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671 Posts tagged with the writing tag
1

I admire two authors above most others: Charles Portis and Cormac McCarthy. Both men have written works that are seminal to my own development as a writer. I don't just read their books; I study them. I find their respective styles mesmerizing. Portis is a master at using humor while still delivering poignant stories, and McCarthy's genius is using harsh overtones that grip readers and expose them to the grittier side of American life.

 

The two men have one striking similarity: they are brilliant at writing dialogue. Their characters talk as if you are reading a transcript of secretly recorded conversations. They talk over each other. They ignore questions asked of them and seamlessly move the dialogue off into an entirely different direction. And, in large part, the reader isn't told if the character is angry, sad, happy, etc. The mood of the characters is obvious based on the circumstances of the scene and what we know of the characters themselves. Both writers use dialogue identifiers so rarely it's almost shocking. You can go pages without seeing the word "said" used to identify the speaker. There is such a natural flow to their dialogue that it's completely unnecessary to tell the reader who's speaking.

 

Why do they write dialogue so well? Because they trust the readers. They seem to get that it isn't their job to spoon-feed information to the readers. Their job is to create an absorbing atmosphere that draws the readers so deeply into the story that they don't just read the dialogue, they hear it. It's as if you are in the setting observing the conversation.

 

If you want to master dialogue, create conversations that only minimally identify the speakers. Get rid of direct references to mood. Use real language that you'd hear on the subway, in church, at a bar, etc. Keep the sentences short. People rarely deliver speeches in the middle of conversations. And most importantly, trust the reader.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Use Adverbs Sparingly, Especially in Dialogue

A Writer's Brand Identity

2,329 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, dialogue, charles_portis, cormac_mccarthy
2

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

How a Great Twitter Bio Can Net You More Followers…and Sales! -BadRedhead Media

Your Twitter bio is important, so make it count.           

                                                    

Storyville: What is Literary Fiction? -Lit Reactor

The answer to that age-old question many authors have asked: "Did I just accidently write literary fiction?"

 

Film

                                                        

Social Media for #Filmmakers: Facebook 101 - Film Independent

To thrive in filmmaking today, you have to add one more job title to your list of many as an independent filmmaker: social media evangelist.

                                          

10 Pinterest Boards Filmmakers Should Be Following - Indiewire

Pinterest has become a social media favorite for a lot of filmmakers.

                                    

Music

 

11 Ways to Sabotage Studio Vocals - Judy Rodman

Judy lists some the habits and choices that influence your vocals.

 

The Accident That Changed Modern Guitar Sound - The Big Picture Music Production Blog

Who knew a little accidental guitar distortion would have such a huge impact on music?

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - August 9, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - August 2, 2013

2,169 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, music, filmmaking, self-publishing, indie, sales, writers, writing, films, promotions, filmmakers, social_media, author_brand, music_production, vocals
1

How to End a Chapter

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 14, 2013

It's hard to know when some things are over. Some guests don't know when to leave a party. Some people don't know how to exit a relationship. And some writers don't know how to end a chapter. The latter example is perhaps the most puzzling.

 

How do you end a chapter? To answer that, we first have to determine what a chapter is. A chapter is a step forward. Even if it's a flashback, a chapter's sole purpose is to advance the plot or divulge a telling component of one (or more than one) of your characters' true natures. Readers should find some revelation within a chapter that compels them to keep reading. Constructing a chapter is tricky because it has to be independently satisfying while remaining dependent on the rest of the story.

 

Chapter endings are the trickiest of the tricky. They have to leave the reader with the feeling that questions have been answered while setting up the questions for the next chapter. In a romance novel, a chapter may reveal why a woman can't stand the sight of a particular man from her past who has contacted her out of the blue. However, the closing paragraph contains a hint that she may have misjudged him.

