Relaunch and Cover Reveal: “Shade of Evil”

Shade of Evil - 400x600 G1: The Guardians

This series began with the novelette, Shade of Evil, though I didn’t know then that it was going to lead where it has!  One thing I can assure you of is that I am delighted that it has grown into the series, and excited as to where it will go.

Shade of Evil Front Cover 02-smallBack in the beginning, Shade of Evil had a cover design meant to be very plain.  With later developments, however, that concept is no longer appropriate.  As a consequence, the book has a brand new cover.  This new cover features artwork by Chris Graham, and I hope that you’ll think it’s as great as I do!  I think Chris has captured the essence of the story superbly.  You can see the new cover better by clicking on the image.

In addition to the great new cover, the text has been revised, to eliminate some errors and to make the story fit later developments of G1: The Guardians better.  Unfortunately, that does mean that if you own a copy of the 1st Edition, it won’t tally with this version.  I believe that you get automatic updates from Amazon and some other sites, however, but if you don’t, please contact me before the end of this month (August 2013)!

The 2nd Edition of Shade of Evil is available as an ebook, or will be very shortly, through Amazon (stores worldwide) and Smashwords.  It will also be available from most other major online bookstores (including Barnes & Noble, kobo and Apple iTunes) and numerous other sites but I’m afraid I have no control over when!  Remember that Smashwords offers all major ebook formats.  The paperback will be available very soon, via skoobebooks.

If you read Shade of Evil, or have already read it it, I would be very pleased if you provided feedback as to your opinions about it!  Star ratings are okay, though limited when in isolation.  A brief comment on one of the bookstore sites that allow customer reviews to be placed, or a review of any length, would be even better!  Apple iBooks readers, specifically:  I would be thrilled if you could offer feedback on iTunes, which is one of the few major outlets where I don’t currently have any feedback on my books.  If you do leave feedback, I would appreciate you dropping me a line to let me know – sadly, only Smashwords actually notifies authors of reviews received!  If you belong to groups in networks like Google+ or Pinterest, especially where short reviews are posted, I’d be very happy to hear if you’ve posted about this or any of my books there.  Of course, you could leave a comment here, on the appropriate page, or even post a review on your own blog.

~ Steve

More information on G1: The Guardians 
Shade of Evil page with purchase links 

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Stats And What They Might Reveal

There’s always much made of social networking.  Some of it is useful, and that’s undeniable.  Whether it gets sales or not is another matter entirely.  I’ve done a quick analysis of the social networks and made some discoveries which may interest you.  I’ve also looked at the search engines and other ‘referrers’ to Imagineer-ing.

Since I started this blog:

1

WordPress Reader
(used by followers)
274 (5.5%)
2 Google Search 219 (4.4%)
3 Facebook 218 (4.4%)
4 Yahoo mail
(mostly from Yahoo Groups)
102 (2.0%)
5 Twitter 95 (1.9%)
6 Goodreads 83 (1.7%)
7 Bing 33 (0.7%)
8 Yahoo Search 30 (0.6%)
9 LinkedIn 18 (0.3%)
10 Windows Live Mail 16 (0.3%)
11 Tumblr 14 (0.3%)
12 StumbleUpon 6 (0.1%)
13 Pinterest 4 ( – )
14 Networked Blogs 2 ( – )
15 Ask Search 1 ( – )
Total of all above 1115 (22.4%)
All other referrers 3864 (77.6%)
The itemised referrers are the common ones most of us regard as being essential to our statistics.  “Surely,” we think, “these grand bodies are what drive traffic our way?”  The figures above suggest a different reality.  Less than a quarter of views are generated by people using these major sites!  More than three-quarters come from other sites, like the blogs of fellow authors and book lovers in general.  Personally I’m staggered by this revelation!  Considering the investment in time and effort involved in these sites, especially the social networks, I think the results are rather disappointing.
The fact that Facebook comes 3rd, Twitter 5th, Goodreads 6th, LinkedIn 9th, Tumblr 11th and Pinterest 13th would suggest that Facebook is the best social network to use, with Twitter and Goodreads as additional networks.  That said, it’s clear that we shouldn’t expect miracles in our blog growth by our use of these.  I find it most intriguing that Google Search just edges Facebook.
Of course, we need to be wary of these statistics, which is true of all statistics!  We don’t know how many of the WordPress Reader users originally came to the blog through one of the social networks.
Still, it’s all food for thought.
~ Steve

