It was a brilliant idea. There are trade shows for virtually every hobby, profession, and genre. They may not have been intended for books and authors, but that doesn't mean they don't have tremendous value for authors to showcase their wares.

 

No matter what type of trade show you decide to attend, you want to go prepared. We've talked about merchandising before on this blog, and that ties in well here. People love swag at trade shows, so have plenty on hand. Perfect your one-sentence pitch before you work your booth. Practice until it rolls off your tongue, and hook that show attendee who is just strolling by. You don't have to dress to the nines, but shoot for writer casual. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes if you attend, as you will be on your feet all day. Above all, have fun and be friendly. At trade shows, you are meeting potential members of your word-of-mouth team!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Four Tips for Real-Life Networking

Preparing for a Personal Appearance

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I just finished the second draft of my latest book, and, like everything in my writing life, I found myself evaluating each process as I went along. I'm a strong believer in objectively observing yourself within the craft in order to get better at it. In sports, they call it developing the fundamentals.

 

What I noticed was that each process takes two different brains, and I own both of them. You can call the one I write with my "gut-brain." As odd as it sounds, I don't think with that brain. I write with that brain. I get things done with that brain. When I can't decide where to go with a story, I just let my gut-brain go.

 

The brain I use to rewrite is my "brain-brain." That brain is at odds with my gut-brain because a lot of clean up is required at the end of a gut-brain run. The brain-brain is the coach. It takes all that raw material and gets it into shape. It's ruthless. It's annoyingly strict and committed to making changes. It knows that the first draft is never perfect. Its job is to find the perfection in the mess and make a good book out of a good story.

 

I believe your job as the writer is to give the brain-brain very little input in the writing process and only give your gut-brain limited access to the rewriting process. Do yourself a favor and compartmentalize your writing life. Come at it with your two different brains. Give the right brain control at the right time and you'll be happier for it. And, in the end, you'll have a better book.

 

-Richard

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

 

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A Guy, a Girl and a Bad Critique

AAUGH! Rewrites!

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What a Boy Wants

It's no secret that young female readers far outnumber young male readers. The question is why don't boys read? Unfortunately, there is no universal answer. There are indications that it is a cultural flaw. Most boys are taught that physical prowess is much more important that mental prowess during their developmental years. Others believe that it's a simple matter of there being more reading material created for girls than boys. Here's more on the topic from The Tennessean.

 

You've got your typical boys. Then bring in Kelly Miller, assuming the role of the relentless eighth-grade English teacher. She's determined to buck the odds and get all her students - boys and girls - to meet a goal of reading 30 novels this school year. Miller knew the same general facts that had troubled Calame: Boys read less than girls. Surveys show they're more likely to have a negative experience with books. And boys lag behind girls in reading skills.

 

You can read the entire article on The Tennessean's website: How do you get boys into reading? Girls

 

Wheeling and Dealing, Hitchcock-Style

Even the great ones must make compromises and promises to get their films made. And there is no greater one than Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock had heard the story of a man, Manny Balestrero, wrongly accused of committing a robbery. He was brought to trial where a mishap with a juror caused a mistrial, and that's when the great director got interested in the real-life story.

 

As "Manny" waited for a retrial, the real robber was arrested while trying to hold up a grocery store. With that arrest, "Manny" was exonerated. After hearing the story, Alfred Hitchcock decided to make a film. He created The Wrong Man and wanted to make the film as real as possible. He approached Judge Groat (the presiding judge) to see if the Court Room in the Queens County Court House could be made available to film a portion of the movie - just as it had happened in real life. Judge Groat said, "Yes, but with one condition." That "condition" required Alfred Hitchcock to speak at a local Young Republican Club.

 

You can read the entire article on AntonNews.com: Remembering Alfred Hitchcock

 

A Voice You Should Know

Every once in a while, a talent comes and goes from this planet that is just too good to let go by without acknowledging. Sadly, Phoebe Snow succumbed to illness at the young age of 60 and passed away last week. For those of you who don't know, Snow was a singer/songwriter who broke onto the music scene in 1974. She had a deeply rich and beautiful bluesy voice that she showcased perfectly with her haunting and moving songs. She gave up music to care for her disabled child. Even though it was a decision that most likely cost her millions of dollars and elite stardom, she never regretted it. Though her life and contribution to music were far too brief, she still left an indelible mark. 

