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Years ago in my life as a trainer for a piece of hardware used in the broadcasting industry, I was invited to the headquarters of the developer and manufacturer to get a pre-release rundown of the latest version of their product. They took the visiting trainers on a tour of their outrageously cool facility. Everything was modern and in pristine condition until we got to the engineering department. It was a mess. Computers and machines of various types were gutted and laid open like a macabre butcher shop for electronics. What were they doing?

 

They were reverse engineering the leading product in their field. They didn't want to reinvent the technology. They wanted to make it better, but they needed a reference point.

 

When you are developing a marketing strategy for your book, you should take the same approach. There's no reason to take a complete stab in the dark when there are millions of examples out there to be reverse engineered. Where do you start? Start with you.

 

What do I mean? Well, I'm guessing you've purchased a book before. Answer the question why you bought it, and you've reverse engineered a sale. You may discover that a friend told you about the book. Ask your friend why they bought the book. Keep chasing the sale down until you can build a profile of a sale. Once you see how a sale is more or less built, you get a better understanding of how the market works, and you'll be able to develop a marketing strategy that will be much more effective than blindly trying ideas.

 

-Richard

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

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Host Your Own Webinar

Elements of the Author Brand

4,519 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, author, sales, social_media, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, marekting_tip
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Who doesn't love receiving a gift in the mail? I certainly do! And book lovers do too. Now that the holidays are approaching, why not put together a list of target readers for your work and send them a signed copy to curl up with on the couch? You never know what it might lead to.

 

I've mentioned in this bloghow I once conducted a successful holiday marketing campaign that targeted presidents of my sorority at 15 major universities across the Unites States. I did so because they represented my target audience. Who is your target audience? I can't answer that for you, but you must have an idea. Is it hiking enthusiasts? Wine lovers? Adventure travelers? Divorced moms? NBA fans? World War II buffs? Dog people?

 

The Internet makes it relatively easy to find anyone these days, so if you're willing to put in the time and energy, you should be able to put together a list without too much trouble. (I'm not talking about home addresses; I'm thinking associations, clubs, institutions, etc., many of which list their officers online.)

 

Once you have the list, here are some helpful tips:

 

  • Include a personalized letter with each signed book so the reader can contact you if he/she enjoys it. If you have a Facebook page, newsletter, Twitter account, etc., you can also include this information.
  • Include your e-mail address beneath your signature in the book.
  • Request the "book rate" at the post office - this will keep your mailing costs down.
  • Follow up! Even if you don't hear from the readers, there's nothing stopping you from reaching out after the holidays. If you don't have an e-mail address, try sending a friendly postcard.

 

If you have absolutely no idea who your target reader is, head to a local mall and pass out some books to people you think might want to read it. Then ask yourself why you chose those people, and how you think they might spend their time when they're not at the mall. Once you know the answer to those questions, head home and start building your list. 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, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Marketing Idea: Set Up a Card Table on the Sidewalk

 

Tips for Networking with Other Authors

1,583 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, holiday_marketing
3

What time during the day do you write? If you had asked me early in my writing journey, I'd have answered, "Whenever I can find free time." But as writing became a passion I wanted to turn into a career, I came up with a set time to write. Since I was a cubicle-jockey through most of my corporate life, evenings were writing time. When I took the leap and left the corporate world, I switched to the mornings. And I was more productive, initially.

 

Studies have shown that our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we develop complex cognitive behavior, is more active directly after sleeping. That makes perfect sense. Simple deduction will tell you that this part of the brain that cranks out all those creative juices is more efficiently used for writing during those first few hours immediately after waking from a good night's sleep.

 

Here's the slight hiccup for me. In my case, I have found that routine creates staleness. I will get stuck in the proverbial rut. I believe challenging the brain is a more effective tool for creativity than having a set time to write. Recently, I had a string of days when my schedule wouldn't allow me to write in the mornings. I found myself tapping away in the evenings, even into the a.m. hours. And this was honest-to-goodness "in the zone" writing. When you experience that type of writing, you realize you haven't had that feeling in a while.

 

So, for me it turns out a set time to write is less important. How about you? What is your writing schedule like?