Thoughts on a Tuesday – New Paperback Launch

‘Likes’, ‘Follows’ and so forth

I’ll admit it.  I’ve participated in a few ‘Like for a Like’ and ‘Follow for a Follow’ schemes in recent times.  Now, the theory is that you’re supposed to click on ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’, or something very similar, for everybody you track a link to.  In all honesty, at first I adhered to that rule.  Lately, however, I’ve been very naughty!  I’m afraid that if I didn’t like what I found, I didn’t do what was expected of me.  What caused this revolution?  Well, quite simply, some of the participants were ringers!  The schemes were supposed to be for authors, writers, self-publishers, book reviewers and maybe book lovers.  Some of those who jumped on the ride, however, had nothing to do with any of the world of books!  They were promoting sites/blogs/pages that did anything but talk about books.  Then, there were some that did fill the bill but I had a crisis of conscience over and had to duck away from (and no, I’m not going to say what they concerned, other than for the ‘make me rich by buying my self-help-get-rich-quick book’ types).  I have no objection to the concept, but in truth I prefer the idea of having a similar scheme where you only ‘Like’/’Follow’ those you actually have an interest in hearing more from.  It’s time for a more discerning scheme for these things!  Yes, I know that I’ve gained followers, but it’s almost by accident as I’m sure the vast majority don’t really expect to maintain any active interest, and many cancel their ‘Like’/’Follow’ after a while.

Paperback Writer

Yes, the second paperback is out there – sort of!  Following the instructions given, by FeedARead, I ordered a ‘proof’ copy of my novelette in paperback.  Now, the instructions indicated that I had to approve said proof before it would go live on their store.  Performing what I like to call a ‘security check’ by Googling my name, to see if any of my ‘to-buy’ books were in places they didn’t belong, I encountered my new paperback being offered for sale by… FeedARead!  Now, in essence, I don’t have a problem with that.  I do, however, object to having to buy a copy of my own book – surely they could absorb the cost of a complementary copy – on the grounds that it wouldn’t be put up for sale until I had done so and approved it, only to discover that it was being advertised anyway!

Well, if it’s good enough for them (and no, I won’t be using them again!), then here we are:

Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians) is available from FeedARead, ISBN 9781782993551, for £3.99 plus Post & Packing.  To quote the blurb:

A simple man bears a terrible burden, unknowing. Now, that burden is killing him, seeking freedom from his exhausted hulk. Freedom to satisfy its evil hunger.

“A darkness dwelt there, a vile miasma of misery that gnawed at the very soul of the man. It had been there for years, growing like some parasite, growing bloated with every bit of melancholy that was sucked from him. Worse, it was taking on a life of its own, a substance that should not exist. And the man was becoming something less, something hollow.”

A novelette.

A Matter of Spam

This blog is very well protected against Spammers by a system called Akismet.  The odd bit slips through, but as I have to approve comments from anybody who hasn’t been previously approved, they’re easy to mark as Spam and disposed of.  More rarely, a comment from somebody legitimate might end up in Spam when it doesn’t deserve to, but I’m scrupulous about checking before emptying the Spam folder, so they get found and approved that way.  The same isn’t true for all blogs!  I’ve noticed several blogs where Spam comments have gotten through, which means that the blog has become vulnerable to attack, and other readers may suffer if they follow links in those comments, or click on the commenter’s name.  More worryingly, this is happening on some sites that use alleged secure systems, like Captcha, which requires that you  decipher something before your comment will be accepted.  Obviously, Captcha isn’t working!  Why?  Because Spammers all know about it and it seems they are (probably) randomly attacking sites in person, so that they can get past Captcha!  Unless, of course, somebody’s created a ‘robot’ program which can solve the puzzles.  If you’re a blogger, I suggest you keep a close eye on all comments!  If you’re a blog reader – be wary of clicking on links in comments, especially if the language is poor and the comment seems ‘odd’.