 

Ms. Snow was discovered at the Bitter End in Greenwich Village in 1972 by Dino Airali, a promotion executive for Shelter Records, based in Tulsa, Okla. Mr. Airali and Phil Ramone produced her first record, which included guest performances by Zoot Sims, the Persuasions and Teddy Wilson. Besides "Poetry Man," the most striking original song on her debut album, "I Don't Want the Night to End," is about a lover named Charlie Parker (not the jazz saxophonist), who had died. The introspective, quirky coffeehouse torch-singing of that hit was a style she later largely abandoned to pursue various hybrids of hard rock, soul and gospel.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' websiteHypebot.com: Phoebe Snow, Bluesy Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 60

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - April 29, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - April 22, 2011

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I remember reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway years ago and being amazed by the incredible depth of the characters. It was unbelievable because the book uses minimal character descriptions, yet I felt like I knew the characters. I flipped through the book, and realized how Hemingway defined each character. He described each individual character by writing about the way they moved. He threw in the minutiae of everyday tasks to reveal who his characters were. I knew how they smoked a cigarette. I knew how they got out of bed. I knew how they conducted themselves at meals. I knew the characters because I could picture them doing basic, unspectacular tasks.

 

The art of character description was an invaluable lesson for me to learn at the time because I was just trying my hand at this thing called writing. I had penned a couple of short stories by then and after reading The Sun Also Rises, I wanted to burn them. My stories were chock full of - and ruined by - character descriptions. Readers knew the weight, height, hair color, and shoe size of my characters. I didn't give readers any room to use their imaginations. I was so specific it was almost as if they'd have to know someone who fit my very detailed description in order to connect with the characters.

 

For me, I learned a great deal about style after reading Hemingway's classic novel. Detailed physical descriptions don't define characters. In fact, they become flimsy and two-dimensional if you overdo it. I much prefer to build characters through their movements and actions. I believe you can tell more about a character by what they do than what they look like. I'm not saying your book should be completely without physical descriptions of characters. Perhaps a baseline description should be established and the rest should be left to the reader's imagination.

How about you? How do you tackle the issue of defining characters in your novel?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Write an Obituary for Your Characters

Overwriting? Just Say It!

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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Confluence of Pleasures: On Reading and Tuna Fish - The Millions

An essay about those moments when the right book finds you at the right time.     

 

Nonlinear Reading and Other Things Print Books Do Better Than E-books - PWxyz

Is this a case where the "analog" world outdoes the digital world when it comes to nonlinear "technology"?   

 

Film

 

The (Dreaded) Silent Role - A MOON Brothers film

Actors who pass on parts because of lack of dialogue may be missing out on the chance to deliver an Oscar-winning performance.              

 

Beyond a Social Network - The Independent

Yet another article about the changing face of film financing and the world of crowdsourcing.   

 

Music

 

Is the Dedicated Songwriter Going Extinct? - digital music news

The music industry is seeing the demise of songwriting as a reliable source of income. Now, songwriters are being asked to diversify in order to make a living.  

 

6 Things to Help Your Music Marketing This Week - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Get your notebooks out. Bob Baker is cranking out the free marketing tips.     

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - April 26, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - April 19, 2011 Edition

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This is a follow-up to my post titled He said I used the word "said" too much. Attribution in writing is an obsession of mine. To me, the word an author chooses to use to attribute dialogue to a character is a huge indicator of style. There is a temptation for some writers to want to mix things up. They come to the point in the writing day where they just can't stand to use the word "said" anymore. It's monotonous. It feels lazy. It even seems to lack any kind of creative challenge. But after grappling with this issue for years, I've come to the conclusion that using a substitution for the word "said" may not be the right thing to do. I say this as someone who's been guilty in the past of throwing in a number of alternatives.

 

It's common in industry editorial circles to rein in writers and nix all the surrogate words, inserting the old tried-and-true "said" in their place. Why? Here's Elmore Leonard's reasoning from The New York Times:

 

 

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with ''she asseverated,'' and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

 

 

In other words, it takes the reader out of the story. It took me a while to see it Leonard's way, but he's right. I just finished a new book, and I only used the word "said" to attribute the dialogue to a character. I did it consciously, and what I discovered was that it was far more creatively challenging for me to stick to this rule than to substitute at will. I discovered creative ways to structure the story that didn't require the dialogue to be attributed to a character; the speaker would be obvious to the reader from the flow of the story.

