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What Makes Iconic or Popular Characters Unforgettable?

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iconic characters

Why are iconic characters so memorable?

Luke Skywalker is the obvious hero of Star Wars, so why do Han, Leia, and Darth Vader get all the attention? When I think about the characters from Star Wars, Luke is often the last one who comes to mind. It’s not that he’s utterly forgettable, but he doesn’t stand out from the crowd of characters who surround him, despite the fact that the story centers on him. The other characters easily overshadow him, even the characters whose roles are not as critical to the story.

All of the characters from Star Wars are iconic, but some are more memorable than others. What can we learn from iconic characters and how can we create unforgettable characters in our own stories?

Plot vs. Characters

Not all stories call for an iconic character. The Da Vinci Code has been criticized for its relatively uninteresting characters, but the story is not about the characters; it’s about an ancient conspiracy, a puzzle. The characters are supposed to take a backseat to the plot, and an iconic character might have distracted from the story.

We can compare The Da Vinci Code and its protagonist, Robert Langdon, to Indiana Jones, whose quests are fun but not nearly as deep or complex as Robert Langdon’s. We want to go on Indiana Jones’ adventure because we want to go with him. We take the Da Vinci Code adventure for the sake of the quest itself; any character could serve as a guide.

If you’re thinking about developing an iconic character, first ask whether it’s appropriate for your story. Great detectives, for example, may be interesting and likeable but they’re rarely iconic because in the mystery genre, we’re reading to solve the mystery more than we’re reading to spend time with a particular character. For example, I like Harry Boschjust fine but I didn’t read Michael Connelly’s books so I could spend time with Harry. I read to find out who did it.

That doesn’t mean big, riveting, plot-driven tales can’t include iconic characters. But it’s worth considering whether you want your character to overshadow your plot or vice versa. Sometimes, the best stories are a good balance of compelling characters and plot. They may not be what we’d consider iconic, but they’re riveting enough.

Studying Popular Characters

In film and literature, certain characters have captured people’s imaginations and won their hearts–characters like Scarlett O’Hara, Indiana Jones, and Katniss Everdeen became more famous than the authors who created them. So what is it that makes some characters unforgettable? Let’s do a brief study of a few iconic and popular characters from film and literature:

Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind): People keep telling me she’s an anti-hero, that she’s wicked and unlikeable, but I adore Scarlett O’Hara. Remember, she’s only sixteen years old when the story starts. Keeping her age in mind, her envious, arrogant nature is more understandable. She goes on to do whatever she must to survive, take care of her family, and keep her land. Surrounded by war and famine, Scarlett doesn’t have much of a chance to mature but eventually, she thrives. She becomes an aggressive, independent woman who takes charge of her own destiny in a time and place when women were generally submissive, passive, and dependent on men. What makes her iconic is that she goes against the grain, and in the film, she boasts a striking wardrobe and memorable catch-phrases (fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll think about it tomorrow).

Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): I’m not sure Atticus Finch is iconic but he’s definitely one of the most popular characters in literature. He’s a man who stands up against racism in a time and place where racism is the acceptable and preferable norm. Yet he’s admired and respected in his community despite the fact that he opposes their outdated, bigoted ways, which is not an easy thing to pull off. Like Scarlett, he goes against the grain, which is a trait we’ll see in many iconic characters.

Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark): I already mentioned Indie so let’s look at what makes him so iconic. Like the others, he goes against the grain. By day, he’s a handsome, refined professor in a tweed suit and spectacles. The rest of the time, he’s a daring adventurer who risks life and limb for ancient archeological artifacts. His iconic status gets a lot of help from his banged-up brown fedora and trusty whip as well his trademark wisecracks.

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Trilogy): Everyone else depends on a corrupt government system for sustenance but Katniss jumps the fence (figuratively and literally) to hunt and gather for her family’s survival. Her iconic status is boosted by the mockingjay symbol and her bow and arrow and her status as an icon is cemented when she plays the game in a way that fits her moral standards rather than playing it to pacify the government.

Iconic Characters Share Similarities

I once heard that the best stories are either about extraordinary characters in ordinary situations or ordinary characters in extraordinary situations. I’d say that most iconic characters break the mold; they are extraordinary and so are their situations.

We can observe similarities that make these iconic characters memorable. I would say they all deviate from social norms and expectations. Most of them have distinct clothing or accessories and memorable catch-phrases.

