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753 Posts tagged with the writing tag
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I'm a member of a listserv that includes many professional writers, a good chunk of whom are freelancers looking for work. Recently, someone posted a question asking what everyone in the group is currently doing to pay the bills, and the response was bigger than any I've seen. Overnight dozens and dozens of people replied, and after scrolling through the bulk of the messages, I was surprised at how few gave a concise, compelling description that would make me want to hire them. The majority of them went on and on (and on) for several paragraphs, included a lot of detail and personal information that didn't seem relevant, and never seemed to get to the POINT.

 

The ones that grabbed me were short.

 

And clever.

 

And just a few sentences long.

 

My personal reaction to the long-winded replies (i.e., a lot of skimming) got me thinking about book marketing and how important it is to have a brief description of your work. If someone asks you for a detailed, two-page summary of your book, that's great. But most people just want the basics. People are BUSY, and if this is their first interaction with you (think book club moderator or first-time visitor to your website) you need to grab their attention quickly before they lose interest and move on to something else.

 

I think it's a good idea to have three descriptions of you book: a one-liner, one that is about a paragraph long, and one that is several paragraphs. Then, you can use whichever is appropriate for the situation. If the moderator of a book club asks "what's your book about?" and you send over a detailed, two-page summary, that might be a bit much, right?

 

Going back to the example of the freelancer writers on the listserv, if I were looking to hire one of them, I would probably contact one who had provided a brief, compelling description - then ask for more detail. When you're reaching out to busy strangers, sometimes less is more.

 

-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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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How's Your Elevator Pitch?

Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

4,827 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing
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In case some of you have never read my bio that follows my contributions to the CreateSpace blog, let me humbly point out that it identifies me as an award-winning author. Modesty prevents me from pointing out that it should say multiple-award-winning author. Actually, I should probably point out that I've lost more awards than I've won, but that's not the point of this blog post.

 

The point of this post is to answer a question I frequently get asked: Has winning awards helped me sell books? The answer is yes, it has helped me sell books. I know this because I have been contacted by teachers who explained to me that they chose my book over other offerings because it had won an award. Teachers are my bread and butter because they are the gateway to the young adult demographic. In addition, winning an award has been a wonderful marketing tool. Beyond the announcement after the initial win, there's the bio upgrade that forever draws attention to the fact that I won an award.

 

I didn't write this post to brag. I just wanted to give you a firsthand account of what it means to an author's marketing efforts to win an award. It can give your sales a boost not just in the short term, but for a long time to come. I won my first award in 2006, and that book is still one of my top sellers.

 

Not all awards programs are created equal. My advice is to look for award competitions that have a long track record. Go through a list of their past winners and look up a few of the authors online to see if you can determine what kind of impact the award had on their marketing and sales. In other words, do extensive research on a competition before your enter. Most awards programs have entry fees. Spend your time wisely, and you'll spend your money wisely.

 

-Richard

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

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There's a Lot of Self-Promotion Going On

The Key to Succeed as an Author

2,422 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, award_winning
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I love receiving emails through my website that begin along these lines (my new novel is called Cassidy Lane):

 

Hi Maria, I just bought a copy of Cassidy Lane and look forward to reading it. I'm an indie author and a big fan of your blog. I've also taken your webinar on book marketing and was wondering if...

 

I enjoy messages like this because the sender has not only shown that she knows exactly who I am by referencing my blog, but she has already bought a copy of one of my books and taken one of my webinars. I instantly want to help and support her, because she is helping and supporting me. If this woman wanted me to read the first few pages of her manuscript and provide feedback, I would probably do it at no charge. Not kidding.

 

On the flip side, I'm not such a fan of emails that go something like this:

 

Hi Maria, I'm the author of ABC book and wonder if you have any tips for me on how to promote it?

 

Each time I receive an email like this (which unfortunately is quite often), I reply with a friendly note asking if the sender has read any of my books or taken my webinar on book marketing. If the sender replies, which is rare, it is always to say that he has done neither. That's when I know he has no idea who I am and is probably sending the same request to every author he can find on the Internet.

