I'll admit to being confused about the optimal word count for an average blog post. I am of the mindset that people today have a short attention span, and it's easy for them to pass on a lengthy blog post and move on to another blog. I personally have a short attention span that is scared away by lengthy posts. If the writing is exceptional, I may stick it out, but my general response to long blog posts is to run away screaming into the virtual world.
On the other hand, too many short posts can give your blog the appearance of being frivolous and forgettable. Short posts are tempting because they're easy and less time-consuming, but they do very little in helping you establish an effective personal brand. On my personal blog, I have posted very short posts, but I try to spread them out between more substantial posts.
So what is a good blog post length? My experience as both a reader and writer of blogs is that posts between 250 and 600 words are best. Some will say that you can go as long as 1,000 words, but I personally think that's overdoing it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts have found that posts that hit the 250-word range are ranked higher than blog posts that are shorter or longer. Don't beat yourself up if you fall short of that mark or if you go over. Just use it as a benchmark as you write. If you have something to say that is significantly longer, consider breaking it up into a series of posts.
Writing blog posts is certainly more art than science. Just write within your comfort zone, and over time you'll find your rhythm and hit the word count that fits your style and schedule. The primary objective is to use the blog to build your personal brand. Have fun with it and blog away.
(Fun fact: the body of this blog post - minus this sentence - is 319 words!)
Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.
We've all been there: you work and work and work on a new manuscript. You connect with the characters, and you have moments of absolute elation at certain bits of dialogue or twists you create along the way. But then something goes wrong. Either the story derails, or you lose the enthusiasm you once had for the material. You stop working on the book and sometimes you don't even know why. The New York Times explored the phenomenon recently.
Authors, always sensitive creatures, might abandon a book in a fit of despair, as Stephenie Meyer initially did in 2008 with her "Twilight" spinoff "Midnight Sun," which she declared herself "too sad" to finish after 12 chapters leaked to the Internet. More dramatically, in 1925 Evelyn Waugh burned his unpublished first novel, "The Temple at Thatch," and attempted to drown himself in the sea after a friend gave it a bad review. (Stung by jellyfish, Waugh soon returned to shore.) More dramatically still, Nikolai Gogol died a mere 10 days after burning the manuscript of "Dead Souls II," for the second time.
Multimedia strategies are here. Games are being turned into films, and films are being turned into games. Technologies are creating more and more opportunities for filmmakers to earn money for their films, even if they do it in the video game world. How much have the lines blurred? The Tribeca Film Institute has created a grant to fund films that wed with new media.
The idea, says the group, is to let filmmakers and game makers better showcase works that go hand in hand together. "One of the things we want to do with this is connect people," says Beth Janson, executive director of the Tribeca Film Institute tells Gamasutra. "We want to connect filmmakers with developers who understand the two worlds. That's what's exciting about this. These two worlds are coming closer and closer together. We definitely want to encourage those sorts of actions."
It seems we admire...like...love our celebrities so much that we want to own their stuff. And we don't just want their stuff. We want their well-used, unclean stuff. We can't help it. We deem an object more personally valuable if it was actually used by a celebrity, and for some reason, we want our celebrities to be slovenly enough to not wash their belongings before they put them up for auction.
The most important factor seemed to be the degree of "celebrity contagion." The Yale team found that a sweater owned by a popular celebrity became more valuable to people if they learned it had actually been worn by their idol. But if the sweater had subsequently been cleaned and sterilized, it seemed less valuable to the fans, apparently because the celebrity's essence had somehow been removed. "Our results suggest that physical contact with a celebrity boosts the value of an object, so people will pay extra for a guitar that Eric Clapton played, or even held in his hands," said Paul Bloom, who did the experiments at Yale along with George E. Newman and Gil Diesendruck.
An unknown writer in New York has decided to serialize his book by posting it one page at a time. I call that a fairly extreme tactic. What makes it more extreme is he isn't posting the pages on the internet; he's posting it on lampposts. Yes, you read correctly. Lampposts in New York's East Village are playing host to a single page from the unknown writer's book. Not everyone is a fan of the idea.
Although no author has yet publicly taken credit for the work, the East Village had no shortage of opinions about it. "Honestly, I don't like the idea. I hate it when people just post things everywhere," said Joe Curanhj, 42, owner of Stromboli Pizza, located right in front of the lamppost bearing Page 8. "They have the Internet, why don't they use that?"
You can read the entire article on The New York Post's website: 'Light' reading
Why Studios are Giving First-Time Directors $100,000,000+ Budgets
There was a time when Hollywood studio execs wanted their first-time directors to cut their teeth on small-to-modest budget films. It made sense. They didn't know what a new director was actually capable of, so they were cautious. But times have changed. Today, first-time directors are getting big budget films as their first gigs. Some budgets are even approaching $200 million. Why the change in philosophy?
