Category Archives: Blogging

A tidy new “publishing” scheme

As you know if you follow “News & Chat,” the P&S Press blog, I’ve been amusing myself (and possibly you, with any luck!) by posting chapters here from three self-publishable books: The Complete Writer, Ella’s Story, and If You’d Asked Me… (the latter being the world’s finest collection of bathroom reading).

This self-imposed task got to be a little much, when I insensately decided that a chapter of each should go up each week. That is, each week would see publication of not one, not two, but three bookoid chapters here at P&S Press.

So I decided to put the brakes on that.

The inchoate result didn’t seem especially well organized, to my mind. And since Ella is a work in (very slow) progress, it still didn’t leave enough time to draft a full chapter between deadlines.

So I’ve come up with a new schedule: One chapter a week of just one book, which will go up whenever I get around to it, but no later than Friday of a given week. Bookoids will rotate: first Writer, then Asked, then Ella.

In theory, this shouldn’t be difficult…and wouldn’t be, if WordPress hadn’t kindly deleted all the formatting I installed in months’ worth of The Complete Writer. Thought I was getting away with something, but nooooo…. To prepare that thing (and, it develops, all of the things), I had to create separate posts for the remaining un”published” chapters and “schedule” them in WordPress.

And that, as you can imagine, was a royally time-consuming task.

Now I’d like to do the same for Asked, all of whose content is tucked away in a manuscript that I’ve had neither time nor inclination to upload to Kindle. This also will take many hours…just not this hour.

Ella is, of course, still under way. What you see is all I’ve got! 😀 And the next chapter may or may not get written by the next deadline. Pray for the best.

Part of the plan, too, is to publish links to the published chapters at this site’s pages for The Complete Writer, If You’d Asked Me, and Ella’s Story in table-of-contents type lists. I managed to get this done for Complete Writer, but the other two remain. Once the existing posts are linked to entries on those pages, all that will appear there will be a TofC with live entries, rather than the aggregated content of the book in question.

This will make life a lot simpler for me! And since I usually have my links open in a new tab, a reader could in theory toggle back and forth between a bookoid’s TofC and its contents, easily and smoothly.

So it all sounds great, eh? Alas, though, these time-sucking projects have been much complicated by Life, the Universe, and All That: one crisis after another, to say nothing of the distraction that is paying work. My little dog has hovered near death for the past six or eight weeks (amazingly, she finally seems to be recovering). Friends have died. I crashed my car. The veterinary and house-maintenance adventures are running me out of money…

All that and more (if you like to follow real-life soap opera, you can do it at Funny about Money by entering the category “dispatches from hell” in the search bar at the upper right)…yes, all that and more have tended to work against the project to write Ella’s Story. When I have time to think about it, I’m so exhausted I can barely move, much less dream up new copy. So…I may not be able to keep up even with the new, attenuated schedule.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, watch this space. Whenever I get the energy to write it, I’ll publish a rough schedule for future posts.

Speaking of exhaustion, I cannot type another word. And so, to bed…

 

There’ll be some changes…

…maaade today! There’ll be some changes made! 😀

So distracted have I been by the various harassments and stresses of the past month or two that I haven’t had the remotest chance of keeping up with the ambitious schedule I posited for this site: posting a chapter a week from each of three books, one of them a work in progress. This required me to post three chapters a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

😀 Not a CHANCE, not when your life goes s-p-r-r-o-o-i-i-i-n-g-g!!!

Okayyy…if the Plain & Simple Press blog is to stay alive, we’ll have to rejigger that scheme, by quite a bit. The new plan: Post a chapter from one book once a week, preferably on Monday or Wednesday (the day’s TBA…too busy right this instant to set that in stone). So — say — one week, a chapter from The Complete Writer, the next week one from If You’d Asked Me…, and the next week from Ella’s Story, cycling along in that order from month to month, now and evermore.

This would give three weeks to write a chapter for Ella — I’ve been so fully knocked for a loop that I haven’t been able to struggle through to the end of the chapter that supposedly has been under way for…how long? A month or so, for sure.

It would mean a slower pace for readers, but it would give me more time to cope with some of the ongoing, apparently never-ending crises and catastrophes. And I could also post on writing and editing topics occasionally…which is what I started this blog for in the first place.