 

-Richard

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

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The Distraction Fast

How to Write without a Plan

1,723 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, creativity
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Weekly News Roundup - November 28, 2014

 

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Do Writers Have to "Write What They Know?" - Backspace

Is it "write what you know" or "write what you're passionate about"?

                           

How to Build a Fictional World - TED Ed

Author Kate Messner reveals a few tricks of the trade to bring fictional worlds to life.      

 

Film

                                                        

Structures - Projector Films

Learn about the '5-act Pixar poker idea' in this podcast.    

                                          

Filmmakers Risk Everything by Doing These 7 Things - Film Industry Network

What risks are you taking?  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

"Is It Realistic at My Age, to Think I Can Ever Really Become a Respectable Sax Player?" - Sax Station

Is there such a thing as being too old to pursue your musical dreams?

 

Is How You Label Yourself As a Singer Holding You Back? - From the Front of the Choir

If you call yourself a soprano, you may not realize you can sing in the alto range.   

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- November 14, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- November 21, 2014

1,071 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, music, filmmaking, author, self-publishing, indie, publishing, writing, fiction, writing_fiction, films, musicians, filmmakers, music_business, writing_tips, film_editing, music_industry, filmmaking_tips, music_advice
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The Pitch Test

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 26, 2014

Okay, you've published a book or two or three or four, and you are itching to get on to your next masterpiece. The problem is you don't have any idea what that next masterpiece should be. Or you might have so many ideas you don't know which one should be your next project.

 

Here's a strategy. This will work great if you are in the category of "too many ideas."If you have no idea, it will take a little more effort, but a sculpture starts out as an uncut stone until a sculptor starts chipping away. That's all you're doing here.

 

  1. Get five sheets a paper. On each piece of paper, hammer out a rough plot for a story. It should be a sloppy mess. Words will be crossed out. You'll have scribbles in the margins. You'll likely be disgusted by your lack of creative flow during the process. That's what I want. I want you to get angry at each piece of paper.

  2. Get five more sheets of paper. Each new piece of paper corresponds with the plot ideas you just killed yourself to create. Write three things you like about the plot, and write three things you hate about the plot. Force yourself to come up with three items for each category. You may notice something you overlooked the first time.

  3. Get one sheet of paper. Based on your likes and dislikes lists, rank your plot ideas.

  4. Get another sheet of paper. Write a one-sentence pitch for your top three plot ideas.

  5. Get yet another sheet of paper. Rank these three pitches in order of ease that it took to create them.  

 

If you go through all of that to find a story that's easy for you to describe in one sentence, you have found your next masterpiece. You know that story inside and out. It has taken root in your fertile imagination. If it passes the pitch test, it's worth writing.

-Richard

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

 

 

 

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Unfinished and Happy

How to Write without a Plan

3,413 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, writers, writing, writing_process, writer's_block, writing_tips, writing_advice
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Last year, an old friend called me out of the blue. It had been ages since we'd talked, so I was thrilled to hear from him. He said he'd decided to write a novel and wanted to bounce the premise off me. Knowing how funny this guy is, I couldn't wait to hear his idea - and I wasn't disappointed. What he had in mind was hilarious. I told him as much, wished him the best, and said to keep me posted.

 

I emailed him on his birthday a couple months ago and asked how the novel was going. He said he'd written a couple chapters but had gotten sidetracked by other things, so it never really got off the ground. Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I wasn't surprised.

 

When it comes to writing a book, there's a huge difference between getting motivated and staying motivated. Crafting a novel is not something you can power through in an afternoon, like going for a run, or cleaning out the garage. It takes diligence and commitment, and a lot of hard work. But as we all know, it can be done.

 

How do I stay motivated when I'm working on a book? I set a daily quota for how many words I'm going to write (usually 1,000), and I don't go to bed until I've reached it. (I don't use weekly word targets because that only invites day-seven procrastination.) Some authors write every single day, whereas I write Monday through Friday. The key is to choose a schedule that works for you, then stick to it. If you respond well to rewards, then do something nice for yourself at the end of each week.

