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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Get in Good with Goodreads - Writer's Digest

Veteran author Michael J. Sullivan shares his secrets to Goodreads success.           

                           

Reader Question: Grammar, Second Languages, and Book Soundtracks - All Indie Writers

Poor grammar and typos in your marketing material can cost you readers.         

 

Film

                                                        

Top Five Things I've Discovered about Promoting a Low Budget Children's Film - Projector Films

Be relentless, and be prepared for the long haul.     

                                          

The 11 Principles of Leadership for Filmmakers - Studio Binder

Know thyself, and know thy craft. 

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Nine Reasons a Guitar Pickup Sounds the Way It Does - Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture Music Production Blog

What seems simple can actually mean everything when it comes to tone.  

  

How to Use Craigslist to Book Music Gigs - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

Can a free site help find paying gigs?  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- April 3, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- March 27, 2015

1,455 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, book, music, filmmaking, author, self-publishing, promotion, indie, movies, writing, guitar, promotions, reading, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, music_industry, grammar_tip, grammar_advice, music_gigs, music_shows
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A gentleman by the name of Matthew Jockers "did some distance similarity metric calculations and machine clustering" to determine how many different kinds of basic plot structures exist in the world of storytelling. 90% of the time when he ran the test, the answer was that there are six different plot structures, and 10% of the time, the answer was seven. Either result suggests that we are all drawing from the same plot designs over and over again.

 

 

These results beg the question: how are we coming up with so many different variations of the same plots? The answer is fairly clear. It's the amount of "you" that goes into the story you're writing. You have a style. You may not even know what your style is, but you do have one. I've suggested before that it's important that you be able to identify what that style is. It will give you more confidence as a writer, and it will give you a less cluttered path to plotting your next story.

 

 

In a monthly workshop I attend, the one question that is asked of every writer after reading their material is "What makes today different than any other day in your story?" The same can be asked when trying to define your style. What makes your story different from the other stories that share the same plot? Is it your choice of character? Is it your choice of narrator? Is it your choice of setting? What constant theme pops up in everything you write and sets you apart? What is the "you" in your writing? 

 

-Richard

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

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Authors' Four Structural Essentials for Blogs

To Be a Professional Writer, Make a Professional Impression

1,937 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, marketing, selling, book, filmmaking, author, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, writing_tips
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One of the questions that authors often ask me is: "What should I blog/tweet about?" The answer depends on a lot of factors, but the most important is the subject matter of your book. While of course you want to promote your work, if that's all you do, it's going to be hard to attract - and keep - followers. Who wants to read endless tweets that constantly shout "Buy my book!"(Am I right?)

 

I recommend providing useful information that's related to the subject matter of your book. For example, if your book is about financial planning, you can share links to interesting articles about financial planning, offer advice about taxes, provide tips for budgeting, etc. If your book is fiction, perhaps tweet or blog about something related to the content, e.g., a specific location, a period of time, a recipe, etc. The key is to provide content that your followers will find useful so they will keep coming back - and perhaps even pass along your content to their own followers/friends.

 

The 80/20 rule usually refers to a situation in which 80 percent of the effects will result from 20 percent of the causes. (For example, it's a rule of thumb in business that 80 percent of a company's sales typically comes from 20 percent of its clients.) In social media, however, it means that 80 percent of the content you share should be informative and 20 percent should be promotional. That way you're able to keep your followers engaged and informed without them feeling constantly bombarded with pitches. If they appreciate all the great content you regularly provide them for free, they're more likely to want to read your book because they will view you as a source of good information. Plus, they may just want to say thank you.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Social Media Swap

Your Fans are Your Brand

6,180 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, social_media
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Author Hangouts

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Apr 6, 2015

Are you about to head off to that dream vacation in Austin? Perhaps you have a family reunion coming up in Seattle or a long weekend trip scheduled at your nearest resort destination. Wherever you're headed for a little R & R, chances are you have connections in that location you hadn't considered. Connections that, if made stronger, can help expand your author brand.