As an aside, you can find out about any commenter quite easily.  First choice: Google them!  Chances are, you’ll find a string of entries where they’ve posted on various forums and blogs.  If you’re still unsure, maybe because Google has proven inconclusive, there’s a site called WhoIs.  That will look up information on anybody who is online, and it can even trace IP addresses.

Take care out there!

~ Steve

A Question of Ambition and Beyond eBooks

Why Are You Writing?

When we look at our aims, our ambitions, as authors, what do we see?  Are we honest with ourselves, or do we drift in blissful dreams of semi-delusion?  In honesty, most of us will only ever write either just for ourselves, or maybe for a small circle of friends and followers.  It’s a sad fact of life.  If we’re really lucky, and offer a free ebook, we may enjoy the feeling of our ebook being downloaded by others.  Unfortunately, most of these downloaders won’t ever actually read the ebook, and those that do probably won’t provide any feedback.  Worse, I’ve heard of some submitting cruel, viciously scathing reviews even when they haven’t read the ebook!  The internet can be a very nasty place at times.  If you attach a price, watch how few copies are bought – that will give you some insight into the often splendid number of downloads of free offerings.

Does all this mean that we should stop writing, or at least stop offering our work to others?  The answer to that depends on why you’re writing.  If you’re looking at it only as a potential means of making money, then I’d say don’t bother!  If, on the other hand, you are driven to write, then does it matter whether others ever read your work?  It’s a bit like decorating. Do you decorate your home to impress visitors, or because it pleases you?  I have been writing for many years, and most of my production in that time will never make it beyond the manuscript stage.  Indeed, much of it has been lost.  Yet I have no regrets at having made the effort to respond to that force which drives me to write!  In fact, I have a certain quiet pride of how much I’ve written, and I look back with pleasure at some passages which were particularly effective.  So, with the writing-bug driving you, then the answer has to be that you never stop writing.  It’s part of your nature and there’s no true need for validation of an intrinsic character trait.

Assuming that you are going to carry on writing, but believe that ebooks alone aren’t the only option you want to try,then read on…

FeedARead

Yesterday, 6th April, I happened upon a post on my Facebook Newsfeed.  It made reference to something that intrigued me.  The subject was simply referred to as FeedARead, without a link.  A quick Google search yielded a result and I pursued the link.  I discovered that FeedARead is a ‘print on demand’ (POD) service, allowing authors an opportunity to upload their manuscript and turn it into a genuine paperback edition!  They offer sales through their website alone, or through many major bookstores.  And the cost?  None, zero, zilch!  Now, if that isn’t interesting, I don’t know what is.  The royalties may not seem particularly big, but then you’re now dealing with much higher production costs.  If it gets you the opportunity to get even one book out there, and hopefully noticed, then a relatively low financial return is worth it.  The package is made even more attractive in that you don’t have to buy an ISBN first.

Consequent to this find, I have started the process of putting one of my novelettes through the system.  Important note here: download and use the Word templates that they provide free!  They offer two sizes of paperback, depending on the size of your book.  The templates allow you to create a properly formatted manuscript for the book size you have chosen.  Just make such amendments as you need to, to the pre-filled parts (the title page and the ‘rights’ page) and then copy your manuscript into the template.  The website offers excellent guidance on making your manuscript right for publication.  One note, if you use OpenOffice or one of its derivatives, such as Libre Office, then save the manuscript in Word DOC format, close the file and reopen it, recheck how the chapters look, and only then use the DOC file.  I discovered, after uploading the DOC file, that subtle differences existed between the ODT and DOC files.  There’s a cover designer on the website, including some very nice cover templates for free.  You can, of course, use your own cover images.  Note that you can’t complete the cover design for submission until you have completed the full content approval stage..  Content approval involves you waiting for a PDF proof of your manuscript to be sent to you.  This has to be checked and accepted.  One reason for this is so that the system knows how wide the spine of your paperback will be.  There’d be no point designing a cover with a spine that was too big!  I am currently awaiting the PDF proof.  When I’m able to progress further, I’ll update you on how it goes.

I’m kind of excited about this new venture.