 

 

I'm not one to say outright that it is the mark of a novice writer to use alternatives for "said." I see it more as a matter of style; however, I'm now firmly ensconced in the "said" camp. If you haven't explored the issue, I encourage you to give it some thought. What is your preferred method of dialogue attribution?

 

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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He said I used the word "said" too much

The Greatest Example of "Show It. Don't Say It."

2,261 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, writers, writing, craft, dialogue
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Welcome to Tuesday's blog roundup. This is the day we shine the spotlight on bloggers and artists in the publishing, film and music industries.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Riverton Woman Says Editing 'Potter' Books Was Top-secret Job - SJ-R.Com

Sure she got to see the Harry Potter books before everyone else, but she couldn't tell anyone.

 

Is the Short Story Really the Novel's Poor Relation? - Guardian Book Blog

Do short stories have a place in today's world? Frankly, they may be more relevant today than at any other time.

 

Film

 

What if Star Wars Had Never Existed? - Guardian Film Blog

Would we even know what outer space looks like without George Lucas? Sure there was that whole Apollo project thing at NASA, but those spaceships weren't nearly as cool.

 

Independent Filmmaking - A Creative Labor of Love - Ai InSite

Studio films may have major financing, but independent filmmakers have much more freedom to make the films they want to make.

 

Music

 

Two Ways to Rehearse for Best Vocal Performance - Judy Rodman

Train your voice and your mind to get the optimum performance.

 

Open a Piano, Literally, as a First Step in Learning to Read Music - Music After 50

"Every Goat Breaks Down Fences." Trust me; it makes sense if you read the post.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Tuesday's Blog Roundup - March 29, 2011 Edition

Tuesday's Blog Roundup - March 22, 2011 Edition

1,501 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, editing, editing, story, story, films, films, musicians, musicians, filmmakers, filmmakers, singing, singing, short_story, short_story
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The Final Chapter

 

We've all been there. You fall in love with a book as you're reading it. It may even seem less like a book and more like an event. This book is your new favorite. You can't wait to tell your friends and family about the book, and then...you get to the last chapter and it falls completely apart. It seems to happen more frequently with books that cover social issues. The set-up is insightful, but the solution chapter doesn't hit the mark.

 

The weakness of last chapters is in large part a function of the sheer difficulty of devising answers to complex social problems that are sound, practicable and not blindingly obvious. Besides, those who give the most subtle diagnoses may not have the problem-solving disposition needed to come up with concrete, practical recommendations.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Why Last Chapters Disappoint

 

The Informed Audience

 

There was a day when filmmakers created a film and showed it to an audience that had no clue how movies were made. They didn't know the work that was involved. They didn't know the commitment it requires to take a movie from script to screen. They didn't appreciate the process behind making a film. Those days are gone.

 

While some see audience as the faceless mass waiting to be entertained or reduced to eyeballs needing to be captured, (Jay) Rosen points out that audiences now have the means and ability to make their own work...more people will have a newfound respect for those with talent (it isn't easy to create content worthy of an audience) and a network of creators can be harnessed to spread work much further than an expensive ad campaign can do.

 

You can read the entire article on ACTORSandCREW's website: Who Wants To Understand the Power of Little Networks?

 

All They Need is Love?

 

The Beatles were a legendary band because they got along so well, right? They created brilliant songs out of their utter love for each other, right? The music came from their heart, and their hearts were always working in concert to craft historical pop songs...right? Not really. According to a new book by authors Richard Courtney and George Cassidy, at least some of their collaboration was born out of strife.

 

THE Beatles were stymied. During a 1968 recording session, they couldn't find a suitable introduction to "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," a song written by Paul McCartney. John Lennon didn't much like the song, and, after several hours, he stormed out of the studio. When he returned, he strode to the piano and banged out several chords, then added petulantly, "Here's your intro!" "All eyes shifted to Paul, expecting rejection, perhaps an outburst," according to a new book, "Come Together: The Business Wisdom of The Beatles." (Turner Publishing, $24.95). Instead, McCartney defused the tension with this: "That's quite good, actually." Lennon's chords, pounded out in a fit of pique, make up the song's now-famous opening.

 

You can read the entire article on The New York Times' website: Whisper Words of Business Wisdom

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - March 25, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - March 18, 2011

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Could an E-book Look Like a Book?

