Once we have learnt about something, once we consider we understand it, think we have mastered it, we like to run with it, to keep it.
We are often loath to stop, to give it up… to alter anything.
Many of us are resistant to change, of losing the little comfort zone we made for ourselves. One can liken such to the reluctance of a child giving up a blanket, or a soother.
If we do make the move, we find it easier to be weaned, to slightly adjust, little by little, so we don’t notice the change, or at least that is how we convince ourselves.
The problem is, by the time our situation has evolved in a way which assuages our reluctance, we find we are far behind the madding crowd, so far behind we have little chance of catching up.
In these days of high tech communications and internet connectivity, it is now more obvious than ever before.
Only the fearful and desperate cling to what once was,.
Only the backward and slow reminisce and wish for those ‘good old days‘ when a Facebook post actually reached ALL your ‘friends’ and not just the 3 to 10% they do with today’s algorithms.
The same is true of your book promotions. This is why your sales do not exceed the minimal expectations you tell yourself are reasonable goals, let alone your wishes and dreams to become a consistent bestselling author.
To give away a book for free is an archaic, outdated and outmoded marketing model. One which no longer holds any credence, but one which so many still cling to with dying hope, like a gambler sliding deeper into depressive debt.
Paying another organisation to give your books away is a sign of utter desperation. A despondent cry for help, for someone, anyone to read your story.
In reality, it is authorship suicide; one you may never recover from financially and one which could leave your reputation in raggedy tatters, before you even start.
Book launches and parties no longer pull the crowds. They are a nice way to spend a few extra hours chatting with those you regularly talk to every day; to hear them say nice things about you, your book and “what a marvellous cover” you have.
But such events no longer attract readers. They have been overdone and done over, like an ancient, wrinkled whore, they no longer hold any attraction whatsoever.
Thunderclaps, Headtalkers, Daycause are little more than a (mostly) unseen flash-in-the-pan. A quick blast of tweets and public post which disappear down the scrolling stream faster than Usain Bolt running a hundred meters.
Authors, you NEED to find new ways to promote your works, ways which offer longevity rather than the promise of making a ‘quick buck’ or selling a few more copies of your latest tome overnight… for one night only.
You need to find a simple, ongoing promotional aid which is always working for you, even when you’re not working.
A low-cost way that won’t break the bank, or better still, a way which will pay you a return, a royalty, on your promotional material.
Now wouldn’t that be wonderful…
If only such a thing existed…
Well, such a thing does exist, but only for those who are prepared to move forward, to see the changing lights (mostly red ones) as social media platforms are brought to task and the hyper highway of freedom and unlimited possibility become more crowded, slower and, well… limited.
A small, but growing group of indie authors, are moving forward into the new dawn of altered perception, of interweb reconstruction and publishing future.
It is a group which, (at present), still has its doors open to welcome a few more indie authors inside. Authors with great tales to share, who are well crafted in penning a wonderful story. Authors who are serious about writing, about selling their books, about being authors.
So, what is this group and who are these indie authors?
Simple, we are Electric Eclectic. The book brand which is sweeping the internet.
Before you ask, yes, this is about sci-fi and Robots… but it also about crime fiction, fantasy, steampunk and many other genres. It’s about understanding, imagination and the muse… so read on…
Like all fiction genres, Sci-fi and its many sub-genres must evolve with the times, writers must look to the future. (pun intended)
Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot”. It is said his brother suggested using a derivative of the word robata, which means literally “serf labour” and figuratively “drudgery” or “hard work.”
No wonder the robots usually want to revolt, to take over our world. To turn the tables on us!
But, long before the word “robot” was invented, the ideas of mechanical or artificial men was in our ancestors’ consciousness. Early ideas of robots or automata drew inspirations from early writings and figures in mythology, who were described as anthropomorphic and crafted from stone or metal.
Described in the Argonautica as a giant man of bronze forged by the smith Hephaestus, Talos is tasked with patrolling the island of Crete and fending off pirates.
However, he is still partially organic, as is shown in the description of a single blood vessel that runs from his neck down to his ankle. Much like with Achilles and his heel, the vein of Talos is his weakness, and he dies in the story from exsanguination.
This developed into ‘other’ forms of automata,
In ETA Hoffman’s short story, The Sandman, the main character Nathaniel falls in love with the daughter of one of his university professors.
While she is beautiful and elegant, Olympia speaks very little, only responding to conversations with “Ah”.
She is also often motionless for long periods of time.
The people around her find this disconcerting, and it is eventually revealed that she is a lifelike doll.
Enter the early days of Sci-fi as we recognise it now,
Edward Ellis’s Steam Man is an early example of the Edisonade genre of science fiction.