~ Steve

Penning Perils

I’m slowly coming to recognise certain facts about making efforts to become a published author.  There are many perils out there, lurking everywhere.  What’s worse is that, apart from  the very fact that they exist, many come disguised as worthwhile!  There’s no shortage of those who will offer you the world, or more, if you will just pay them this very small amount, just so they can do what they do, and they promise to do all those jobs you hate doing, so that you will be free to concentrate on your writing.  Sadly, there are many of these that won’t get even close to your expectations, and a surprising number have the audacity to actually ask more than legitimate services.  You will likely encounter their advertising in various places that are less than selective in what they are willing to allow on their sites.  There’ll be even more of them scattered across the social networks – both the general networks and those aimed at the world of authors and readers.  The moment you put yourself out there, posting on a social network or maybe starting a blog, you will use certain trigger words.  You can’t help do anything else!  Unfortunately, the bad guys, or ’black hats’ in internet parlance, have software which constantly scans for the use of those words.  When they find them, they ooze out of the virtual equivalent of woodwork and begin to make your life difficult.  Emails start coming in, especially if you haven’t been cautious enough to never post yours publicly.  Adverts pop up in places they shouldn’t.  Spam assails you from all directions!  Life can quickly become a living hell if you make a wrong move now.  You’ll never be free of them, but if you actually respond to any of them, the situation will spiral out of control.

What’s truly sad is that some of the black hats can sound so genuine, so honest.  The best (in the sense of success) will have you utterly convinced of their honesty, their heartfelt desire to help you, to lift all the burdens from you.  It’s a pity that they aren’t all like the worst (least successful), who are so transparent, so obviously false, that nobody could possibly be drawn in by them.  These latter usually use such atrocious English, and utterly incomprehensible spam, that they are actually laughable, if you set aside what they’re trying to do.  The golden rule is: never click a link if you don’t know where it comes from!  If you do, you may unleash an endless inundation of more spam, or you may find yourself the victim of identity theft!  If you have never heard of a site, don‘t click that link!  I don’t care if it is an ad on Facebook!  Trot on over to Google and do a search on it, check the “whois” entry, if there is one.  And don’t just take the first page of the Google search results – go deeper.

Much of this may sound pretty general, and you’re right – it is.  The important thing to remember is that a lot of the Spam and fakery will actually be targeted!  It will often talk about things that have become very important to you.  Just because it’s dressed up to look like something you should pursue doesn’t make it legitimate.

Having spoken about the activities of the black hats, I should put in a word about the honest folk who may land you in trouble.  They may start an online business meant to provide a very genuine service.  Unfortunately, you only have to look at the statistics for failed businesses!  A genuine intent to do what you set out to do doesn’t mean that you will be successful.  That applies to everybody.  Be cautious.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!  Don’t make commitments that may bind you to a failed business, or brand you as unreliable yourself because you supported somebody else who then failed.  It’s sad, but you really can’t afford to take risks.

Ultimately, you have taken on the job of author.  You need to spend your time in writing – not defending yourself from the worst that the internet has to offer.  Be true to yourself.

~ Steve

Blogging – Behind The Words A Person Sits

500 Likes

Imagineer-ing got to 500 likes earlier this week!  Really happy about that, and looking forward, now, to getting it up to 1,000…

I’d like to thank everybody who took the time to click the Like button, especially those who actually read what they clicked it on!  I regard these milestones as very important indicators of progress.  Like most bloggers, I would guess, when you start a new blog, you always wait nervously to see whether you will gain an audience.  To gain a good sized audience is an even greater achievement.  Every time you hit a milestone, you get the courage to continue.  You no longer feel that you’re talking to yourself!

To Blog Or Not To Blog…

When you first venture into the world of the internet, you learn that certain things seem to hold great sway.  Facebook, Twitter and blogs are forever being quoted as sources, interconnected and feeding off each other like cannibalistic bacteria.  You join Facebook and soon discover that, in the jumble of pictures and outbursts, many folk are repeating their Twitter tweets, or those of others.  Then there are those other posts, directing you to other web sites.  Some of these just go to ordinary sites, but many more go to blogs.  A quick search reveals that “blog” is the shortened form of Weblog, and that a Web log is a kind of journal site, ranging from simple diary types to very professional journalism.  Many are also out there to sell.  They may be selling anything, from some very dubious products to a the idea of buying services or products from a company.

