How to get a cool email signature

Hi folks! I am back to Athens after my heavenly Corfu holiday and feeling rejuvenated. This is where I’ve been enjoying the sun and the sea for the past two weeks. Hard to wipe out the dreamy smile on my face, I can tell you…

Anyway, I am thrilled to share today an amazing new tip! Thanks to this article on the Kindlepreneur that is run by cool dude and entrepreneur Dave Chesson, I now have an email signature that rocks!

Here are two different versions – check it out:

The free app is  called Wisestamp. Everything you see above is clickable. For example, the Youtube image takes you to the video, and the banner on the right takes you to my website where readers can browse through my books.

Creating your email signature on Wisestamp takes about ten minutes. And you can add all sorts of things on a free account. You don’t have to upgrade to a paid option.

Note: If you decide to use a banner, you can create it on the free program Canva – choose the format of a Twitter banner as the Facebook one is too big to be inserted whole on Wisestamp.

Once you’ve created your email signature, you get to choose your free email provider to use it on. I chose Yahoo but get this: in the options, Wisestamp set it to ‘all email addresses’ which means that without doing anything else, it is now available also on my Gmail mailbox. Wisestamp will make a quick installation on your computer so the signature will be available to you in future. Once installed, I set mine to not come up on emails by default, unless I insert it manually.

See this icon I’ve circled in red below? That’s where you click to add your signature to the bottom of any email. Easy!

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Now, once you’ve set up your signature, Wisestamp will email you and prompt you to make use of another cool free feature: a webpage where you get to present yourself to others. You create this here and it looks like this:

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Below, you can see the whole page…

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Or, you can see it here live.

People can even email you directly via this page!

The doggie graphic you see on the top right is something I added with the HTML option and it points to my books on my website. With the HTML option you can link up to virtually anything you want readers to see. I also used the Youtube option to link up to my book trailers. At the bottom I added the RSS feed for my blog. Hope this gives you a few ideas if you decide to create yours. It’s all free. I expect this page will come in handy the next time I need to introduce myself to a new associate, reader or new author friend – you never know. And one thing I’ve learned in my interactions with people is that the cooler you look when presenting yourself, the better your brand looks… and that’s of paramount importance, right?

You can create your own presentation page here once you’ve set up your signature.

If you’ve enjoyed this tip, make sure to spread the word! And if you’re not signed up for the posts of  Dave Chesson (The Kindlepreneur), now is the time to do it, if only for the eye-opening free books you get to download. Trust me, you’re seriously missing out if you haven’t checked out Dave Chesson yet. If there’s one thing I could say about him is that he thinks out of the box. And this makes him unique. For me, he’s an absolute star. So go sign up and get amazed. I know I do. Every time.

TWEET TO SPREAD THE WORD:

Author, is your email signature as cool as this? #ASMSG #IAN1 #IARTG Click To Tweet
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Book review: How to get good reviews on Amazon

How to get good reviews on Amazon

I devoured this book. A lot of the advice made sense to me and I’d been following it all along instinctively, but there was so much more in this gem of a book that left me absolutely gobsmacked. I cannot believe how easy it is to identify a nasty reviewer, for example, who hides behind a nickname. That little tip is one of the best I’ve ever been given and I am very thankful it was included in the book. The bits about the forums were scary and left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve been keeping away from forums for this reason and reading this means I now know for sure I never will. There is sound advice throughout the book, most of it reminding us the plain truth that people are basically the same. Honesty and a little flattery will get you anywhere. And when I say ‘flattery’ I mean approaching top reviewers with more consideration and politeness than some authors often do. Theo Rogers gives invaluable advice to help us raise our chances that a top reviewer would accept to read our books. Mind you, I found myself guilty on a couple of non recommended practices, mainly when I first started on my publishing journey. I will certainly adjust my course of action as necessary. Thank you Theo Rogers for these precious insights!

My rating:

5-stars

A book of precious insights

 

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Are you interested to take a peek behind the curtain on the world of reviewers? Are you ready to get inside their heads, learn the jargon, and the best way to approach them? This book will open your eyes and teach you a thing or two!