 

There are those who are squarely in the print book camp. They are die-hard fans of the printed page and in most cases they loathe the e-book craze. And then there are the gadget guys and gals who love their e-readers. The very idea that they can download books from the internet from virtually anywhere at any time of the day sets their head spinning with sheer delight. The two methods of reading are separated by a great chasm of technology, but will that always be the case? What if a blank book with hundreds of pages of blank electronic paper could digitally morph into the book of your choice? Could e-books of the future look like the print books of today?

 

The object in your hands looks and feels like a book. The pages feel like paper. You flip through them, and all the words are there waiting for you; there's no waiting for a screen to refresh. The object might even be made, with a judicious dash of library-scented accord from my favorite perfume shop, to smell like the books you grew up with. You can make notes on the pages if you wish, provided you use the special digital pen attached by means of a thin ribbon to the spine.

 

You can read the entire article on The Millions' website: The Chameleon Machine

 

The Making of a Writing Partnership

 

The duo who brought you Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are back with a new comedy called Paul. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been friends since 1993, and they've acted together plenty of times, but they've never written together before. They decided to put their science fiction geek credentials to good use and write the space alien send off. What they found is that being writing partners is different from being friends.

 

"It's very hard writing collaboratively," says Pegg. "When you have three ideas in a row which your partner has gone, 'Eh, I dunno,' you start to feel that it's personal." Frost jumps in: "Why do you hate me?" "Why aren't I allowed to have an idea?" continues Pegg. "The next thing you wanna do is just have an idea cause you haven't had an idea in 20 minutes. Even if it's not very good, and then you get annoyed at yourself for being petty and then there's 10 minutes of [cursing]." "Then someone will say, 'Cuppa tea?'" says Frost.

 

You can read the entire article on The Los Angeles Times' website: 'Paul': Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on droid noises, chest hair and pink-mist romance

 

Classical Music Hits the Pop Charts

 

At one time, the music of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms was the popular music of the time. In essence, they were pop stars. Today, our pop stars look quite a bit different. They wear crazy clothes. Sport crazy hairdos...okay, so maybe they're not that different. But music has changed, and the pop music of yesteryear is now the classical music of our time. They are of two different worlds and never the twain shall meet...not so fast. Alessandro Striggio's 1566 mass has hit the charts in the U.K.

 

Several years ago, the work, Missa sopra Ecco sì beato giorno, was rediscovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, where it had been miscatalogued. In 2007, it was given its first modern performance at London's BBC Proms. Now, a new recording of the work has made its debut on the pop charts at number 68, beating the likes of Bon Jovi, George Harrison and Eminem.

 

You can read the entire article on The Independent's website: Lost choral masterpiece finally finds a home... in the pop charts

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - March 18, 2011

Weekly News Brief - Books, Film, Music - March 11, 2011

1,460 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, music, music, filmmaking, filmmaking, technology, technology, writing, writing, e-book, e-book, classical, classical
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There have been times when I sit down to write and jump off the tracks with a subplot or two. They take on a life of their own, and after hours - sometimes days - of working them into the main storyline, I realize I've just been wasting my time. Or have I?

 

Could that subplot have a second life? After all, it was compelling enough to toy with and develop. I felt that it had value at some point. So why am I now going to turn my back on it? That subplot could be the seed for a new book!

 

When you are facing writer's block or beating your head against the wall on what the plotline of your next book should be, why not visit the ghosts of subplots past and test their durability. Start by writing a one-page synopsis built around the subplot to see if you can build an entire story from it. No one is going to see this synopsis, so don't worry about typos or spelling or perfect grammar. Just let your thoughts flow.

 

Once you have a page, tear it down paragraph by paragraph until you have a single sentence that fully describes your subplot. If you have gotten this far, you have turned your subplot into a fully functioning plot, and you have your next book idea! You can even do this with subplots that you used for books you've already published. In this case, they will be building blocks for sequels.

 

The lesson here is don't throw any idea away. You never know when old, unused subplots, or even ramblings written on a cocktail napkin, will come in handy. Remember, even Mother Nature needs time to turn coal into diamonds.

 

-Richard

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

 

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The First 5 Weeks of a Manuscript - Week 4: Reinforce the Muse, Develop Sub-plots, Map the Remaining Chapters

You Have More Than One Book Inside of You

999 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, writers, writing, plot, craft
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