After you’ve been around a while, and discovered that your hobbies interest others, you begin to consider the idea of a blog.  That’s when the first headache hits!  There are numerous blog platforms to choose from, and being a novice, you have no idea what to choose.  Sensibly, you do a quick survey of the blogs popping up on your Facebook and Twitter feeds.  In all likelihood, two platforms will stand tall: BlogSpot/Blogger and WordPress.  The first will probably outweigh all the others, so you toddle off and join there.  If you’re like me, though, you’ll soon discover the limitations and restriction.  No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get a really nice looking blog that suited my wishes.  I abandoned blogging because of that experience.  Years later, I had WordPress recommended to me.  Oh boy!  What a difference!

WordPress comes in two flavours: a .com and a .org.  The first means you don’t need a web site or domain of your own, but there are rules that must be obeyed and the space is restricted (not that I’ve gotten anywhere near closing on that maximum space allowance), plus certain things are not possible – such as most affiliate selling and full customisation.  The second is the framework platform which you can upload to your own site, meaning you’re only limited by whatever your hosts stipulates.  Personally, I believe that WordPress, in either form, is the best blog platform available.

Whatever platform you do choose, you have made the decision to write a blog!

The First Blog

You’ve got your platform chosen, and you’ve made it look as good as you can, using the themes that are available.  You have replaced any sample pages with your own writings.  Now, the big moment comes!  You have to write your first blog post.  Let’s say that you elect to write about the thing you love, your hobby.  Empowered by your feelings for the subject, you write something you’re really proud of, maybe even including some pictures.  You’ve finally entered the ranks of the bloggers.  You sit back and wait for the eager hordes to flock to your post and hit that Like button… and nothing happens.  Not one visitor!  You’ve just discovered why bloggers use Facebook and Twitter to advertise their blogs.  Without such advertising, no blog would get off the ground.  Those who fail to grasp that fact seldom remain bloggers for long.  And even with the advertising, it takes time to build a following.  You have to be prepared to be patient, to watch visitor numbers go from a flow to a trickle and back again, until you post something that hits a chord with people and you suddenly have a real influx.  With some effort, you may even keep these new visitors, and perhaps even see their numbers increase as they start spreading the word about your excellent blogging.  And that’s one of the big secrets of blogging – getting others to talk about your posts.

To Blog Readers

I appeal to blog readers, especially commenters: please remember that a real person sits behind every blog!  They are human, fallible and unique, capable of great thoughts and subject to human emotion.  They have views that are their own and may express them, and you may not agree with them.  That doesn’t mean that you should use the anonymity of the internet to attack them or their views!  If you have differing views, express them, but in a quiet, reasoned, unabusive way.  And even if you wish to express agreement or appreciation, keep your tone at a sensible conversational level.  Remember that you are reading the words of a courageous person, who has dared to put themselves out there and attempt to share something that they feel is worthwhile, and perhaps even helpful.  That doesn’t make them any less sensitive than you.  If you can think of nothing but inflammatory remarks, it is best to leave saying nothing.

A blog is often a very personal thing.  It may, deliberately or inadvertently, expose the blogger at a deeply personal level.  Blogs can be a rich resource not only for those sharing an interest, but also for students of human nature.  I know nobody who doesn’t say something about themselves whenever they write anything.  Blogs are wonderful places for amateur, and professional or prospective, psychologists.  And here I will reiterate.  Don’t abuse the blogger!  Remember, if a blogger’s posts are so revealing of the writer, then so can your comments be of you, the visitor.

~ Steve

A Look At Web Sites For Authors

These are just some observations I have on the various web sites that I’ve used for self-publishing and/or marketing since becoming a self-publishing author.  What I’ve learnt is that something might seem like a good idea, but that doesn’t mean they are.