Derived from Thomas Edison’s name, the genre describes stories that feature an ingenious young American inventor, who uses his inventions to go on adventures, solve problems, and defend himself against his enemies. The invention often has many purposes, such as weaponry and transportation.
In this case, the teenage hero is Johnny Brainerd, who creates the steam man and uses it to pull wagons that can carry passengers. Despite its large size, the steam man can run quite fast, and Johnny uses this to his advantage (such as, for hunting buffalo).
An imitation of this story was written by Harry Enton in 1876, called Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains, which also features a young inventor and his robots. Frank Reade’s steam man improves upon the first, with a much more efficient engine due to improvements in hydraulics and use of lighter-weight alloys. Thus, it is faster and stronger. Frank Reade’s son, Frank Jr., would eventually go on to create Steam Man Mark III, and replaced the use of steam with the use of electricity.
This and Steam Man of the Prairies were dime novels, popular fiction that is much like the comic books of today.
Dorothy finds the mechanical man, Tik-Tok, with a printed card suspended from the back of its neck.
The card provides directions for ‘using’ Tik-Tok, such as how to make him speak, think, and move by winding the clockwork in his body. Tik-Tok needs to be periodically wound like a toy to function, as he cannot wind himself up.
Tik-Tok has been referenced in other fiction, and his benign nature subverted into something more sinister, such as in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and John Sladek’s Tik-Tok.
As I spoke of in the opening paragraphs of this post, the term Robot arose thus…
This famous play, which was successful in its time, describes a factory that makes artificial people or roboti, from synthetic organic matter.
Less like robots and more like androids or cyborgs because of their biological nature, these synthetic people work for humans but eventually organize an uprising, causing the extinction of humans.
Karel Capek’s play is influential for being the first to use the word “robot”, replacing “automaton” or “android”. It is also worth noting that “robota“in Czech means forced labour, of which the robots in the play were made to do.
“Robot:We wanted to be like people. We wanted to become people.
Radius:We wanted to live. We are more capable. We have learned everything. We can do everything.
Robot:You gave us weapons. We had to become the masters.
Robot:We have seen the mistakes made by the people, sir.”
Which basically, and with a giant leap of literary faith, brings us to the time when robots were simply robots, like Robby from ‘Lost in Space’. A time when Isaac Asimov penned ‘I Robot’ and hope for humankind lingered.
We all knew where we stood.
Then along came James Camron who introduced us to Skynet, and all hell broke loose.
So, where does that leave us, how can we tell new, inventive and genuinely futuristic tales of machines, androids and automaton now?
Maybe, a little closer inspection of where we stand now will help us, if we stand on tiptoes and look far over the rising horizon…
Robots are all around us, toiling away in factories and warehouses, busting a gut in landfills and working in hospitals. The NAO model introduces school kids and students to programming and robotics and it also teaches children with autism. Another model, Pepper, was created to work in the service sector; its tasks include attracting potential customers and consulting with buyers.
As the IOActive team discovered, to seize control of NAO you only need to be on the same network as the robot. Experts found vulnerabilities allowing commands to be remotely executed, effectively giving over full control of its actions.
To demonstrate how these vulnerabilities can be exploited, the team forced NAO to demand bitcoins from its human interlocutor.
But real criminals would be limited only by their imagination and programming skills. What’s more, it’s not just NAO that can be infected with ransomware; the more business-oriented Pepper is just as vulnerable, and other models probably are as well.
Just imagine if one fine day a robot teacher or store clerk, in full view of John Q. Public, started swearing and insulting people before going on strike or picking a fight.
You never know.
But why would anyone hack a robot?
What do criminals have to gain here? Won’t it just spoil someone’s day or their life? That might be enough incentive for some hackers, who often do such things just for fun.
But there’s another reason: money.
The profit motive is simple. Buying a robot costs about $10,000; and if it breaks, it must be repaired or replaced.
Both of those require a fair bit of cash, but factor in the downtime cost and reputational loss of having a robot threaten customers and the sum rises considerably.
If an industrial robot is hacked, it can pose an immediate threat to employee safety or production quality.
An attacker compromising a robot in one of those ways might offer a quick solution to the problem, (which they caused), pay a ransom and everything will be just fine.
But, as you might guess, cybercriminals don’t always keep their word. Of course, the vulnerable robot might be hacked again, requiring another payout.
And then, another,and another…
What can be done?
Robots are here to stay (and multiply), so avoiding contact with them is not the way to go. For that, you’d need to invent a time-machine and go back a long, long way as mentioned above.
Instead, users and manufacturers need to be sensitive to robots’ weaknesses to ensure these devices do not go from cutting-edge to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Robot creators need to think through security issues in advance before production starts. Today. Better still, yesterday.