What might these little dramas be, you wonder? Here ya go: the chapter outline of the soap opera that is my life, Dispatches from Hell:

Running in place…

A day late in posting this week’s Complete Writer post — my apologies to anyone who’s been following that *FREE READ.*

Summer is coming to its end and life is beginning to stir here. All of today and this evening will be completely given over to choir. Tomorrow morning: socializing with a lovely friend. Next week: all day on Monday is gone, half the day Tuesday, half the day Wednesday, half the day Thursday, all day Friday. And that doesn’t cover time needed for grocery shopping, maintaining the pool, maintaining the yard, maintaining the house, taking care of the dogs, and taking care of me.

I have not written next Monday’s chapter of Ella’s story; the likelihood that I will find time to do that in half a day tomorrow is almost nil.

Complicating matters more: WordPress is dumping its operating system (or whatever one calls the software that runs a website) and installing Something Completely Different.

Yes. Life as a Monty Python Show.

Our Web guru says the new software, bloviatingly dubbed “Gutenberg” (so original and earth-shaking is it, we’re told…), is not all that difficult to use. But I have no faith. He, being a young thing, does not realize how difficult it is for the older brain to change gears at full speed. Nor, I suspect, does he fully appreciate how sick and tired I am of the endless, brain-banging hassles caused by endless, brain-banging, pointless techno-change for the sake of mere pointless change.

It is entirely possible that a new whack-sh!t conversion will break this site, and maybe even all my sites. It is also possible that I will find it too difficult or too confusing to make the adjustment. In that case, I will try to migrate my content to Medium.

That also will entail having to learn an entire new program, but from what I can tell, it’s pretty user-friendly and not all that different from WordPress. Also, the Medium platform has some serious advantages that could increase traffic and readership.

Complicating matters further, my credit union is also completely revamping its website, as of Labor Day. Expecting the usual snafus, their PR people have begged us — over and over — to download all data NOW! Obviously, I’ll have to wait until late next week for that, to capture all of this month’s transactions. Since that CU hosts both corporate and personal sets of accounts (a total of SIX separate savings and checkings accounts), that fun activity will absorb yet another half-day of my time next week.

So…watch this space. If  I have to shift to another platform, I’ll ask my guru to post a notice to that effect with a link directing readers to the new site, keep this site up for a month or so, and then shut down P&S Press, Funny about Money, The Copyeditor’s Desk, and Camptown Ladies Press in favor of whatever appears on Medium.

The Complete Writer: Ethics for Bloggers

Writing Nonfiction: Magazines, Newspapers, Books, Blogs
Chapter 22. Ethics for Bloggers

The Complete Writer
Part IV: Blogging

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. To see all the chapters published so far, visit the *FREE READ* page for The Complete Writer. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

The Sanity Discount: Integrity, Small Businesses, and Bloggers

Bloggers who run ads are small businesses, of course. A couple of ripples in the daily flow of things led me, over the course of several days, to ruminate about integrity and ethics, and about how they should direct the course of the seemingly ubiquitous American side businesses, including our blogs.

Fair play for a client

First, a very nice new client had recently wandered in through the door [his character is irrelevant to the issue, but nevertheless: a very sweet human being he was]. He said he wanted someone to edit website copy for a successful small business in the trades. I sent my rate sheet, which frames my rates on a per-page basis. He wanted to know what I would charge by the hour. I said sixty bucks, not an unreasonable amount in the large scheme of things (twenty years ago a friend here was getting $120 an hour for similar work). He, doing business in a large city far, far away where employees’ and independent contractors’ pay is not throttled by right-to-work laws, didn’t even blink.

So I dove into the project, which was kind of fun. “Kind of fun” because it didn’t entail a lot of technical language or esoteric theory, unlike most of the stuff I do. Mathematical biosciences this was not, nor was it abstruse postmodernist blather. But there was a fair amount of it, and it needed substantial reorganization, rewriting, and new research and writing. I enjoyed this little endeavor over the course of about twenty-two hours. Eventually I wrapped the job and added up my bill, and . . .

Holy mackerel! At $60 an hour, the tab came to enough for me to buy a condo in the guy’s expensive city. It really did seem out of line, given the relative ease and mild entertainment value of the work.

Okay, it’s true that if I based my fees on how much fun the job is, I’d have to edit novels for my favorite genre publisher for free. But still . . . there’s a limit.

