Creating a Blog that is User-friendly

I’ve learned a lot about blogging since January 2011, when this blog came to life. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it and completed major renovations countless times. Sometimes I made these changes because I was bored with the site; other times I learnt how to improve the appearance and ‘saleability’ of it.

Along the way, I have strived to make the blog design user-friendly. After all, if visitors can’t find what they want and what I want them to find, it frustrates both parties. I’ve been on blogs and websites where information was difficult to locate. I usually give up and search for another site with the same information.

I hope my blog is user-friendly and things are easy to find, but I’m always looking for ways to improve the experience. So when D. Wallace Peach made a post entitled 7 Steps to a User-Friendly Blog, I had to see if there were any tips I could use.

There were, so if you have a blog, I suggest reading her post. Visually, it might not improve your page, but the behind-the-scenes technical stuff will improve a visitor’s experience.

El Camino

hiking shoesAfter watching the movie The Way, I’ve decided to walk El Camino in spirit first while I wait for the opportunity to go to Spain. My trek of 880 kilometres will be tracked on my El Camino page. I’ve been walking since the end of May, but I didn’t start keeping track of the distance until July 1st.

So far, I’ve walked 95 km. I just left Puente la Reina, and I am on my way to Mañeru. So far, my feet feel great–especially with the new hiking shoes. However, my tendinitis is not improving. On the bright side, it’s not getting any worse.

What is Google AMP, and how can I deactivate it?

A few weeks ago, I noticed something strange when I checked the stats for my blog. In the Referrer Section was a referral from me, or at least it appeared to be from me until I revealed the complete address. It began as dianetibert.com.cdn.ampproject.org followed by about 50 more letters and numbers.

The Referrer Section reveals the paths visitors take to get to my website. The majority are usually through search engines, WordPress.com reader, Facebook and Twitter, but I often get visitors from other sites too.

The names are familiar and if a new one pops up, I check it out. Knowing where traffic comes from helps in many ways, including informing me of new websites that may have information that will help me in my publishing / writing journey.

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Saturday Morning News Briefs

Shadows in the Stone Permanently Free at Amazon

FREE eBook Read Everywhere

Many years ago, before self-publishing really took, the goal for many writers was to get a book permanently free at Amazon. It was relatively easy back then but for the past six years, Amazon has been reluctant to set books at permanently free. I was told the only way to do it was to set it for free at other vendors and hope (or scheme) customers would tell on you and Amazon would price match it. However, I’ve tried this several times over the years without luck. Until now.

I checked my sales record this week and discovered the book was being sold for free starting on May 9th. Yet, the book still showed a price of $0.99. Confused, I let it play out, watching my books be purchased for an invisible free price sticker. Last night, I checked again, and the Amazon sites finally revealed the true price: FREE.

Why do authors want a book permanently free? In my case, it’s because I want the first book in the series free in hopes the second book will be bought. Next spring, I hope to publish book 3 in the series, and with this boost in ‘sales’, it should do well. At least that is the hoped for outcome.

You can download Shadows in the Stone at Amazon Canada and Amazon US.

Who’s Pointing at Your Book at Amazon

Last week I shared David Gaughran’s experience with Also Boughts at Amazon. Since then, he’s written a post to share more information on this subject from a different angle. Gaughran’s experience in analysing data such as this helps explain some of the mysteries behind how Amazon works. Read more about this in David Gaughran’s post Who’s Pointing at You.

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Not All Agents and Editors are Honest

Business Musings: Writers, Scam Artists, Agents, and More by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I’ve been following Kristine for many years. She often has a lot to say about the writing business, writers, agents, publishers and everything else regarding the publishing world. This post is no different. We may enter a relationship with an agent, editor or publishing company thinking this is the best thing ever only to learn months or years down the line that it was the worst thing ever.

Here’s what Kristine writes…

Just when I thought it was safe to get back into the water…

FREE eBook Read

I’m editing a lot these days. I only edit short fiction projects. Anthologies, anthology series (Fiction River), the occasional nonfiction book, and some magazines. I’m also consulting with the fine folks at WMG Publishing, because they’ll be handling the contracts for the revival of Pulphouse next year. Dean’s vision for Pulphouse includes reprinting some of the older stories, which means we have to deal with estates.

Too often, estates mean agents.

But even some lazy-ass living writers give their agents control of everything. It took me one year—one year—to get my hands on a non-fiction reprint that I wanted for a project of mine. The centerpiece for that project was an editorial written more than 20 years ago by a writer who had forgotten they had even written it. This writer, a friend of mine, doesn’t do email, and mostly stays off-line. (I know, I know.) I didn’t know about their tech phobia when I started into this, and had sent five different emails before I asked another editor friend how to reach this writer.

The editor advised snail mail.

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Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users

The first news I heard about KDP Print was in an email from Amazon on February 15th. Since then, I’ve read articles, blog posts and comments about it and watched the praise given by Amazon for this service dwindle quickly.

In the email, Amazon announced they were making print book publishing easier for writers. They stated, “KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties, so you don’t have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory.”

That’s what CreateSpace does. Sort of. I believe CreateSpace takes the cost of the printing of the book from the sale price, then takes a cut of the royalties. Until I see the numbers and do the math, I am unsure which service will offer a better financial deal for authors.

The message also stated, “It also enables you to receive consolidated royalty payments for paperback and eBook sales. You can view combined reports and manage your print and eBook publishing from one website.”

Except, I’m okay with visiting two sites to get my sales reports. In fact, I prefer CreateSpace’s sales report much more than I do Kindle’s. Kindle’s is not straightforward and too clunky to find answers quickly.

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A New Formatting Tool for eBooks

The world is always changing, and nowhere is that more prevalent than the publishing world. What was once great last year, no longer works this year, and the tools we use are constantly upgraded and changed to accommodate this rapid evolution.

When I first began publishing eBooks, I formatted them myself in MS Word. But I could not format ePubs. I’ve tried Scrivener to format the file, but I was unhappy with the results. Then I tried Calibre for ePubs, and that worked great for a few years. Last spring during my six-month review, I found formatting issues with eBooks available at a few online retailers. There were no issues with the files I had manually formatted, but the ePubs were a mess.

So I took the leap and rented InDesign. There’s a large learning curve, but once I conquer it, I’ll be able to create eBooks and print books professionally.

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Reclaiming my Disclaimer to reflect my personality and the story

A few months ago, I happened upon a post on The Book Designer blog regarding writing disclaimers. I have never given much thought to disclaimers; they’re as necessary for publishing as ISBNs, and just as boring.

I created the disclaimers for my novels by consulting already-published books to see the wording they used. It’s all pretty standard, and I’ve never read one that stood out. The main point was to tell everyone you didn’t write this book about a real person, so you wouldn’t be sued if someone thought they saw themselves within the story. Basically, you wanted to tell the world, “This is fiction. Nothing real to see here. Move along to the end and buy the next book in the series.”

Original Disclaimer

The disclaimer I created and used in print and eBooks came out to read as…

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