 

Quota and reward systems aside, when it comes to self-motivation, the term speaks for itself, i.e., it's entirely up to you. Just like no one is ever going to force you to run a marathon or hike the Inca Trail, no one is ever going to force you to write a book. As for my friend, for now it's just not that high on his list—and may never be. And that is completely fine! If it's high on your list, however, then do it. You won't regret it. I promise.

  

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

 

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Productivity vs. Perfection

Writing Takes Discipline

4,465 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, writing, advice, motivation, craft, branding, writing_tips, writing_advice
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How long should my novel be? That's a question I hear quite a bit from new writers. They have experience as readers, but the only thing they can accurately gauge is the page count as it applies to the length of a book. We know as writers that word count is the unit of measure with which we should concern ourselves. That being said, what is the proper word count for a book that is made available for sale to the public?

 

Well, of course there is no law that dictates book length. What is and isn?t palatable by the reading public is subjective. But the expectations set by the book industry years ago are a good rule of thumb to follow today. I compared the numbers on three sites that addressed this matter and came up with general word counts for the following genres.

 

  • Middle Grade: 25,000 to 40,000

  • Young Adult Fiction (YA): 50,000 to 80,000

  • New Adult Fiction: 60,000 to 85,000

  • Romance: 60,000 to 100,000

  • Literary Fiction: 80,000 to 110,000

  • Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense: 70,000 to 90,000

  • Fantasy/Science Fiction: 90,000 to 125,000

  • Horror: 80,000 to 100,000

  • Nonfiction: 70,000 to 110,000

 

It?s important to note that these numbers represent what the industry normally looks for from debut authors ? in other words, authors who don?t have established brands. Authors with a large following can and do break the word count expectations in whatever genre they specialize in. These numbers are simply to be used as a general guideline for new authors.

-Richard

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

 

 

 

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Picking a Final Word Count Before You Write

The First 5 Weeks of a Manuscript - Week 2: Genre, Word Count, Finding a Reader, Announcing Intentions

2,451 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, writing, genre, word_count, writing_tips, industry_standards, wirting_advice
6

The other day, I received a notification that I had a new subscriber to my monthly newsletter. As I always do, I emailed her to ask why she'd signed up. She replied that while she hasn't yet written anything, she has a lot of stories she wants to share when she retires from her job as a police detective, so she thought she could learn from me.

 

Isn't that COOL? (Not the learning from me part, the police detective part!)

 

Just think of all the interesting material this woman could draw from when she finally has time to sit down and focus. My advice to her now? Keep track of her ideas.

 

I don't write crime books, but my novels do include many things that I've experienced in real life. In fact, I get lots of emails from readers telling me they enjoy the realism in my stories. To help keep that going, when I come across something I might want to include in a book, I do my best to make note of it immediately.

 

Here's an example: At my soccer game, one of my teammates admitted that he needs to get in better shape. He said he does a lot of "supported squats" at work, but that strategy clearly isn't working. I laughed out loud and immediately sent myself a text message to add his joke to my "TO USE IN A BOOK" document.

 

If you can still recall the name of your elementary school vice principal, more power to you. If you're like those of us with a less-than-stellar memory, I suggest keeping track of your ideas. Whether it's for an entire book, a scene within a book, or just a funny comment like the one my friend made, make a note of it. You may never use it, but then again, maybe you will.

 

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

 

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Embracing Inspiration from Real-Life Moments

When You Cut a Scene You Like, Save It!

5,158 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, book_ideas
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Ten Benefits of Guest Blogging You Can't Get on Your Own Blog - Color Your Life Published

Expand your brand and build your credibility through guest blogging.

                           

Quick Tip: Build Relationships with Reviewers Well before Your Book Launch - All Indie Writers

Don't wait until the last minute to line up those reviews.      

 

Film

                                                        

Insider Insights on Indie Filmmaking: Selling Your Film and Wrapping Up - Bleeding Cool

The final installment of a 28-part series on indie filmmaking.    

                                          

No Budget Filmmaking: Rise of the Backyard Indie - Filmmaking Stuff

Tips on how to catch the indie filmmaking wave.  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Singing While Old: How Vintage Voices Can "Rock" - Judy Rodman

As you grow older you may lose some vocal ability, but you may actually be able to sing better.