 

If you put yourself in my shoes in the above scenario, what would you do? I enjoy helping other authors, especially those who are just getting started. But I also appreciate it when people take the time to remember that I'm an author too.

 

-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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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How to Support an Indie Author

Use Common Sense in Book Promotion

3,477 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions
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Improving Dialogue

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 7, 2014

Before I attempted writing my first novel, I wrote screenplays. In fact, I wrote a total of 12 screenplays. None were produced or optioned. A few sparked mild interest from a studio or two, but nothing more. Some would count my experience as a "screenwriter" as a failure. I wouldn't. I gained something immensely valuable from the journey: I learned how to write dialogue.

 

When you write a screenplay, you hold everything in your head except the dialogue. What I mean by that is the setting, descriptions of character and character movements are only minimally described by the writer. The dialogue is the only area where you can truly experiment, and you can do so with unusual detail.

 

As you write, you hear the dialogue in your head. As you hear it in your head, you picture characters in the ideal setting. As you picture them in the ideal setting, you see their movement and interaction. It really is an extraordinary event of imaginary proportions. You're basically seeing this movie in your mind's eye before a single frame of film has been shot.

 

Ninety percent of what you see doesn't appear anywhere in the script. Only the dialogue you hear does. And what you discover is that setting, interaction and even character movement affect dialogue and how it's delivered. If you do it right, you create dialogue that brings a screenplay to life. And while I've never written a stage play, I imagine it holds the same kind of magical feeling.

 

If you're not happy with your dialogue, why not throw yourself into creating a screenplay? I promise it will force you to see beyond the importance of the verbal communication of words shared between characters. You will see all those unwritten communication cues that make a scene work as well.

 

-Richard

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

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Finished Your Manuscript? Check Your Dialogue

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

6,495 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, screenplays, dialogue
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

To Do: A Social Media Spring Clean - Catherine, Caffeinated

Those old posts you've forgotten about may have a few odds and ends that need your attention.             

                                                    

How to Build Buzz for Your Book with Social Media - The Future of Ink

How to build buzz without drowning people in self-promotion.

 

Film

                                                        

5 Things about Crowdfunding That Were True in 1998 (& Are Still True Today) - Filmmaker IQ

Think crowdfunding is a new concept? Think again.   

                                          

How to Shoot Stunning Infrared Cinematography & Why It's So Powerful - Noam Kroll

Your camera can shoot in a spectrum of light beyond the capacity of human vision and capture stunning images.       

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

10 Secrets of Social Media for Musicians - Hypebot.com

How to find the right balance between social and promotional.

 

Top Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014 - The Curious Brain

Are you providing passion-based content to the social media community? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 28, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- March 21, 2014

3,197 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, music, filmmaking, writing
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As a reader, I have found that the perfect villain is actually likeable. I look forward to scenes and chapters that feature the villain. There are times I may even secretly pull for the villain because he is so darned charming. And in many ways, I find my affinity for these villains the most chilling aspect of a good book. What is it about me that wants the bad guy to win?

 

It's not me (at least I hope it's not). It is the writer's strategy to create a villain that is more than just a bad guy. The villain has layers. In other words, he isn't all bad. He will show glimpses of decency buried under that hard heart. There has to be a speck of humanity in even the worst villain for me to enjoy a book. Maybe he's a serial killer who loves dogs, or a gangster devoted to his mother, or a scheming politician who manages to do some good on his way to ruthlessly destroying those who do not serve his cause, or maybe he's a madman with a really good sense of humor.

 

If you want to create a villain no one is drawn to and who ruins an otherwise good story, make him one-sided. Inundate your readers with passage after passage of his heartless actions without a word about his ability to show compassion. If, on the other hand, you want readers to enjoy the bad guy so much that they question their own pureness of heart, give your villain depth and a small sense of humanity.

 

-Richard

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

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Defend Your Antagonist

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

2,968 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, likeable_villain
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Misuse of Pronouns

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 1, 2014

I spent a good chunk of February sitting on my couch watching the Olympics - so fun! I love cheering on the athletes, no matter what their nationality, and it's entertaining to hear the informed commentary that accompanies the competition.

