Verified Purchases – Stop Losing Your Reviews

Verified Purchase

Have you noticed any of your hard won reviews disappearing on you lately? Is lack of a verified purchase review badge the only reason for removal? Of course not, but let me count the ways.

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Betwixt and Between Books-Freelancing

The Day 25 prompt is: If your goal is to sell books, you must view your book as a business. In what ways do you treat your book as a business? Where could you improve? What resources could you leverage to improve your book business?

Okay, the gig is up–I’ve been caught betwixt and between!

While the original goal of publishing my grandfather’s manuscripts was simply a means to share that inheritance with the other members of the family (his daughters now too old to care) and that side of the family also too few to provide any kind of significant remuneration, the promise I’d made was being fulfilled.

Since writing has always been something I enjoyed, and the collateral education (Word, graphics, semi-limited internet) also of major interest, flights of fancy took wing into realms of independent freelancing–providing commercial reward. In order to have enough time to go back to school for a few of those classes (Front Page, Photoshop, JavaScript), I had to quit my day job. No loss there. After 17 years with no particular reward, either monetary or personal gratification, it was not a difficult decision.

cameraWhat followed were years of non-compensatory writing–the clear definition of writing for fun. At some point, that style of writing was going to require my also taking photography classes and getting a bigger, badder, better, faster, more Camera on Biketechnical camera than the Minolta I’d been packing on my bike. And I couldn’t see where that would lead into a rewarding and high-paying second career.

Then the effort of publishing his manuscripts through Create Space steered me into a much more commercial enterprise. It was time to get serious about writing, as now sales were going to be the result of direct and concerted effort of marketing and promotion, which coincidentally requires a great deal of copywriting–for social media, web writing, content, and emails. In part, to that end, being a participant in an educational Meetup is well worth the time and an education in itself. Getting feet wet with a copywriting broker, albeit crappy pay, is another recent vehicle for learning the craft.

AH! I see where this is going! It’s that old ring-road!

Living is a life-long learning and educational process. I’m not in the middle of a new novel, but I’ll be writing–a lot. Therefore, I’ve enrolled in my local community college. There is always room for improvement and the business is growing.

See how other Author Blog Challenge participants are growing.

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Books Are Books?

Books Are Books?

DAY 20 PROMPT: Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision?

When I worked in graphics creating flyers for gospel concerts, I had a boss whose mantra was “they don’t know what they are doing.” That went for some of the most successful acts he engaged as well as anyone in his band who displeased him in rehearsal and upon occasion included myself (still don’t).

I certainly had my share of bluffing my way into jobs or events, his position being one, but probably the biggest and most recent was the publishing of my grandfathers manuscripts. Talk about clueless….

It wasn’t like I came to a decision whether or not to create a printed book, eBook, or audiobook as much as I was steered into making a simple stock print book, soft cover, 6 x 9. Biggest decision there was glossy or matt cover. It was only with the fifth book that I chose not to do a print book as the total word count created a novella and I saw no reason to go to the expense of creating a formally printed book.

Also, having no other experience than the one NaNoWriMo steered me into–CreateSpace–I came to appreciate the quality of their binding, if not the cover paper (which tends to curl at the corner slightly) and the speed with which they completed orders. CreateSpace also steers you into distribution, so there again it’s not as if you are making a big decision.

After having created those print books, it was (again) a natural progression to find the road into “Kindle” and from there eBook formatting, becoming ever more complicated entering the world of Smashwords. While it was felt Smashwords gave me a far greater reach for the eBook version than did Kindle, I’ve yet to see a big sales advantage.Large Print Book

One of the first notices I had of the choice of eBooks over print books is that I’d used the stock format for CreateSpace which used a font less friendly to older folks. The common complaint until I got that first book into the second edition with larger print was that the font was too small and difficult to read. I suspect as we see the progression of the aging population the push to eBooks will become ever more popular as they discover the option to make the print as large as needed for comfortable reading.eBook Storage Rather than getting bigger and better bookcases, we’ll be looking for ever larger eBook storage capacity or flash storage. Perhaps the bookcases will hold thousands of books–but on Kindles, Cruzer’s or SanDisks?

                    Virginia Williams

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NaNo What?

NANO What?

It is said that everyone has at least one book in them and it seems now with the heightened awareness and climbing popularity of self-publishing, most would-be writers are trying their hand at it.

Indeed, November was designated, “National Novel Writing Month” to take advantage of dreary winter days with forced indoor occupation and came to be known as “NaNoWriMo“. Nano Crest

The project was originated by freelance writer Chris Baty of the San Francisco bay area  in 1999 with the help of a friend who developed a website to accommodate 140 participants including several internationally. The idea is to push 50,000 words in 30 days, which would average 1,667 words per day. The website’s motto is “No Plot? No Problem!” Quality is not the issue, plot is not the issue, characterization is not the issue. The issue is the uninhibited flurry of getting words on the (figuratively speaking) paper. There is always time after November during the succeeding winter months to develop the characters and plot more fully and/or expand the manuscript to 70k+ words. While there is no fee involved, registration is required in order to verify word count, award winners, and they do solicit and happily receive donations.

While Baty hoped his idea would grow, he was not prepared for the onslaught of eager writers who registered in subsequent years, which he credited to word-of-mouth bloggers and, of course, the event being picked up and reported by news agencies including the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

Given the wild growth of the event, Baty found himself launching an organized panel setting out rules and by 2003 a NaNoWriMo team began sending out pep talk emails, writing hints, and opened socialization between NaNo Participantparticipants. By 2011 the website had undergone some major improvements in handling registrations, word count updates, and winner verifications. The following January found Baty stepping down to pursue a full time writing career with the installation of a new Executive Director, Grant Faulkner, and by 2013 claimed over 400,000 participants.

It was in 2011 that one of my motobuddies casually noted she’d be registering NaNo Winnerfor NaNoWriMo and that she hoped to finally complete her first novel. That got my attention and researching the website quickly signed up myself! Finally, a way to begin! AND to boot, if the 50,000 words were completed and declared a winner, the participant would be eligible to receive five (yay!! Perfect! One for my daughter, son, cousin, sister, and myself) free (YEAH–free!) printed paperback copies of their books through CreateSpace, providing a natural feed into Amazon.com. CreateSpace 

Whoa! Was I really ready for Amazon?

 No! But the happy answer was that they were ready for me–from format templates to free cover (template) ideas. The rest is–as they say–history. In this case, historical fiction actually. There’s a learning curve here, no question, but one that leads to success and it began for me with one simple facebook post: “I’m going to register for NaNoWriMo”. If you’re new to the game, check it out. It works.

Virginia Williams