Visit Amazon

 Tweet to spread the word:

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NEW! Are you an author? Check out my FREE author promo tips & resources here!

 

Author, your newsletters may be getting rejected!

Today, I’m going to share a cracking good tip for indie authors and online marketers in general. It all started recently when my author friend, mentor, and founder of eNovel Authors at Work, Jackie Weger, mentioned that newsletters from Mailchimp are now being blocked by free email providers like Yahoo or Gmail. It was pretty scary, so I made sure to sign on to Mailchimp and investigate.

I accessed my newsletter list, clicked on the ‘settings’, then ‘list name and defaults’, and surely enough, I got this warning message:

mailchimpscrprint

I clicked on ‘learn why’ and it took me to a very informative article on the same site which you can read here.

Basically, it’ll tell you that free email providers like AOL, Yahoo and Gmail are changing their DMARC policies (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) to protect their users from online scammers. Unfortunately, the new strict checks mean that email coming from Mailchimp may be blocked now. Why? Because the free email provider will run a check and see that even though the from address is, say, a Gmail one (as was in my case up till recently), the email didn’t come from Gmail but from Mailchimp. This may cause the ‘sending’ email provider to inform the receiving email provider to reject the email!

Say, for example, that my newsletter is going to an AOL user. In this case, because the from address is a Gmail address, Gmail may suggest to AOL not to deliver my newsletter.

From the above, it’s made clear that in order to safeguard the delivery of our newsletters, we need to change the FROM Email Address on the above screen. Mailchimp advises to use a domain address.

In my case, I needed to create one on my domain, Effrosyniwrites.com.

And this is where things went south for me. Those who have been following my blog, know that I created this site with an online tutorial as I share here. This is because I know very little about domain registration and web hosting. Sadly, even though I had to go into unknown territory, I overestimated my abilities. I assumed that in order to create a domain email address, I needed to go to the site of my domain registrar.

When I did, I found a screen for email forwarding and, without hesitation, created an address and clicked ‘save’. A couple of hours later, my website crashed! There was no way to access it! I contacted Hostgator, my web host, and they told me the domain didn’t point to them! I didn’t get  a stroke, but I got pretty close. That’s what I looked like for a few moments staring at the screen, I can tell you!

catfrustrated

Anyway . . . Once I got some color back to my cheecks, another visit to my registrar’s site confirmed the two name servers I had set up to point to my site on Hostgator had been changed to names I didn’t recognize. What followed was two days of painful waiting and back and forth visits to Hostgator and my domain registrar. After a lot of online chatting and frustrating emailing I realized I’d done a big boo-boo. When I requested email forwarding on the registrar’s site, they presumed they were my web hosts so automatically changed the DNS settings (and the name servers) to the default ones they use. My mistake, of course, but it didn’t help that they had no warning message on the screen (like they did in others) which warned that any changes would change the name servers too.

Anyway, so I was advised to make the changes on the web hosting site instead . . . and of course, I canceled the email forwarding and changed the name servers back to the original settings. Once I’d done that, it was a matter of time till the DNS servers propagated the change all over the internet. It took two days but it was the sweetest feeling when my site was accessible again!

cat happy

So. Now you know what NOT to do, I’ll show you the right way to create a domain email address.

Go to the site of your web host. In my case, this is Hostgator so I’ll give you details for this company. Take the equivalent steps for your own web host, if different: Sign on the C Panel, scroll down to ‘mail’, click on ’email accounts’. There, you’ll create an email address. I chose ‘contact’ as to create contact@effrosyniwrites.com. Make sure to use a strong password! See here how to create one and why hackers will never guess it!

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Once you’ve created the email address, the options under ‘more’ in the above screen will take you further. I recommend you always use the Walk Me Through feature, like I did. It helped me feel more confident as I went from page to page.

Now, once you’ve created the address, you’re ready to access Webmail. i.e. get a screen where you’ll be able to receive and send messages for that email address.

Hostgator lists a few email services to choose from. I chose Roundcube. See below.