Then, after product release, all ears must be kept firmly to the ground to respond promptly to reported vulnerabilities and get them fixed.
…Or some sort of mayhem, a type of life-shattering, civilisation ending apocalypse may just leap from the pages of a book and into reality…
Or maybe that is just my way of stimulating your muse… think on, but carefully and you could join the ranks of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov.
You see not all sci-fi which includes rouge robots must be apocalyptic, that idea has been done, and done, and done to death. Now it is time for a differing approach.
Take your favourite crime-based books or film, or a combination of both media. Choose a story without any robots and select a character or two.
Now, think of your chosen characters as automaton, combine those two or three films/books plots. (If they are Hollywood or from mainstream publishing, it will not be a difficult task because they use a five, or seven-point, plotline… its what makes mainstream boring and predictable.) and start writing. Don’t copy… No plagiarism allowed; simply let your muse write the story guided by the basic (combination) of the plot(s) outlines.
You will have a brand-new crime story, but one which includes robots. It does not even have to be set in the future or on another planet, it can be urban fiction, steampunk, fantasy… you decide.
What you will have is a cross-genre fictional work which can be promoted to a wider, but targeted audience. That means greater sales opportunities and a much larger readership potential.
Why not make your robot a stooge, a fall guy? Have the reader fall in love with it, empathize with it.
Alternatively, have your robot(s) as the victim, the missing link to solving a situation… not all robots are bad, not all are good, some simply have frailties, others damaged personalities, why, some are even human… aren’t they?
Whatever you do, have fun and visit my website HEREI have a load of crime fiction and other ‘stuff’ you will just love. But don’t just take my word, go and have a look now.
Yep, that’s a long(ish) title but it says what this post is about.
I have been asked on several occasions if my books are [officially] available from outlets other than CreateSpace/Amazon.
The answer is:I am slowly extending the platforms where my books can be obtained. Migrating some and simply offering others on multi-platforms.
The reasons for the disparity are many, I shall not delve into them all here.
Another issue on many sites is the price charged for my books. This is to some extent beyond my control, or at least I am bound by certain parameters which make it impossible for me to have a single fixed price across all outlets.
While this is somewhat annoying, I can see the relation with other products, the ‘recommended retail price‘, or ‘manufacturers suggested selling price‘, which individual retailers try to ‘discount’ against as they compete for their percentage of the market share.
I have come to accept, as an author, I am at the behest of these marketing trends and the need for retailers and distributors to make a profit, both which influence the pricing of my books.
Whilst I am happy in most cases to allow market demands to guide basic pricing structures, (after all, no one will pay more than they are willing,) it can become an annoyance in certain situations.
Allow me to explain.
I am sure, or at least I hope, you are aware of Electric Eclectic books. These novelettes, branded by Electric Eclectic, are designed to introduce readers to great authors and amazing stories.
The plan for Electric Eclectic is to offer each novelette at a uniform single price of ‘ONE’.
That’s £1.00, $1.00, € 1.00 etc.
While the Pound (GBP) and the Euro worked, Amazon.com insists adding tax after a price is set. So, the $1.00 becomes $1.34. (With the Euro, Amazon.EU & The Pound, Amazon.UK, the selected price includes tax, so you can accurately select a specific number which will show as the price the store shows.)
While I prefer the sales and marketing aspect of 1.00, a neat, round, simple figure. The issue is further compounded when listing your books in ‘other’ bookstores as they each have their own pricing parameters.
This gives a wide disparity of prices for the same item.
Take my book ‘Three Floors Up’, an Electric Eclectic Novelette such as mentioned above. This is 1.00 on both the Amazon.UK and from Amazon.EU. It shows as 1.34 on Amazon.com, although the price of 1.00 was selected on the site.
This alters further, to 1.39 & 1.43 on a dozen more online bookstores, until you reach Apple iBooks where it retails at 1.99, double the price, all bar a single cent, to that which I initially set when publishing on Amazon Kindle. (KDP).
I am sure there are reasons for such a wide differential, none of which I care about to the degree of losing sleep. This is because those who are dedicated to Apple are clearly willing to pay slightly more for a book, as are those who dislike Amazon. I know some people who detest them with a passion verging on hatred.
If you are one of the above or have a direct link, an investment, or another affinity with a particular bookstore platform you will be happy to know all my Electric Eclectic books, and some other works are now online at a selection of alternative stores. (My other books will follow in due course).
These are the main online retails officially authorised to retail my books.
Amazon, CreateSpace, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple IBookstore (Tunes), Google Play, Baker & Taylor and Peecho, are the prime retailers and distributors.
These are my Authorised Booksites, ones with direct links to the retailers.