 

I am, of course, referring to the folks in your online social networking circle. I personally know about one percent of my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. By personally, I mean I've interacted with them in the real world. The people I have that kind of relationship with are some of my biggest supporters. If I had the opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with the other 99%, just imagine how much stronger the support for my brand would grow.

 

These types of meetings go by different names: Meet-ups, Tweet-ups, Hang-outs, etc. And they're fairly easy to organize. You can set up an event on Facebook and invite those friends you know that live in the area you'll be visiting. There are apps online that will find followers in a certain location to help you organize a Tweet-up. Pick a public spot to have coffee and get to know those folks you've only talked with online. You may even want to bring a few signed copies of your latest book as a thank you for valued members of your community.

 

If you're on your way to enjoy a little vacation time, why not organize an author hangout and get to know the folks in that community?

 

-Richard

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

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The Brand and the Pseudonym

 

Looking for Marketing Tips? Here's What's Working for One Indie Author - and What Isn't

3,294 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, promotions, branding, social_media
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When I'm working on a book, there's nothing I fear more than staring at my computer screen and not knowing what to write next. I find it paralyzing, nerve-racking, depressing, and downright scary. When I'm writing a book but not actually writing anything, I feel an enormous sense of guilt because I'm not being productive.

 

At least, that's how I used to feel.

 

Recently I've realized that just because I'm not actually typing words on the keyboard, it doesn't mean that I'm not working on my manuscript. In fact, a lot of the work I put into my books happens when I'm not even at my desk. I letthe plot unfold in my head, essentially watching it as a movie before committing it to paper. That means that technically I'm working, even if I'm in the shower, or at the gym, or taking a walk. My brain is working on the book, which is what matters.

 

My personal challenge is to be patient and give my brain the time it needs to figure out how the story is going to unravel, wherever and however that happens. I've learned from experience that trying to force the creative process simply doesn't work. It leads to frustration and a lot of deleting.

 

The creative process is different for everyone, and if there were a sure-fire remedy for writer's block, I'd be first in line to buy it. But letting go of what you think it means to be "productive" is a good step in the right direction. Just be prepared to jot down notes when moments of inspiration strike. Not all the ideas that pop up will be golden, but you don't want to forget the ones that are!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Gaffes of Olympic Proportions

How to Help the Author in Your Life

3,098 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, book, author, writers, writing, craft, writer's_block, writing_tips
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Don't let anyone tell you rewrites are easy. They aren't. There's the psychological hurdle of facing the fact that you are essentially starting over with a story that likely took you months to create, and then there's the added stress of shredding apart a piece of art into which you poured your heart and soul. I have found that every story I have extensively rewritten has been made significantly better. The trick to mastering the rewriting process is to find neutral ground from which to operate.

 

Here are the three simple steps to rewriting objectively.

 

  1. Time – Sitting down to rewrite immediately after completing a first draft or even a second draft is like trying to hike on a trail made of quicksand. You aren't going to get very far. You need time to detach yourself from the story. It once took me 12 years before I saw a rewriting path that made sense for me on one particular piece. I was so married to the original version, it was impossible for me to recognize the glaring flaws that were obvious, over a decade later. Now, that's an extreme example. I recommend giving yourself at least six weeks before you attempt to rewrite.

  2. Feedback – Let a few trusted individuals read your manuscript and offer them freedom to be brutally honest. Explain to them that your plans are to do a wholesale rewrite and whatever they have to say will only help. Promise them you won't take their criticism personally. To prove it, buy them a small gift after they've given you their feedback. It doesn't mean you'll incorporate all their recommended changes. It means you'll get food for thought. Seeking and waiting for feedback will also give you the distance from a project that will allow you to see your manuscript more objectively.

  3. Attitude – You have to go into a rewrite with the mindset that nothing is sacred. On the manuscript I discussed above, only one character kept his name and disposition. Everyone else changed in every conceivable way. One male character even became a woman. Don't trip yourself up by refusing to let go of a piece of your story. I'm not saying you have to make those kinds of changes. I'm simply saying that you have to be willing to make those kinds of changes.