During the past five years, though, technology has enabled rookie directors to hone their skills via FinalCut Pro, digital-video cameras and other state-of-the-art effects tools from a young age, prompting budget-cautious studios to salivate over what they can put on screen for a price. Gareth Edwards, for instance, made his indie sci-fi film Monsters for a few hundred thousand dollars, even though it looked much more expensive. He's now up to direct Godzilla for Warner Bros.
All of a Sudden, Investors are Flocking to Digital Music Companies
Most articles you read about companies offering digital music downloads focus on their inability to make much of a profit. Finding investors for these companies has never been easy. Until now. For reasons unknown or not quite understood by many experts, investors are pouring some big money into some of these companies. Needless to say, it's a welcome development for most.
But more bullish investors point to technological developments and shifts in consumer behavior as signs that the business is about to turn a corner. These changes include the migration of digital media libraries from personal computers to the remote storage of the "cloud," as well as the explosive success of smartphone applications.
It seems sites like Facebook and Twitter are quelling today's youth's desire to keep and maintain blogs. They don't have the time to tweet, update their Facebook status, text, IM and blog. Something had to give, and blogs are what they've decided to ditch. This could mean the blogosphere is about to get a lot less crowded. With fewer blogs jamming the information superhighway, some of the traffic may get diverted to those of us who are committed to blogging.
The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier. Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.
Ingrid Veninger has turned her filmmaking passion into a family affair. She's written, produced and directed a movie starring her son and another one starring her daughter. But these aren't home movies shot in an effort to trick her kids into spending fun family time. These are honest-to-goodness features that have been doing well in the film festival circuits.
Eight years ago, she started her own company, pUNK Films, with the ambitious motto "Nothing is impossible." The company has already made six shorts and four feature films, including Only and Modra. She made Only, starring her son, Jacob, as a boy who has a chance encounter with a girl at a motel in Parry Sound, Ont., for $20,000 by maxing out four credit cards. She used a borrowed digital camera, and everyone in the cast and crew was paid a flat fee of $100. She submitted a DVD to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) where audiences and reviewers were enthusiastic. Invitations to other festivals followed.
Record stores are relics of the past, right? There's just no room for them in today's Web 2.0 world, right? They're romantic constructs of yesteryear, right? Wrong. Believe it or not, some record stores are doing quite well even in an economy that's fueled by ecommerce. In fact, one indie record store in Long Beach, California just moved into a new storefront that doubled its square footage.
Someone apparently forgot to tell store owner Rand Foster that people pluck their music from the clouds now, rather than exchange cash for it in bricks-and-mortar emporiums such as Fingerprints. Not only has Foster's indie venture survived 18 years of a drastically changing retail environment, but the soft-spoken entrepreneur also just doubled Fingerprints' footprint, moving to this space two times bigger than its longtime Belmont Shores home. His key? Making the store a destination for a devoted clientele. "It's not memorable where you buy the record on top of the charts," Foster says. "When you buy something you've never heard of that becomes a favorite record, or you buy a record you've been looking for 10 years, you remember that store."
Evidence continues to grow showing self-publishing may not just be a viable alternative to traditional publishing, but it may actually be the preferable option. The hurdle to distribution now no longer an issue, many self-published authors are finding great success selling books, particularly ebooks. The latest superstar among the self-published is Amanda Hocking.
By May she was selling hundreds; by June, thousands. She sold 164,000 books in 2010. Most were low-priced (99 cents to $2.99) digital downloads. More astounding: This January she sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine titles. More than 99% were e-books. "I can't really say that I would have been more successful if I'd gone with a traditional publisher," says Hocking, 26, who lives in Austin, Minn. "But I know this is working really well for me."
Believe it or not, Francis Ford Coppola believes the Godfather films sidetracked him from the type of career he really wanted in film. The success of the first film in the trilogy made Coppola a hot commodity in Hollywood. The problem was he found himself being asked to make films he didn't want to make. His solution? Retreat to his winery, make some dough with his Coppola-brand wine and self-finance the films he wants to make.
You try to go to a producer today and say you want to make a film that hasn't been made before; they will throw you out because they want the same film that works, that makes money. That tells me that although the cinema in the next 100 years is going to change a lot, it will slow down because they don't want you to risk anymore. They don't want you to take chances. So I feel like [I'm] part of the cinema as it was 100 years ago, when you didn't know how to make it. You have to discover how to make it.
You know what would make theatre more real? Three dimensional images. I know the people on stage are already in three dimensions, but that's so 2010. What the black tie crowd really wants at the opera is Hollywood 3-D type effects. Or so Robert Lepage, director of "Siegfried," believes. In fact, he's banking on it.