BookRix, GoodReads, Authorsdb, Authors Den, and Electric Eclectic.
Bootlegging and unofficial distribution of books is a major internet concern.
Sites with unofficial listings of my books may deliver a poor-quality product. Downloads from these sites may infect your device with a Virus, deliver Trojans, Worms or Ransomware.
Such sites create opportunities for Phishing, Mining and Pwning of your Personal Data.
This is what The Frugal Author says you can achieve, in this book of the same name.
He has written this book as an aid for independent authors in pursuit of economical, prudent self-publication.
The Frugal Author produces his own eBooks, paperbacks and high-quality hardcover publications with very little if any, financial outlay.
This book is full of the distilled results, the acquired knowledge and personal practice of being a successful indie author who dislikes paying out more than is absolutely necessary.
In this book, he explains how he achieves that, along with insights into indie publishing and sharing his ideas of how you too can implement the same type of methods for your own books.
The Frugal Author is NOT a ‘how to’ book. It is NOT a step by step guide or tuitional publication. The Frugal Author simply shares methodology, ideas and principles which you can adopt fully or partially, implement in part or whole over time and adjust to suit your own working practices.
You may well ask what credibility The Frugal Author has? and you are right to do so.
To date, he has published 19 books, ranging from children’s stories and poetry to psychological suspense. From Tales of Crime & Violence through to true accounts of Life in the Warzone. Pulp-fiction comic book yarns are written alongside romantic stories and non-fictional military social history.
The Frugal Author is a true multi-genre author. He is also a multi-format author having eBooks, Paperbacks and Hardcover publications.
Two of his books are recognised and authenticated Amazon bestsellers.
He is a well-known and respected member of the global Indie Author and Writers community and a founding member of APC, Authors professional Co-operative, Founder of Electric Eclectic books and chief editor of CQI Magazine.
He is acknowledged for the help and advice he shares and the initiatives he employs to help all writers succeed, irrelevant of their experience.
Now, he is sharing some of his ideology and methodology with you in this book, The Frugal Author.
Download yourself a copy today, start saving money and start heading into profit… NOW.
It is some time since I wrote a ‘Rambling’ Rambling on this blog.
Partly, this is because of the large number of commitments I have undertaken recently. Commitments which have left little time to indulge myself in creating an informative and entertaining Ramble.
Which I hope this post shall be, (at least if you read on from this point.) Although this post may seem to ‘go around the houses’ to reach its point, bear with me. It will be worth it in the end… Honest 😊
My last Rambling style post was a bit of a rant, but one which shares the truth about how ineffective giving away free booksis and how doing so is damaging all indie author’s prospects.
This post sort of follows suit regarding ranting… maybe I am becoming a ‘Grumpy old man’ or maybe I am already one?
The basic theme here is “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.” In fact, I think I’ll use that phrase as the title of this post.
First, the ‘whining and whinging’, the consistent, droll, mind-numbing drivel I am hearing from too many indie authors recently.
“My sales are bad.”
“Facebook doesn’t help anymore.”
“Things are getting worse.”
“People don’t even want my free book.”
“Nobody leaves reviews.”
“Adverts are so expensive and don’t reach enough people.”
And so forth. All one must do is read the comments and posts in various social media groups and pages to find a torrent of such remarks.
Now, I may or may not agree with all the above. Okay, the first three are stupid statements, the last three have some if little, merit.
But this wave of despondency seems to be sweeping the internet at present and gathering momentum as it does.
Fuelled, no doubt, by the rumours about CreateSpace, Amazon and Goodreads along with the recent and forthcoming changes and alterations to Facebook.
Don’t ask me for details, go read Gisela Hausmann’s books on the subject, she is far better informed than I. Read more Here
Now, nobody said writing a book would be easy. Nobody told me marketing and selling would be a cinch.
It takes commitment, persistence, patience and determination… and lots of it. I said lots of it, that’s much, much more than you are considering or believing right now. So, treble the difficulty factor and then multiply that by the power of 92 and you could be approaching reality.
Calculate the exact opposite for difficulty and obstacles. The resultant sum should reflect the starting point of your journey into the realms of authorship.
Bilbo Baggins exploits were a simple walk in the park, in comparison of what you shall have to endure.
That is why we love being indie authors.
However, (for those who may not be familiar with my Ramblings I love the ‘However’s’.)
So, to continue.
However, I cannot take this downhearted view as one expressed solely by the Indie community, or for that matter, one voiced on social media alone.
I think this mood or at least the pessimistic and depressed expression of disappointment and negativity concerning the present and, more so, the cynical distrust of the future is something which is sweeping our society.