Facebook

The “big daddy”, as it were.  These days, it’s almost impossible to do anything without having a Facebook presence.  It certainly has benefits, if it’s used properly. I can’t tell you that I’ve cracked it yet, myself, but there’s no doubting that, if nothing else, it’s a good way to drive traffic to your web site and/or blog.  From what I’ve seen, I think it has also helped push some folk to the right place to download an ebook.  Personally, I don’t have a page for every ebook – I just have an author page.  I believe that’s sufficient, at least until I get a blockbuster bestseller!  All of that said, Facebook is often frustrating, annoying and downright risky!  Facebook changes things often, and not always helpfully.  It’s very easy to become totally swamped with posts from others on your Newsfeed.  It’s also easy to become a Facebook junkie – spending far more time on it rather than on more important activities.  Then, too, Facebook is the target of hackers and other malicious folk, rendering your security virtually nonexistent!

I would suggest that you give the absolute bare minimum of information on your profile page.  The same applies to your author page and/or book page(s).  I would recommend that you try to avoid using the Add Friend button!  Try to limit yourself, as much as possible, to using any Follow option or just Like pages.  Keep the Add Friend option for family and trusted friends.  I have been rather bad at that and now have a totally insane number of “friends”.  I would suggest that if you wish to network with somebody who only has a personal profile, you suggest to them that they create a page, so that you can Like that instead of adding them as a “friend”.

Twitter

The other highly fashionable social network.  Twitter is something of an oddity.  You have a strict limit on how many characters you can have in a tweet, which can be immensely frustrating at times.  I find it much harder to establish how much Twitter helps to increase interest.  I can only assume that there is some benefit to using it.  Personally, I rarely actually write tweets directly – I let other things do that for me automatically, like WordPress (host of this blog).  Like Facebook, it takes very little effort to find yourself overwhelmed by the tweets of those you choose to Follow.  There’s no doubting that you will find thousands of folk who seem  to fit the profile of those you would like to network with.  And therein lies the problem!  There are thousands, or tens of thousands!  You will, eventually find yourself in the situation where, with your Twitter timeline open, tweets will appear too rapidly for you to keep up with them.

I have only one piece of advice on controlling how many Followers you Follow back, and that’s be selective.  You will receive notifications of people or organisations who have Followed you.  Some of these will be very undesirable folk indeed and should be avoided at all costs, while others will simply not fit into the type of activity that you want, or need, to embrace for your network.  Do not feel embarrassed at refusing to Follow anybody!  It isn’t rude to refuse, it’s simply good sense.

Goodreads

For both readers and authors, Goodreads is probably the best there is, to a point.  It’s easy to add both books by yourself and by others, building up a library listing.  Gaining friends takes much longer than on Facebook or Twitter, and I have been disappointed in one particular respect.  Members are supposed to write reviews of what they read, and rate them.  In reality, there’s far less activity on that than there should be, and getting your own books reviewed is extremely difficult.  And gaining fans is even harder!  You can link your Goodreads account to Facebook, so that some of your activity appears there as status messages.  If you have an author page on Facebook, then there’s an app that allows you to link to your Goodreads profile page, or Group.  Alternatively, if you have Facebook pages for specific books, then you can use the same app to link to your books (individually) on Goodreads.

As far as I know, so far I’ve had very little benefit from using Goodreads beyond its library facility.  It’s a pity as the potential is there for much more.  Admittedly, there are many very active Groups on Goodreads, but, as with Facebook and Twitter, it can soon become too difficult to keep up with them.

Smashwords

This is, without a doubt, the most important, and most useful, site of all those I have used!  It provides an excellent way to publish your own ebooks, in several formats, and lots of advice on doing so.  It is also a very good source for ebooks by many other Indie authors.  Smashwords will submit your ebook(s) to most of the major online retailers, as well as numerous web sites that are subsidiaries of their own, usually with specific genres as their focus.  The system is easy to use, which is paramount as far as I’m concerned.  To date, I have had no reason to be unhappy with Smashwords.  If i have a criticism, it’s that perhaps more effort could be made to encourage members to submit reviews of the ebooks they download and read.  But, it’s principally a site to self-publish your ebooks.  It doesn’t stress its networking potential.

