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Famous writers’ advice to college graduates

Famous writers’ advice to college graduates

Neil Gaiman graduation speechI can’t even remember who gave the commencement address at my college graduation. Must’ve made quite the impression, huh?

If it’d been an author or poet up there — one whose work I really loved — I’d have been all ears, of course.

Now, thanks to this Flavorwire article, I can imagine I’m back there, sitting on an uncomfortable folding chair, baking in the May sun, dressed in cap and gown, and listening to a cavalcade of respected writers dispense their best nuggets of wisdom.

Here’s just a few inspiring excerpts:

“Lots of people, when they first start writing, write about themselves. But I’m going to be blunt: You’re not as interesting as you think you are. And even if you’ve had an unusual life, a difficult life, a shocking life, it’s not easy to write about it well. We seem to have little perspective on ourselves and what will be appealing to others. That’s partly why I moved into writing historical novels — it takes me away from my self, so that you don’t have to read about me. Writing about places and times I know nothing about has gotten me interested in all kinds of strange things. In the name of research I’ve gone fossil hunting, given tours in a Victorian cemetery, learned to quilt. I’ve handled priceless medieval tapestries and held the original notebook William Blake drafted Songs of Innocence and of Experience in.”

Tracy Chevalier, Oberlin College, 2013

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What is a writing residency and how can I get one?

What is a writing residency and how can I get one?

What is a writing residency and how can I get one?Imagine a place where you can write day and night, far from the responsibilities of your work and domestic life. A quiet place. Maybe in a cabin near a river. Maybe on the porch of some historic seaside inn. Maybe a small room in some new, exciting city.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Sure it does.

If you’re feeling like you need to “get away” in order to take your book or poetry project to the next level, a writing residency might be just the thing.

According to THIS ARTICLE from The Review Review, a writing residency is “a retreat experience designed to help writers pursue their creative growth. Residencies provide a place for writers to step out of their regular routine and focus on their work without the disruptions of daily life. Most residencies are hosted by non-profit organizations and are located in quiet spots around the country.”

The article gives some great advice on finding the right residency for you, how to apply, and how to prepare. Check out “Writing Residency 101″ on TheReviewReview.net.

Also, if a traditional writing residency isn’t in the cards, see our tips on how to plan your own stay-at-home writing retreat.

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Weird Al now gives grammar lessons

Legendary musical parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic takes us to school in his newest single “Word Crimes,” a sendup of  last summer’s hit “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.

Need a quick grammar lesson? Check out the video above and listen while Yankovic attacks dangling participles, misused contractions, and more.

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Learn from 35 writers who rule the literary Internet

Learn from 35 writers who rule the literary Internet

35 writers who rule the literary internetSometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to just sit back and watch someone else do it well. Really really well.

If you’re an author wondering how to use social media, blogging, or other online tools to build your readership, why not study up on the Internet’s most influential writers? Watch their moves. See how they keep things interesting for their followers over the long-haul. Listen to their tone.

Jason Diamond, who put this list together for Flavorwire, says:

These aren’t the writers who have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers but only tweet when they have a book come out, or the ones who write a guest blog post every year to get their names back into the conversation.

Some are young authors, others are firmly established. Some of them are publishing industry veterans or new media superstars who want to use their clout (or Klout) to talk up writers they love, while others command small armies via their Tumblrs. Some start hashtag trends, while others have scored book deals with their clever tweets.

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Writing by hand, or typing: when are you most creative?

Writing by hand, or typing: when are you most creative?

writing vs. typingAccording to this story from the New York Times, “research suggests that writing by hand allows [students] to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.”

The article, entitled “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades,” goes on to say:

The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.

By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

That’s troubling, especially considering how the emphasis in schools has shifted…

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Why I went independent as an author, by Warren Adler

Why I went independent as an author, by Warren Adler

Warren Adler on why he is publishing independently[Warren Adler has published more than 30 novels and short story collections, including The War of the Roses, which was turned into a major motion picture and is currently in development for a Broadway production.]