 

How to Build a Fan Base from Scratch - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

What do you do if you are just starting out?  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- November 7, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- October 31, 2014

1,162 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, music, filmmaking, budget, signing, author, self-publishing, promotion, movies, blogging, publishing, reviewers, musicians, voice, fan_base
1

Getting a book review is tough process. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and an incredible degree of professionalism. In short, you have to approach reviewers with your publisher hat on, not your author hat. Be confident about the quality of your book without being a braggart. Most importantly don't do any of the following:

 

1. Comment spamming – This isn't necessarily specific to book reviewers. I'm talking about any comment section anywhere on the Internet. Posting a link to your book about a cat lady turned private detective in the comment section of an unrelated blog or social media post is more than a wasted effort. It damages your author brand. Do not post blindly about your book. It's okay to post about your book in the comment section of various blogs (as long as it doesn't violate the bloggers rules), but do it tastefully and pick your spots carefully. Make sure there's a logical tie-in to your book. Remember, the comment you leave should never be a request for reviews.

 

2. The review challenge – Don't seek out reviewers in the virtual-verse and then challenge them to not like your book. Insisting that it's so good they can't help but like it is most likely setting yourself up for a bad review coming your way. Reviewers are busy, and they don't react well to such gimmicks to get their attention.

 

3. The review plea – Challenging a reviewer to not like your book is only slightly worse than begging a reviewer to read and review your book. When you come off as desperate, you come off as unprofessional and unworthy of any kind of attention for you or your book.

 

Your book is worth reading. You know that, but don't let your frustration get the best of you when a reviewer passes. Doing so could lead you down a path that will put your author brand at risk. Keep calm, and keep writing. The reviews and accolades will come if you commit to your craft and present yourself in a professional manner.

 

-Richard

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

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A Few Indie Book Review Media Sources

Use Good Judgment When Asking for Reviews

2,243 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, reviews, author, help, writers, readers, writing, book_reviews, author_tips, author_advice
2

For an upcoming release, I used a fairly large group of beta readers before my final round of rewrites. Now, the dangerous thing about using beta readers is that you're selecting readers who are fans of your previous books. In the wrong environment, these readers may be reluctant to give you their honest opinions in an effort to stay in your good graces. So, I decided to give this group of beta readers the ability to provide feedback anonymously. I set up a survey with 13 elements of the book that they could rate on a scale of 1 to 5. I also gave them the option to leave a comment on each element they were asked to rate. In addition, they could leave a comment at the end of the survey to give their overall impression of the book.

 

This system worked beautifully. I got a lot of constructive feedback that helped tremendously during the final round of rewrites. The key for me was to know what needed to be addressed. Of the 13 areas, eight would only apply to my story, but five could be used for almost any book. I'll share them here, and I invite you to use them should you decide to use this method with beta readers.

 

  1. Character: Please rate main and secondary characters as a whole. (I went on to describe my style of revealing character)

  2. Plot: Besides being the catalyst for action and dialog, the plot has to be worth investing time in and has to be delivered in a compelling manner. Given all that, how would you rate the execution of the plot?

  3. Setting: The setting is a small fictional Southern town at the base of an unknown mountain range in Tennessee. Various other communities featured in the book are located on the slopes of those mountains. The author attempted to establish a ruggedness and sense of isolation both in the terrain and through the secondary characters of these small communities. Based on these criteria, how would you rate the setting of this book?

  4. The Final Conflict: The final conflict takes place in?(a location specific to my story). At the conclusion of this scene, readers should not have any remaining questions about the main plot: who was involved, the extent of the crime committed, and the plan to address it moving forward, etc. Based on these criteria, how would you rank the final conflict?

  5. The Ending: How would you rank the ending?

 

Together with the other eight questions in the survey, I was able to address problem areas. Having so much input before the release of a book has really set me at ease. I'm usually a bundle of nerves just before a book goes live, but now I'm more confident than I've ever been about a new book. And, I wouldn't feel this way without my beta readers.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

 

 

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Fix It in Rewrites

Thank the People Who Help You

2,963 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, readers, setting, writing, story, characters, drafts, plot, reading, craft, social_media, author_advice, writintg_tips
4

I live near downtown Brooklyn, where sidewalks are lined to the gills with what can best be described as "random stuff" for sale. On any given stroll one can find an array of sunglasses, fruit, CDs, jewelry, clothing, cell phone cases, skin creams, and last but not least, books.