 

It's that hint that will encourage readers to push on. Did the woman really misjudge the man? The next chapter will explore that particular question. She may discover that she did indeed misjudge him, and this new chapter will end suggesting that a person she's trusted implicitly for years was really the cause of the pain that has haunted her, a revelation that leads to more questions for the next chapter or chapters.

 

So, how do you end a chapter? You end it when you've fulfilled the unwritten contract of a chapter; you've provided some answers that give the reader a sense of satisfaction. And when that point is reached, your actual chapter ending should hint at greater revelations ahead. In short, end a chapter when there's nothing left to be said, but more to be learned.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Creative Writing Exercises

Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

6,842 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, writing, characters, craft, storyline, chapters, character_development, ending
1

In my blog post about doing a book relaunch, I talked briefly about how giving your book a new cover could give you a reason to reintroduce your book to the reading public. But giving your book a new cover can do more than give you a new marketing opportunity; it can give you a more marketable book.

 

If your sales have hit a slump or you feel they've never reached their peak, you may want to take a serious look at your cover. Covers matter today more than ever. With so many books published every year, you have to make your book stand out among the millions of other titles competing for readers' attention online. When I say "stand out," I don't mean for the wrong reasons. Your cover should be professionally designed. If you have the skills to undertake such a task, have at it. But if the concept of creating a cover is foreign to you, hire a professional cover design artist to do the work.

 

Whether you have the skill set to design a cover or you hire someone else to do it, don't enter the arena without knowledge of what works as far as cover design for books in your genre. Yes, genre should be a major consideration when you're designing your cover. Fortunately, thanks to retail sites like Amazon.com, you have a place where you can research the cover designs of bestselling books in your genre. Do your research and give your book a similar look and feel. I'm not suggesting you copy another author's book cover; I'm merely telling to you to use bestselling book covers as an inspiration for your cover design. There are design similarities among them for a reason; they work to attract readers in the genre.

 

Your book is worth reading. If you're on top of your marketing and people still aren't reading it, it might be time to consider a new, professional cover design.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Beat Writer's Block with Cover Design

Going Indie? Don't Skimp on Quality

2,782 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions, book_covers
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways to Write a Killer Plot Twist -Wordplay

Author K.M. Weiland shares her advice on how to construct a plot twist.       

                                                    

Book Marketing Using Paid Advertising -Self-Publishing Review

A look at how paid advertising worked out for some authors.

 

Film

                                                        

The True Cost of Filmmaking in the 21st Century - James River Film Journal

What is the cost of shooting on film in a digital age?

                                          

How to Get Noticed As a Filmmaker - Filmmaking Stuff

Sometimes you just have to take charge.

                                    

Music

 

How to Get Your Emails Opened and Read - Bob Baker's BuzzFactor.com

Are hypnotic techniques the key to getting your email opened?

 

Mid-Year Music Industry Report, Social Media and Digital Music News -MusicianCoaching.com

There's no doubt about it, social media is changing the music industry.

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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Weekly News Roundup - August 2, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - July 26, 2013

1,888 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, selling, music, author, self-publishing, advertising, movies, writers, publishing, writing, films, promotions, musicians, social_media
0

I am messy. My car is a mess. My office is a mess. I'm not even sure I still have a desk anymore. My laptop is on top of something surrounded by...well, a mess. For years, I've gotten away with being messy because I'm creative. Sometimes I can even make it look endearing.

 

Here's the thing I've discovered about my own messiness: the mess is not part of the creative process. The mess is the result of the creative process. The more untidy my surroundings get, the less aware I am of the mess because I'm getting into the details of a story. 

 

On many, many, many occasions, the inkling of an idea will come when I'm cleaning up the clutter created from a piece I've just completed. It's as if I'm clearing away the old and making room for the new. What's really at play is my mind shifting focus, and in that shift, I usually find a new story.

 

Why am I revealing my sloppy side to you? Because I know a majority of you reading this are just like me. I know you look at your desk and roll your eyes and wonder where your breaking point is. You may even feel bad for the people in your life because they have to share your cluttered space. There might even be a small voice in your head telling you that you will tank your creative mojo if you clean. I'm here to tell you that the opposite is probably true. You will most likely reinvigorate your artistic spirit by allowing yourself to get lost in the mindless task of cleaning.

