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How to Be Cool

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger May 12, 2014

I have a confession: I want to be cool. Call it vanity. Call it shortsighted. Call it shallow. I can't help it. I want to be cool like Fonzie. The fact that I referenced a character that hasn't been on TV in 30 years gives you some idea how far from cool I actually am, but it's a goal nonetheless.

 

In the world of storytelling and writing, being cool means that I must write something that's clever and innovative. I have to dig deep and come up with a passage, plot or character that is subtly unique, something that strikes a chord and bends a genre. It is the equivalent of scoring a touchdown.

 

Here's the trap I try to avoid: I can't force "coolness." I'm in the early stages of writing a new novel, and by early stages, I mean I've written one line and devoted a lot of daydreaming to plot points and dialogue. I've come up with what I think is a really cool sequence of events that will culminate with some really killer dialogue and can't wait to incorporate it into the storyline. The problem is I have no idea at this point if it will fit into the storyline, and no matter how much I love this series of events, I can't wedge it into my story just because I think it's cool.

 

Don't let your love for elements of a story prevent you from cutting it if it doesn't fit with the rest of the book. As a writer, you can explore and take risks with a story. As an editor, you have to give yourself permission to cut and slash scenes, characters, chapters, dialogue, whatever doesn't add value to your novel. Sometimes you have to be ruthless on rewrites in order to be really cool.

 

-Richard

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

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When You Cut a Scene You Like, Save It!

A Good Writer Can Ruin a Good Story

2,683 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, cool
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Writing a One-Page Business Plan: 5 Questions a Self-Publisher Must Ask - Self-Publishing Review

Tap into the entrepreneurial segment of your creative mind.    

                                       

How to Structure a Killer Novel Ending - Writer's Digest

Have you mastered the fourth part of storytelling?      

 

Film

                                                        

10 Surprising Ways Famous Film Special Effects Were Made - Tech Radar

The answer to "How'd they do that?"   

 

10 Films That Can Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Cinematography - Taste of Cinema

Recording movement to establish a mood - that's what cinematography is all about.      

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Practice Your Voice without Irritating the Neighbors - Judy Rodman

The apartment complex conundrum: how to warm up your pipes without being a bad neighbor.

 

The Future of Music Discovery Is In the Numbers - Hypebot.com

Tracking who's listening to what is changing the music industry like never before.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- May 2, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- April 25, 2014

2,755 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, business_plan, strategy, voice, music_business, cinematography, plot_development, film_editing, music_exercises, special_effects, sel
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To truly know your characters, you have to spend time with them outside of the book - away from the plot and surroundings they are used to. You have to pluck them from their cozy storylines and throw them into an unfamiliar situation to understand what makes them tick.

 

One of the most common character-building exercises when I was taking creative writing classes was to imagine a setting where your character is a stranger in a room full of people. As he or she progresses into the scene, others will make judgments based on appearance and awkward interactions. How will your character respond? What will he or she say or do? How will your character judge the others in the room?

 

The most common setting for this exercise is a school lunchroom. Many of us have memories of entering the cafeteria for the first time and getting a lay of the land, both physically and socially. If you've ever been a new kid at school, this memory is likely especially etched into your brain. It borders on traumatizing for some, while others find it exhilarating. Where on the spectrum would your character fall?

 

It doesn't have to be a school cafeteria. It can be the break room at work or a party or wherever. That's your call, but to truly flesh out your character and dive deep into his or her psyche, make sure he or she is the only stranger in the room. The stress of being unknown is a great way to see your character from a new perspective.   

 

-Richard

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

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Building Character

Defining Characters through Action, Not Description

5,840 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development
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I'm currently working on my seventh novel, and one of the most valuable lessons I've learned about the writing process is when to hit pause on a particular scene/sentence/description and move on. If you're a perfectionist or Type-A personality, that can be hard to do, but it's extremely important. Trust me!

 

When I was writing my first novel, if I wasn't sure where to take the story next, I would spend countless hours tweaking, editing, refining, and tinkering the words I already had written. Where did that get me? Nowhere! The problem with spending too much time on a particular area of the book is that you aren't moving the story forward, and if you don't move the story forward, you will never finish the book. I'm convinced this is why it takes some people ten years to complete the first draft of a novel. They work so hard making every sentence perfect that it takes forever to get to the finish line.

 

A good trick I've learned is to use the ALL CAPS function. My current manuscript is filled with notes in ALL CAPS such as:

 

  • WRITE SOMETHING FUNNY HERE
  • FLESH OUT THE DESCRIPTION OF THIS RESTAURANT
  • ADD IN SOMETHING HERE ABOUT WHY THEY GOT DIVORCED
  • FIX THIS- SOUNDS WEIRD
  • MAKE THIS DESCRIPTION BETTER
  • DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

 

It would be easy to spend days, if not weeks working on the above issues, but at the end of the day, they are details that aren't critical to the story. If I want to finish the novel, my focus has to be on progressing the story.

 

Once you finish the first draft, then it's time to go back and fix all the problem areas you've put in ALL CAPS along the way. That's where the fun begins, because you know you're in the home stretch!