This attitude has now reached such proportions everybody has to have ‘a condition’, be it a simple skin complaint, a dietary need or speech impediment, let alone a major physical or mental syndrome.
As an alternative, or as an added factor, one must also be a survivor… of sexual or mental abuse, a victim of crime, a recovering drug user or alcoholic with latent effects of reoccurring PTSD… and so forth.
Nowadays everyone must have an underlying ‘Backstory’ to be accepted as part of our modern society, however truthful or however factitious that may be.
Personally, I blame Simon Cowell and the XFactor… which traumatic experience I have survived, by the way.
I am an exexfactorbackstorysurvivalist, in tentative remission.
NOW… don’t get me wrong. I am not speaking of genuine suffers from such disorders, I am speaking of the media hype and their insatiable appetite to present all who become ensnared in their tentacles as some form of miracle entity. A god or goddess-like warrior who has fought off the evils life has thrown at them.
Such influence affects us and our children’s perception of ‘normality’ in the most ambiguous ways. It is this seeking of constant sensationalism which clouds many of the authors and writer’s minds when they complain about how difficult it is to sell their books.
Instead of ‘doing something‘ to alter the situation it is far easier for many to shout “I am a Victim” and “Facebook is abusing my rights” and such like.
This is where, if you are still with me, I refer you back to the title of this post. “Stop whinging, get off your arse and DO something about it.”
I shall finish with one simple and short example-
I recently launched an initiative for indie authors called Electric Eclectic. I doubt very much if you have not seen at least one blog, post, comment or advertisement concerning such.
Electric Eclectic allows indie authors a way of using, or recycling, short stories to market and sell their prime titles. This is a form of promotion which actually earns the author money while working as a silent salesman on their behalf.
I have offered, both on major social media sites and by personal email invitation, the opportunity for a limited number of other authors to join us.
The take-up has been dismal, even though our own authors have seen sale generated via Electric Eclectic already and indications of ongoing success.
YET, I have seen some of those who know about this opportunity continue to whinge and whine about sales, the cost of promotion and the ‘state of the market’ while ignoring the offer from Electric Eclectic and other genuine initiatives.
My suspicions are these people enjoy the attention their complaining creates and, I wonder if, they like to ride the current media bandwagon of portraying themselves as victims, casualties and wounded sufferers of circumstance?
Thank you for reading this Rambling. Paul.
To find out more, or to request becoming an Electric Eclectic author, visit the website HERE and use the contact page to message Electric Eclectic.
From logging in to our social media accounts to buying new shoes, we wouldn’t be able to get much done without first logging into an account with a password. The problem is, as more and more of our everyday lives have gone online, particularly as authors and writers, when we need a wide range of internet sites and platforms to market and promote our books.
Chances are you have needed to create more passwords than ever, which can cause problems. After all, who uses a different password for each and every site? Perhaps not many of us, if we’re being honest.
Indeed, according to new research from Kaspersky Lab, people tend to fall into one of two camps: those who use passwords that are complex but difficult to remember and those who create passwords that are easy to remember but easy to crack.
Complex but forgettable
Those of us who create complex but difficult to remember passwords may have more secure accounts, but sadly they also have a tendency to forget these passwords. After all, it’s a lot easier to remember password123 than to remember Pa$$W0rdTh3G14nT123.
And a fair number of people surveyed understood the need for complex passwords, with 63% selecting online banking accounts, 42% payment applications including e-wallets, and 41% online shopping as types of accounts that need the most secure passwords.
However, 51% of people admitted to storing their passwords insecurely, and a staggering 23% said they store them on a notepad.
Short, handy, easy to crack
According to the research, a disheartening 10% of people surveyed admitted to using the same password for every account they own — a practice that increases the very real risk of account compromise. Reuse one password for all accounts and you ensure that if one account is compromised, they all are. You can check to see which accounts of yours could be compromised here.
On top of that, the research showed that 17% of those surveyed had faced the threat of account compromise, or actually had an account compromised, in the past 12 months.
The third way
One solution can fix both problems: a password manager such as Kaspersky Password Manager. Using a password manager might sound like something only geeks would do, but actually, it’s surprisingly easy to use. You create one complex password (we’re all capable of remembering one difficult password!), and it protects all of the other passwords. The password manager stores and fills in passwords for all of your online accounts, and everything is secured using encryption so that nobody can snoop.
However, if you’re looking for some quick tips, resident tech expert David Emm suggests the following:
Make every password at least 15 characters long — the longer the better.
Don’t make passwords guessable. There’s a good chance that personal details such as your date of birth, place of birth, partner’s name, and so forth can be found online — for example, on your Facebook wall.
Don’t use real words. They are open to “dictionary attacks,” someone using a program to quickly try a huge list of possible words until they find one that matches your password.
