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In last week's post, I asked some author friends where they like to write. This week I asked them when they prefer to write. While I tend to be the most productive in the middle of the day and late afternoon/early evening, their answers were quite different:

 

  • Karen McQuestion, whose newest book is a paranormal young adult novel called Edgewood: "Morning is best! But not too early in the morning, if I can help it. I love my sleep too."

 

  • Jezra Kaye, author of The Tattooed Heart: "I love to write in the middle of the night, when the world is quiet and I can hear myself think."

 

  • Raymond Bean, author of the School Is a Nightmare and Sweet Farts series: "I write almost exclusively at night. I'm sharpest when the activity of the day is long gone and the house is quiet. I wish I could type in my sleep, I'd have so many more books."

 

  • Ellen Greenfield, author of Come From Nowhere: "Although I'd like to say I come to the page daily, the truth is that I have a pretty demanding weekday work schedule and I save up a week or more of book ideas and then dive in for marathon sessions in the studio on weekends. Once I'm in there, you can't pry me loose all day."

 

The time authors can devote to writing varies from person to person, but the important thing to take from this is that these authors are making the time. It might take some experimentation to get into a regular writing schedule, but you'll be more productive for doing so.

 

Next week, these authors will share what they listen to in the background, so stay tuned...pun intended!

 

In the meantime, let's hear from you! What times of day do you find to be most productive for writing?

 

-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 and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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More Tips for Completing Your Manuscript

Advice from New York Times Bestselling Author Guy Kawasaki

3,451 Views 7 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, craft, productive
4

In today's blog, I'd like to take a step back from brand building strategies and tools and focus solely on brand identity. I spend a lot of time writing about blogging, social media, personal appearances, etc. Those are important tactics for creating brand awareness, but they are not your brand. I've even said that your brand is simply you - your personality - on display for all the world to see. It is, but as an author, your brand is more than a package of your insights and online musings.

 

At the very core of your brand is your writing. The quality of your author brand lies squarely in the quality of your writing.

 

It's a point I don't reference enough in my postings about building a brand, but it's something you should never lose sight of as you move forward in your indie author career. Your writing matters much, much more than all the other things you do to build your brand. Effective marketing may lead a reader to a book, but if the book's content is sub-par, you risk one of two things: the reader tells no one about it or the reader even discourages others from reading it.

 

That's why I think it's important not only to practice the skill every day but to study the craft. Talk with other authors about their philosophies on writing. Explore the history and evolution of the written word. Try out different writing styles until you find the best one for you. Become an expert on writing.

 

Sometimes in our pursuit of book sales and brand value, we neglect the thing that brought us here: writing. Most of us didn't start writing to get rich or become famous. Most of us took up writing because it's our passion, something we love to do. We may not even be able to explain why we love it so much, but we do. We write not to build a brand; our writing is our brand.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Build Your Brand with Original Content

Building an Author Brand is Easy

3,476 Views 4 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, social_media, brand_identity
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

Gen Z Shows Brand Loyalty - Somersault

They are young and not so unpredictable.     

                                                    

Where Kristin Discusses the Importance of Metadata -Pub Rants

The indie author age is in full swing. A panel of literary agents looks at what traditional publishers could learn from self-published authors.                 

 

Film

                                                        

A Recipe for Documentary Filmmaking on the Cheap - The Voice

Bryan Hopkins discusses how to make a documentary on a budget that most films spend on hair and makeup alone.

                                          

The Present and Future of Visual Effects in Film and Media - Ezine Articles

Are we moving towards a future in film where even the actors themselves will be post-production visual effects?

                                    

Music

 

Singing Soft Powerfully - Make Light Phrases Zing! - Judy Rodman

Judy shares her secrets to convey power even when you're hitting those soft notes.

 

Music Marketing Case Study: Getting Exposure by Going Green - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Ryan Spearman explains how he combined his passion for green issues with his music career in order to raise awareness for both.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - February 22, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - February 15, 2013

709 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, selling, music, film, distribution, movies, writers, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding
0

There is a point in a book on which all things after it depend. In essence, the direction of the story and character development relies on this integral action. It doesn't matter the genre or length of a story - that one defining moment is still there. Let's call it the pivot point; without it, a story can appear to be a meandering, pointless mess.


