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Coping with Criticism

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 11, 2014

Learning how to handle criticism is an important step for every author. No matter how good a book is, not everyone is going to like it, and no work is ever going to receive five-star reviews across the board. But trust me, I understand that your first book is your baby, and once it's finally out there for the world to read, receiving anything less than glowing feedback can be downright painful.

 

I recently met a former TV anchor named Pallas Hupe Cotter who now specializes in helping professionals in many industries deal with challenges. She and I agree that criticism can make you stronger if you have the right attitude about it. Here are her tips for first-time authors:

 

1) Be prepared: Be aware that you are vulnerable when you share your words. They do reveal a vulnerable part of you and you need to ready yourself for an inevitable reaction.


2) Take a step back: The closer you feel to your work, the harder it is to separate yourself from the work itself. Remember, criticism of your words isn't a rejection of you as a person.


3) Don't let emotion rule your reaction: Everyone has emotional reactions to criticism. Allow yourself to feel the emotion but then move through it.

 

4) Process and take action: A writer's job isn't just to write, but to edit. That requires feedback. Scan criticism to see how it can improve your work, and then act on it.


5) Take responsibility: When someone gives feedback, drill deeper -
ask questions. Even if it's positive and someone says "I loved it," ask why. Find out specifics that will help you improve.


6) Consider the source: Remember, a critic's job is to stir the pot and spark a reaction. One bad review out of 100 positive ones can get under your skin. Ask yourself, "Is this voice really more important than the others?" Put criticism in perspective.


I know firsthand that it's never going to be easy to listen to criticism, but Pallas is right. If you set your ego aside and learn to approach feedback as an opportunity to improve your writing, your next book (or draft) will be better.

 

-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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Is It Good Enough?

Your Gift to Yourself

4,702 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, criticism
5

Developing an Idea

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 10, 2014

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar. You're struggling with a new idea for a story. It's one of those situations where you know the basic concept and one or two details, but beyond that you haven't a clue how to make this story work. You know you'll eventually figure it out, but it's hard to say when that'll happen.

 

I'm tackling this exact challenge right now. Here's my process for forging onward:

 

  1. I jot down a poorly written paragraph that contains far too much foreshadowing and exposition. I minimize the file, and I move on to some other work.

  2. A few hours later, or the next day even, I'll open the file and examine the paragraph. I rewrite the paragraph and turn it into a page.

  3. I'll then send it off to my number-one confidant - my wife - and ask her what she thinks of the idea. If she's keen on it, I rework it yet again to fine-tune a few more details.

  4. Finally, I'll shelve it for a couple of weeks while I work on other projects or try to develop a number of other ideas.

The key here is to forget about the idea for a relatively long period of time so you can be sure you aren't forcing the idea and creating a story out of a sense of obligation to follow through. You'll get back to it, and that's when you can determine if the story really grabs you or bores you, and proceed accordingly.

 

That's my process for developing an idea. I'm interested in hearing yours. How do you work through an idea that doesn't flow easily in the beginning?

 

-Richard

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

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Unblocking Writer's Block

More Tips for Completing Your Manuscript

5,577 Views 5 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

A Tale of Two Author Brands - The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn examines her brand as a novelist and her brand as a nonfiction author.        

                                                    

The DNA of a Successful Book: INFOGRAPHIC - GalleyCat

Did you know that books with a female protagonist are 40% more likely to become a bestseller?   

 

Film

                                                        

Are You Meant to Be a Filmmaker? - Chaz Harris's Blog

Can you imagine doing anything else?   

                                          

Make the Distinction between Being a Visual Director and a Performance Director & Your Career Will Change - Noam Kroll

If your cast and crew know what kind of director you are, your production will go much smoother.     

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Networking: Why it's So Important and How to Do It - Music Think Tank

Why knowing people in the music industry is so crucial to your career.   

 

The Best Social Media and Internet Marketing Strategy for Musicians - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Do you know the four modes of communication?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- January 31, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- January 24, 2014

2,972 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, music, writers, internet_marketing, filmmakers, social_media, visual_director, performance_director
1

Last February, Bestseller Labs published Goodreads CEO Reveals A Remarkably Easy Way To Sell More Books. The article is about a survey that Goodreads did of their members inquiring, among other things, how they chose a book to read. The number one answer to that question was really no surprise: referral by a friend. That has been the number one way people have chosen what book to read since cave paintings were bestsellers.

 

Perhaps the most edifying information to come out of the survey stemmed from the question, "What do you want to do when you get to the end of a book?" Eighty-three percent of those polled said they sought out other material written by the author. That represents a huge number of your readers who are anxious to read your next book. 

 

Why am I bringing this poll up a year later? To remind you that things haven't changed. Word of mouth is still the best way for your book to be discovered, and once a new reader finishes your book, they're going to want to read more of your books.