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Roundcube is easy to use. I tested it, by using one of my free email addresses to send a message to contact@effrosyniwrites.com, then I replied from it and received fine.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for the final step. Keep the screen on Roundcube open and go back to that warning message on Mailchimp:

mailchimpscrprint

So, on this screen where we started, you now need to change the from address. I deleted the Gmail address and put in its place the new one I created at Hostgator.

Mailchimp then sent me an email to this address. This is standard practice so they know I have the right to use it. When the email arrived on Roundcube moments later, I clicked on the link Mailchimp sent me and, hey presto, Mailchimp accepted my new From Email address.

After the trouble I’ve had, I was so delighted at that point I had to stand and do a happy dance!

happy girl

Do this, and you can have peace of mind too that your newsletters will hit your subscriber mailboxes without any mishaps. Oh! And the added bonus here is that when your subscribers see  a domain address instead of a free one in your newsletter, it helps them recognize your brand! Never underestimate the prestige factor where your brand is concerned.

Now, you may think I’m done advising you but I’m nowhere near finished. Setting this up and avoiding blacklisting in the process seems to me like a legendary trip to Ithaca fraught with danger worse than Cyclops, Sirens and all things nasty that even the great Homer couldn’t have thought up . . . So be warned of the following dangers too:

Some of you may think it’s tedious to have to access Roundcube regularly (or whatever equivalent you will have picked via your web host’s site). But, it is imperative that you check this new email regularly once you’ve created it. Free email providers may send you messages to check it’s an active and legitimate mailbox. Be warned not to leave it unchecked for long periods as it may get blacklisted even then! But if you don’t want to have to check the email too often, there is a solution for that. The first thing people do for this purpose is set up email forwarding. Once you’ve set that up on your web host’s site, the domain address emails will be forwarded to wherever you choose, say, a Yahoo address. But here, you run risks too!

Why? Hostgator, in this useful article, explains that email forwarding can get your domain address blacklisted as well! (Agh! I know, right?) For this reason, they advise that instead of email forwarding, you set up mail fetching. i.e. that you go to your free email provider and set up the mail fetching there. In my case, I tried to get my Gmail address to fetch my domain email but I’m sorry to say, I failed to do so. No matter what I tried, the darn thing wouldn’t work. In the process, I did another online chat with Hostgator staff who gave me even more options (various server and port settings) but to no avail. If you try this, I wish you good luck! Yahoo doesn’t provide a mail fetching option yet for private domains so I’ll probably try again later in future. For now, I’m happy to access my domain email via Roundcube. It takes just a couple of clicks to get to it via my Hostgator C Panel.

I hope this has been useful, and I wish you good luck with this set up. Apart from the unnecessary stress my silly mistake brought on me at first, setting this up on my web host’s site took a few minutes and it was easy to do.

If you have any information on the subject, or if you try this, do comment below and let us know how it went!

Need help with promotion? Check out my FREE, cracking good tips and resources: http://effrosyniwrites.com/for-authors/

Author, your newsletters may be getting rejected! #ASMSG #IAN1 #IARTG Click To Tweet
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Do you love Greece? Check out our guide to Corfu! For delicious Greek recipes, go here. Sign up to the newsletter for Effrosyni’s news and special offers (sparse emails) NEW: To read Effrosyni’s books for FREE (yes, free!), sign up to her team of loyal readers here. It’s free to join!

 

Tripfiction: an awesome site for authors and readers

reading woman beach

Last week, I blogged about Yonndr, a site where readers can search for books set in their travel destinations – or for books set in their favorite places in general! The post was a hit and many among my author friends went on the site to submit their books. I did too, goes without saying. Yonndr have been wonderful and listed my books quickly and impeccably. Today I am back to inform you about Tripfiction, another site that’s based on this awesome concept.

Tripfiction

 

Tripfiction allows refined searches, for example for the Greek island of Corfu, you can refine the search for the village of Kavos. This site also provides the option to add a review!