 

Yes, books!

 

New and used. Fiction and non-fiction. Cookbooks, travel books, children's books, novels, the list goes on and on and on.

 

Books!

 

Seeing all those card tables buckling under the weight of the reading material perched upon them has recently got me thinking. Wouldn't it be cool if an author set up a table and sold his or her own books? Granted, doing this would require figuring out the local permit situation - I would hate for one of my blog readers to get arrested! It would also take some thick skin given how many people rush by street vendors without so much as a glance. But I still think it's a cool idea. If I saw an author sitting at a table with a stack of his or her own books, and the signage clearly stated the seller's authorship, I think I would stop and buy one just to applaud the author's gumption. I often do the same thing with little kids selling lemonade or cookies, as I imagine many of you reading this do as well. You have to give it up for people who take initiative like that, no matter what age.

 

If you try my card table idea, I suggest picking up a couple of bookstands at a craft store (or online) to help with the display. It may be a table in the street, but that doesn't mean it can't look classy!

 

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

 

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Another Example of Smart Marketing

Marketing Tip: Choose Your Book's Title Wisely

4,418 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
0

The goal during NaNoWriMo is fairly cut and dry. During the 30 days that make up November, participants complete a manuscript that is a minimum of 50,000 words in length. Now, you may want to stand back while I do some math because this could get messy. I believe that works out to roughly 1,667 words a day. That is a pretty substantial word haul in a single day. It's not outrageous production, but it is a healthy dose of story day in and day out.

 

The best way to achieve this somewhat lofty goal is to set milestones that can serve as guideposts to your final destination. My recommendation is to give yourself four milestones per day to reach. Cut the daily word count goal into four parts. Basically, I'm recommending that you cut your workload down into four achievable goals. Each goal is set at 420 words. After you reach the 420 word mark, give yourself a small reward. It doesn't matter what it is, but make it something that will help you relax and decompress. If you follow this strategy, you'll have 50,000 in 29 days.

 

Whatever you do, avoid the weekly milestone. The temptation will be to fall short of your daily word count goal by telling yourself you can make it up the next day or the day after that. You'll convince yourself that it doesn't matter as long as you reach your weekly goal. This philosophy is bound to leave you frustrated when those unfinished days keep adding up, and you're faced with trying to catch up.

 

NaNoWriMo isn't that daunting if you pare it down into manageable workloads. Give yourself frequent milestones so you'll stay on task and feel the progress as you go along.

 

-Richard

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

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The Distraction Fast

How to Stay Committed to NaNoWriMo

1,862 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, nanowrimo
0

 

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

10 Social Media Rules Every Author Needs to Know - The Write Conversation

Consistency is the key for social media.

                           

How Can I Get Comments on My Blog? - BadRedhead Media

Comments equal engagement, engagement equals a motivated fan.      

 

Film

                                                        

Sam Mendes's 25 Rules for Directors - Vanity Fair

Showing gratitude is perhaps the most important rule on Mendes's list.    

                                          

5 Questions for Indie Film Funding - Filmmaking Stuff

How to make finding funding for your film less complicated.  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Infographic about the Evolution of Music - TRAEXS.COM Music Video News

The variety of music out there is astonishing. 

 

The Most Important Step to Vocal Improvement - Judy Rodman

Be sure to do your PPP training.  

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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Weekly News Roundup- October 24, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- October 17, 2014

1,410 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, music, filmmaking, author, movies, writers, blogging, publishing, films, director, musicians, social_media, film_funding, evolution_of_music, voals, music_advice
1

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just around the corner! Join hundreds of thousands of authors who are taking the challenge to write an entire novel in the month of November.


50,000 words. 30 days. And 8 tips to get you started. Write on, Wrimos!

 

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523 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, author, writers, writing, nanowrimo, novels, nano
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