Seeking a fairer arrangement, I calculated what it would cost the client if I charged my highest page rate—justifiable, I figured, because of the amount of actual writing I did—and came up with an amount that was enough for The Copyeditor’s Desk to buy itself a couple of laser printer cartridges. Fairly respectable, but not enough to break the bank.

So that was what I ended up billing: about four or five hundred bucks less than the hourly rate would have commanded. But at $60 an hour, the bottom line added up to a figure utterly beyond reason. It didn’t seem right to charge that much for that kind of work.

Call it the Sanity Discount.

Hard on the heels of that exchange, an ongoing conundrum resurfaced.

Black-hat “advertising” in the blogosphere

Funny about Money is large enough to attract the attention of various individuals and groups who bill themselves as advertisers. Almost all of them want me to run paid text links. And they’re willing to pay pretty well for the privilege. I could easily double or triple Funny’s revenues by selling paid text links.

These people and their brokers approach the blogger by saying either that they want to buy ad space on the site or that they are generously offering a guest post, “absolutely free to you.”

Trouble is, doing so puts one afoul of Google’s arcane rules, designed to protect its search engine algorithm. To simplify a complicated story, if Google catches you publishing paid text links (as sooner or later it will), your page rank (a metric that dictated where your site appeared in a Google search but that has, in recent months, been abandoned in favor of “blog authority”) would magically drop to zero.

So, after you’ve worked for months or years to build a respectable page rank, these folks come along and take advantage of it; then when their practices kill your page rank, they of course abandon you.

That particular aspect is not at issue here, though. What we have at issue is the so-called advertiser’s strategy to evade discovery, which is to produce copy for a post that fits the blogger’s site theme. The paid link is then embedded in the post, in such a way that the link appears to point to something relevant to the post’s subject.

It’s important to understand that paid links are not advertising. They’re a device to suck link juice from a site with a relatively decent page rank into the buyer’s own site, as a strategy to cause the other site appear at or near the top of a Google search.

In other words, what looks like a real post is a deceptive device to mount self-serving links whose purpose has nothing to do with the host site’s content. Often it contains a link pointing to some outfit selling a service or product that runs counter to the host site’s reason for being. Why, for example, would a personal finance blogger who urges readers to get out of debt, manage money wisely, and avoid loan sharks recommend taking out a payday loan?

Why? To collect a hundred bucks for publishing two words attached to a live do-follow link, that’s why.

Such a post is, in short, advertorial. Actually, it doesn’t even rise to that level, because the articles are not really intended to be read; they exist to carry the links, which exist to use the host’s page rank to jack up the search engine page rank on the link seller’s site. While they’re billed as advertising, they’re actually a form of black-hat SEO.

Editorial vs. advertorial

Over the years since I started in journalism, I’ve worked for some of the most prominent regional periodicals in my part of the country. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as journalistic ethics, and after some thirty-two years of practicing and teaching, they tend to inhabit your thinking. When I came up, there was a sharp divide between advertising and editorial—in fact, the ad and circulation departments were housed on the other side of the building from where the editors and artists worked.

Magazines did publish crass little “articles” written by highly paid ad copywriters—earning far more than any of us did!—whose purpose was to plug paying customers. This was not surprising: magazines survive on ad revenue. Subscription income doesn’t suffice to support a print publication. However, ethical publishers mark advertorials as such: with a running header or footer saying something like “Advertisement.” Often advertorials are set off typographically and even printed on slightly different paper from the rest of the rag.

To publish advertising or SEO masquerading as a normal blog post without cluing the reader to the fact that the stuff is paid advertising: that’s dishonest, in the same way passing off an advertorial as real journalism is dishonest.

That is why many publications don’t print advertorial at all, and why those who do, if they have any decency at all, label it prominently as advertising.

Times have changed, of course, with the advent of the brave new world that is the Internet. And blogging is and is not journalism, though it has readers who presumably expect some standard of honesty from their writers. Here’s what journalistic webmaster Robert Niles says about the issue, writing at the Online Journalism Review[1]:

The old rule: There must be a wall between advertising and editorial.

The new rule: Sell ads into ad space and report news in editorial space. And make sure to show the reader the difference.