Combine letters (including uppercase letters), numbers, and symbols.
Don’t “recycle” passwords — say, david1,” “david2,” “david3,” etc.
Use a different password for each account to prevent all of your accounts becoming vulnerable.
If you suspect your password has been compromised, change it immediately.
Stay safe out there.
Sometimes, just sometimes, a book comes along which tends to re-define certain aspects of expectation.
This new release from Paul White, DARK WORDS, is a book which contains several short stories, poetry and some written works which defy classification, they are… prose, articles, essays for want of interpretation. Each written piece is deep, meaningful and emotive. Paul explores avenues, dark avenues of the human psyche where many dare not venture.Hurt, fear, pain, self-harm, love, hate, loathing, love lost, depression, loneliness, anger, suicide, anxiety, all these and more are considered within the pages of DARK WORDS.
In Paul’s own words…
“Dark days come to us all at some time in our lives.Heartbreak, grief, fear, loss, pain and anxiety collide and conspire, individually and collectively to bring us down.We feel the battles rage within ourselves; they fight and scream in a tortured anguish of emotional turmoil.Solace is often found alone, in dimly lit rooms, with mellow songs playing over and again.Reading DARK WORDS, sharing the pain within these tales help us dry our own tears, to drive away the clouds of uncertainty and crush the demons which haunt our souls.To accept and acknowledge the blackest days of our lives often reveals the pathway from the shadow maze of obscure reflection, into the sunlight of possible future.Dark days come to us all, at some time in our lives. They are not the place for us to dwell for too long.They are not our home.”
DARK WORDS is one of those books you should, you need, to have on your bookshelf. One of those books everybody should read, at least once in their lifetime. Get your copy today, now,http://amzn.to/2E79PI
Don’t worry if you live Stateside, Dark Words is available on Amazon.com tooHERE
The green lock means that the site has been issued a certificate and that a pair of cryptographic keys has been generated for it. Such sites encrypt information transmitted between you and the site. In this case, the page URLs begin with HTTPS, with the last “S” standing for “Secure.”
Sure, encrypting transmitted data is a good thing. It means that information exchanged between your browser and the site is not accessible to third parties—ISPs, network administrators, intruders, and so on. It lets you enter passwords or credit card details without worrying about prying eyes.
But the problem is that the green lock and the issued certificate say nothing about the site itself. A phishing page can just as readily get a certificate and encrypt all traffic that flows between you and it.
Put simply, all a green lock ensures is that no one else can spy on the data you enter. But your password can still be stolen by the site itself if it’s fake.
Phishers make active use of this: According to Phishlabs, a quarter of all phishing attacks today are carried out on HTTPS sites (two years ago it was less than 1 percent). Moreover, more than 80 percent of users believe that the mere presence of a little green lock and the word “Secure” next to the URL means the site is safe, and they don’t think too hard before entering their data.
What if the lock isn’t green?
If the address bar shows no lock at all, that means the website does not use encryption, exchanging information with your browser using standard HTTP.
Google Chrome has started tagging such websites as insecure. They might, in fact, be squeaky clean, but they don’t encrypt traffic between you and the server. Most website owners don’t want Google to label their websites as unsafe, so more and more are migrating to HTTPS. In any case, entering sensitive data on an HTTP site is a bad idea — anyone can spy on it.
The second variant you might see is a lock icon crisscrossed with red lines and the HTTPS letters marked in red. That means the website has a certificate, but the certificate is unverified or out of date. That is, the connection between you and the server is encrypted, but no one can guarantee that the domain really belongs to the company indicated on the site. This is the most suspicious scenario; usually, such certificates are used for test purposes only.
Alternatively, if the certificate has expired and the owner has not gotten around to renewing it, browsers will tag the page as unsafe, but more visibly, by displaying a red lock warning. In either case, take the red as the warning it is and avoid those sites — never mind entering any personal data on them.
How not to fall for the bait
To sum up, the presence of a certificate and the green lock means only that the data transmitted between you and the site is encrypted, and that the certificate was issued by a trusted certificate authority. But it doesn’t prevent an HTTPS site from being malicious, a fact that is most skillfully manipulated by phishing scammers.
So always be alert, no matter how safe the site seems at first glance.
Never enter logins, passwords, banking credentials, or any other personal information on the site unless you are sure of its authenticity. To do so, always check the domain name — and very carefully; the name of a fake site might differ by only one character. And ensure links are reliable before clicking.
Always consider what a particular site is offering, whether it looks suspicious, and whether you really need to register on it.
Make sure your devices are well protected: Kaspersky Internet Security checks URLs against an extensive database of phishing sites, and it detects scams regardless of how “safe” the resource looks.