 

This Olympics, however, the grammar that accompanied the commentary wasn't as stellar as the athletic feats being described. The most common infraction I heard from Sochi was the misuse of pronouns. The following are two examples that were so outrageous I actually paused the TV, rewound to listen again, then recorded them with my phone:

 

Example One:

 

What was said: "It has all gone away for John Daly. Heartbreaking for HE and his family and friends."

 

What should have been said: "It has all gone away for John Daly. Heartbreaking for HIM and his family and friends."

 

Explanation: Object pronouns (him) follow prepositions (for). I doubt the commentator would have said "heartbreaking for he" if that had been the end of the sentence.

 

Example Two:

 

What was said: "So he's a really really great guy, and it was so fun to be with him. I saw HE and his wife here earlier, and they just were in tears over how excited they were."

 

What should have been said: "So he's a really really great guy, and it was so fun to be with him. I saw HIM and his wife here earlier, and they just were in tears over how excited they were."

 

Explanation: This case requires a direct object pronoun, which is "him." I doubt the commentator would have said "I saw he" if that were the end of the sentence.

 

The commentators seem to be under the impression that "he" is correct at all times. "He" is the appropriate pronoun if it's referring to the SUBJECT, but when it's referring to the OBJECT, "him" is the correct choice.

 

He sees me, and I see him.

 

See?

 

-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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Is It "I" or "Me"? Use the Switcheroo Technique to Get It Right

Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

3,280 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, pronouns
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With change come those resistant to change. It's no secret that the publishing industry has changed dramatically in the past five years or so. Indie authors, once a rare breed of scribe, have now become the norm. But indie authors aren't just independent writers; they are independent promoters. Most of them do not have a paid publicity team to spread the word about their books. The initial promotion of a book and an author is left to...well, the author, and if all goes well, the readers chipping in when passion demands.

 

A few established authors who started their journey before the rise of the indies have a hard time grasping this notion of self-promotion. Publicizing one's own book seems a bit tacky and crass to them. Their stomachs turn when authors they count as colleagues take on the practice of promoting their own work on social networks and other venues. But with shrinking marketing dollars in the traditional publishing world, authors' self-promotion has become necessary.

 

I'll let you in on a secret. If I didn't have to do my own self-promotion, I wouldn't. Talking about myself in any forum isn't my favorite thing to do, and I imagine that's the case for 90 percent of the authors reading this. It's just an awkward position to be in. But that is the price of being an author, and it is a small price to pay when you consider I get to write and sell books as a result.

 

Self-promotion is not a dirty word. It shouldn't be looked down upon. It is the hallmark of the independent spirit. Can it be overdone? Absolutely. Striking the balance between drawing the right amount of attention and unnecessarily singing one's own praises is always tricky to find. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You should. Proudly. The more you do it, the more you'll know where to draw the line.

 

-Richard

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

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Promote Your Book with Goodreads

Book Marketing Tip: Make It Easy for Your Fans to Help You

3,207 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, self-promotion
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Write Non-linearly

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 26, 2014

For writers, getting from point A to point B isn't always easy. In fact, it can be painful to get to point B. Writing takes a certain amount of attention to detail. You have to think for every character. You have to keep track of the past, present and future of your fictional world all at once. Simple things like trying to remember if your character already lit a cigarette in the scene you started six days ago will wreak havoc on your writer-mind as you piece your story together from beginning to end. At times, it can be so daunting a task the wheels in your head stop turning and you get stuck, unable to write another word.

 

Here's a tip if you find yourself in such a state of mind: Stop piecing it together from beginning to end. Give up the linear mentality and allow yourself to think non-linearly. If you're stuck on a scene, leave it and move onto another one. Rewrites are for nailing things together in their proper structure. Writing is for putting together the building materials you need to tell the story. 

 

There is no law that requires you to write a story chapter by chapter in the order in which it will be read. You are free to write the book out of order. Don't force yourself to muddle through a chapter just because you want to get to the next part of your book. Simply leave the chapter unfinished and move on to the next chapter. 