Anyway, I’m busy today creating new artwork to promote my Corfu-based romance, The Ebb. So I’ll leave you with this little sample that makes me chuckle. Why? The smiling Brit floating in the sparkling Ionian waters is my hubby, Andy. Ah – happy times, and I really can’t wait for my next Corfu holiday.

Happiness2

The process of making the images today is making me all dreamy about Corfu, so I’d better run before I bore you! I expect you have things to do, anyway, like submit (or look for) books on Tripfiction!

Have a wonderful, prosperous day!

Search for books by location on Tripfiction #ASMSG #bookworm #booklovers Click To Tweet
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Do you love Greece? Check out our guide to Corfu! For delicious Greek recipes, go here. Sign up to the newsletter for Effrosyni’s news and special offers (sparse emails) NEW: To read Effrosyni’s books for FREE (yes, free!), sign up to her team of loyal readers here. It’s free to join!

 

Find novels set in your travel destination on Yonndr

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Are you an avid reader? A writer? Or both? Doesn’t matter. Whatever you are, this tip is bound to get you directly to Yonndr looking for books!

Yonndr is a book site with a difference. It won’t list any books, but only the ones based on your selected LOCATION. Say, what? Yes.

Think about it. You’re off to Corfu, Greece for the first time and wondering what books there are out there set on the island. Now, with Yonndr, the perfect reads for you are all in one place. Yonndr doesn’t sell books, but you’ll find on there the links to Amazon.

If you’re an indie author, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve searched various travel destinations and could only find a couple of indie books I recognized. On the contrary, I identified plenty of traditionally published books on there. I wonder if this little gem of a site is a shared secret among the trad publishing world but still waiting to be explored by our fabulous indie universe. So, what are you waiting for? Get there first to add your books, why don’t you?

I just added my books (set on Corfu and Athens in Greece, as well as Brighton, England). Now, it’s your turn!

Get to Yonndr now and don’t forget to spread the word!

Many thanks to my wonderful friend and supporter, Tina Tomlinson, for giving me this tip. You rock, girl!

In this post, I recommend Tripfiction, another site where you can search for books by location! Here, you can even add reviews!

Find novels set in your travel destination on @Yonndr #ASMSG #IAN1 #Booklovers Click To Tweet

 

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Are you a fellow Corfu lover? Check out our guide before your next visit to the island! For delicious Greek recipes, head over to Effrosyni’s Blog. Sign up to Effrosyni’s newsletter for her news and special offers (very sparse emails).

 

Two ways your Amazon affiliate links could get you in trouble

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As serendipity would have it, I picked up not one but two golden nuggets this week related to Amazon affiliate links, which I felt compelled to share here. Trust me, they are small and insignificant things that you’re probably unaware of, but could get you in trouble unless you take remedial action at once.

Obviously, this post is mostly of interest to those who are Amazon affiliates. That is to say, people who embed affiliate tags in their links to Amazon products (in order to gain a small commission from any purchases incurred). Still, even if you are not an Amazon affiliate, the information may still be of use to you if you’re an author so you can warn your reviewers. Stick with me and it’ll all soon make sense.

GOLDEN NUGGET NUMBER 1

You’ve all heard that Amazon deletes reviews (sometimes hundreds in one go!) of people that they suspect know the authors personally. In my post, How to not lose your reviews on Amazon, I discuss some of the ways Amazon finds out when a reviewer and an author know each other. Also, in this post by Gwendolyn Kiste, you will be shown clearly how Amazon sees who knows whom via the use of Super URLs that many authors share without knowing the risks.

Now, to the nitty-gritty of this post – this tip has been shared recently in my writer’s group, eNovel Authors at Work:

Amazon now deletes the reviews of those who use affiliate links to connect to a book on Amazon from a book review post (on a site or blog).

Think about it: You’ve read a book, you post your review on Amazon (so far so good), and then you blog the review on your site but you don’t just link up to the book on Amazon, you add your affiliate tag to the link. Bam! Wham! You just gave yourself a financial benefit from your review! Big mistake… As you know, the Amazon TOS forbids reviewers to receive payment. And yes, you guessed it, Amazon considers the addition of your affiliate tag as payment, even if no purchase is ever made!

