Poetry, Google+ and Pinterest

A Poem to a a Favourite…

I’ve added a short poem to the relevant section.  Hopefully you will read and, even more hopefully, enjoy it!  You may notice that the character of my poetry is as wildly varied as most things I do.

Those “Other” Social Networks…

I am on Google+ and Pinterest.  No big deal and I’m not begging you to rush off and connect with me on them.  In fact, there are times when I find them intensely annoying.  For example, Google+ defeats me more often than not, by behaving in ways that I just don’t expect.  And I seem to end up sending more messages as ’private’ than as ‘public’. and I have no idea why!

But Pinterest…!  There are two huge annoyances!  First, and the lesser of the two, is the lack of any direct messaging system!  If you need to tell somebody something, you have to do so publicly as a comment on a Pin,and hope they see it.  And then comes the huge annoyance!  The constant stream of identical Pins from the same people – I could name names but won’t.  They’ve got a book out- marvellous!  I’d be happy to be the first to congratulate them.  But, they send Pin after Pin after Pin after… all either identical or as near as it gets.  Fine, post in whatever Groups you belong to and who permit it.  Publicise when/if you have a special at some time and tell people when a new review appears (not some one-liner or just a rating!), but please, I implore you, stop Spamming the Group boards!  For now, I have decided to cease all “Liking” of unjustifiably repeated Pins.  I know that Pins gradually get buried by new Pins, but has it not occurred to you guilty ones that your behaviour is crushing new works, often by people who have only just published their first book?  To me, that’s not just unfair – it’s tantamount to cyberbullying!  It’s immoral!  And know this: as long as you maintain such behaviour, I will not invite you to enjoy the promotional opportunities this blog offers!

 ~ Steve

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Moving Onwards Monday

Relaunch of Skylord Approaching

The relaunch of Skylord is getting closer!  Naturally, it is going to be necessary to withdraw the current free edition of the ebook.  It will be replaced with the new edition when it is available.  The new edition will be fully illustrated throughout with black and white images, to reflect the fact that the book is most suited to the junior market.  I will also be looking into a print edition, though that may be subject to the size of the revised book, especially in terms of the page count.

If any of you have experience in self-publishing print versions of children’s books, I’d be very grateful for any advice or guidance.

Shade of Evil Now Fully Available

The paperback edition of Shade of Evil is now available from both CreateSpace and Amazon stores (Amazon.com and Amazon Europe only).  The links are available on the book page.  It also remains available through skoobebooks.co.uk.  At the time of writing this, the existing Amazon reviews for the book aren’t currently included under the paperback edition, unfortunately.  If you wish to read them, they can be found under the Kindle version.

Have You Joined the Event?

If you haven’t already done so, please do consider joining the new book launch event on my Facebook!  It’s a great place to discuss what’s going to happen, and to let me know what you think about the new book.  If you need a Facebook invitation, please let me know!  While you’re over there, perhaps you’d be kind enough to answer the post about sharing the good news.  The more feedback I get, the better the planning in future – I hope!  Also, any suggestions you may have would be gratefully received.  A blog is wonderful, but, by its very nature, discussions can be difficult to keep going.  Facebook event pages are much better for that.

Obviously, if you’d like to ask me any questions or make any observations on the event page, please feel free to do so!

~ Steve

Counting Up To Networking

Summer?  It’s here?  Where?

It seems that summer is upon us.  At least, it is in some places!  Personally, I’m not convinced.  The weather here certainly doesn’t suggest it.  Anyway, judging by the stats, a fair number of people are now able to get out and about in good weather, and maybe even have vacations.  There’s definitely been fewer people looking around the blog over the last week or two.  Hopefully they’ll wander back when they aren’t off enjoying themselves LOL!  In the meantime, while the summer months may not get the same volume of traffic, I’ll maintain posting daily, if possible.