 

Writing in a non-linear fashion may be just the thing to finally cure your writer's block.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Can Visualization Help You Finish that Manuscript?

Tips for Finishing Your Manuscript

6,274 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, drafts, development, writing_process, character_development
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Book festivals don't offer the same networking opportunities as writers conferences, but they can still be a good learning experience. (Click here for my post on why it's a good idea to attend a writers conference.) Most book festivals are free, and many offer panel discussions with the same topics as those at writers conferences, so for that reason alone they are worth attending. For example, I've given my workshop called "I want to get published. Where do I begin?" at book festivals at no cost to anyone.

 

In addition to attending panel discussions and workshops, a great way to learn at a book festival is simply to wander up and down the aisles and strike up conversations with the people manning the booths. Most of them will be more than happy to chat about why they are there. Some will be selling books they wrote and published on their own. Others will be representing publishing houses and independent publishers. Still others will be promoting services that may be useful to you at some point, such as writing workshops, design expertise or book marketing help. If you keep asking questions, I guarantee you'll come away with some useful nuggets.

 

If anything, attending a book festival might give you the motivation and/or inspiration you need to finish the manuscript you've been working on - or perhaps to finally start it. Writing is a lonely craft, so taking the time to mix and mingle with those who share your passion is a good reminder that, while you may spend a lot of time alone at your laptop, you're not in it alone.

 

-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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Covering the Convention Beat

BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Recap

3,164 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, book_festival
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Fume and Delete

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 24, 2014

Grrrr. You all are going to have to pardon me as I get, as they say, "real" for a minute. There are some things that have been bothering me, and I just have to air them in a public forum so they will live forever in the digital world and eventually come back to haunt me.  My frustration has reached a point of no return. I have to get this out now! Here it goes!

 

And we're back. What? You didn't really expect me to write something inflammatory and potentially career-ending did you? I mean I did write it. You just never read it, and you never will. That's because I practice the "write and delete" method of exorcising my frustrations. 

 

Here's how it works: I come across a blog post, article or social media update that infuriates me. I walk away from the computer fuming. I come back, open Word, and write an incisive and clever response. Then I go about my author duties for the day. Finally, when my day is behind me, I read the Word document with my carefully crafted retort to whatever set me off in the first place. Then, I delete the document. 

 

Why? Because with distance comes perspective. I realize that I wouldn't be adding anything but fuel to the proverbial fire by actually posting what I have written. The need to initially insert myself into the discussion fades because there's literally no need or point. 

 

The next time you come across something that pushes you over the edge, I invite you to try my "fume and delete" method of ridding yourself of angst and frustration. I promise you'll feel better without all the messy regret that comes with actually going public with rabble-rousing remarks. 

 

-Richard

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

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When Your Words Offend

2014: The Year of Participation

3,004 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: author, self-publishing, blogging, writing, write_and_delete
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Antagonists are fun to write because they challenge our personal beliefs. That is to say, bad guys have bad thoughts and do bad things because it is in their nature. But in most cases, those bad things are not in the writer's nature. Creating such a character requires writers to withhold judgment about what's right and wrong and simply observe without comment. It also requires a blind ambition to let the antagonist be as bad as he can be without pointing a figurative finger at him as if to say, "I don't like him either, but he has to be this bad for the story to work."

 

I'll let you in on a little secret: As a reader, I have liked something about every bad guy I have ever written. I dislike much more, but I have always managed to find something that draws me to them. As the writer, I make it a point to neither like nor dislike their behavior, but when I work through the final draft, I put my reader hat on and let the judgment fly. 

 

One strategy I use to create what I deem to be likable bad guys is the same philosophy a debate team uses in academia. I pick a topic, take the position I don't believe in and defend it in a paragraph or two as if I am the antagonist. This is something that will never see the light of day, and it's not always necessary for me to practice it, but it is a go-to when I'm having trouble writing without judgment.

 

In order to write bad guys, you don't have to be a bad guy, but you do have to understand what makes them tick and what they believe in. Putting yourself in the position to adopt opposite beliefs for a paragraph or two just might be the trick to get you in the right frame of mind to create the perfect antagonist.       