I hope this highlights some areas you may not have been aware of. It’s always good to know ‘stuff’
This post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books.
As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.
A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.
Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.
Curiosity got the better of me.
Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?
Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal level and Dyslexia in general.
Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.
A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states, “It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “
Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”
In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.
At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.
Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.
Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).
All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:
Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.
Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.
A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.
My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?
It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.
Unlike the following.
This differed to most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.
Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.
This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.
I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’
I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.
This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.
Eliminating irrelevant words.
You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information and data. Another skill set entirely.
Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query synopsis, or for a promotional activity.
We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for better reading. But so does spacing and breaking them up, like I have done in most of this post.
Please do not get me wrong.
I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.
I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.
Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.
To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.
My lesson following my conversations with ‘Jay’ is, “We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better. How wrong I was.”
Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.
I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.
You have guessed it, this post is all about marketing…
BUT… not marketing as you may comprehend it from a basic level, which is an amalgamation of advertising and promotion, but marketing from a perspective you may not have realised exists.
Have I got your attention?
I do hope so, because I believe having a clear understanding of this view of marketing can make or break your success as an author.
I once worked in hard-copy magazine publishing and spent many hours discussing marketing with prime agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, John Walter Thompson (JWT), BDM & BBDO (now combined with Abbott Mead & Vickers I think,) along with media buying services Zenith, Media.com and OMD and PR companies including Ogilvy, Brunswick and Edelman.
ALL the agents I met were looking for that ‘something’ which would take the target audience by storm. They all wanted to make their mark within the industry by having a campaign which would enter media/publishing/broadcasting folklore. I.E, propel them into ‘the big time’.
Now, I am not one to poo-poo or trying to dissuade anyone from wishing to advance their career, far from it, BUT (I always have but’s in my blog posts), these agency agents failed to notice an overriding fact. The most successful agents, many whom now owned or partnered the companies these agents were working for, became successful by constants and continuity, not by a flash in the pan, however big a bang that may make at the time.
It is this same attitude I find when speaking to many business people, including authors, particularly new and/or first time/wannabe writers.
It is irrelevant, regarding the content of this post, if you write the most amazing, perfectly formed tome ever, or you have hastily scribbled a ‘quick’ novella or e-book novelette.
NO one will buy your book… unless they know about it, so you must tell people you have written a book. Doing so is called advertising, which a division of marketing.
Running a Thunderclap or posting about your book on social media is another area of marketing, like sending emails to friends to let them know you have published your book, BUT (another one), these are only the most obvious and basic parts of what marketing covers.
However, what marketing REALLY is, is EVERYTHING that you do.
Allow me to explain.
Whatever tasks you are working on now, right now, ask yourself this question… “How does this affect my marketing?”
Ask yourself this question at the beginning, during and at the end of each and every task you undertake in your role as a writer and author. Soon you will begin to understand everything has some form of influence in marketing you and your work to the world.
The way you look and dress in a video or podcast… “How does this affect my marketing?”
The images you post on social media. “How does this affect my marketing?”
Your profile image, “How does this affect my marketing?”
Your comments and replies. “How does this affect my marketing?”
How you look and speak at book fairs and events. “How does this affect my marketing?”
The layout and design of your tables and space. “How does this affect my marketing?”
Where, when and how you advertise and promote. “How does this affect my marketing?”
…… and so on.
You may notice I have not touched on your books covers, content, banners, advertising material design or so on, yet.
When do you make a paperback or eBook version of that book? “How does this affect my marketing?”
Did you notice I said when? Timing is also critical as an aspect of marketing.
There is an old, but true adage, is say’s, “If you want to sell your [books] you have to sell yourself first.”
Nothing is truer.
Another is, “People buy People”.
I will not argue with that.
These are things we all need to keep in mind. Dale Carnegie should have said, “we have to win friends to influence people.” That saying would sit well in our modern digital world.
In conclusion, we must create a persona as an author or business person. Much like a fictional character from one of our tales.
This character however should not be fake, but a facet of ourselves, our ‘public image’ one we must nurture and cultivate in absolutely everything we do.
The one of which we ask, “How does this affect my marketing?” in everything you do.
Only by doing so, by becoming aware that marketing means marketing YOURSELF, constantly, consistently and at every opportunity can you play the long game, the strategy which will make you an ongoing constant and not another nonentity looking for that great flash in the pan, the non-existent big bang which will propel you into the big time.
I could go on and write more. But… (another but) I would like you to consider this content seriously before I delve any deeper into the subject of marketing.
I often hear authors sound flabbergasted when their books, even their newly launched publication, the one they have been working on for so long and spent a fortune, in both time and effort promoting and marketing, shows as OUT OF STOCK on major bookstore sites.