 

Look, I don't want to ruin your "creative mind" excuse for getting away with being messy. But, I encourage you to give a try. You just might be surprised by the doors it opens in that artsy brain of yours (and the people who live with you will be ecstatic). Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find my desk.

 

Time to fess up: messy or clean? 

 

-Richard

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

 

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The "What If" Notebook

Embracing Inspiration from Real-Life Moments

1,814 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, writing, drafts, creativity, inspiration, craft
2

Today, I'd like to address another common grammar mix-up. Fancy parts of speech aside, here is the difference between "there," "they're" and "their."

 

There refers to a LOCATION:

 

  • He is over there, next to the girl in the yellow dress.
  • You're going to Spain? I went there last year and loved it.
  • Are you from California? She is from there too.

 

They're means THEY ARE:

 

  • I think they're wonderful singers, don't you?
  • She told me they're on the road this week.
  • They're still on vacation, but I think they're coming home soon.

 

Their means BELONGING TO THEM:

 

  • This is their house, so please respect their rules.
  • She is their daughter, so they're clearly very proud of her.
  • It is their mistake if they get their/they're/there wrong after reading this post.

 

Authors should focus on getting grammar fundamentals like these right, not only in their books, but also in the marketing materials used to promote them (e.g. book descriptions, Facebook pages, author bios, etc.). These errors jump off the page at the reader and distract from the story or material, which is a real shame.

 

If grammar just isn't your thing and never will be, a professional copyeditor can help catch mistakes like these before your book goes to print.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Going Indie? Don't Skimp on Quality

Why Good Grammar Matters

2,530 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft, grammar
0

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

 

Books/Publishing


How to Make Your Summer Sales Sizzle by Getting Your Video On -The Future of Ink

Video works around the clock so you can enjoy the summer.

 

Film

                                                        

Smartphones: The Future of Filmmaking - Raindance Film Festival

A look at some films made with smartphones.

 

Top 10 Elements of Film Making - List Dose

Preproduction, production and postproduction in ten parts.

                                    

Music

 

Music Publicity: 10 Things to Do AFTER You Get It! - Bob Baker's BuzzFactor.com

What do you do with publicity once you get it?

 

3 Key Music Marketing Lessons Based On Eye Tracking Studies -Hypebot.com

Where the eye falls on a webpage can help you build a better website.

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 26, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - July 19, 2013

1,829 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, book, music, filmmaking, indie, movies, writers, publishing, writing, films, promotions, musicians, filmmakers, branding, social_media
4

We are in an age of publishing that embraces the concept of speed. Manuscripts can be turned into market-ready books in hours. HOURS! To fully appreciate that feat, you must understand that the same process used to take months. The standard turnaround time for a manuscript to go from author's draft to a book sold via retailers was about 18 months. And this was in the not-so-distant past.

 

So, with a year and a half vanishing from the process of publishing a book, authors now have the ability to capitalize on trends like never before. The question is, should you? It is tempting. Let's say a western romance novel featuring two-headed aliens becomes a phenomenal success. Twitter explodes with tweets about this incredible novel. Facebook is flooded with status updates from fans of this new pop culture hit.

 

You're a writer. You know how to construct a good story. Why not sit down and write your own western romance novel featuring two-headed aliens? There is absolutely no reason not to...IF the genre speaks to you. If it reaches out and touches your artistic soul, go for it. If you feel that strongly about it, chances are you'd add something of value to the world of two-headed alien love stories. 

 

But if you decide to write such a story to strictly capitalize on the trend, I wouldn't recommend doing it. You'll put yourself in the position of faking it and most likely will create an imitation of the novel that sparked the trend. That has the potential to leave readers disappointed. 