We can all continue to blog our reviews, of course, but, without using affiliate tags in the review posts.

GOLDEN NUGGET NUMBER 2

There I was yesterday, browsing through my timeline on Twitter, no care in the world, when this post by Meron Bareket on Social Quant drew my attention like a magnet: “7 Ways Using Twitter Can Leave You in Need of a Lawyer”. Seeing that I use Twitter heavily, I couldn’t ignore that! I am always careful not to step on any toes, especially where plagiarism or image copyright infringement are concerned. This means I breezed through the article, feeling quite safe, until I got to number 3: “Failing to Disclose Affiliate Links/Paid Endorsements”. I’d never heard of The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before. I live in Greece and don’t even know if, being a Greek citizen, I am within their scope of supervision, but being as careful and law-abiding as I am, my immediate decision was to comply anyway. Read the whole article, it’s well worth your time! I made sure to amend all my automated tweets so I can disclose the use of affiliate links. Phew! Another bullet dodged as I roam the obscure paths of Cyberspace! Thank you Meron Bareket!

I know the title of this post refers to two ways… but having discovered the aforementioned tidbits this week my apprehension hit the red part of the scale. I felt compelled to research further and stumbled upon this terrific article by Al-Amin Kabir on Marketever. It lists the various ways Amazon could ban you as an affiliate for using your tags in ways you’re not supposed to. I mean, who would have thought you could get banned for using them on email for example? Phew! More bullets dodged there.

And with that, I’ll let you go. Hope this helps, folks!

Two ways your Amazon affiliate links could get you in trouble #ASMSG #IARTG Click To Tweet

 

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Author promo & services on Effrosyni Writes

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Those who follow my two blogs regularly may have noticed that I’ve been quieter than normal for a couple of months. The reason is I’ve been researching and experimenting like a mad thing. Late last year it hit me all of a sudden that I wasn’t happy at all with a few things on my site and general set up. So I sat down and wrote a list of what I wanted to do and, to my dismay, realized that most of what I needed would require the services of a professional web designer.

My heart sank. My already tight budget  didn’t allow me to consider that possibility. I live and get taxed in Greece, after all, and if you don’t know what that means these days, oh – how blessed you are!

So, knowing I had no other choice, I put on my virtual student hat and got to work. Other than learning a lot online, I also had the assistance of my wonderful author friend, MM Jaye, who imparted information with generosity of spirit and gave huge amounts of her time brainstorming with me as well. Before I knew it, I was learning new tricks fast and effortlessly.

The result? All the things I wanted to do I’ve now begun to implement at zero cost, other than heaps of my time, of course. I began with adding to my site a couple of plugins to solve some commenting and sharing issues I had.

I feel compelled to add here a little tip just for the sake of those who, like me, set up their site using Simon Whistler’s online tutorial: check out the plugins ‘Postmatic’ and ‘Better Click to Tweet’. The former now allows my visitors to subscribe to follow up comments (before, they were never notified their comments had received replies). The latter plugin now allows me to set up scripts for people to share my posts on Twitter (like the one you see at the bottom of this post). As you know, the set up we wound up with via the tutorial doesn’t allow custom scripts when sharing a post. Now, at least, I can create the tweet of my choice so people can share it.

Anyway, I am still working on a couple more projects, and hope to finish sometime this spring. I won’t disclose all my big plans today, but will announce the first two changes that are now underway:

Author services on EffrosyniWrites

There is now a new page on my site called, FOR AUTHORS. There, I invite any fellow writers needing help with copy-editing or proofreading to give me a try. Three successful enovel Authors already have repeatedly. I choose not to name them here even though I am eternally grateful for their trust. They tell me I have an eagle eye for catching typos and that I am meticulous with my advice. Plus, knowing from first hand experience money doesn’t come easy to authors, I offer my services for small donations that are a fraction of the going price. Message me privately and find out more, anytime.