 

-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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Save the Wordsmithing for Later

How to Get Through the First Draft

7,091 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, all_caps
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Including hyperlinks in your marketing materials is a great way to send people to your Amazon page, or your website, or your Facebook page or anywhere you want them to go. But the actual links can be long and quite unsightly, so I suggest using the text function to make them look clean, pretty and professional.

 

Let's use the e-mail signature as an example. Including a clever blurb about your books and a hyperlink or two in your e-mail signature is a fantastic marketing strategy that I've been recommending for as long as I've been writing this blog. However, I often receive e-mails from authors that include crazy long links. To protect the guilty, I'm making up the following author name and blurb and using hyperlinks to my own content.

 

EXAMPLE OF AN ATTRACTIVE E-MAIL SIGNATURE:

 

Name, author of ABC and XYZ, thrillers that make you scared to sleep

Check out my books on Amazon

Like me on Facebook

 

EXAMPLE OF A MESSY E-MAIL SIGNATURE:

Name, author of ABC and XYZ, thrillers that make you scared to sleep

 

Check out my books on Amazon!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cassidy-Lane-Maria-Murnane-ebook/dp/B00FAH87IU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

 

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Paper-Adventures-Waverly-Bryson-ebook/dp/B002WGC8JG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=09QT2D7WPHMFSVXP5T3R

 

Here's my Facebook author page!

https://www.facebook.com/mariamurnane

 

To make a clean hyperlink in a Word document, type in the text you want to use, then highlight the text and right click. Choose the "hyperlink" option in the drop-down menu. Under the "address" function, paste in the actual hyperlink.

 

The hyperlink option varies by e-mail program, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out in the "signature" option.

 

Much of book marketing is making a positive first impression. Clean and pretty looks professional. Messy and unwieldy? Not so much. Which of the above e-mail signatures would impress you? Play around with your own until you come up with something good. I know you can do 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, and Cassidy Lane. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Marketing Idea: Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word

Three Easy Marketing Ideas

3,363 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, hyperlinks, email_signatures
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Outline Swap

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 28, 2014

There's a story going around that intrigues me about a prolific famous author. I'll withhold the name of the author in case the story is more urban legend than fact, but the identity of the author isn't important. The facts (whether based on rumor or reality) are what led to an idea I call the outline swap.

 

This author allegedly has become more of a brand than a writer. The demands for his books are so high he can't realistically keep up with the call for the release of new titles. Instead of putting his reading public off while he pens a new book, he simply does an outline handoff. He sketches out the idea for a story in a detailed outline and then hires another author to write a book based on his outline. The title is released as a coauthored novel. This process has allowed him to release approximately 20 books in a three-year span.

 

Now let's take that idea and convert it to an indie-friendly version. For this to work, we have to acknowledge that an indie author is more of a writer than a brand, though indie authors do tend to have motivated communities built around their author brands. What if we take two authors with active readerships, and instead of releasing one coauthored book, they release two coauthored books simultaneously? How? By having each author create a detailed outline for separate books, and then swapping the outlines, after which they write each other's novel. Set a time frame (three to fourth months) to complete the manuscripts, and then set up a campaign for the concurrent release of both books.

 

Like any coauthored effort, this will take an incredible amount of cooperation, trust and coordination, but think of the potential payoff. Two indie authors will pull their communities together to release two co-written novels. Each author's fan base is likely to expand, and the sales for their previously written titles could expand as well.

 

What do you think? Could you see yourself participating in an outline swap?

 

-Richard

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

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Form an Author Co-op

Advice for Co-authoring a Book

2,691 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, branding
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

The Last Few Days at London Book Fair Have Been Mind-blowing for Me -The Creative Penn

An excellent breakdown of the news that really mattered coming out of the London Book Fair.             

                                                    

How Authors Can Market Themselves as Experts - Marketing Tips for Authors

Authors of fiction can be experts too.     

 

Film

                                                        

10 Filmmaking Myths: Busted - Raindance

Elliot Grove, the founder of the Raindance Film Festival, dishes on the myths he has come across on his independent film journey.   

                                          

Case Study: "Memory Lane" - A Lesson in Sustainable Indie Filmmaking on No Budget - IndieNYC

How an independent filmmaker secured an international distribution deal for a film with a $300 budget.       

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Live Shows! How to Squeeze More Marketing Power Out of Your Music Gigs - Bob Baker's The BuzzFactor.com

A live performance is your opportunity to gain a fan for life if you play your social media cards right.

 

Quieting Your Mind for Performance Focus - Judy Rodman

Your vocal performance depends on your state of mind.   

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- April 18, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- April 11, 2014

3,037 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, music, film, author, writing, musicians, filmmakers
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One of my favorite stories is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. It's a classic written by a legendary literary figure. My love for the story is so strong I assumed everyone felt the same way. The Old Man and the Sea is universally loved, right?

 

Wrong. There are plenty of people who hate The Old Man and the Sea. It's tough for me to accept it now even though I just got through typing it in the previous sentence. It just seems wrong to me. But it is a truth I must face, especially after stumbling upon an article club called ?What Not To Read? on BookRiot.com. As their name indicates, they list what books they hated, and you, the reading public, shouldn't bother reading. Sitting at number five on their list was Mr. Hemingway's classic tale of an old man fighting to bring in the catch of his life to the show the boy he was still relevant, and he could still contribute something to this world.