Its use at the Met, so far, will be limited to forest scenes in "Siegfried." It will not be employed in the final work of Wagner's cycle, "Götterdämmerung." Inevitably, it will give more ammunition to Wagnerites and critics who view Mr. Lepage's sophisticated electronics as a distraction from the drama and the music. Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, said the 3-D effect only "adds to the visual elements" of Mr. Lepage's "Ring." Mr. Gelb said he was sensitive to the perception that technology was driving the "artistic product." In this case, Mr. Gelb asserted, "technology is in the service of art."
For 50 years, the medical research and pharmaceutical industries have made millions of dollars off the incredibly durable cancer cells of one woman, Henrietta Lacks. Neither she nor her family has ever received a dime for her contribution to science. She was never even asked if her cells could be used for research. Enter author Rebecca Skloot and her book about Henrietta's unique story, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." Skloot is making sure Henrietta's family is finally receiving some compensation.
Soon after the book came out, she created the Henrietta Lacks Foundation to help Mrs. Lacks's descendants, some of whom suffered from the whirlwind of publicity, misinformation and scam artists surrounding HeLa cells, not to mention a lack of insurance to pay for any of the medical advances Mrs. Lacks's cells made possible. "I first envisioned it as a foundation for education, but I realized that the people who were affected the most were her kids, and they needed some medical care and dental care," Ms. Skloot said from her home in Chicago.
He'd swagger in front of the camera and deliver a line with that haunting affect of his, and you knew immediately he was a man's man, a tough guy through and through. He even managed to play a screenwriter in a movie and make him the toughest guy in the room. What was it about Humphrey Bogart that made him so imposing?
By the time his film breakthrough came, he was 42 and already wearing the vestiges of betrayal, loss and resignation that would bring the shadow of a back story to every role he played. Photographs of Bogart in the 1920s, when he was in his 20s, show a bright-eyed, smooth-cheeked actor whose features haven't set yet. The transformation took place before we made his acquaintance. The Bogart we came to know on the screen was mature when he arrived, with compressed emotions, an economy of gesture and a compact grace in movements that were wary and self-contained, as if all the world were not a stage but a minefield.
Ever wonder what it takes to make it in pop music? How to collect more Grammys than you have shelf space? Produce one hit after another that turns into prestige and cash and more cash? I've wondered that, and I'm not even a musician. Music producers RedOne, Alex Da Kid and Ari Levine discuss their secrets to creating hits.
On Saturday evening in front of a sold-out crowd, Powers led a freewheeling conversation that sought to put into words the magic that turns a bunch of notes on paper (or, these days, a hard drive) into a hit song. "I think the most important thing is having a vision. Being able to see things before other people can see it," Alexander Grant - better known as Alex Da Kid - told the audience inside the Grammy Museum's Clive Davis Theater. "Most of the songs you're working on, they won't even come out for three or four months at least, maybe longer, so you have to be able to think what's going to be a hit record in six months."
The word "tweet" has taken on a whole new meaning in the daily lexicon. Before, it was the lovely sound our feathered friends made while they soared through the skies or perched in the trees. Now, it's what we humans do to try and get noticed on the social networking platform called Twitter. To tweet is to post a compelling 140-characters-or-fewer message to let your followers know what's on your mind.
But the tweet has one glaring flaw: only your followers will see it. Since your goal in social media is to get noticed far and wide, you need to find a way to reach past your followers and make your tweets viral. You have to find a way to go beyond the tweet and enter the realm of the retweet.
A retweet is when someone shares your tweet with their followers and lists you as the original poster. In short, it gives you credit for share-worthy material, helping you gain more exposure and maybe increasing your follower base. While you can't predict what will be retweeted, you can increase your chances by employing a few simple strategies to your tweeting approach.
1. Quotes - Quotes are some of the most often retweeted pieces of content. Whether it's a funny, inspirational, or moronic quote, people love to share a finely crafted one with their followers. If you've written a book about a particular subject matter, find quotes that pertain to the subject of the book. The same goes for your favorite hobby, your profession, or your political persuasion. If a quote captures your attention, chances are it will capture your followers' attention as well.
2. Useful content - Post a link to an article, video, or blog post that you find funny, compelling, or informative. If you're the creator of the content, all the better, but it's not necessary that you link to only your original content. Share the things on the web that move you for one reason or another. The like-minded people amongst your followers may be moved to share it by retweeting.
3. Newshound - Stay on top of the events of the day and be one of the first to post links to breaking news stories. Twitter has become a primary source of news and information for millions of people. Why not be a part of their conduit of resources?
4. Be grateful - If someone takes the time to retweet you, thank them. It's not just common courtesy; it's good common sense. If they feel appreciated for their efforts, they're more likely to retweet you again.
5. Retweet others - If you see something on Twitter that you'd love to share with your followers, retweet it. The person you retweeted may feel compelled to return the favor at some point. Don't be shy about sharing the wisdom of those you follow with your own followers.