Furthermore:

My professional background of 20 years, other than involving administrative and secretarial work, also involved translations to/from Greek, so that’s also on offer. Although I can think of many ways I can help authors for a small donation, I will highlight here my suggestion to make copyright-free, eye-catching images to accompany your tweets and FB posts. See a small sample of what I can do below but on the page FOR AUTHORS you’ll find more images.

(click any image to enlarge)

It is a known fact that images encourage engagement on the social media. If in doubt, check the infographics online or simply see this Twitter tip. It clearly states adding an image to your tweet will increase engagement by 313% !

FREE & Bargain Deals

The second project I am thrilled to announce today is that as of Friday, February 26, I will be posting weekly to promote FREE & Bargain Deals. At the moment, I am only considering submissions for a small donation of $5.50. In the page FOR AUTHORS, you will find the details of what the promotion entails. You will also find some traffic stats for EffrosyniWrites as well as Twitter Analytics data for my account, @FrostieMoss. This is my strong point on the social media so the promotion I’ll be offering is based mostly on Twitter.

Here is a tweet I got recently from my tweep, Theresa Snyder.

Theresa Snyder RT

Since last October when I blogged our interview that featured her Moroccan Room (her whimsical writing space at home) I never stopped tweeting the post as I loved it so much (what’s not to like about Theresa, right, fellow tweeps?) Anyway, from October till now the post has got 19,900 views, and the tweet still gets RTs as if it were brand new.

For me, this is a great reward because of all the hard work involved. Because I’ve invested so much time on Twitter for the past 2.5 years, my account drives traffic that makes a difference, be it to a post on my site or the sites of others (Kindle Ninja and Molly Greene spring to mind here, for example, if you know them!)

Anyway, these are my news for now! My next projects include creating a new landing page for my newsletter and an ARC reader list, so I’ll be playing around with Mailchimp and Google Docs for a while. New announcements will be made here before anywhere else so watch this space! I hope my next implementations will give a few ideas to those among you who are authors. If you’re not following this blog, go to the side bar to follow from today (via email or feed).

Do you have a promotion coming up? In the page, FOR AUTHORS, you will find the submission form if you wish to try my new service. As mentioned earlier, the start date is February 26th. I look forward to putting your books in front of thousands of new readers!

Before I go, I wish to say a big thank you to the two people who’ve been my rescuers on a day to day basis. I’ve already mentioned MM Jaye, but also wish to thank Nicholas Rossis who helped me enormously setting up a Facebook pixel on my site the other day. Also, his support to me with Socialoomph is priceless, as always.  Maria and Nicholas, this is to say, thank you for being my friends. You guys make me feel truly blessed and honored with your kindness and generosity. 

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New! Author promo & services on Effrosyni Writes. Please retweet #ASMSG #IARTG Click To Tweet

 

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How to get your Facebook timeline just right

This week I stumbled upon a Facebook screen that helped me change my timeline in a way that finally suits me. You know how it goes… your friend list gets longer and longer and before you know it your timeline is packed with uninteresting (if not annoying!) posts while the ones you’d love to see from your favorite pages, best friends or family members are nowhere to be found.

Do you experience this kind of frustration? Fear not, for today I have the solution!

This is easy to do and will take you a couple of minutes. On any Facebook screen, click on the down arrow on the top right.

FB newspref

 

Choose, “News Feed Preferences”, then “Prioritize who to see first.”

This screen opens:

 

FB newspref2

 

This is as easy as A-B-C. Facebook lists all your friends and liked pages here. If you click on an image, Facebook puts a star on it. This is how you tell Facebook to list first on your timeline the posts of these people (or pages).

You are allowed to mark a maximum of 30 people or pages. If you try to star the 31st, it’ll prompt you to un-star someone else so you can star this one.

This little tweak has worked like a charm and I’m sure will maximize your browsing pleasure as well.

Oh – in case you don’t know: You can also tell Facebook who your closest friends are (so you get to see their posts more often). Just go to your friend’s page, hover the mouse over “Friends” and click on “Close Friends.”

While on the subject of Facebook friends, I’d like to give you a piece of advice, if I may, and if paying it forward is your thing:

If an author’s posts are too many, or not of interest, please don’t ‘unfriend’ them or ‘unlike’ their pages. You can continue to support them AND not have to see their posts. How?