Drawing the line in the shifting sands of ethics

Accordingly, I marked the paid-link peddler’s copy as a Sp0nsor3d P0st! The numerals were intended to throw off Google’s nosy bots, which go around searching for clues to paid links.

This elicited a squawk of dismay. When I refused to remove the notice saying the post was a paid article containing links to the author’s clients’ sites, the deal fell through. Cheerfully, I removed the post from my site, and good riddance to it.

To cope with the practice of secreting paid links in fake stories, Google began to demand that all links to commercial sites be coded as no-follow links, robbing them of the coveted “link juice.” Would-be advertisers hated this, of course—because the link juice is what they were paying for—and usually they would then decline to place a paid link unless it was do-follow. Many bloggers simply take a chance[2] that Google will never catch them, and they justified the potential swat-down by arguing that PR didn’t matter anyway.[3]

Maybe it didn’t, maybe it did. The technicalities of page rank were way above my pretty little head, and so I didn’t trouble myself with them.

But one could argue, with some justice, that Google’s policy on paid do-follow links[4] was hugely unfair, since Google AdSense places plenty of paid links on your site. And because Google pays nothing like what these sometimes sleazy “advertisers” will pay, Google itself takes on a whiff of the exploitive.

About that, I say it is what it is.

Ironically, while Google’s policy is self-serving (its motive has nothing to do with ethics and everything to do with the way the company’s business model works), it in fact fed into that fundamental journalistic ethic: the effect of the rule was to discourage deceptive content and to encourage separation of advertising and editorial.

Old-fashioned . . . but then so is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

[1] http://www.ojr.org/p1623/

[2] Check out Martin Langfield’s discussion at NiemanLab: http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/03/the-flip-side-of-black-hat-seo-if-your-news-site-publishes-paid-links-you-risk-googles-wrath/

[3] Eventually Google tried to suppress PageRank as a device for assessing a site’s influence. Today an advertiser will ask what a site’s “authority” is. Danny Sullivan discusses this in “RIP Google PageRank Score: A Retrospective on How It Ruined the Web,” March 9, 2016, Search Engine Land, http://searchengineland.com/rip-google-pagerank-retrospective-244286

[4] “Link Schemes,” n.d., Google. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en&hl=en&rd=1

The Complete Writer: The Weirdness That Is Adsense

Writing Nonfiction: Magazines, Newspapers, Books, Blogs
Chapter 21. The Weirdness That Is Adsense

The Complete Writer
Part IV: Blogging

This book is a work in progress. A new chapter appears here each week, usually on Fridays. To see all the chapters published so far, visit the *FREE READ* page for The Complete Writer. You can buy a copy of the entire book, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

The Weirdness That Is AdSense

I used to enjoy exploring the mazes of Google AdSense’s labyrinthine reports and policies. Every now and again, one would see phenomena that were truly mysterious.

One of the things AdSense could do was to identify the type of computer used to access a page. If you selected “Performance Reports” and then clicked on “Platforms,” Google would tell you how many views of your site were made by people with desktops, mobile devices, etc. This still amazes me. It creeps me out: who needs Google spying on users in quite that much detail?

Over the one week, for example, Funny about Money readers viewed 563 of the site’s pages with “high-end mobile devices.” Some of them apparently clicked on ads, since they generated a couple of bucks that week. The first time I discovered this blandishment, a few people had been accessing the site through their mobile gadgets, but none rose to any advertiser’s bait. Over time, though, some of them began to bite.

Meanwhile, 5,005 pages were viewed from desktops. Unclear whether a laptop is regarded as a “high-end mobile device” or whether a MacBook (for example) is included among desktops.

Equally unclear what is meant by “unmatched ad requests,” a line that appears on the “Platform” page. Whatever it is, it can’t be very significant: it always registers “0.”

AdSense kindly includes a sort of glossary with its reports page—it’s really an agglomeration of FAQs, I think. Look up “unmatched ad request” and you get the answer to some customer’s question about why this item appears in his reports:

An ad request is counted each time your site requests an ad to be served, even if no ad is returned. Unless your coverage[1] is 100 percent, you will have more ad requests than matched requests (ads that are returned and displayed on your site), resulting in some unmatched requests.

Some reports have columns that are meaningful only for matched requests. For example, the Targeting type report shows how ads displayed on your site have been targeted. When an ad request is unmatched, there are no ads to consider, so the request has no targeting type.