WordPress

This is on a par with Smashwords but for entirely different reasons.  First of all, I should point out that there are two forms of WordPress: the WordPress.com hosted version, like this blog, which has a few limitations, most particularly in regard of just what you’re allowed to include, and the self-hosted WordPress.org version,where you have total control over what you include.  If you want to maximise your chances of making money, using affiliate links, then you need the second option.  Both versions allow you the flexibility to not just create a blog, but to create a complete, professional looking, web site!  Both also allow you to use a wide variety of free or paid themes, but you have to pay on WordPress.com if you wish to customise the CSS underlying your chosen theme, while that’s free if you’ve opted for self-hosted.  Best of all, perhaps, is that you can get both for free!  The biggest difference is that WordPress.org has to be downloaded and then installed to your own web host, and you will need to add several plug-ins to bring it up to the same level as WordPress.com’s package.  It’s a painless but lengthy process.

If you can afford it, I would recommend buying your own domain name and a good hosting package and then installing WordPress.org.  You really won’t need anything else!  You will have the framework for a full web site, and you’ll know that you can change the look easily whenever you want to.  It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Others

Gaining ground in the realm of social networks are Google+ and Pinterest, both of which I use to some extent.  The thing that I notice most with these sites is that, before very long, you start simply duplicating everything, with the same people on every network.  I’m not convinced that anybody gains anything from that kind of setup.  I’ve also tried Free-eBooks.net, but that seems to have had peculiar results, with huge numbers of my ebooks downloaded/viewed but little or no feedback, and nothing more than Like/Dislike being selected by the respondents.  LinkedIn is very good for networking, but it’s primarily aimed at those who are looking for employment of some kind.

I have tried numerous other web sites but, in all honesty, I can’t say that I’ve received any benefits from any of them.  Several have seen my ebooks downloaded from them, but without a single instance of feedback from any of them!  I can’t honestly recommend any of them.

I’m still trying new web sites.  If I find any that are worth you taking a look at, I’ll let you know in future posts.

~ Steve

Diverse Thoughts

I’ve been reading some articles online.  A couple of these have given me some cause for concern – or at least sponsored some thought.

The revelation that Indie authors like myself are faced with something of a dilemma shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.  Everybody and his dog knows of Amazon, that mighty empire of online selling.  Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is equally well known by now. It’s only good sense, then, to provide ebooks in a format suitable for the Kindle.  It’s a shame, then, that Amazon have created a problem.  It appears that they ask for exclusivity on any ebook, for an initial three months, which they then seek to extend.  For this reason, Smashwords don’t currently supply them.  Smashwords have several partners and supply just about every major retailer.  As such, they’re unwilling to partner with Amazon, and quite rightly so.  I know Amazon are the “big boys” but I, personally, prefer the wider spread of retailers that Smashwords offers access to.  The happy fact is, of course, that Smashwords still offer downloads in the format supported by the Kindle.  The unhappy aspect is that many sites actually want Amazon links and ratings for any ebook an author may have to offer.  It would be far better if these sites were less restrictive.

It would seem that we WordPress bloggers have a problem.  Apparently, Google’s Blogger doesn’t play well with WordPress or the OpenID system.  If we participate in commenting on the blogs of fellow authors who use Blogger, we appear to be bad mannered.  Blogger doesn’t permit communication with us, even if it appears to do so.  A Blogger user may send what they believe to be a direct communication, via email, and then receive no response from us.  Why?  Because Blogger only does half the job!  It doesn’t actually send the communication to us!  So, to allow Blogger users to contact us, we have to sign up for a Blogger account or insert our email in any comment we make!  And everybody knows that putting your email in an open post is a very bad idea!  It’s time that Google learnt to play well with others.

On a personal note, I’ve hit something of a blank period as far as writing is concerned.  Well, I say “blank” but perhaps I should say “overload”.  I can’t settle to write anything for more than a few minutes, but I’m inundated with new ideas for stories.  I guess the two are related.  I need to regain focus somehow, but I’ve no idea how to do that.  Associated, maybe, is an inability to concentrate enough to do any real reading.  In the last two weeks, I’ve read maybe two pages of a novel and one page of an ebook!  As an avid reader, that’s abysmal!  I hope that this state of affairs changes soon…

~ Steve