Whether it’s their private page or their author page posts that you’d rather not see on your timeline, go to the top right of the post where the down arrow is. Click on the down arrow, then choose to unfollow them. Don’t worry; they’ll never be notified you did this.

This way, their posts won’t come up again, BUT you’re still friends AND your like still counts on their page. It’s a WIN-WIN.

To read some really cool tips and facts on Facebook, head over to this awesome post on HubSpot Blogs.

You may want to subscribe to their Marketing or Sales posts – lots of fresh information there!

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Are you an author? Go here to see how we can help you spread the word about your books!
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Author, enter the competition and get your short story narrated by a pro!

Hello peeps! As you know, I am always on the lookout for new things . . . Today, after speaking to my British author friend, Matt Kruze, I got blogging and sharing like a mad thing; the tip he gave me is just too good to keep to myself!

Matt Kruze has created Bibliophone: a platform for writers to upload audio files of their books, short stories, even poems. Think of the site as a kind of Youtube for audio reads.

 For example, go now and have a listen to Matt Kruze’s The Villager on Bibliophone.

 
the villager1
Please note:
 
Nothing’s for sale on the site. Its sole purpose is to give exposure to authors and their work (authors are encouraged to include their Amazon page with their bio).
 
What type of work is accepted: novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, non-fiction (no problem if you have published the work elsewhere.)
 
What is not accepted: excerpts (only complete works are allowed), KDP Select books (as they need to remain exclusive to Amazon.)
 
To spread the word about his site, Matt is running a competition that’s free to enter: upload a piece of work of max 1,000 words and win the chance to have it recorded by a professional narrator and published on the site. Other than the competition, authors can upload their works at any time. I asked Matt what free software he’d recommend for someone who wouldn’t know where to start as to record their own narration – he said he uses Audacity (free to download and plenty of Youtube video tutorials available).
 
To check out Matt’s site & the competition, go here: http://www.bibliophone.com/the-bibliophone-1000-words-heard-competition/
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Smashwords or Draft2Digital? My experience:

Hello peeps! Today I will share with you my experience with Draft2Digital (D2D) whom I chose to make a freebie book available to all major e-stores. In the process, I stumbled upon formatting issues that I share here. This post will also give you a couple of good reasons why you may choose not to publish your paperback with them.

Let me explain, first of all, that for my novels, I give exclusivity to Amazon, having registered them to KDP Select from day one. As a result, until recently I had no experience with Smashwords or Draft2Digital to make a book of mine available to other sales venues.

Back in the Fall, as I planned to publish a perma-free poetry book to attract new readers to my romance trilogy, I downloaded and began to read Smashwords’ infamous Formatting Guide. I am not ashamed to say, even though I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in IT, that the darn thing gave me a headache and I quit reading half way through. Next, a wonderful touch of serendipity provided the perfect solution. It was brought to me via an article by The Kindlepreneur (Dave Chesson) which showed the pros and cons of Smashwords VS the new kid on the block, Draft2Digital. The said post declared that Draft2Digital is preferable to Smashwords. For me, the biggest advantage of D2D was that they don’t expect you to read a mind-boggling formatting guide to apply, or to cough up a fee to a formatter to do the hard work for you.

So, without further ado, I registered with D2D and had my free poetry booklet sent out to new sales venues in no time. However, I did encounter an unexpected problem with the formatting and this is why I am blogging to tell you all about it. D2D converted my books into ePUB and MOBI format but it wasn’t done in the immaculate way Amazon Kindle does it… For my books, I use a .19 inch indent for every new paragraph. With Amazon Kindle, my book’s indents and line spacing look exactly as they do in the original Word file I upload.