Retweeting is definitely more art than science; there is no way to ensure that every time you tweet in a specific way you will be retweeted. However, taking some of these suggestions may lead to an increase in the number of times you are retweeted. And once your tweets go viral, your channel for future word-of-mouth campaigns will grow. Good luck and happy tweeting!
Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.
At about this time last year, I provided in this blog a list of five daytime talk shows that you should check out to promote your book, film, or music. You can click here, Finding a Daytime Talk Show, to see the shows on that list. You'll find that I've provided a link to the shows' websites so you can poke around and see which shows might be the right fit for you. Since there seems to be a never-ending supply of TV talk shows, I decided to put together a new list for you. Like last year's list, these are shows that cater to a national TV audience. Some are general-interest programs, and some shows stick to a single topic like health or crafts.
The Tyra Show - I must admit I have never watched a single frame of this show hosted by Tyra Banks, but there is no denying its wild popularity with women and young people. The show hits on topics ranging from body image to the totally outlandish and bizarre. If you have a book or film that veers from the mainstream, this might be the perfect show for you.
Rachael Ray Show - Rachael was cut from the cloth of the master herself, Oprah. She's adorable. She's vibrant. She's destined for daytime TV stardom. She specializes in cooking and crafts, but she also branches out into general-interest topics from time to time.
Live With Regis and Kelly - It's true that television staple Regis Philbin just announced his pending retirement, but that doesn't mean the show won't go on. They retooled when Kathie Lee left, and I'm sure they'll do the same when Regis signs off, despite his legendary status. The show can be described in one word: fun. If you need more words: slightly wholesome. They focus a lot on celebrities, but they also highlight human interest stories.
The Doctors - Think of this show as The View for medical and health issues. It's a panel of honest-to-goodness doctors discussing topics that cover the health spectrum. If you've got a book or even a documentary that falls within this realm, give them a shot.
The View - Speaking of The View...They seem to love topics that are either controversial or centered on women's issues. If you have a book or film that pushes the envelope and can get the hosts worked up into an all out chat-fest, they may welcome you with open arms.
When you get to these websites, look for a message board where you can participate and showcase your credentials. The producers do scout their own boards for show ideas and potential guests. A lot of the shows will also list needs for upcoming shows. You may be a guest that can fit their needs perfectly, perhaps to provide an expert opinion or to otherwise weigh in on the topic of the day. It can be somewhat challenging to land a spot on a national TV show, but you never know until you try. Hey, maybe you could get your big break on daytime TV!
Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.
It's Never Too Late to Keep a Promise or Write That Book
Be careful of those promises you make. Gone unfulfilled, they could haunt you for years - decades even. Take one Barnaby Conrad. He promised his old boss, mentor and friend, Sinclair Lewis, that he would indeed finish his tome on John Wilkes Booth. Shortly after making the promise, Lewis died and Conrad let the years slip away without finishing the book. Fast forward 60 years, and Conrad fulfilled his promise. What prompted him to finish?
What moved him was his son Barnaby Conrad III, a writer and magazine editor who in 2009 had joined Council Oak Books and was hunting for new acquisitions; a year later, 59 years after Lewis died, he signed his father for an advance of $5,000. "I basically lit a fire under him again," the younger Mr. Conrad said.
There are those who have a problem with product placements in films and there are those who embrace it. Morgan Spurlock has created a documentary examining the practice of product placement and branding, and he funded the film with product placements in his film. In a practice of pure irony, Spurlock found companies that paid him to let him scrutinize how they package their brands.
So when business people decide to let documentary makers inside their well-fortified doors, exactly what do they hope to get out of it? Do they think they can charm them? Outwit them? Or maybe these buttoned-up corporate types just crave a star turn? Pat Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media, says she thinks that some companies that choose to participate do so because of a keep-your-enemies-closer strategy. "If they're not there, it looks like an admission of guilt," she said. "And at least if they show up they have a chance to get their side of the story - their spin - across."
There are no shortcuts worth taking in a creative business. While some seek fame and fortune by chasing down record executives and singing in contests, Anthony D'Amato chased down a professor at Princeton and handed him a demo CD. Why? Because this particular professor was Paul Muldoon, a renowned poet. D'Amato wanted to fine-tune his songwriting skills by learning from a master wordsmith.
"I wanted to get better, and I knew he was somebody who could help me get better," Mr. D'Amato, 23, said, sitting with Professor Muldoon recently in his office. Professor Muldoon, 55, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2003, and he is chairman of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton. Starting in 2009, Mr. D'Amato, then a Princeton junior, met with Professor Muldoon every few weeks to pore over drafts of Mr. D'Amato's songs, which he started writing as a high school student at Blair Academy in Blairstown.