What are your interests?

I need to know what  you, the reader of this blog, most want to know.

Reading material from Copyblogger, I had a moment of blinding clarity where I realized I have been talking about what interests me in the hopes it interests you. In so doing, at the moment I have wandered into the details of preparing E-books when you may be more interested in publishing, art, photography, or writing.

If you are reading this, I would be grateful if you would take a few moments and give me a comment or two.

In the area of publishing, I have a feeling for the difference between Lightning Source…whom I use for all of my books so far…and CreateSpace…which at least two authors I know have used. Here are the points I have found:

Create Space v. Lightning Source

1. They are both POD..print on demand…operations producing books at a higher per-unit cost than large-run offset printers.
2. They both seem to focus on paperback books, although hard cover options exist.
3. Printing and order fulfillment can be done by Amazon with no action on the author/publisher’s part.

4. LS charges a setup fee of $75 plus a proof fee of $30 or less; CreateSpace has no setup charges…I’m not sure about first-copy charges.
5. CreateSpace takes a 40% piece off the top of each retail sale plus the unit cost of printing the book. LS takes nothing but the cost of printing and shipping…wait, is there a $1.50 charge per order?
6. LS is NOT a publisher and has no programs for formatting or editing…they work with publishers who in turn work with authors, but anyone can become a publisher by filling out some forms at no cost. CS has an entire graded set of packages at increasing cost that go from simple layout help through fancy marketing packages…perhaps like some of the rip-offs of vanity presses, although I have not heard bad things of CreateSpace so far. The I-can-do-it-all-by-myself option exists but their marketing plays it down for obvious reasons.
7.While CS takes 40% off all sales, books submitted to amazon by LS are expected to offer the distributor a hefty discount…50% is typical, but I don’t know what happens if an author offers no discount…will they carry them and charge extra for shipping…I don’t know. In any case, sales through Amazon come out about the same.
8. The printing costs seem similar, although I have not done a size-by-size comparison.


First sales!!!!!

About 3 AM I decided to post on my Facebook page an announcement of my first E-book. In the past 1 1/2 weeks the ‘reports‘ page has listed ‘no sales’. There must be a lot of folks who are on-line in the middle of the night or very early in the morning because now 5 hours later have 3 comments and one share as well as 2…TWO… E-book sales. It is just as well I took the time to get the file really cleaned up before anyone downloaded it.

It feels weird to be selling to ‘Facebook friends’…kind of like charging your grandmother for shoveling her walk…but I am learning what works and what doesn’t work in this marketing world. The funny thing is that, while I allegedly will get $2 out of the $2.99 spent for each buy, it REALLY isn’t about the money. Once I am more confident it will make a difference, I will use some of my 5 free-to-buy-today/3 months days on Kindle, but I didn’t want to have it like my one book signing where no one came to see me and the few casual passers-by chatted for a few minutes.

I will continue to maintain this blog even though the evidence suggests that almost no one is reading it…to use the famous movie line, “Build it and they will come.”

Disqus seems to work!

After a week or two with comments handled by Disqus I have not had any spam. Considering that each site used to get 10 or more a day, that is pretty amazing. It should free me up to spend more time writing.

Trying Disqus for comments

I am trying the Disqus plug-in for comments in hopes that it will encourage more comments and block the multitude of spam that I have to delete every day. If it asks you for a login or some special procedure, my experience is that only once will do it for all sites that use it, but if you have trouble, please email me at schultz@pei.sympatico.ca


Where has the time gone?

I was dismayed to realize I haven’t posted here for almost 3 weeks. It isn’t that nothing is happening…actually I have been finishing up two books…Leslie’s and a revision of Tom Rath’s first Donkey book (he wanted a second printing and wanted the pictures to be enlarged to bleed off the edges). He is nearly done with the second donkey book, having persuaded Greg’s brother Ian to do the illustrations–what a talented family!

Still, that doesn’t account for it. I have been teaching photography and photo-manipulation for Seniors College as well as a very basic computer introduction for the 50+ club in Montague.