When D2D converted my Word file into ePUB and MOBI format and asked me to check them for errors, I was surprised to see they didn’t look right at all. Take a look at two different passages in the book and you’ll know exactly what I mean:

 

The first line is all over the place in comparison to the rest of the text in any given paragraph – anywhere but honoring the .19 inch indent of the source file I uploaded. Now, here is where it got a bit awkward. I wrote to D2D’s Customer Services Dpt and asked for help to fix the problem, telling them I chose them instead of Smashwords as I didn’t know a great deal about formatting. To my surprise, I received a rather stiff response: “We are not proofreaders nor do we offer a full formatting service, even though we do help when asked to correct minor formatting issues.”

In the same email the agent declared: “Our conversions are made in Standard Narrative Fiction format which means that after every page break or scene break the first paragraph of the section is not indented.  If you look at any print fiction book on your shelves at home you will see the same standard format.”

The agent then offered a solution of sorts – to change the setting of my book from Standard Narrative Fiction format to Block Format, which changed the look of my book into this:

It’s not perfect but, as I had no other choice, I took it. As you can see, all the indents are gone. Furthermore, in the poems, the line spacing has increased… As I said, I had no other choice. At least this way there were no ugly discrepancies that jump out at you when you look at any given page. The agent told me she changed the setting in my book permanently so if I upload a later version it will retain the Block Format setting. So, if you go the same route as me and pick D2D, keep in mind if you encounter the same issues to ask for the Block Format option as opposed to the Standard Narrative Fiction format.

Truth be said, I do feel rather let down about that. In D2D’s home page, they state: “Your style guide is our style guide… Just get us your manuscript and we’ll do all the technical stuff for you.” I’ll say to that that there’s a whole world of difference between this statement and their agent’s response when I asked for help to fix the formatting issues. But, I do admit I was given an automated fix that met me somewhere half way. So there you have it – certainly not perfect as all the original indent and line spacing formatting is lost, but I didn’t have to bother with a formatting guide and it cost me nothing. In these respects, D2D delivered the promise. The publication process to the sales venues was incredibly fast and efficient too, with separate email notifications for every different channel. An excellent, FREE service.

D2D provides an option to publish your paperback with them using Createspace. I gave this a miss for a number of reasons. For starters, why give the middle man a percentage when you can publish with Createspace directly? The publishing procedure on Createspace is quite simple and self-explanatory. Other than that, be warned of these two important reasons why you may want to opt out of publishing your paperback using D2D:

  • D2D only provides one trim size option for paperbacks: 5.5″x8.5″ with black and white print and cream paper. If you’re publishing a non-fiction book this restriction becomes an even bigger problem as the standard out there is cream paper for fiction and white paper for non-fiction.
  • If, like me, you have to use the Block Format option with D2D as discussed above, it will work for your ePub and Mobi books sold out there in e-form but the setting will be lost when D2D sends the file to Createspace. The agent actually told me so – so your paperback may have the bad formatting shown above (if your original Word file looked on ePub and Mobi like mine did originally).

So, there you have it. My experience with D2D – Where I felt it delivered 100% and where it rather failed me. Mind you, I believe this company has a great future ahead of it and it seems active with closing new deals. A few days ago they emailed to advise they sent my book to a new partner – 24Symbols – and will continue to do so with any new e-stores they start collaborating with. Hopefully they will provide more formatting options in future as to do a better job, and maybe one day they will manage to convert Word files in the immaculate way Amazon Kindle does, leaving all line spacing and indents as they are in the source file. We can hope. I certainly do. So, thank you D2D! It was wonderful you came to the rescue to save me from that appalling Smashwords formatting guide. Yuk! Isn’t being indie hard work enough? Kudos to any of you out there who have braved the Smashwords path – I am in awe of you – but for any of you who’d struggle with that ghastly formatting guide like I did, at least now you have a good alternative. Despite the unfortunate formatting issue, I don’t regret my choice and will certainly pick D2D again.

Have you used Smashwords or D2D? What was your experience?

Thanks to D2D, Poetry from The Lady of the Pier (a selection of poems from the trilogy and a short story of sweet romance) is now available FREE on Amazon US &UK, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, Inktera, Oyster, Scribd and 24Symbols.

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FREE Download Links: http://effrosyniwrites.com/books/poetry-from-the-lady-of-the-pier/

 

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