This is why unmatched requests appear in a separate row.

Moving on, the Biggest Mystery of AdSense is why some days and some weeks vast lucre (oh, say, $1.95 a day!) comes pouring in, and at other times pay is in pennies. For a few weeks, FaM would crank more pennies than usual (in the dead of summer when readers should be vacationing at the beach!). But shortly thereafter it wouldn’t turn enough to get AdSense off its duff to send a payment. I never did, for the life of me, figure out what I was doing (if anything) to cause AdSense revenues to increase in some weeks and flatten out in others.

It does seem as though spikes in revenues may increase when you discuss certain topics. For example, one spike occurred around the time I was holding forth about credit cards. A bunch of ads for banks, credit cards, loan sharks, and the like came up (at least, they did on my computer—apparently these things are tailored according to what Google can see of your browsing habits as it spies on you). Maybe ads from well-heeled institutions pay better . . . that is, maybe Google charges ING more than it charges some local air-conditioning or pool company and then passes a few pennies of the profit along to the site publisher?

That would explain why some bloggers create whole sites devoted to nothing but discussing credit cards. Boring, but profitable.

AdSense occasionally performed moderately well for Funny about Money. Not well enough to retire to the Côte d’Azur, by any means, but well enough that if I could just be certain it would behave that way all the time (it did not!), the S-corporation could have afforded to buy me a cell phone.

But no.

AdSense is much like adjunct teaching: catch as catch can.

[1] For an incomprehensible definition, check this one out: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/92360

Image: Shamelessly ripped off from Wikipedia.

Whoa! Will Medium come to the rescue?

For hevvinsake. I just discovered that I may not have to delete copy from P&S Press before publishing on Medium!

Well. That would be a bit of a godsend. I’ve been, shall we say, not happy at the prospect of having to deconstruct this site. Turns out you can import your blog — part and parcel — to Medium, and not only will this action not trash your Google ranking, it actually will improve it.

Check out what Andre Piazza has to say, in a post about optimizing Medium stories:

Find new audiences: import your existing content to Medium

Sometimes, you have already done the hard work: creating the content. Now, it’s time to reap the benefits.

This chart shows the number of view, reads and recommends one Medium user gained in the course of 30 days simply by importing his existing blog. No new content created. Credit: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/07/14/medium-publishing

You should consider importing your entire blog to Medium. You don’t need to delete the original blog (or posts); in fact, the objective is precisely to keep the original content in its place. The advantages of importing all of your posts at once are:

• Efficiency: no need to copy and paste posts individually. Your content will be automatically import to Medium

• SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Findability: when importing the posts, Medium will automatically add a CANONICAL statement to the HTML code linking to the original blog’s URL. This ensures that search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo) will process both links in a way that increases your search rankings for both posts (original and Medium’s) and also grows the authority of both assets: your blog and your Medium page.

If you’re ready to give the import tool a try, start here and on the comments, keep us posted of the results.

Medium’s algorithms will place your content in front a new audience that otherwise would never have heard of you

Outstanding! Even if exporting this blog to Medium doesn’t increase the number of eyes on copy, the fact that it will not crash Google search results is huge. Just the sheer amount of time saved by not having to swivel-hip around taking down content so that it will have been off-line for ≥ two weeks by the time it goes up on Medium…omigod! How can I count the ways that I did not want to do that?

He also suggests simply reposting Medium stories on LinkedIn, rather than jumping through hoops revising them to make them resemble new copy:

Find new audiences: repost your Medium stories as LinkedIn articles

Same content gains different traction in different social platforms. That happens because the same content will be showed to more or less people (and in different ways) depending on the platform it was written and the platform it is being shared.

For example, a Medium story will usually get less eyeballs when shared on Facebook (as a link) when compared to the same content written as (a native) post on Facebook. This happens because social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube favor distribution of content that is native to them. Facebook is notorious for giving preference to videos directly embedded to its posts versus videos shared as a link in YouTube.

As you start developing a collection of Medium stories, consider sharing them on LinkedIn as (native) articles. This not only likely increase the number of readers to that content, but also will get you new readers, some that will potentially cross-follow you to Medium.

Start here to post articles on LinkedIn by copying the content from Medium and pasting on LinkedIn. Remember to add a statement like this to the bottom of the post: “This article was originally published on Medium <link to the article>.” For more ideas on how to use the footer to improve your Medium game, read on below to number 12.

