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.
What to Do with a Deceased Author's Unfinished Manuscript?
Stieg Larsson, author of international mega-selling Millennium novels (The Girl with Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest), may be dead, but that doesn't mean he won't publish again. It seems that Larsson was working on a fourth book in the series when he passed away at the age of 50. His girlfriend of 30 years, Eva Gabrielsson, has the unfinished, 200-page manuscript in her possession, and she's determined to finish the book.
Larsson's partner has refused to reveal details of the partially completed novel's plot, but promised that its charismatic but damaged protagonist Lisbeth Salander "little by little frees herself from her ghosts and her enemies." And, she said, she will only finish the book when she gets undisputed rights to Larsson's work from his family, who inherited the author's assets when he died intestate.
Turns out some filmmakers aren't attending festivals just for the films. They're attending to participate in pitch sessions sponsored by festival organizers. It's a rising trend in industry conferences, as well. It can be a daunting task to sit down with someone who has the power and money to make your dreams come true, but it is an age old song-and-dance that every filmmaker needs to hone.
"Sometimes people get funded at the paper stage, before anything has been shot," said (Lesley) Norman. "Each pitch is different. A well-researched pitch, regardless of where they are in the process, can be the best pitch. Or a good trailer can make it or break it. It can also depend on the filmmaker's track record. Although I've seen a first time filmmaker bring an audience to their knees. A filmmaker must be good on his feet and speak with passion [to win]."
So, you're middle-aged, and you're well on your way to two-and-a-half kids, a three-bedroom walk-up with a white picket fence, and two-car garage. Your youthful days of kicking around in a band are way behind you. The days of dreaming of playing a gig in front of a screaming audience are long gone. You don't have time to do something like that, right? Well, you do if you have a week to devote to Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp.
The Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp is the creation of David Fishof, a former sports agent who expanded into the tour promotion business when he began handling artists like the former Beatle Ringo Starr. He organized the first camp in Miami in 1997, more than a decade after baseball fantasy camps began proliferating, thinking of it, he said, "as a one-off." That venture, he said, "lost a lot of money," but he tried again in 2002 and found that a market had developed.
If the readers won't come to you, maybe you should go to the readers. Luckily, a study by America's Most Literate Cities has done the legwork and found the most literate cities in the United States for you. Number one on the list is Washington D.C. In this case, literate isn't limited to books. It measures six different areas: newspapers, bookstores, magazines, education, libraries and the Internet. The big winner in the study seems to be libraries.
The use of public libraries has remained consistently strong over the years, particularly in manufacturing towns. Toledo, Ohio, and Fort Wayne, Ind., for example, were in the bottom half overall but were two of six Rust Belt cities in the top 10 for library resources.
There was a day when Hollywood studios hired producers to find property to develop and bring to screen. That is looking more and more like an outdated business model in Tinseltown. Today, companies like Radical Studios that already own intellectual properties are becoming movie studios and developing their own material for screen.
Against this fragmenting media backdrop sit companies like Radical Studios. Mr. (Barry) Levine started in 2008 by publishing comics and graphic novels. That gave him a revenue stream and a library of intellectual property to use as collateral. Radical now has 72 publishing properties with more than 1,000 characters. The circulation for some has reached 30,000, which is viewed as strong.
Liking a song is an objective choice made by the listener, right? Not so fast, says Anthony Padilla, especially when it comes to music reviewers. He's felt for a long time that they focus on the wrong things when it comes to judging a song. In fact, he doesn't even think the song itself gets much consideration when it comes to music reviews. So he decided to do something about it by creating a set of standards on his website by which you can compare one song with another, which in effect gives you a truly objective opinion of a song.
Most importantly, however, How To Listen To Music stands as an exercise that drives individuals to think about why they like the music they hold most dear. Sure, Padilla's videos can be polarizing - either affirming or questioning one's previously held beliefs about a particular song. But in doing so, Padilla challenges his readers to formulate their own opinions on music - an accomplishment resonating larger than any individual review ever can.
When Good Young Adult Fiction Gets Bleak It seems that things are trending toward the dark side in today's young adult fiction. Authors are filling their YA tomes with stories of oppressive governments gone awry and opening up the door to apocalyptic themes. And the young readers seem to be lapping it up. Books with a bent toward bleak futures are hitting the bestseller lists. The question is, why? Author Paolo Bacigalupi shares his theories with The New York Times.
As a teen, I remember that I craved truth-telling as well, and devoured it wherever I could find it. Unfortunately, the truth of the world around us is changing, and so the literature is morphing to reflect it. Teens want to read something that isn't a lie; we adults wish we could put our heads under the blankets and hide from the scary story we're writing for our kids.
Getting the Facts Straight in Films Based on True Events The fallback for most filmmakers when changing the facts in films based on true stories is that they are using creative license to make the film more entertaining. But is that crossing an ethical line, or could they actually be crossing a legal line? The Los Angeles Times examined the question recently, and here's part of what they found.
When director Danny Boyle began making "127 Hours," the real-life tale of hiker Aron Ralston, who amputated his arm after five days pinned under a rock, he knew he had a compelling story to tell and an even better resource. After all, who better to steer the director through difficult dramatic terrain than the outdoorsman himself? But for Boyle, an in-the-flesh, on-set guide like Aron Ralston also came with a liability: Aron Ralston. The hiker insisted, for example, that his character (played by James Franco) let out a big laugh at the moment he cut off his arm, just as he says he did in real life. The director objected, saying a laugh felt out of place. Boyle eventually gave in.
Is 2011 Filled with Hope for Musicians? It's a new year, but does that mean change is in the cards for the music industry? Music industry professional Bruce Houghton hopes so. He's put together a wish list of changes he'd like to see in the industry, and he's keeping his fingers crossed that Father Time will deliver the goods in 2011. What is he wishing for? Here's one item on his list.
New School Execs Takeover The Major Labels - Will 2011 be the year when a new era of music executives finally dominate the top executive positions at the major labels? I don't mean SVP of Digital; I mean seats on the Board Of Directors. It's long overdue and it may be the only thing that can save the big four labels from themselves.