 

-Richard

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

 

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You Aren't Your Characters

Character Development Lessons from Breaking Bad

5,321 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: writing, characters, creativity, character_development, creating_characters
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I love reading. I read on the subway, before I go to sleep, while waiting for various appointments - all the time! I read both fiction and nonfiction in a variety of genres. I'm not the fastest reader, but I'm always reading something. Not only do I read for education and entertainment, but also because reading other people's work makes me a better writer.

 

Reading good writing is inspiring and educational. When I run across a clever turn of words, or a vivid description that makes me feel like I'm right there with the characters, it motivates me to create a similar effect in my own work. When an author does a great job of developing a protagonist, I want to do the same with mine.

 

I learn from other authors by experiencing the impact of their work firsthand, i.e. as the reader. For example, if you react strongly to a particular scene, ask yourself why. Is it because the author uses a lot of details? Or does the dialogue ring true? Are there a lot of colors? Smells? Actions? Emotions? All of the above? There's no exact formula for writing a great story, just a lot of potential ingredients that - if mixed together correctly - could result in something special.

 

Reading a book you don't like can also help you improve for the same reason, just flipped around. Why don't you like it? What does the author do that bothers you? Pay attention to the answers, and then ask yourself if you do the same things in your own writing.

 

Writing is hard work, and it takes a lot of time to complete an entire book. I recognize that for many authors the idea of spending more time with words on a page, especially ones that aren't your own, might be the last thing you want to do. But I promise it's worth it.

 

-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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Being an Obsessive Reader

 

The Most Powerful Word

8,474 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, author, writing, reading
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In order to grow, you have to subject yourself to a little self-examination. In the corporate world, managers make their subordinates undergo the oft-dreaded employee reviews. While the process sometimes seems arbitrary, they do serve a purpose. They give employees an approximation of their professional growth. They can see where they've been and where they need to go in order to advance.

 

We all want to advance. As Matthew McConaughey put it at the Oscars, we all need someone to chase, even if that someone is ourselves. In the indie author world, advancing means growing as an artist and selling more books, and just like our corporate counterparts, we need to undergo our own brand of evaluation.

 

I say our own brand of self-examination because, as creative types, we should have a little fun with it. I suggest skipping the checklist of "meets or exceeds" expectations and letting the imagination take over. One of my favorite strategies is to pretend as if I've been asked to be the keynote speaker at a graduation. My job is to describe the life of a storyteller to the gallery of impressionable minds based on my experience. I lay it all out there for them: my philosophy on writing, my struggles, my triumphs, my regrets, my moments of joy, etc. I speak to them from the heart and give them the tools to make their way as indie authors.

 

By doing this exercise annually, you'll be able to track your growth as an indie author, and you'll have a little fun while doing so. Plus, bonus! You'll have a keynote address should you ever be asked to deliver one.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Keep a Private Journal

 

Your Gift to Yourself

2,814 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, self-examination
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Create Characters So Real You'll Be Tempted to Add Them to Your Christmas List - The Seekers

Author Lisa Carter explains how she approaches character building.    

         

8 Reasons Every Book Needs a Business Plan to Achieve Success - Writer's Digest

Indie authors don't need to create a book proposal, but they still need a business plan.    

 

Film

 

5 Tips for Recording Better Location Audio When Shooting As a One Man Band - Norm Kroll

A bad audio capture can ruin a good film.   

 

'3 Days to Kill' Director McG Shares Six Golden Rules of Filmmaking - nofilmschool

Besides having the coolest name in film, McG knows how to make a blockbuster.     

         

Music

 

How Are You Listening to Music? - Musician Makers

An infographic that shows the listening behavior of today's typical music lover.

 

Clever Way to Make Your Song Lyrics More Tweetable - Musicgoat.com

Given the character limitations of Twitter, lyrics seem to be tailor made for tweets.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 7, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- February 28, 2014

3,223 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: filmmaking, business, writing, lyrics, character_development, character_arc, music_production, film_location
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