This also registers as some kind gift from heaven. LInkedIn will be my main stand-in for the defunct Facebook, because I already have a presence there and already have some followers. But there, too, I’ve felt I had to write all new copy for LinkedIn. Like the latest, for example

Naturally, I can’t be posting chapters of strange fantasies like Ella’s Story there. LinkedIn really isn’t the place for fiction. And I’m not at all sure Medium is the place for it, either, though I did find an article describing its use for publishing fiction.

Welp…the Learning Curve looms high, up ahead through the misty altitude. Just getting started learning how to work it and have not yet tried to establish a site there. But in the meantime, I will UN-unpublish the chapters in Ella’s Story, If You Asked, and Complete Writer, and will not have to take down the accruing full MSS for each of those.

It’s a miracle! 😀

Reamed, Steamed, and Dry-Cleaned

Welp, it’s only quarter to eight in the evening, but I’m simply too whipped to build the page and post the first chapter for the third book in progress — which unlike the other two, really is a work in progress — that I plan to publish here at Plain & Simple Press.

Not that I’ve done that much today. Here’s the thing: I finally gave in to CardioDoc’s entreaties that I try the mildest blood-pressure drug he can think of, even though I question that it’s necessary at all. It’s a long story, but shall we say it was recently punctuated by a PA at the Mayo opining that she would not prescribe any meds for an average blood pressure in the 120s/80s.

I’ve resisted: the reason being that I’m hypersensitive to prescripton and nonprescription drugs. As a child, I almost died from a reaction to a popular antibiotic of the time, administered for a cat scratch — the doctor told my mother I would not live through the night. Oddly enough, he was wrong…hence a world plagued by my presence. I’m even allergic to aspirin. And acetaminophen. And ibuprofen. And iodine. Who knows? Maybe I’m even allergic to allergy pills.

If one in ten thousand people has some weird, rare, exotic reaction to a drug, I am invariably that person. But a few spikes — one of them a breathtaking 165/105 — have been alarming. Yes. Alarmed, I decided to capitulate and have been swallowing pills for the past couple weeks.

So since this supposedly benign med has kicked in and indeed has depressed my blood pressure into the subterranean range, I have felt so tired, so weary, and so foggy that I can barely function. Getting through an ordinary day’s to-do list leaves me falling-down exhausted.

Today there wasn’t that much to do:

  • Take the dogs for a mile-long walk
    • Didn’t get far with that. There was so much traffic on the ‘hood’s main feeder street, I couldn’t get across it, so we had to take another route that only walked up about 3/4 of a mile
  • Download data from bank and credit-card accounts, figure out the accountant’s new spreadsheet system, and install the data in the spreadsheets she sent.
    • I truly hate Quickbooks. I truly hate Excel. I truly hate crunching numbers. This tooth-grinding, three-pronged chore absorbed about three tedious hours from Hell.
  • Check pool chemicals and adjust.
    • Done: almost out of chlorine
  • Change out pool pump pot basket. Clean.
    • Done. Notice filter’s pressure is rising; automatic cleaner is slowing down. Mental  note: cope with that. Later.
  • Post to writer’s group at Facebook.
    • Done. Just barely.
  • Post to Funny about Money
  • Haul six wicker chairs back outside, the rain having stopped and the chance of more estimated at nil.
    • Done. Dinged a newly painted wall in the process and so had to…
    • …clean and repair damage inflicted by that exploit.
  • Inspect K-1 for an investment made, years ago, by my ex- and me in a land fraud bank. Package it up and haul it over to Wonder-Accountant’s place.
    • Done.
  • Post a chapter of Ella’s Story here at P&S Press
    • Sooo…NOT done.
      • Discover that Wyrd has lost data in what appears to be the latest version of the Ella’s Story file. Search, search, search, and frigging SEARCH SOME MORE trying to find it.
      • Eventually I do recover what I believe to be the latest file (though have not searched Time Machine’s back-up of DropBox, because that’s more techno-frenzy than I care to take on.
      • Am reminded, though, that I drafted recent parts of the partially lost chapter in ink, on paper, by hand. Could it be?
        • YES! Find the lost copy scrawled across the pages of an artist’s sketchpad.

Decide to post chapter tomorrow, thankyouverymuch.