I mean, how can a brand-new novel, only published yesterday, already be out of stock? Besides, it has been published as a POD (print on demand) so it can never be out of stock… can it?
Why, if it is available from one site, is it showing as out of stock in another? It all seems so confusing.
I have been asked, “Surely if my potential reader sees out of stock against my book, they will simply by another book, someone else’s book… won’t they?”
My answer is “It is a possibility, even a probability.”
So, why can/does your newly published book show out of stock on some site and stores listings.
There are a few reasons. Much depends on who has published your book. CreateSpace, another online book publisher like Babybook.com or a private printing company and who holds your prime stock, if any.
That last part may sound a strange inclusion when speaking of POD books, but some places will/do hold stock, physical stock of POD books… I bet you never considered that before, did you?
Okay, so let me clarify some of this.
First let’s speak of those who may hold actual stock of your books.
These are varied, so this is a general overview rather than a focused statement.
Many high street book stores, even some of the larger chains, do hold some independent authors books. You may have to get ‘lucky’ (or have a proven ‘bestseller’) for your book to take up valuable shelf space which is at a premium at this level of retail, but it can happen.
There are even a few re-sellers and wholesalers who are looking closely at getting more indie authors books in front of the high-street public… but that’s another story (Pun intended.)
Book stores generally order their books on a fortnightly basis, often guided by their sales/buying/distribution agents convoluted algorithms, which are designed to predict purchasing patterns. Hence, if your book has continued/constant high-volume sales on a site such as Amazon, your book could, possibly, maybe, end up on the shelves of your local book store.
This is how the book store, should they have an internet presence, (I don’t know one that does not), may list your book as out-of-stock. This does not mean your book cannot be purchased via that particular site, only that the store does not have it on the shelf, or on their warehouse, but your order will be dispatched as soon as the new fortnights order arrives from the wholesale/re-sale company.
The agent will order your book as a multiple/bulk order and distribute copies to the relevant stores they supply the inventory for the two-week cycle. It is these companies who would, for example, buy from Amazon as part of the ‘Expanded distribution’ should you have enabled that option.
Now, let’s get to grips with the sites that do not hold any, or very little, stock and why they may mark your book as out of stock. (This post is Amazon focused, simply because they are the largest bookseller and I am certain almost every indie has, or has had, dealings with them.)
Historically the biggest times of out of stock, or two to three weeks delivery came when Amazon was solidifying its position as the major book distributor in the world. It had a long ongoing, but quiet battle with Lightning Source and the two main suppliers Amazon used as dropships, Ingram and Baker& Taylor.
As part of the ever-growing Amazons domination it needed warehouse space and to reduce costs, which can spiral, expedientialy even for a massive organisation.
Thus, Amazon reduced its stock levels of all POD books re-ordering necessary stock on a daily basis. But this was not always enough time for POD printers to supply demand in the timespan, hence out of stock messages appeared.
Now, all this and the continued adjustments since, created a shift change in the market place. CreateSpace is now undoubtedly the main supplier of indie books to Amazon. So, for the least chance of having your book listed as out of stock, or as a delayed delivery, CreateSpace is your best bet.
Lightning Source, Blurb, Babybooks, Lulu and so on take a secondary seat in the ongoing war for profits, which is what effects your book sales the most. You cannot blame Amazon or Barnes & Noble, Ingram or anybody else, this is what business is about, maximising revenue and profits.
So, on that basis, not one of these companies actually cares about you, or your book. (on an individual basis). It is nothing personal, your book is just another item of stock/listing among the many millions, which needs to be sold. So, if your POD company does not supply in time, has an issue with Amazon, your book may be tagged as out of stock.
Oh, occasionally it is a genuine mistake, someone clicks the wrong button, but that is far and less often than many would have you believe.
Even if your book is not listed on the major sites, the POD wholesale/agent distribution factors do still influence your books availability.
The note to take from this post, if nothing else, is the misconception most indies have in believing all orders from a POD publisher are printed there and then, to order, on order, of each customer. This is not necessarily true, as I have explained above.
Which is why you could see that unwanted message, ‘out of stock’ on your books sales pages, no matter which site(s) you use.
Finally, as a personal disclaimer, arse covering statement… there are far more book publishers/printers/distributors/suppliers than I have mention here, like TOAD Publishing… oh that’s my own!
The secret is to choose the one, (or the several), which suits you and your needs the best.
That’s it from me just now. I hope this post has been helpful.
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In the meantime, you could sit back and relax with some Tales of Crime & Violence… go on, you know you want too. https://goo.gl/8aY9XR
Choose from volume 1, 2 or 3. Better still, grab all three and save yourself from coming back for another!