 

Instead of attempting to capture a trend, why not start one? Use your talents and your passion and pour them into a genre that means something to you. Those kinds of stories will make a connection with readers and have a chance to become a trend all their own.

 

-Richard

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

 

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The Evergreen Era of Publishing

Short-Form Works: The New Author Strategy

2,912 Views 4 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: publishing, writing, development, craft, writing_trends, publishing_timelines
0

A good story has three main components that give it stability. There are countless minor components that give a story style and genre appeal, but as I've studied the art of storytelling, I've identified these primary components as the foundation of a good story:

 

  1. A likable protagonist - If you've crafted an engaging plot where every twist and turn is carefully conceived and orchestrated, it will be all for naught if your protagonist isn't likable. Notice I used the word "likable." In my experience, the most likable people (real or imaginary) are deeply flawed. They aren't perfect. They don't always make the right decisions. What makes them likable is their desire and struggle to be better.

  2. An unpredictable antagonist - Bad guys are truly terrifying when they are uneven. They dole out punishment in unequal measures. You never know if they are going to bring down the hammer or simply an admonishing glare. And it's important to note that your antagonist doesn't always have to be a person. It can be human, beast, disease or anything else you can imagine

  3. A well-defined conflict - A reader should be able to identify and describe the main conflict of a story in one concise sentence. "Michael loves a woman who is out of his league." "Susan faces a battle with stage 4 lung cancer." "Detective Franks hunts down a cunning serial killer." Of course there's more to your story, but this is the anchor conflict. This is how your readers will ultimately describe your story.

 

That's the crux of a story. Call it the three-legged stool definition. In order for your story to grab a reader's attention and keep your stool from tipping over, these three elements must be constructed with precision and care.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Is There Value in Formulaic Writing?

Keep Them Guessing to Keep Them Reading

57,763 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: writers, writing, characters, fiction, drafts, creativity, conflict, craft, character_arc
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Most Common Mistakes: When Your Scene Focuses on What Isn't Happening - Wordplay

If you're going to write about what your characters don't do, make sure it counts.

                                                    

How to Make Ordinary Characters Compelling -Writer's Digest

A character doesn't need unusual abilities or knowledge in order to be fascinating.

 

Film

                                                        

How Does P.T. Anderson Start Writing a Story? - Making the Movie

Paul Thomas Anderson discusses the coffee shop method for breaking through writer's block.

                                          

10 Tips for the Video Producer on Location in Summer's Heat - Videomaker

The dog days of summer are upon us. Do you know how to beat the heat so it won't ruin your production?

                                                                                                                       

Music

 

Co-creating a Fanbase with Music Curation and What Artists Can Learn From Bloggers - Hypebot.com

Sharing and cross-promotion can help you build your fanbase.

 

What Are the Benefits of Listening to Music? -Musician Makers

Music matters on so many different levels.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 12, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - July 5, 2013

1,901 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, music, film, indie, movies, writers, blogging, writing, films, filmmakers, social_media, film_location
0

Last week, I attended CraftFest and ThrillerFest VIII, an annual event hosted by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) in New York City. Hundreds of writers packed the educational sessions that featured tips from bestselling authors and experts. Here are some things I learned about writing and marketing:

 

From Steve Berry, author of The King's Deception

  • Every single story must have structure. The beginning, middle, and end are equally important.
  • The beginning (Act 1) should be 20% of the book. In it, you establish character, conflict, and the crucible (the thing that gets a character to do what they'd otherwise never do).
  • The middle (Act 2) is 60% of the book. It should be a series of complications.
  • The end (Act 3) is 20% of the book. It includes the crisis point (the moment when everything comes to a peak) and the conclusion.

 

From Michael Connelly, author of The Black Box & The Lincoln Lawyer

  • If you want to write series fiction, forget about writing a series and just focus on writing one book. If you concentrate on not sowing seeds for future books, those seeds will be sown anyway.
  • If you have momentum as a writer, the reader will have momentum with your passages.
  • The history you create for your character will help you create future books. Layer in the character's past to plant seeds for your series (but don't get bogged down with backstory).
  • The best part of writing is that first draft, but then you have to assess what you have. Rewriting really makes books come together.