We can learn even more about iconic characters by asking questions and further studying them:

  • Why is Batman more iconic than, say, Aquaman? Why is Catwoman more iconic than Poison Ivy?
  • Who is your favorite character (iconic or not) in film or literature? What was it that made the character so compelling to you? Was it the character’s looks? Attitude? Backstory?
  • There are popular characters, like Atticus Finch, and then there are truly iconic characters like Batman, Indiana Jones, and Katniss Everdeen. What’s the difference between a popular character and an iconic character? What makes one character popular while another becomes iconic?

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25 #Tweet Ideas To Help #Authors Fight Follower Fatigue

From Duolit, a helpful article by Toni (The Geek).

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I’ve developed a dangerous addiction.

There’s a local ice cream place that has stolen my heart. It’s called Cold Cow, and those magical folks give you a RIDICULOUS amount of the creamy, delicious treat for startlingly low prices.

For just $4, I get a HUGE bowl of vanilla ice cream piled high with cookie dough (straight out of the Toll House tub), Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and Oreos. 

Do your teeth hurt yet?

Now, I understand that Cold Cow is definitely an indulgence, but it’s one I fully commit to enjoying each and every time I sit down with my tanker-truck-sized bowl.

No matter my excitement, however, something strange happens after I dig in.

The first bite is ridiculously awesome.

The second bite is really good.

After the third bite or so, it still tastes wonderful, but each subsequent bite never lives up to the same level as the first.

It’s like my taste buds get fatigued from processing all the awesomeness.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

No matter how amazing something tastes, if you taste it over and over again the flavors will never live up to that first-bite magic.

Taking the analogy to book marketing, fans get the same way when it comes to your social media updates. If all they read are the same types of updates (even if those updates are ridiculously awesome) they will eventually lose interest.

I see this problem most often on Twitter. Authors alternate between one or two update types (most commonly a link to buy their book and an excerpt/review) which will tire out even the most ardent fan.

Honestly, though, this update repetition isn’t necessarily your fault. I get it: sometimes, it’s simply difficult to think of anything else to write about.

Well, I’m here to fix that (yay!) I’ve put on my thinking cap and come up with 25 different tweet ideas. That way, if you tweet 3 times a day, you won’t have to repeat a tweet type for over a week. Pretty awesome, right?

25 Types of Author Tweets (with examples!)

I know you’re eager to start changing up those tweetable topics so, without further ado, here is my mega-list of unique tweet ideas:

  1. A genuine recommendation of a fellow indie author’s work
    ex: “Just checked out Killer Shine by @ShanWrites and LOVED IT! My review: http://amazon.link”
  2. favorite recipe or food-related advice
  3. fun photo (your workspace, pets, lunch, whatever!)
  4. link to a blog post on a topic both you and your readers find interesting (be sure to @mention the author if he/she’s on Twitter)
    ex: “Doing 1, 5 and 10! –> 25 Summer Decorating Ideas by @ShanWrites: http://link.y”
  5. personal shoutout to a (single) follower
    ex: “A big welcome to the gals at @Duolit — Mountain Dew is my fav, too!”
  6. An excerpt from a positive review of your book
  7. Your take on a trending topic
  8. thought-provoking question
    ex: “If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would you choose? #amreading”
  9. Live-tweeting during a TV show or event
  10. personal thank you for a fellow, reply or retweet
  11. link to sign up for your mailing list
    ex: “For exclusive excerpts and giveaways, join my Readers’ Club: http://link.y”
  12. Reply to someone’s tweet with your own thoughts
  13. Share a short, interesting musing from your day (if you have kids or pets, these practically write themselves!)
  14. Share the logline from your WIP
    ex: “What I’m working on: Single mom/waitress by day, time-travelling superhero by night. Sound interesting?”
  15. The link to your most recent blog post
  16. Share your #1 desert island book and why you chose it
  17. Start a conversation with someone using a relevant hashtag
    ex: “@SomeoneElse That dinner sounds amazing! How did it turn out? #amcooking”
  18. A link to download an excerpt of your book
  19. Take part in a Twitter chat (check out this mega-list of chats!)
  20. tantalizing quote from your book
  21. Thoughts on what you’re currently reading ( be sure to mention the author if he/she’s on Twitter)
    ex: “#AmReading Storm of Swords by @GeorgeRRMartin and just got to the Red Wedding. OMG!!!”
  22. Your favorite quote of all time
  23. link to a news story/blog post about you and your book
  24. Your thoughts on a topic of interest to you and your readers
    ex: “Hitchhiker’s Guide was WRONG?! I don’t buy it — what do you think? http://link.y”
  25. Give away a free copy of your book to a random follower