Also, I need to get the wood gathered and stacked so Randall Larson can come and split it for me…a great bargain he has been providing for many years. I stack only the wood big enough to need splitting and he comes and does up a whole year’s worth in about 3 hours…his splitter and his labor…a great bargain especially for one like myself who finds that much work a bit much.

Oh, I am trying to finish the summer guest quarters over the garage since cousins (and families) may be coming next Summer and it gets too cold to have the plaster set or the paint to dry if I wait too long into the Fall.

And, of course I am chipping away at the Revisiting Scripture book.

Now I can begin to see why I haven’t done so much posting recently!

Hits defy logic

I watch the statistics of the four web/blog sites I maintain on a sporadic basis…I don’t have much to sell and it doesn’t really matter except that one likes to think there are some folks  ‘out there’ who occasionally visit without trying to send a Viagra link. Google Analytics is running and can tell me more than I could ever want to know, but lurking on the bottom of each page is a plugin that simply counts visits…called hits…which was all I had on my first site a decade ago. Back then the count went up by a few hundred a month, so I thought I would see what is happening now. All the sites except C and the 8051 began about mid-March, so the counter may have been running for 5 1/2 months. The totals are as follows:

  1. Wood Islands Prints   1062 hits = 193 hits/month
  2. Wood Islands Sailing  1239 hits = 225 hits/month
  3. Revisiting Scripture       694 hits = 126 hits/month
  4. C and the 8051            2191 hits = 398 hits/month

So the old site…transformed into a blog…continues to get a high number of hits even though I only rarely post new blogs. I like to believe the folks going there are actually buying the book, and my data shows a few 10s of books do sell each month. The sailing blog probably has the large number of hits due to several links on Duckworks…that forum has a high number of followers who follow the links Chuck suggests. But the last two blogs have me confused…disappointed. Wood Islands Prints is the title for my publishing ‘business’ and has random bits about web blogs, marketing, publishing, photography, and painting. It is a sort of home base for everything else. But the blog I have been really hoping to see prosper is the last one…Revisiting Scripture. It seems to have the fewest hits despite efforts to cross-link with similar sites and relatively frequent postings. I knew I would have to find a market for the book by that name, but the blog doesn’t seem to be doing it. Perhaps it shows how a niche market is much more difficult to address.

[Incidentally, the hit numbers include my almost-daily visits to remove spam and check for comments, so the hits/month ought to be reduced by about 30!]

SEO and content

Search Engine Optimization has been a buzzword for years, but the abuses have gotten to the Spy vs Spy stage from Mad Magazine–each one one-ups the action of the other. Apparently there are invisible pieces at the top of a post or page that hold keywords and descriptions, but unscrupulous people stuffed them with things to ‘stuff the deck’ so the legitimate uses were thwarted. The last I heard Google, at least, is ignoring the tags and actually searching through the content of the page.

So my current theory is that there are two ways to grow web site traffic: Continue reading SEO and content

Do I feel stupid!

I’m crushed! I have just discovered that all the vague, short comments with a web address at the end are leading to sites promoting Viagra, etc. I guess spam now comes in sincere-seeming comments. From here on all comments will be moderated. Any with real content will be allowed unless a listed web address leads to some obviously commercial, unrelated site. Also, any “comment” with no readable content will be denied. I apologize to anyone with real comments and I will do my best to approve within a day any (positive or negative) comment that relates to the topics of the site.

Web analysis terms

For those of you who are watching me struggle to get up to speed with web site stuff, let me report a new breakthrough. As I mentioned earlier, I have set up with Google Analytics for the 4 sites I am developing. It was interesting (but of no special importance) to see from what countries visitors came in the last week or so (when I started getting data). But some of the BIG statistics had no meaning. So I looked them up in Google and here are the (mostly Wikipedia) meanings:

Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of people who arrive at any of my pages and never go to any other of my pages from there. Either they came by mistake or else, having arrived, they decided nothing else was interesting enough to click on. I learn that 50% is generally considered good–only one in two stays around. Continue reading Web analysis terms