 

This is indie publishing. Your success is in your own hands. The results from this survey suggest to me that the best way to fuel your success is to provide consumers with multiple titles to read. I know time is of a premium and there never seems to be enough of it, but I urge you to find the time to write and publish more. Your success as an indie author may depend on it.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Create a Reader Profile

Writing a Series? Tips from a Superstar

4,633 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, promotion, indie, book_promotion, word_of_mouth, author_brand
1

I don't have the best memory, so when I'm working on a book, I've learned to use my phone to keep me from forgetting a good idea if I'm not at my desk. My first preference is to use sticky notes, but I don't always have them (not to mention a pen) with me. I almost always have my phone, however. Here are three tricks you can use:

 

  1. Voice recorder: My smartphone comes with a "voice recorder" app built right in. How cool is that? I just open it, push the button and leave myself a message. Sometimes they're super short (Make protagonist a redhead! Name the brother Rick!), but the beauty of a voice recording is that I can also ramble a bit when I want to. I'm the only one who's going to listen to the messages, so they don't have to be remotely polished.
  2. Evernote: I keep hearing how great Evernote is. With the Evernote app, you can keep all types of content related to your book - including photos you might snap that inspire you - all in one place.
  3. Email/text messages: I text and email myself little reminder notes all the time. They are short and sweet and riddled with typos, but they are filled with useful information I wouldn't otherwise remember. I'm chuckling as I write this because it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it works!

 

 

When it comes to writing a book, you never know when inspiration will strike. You're not in front of your computer 24/7, so neither is your imagination. My memory isn't smart enough to keep track of everything on its own, so it's a good thing my phone is.

 

-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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Six-Second Branding with Apps

More Tips for Completing Your Manuscript

4,390 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, evernote
1

Is It Good Enough?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 3, 2014

It is the impossible question; one I'm not sure any writer can answer, not with any kind of absolute, unwavering confidence. That one question? How do you know if your book is good enough?

 

For me, it's a question that pops up every time I sit down to write. Whether it's starting a new story or a new chapter, I always have that little inner voice cackling away in the back of my head. "How do you know this is even worth writing?" When someone reads my writing for the first time, my inner voice turns into a piercing admonishment. "What made you think it was good enough to share with another living, breathing human being?" And when I finally give my final approval and publish it for the world to see, that inner voice is practically weeping at my stupidity.

 

Here's the thing: I never know if it's good enough to publish. Even with pats on the back from advance readers, I can't turn that question in my head off. So, my solution is to ignore it. I've come to accept that doubt is just a part of any artistic endeavor, and if I waited to know the answer to that impossible question before I published, I'd never publish.

 

"Is it good enough?" is a healthy question to ask ourselves as artists because it will always push us to strive to become better. But it's not a question for which you should expect an answer. Let that little voice in your head chatter way, and just move forward.

 

-Richard

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

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On Being Original

Your Gift to Yourself

3,502 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, indie, writing
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Find the Time to Finish Writing Your Book - Self Publishing Advisor

As time marches on, it seemingly makes it hard to find.        

 

3 Simple Steps for Your Book Promotions Planning for 2014 - The BookBaby Blog

Time to make a book promotions bucket list.   

 

Film

 

Three Ways to Cut Your Movie Budget (and Increase Production Value) - Filmmaking Stuff

Any budget can be trimmed, but at what cost?   

 

Hollywood Producer Says It's Still about the Story in Digital Filmmaking - GCU Today

The platform you use doesn't change the heart of filmmaking.     

                                    

Music

 

Why Do Musicians Always Feel Disappointed about Their Career? - Artists House Music

Shaking off the doubts and getting back to work in the new year. 

 

Music Marketing Podcasts All Bands and Musicians Should Be Listening to - Musicgoat

Stay on top of your marketing efforts with these podcasts.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- January 24, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- January 17, 2014

2,366 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, filmmaking, budget, author, promotion, indie, writers, book_promotion, musicians, filmmakers, movie_budget, digital_filmmaking
0

There is a belief among a large number of people that artists only create worthwhile material out of tragedy, that hardship is the engine that drives the creative process. As a youngster finding my way as a writer, I even latched on to this particular philosophy and forced myself into states of contrived depression in order to find my creative force. I wanted to fit the part, after all.

 

But as I've grown as a writer, I've come to realize that the tragedy doesn't have to be my tragedy. In fact, I've never been able to successfully express my feelings about my own personal struggles in a book. However, I can explore the tragedies that befall my characters. It's surprisingly easy for me to deconstruct and lay out on the page.

 

I reject the notion that the only worthwhile artist is the starving artist. I think we all have something to say. Happy, depressed, angry, sleepy, etc., everyone has something to say. That something doesn't necessarily have to belong to us. It can belong to our characters. I would even go so far as to suggest that it should belong to our characters. The writer should be as removed from the process as possible.