Numbers

Anyway, I was delighted to discover, this morning, that the blog has still managed to reach a total of over 7.000 views since I started it!  The vast majority of those views, more than 6,300 of them, have come since the beginning of 2013.  The blog also has just over 370 direct followers – kind folk who have either clicked on the ‘Follow’ link if they use WordPress.com too, or subscribed by email.  I would like to thank all of you who have done so!  When the Social Networks are added in, that’s a lot of followers or people who at least receive notifications of what’s happening on the blog.  In fact, there are 1280 Twitter and 370+ Facebook followers.  I also have way over 500 LinkedIn connections, 200+ fans and friends on Goodreads, and links with folk on Google+, Pinterest, tumblr, etcetera.  Of course, there’s duplication, but it’s still an awful lot of very good people!

The Same Old Advice?

I have seen a few posts recently extolling the virtues of Social Networks.  It still intrigues me that the message is still being pounded out that Social Networks are not only nice to be a part of, but fundamentally essential to success, despite my own recent findings to the contrary.  Don’t mistake me!  I have no intention of abandoning the Social Network scene!  What concerns me is the forceful claims.  Surely these must impact on those newest to writing and self-publishing?  If that’s true, just how useful, or damaging, is the advice?  Active participation in, for example, Facebook soon leads folk away from the matter in hand into strange lands, where peculiar graphically enhanced (GE rather than GM) quotations – many of dubious authenticity in regard to the alleged sources, humorous photographs of animals and other matter, status messages where folk have hit the panic button having read a piece of ‘news’ proven entirely false some years previously, invitations to participate in (fake) competitions for products that are too good to miss out on owning, invitations to join groups/like pages/play games… well, you get the idea!  So, the one absolute certainty of devoting significant time to Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter is that there’ll be no hope of ‘distraction free’ writing!  Other networks can be approached with a little more confidence, but even they have their dangers, circling like sharks, ready to strike.  For example, Goodreads.  There is, in my honest opinion, nothing to compare with Goodreads!  It is a superb system for readers, authors and reader/authors.  But, there are perils, mostly in the form of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of ‘special interest groups’ and more generalised forums.  Join more than a handful, and you will be pulled and pushed, poked and prodded, to be active in them.  And that’s when the trouble starts – just like Facebook and Twitter: overload!  So the potential damage to the actual writing process is obvious.  What about benefits?  Well, I guess there are some.  When an author’s website or blog is very new, then the Social Networks may bring a few visits from the curious, and I do mean a few!  The evidence simply can’t be disputed.  A more significant benefit is in finding other authors!  But even there, it’s good to be wary.

Mistakes in Social Networking

Believe it or not, many authors who have been using the Social Networks for a significant amount of years are actually abusing the system, deliberately or otherwise.  It may be that they simply haven’t got the message, or they may have ignored or discarded it.  There is, however, a very simple truth that must be given heed to!  It is very bad practice to issue post after endless post advertising your book(s)”!  Don’t believe it?  Then you evidently enjoy being continuously Spammed via email, social network sites, and so forth.  More, you enjoy Spamming others!  Because that’s what it is.  If all you ever post is advertising your work or you, then people will flock to the doors – the exit doors!  Apart from the Spam aspect, it’s just bad manners to do it.  If you blog, then let your blog system post updates about your blog.  Don’t repeat the effort.  Social Networks exist to keep people in touch with each other, in a sense that sees constant advertising as an evil.  If you do the same to people you know in real life, then I pity them, and the chances of you having many real life connections are very low indeed.  No, you have to work at it properly!  You have to provide interesting, humorous, sometimes informative information, with only the occasional advertisement for your work, almost as an aside.  This is true at all levels – from blog to network.  Anything else, and the only visitors you’ll have in any numbers will be Spambots and worse – and many of those won’t bother with you, either, because your statistics are so shockingly low.  Everything is open to abuse, intended or misguided.  If you’re determined to use the available facilities, learn to look beyond yourself, beyond your work.  If you’re not inclined to provide ‘informative’ posts, at least try to amuse your readers!  It’s like any social situation.  You have to ‘court’ your audience, even if you don’t appear to have one.  If you get it right, people will find you!  More, if you truly engage in a friendly manner with both readers and fellow authors, others will support your efforts – not just in direct responses but by Tweeting, posting to Facebook, and numerous other ways.  But I’ll sound another note of caution here: if you set out to use others, they will find you out!  In other words, just be a real, ordinary, sociable person – willing to help others not because you want something in return, but simply because

The best advice I have to give?  Be ‘good people’.