4 Terrific Twitter Tips (say that 5 times fast!)

Phew! Those topics should keep you busy for awhile, huh? Before you jump into crafting those tweets, however, I’d like to share a few general Twitter guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Keep Tweets Short

I know, I know, that’s kind of obvious, right? After all, you’re automatically limited to 140 characters when crafting your tweets. It’s actually in your best interest, however, to keep your tweets even shorter than that.

Limiting your tweets to just 120 characters makes it easy for your followers to retweet your updates without having to do any editing. Take 5 seconds to check the character count before tweeting to make sharing your content as easy as possible!

2. Don’t sound robotic

Take advantage of the fact that you’re in charge of your own promotion by making it clear that your tweets come from you — not a publisher or ghosttweeter (that’s a thing, right?)

Craft each and every one of your tweets to sound personal and engaging to your followers. For example, instead of sharing the title of a blog post, write (briefly) what it’s about before including the link (check out #4 and #24 in the list above).

3. Emulate, but stay true to yourself.

There are some awesome author-tweeters out there (not that I’m biased, but our own Shannon @ShanWrites does a great job) and you can certainly learn a lot by following them and checking out their tweets.

When it comes to planning your own, however, don’t be tempted to copy what you see. Make your tweets reflect your personality and appeal to your fanbase, not the fanbase of another author!

4. Reply to replies.

When you’re starting out on Twitter, make it a point to reply to every single (non-robotic) mention you receive.

This simple act can earn a new reader or make a connection that will benefit you in your author career. Aside from that, it’s just good manners to take the time to reply to someone who takes the time to mention you!

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Author (R)evolution Day Set #FED_ebooks #author #writer #indieauthor

 
Author (R)evolution Day Set for February 12, 2013

 

O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change and Publishers Weekly are collaborating to launch a new conference called Author (R)evolution Day, aimed at professional authors, content creators, agents, and other independent author services providers. This daylong conference-within-a-conference debuts Tuesday, February 12, 2013 during O’Reilly’s flagship TOC conference in New York City.

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book market Author (R)evolution Day will answer the demand for important ideas, strategies, and conversations about the future of publishing from a key constituency in publishing’s future–the authors and creators.

Author, activist, and Publishers Weekly contributor Cory Doctorow headlines a dynamic list of presentations covering a wide range of issues for those who want to move beyond “Social Media 101” to a more robust dialogue about today’s rapidly shifting landscape. Topics include:

–          A cohesive understanding of the future of publishing for authors

–          The emergence of the “alternate publishing” model

–          Successful use of crowd-funding platforms

–          Disruptive author-centric publishing experiments

–          The inversion of book marketing practices

–          The best platforms and tools for entrepreneurial authors

 

About First Edition Design Publishing:

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book market First Edition Design Publishing is the world’s largest eBook and POD (Print On Demand) book distributor. Ranked first in the industry, First Edition Design Publishing converts and formats manuscripts for every type of platform (e-reader). They submit Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic and Children’s Books to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, and over 100,000 additional on-line locations including retailers, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company’s POD division creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. First Edition Design Publishing is a licensed and approved Aggregator and holds licenses with Apple and Microsoft.

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

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Encouraging News for Authors and Publishers #FED_ebooks #publishing #author #indieauthor #writer

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U.S. Census Bureau Report Holds Encouraging News for Authors and Publishers

 

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book marketIn spite of a stagnant economy bookstore sales rose by 3.8% in June, hitting $1.04 billion, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. June performance numbers helped to put 2012 bookstore sales slightly ahead of sales at the half-way point of 2011, with sales up 0.6%, to $6.98 billion. Sales results were from retailers where books are at least 50% of sales.

 June sales were up 3.0% for the entire retail segment, while sales for the first six months grew 6.3%.

  • Is this news too little, too late? How do you feel about it? Leave a comment. 