A pivot is a powerful thing. It changes everything. In essence, dealing with change is what stories are about. The change characters face presents itself at that pivot point. Characters are forced to choose between two paths: do nothing and remain as they are, or follow the pivot and become something entirely different. Here are some pivot examples:


  • A man finds out he has cancer and is forced to pursue an illegal form of work in order to raise money quickly so he can leave his family a nest egg.
  • A happily married couple is faced with mistrust for the first time when one of them engages in infidelity.
  • A child has to learn a new way of life when his or her parents divorce.


The cancer diagnosis, the infidelity, and the divorce all are pivot points that are the foundation of character growth and a story's action.

 

If you're working on a novel, identify your pivot point. What is the event that forces change on your characters and provides them with the impetus for growth? And by growth, I don't necessarily mean what makes them better people. What action changed them, for better or worse? If you find that pivot point, you'll most likely find the 'mission statement' of your book. Not only will it make staying on task much easier as you write, it also will make the dreaded short book description and back cover copy much easier to write when the time comes.

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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Book Marketing Tip: Stay Positive

The Author Bio is an Important (and Often Overlooked) Marketing Tool

1,108 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, selling, book, writing, fiction, craft
9

 

I used to write in coffee shops, but now I write almost exclusively at my desk, which is located in a tidy corner of my living room. It's not a separate office, but it works just great for me. I thought it would be fun to ask some author friends where they feel most productive. Here's what they had to say:

 

  • Karen McQuestion, whose newest book is a paranormal young adult novel called Edgewood: "I converted a former bedroom into a home office and it's perfect for writing! I have a mahogany desk with my regular computer, a recliner in the corner for when I use my laptop, a bookcase, and an electric fireplace, which keeps me warm in the winter."

 

  • Jezra Kaye, author of The Tattooed Heart: "I usually write in my home office, but the best place I ever wrote was on the balcony of my room on a Caribbean cruise ship (my husband had a gig, or trust me, this wouldn't have happened). Warm air, big sky, the boat cutting quietly through the ocean, oh my God it was great!"

 

  • Raymond Bean, author of the School Is a Nightmare and Sweet Farts series: "I've tried writing in different places. When I was in college, I wrote at the library and coffee shops. I don't think I'd be able to focus in a busy place anymore. Sitting at my desk with the laptop and a marble composition notebook is best for me."

 

  • Ellen Greenfield, author of Come From Nowhere:"I write in my head at all times and places: in the subway, in bed at 3 a.m., in the shower, on long road trips...but I really get down to cases in a wonderful little studio that my husband built with his own two hands. It has windows opening onto two ponds and has a nice long desk (made from an old door) covered with all the totem objects that support me."

 

In upcoming posts, I'll also ask these talented authors what time of day they prefer to write, as well as their preferred background noise levels. Should be interesting!

 

Now it's your turn to weigh in: Where do you like to write, or where is the best place you've ever written?

 

-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 and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


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Four Forms of Creativity Fuel

Creative Writing Exercises

4,008 Views 9 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, craft
1

In order to build an author brand, you have to know more than what you do well; you have to know what you don't do well. In other words, what are your weaknesses?

 

It's a fair assumption that, as authors, our strength lies in writing since that's what we do. Maintaining a blog? That may be easy for you since most of blogging relies on the written word. Participating in social media? Again, not a huge leap from our normal writing pursuits, though the style is different from platform to platform. It's a given that everyone will be better at some marketing activities over others.

 

But creating a brand goes beyond tactics and has more to do with who you are as a person. So what are your branding weaknesses? As you dive in and do a little soul-searching on the topic, look beyond the various media that make up your brand-building toolkit, and examine your personality traits as well. Are you a positive person who enjoys lifting people up? Then don't adopt a combative persona just because you think controversy sells. Are you the type of person who speaks your mind in a clear and entertaining manner? Then go for it. Don't avoid showcasing your true personality because you think it will conflict with the readers of your genre. To put it succinctly, don?t lead with your weakness just because you've seen that particular trait work for another author; lead with your strength.

 

It's absolutely essential that you know who you are in order to build a successful author brand. It's not a revelation that comes to you immediately; it's something you will discover as you build the foundation for your brand. You'll know what feels right and what doesn't each time you take an action toward building your brand. Those things that feel right, those are your strengths. Your weaknesses are those things that just don't feel quite right. Over time, you'll hit your stride and leave those weaknesses behind.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Is Your Brand Built for Controversy?

Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

1,998 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, writing, promotions, brand, craft
0

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


Books/Publishing


Indie Authors Share 10 Golden Nuggets of Info: The ONE Thing That I've Done to Get More Readers - 30 Day Books

The readers are out there. Finding them is the trick.