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The team with Michael Connelly

 

From David Morrell, author of Murder as a Fine Art & First Blood

  • Be a first rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of another author.
  • Writing is a vocation, not a profession.
  • For setting, choose a location and mine it for everything it can give to you. Forget about sight and concentrate on feeling. When someone says writing is one-dimensional or flat, it's because the writer is relying too much on sight, almost like looking at an image on a movie screen. If you incorporate two other senses, you'll create more textured details and make readers feel like they're more in the setting.

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David Morrell signs books

 

From Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, authors of Two Graves

  • Getting a writing partner is like getting married; that's where the real work begins. (D.P.)
  • Find a writing partner whose experience, knowledge, talent and discipline matches your own. (L.C.)
  • You need to be able to take criticism and have a thick skin. Check your ego at the door. (L.C.)
  • Rather than assigning chapters, assign sequences to each other. Then you can merge them and revise so there's no change in prose style and they're seamless.
  • With a writing partner, divide everything 50/50. But you'll always FEEL like you're doing three-quarters of the work. (D.P.)

 

From Leonardo Wild, author of Artificial Self

  • When you are writing, you should analyze what subtext you'll be bringing out in your turning points. You can achieve subtext by microdetailing, omission, or hinting.

 

From M.J. Rose, author of Seduction

  • No book is dead anymore. Every book is new to a reader who's never heard of it.

 

From C.J. Lyons, author of Blind Faith, winner of ITW's Best eBook Original Novel award

  • Every author has the chance to become the CEO of his or her own global publishing empire.
  • Here's the secret: Write a great book. Give your readers time to find it and tell their friends. Repeat.

 

From Kristen Lamb, author of Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World

  • If you're a novelist, you're a storyteller. "High-concept" blogging is universal, emotional, and it gives the reader something to contribute or take away. It has a higher potential to go viral than just posting about the writing process or "buy my book." You'll also be able to reach past the small pool of avid readers into the much larger pool of people who read more casually.
  • With a blog, you're creating something personal, emotional, and becoming a friend. If you can hook someone with a 500-word blog, it's not a stretch that you'll hook them for 50,000.

 

From Meryl Moss, founder/president of Meryl Moss Media Relations

  • Figure out how the material in your book relates to what people are passionate about out in the world. That's what you should blog about.
  • When marketing, build from the inside. Getting your regional audience excited about your book is still a good idea.

 

From Douglas E. Richards, author of Wired

  • People think that giving books away means less sales, but that's not true. You never run out of purchasers, and those people will lead to word of mouth. Everybody doesn't have to love your book, but the people who do must love it so passionately that they tell all their friends about it.

 

From Dana Kaye, publicist

  • When reaching out to the media, you should be thinking creatively. There are more ways to pitch yourself than just saying you're an author. Don't dismiss your background, hobbies, or day job - they're interesting and could be media pitches.

 

From Kathleen Murphy, media specialist

  • Get to the point within a couple seconds when working with the media. They won't have time to read long emails.
  • Video and audio is where everything is going on social media, especially video. The media and readers need to hear and see you.

 

It was great fun seeing so many authors networking, sharing stories, learning from one another, and getting advice from bestsellers. You may want to consider joining a similar organization that gives you the chance to collaborate with your peers. Next up, you'll find us at the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta July 17-19 and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in Seattle July 25-27.

 

Are you part of any writing organizations?

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-Amanda

Amanda is the editor of CreateSpace's educational resources and social media channels.

 

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The London Book Fair, Starring Authors

BEA Part of It: Book Expo America Session Takeaways

1,932 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, author, promotion, writers, writing, craft, social_media, trade_show, conference, thrillerfest, craftfest
0

We have defined the term "evergreen" on this blog, but for those of you who need a quick refresher, it simply means that because of the digital environment, your book will never go out of print unless you choose to take it off the market. Indie authors are the benefactors of a segment of the publishing industry that no longer requires inventory in order for a book to be made available for purchase.