 

About First Edition Design Publishing:

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book market First Edition Design Publishing is the world’s largest eBook and POD (Print On Demand) book distributor. Ranked first in the industry, First Edition Design Publishing converts and formats manuscripts for every type of platform (e-reader). They submit Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic and Children’s Books to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, and over 100,000 additional on-line locations including retailers, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company’s POD division creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. First Edition Design Publishing is a licensed and approved Aggregator and holds licenses with Apple and Microsoft.

Visit: www.firsteditiondesignpublishing.com

Ebook Publishing Design Edition First Graphic Aggregators Ebooks Publishers Distribution POD Designing Approved Aggregator How Services Academic Distributor Chapter Submission Professional Firsteditiondesignpublishing.com published book market

First Edition Design eBook Publisher Aggregator Master Distrbutor 

 

 

How To Save Your eBook From Pirates

How To Save Your eBook from Pirates

Source: mediabistro.com                                                                 By Jason Boog 

Digital book piracy is a major problem facing some 21st Century authors. At the same time, many publishers and authors don’t have the financial resources to hire a legal service to fight piracy. For all the authors, publishers and readers who want to defend digital books against piracy, we’ve put together a simple five-step plan to discover and prevent eBook piracy.

1. Start a daily Google Alert for your name and the name of your book. If your book is being indexed on a pirate website, the Google alert will pick up most mentions of your name or the book’s name.  eBook piracy

2. Search the most popular file sharing sites. We won’t list them here, but you need to search for your book in all the popular pirate haunts.

3. Send a DMCA take-down notice. You need to send this Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) form letter to every single site hosting a pirated copy of your book. If you visit the file-sharing site’s main page, you should be able to find a “DMCA Policy” and email address. Save this form letter.

4. Save a list of all the sites where you discovered pirated copies and keep checking them. Sometimes pirates will repost the book at a later time or use a file mirroring service to keep the link alive. You will need to send the letter again.

5. Send a list of all the infringing sites to your publisher. Many publishers are also fighting these sites and can help you in this process.  (Photo via fdecomite)

 First Edition Design eBook and POD PublishingFirst Edition Design Publishing  is the world’s largest eBook distributor. Ranked first in the industry, they convert, format and submit eBooks to AmazonAppleBarnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, scores of additional on-line retailers, libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. The Company is a licensed and approved eBook Aggregator, Apple Developer and Microsoft Solution Provider.

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Source: mediabistro.com
By Jason Boog on July 9, 2012 6:21 PM

Record Readathon For Bloomsday #FED_ebooks #Author #Writer #indieauthor #Bloomsday

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Record Readathon For Bloomsday

More than one hundred Irish writers will read consecutively over 28 hours this weekend in an attempt to break the world record for the most authors reading one after the other at an event to mark Bloomsday at the Irish Writers’ Centre.

First Edition Design PublishingSenator David Norris will open proceedings at 10am on Friday, before 111 poets, novelists, playwrights and short story writers will take to the stage to read for 15 minutes from their own works through the day and night.

The event will kick off with John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, who will read from his latest novel The Absolutist, and culminate with a reading by Jack Harte from his short story collection From Under Gogol’s Nose at 1.45pm on Bloomsday, Saturday 16th June.

Kevin Barry, Gabriel Rosenstock, Dermot Bolger, Seamus Heaney, Marita Conlon McKenna, Gerald Dawe and Roddy Doyle are among the list of authors who will read throughout the event. A full schedule of participants is available on the Irish Writers’ Centre website, Writerscentre.ie.

The current record for consecutive readings is held by 75 authors who read at the Berlin International Literature Festival.

The Bloomsday event will be open to the public and streamed live to a worldwide audience on the Irish Writers’ Centre website.

The record attempt will be monitored by the accountancy firm KPMG and by representatives from American College Dublin.

Source: WWW.IRISHTIMES.com    11 June, 2012

By: CIARA KENNY

First Edition Design PublishingFirst Edition Design Publishing, is the world’s largest eBook distributor. Ranked first in the industry, they convert, format and submit eBooks to Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Google, Kobo, Diesel, 3M, Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Nielsen, EBSCO, scores of additional on-line retailers and libraries, schools, colleges and universities. The company also has a POD (Print On Demand) division, which creates printed books and makes them available worldwide through their distribution network. The Company is a licensed Apple Developer and a Microsoft Solution Provider.

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