~ Steve

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

Blog Awards and An Appeal To Readers

As Yoda would say: “Remiss, I have been!”  And it’s too true, I fear.  I have received two blog awards from very kind people and I have said nothing.  I am ashamed!  Let me correct the situation now.

Super Sweet Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Yes, in what was a double whammy, I received the delectable Super Sweet Award again, on 7th May, from the very sweet and generous Rachel of Spilled Ink blog.  I’m amazed that folk are so willing to share this toothsome award!  Or perhaps it’s because there’s no chocolate in the picture LOL!  Seriously, though, thank you so much, Rachel.

A few days later, on 11th May, the very kind jemsbooks nominated me for the wonderfully complimentary Very Inspiring Blogger Award!  This is the second time I’ve been honoured with this award, the last time being on 21st January.  Thank you very much jemsbooks!

I’m afraid that I must break all the rules.  Having received two awards already, and obeyed the rules, I’m afraid I’m lost for selecting more bloggers deserving of these awards.  That’s not to say that I couldn’t find any.  Far from it.  The problem is entirely one of time.  I’m endeavouring to write a third tale in the G1: The Guardians series and things are really not going as they should.  It’s my own fault.  I keep allowing myself to be distracted.  I hope I will be forgiven.

Support Your Local Sherriff Author

This is an appeal, and it’s one all too familiar for authors, I’m afraid.  We happily, and determinedly, put our work out there.  We do it in a spirit (usually) of sharing.  We hope that others, however few they may be, will gain some reward from reading what we have offered.  I know, for instance, that some of my free ebooks have been downloaded many times.  I’ve even had sales of my novelettes.  Sadly, like most authors, the ratio of feedback to sales/downloads is very poor.  It is disheartening, and some authors might even be so discouraged that they give up entirely!

What I’m asking readers to do is really not as difficult as might be supposed.  If you read a book (however long and whatever format), please leave some kind of feedback!  We commonly use the word ‘review’ and I understand fully that it sounds daunting.  In truth, we’d love to get full blown reviews, but we understand that not everybody has the time or desire to devote time and effort to that.  We are happy, therefore, to just receive a few honest comments and a rating (which is usually a matter of clicking on the number of stars you wish to award).  The simplest way to leave comments is on the site you obtained the book from.  If you’re very kind and generous, however, it would make us ecstatic if you could copy and paste your comments onto certain other sites commonly used by both authors and readers.  These are: Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, and Smashwords.  Different authors have a different ‘spread’ of feedback sites and their websites/blogs will usually show you where they hang out.  It is also extremely helpful if you share your comments through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which is usually a matter of simply clicking on ‘Share’ buttons when you submit you comments on one of the other sites.

Some readers may expect the courtesy of a ‘thank you’ for their kindness, and I wish I could say they would receive that.  Unfortunately, the fact is that most writers simply can’t respond to all feedback!  Most are busy writing or keeping blogs up to date, and maybe a Facebook ‘fan’ page.  Rest assured, however, that your comments are appreciated!  If you wish to interact with an author, check their activity on Facebook, Goodreads and their blog (if they have one).  I’m afraid that you might find that they are not hugely active online, and it can seem rather foolish to respond to a comment made some weeks previously.  Also, a few don’t actually run these places at all.  They are run by fans, agents or publishers.  It comes down to a choice, really.  Do you prefer direct, quick interaction or another book?