 

As you're writing, don't focus on yourself and your emotional state. Try to reach a point where you're nothing but an observer. Don't write what you feel. Write what you see. Give your characters room to be themselves. Your tragedy or triumphs shouldn't be apparent in the stories you write.

 

-Richard

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

 

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What Do Your Characters Want?

Feeling Emotion for Characters

2,929 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, craft
1

In a previous post, I recommended doing one thing per day, every day, to promote your book. If you took that advice to heart, you're probably currently in the process of building a "marketing checklist" and might also be wondering what to put on it. In addition to the items I suggested last week, here are three additional ideas to include:

 

  1. Set up a Twitter account. Even if you aren't ready to actually tweet anything, set up an account before you get too famous and someone uses your Twitter name for their account. (Optimism is a good thing!) Using your real name makes it easy for people to find you. My Twitter handle is @mariamurnane.
  2. Add a fun line about your book beneath in the "signature" of your personal e-mail account. If you have a website, include a link to that as well. The signature is typically found in the "settings" section of any e-mail account. Using a signature is a great way to tell people about your book without telling people about your book. My signature says "Best-selling author of the Waverly books, novels for anyone who has ever run into an ex while looking like crap. www.mariamurnane.com."
  3. If you don't have a website, register a domain. (GoDaddy is a good place to start.) I always recommend selecting www.yourname.com, or if that is taken, then www.yournameauthor.com or www.yournamebooks.com. Just like with your Twitter handle, you want to make it easy for your fans to find you. I don't recommend going with www.nameofyourbook.com because what happens when you write your second book? That may sound like crazy talk now, but it is quite possible that one day you will write a second book! (See my above note about optimism.)

 

I know marketing sounds scary for many authors, but remember what I said last week: If I've learned anything about book marketing over the years, it's that persistence pays off, and little things do add up. So take one thing at a time, and keep going!

 

-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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Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

A Few Reasons to Have a Website

12,552 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
1

Offline Branding

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 27, 2014

It's 2014. It feels like nearly everyone is focused on building a personal brand these days. The strategies used are the ones we devote a lot of virtual space to on this blog: establishing an active social media presence, incorporating personal videos and maintaining an author's blog. These are the staples of branding in this age of online marketing. But they aren't the only tools at your disposal. In fact, the online community isn't the only community you can market to. You can take your brand offline and reach people in the real world.

 

Yes, there is a real world out there full of people made of flesh and blood. They talk instead of tweet, and they actually laugh when the occasion calls for it instead of typing out LOL. This world full of actual people is underutilized by authors. It's a shame because it's full of so many brand building opportunities.

 

An offline strategy could include book signings and personal appearances. You could organize writing seminars at your local library. You could even create a fan appreciation night for your genre at a local hangout. You might even find a local theater that's willing to stage performances of works by local writers. The possibilities are endless.

 

Building your brand online is integral to your success as an author, but your local community is just as valuable to you. If you establish yourself in your hometown as a resident author involved in the local art scene, your neighbors will talk among themselves and to their friends online. Your reputation and brand will flourish as a result.

 

-Richard

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

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How to Make a Personal Appearance a Success

Organizing a Public Reading

2,311 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, promotions, branding
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Use Breaking News to Buzz Your Book - Eight Strategies -The Future of Ink

Your opinion counts on matters you devoted your book to, so why doesn't the media know how to contact you?

 

3 Book Marketing Projects to Tackle in 2014 - Duolit

Make the year ahead a productive and fruitful one with these three marketing projects. 

 

Film

 

How to Turn That Passion for Writing and Filmmaking into a Reality - FAST - Raindance

Passion to action. Action to achievement. Achievement to reality.   

 

How Do You Define "Independent Film" in 2014? - Indie Wire

Technology has democratized the film industry and blurred the lines between studio, independent and no-budget filmmaking.     

                                    

Music

 

12 Ways to Make More Money with Your Music - Hypebot.com

Twelve music industry insiders share their best advice on how to bring in the cash with your music. 

 

How to Make It in the Music Business - Judy Rodman

Before you can know if you've made it, you have to define what "making it" is.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - January 17, 2014

Weekly News Roundup - January 10, 2014

2,103 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, filmmaking, sales, writing, book_marketing, social_media, independent_film, music_business, music_production
1

I have a book I've been writing for a number of years now. It's not my primary focus, and I only work on it when I've cleared other projects off my plate. This book is a passion project for me because it was something I started during the final year of my mother's life. She wasn't well, and she required care that my sister heroically provided. Mom always asked me what book I was working on ? even at her sickest. On one occasion, I told her about a gem of an idea I had at the time. She liked the idea so much I decided to start writing it. I sent her the pages as I did. My sister ended up having to read them to her because her eyesight was failing. She loved the book, so I kept writing. I wrote without a plan; I just wrote to entertain my mother. Unfortunately, she passed before I got 100 pages into the story, and I still haven't finished the book. 