One of the other interesting effects of this fine antihypertensive drug is that every time I fly into a hummingbird-like rage, along come a hot flash and a screaming headache. Apparently it drops the blood pressure so much (under 110/75) that my system can no longer handle a true, elegant, and fully realized flying rage.

Lord, spare us.

Tweeting to the Choir

Have you, truthfully, ever been able to see the sense of Twitter as a marketing device? It’s unclear to me that it’s as effective as people claim.

Consistent tweeting adds up to an unholy time-suck — in the most vivid sense of the word: time sucked down the drain and wasted, washed out to sea. I’m willing to try it if it will help me link with people who might enjoy reading Camptown Races books and consequently might buy them. But Twitter crawls with independent publishers who “follow” each other and then post nothing but ads for their self-published bookoids.

Few of the tweeters I’ve followed seem ever to have heard of the “Give, Give, Give, Right-Hook” concept of social media marketing. Obsessively posting images of your latest Kindle book cover — over and over and over — does nothing to help your cause. It gives the reader no information, other than that you publish things in a given genre.

I’m left with questions:

If you don’t read, review, and tweet other writers’ books, why should other writers buy and read yours?
How many Twitter customers can be expected to bite on one’s advertisements?
Is building a readership of people who compete directly with you a wise use of Twitter?
What can one learn from this experience?

If you want me to care about you as an author, you need to persuade me that you’re a human being, not a marketing bot.

If you want me to buy, read, and review your book, you might consider buying and reading my book. And use Twitter to let me know about it. Use Twitter to let others know if you did or didn’t like my book. And why.

But figuring out how to make it work that way is a challenge. Maybe, one suspects, an insurmountable challenge.

Recently it dawned on me that rather than following people who are like oneself, the trick is to follow those who fit some other model. The Internet swims with lists of “Top NN People to Follow on Twitter.” I stumbled on one listing people and sites in the book industry. They’re not up-and-coming publishing companies or writers. They’ve arrived.

And what do you find when you read their tweets? Rarely do they flog their books on Twitter. Instead, they comment briefly about issues or post links to interesting articles or notices.

Clearly, if you want people to read you, you should bestir yourself to write something worth reading. In admanese, we might say something like “Don’t sell them; tell them.”

😀

 

 

 

FOUND on Twitter

P1000759Welp, Twitter is already paying off, in a charming way. Check out this lovely blog at WordPress, by a writer presenting herself as Rosie Amber. Unfortunately, WordPress (which has become almost as obnoxious this way as Blogger) wouldn’t let me sign in under the email address it had glommed, because it’s associated with one of the many sites I’ve established there in the past and whose password I no longer remember or have a record of.

So, SO glad to have migrated the stray provinces of the Blog Empire off WordPress.

Anyway, love that rose image, and also like the idea of reviews + author interviews. Definitely “following” this Tweeter, and bookmarking her site under “Marketing.”

Thot I was gunna die after several hours of wrestling with Amazon/Goodreads Authors this afternoon. Maybe there’s hope for alternatives to the Amazon megalith.

Writing Enterprise: Nose permanently attached to grindstone

Actually, I believe my nose has grown onto the grindstone, sort of like a tree trunk growing around an object in its way. Progress is being made on the new Racy Writing enterprise, but as usual everything has to crash on my head at once, so I can’t focus on the specific tasks at hand without distraction.

The last freshman comp course I will ever have to teach (I sincerely hope!) is now over and grades are posted. No one flunked, thank God, and only two got D’s. So that’s a mercy, and it’s also one distraction permanently off the table.

A week or ten days ago, I compiled a list of Über-To-Do’s needed to change heading for The Copyeditor’s Desk and its imprint, Plain & Simple Press. Tacking this particular ship into the wind is quite an undertaking. I figured if I could do three of the following per day, in a week or so I’d be ready to devote most of my time to writing and publishing short racy squibs.

Move the Blogging Empire, which consists of a lot of sites, from my web guru/friend’s server to WestHost.

Said friend does a wonderful job of wrangling websites, but he’s a young dad of four who recently landed his Dream Job in the corporate world.  Bizarrely, though, Dream Jobs require you to work, and since this guy isn’ta slouch, you can be sure every living, breathing moment of his life when he’s not caring for his family is spent working. So he folded most of his small IT business when he jumped on the commuter train. He kept a couple of his old clients, including moi, but it soon became apparent that he was going to need some time to have a life.