It takes a certain amount of courage to take on a rewrite. Follow the three steps above, and it should make the journey a little less perilous.

 

-Richard

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

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The Art of the First Line

I vs. Me

1,944 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, rewrites
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Lessons from a Great Book Jacket Designer - The Book Deal

Tips on how to make the cover of your book stand out.         

                           

Quit Being a Commodity: 10 Ways to Get Visibility and Stand Out - The Future of Ink

Is exclusivity the key to marketing success in publishing?        

 

Film

                                                        

Drones Are about to Change How Directors Make Movies - Wired

Do you have a better way to get that cool aerial shot?     

                                          

How to Achieve Your Filmmaking Goals Fast - Filmmaking Stuff

Start with giving yourself a deadline.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Mind-Expanding Music Marketing - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

How to push yourself and step up your marketing game.  

  

Learning to Sing Does Not Need to Take Hours a Day - How to Sing Better

Practicing a few key techniques just 15 minutes a day can make you a better singer.  

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- March 20, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- March 13, 2015

1,585 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, selling, music, design, book_design, author, promotion, indie, movies, writers, blogging, writing, films, promotions, music_marketing, musicians, craft, filmmakers, social_media, singing, book_covers, firecting
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This is a lesson I learn every day - not always via positive reinforcement. The links you share on social media reflect on your author brand. When you point someone to an article or blog post, you're giving your tacit endorsement of that article or blog post unless you disavow the article in your status update linking to it. Even then, your comment may get lost in the virtual muck and mire of the internet, so you have to be very careful.

 

I've learned about the internet that it's very hard for people to disassociate the message from the messenger. I may link an article on my Facebook page from a blog because I think it has interesting information, but a lot of my Facebook friends will immediately attribute it to me. I have no connection to the article other than that of any other reader, but since I included it in my newsfeed, it suddenly becomes my article.

 

I tell you this not to scare you away from controversial topics or unpopular subject matter. I tell you this so you will be prepared for the criticism that may come your way. The criticism won't hurt your brand. How you respond to that criticism will. Respond in a way that will allow you to sleep at night.

 

Sharing links to articles and blog posts is a quick and effective way to build your social media circle, which in turn will strengthen your brand. But always remember that you will be associated with whatever you share. Now, go forth and share accordingly.

 

-Richard

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

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"Myself" Is Not a Substitute for "I"

Word Count Paralysis

4,139 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, branding, social_media
16

I recently read two indie books that shared the following problem: they were both infested with run-on sentences. I don't throw around the word "infested" very often, but I'm using it here to make a point. The run-on sentences ruined the reading experience for me. I was so distracted by the errors that I couldn't focus on the stories.

 

In both the books in question, the run-on sentences usually occurred in dialogue. Here are two examples, with enough words changed to protect the guilty:

 

Example #1

 

What was written?

 

"What do you mean," John said running his fingers through his hair.

 

How should it have been written?

 

"What do you mean," John said, running his fingers through his hair.

 

or

 

"What do you mean," John said as he ran his fingers through his hair.

 

or

 

John ran his fingers through his hair. "What do you mean?"

 

The problem with the original structure is that it means that John literally said the words "running his fingers through his hair."

 

Example #2

 

What was written?

 

"I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced," Lisa said giggling.

 

How should it have been written?

 

"I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced," Lisa said, giggling.

 

or

 

Lisa giggled. "I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced."

 

or

 

"I don't know if I could stay up that late, but maybe I could be convinced," Lisa said with a giggle.

 

The problem with the original structure is that it means that Lisa literally said the word "giggling."

 

Do you see the difference in the above examples? Commas are small, but that doesn't mean they aren't important! If you don't want to use them for whatever reason, be sure to adjust the structure of your sentence accordingly. Remember: you want your readers to focus on the story, not the grammar.