 

 

It's well over 100,000 words at this point and far from complete. Beyond knowing the book will be broken up into three parts, I have no plan for the story. There are no notes to organize my thoughts. I don't know how the characters will fare or when it will even end. It's the most unorganized writing I have ever done and I probably shouldn't admit this, but I like it. It's fun writing without a really clear path and just discovering these characters as they face situations I have no idea they will face until I am at the keyboard tapping away.

 

 

So here's my question to you, my fellow indie authors: how do you approach a story? Do you know where you're going, or does your day of writing end in utter surprise? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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Keep a Private Journal

You Aren't Your Characters

2,431 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, writing, drafts, development, writing_process, craft, writing_ideas
0

When I was writing my first novel, I was so excited to be WRITING A NOVEL that I ended up writing a lot of scenes that had nothing to do with the actual plot. But I didn't care because it was so fun to be WRITING A NOVEL! When I finished the first draft I was so thrilled to see my own words on the page that I didn't consider that readers might be confused by the superfluous scenes sprinkled throughout the manuscript. I found them entertaining enough to include simply because I'd written them. That was enough for me.

 

My agent, however, had other ideas. She had me cut out several scenes, gently explaining to me that, although mildly amusing, they had nothing to do with the plot. She also explained, again very gently, that it was important to keep pushing the story forward.

 

I am forever grateful to her for that sage advice.

 

If you're anything like I was when I was working on my first book, you're so excited to be creating an actual book that it's easy to go off on tangents here and there without realizing it. To avoid doing this, I suggest periodically asking yourself questions such as "Is this scene advancing the plot?" or "Is this going to tie back into the story at some point?" Checking in on occasion will keep you from veering too far off track. And bonus: It will also allow you to finish the first draft of your book much faster. In the time it took me to write (and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite) my first novel, I've written four more - not kidding.

 

I applaud anyone willing to put in the effort it takes to write an entire book, but while it's undeniably exciting to see your own words on the page, staying focused on the plot will make the process much smoother - and make for a better story.

 

-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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What Is a Character Arc?

 

Use Beats to Show, Not Tell

4,065 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, plot_development
0

I wish you success. Every indie author who reads this should know that it is my sincere hope that your book is much beloved by a massive number of readers. I want them to be fanatical about your book. May they take to the social media universe and spread the word far and wide about how wonderful your book is. May they give your book as gifts to their family and friends because they are anxious to share its genius with the world. In short, I hope your book becomes a sensation and brings you wealth and recognition beyond your wildest dreams.

 

You should know my desire for you to succeed isn't altruistic. Here's the thing about books: A book rarely becomes a phenomenon without causing collateral success. What I mean is that when readers fall so in love with a book that they can't stop talking about it, they become hungry for more. They want to repeat that feeling. They'll search and search and search until they find it. To put it another way, they'll buy book after book until they fall in love again, and then repeat the cycle.

 

We indie authors are a community that benefits from one another's successes. We should support one another as such. Next time you see one of your contemporaries become a publishing sensation, don't wring your hands and wonder why it wasn't you. Smile and wish the author well, very well. Celebrate his or her success publicly. That author is paving a way for all indie authors. I'm not asking you to endorse a book falsely. If you read it and didn't care for it, so be it. That doesn't mean you can't be happy that they ignited the passion of a large number of readers. That passion will spread to other books, maybe even yours. So support your fellow indie authors - if not for them, for your own sake.

 

-Richard

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

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Bring Your Community Together through Writing

2014: The Year of Participation

17,909 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

How to Dominate Your Niche with a Book Blog -The Future of Ink

Here are your three steps to genre domination.           

                                       

Konrath's Publishing Predictions 2014 -A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

Author Joe Konrath lets us peer into his crystal ball to see what he believes is on the horizon in the world of publishing in 2014. 

 

Film

                                                        

88 Cinematographers Share the Best Professional Advice They've Ever Received - The Black and Blue

Be careful. You may know it all after reading this article. 

 

Building A Cinema Camera for Under $1000 - Which Cameras Are Best & Which Accessories You Need - Norm Kroll

You can piece together an exceptional camera for under $1000 these days.     

                                    

Music

 

The Power of a Concert Memento - Hypebot.com

Do you have the merch to leave an impression with your fans? 

 

9 Things Every Musician Needs To Know About the Sound Guy -Digital Music News

Sure he does a killer mic check, but how is he at pulling off a killer sound?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - January 10, 2014

Weekly News Roundup - January 3, 2014

1,641 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, music, self-publishing, movies, writers, sound, publishing, films, musicians, filmmakers, cameras, merchandise, cinematography, niche_market
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