One last thing.  If you didn’t enjoy a book, that’s fine.  It’s your prerogative, after all.  We might be disappointed, and regret that we failed to please you.  That doesn’t mean that it’s alright to post inflammatory comments.  A wise author will ignore such comments anyway, and if they’re of a personal nature, then the site is likely to delete them.  Be honest, by all means, but be courteous too!

I’ll close this appeal with my personal “Thank you!” to everybody who has left comments, of any (courteous) nature, for any of my books.

~ 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

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

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

A Few Words About The Blog

I thought it was time to say a little about this blog.  There’s been some truly amazing activity over the last couple of months, which I mentioned in the Milestones post.  The growth of Imagineer-ing is continuing at a most encouraging rate.  However, there are some things that make a blog really jump!

Comments

Comments on the posts on a blog can make a big difference.  First, they encourage blog authors to continue their efforts. Second, they are an effective way to provide feedback, along with Likes.  In fact, the nature of comments can help to shape a blog, indicating what the readers find interesting, fun, informative or boring.  Third, comments make a blog appear more alive, encouraging others to follow it and to participate in discussions.  So, if you want to say something about what you’ve just read, please do, even if it’s just a quick word or two!  The only comments that are unwelcome are spam, trolling, or other incendiary remarks designed to cause trouble.

Ratings

Likes are wonderful!  They are truly encouraging.  However, you are given the opportunity to indicate how much you like a post, by giving it a star rating of 0 to 5.  This information helps, along with comments, to shape a blog.  Knowing what readers enjoy makes it easier to choose what posts to make.  The rating facility is on the post’s page, not the main blog page.

Sharing

It is always gratifying when a post is shared by a reader!  The nature of the share isn’t important.  Whether you share via a social network or by reblogging a post, or even pointing to it in a blog post of your own that, perhaps, takes up the subject matter.  I realise that Imagineer-ing is guilty of not doing much reblogging and I am working to correct this situation.  In common with many, of course, time is part of the problem here, in that maintaining a blog while being busy with other things (writing, in my case) makes it difficult to do as much reading of other blogs as I would like.  A big plus of sharing is that it may attract more followers.  This isn’t just a benefit to the blog, it can help to bring more material of interest to readers, such as more reviews, guest posts and such.

Contact

There is a facility that allows private contact.  I have been very pleased to receive all but one such contact (the odd one was spam!) and fully understand why the private option was chosen.  Generally, I receive notifications of most activity almost instantly, unless it gets misdirected into the spam folder, and I do try to respond, where appropriate, as quickly as possible.  I would suggest that private contact should really be reserved for requests for reviews, making guest posts and similar applications for support.  Of course, if you have a problem with the blog, then the contact system is also the right thing to use.

In Conclusion

I’m not begging!  All I wish to do is to encourage more interaction, to help make the blog even better, more interesting and more entertaining.  I don’t think this ambition is a bad thing, as it can only enhance your enjoyment of Imagineer-ing.

~ Steve

ReadWave: A New Marketing Platform for Authors

Readwave.com Logo ReadWave have just launched the beta version of their new platform for readers and writers. The ReadWave platform enables authors to build up a fanbase and market their work online. Readers can access thousands of stories and read them for free on mobile devices. The site, which has been in development since October 2012, functions as an alternative to Twitter for writers, and allows writers to build an online following by giving away free content.

ReadWave Founder, Raoul Tawadey, said, “We’ve found that short stories are 300 times more popular than novels among online readers, so we’re focusing on short content. The idea is that writers give away free short stories in order to build up a following and then they can leverage that following to sell their novels.”

“We’re looking at all the tools that writers need to build up a following online and sell their stories. Over the next few months we’re going to be rolling out some exciting new features for writers, including the ability to embed your writing onto your blog, as well as the ability to send newsletters to your fans.”

ReadWave will also be publishing an annual Short Story Anthology of all the best stories posted up to the site. Writers can submit their stories by posting up their stories to ReadWave.com and then emailing a link to their story to submissions@readwave.com

For more information contact:

Robert Tucker
submissions@readwave.com
www.readwave.com
facebook.com/readwave
twitter.com/readwave