  

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Sensitive Topics

Quick Lesson on Hyphens

5,062 Views 16 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, run-on_sentences
15

Physical Features

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 16, 2015

He was tall, six foot two, with blond hair and blue eyes. His chiseled cheeks accented a beautiful roman nose, and his three percent body fat gave him the appearance of a Greek god. His long elegant toes were those of a man who appreciated a good pedicure. If not for the irregular mole three inches above his left knee, he would have been the perfect male specimen. His right thumb was...


 

Am I crazy, or is that entirely too much description? Have you ever asked yourself how much character description is too much? I know this leans into the personal preference category, but I'm curious to know how other authors approach the task of providing physical descriptions of their characters.


 

My approach? Most of the time I use limited details when describing my characters. Perusing the introduction of two characters in my last book, I found one physical description. "Step stretched his skinny neck forward." From there, you'll find a reference to his bony fingers and his sharp jawline, but other than that I don't dive deeper. I don't get into eye or hair color. His exact height is never given. In fact, I typically don't say a lot about a character's physical features. My philosophy is that a reader can take my sparse descriptions and use them to build features with which they are familiar. In essence, their mind's eye creates a character that they recognize from their own lives. I don't have any scientific evidence that this is indeed the case, but I know it works for me. As I read, I fill in the blanks if the descriptions of physical features are not given.


 

How about you? How do you approach describing your characters' physical features?

 

 

-Richard

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

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When to Say "I Don't Care"

Why Grammar Matters

3,484 Views 15 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, character_development, physical_features
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Why Every Writer Should Keep a Travel Journal - Writer's Digest

Your experiences on the road may be worth some money.        

                           

Write More: Seven Tips for Dealing with Writing Distractions - Beyond Paper Editing

Maybe it's time to go old school and ditch your fancy laptop for a more low-tech approach.          

 

Film

                                                        

Ed Burns on The Brothers McMullen, Finding Your Voice, and the Meat Grinder of Independent Filmmaking - The Week

The filmmaker who helped usher in today's modern independent filmmaking movement.      

                                          

Becoming a Full-time Filmmaker: When to Quit Your Day Job - Filmmaking.net

When should you let go of your security net?  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

Three Email Marketing Mistakes Musicians Make that Cost Them Fans and Money [Podcast]- Musicgoat.com

How to make your email marketing more engaging.  

  

Vocal Strain: What is it and What Can You Do about It? - Judy Rodman

Don't ignore vocal strain, or you might do permanent damage.    

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup- February 27, 2015

Weekly News Roundup- February 20, 2015

1,202 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, marketing, film, author, self-publishing, movies, writers, publishing, writing, journal, promotions, filmmakers, branding, social_media, independent_film, email_marketing, vocals, writing_exercises, writing_tip
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What's at Stake?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Mar 4, 2015

This is a post about breaking through writer's block. By now, you've probably come across a 1,001 blog posts on the Internet about getting unstuck and finishing your novel. That should tell you that there is no magic bullet to ending writer's block. What works for one author won't work for another. But don't fret. You will find the solution. Just keep looking.

 

I've brought myself out of the writing depths in the past by asking myself what's at stake for the characters. Sometimes I lose sight of the story because I'm struck by inspiration, and I jump into a writing zone where the words fly with ease. But that inevitably ends at some point, and when it does, I find myself word-drunk and confused. I'll read the passages I've written and wonder where I was headed with these new pages. What was I thinking?

 

Well, I wasn't thinking, and that's the point. When you're in the zone, you're relying on instinct, and that's a beautiful thing. The fix to finding my way is determining what my characters want in the words I've committed to the manuscript. You may even find me wandering the hallways of my home muttering to myself like a madman; "What do they want? What do they need to get there?" When I know what's at stake for the characters, the path ahead becomes clearer, and when I see a clear path, I'm anxious to get back to my laptop and start typing away. If I'm lucky, I'll find another writing zone.

 

-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?

Unfinished and Happy

2,386 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, writer's_block, author_tips
3

Most of us read books because we love to escape (temporarily) from reality and immerse ourselves in alternate worlds inhabited by colorful, interesting characters whose lives are much more exciting than our own. That's certainly why I read! However, while the lives these characters lead might be less than realistic, it's important (to me, at least) that their dialogue is realistic.