 

Why is that significant? It gives you the potential to earn passive income forever. "Passive" may be a little misleading because it suggests that you aren't required to do anything to sell books. I suppose technically that is true; you may sell a few books by doing nothing, but it takes something akin to a miracle for that to happen. By passive, I mean you aren't required to take a single order, package your book or ship it. That is all done for you. Your only job is to put your entrepreneurial energy into marketing and branding. Do you see the possibilities? This isn't a fleeting, get-rich-quick, money-making scheme. This is a long-lasting, income-generating opportunity. The more you participate, the greater your possibilities of success.

 

So the message here is don't treat the publication of a book like a sprint. This isn't about getting the word out about your book weeks before publication and then putting a lot of time and effort into creating buzz for a relatively short period after it hits the market. You are engaged in an endless marathon. This is about building a brand for yourself as an author with a growing catalog of books available for sale. In the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross, there's a memorable scene where the salesmen are taught the ABCs of sales. It turns out ABC is an acronym for Always Be Closing. I would like to impart upon you a similar sentiment.

 

In order to truly harness the potential of a passive-income environment, you have to consistently build your brand. It is something you never stop doing. You should Always Be Branding!

 

-Richard

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

 

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Passive Marketing is Important Too

Book Marketing Takes Persistence

2,299 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, branding
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Start Building Your Fanbase - The Book Designer

Don't put it off. Read this blog post now!

                                                    

Mining Your Central Plot Nugget: A Lesson in Writing from John Grisham -The Creative Penn

When a bestselling author speaks, it's probably best to listen.

 

Film

                                                        

Fail to Plan and Your Film Fails - Filmmaking Stuff

What you don't plan for can carry a heavy price. 

                                          

6 Filmmaking Tips Directly from David Slade -Film School Rejects

Words of wisdom from the man who brought you the horror classic 30 Days of Night.

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

To Cancel or Go On with the Show When You Are Sick - Judy Rodman

How to save your voice and your relationships when the show just can't go on.

 

Success in the Music Industry -Music Coaching.com

This is part two of an interview with Rick Goetz about marketing tools for musicians.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - July 5, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - June 28, 2013

1,847 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: filmmaking, promotion, writing, music_marketing, fans, craft, social_media, producing, writing_advice
0

The success of your story is weighted heavily toward one simple element: the likability of your protagonist. That's not to say the other elements of your story are unimportant. They matter, but they're meaningless if the character who's carrying your story is unlikable.

 

Likable does not mean nice or friendly or honest. Literature is chock-full of protagonists who haven't been particularly good people. If you knew them in real life, they might not even be the type you'd hang out with.

 

One of the best examples of this is Dexter Morgan, the forensic blood spatter pattern analyst and serial killer who first appeared in Jeff Lindsay's novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter in 2004 (Dexter later became a hit Showtime TV show, now in its final season). Who among us would want to spend some alone time with a true psychopath like Dexter? I certainly wouldn't. Sure, it would be interesting at first, but it would turn wholly terrifying when you're struck by the realization that you're spending time with a man who remorselessly kills other human beings.

 

But here's the interesting thing: Dexter is without a doubt likable. Why is that? Has Lindsay hypnotized us into thinking his psychopathic protagonist is likable when he's really not? Is part of his appeal that he satisfies his bloodlust by killing really bad people? No, I'd say Dexter is likable because he wants to be good, but he struggles with it. In his own twisted way, he wants to do the right thing even if it is untoward and disturbing.

 

To make a protagonist likable, even one who's not a model citizen, give him an inner conflict between serving a greater good and satisfying his own self-interest. That sacrifice your protagonist makes to forego his or her own selfish desires and indeed serve the greater good is what makes him or her likable.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

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