Getting Lost in a Novel Means You're More Empathetic -NBC News

Maybe our marketing efforts should strike an empathetic chord in order to reach empathetic readers. 


Film


Screenwriting Tips for Low Budget Filmmaking - Filmmaking Stuff

Sometimes you have to be more creative by scaling down your imagination.


How to Get Emotion into a Scene - Projector Films

Can the Plutchik Wheel help you infuse your scenes with emotion?


Music


Promoting a Concert - Musician Coaching

In the world of music, a live performance is still your most valuable marketing tool.


How to Write an Incredible Hit Chorus: Songwriting Tips - Musicgoat

Memorable songs usually have a strong, stirring chorus.


-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - February 15, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - February 8, 2013

619 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, music, filmmaking, indie, movies, films, musicians, filmmakers
2

Suspense novels rely heavily on one key ingredient to make them successful: suspense. It may sound obvious and it's not hard to define, but it sure is hard to pull off. Not only does your overall theme need to be steeped in suspense, but practically every moment of your story should contain suspenseful elements in order for it to satisfy veteran readers of the genre. In short, it needs to be a page-turner.

 

Page-turners contain three key ingredients that hook the reader over and over again:


  1. Compelling Characters - You can't have a page-turner without characters that readers either care deeply about or hate intensely. The trick is to write characters that elicit emotional responses on both sides of the spectrum. Readers should be invested in your protagonist's success, and the old adage "everyone loves an underdog" is true. A good guy in a suspense novel is usually a character who has experienced loss and has to find the strength within to fight when everything says he or she will lose yet again. On the flip side, the bad guy has to demonstrate a disregard for everything and everyone except their own selfish interests.
  2. The Slow Reveal - Using the word "slow" in reference to a page-turner is an oxymoron, but if you think about it, page-turners contain a series of events that lead to a satisfying conclusion over the course of tens of thousands of words. Each chapter should serve as a step to that conclusion. Hints and fakes as to what that conclusion may be should be alluded to in order to lead the reader into a fit of involuntary guessing games. They'll be compelled to read to determine if they're right or if you have a surprise in store for them.
  3. Unpredictably - To keep readers turning the page, you want to convince them that a twist waits for them. You do that by teasing them with the occasional predictable outcome in a scene. Lull them into a false sense of security that they know what's going to happen, only to be jolted by an utterly unforeseen action. If you can pull this dance off from chapter to chapter, you'll create readers who don't just want to read your book, they'll need to read your book.


The fourth unnumbered and unseen ingredient of a page-turner is rewrites. Never are rewrites more crucial than when trying to pull off this type of book. It takes careful crafting to create prose that will titillate a reader from page to page. All the pieces have to fit together like a puzzle. Take your time and don't be afraid to surprise yourself either. If you don't see it coming, chances are your readers won't either. 

 

-Richard

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


 

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After the First Draft

The Basic Elements of a Character Arc

20,312 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: writing, fiction, craft, branding
1

What Is a Platform?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Feb 19, 2013

A platform is the publishing industry's term for how you will market your work. No matter what type of book you write or who publishes it, it's important to develop a platform. If you have a traditional publishing contract, you may get some marketing support, but if you go the indie route, it's all up to you. (However, most traditionally published authors still must spend a great deal of time working to build up their own platforms. I'm a good example of this.)

 

The simple truth is that the bigger your platform, the better your chances of selling books. A platform can vary based on the content of your work and whether or not you write fiction or nonfiction, but here are some general examples of elements and metrics that a strong platform should include:

 

  • Confirmed views and/or subscribers to your blog and/or newsletter
  • Monthly (unique) visitors to your website
  • Social media followers and interactions
  • Existing client base (e.g. if you write a book about financial planning, to how many clients can you promote it?), or average audience size
  • List of upcoming speaking engagements

 

Do you have any of these? If not, you really should. I've blogged about all of them at one point or another, so please look back at previous posts for ideas on how to get started.

 

Remember, if you want to make money as an author, the actual writing is just one small part of the job, at least until you get to Stephen King status. For the rest of us, for success to happen down the road, we need to roll up our sleeves and build our platforms now.