I went into the e-book and Print on Demand mode in the nineties convinced that the new technology would radically change the future of book publishing, and would allow an author a chance to control his own destiny.

By then I had published 27 novels with major traditional publishers; many had been translated and published in various languages.

I had also sold or optioned a dozen of my books for film adaptation; three were made. One was “The War of the Roses,” which starred Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner; another was “Random Hearts” with Harrison Ford and Kirstin Scott-Thomas; and a third was a three-hour trilogy on the PBS network titled “The Sunset Gang.”

Recently, additional works are in active development including the sequel to “The War of the Roses” called “The War of the Roses: The Children,” and “Capitol Crimes,” based on my Fiona Fitzgerald Mystery Series.

I made the decision to become an independent publisher of my own work before the Kindle and other devices had made their debut. At that time there was a growing movement for digitization and various brave entrepreneurs had jumped on board with a similar vision. The history of that period is littered with failures.

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Last chance to get your free copy of “APE: How to Publish a Book”

Last chance to get your free copy of “APE: How to Publish a Book”

The best book about self-publishing ever: yours free

If you are writing a book or planning on writing a book, stop everything you’re doing and download a free copy of Guy Kawasaki’s APE: How to Publish a Book. It is quite simply the most thorough, the most helpful, the most complete book about self-publishing around. And it can be yours. Free.

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Seven Deadly Sins of Book Promotion

Seven Deadly Sins of Book Promotion

7 Deadly Sins of book promotion[This article was written by guest contributor Dan Smith, Founder of Smith Publicity, Inc.]

Competitive doesn’t begin to describe today’s book market. According to Bowker, thousands of books/ebooks are published each week, with self-published or indie published books gaining popularity each year.

Authors working to build their brand and discoverability platforms need to be as strategic as possible to gain the attention of media and readers. For both novice authors and veteran authors alike, the pitfalls of book publicity are many. In our experience handling thousands of book publicity campaigns, we know what can sabotage success, the errors of both omission and commission that can derail a campaign, and how human tendencies can adversely affect promotion and yes, ultimately book sales.

What follows are the Seven Deadly Sins of Book Promotion; the mistakes and actions that can destroy an author’s chances to get substantial media coverage, and how to avoid these common pitfalls.

1. Sloth

If you think sitting back and watching royalty checks roll in is your destiny, think again.

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How to build better relationships with your readers using Goodreads’ “Ask the Author” feature

How to build better relationships with your readers using Goodreads’ “Ask the Author” feature

Goodreads Ask the Author

Goodreads recently introduced an exciting feature called “Ask the Author.”  With this tool, fans can pose questions to their favorite writers.

As the author, the questions do not appear publicly until you approve them and post a response. You can choose which questions you want to answer and WHEN you want to answer them. The “when” is important because your answers will be displayed in the news feeds of all your followers. By spreading out your answers, you’ll increase the chances your readers will view these interactions and get engaged in the Q&A process.

You also get to turn the “Ask the Author” feature on and off whenever you want…

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Who’s stealing eBooks? (and why you shouldn’t worry about piracy)

Who’s stealing eBooks? (and why you shouldn’t worry about piracy)

The following infographic from Encremento provides some fascinating stats on eBook piracy, DRM, and other publishing industry efforts to combat file sharing.

But here’s the thing: you shouldn’t worry about Piracy.

It’s been about seven years since Amazon’s first Kindle came out. Now that so much time has passed, I think it’s safe to look at the marketplace and say that the publishing industry will not encounter anything close to the level of piracy suffered by the music industry.

Either eBooks and digital music are completely different beasts (they are) or the publishing industry learned from the missteps of their music business counterparts — or a bit of both. But no matter what the reason, the data illustrates that, as always, OBSCURITY is the enemy of independent authors, NOT piracy.

Check out the infographic below, …

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