 

When I read a book with dialogue that doesn't ring true, instead of getting sucked into the story I find myself thinking, "Who talks like that? No one would say that." And as I've said a million times in this blog, you want your readers focused on the story, not on the problems with your writing.

 

(Note: I'm referring to contemporary fiction, not tales of dystopian societies, intergalactic wars, or Downtown Abbey type romances. If you're writing any of the above, may the conversational Force be with you.)

 

A good way to avoid having unrealistic dialogue in your own writing is to read it out loud. This may sound a little corny, but I swear it works! I did it when I wrote my first novel, and over time I got the hang of crafting conversations that sound the way people actually talk. Now, "your dialogue is so realistic!" is one of the most common compliments I get from readers about my books.

 

You want to create strong, believable characters that your readers will care about, so take the time to give them lines that will allow that to happen. With every conversation you write, ask yourself "Does this sound believable?" That might seem daunting at first, but over time it will get easier. I promise. And it will be well worth the effort. Your readers - and your characters - will be grateful.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Look Who's Talking

Turn the Beat Around

3,404 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, dialogue
1

Last week, we discussed the importance of identifying your core values from the standpoint of building an author brand. Remember, just because we're talking about marketing doesn't mean we're talking about building an artificial persona to sell books. We're focused on the real, authentic you. By identifying your core values, you can proceed with confidence and expand your network.

 

Now, let's remove the mystique around networking. Before 2003, it was a concept that had very little to do with the online world. When you talked about networking pre-social media, you were more than likely referring to a social gathering of individuals in the business world building contacts in a relaxed atmosphere. It was about building relationships that were beneficial to you and your career.

 

Today, networking is much more broadly used. It's not just about building business contacts. It's about building your social circle outside of your geographic area. In short, it's about meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. From an indie author's perspective, there is still an inevitable commercial benefit from these connections. Your network is your volunteer salesforce. Without doing anything other than being themselves, the people in your network will spread the word about your book. And the obvious rule is that the bigger your network, the bigger your volunteer salesforce. Your role is to socialize: be an active participant in your own network, engage with your network, interact with your network and always look for opportunities to grow your network by meeting new people.

 

Networking is one of those things that's not difficult to understand, but it can be difficult to master if you're not active. So, go forth and network. Build relationships, and watch your volunteer salesforce grow.

 

-Richard

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

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Elements of the Author Brand

It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

1,495 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, networking, writing, branding
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Don't Force an Ending

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 25, 2015

I just want to warn you that there's this little-known song from a movie that barely made any money at the box office that I'm going to reference in this blog post. It comes from an obscure animated flick called Frozen and the song title is "Let It Go." Oh, you've heard of it? Good, then I can spare you the video of me singing this catchy tune.

 

 

That is the wisdom I wish to impart on you today: let it go. Can't find an ending for that book you've worked so hard on for months? Let it go. What? You say it's been years? Let it go. Endings can't be forced. Well, they can, but they usually come off sounding that way. Your best strategy is to move on to the next project. Shed the frustrating missteps from your mind when it comes to finding the perfect ending, and redirect your creativity.

 

 

Albert Einstein didn't come up with the Theory of Relativity sitting in front of a chalkboard hammering out formulas and chasing mathematical equations down a rabbit hole. He came up with the idea as a clerk at the patent office staring out the window. In other words, he wasn't focused on revolutionizing physics. He was daydreaming. Had he been focused on making a great discovery at that particular moment, who knows, would he have developed the most famous scientific discovery of the modern age?

 

 

The ending will come to you when you let go of the need to find the ending. In a weird metaphysical way, stories don't like to remain unfinished. Your brain will find its way there on its own. If you force it, your brain will fight you and give your story an unsatisfying ending. Stop fixating, and start daydreaming. Let it go.

 

 

-Richard

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

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When Do You Know The Ending?

Know Thy Story

1,746 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, book, writers, publishing, writing, craft, ending, writing_advice, writing_tip
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