Another blogging friend referred me to her back-end Web guru. At this time we’ve moved the passel of websites to the self-hosting server. In the next few days, the new guy will reorganize the sites (well.. re- is not operative for something that’s grown up like topsy: he’ll organize them into something rational.

Writers Plain & Simple remains alive, despite WordPress.com threatening to close it down. We will move it over to WestHost and make it a subdomain of plainandsimplepress.com, the site for my S-corp’s Plain & Simple Press imprint. Watch this site, and please…try not to get lost! 😀

Assign remaining ISBNs to upcoming books.

Mooted. You have to have the cover art to do that, and I still haven’t been able to get the artist off the dime. He says he’s done about half of the covers for the Fire-Rider series.

Purchase another 100 ISBNs.

Done. All upcoming books now have informally “assigned” ISBNs, which at least I can enter on the copyright pages. Officially inscribing them with Bowker will have to wait until (yesh…) the artwork surfaces.

Set up Excel spreadsheet to track ISBN purchases and assignments.

Done.

I really need a database. Access didn’t come with the version of MS Office I bought for the Macs. And come to think of it, I don’t even know if Access will run in the Mac environment. In any event, it’s been so long since I’ve used Access, the re-learning curve would be excessively high…so for the nonce I’ll have to make do with Excel and Quickbooks.

Experiment again with using PowerPoint to create cover art for e-books. Check out that link: King’s covers don’t look staggeringly awesome, but they’re sure as heck good enough for genre fiction. And believe me, folks who buy the kind of stuff Camptown Races Press will publish are not buying it for the covers. 😉

To do, pending download of some stock art.

Actually, in the past I’ve tried following the guy’s how-to steps with an ordinary photo and found that it’s easy to do. Remains to be seen whether I can faze the result past Amazon and Nook. But…huh…if he can do it, so can I. By golly.

Buy a month’s subscription to Shutterstock and download as many images as allowed.

Pending.

Before I actually pay for a subscription, I wanted to find and compile lists of images fitting as many categories as I imagine the naughty novelettes will require over the next six months to a year:

Biker stories
Ghost sex stories
Traveler stories
Banner images for websites
Generic sexy images
M/M
W/W
Threesomes of various combinations
Racial configurations of various combinations

Create an Excel workbook with spreadsheets to keep track of stock art and public domain images

Done.

Did I mention that I need a database?

Study the user manuals for the Friedlander templates used to compile the stories in hand. Study the user manual for Calibre. Figure out how to use Calibre to convert from Word to Kindle and ePub formats.

Done, sort of.

Today I will try these on the cookbook and hope to get the thing online, around the ongoing hassles of trying to straighten up the sites on WestHost, which as we scribble are consuming more and more time.

Because the diet/cookbook has a lot of lists, formatting it may be difficult, and so I don’t want to just hand it over to Amazon to do the conversion. If I can’t do it myself, then I’ll hire my ebook guy to do it…but of course, that means it will be weeks (if ever) before it goes online.

The novelettes and the Fire-Rider serials have virtually no elaborate formatting: no subheads, no lists, no tables, no images. So I think those can simply be uploaded to Amazon along with their cover images.

Learn specs for Kindle and Nook covers.

Done.

Learn how to upload content to Nook.

Done.

Write proposal and cover letter for Boob Book.

Done

Find a half-dozen agents or markets for Boob Book. Send proposal to the first of those.

Done.

Learn how to upload files to Snowflake Press for print-on-demand; do so for Slave Labor and order ten copies.

Under way. To be completed today, I hope. Maybe.

Learn how to sell hard-copy books on Amazon and do the fulfillment in-house, not through fulfillment by Amazon.

Later!

Publish the diet/cookbook in e-book format on Amazon.

Pending: whenever I figure out how to get it formatted propertly.

Establish an account and publish Slave Labor and the How I Lost 30 Pounds in Four Months on Nook.

Later!!

To accomplish most of these little tasks in a week or so has required me to start at around 5 in the morning and work all the way through, without stopping except for a few snacks and to cope with things that can’t be put off, until I can’t work anymore, which is about 8 or 9 p.m.

And that, my friends, is what’s entailed in quitting your day job.