 

-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 and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Setting Goals for Your Brand

How To Throw A Book Launch Party For Free

1,358 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, promotions, craft, branding, platform
1

You are a writer...More than that, you are a published author. Even more than that, you are an indie author. You have an abundance of knowledge in that noggin of yours. Best of all, your knowledge comes from practical experience. You know all about writing and publishing because you have lived it. Others might be interested in all that knowledge you've accumulated.

Why not help them by offering a workshop or seminar you've created? I've had the pleasure of conducting a few seminars myself, and they've been extremely rewarding and beneficial to both the attendees and me. They walked away with as much information as I could pack into a two-hour presentation, and I walked away with 10 to 20 people acutely aware of my brand.


The key to pulling off a successful seminar is planning. You have to go in with a carefully constructed agenda. For example, if you're giving a seminar on science fiction, you might create the following agenda:


  • Define the genre
  • Give famous examples
  • Share thoughts and quotes from the masters within the genre
  • Discuss what isn't science fiction
  • Review writing elements, including story structure, the hook, character development, plot, and subplots
  • Share outlining process
  • Talk about goal-setting (e.g. how many words a day?)
  • What to do after the first draft (editing, rewriting, etc.)
  • Present publishing options


This is a basic overview seminar intended for beginners, which is something you'd want to make clear in your descriptive text overview of the presentation. Next, think about where you might be able to host such a seminar. I've had luck with public libraries and schools; basically, anywhere with classrooms or conference rooms is a potential site. For my event, I was fortunate enough to be paid a minimal amount for utilizing the space and bringing people into their facility. You could also approach writing groups or book clubs about giving a guest presentation on a predetermined topic. The organization you're working with will usually even advertise the event to their audiences.


What I didn't do that I now wish I had was record the seminar. That would have enabled me to break it up into dozens of short videos to post on my YouTube channel and blog.


Teaching what you know to others is not only a possible source of income and opportunity to give other writers a leg up, it's also helps you build your brand. So, what are you waiting for? Let loose your wisdom and reap the rewards in the process.


-Richard

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


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Should You Try to Make a Viral Video?

Small Marketing Steps: Venues for Personal Appearances

1,693 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, craft
0

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

 

 

Books/Publishing

 

How Writers & Readers Can Use Twitter's Vine - GalleyCat

Is six seconds of video really enough time to build a brand?

 

 

Why Even a Novelist Should Know How to Write Strong Copy -The Book Designer

Writing to sell is as important as writing to inspire.

 

Film

 

Independent Filmmaking >> Success - NoHo Arts District

One must define success before one can achieve success.

 

 

CollabFeature - a Case Study in Crowdsourcing Filmmaking from Pitch to Production to Distribution - L.A. Biz

Learn how crowdsourcing was used from the beginning to the end of a film project.


Music

 

How to Promote Your Band in 5 Minutes or Less - Song Cast Music

From stickers, flyers, and podcasts, you'll find a mixture of old and new media strategies to promote your band in this blog post.

 

 

100 True Fans? Is Small Really the New Big? - Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

The quality of your fan base is far more important than size of your fan base.

 

 

-Richard

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

 

 

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Weekly News Roundup - February 8, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - February 1, 2013

595 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, music, filmmaking, promotion, indie, films, musicians, craft, filmmakers, branding
2

At the risk of having to turn in my "man card," I have a confession: there are times when I get emotional when I'm writing. It happens most often when a tragic incident befalls a beloved character or when an innocent is witness to a dark event that shatters their world view.


When I first experienced this, it was, to say the least, disconcerting. These weren't real events or characters. They were inventions of my imagination. How could I be so invested in their physical and emotional wellbeing?


In fact, I can distinctly recall when a realization came to me while I was exercising one day that a character I really enjoyed was going to have to die. The story absolutely called for it. I literally had to sit down and gather myself, even forgive myself because I had no other choice. A number of readers expressed their displeasure with me when they finally read the book. My response to them was, "How do you think I feel?"


It sounds like a crazy, miserable fact of writing that we writers put ourselves through the emotional wringer. It even borders on torturous, but in a weird way it feels right. If we connect with our characters so deeply that we experience real emotion and have gut-wrenching reactions to the tribulations we put them through, then surely our readers will feel it as well.


What I don't know how to convey to young writers is how you get there. What is the trick to eliciting that emotional response as a writer? I have no idea. It just happens. The only semblance of advice I can give on the topic is to spend time with your characters. Don't just know what they're doing in your novel; know the life they have outside of your novel. Picture them living normally, in mundane and everyday situations. Give them inconsequential depth. Maybe then you'll see them as "real." Maybe then you'll feel the emotion.