 

I like Book Riot. It's something that's rare these days, a fun website devoted to the world of books. After getting over my initial shock of finding my favorite story on their list, I actually saw a silver lining in the literary diss. If a man who's so respected worldwide for his writing talent can make it on to such a list, why should I get upset over a bad review of one of my books? It's someone else's opinion. It doesn't mean they're right or wrong. It just means the book wasn't for them.

 

Book Riot's inclusion of The Old Man and the Sea on their list of books not to read doesn't diminish my love for the story, and a bad review of one of my own books doesn't diminish my passion for writing. The only thing to do is to keep my head down and keep publishing. 

 

-Richard

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

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Bad Reviews & Great Company

Online Reviews: Just Say...Nothing

2,446 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, reviews, writers, writing, reading, book_reviews
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Engaging with your fans is a fundamental element of smart book marketing, and I'm all for it. However, there's a fine line between casual communication and inappropriate communication, and that line is often called "bcc" aka "blind copy."

 

If I send an e-mail to a small group of friends from my personal e-mail account, I'll put them all on the recipient list. But if I send a message to any size group of readers from my author e-mail address, that's a different story. For that I will always blind copy.

 

Last week I received an e-mail from the new assistant of a talented friend of mine who does brand consulting for small businesses. My friend had tasked the assistant with updating her client database with birthdays. It was a smart idea, but unfortunately the assistant included all the clients on the recipient list. We're talking more than 100 people.

 

Needless to say, my friend was mortified by the gaffe and quickly sent out a message of apology (using blind copy). I laughed it off, but I'm also not a client. If I were, I might have reacted differently. I wasn't surprised by the assistant's error because I see it all the time in book marketing. Enthusiastic new authors want to promote their books, and in their haste to get the word out they often e-mail everyone they've ever met about the book and put everyone on the recipient line. Every time I see this I feel bad for the author because it just doesn't look professional. Also, one "forward" of that e-mail, and who knows where all those addresses are going to end up. More spam, anyone?

 

If you don't use a newsletter program, I urge you to use the blind copy feature for all your promotional e-mails. Not only does it protect the addresses of your fans, it looks so much prettier!

 

-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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The Importance of Staying Organized

How Not to Pitch Your Book

6,370 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, bcc
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Professional Authors

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 21, 2014

The coolest thing that's happened in the last couple of years in publishing is the industry finally accepted that those of us who publish outside of the world of traditional publishing are more than self-published authors, we are indie authors. Okay, there are still a few detractors, but most book-wise folks see that we possess the same spirit and passion for our craft that independent filmmakers and musicians have for their craft. It's a gesture of respect that is long overdue.

 

With this growing respect comes much responsibility. As indie authors, we have more than creating compelling and groundbreaking fiction on our list of things to do every morning. We also have to embrace the business side of publishing. We have to do the marketing. We have to deliver books that match our traditionally published counterparts at every professional turn. Where traditional published authors have to rely on a staff, indie authors rely on desire, grit and determination.

 

Sure, most of us publish for the love of writing, and the content we create may be edgier and incorporate risks the traditional publishing world would dare not take, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't conduct ourselves in a professional manner with entrepreneurial fervor. Yes, we are professional authors, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

 

So, I say to you my fellow indie author friends, proclaim your professionalism by conducting yourself in a professional manner. Walk the fine line that all independents walk. Write as an artist, publish as an entrepreneur and repeat after me, Yes, we are professional authors!

 

-Richard

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

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Indie Freedom!

Going Indie? Watch Out for Predators

4,342 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, writing, indie_authors
63

I'd like to issue a challenge to you today. I don't do this just because I enjoy causing turmoil and consternation in people's lives. I do this because if you rise to this particular challenge, I believe it will go a long way toward turning you into not just a storyteller, but a masterful storyteller.

 

I challenge you to write a story in the genre of your choosing and in the style of your choosing. That's it. I want you to write a story, something I assume you're adept at doing anyway since you're a writer. Just write a story. Okay, there's slightly more to the challenge. I want this to be a short story. In fact, I want it to be not just short, but a micro story - so micro that it's a single sentence.

 

You read that correctly. I want you to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end in a single, yet wholly satisfying sentence. Impossible? Well, it wouldn't be a challenge if it didn't feel impossible. The four-minute mile used to be thought of as impossible, but now it's fairly standard for those who have made running their lives.

 

If you are able to construct an entire story in one sentence, and that one sentence is compelling and absent of any structural phenomenon in order to cram in details, you will have stripped away what holds most writers back: a lack of knowing what their books are truly about. Your book is not about every element and every word that you stuff between the front and back cover. It's not nearly that complicated. It's so simple, in fact, that you could tell your story in a single sentence.

 

Let the challenge begin.

 

-Richard

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

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The Most Powerful Word

Developing an Idea

11,386 Views 63 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, storytelling, micro_story
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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

4,875 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

2,460 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

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

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

3,515 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

6,597 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, screenplays, dialogue
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