-Richard

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


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Write without Judgment

Too Much Exposition

12,675 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, fiction, craft
1

If you want your fans to talk about your books and/or read your future works, it's important to engage with them on a regular basis. In addition to having your own website, here are three suggestions:

 

1. Author Page on Amazon.com

 

Setting up an author page on Amazon is super easy and provides a great way for readers to learn about you. You can upload your bio and photo, include links to your blog and Twitter feed, and even post a video! Sometimes when I'm on the fence about buying a book, I will click on the link to the author's page. If there's nothing there, I end up not buying the book. Talk about a lost opportunity! Click here to check out my author page.

 

2. Facebook author page

 

I recently discovered a fantastic new tool called Discover My Books that makes my author page on Facebook more dynamic by allowing me to share my books, videos, and events with my fans. It also provides easy-to-use social marketing tools that allow my readers to share my books with their friends. Word-of-mouth is critical for authors, which is why I love this application. Click here to see how I use it on my Facebook author page.

 

3. Goodreads, Library Thing, and Shelfari profiles

 

Goodreads, Library Thing, and Shelfari are social networking sites for book lovers. Setting up an author profile is a great way to connect on an individual level with readers. I get friendship requests from readers all the time, and I accept and reply to every single one to make sure my fans know how much I appreciate their support.

 

The internet offers a plethora of ways to connect with your readers, many of which cost very little, if anything at all. Why not take advantage of them?

 

-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 and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Book Marketing Tip: Hold On To Your Contacts

How to Connect with Your Readers

9,413 Views 1 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, promotion, writers, engage
2

The Internet is a "knock-around" place every once in a while. Here's an example: something is posted on a social media site that is ripe for a cutting and witty retort. In turn, that engenders an equally cutting and witty retort in response. Things escalate. Soon, the retorts grow less witty and more personal. Threats are made. Feelings are hurt. Your list of recipients for your holiday newsletter grows shorter. All because you thought a particular post could use your special brand of charm and flavor.

 

Chances are you've seen something like this happen online. The lesson here is that some things just don't need to be said. I learned that during the most recent U.S. election. In truth, I learned it several elections ago, but sometimes I just can't help posting about politics. Trust me, I'm getting much, much better at letting things go, and that's because I've adopted a "type and wait" policy. I type my response, but I don't post it. Instead, I move on to something else that occupies my time for 15 or 20 minutes, and then I come back to my response. I read it and then decide if I should post it or not. Nine times out of 10, I delete it and feel so much better for having done so. It truly did not need to be said.

 

We all know the topics that cause the most conflicts online (and in person, for that matter): religion, politics, tragedies, etc. People have strong emotional ties to these types of topics, and they should. But those emotions can lead to people feeling slighted or attacked if their position is challenged. Since you are an independent author trying to build a solid brand, you should be extra careful how you approach these situations to avoid tarnishing that brand. My advice is to let them have their say without feedback if you don't agree. If you absolutely can't let a post slide without comment, avoid argumentative language, especially - and I hope this goes without saying - profanity or name-calling.


I can tell you from my own personal experience, on that 10th time when I break down and post a reply, I rarely feel good about it. I fret and worry whether I've done the right thing. I can easily lose a night's sleep over it. It can easily be avoided by sometimes just leaving things unsaid.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Recognize Your Readers

Publicity Stunts

2,310 Views 2 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, promotions, brand
0

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

 

Books/Publishing

 

7 Ways to Speed Up Your Writing - Wordplay

Steve Aedy gives his advice on how to approach writing as a trade.

 

5 Reasons to Set Your Novel in a Famous Place -Writer's Digest

Using famous settings comes readymade with marketing prospects.

 

Film

 

7 Challenges Facing Independent Filmmakers - Photography and Film Making for Newbies

Challenges are just opportunities for learning.

 

12 Filmmaking Tips from Sundance Directors - Film School Rejects

Some of the brightest stars from the indie filmmaking world dish out their best tips and tricks of the trade.

 

Music

 

How to Learn an Instrument Digitally - The Future of Music

Access to knowledge is no longer an obstacle to learning a musical instrument.

 

5 Tips to Improve your Home Studio - Noise Addicts

Engineer and producer Barry Gardner shares his tips for creating the optimal home studio.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Weekly News Roundup - February 1, 2013

Weekly News Roundup - January 25, 2013

609 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writers, promotions, filmmakers
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