Archive for November, 2013

17
Nov
13

Check your “Other” folder on Facebook — it may be the laugh you need!

I, like everybody else on the planet, have found things to complain about with each successive Facebook upgrade over the last few years. One of the worst things to happen, though, was when the site began to cherry-pick your private messages, declaring some of them as “other” and putting them in a separate folder labeled as such. Granted, a lot of the “other” messages were spam or nuisances, but just as many of them were not. People soon found themselves missing out on invitations, events, and other messages simply because they didn’t know there was another folder their communications may be filtering into.

While this filter isn’t quite as bad as it used to be, it’s still a tad frustrating, and it’s still really easy to forget that it’s there. Earlier this evening, while looking at a message, I saw the “other” tab in its usual place — hidden at the top of the page and shadowed, where you’ll never notice it if you aren’t looking for it — with a note that I had 28 unread messages there.

Even though I knew most of the messages would be junk or so far out of date as to be useless, I checked anyway on the off-chance that something that I legitimately need to know about had been shunted off to that folder. And sure enough, there was junk, junk, garbage, and the occasional invite to some sort of online “event” from a writer or publisher I follow, all of which were long passed. But there was one message that perplexed me. It was from a legitimate Facebook user, not a spambot, not a corporate page, with a message that made no sense:

Facebook Guy

I must admit, this was perplexing. I don’t know this person. I don’t know who he is or what I may have said to irritate him on July 12, 2011, to invite this message. But maybe I can do a little Sherlock Holmes-style deductive reasoning and suss out what sparked this…

  • This person was specifically targeting my occupation. Evidently, being a teacher is not a “real job.”
  • On the other hand, this person doesn’t appear to have a good relationship with education in general.
  • Am I, in fact, “too fat to”? I really don’t think so. Sure, I’ve lost some weight lately (and feeling much better, thank you), but 2011 was before I started that particular program. I may have, in fact, been “too fat to” at the time.
  • “go be the loser you are…” I get that. Most people are, in fact, what they are, often to their detriment.
  • “in your box of a house.” Well, this is certainly closer to being correctly written than “so your so your’re not poor anymore.” But a “box” of a house? Dictionary.com defines “box” as “A container, case, or receptacle, usually rectangular, of wood, metal, cardboard, etc., and often with a lid or removable cover.” Hmm. I suppose one could make an argument for calling a house a “box” if you consider things like doors and windows a “removable cover,” but by that definition, aren’t all houses boxes? All buildings of any kind, in fact?

Regardless, I seem to have offended somebody, and that’s not something I ever intentionally do. I like to think I’m an easygoing guy, someone who doesn’t stir the pot or cause trouble, and if someone had a reasonable quarrel with me, I’d like to address it. After all, not everybody is the master of language and grammar that I am, including some genuinely good people who may usually be calm, rational and warm human beings. If this person is among that demographic, it would be worthwhile to see what hatchet, if any, needs burying.

Then I saw the guy’s Facebook profile picture.

Facebook Guy 2Yeah, I think I’m good.

07
Nov
13

Amazon Exclusivity?

Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the service I use to put out all of my eBooks in Kindle Format, is offering yet another service that previously has been unavailable to self-publishers like myself. It will now be possible to easily arrange for your books to be sold at a reduced price for a promotional period — essentially, put them “on sale” — that will automatically scroll back to the regular price after a designated period of time. During this period, it will also appear on the Amazon site as being at a reduced price, something which is psychologically important in the mind of the shopper. There are a few other things available that work as promotional tools, the sort of thing that may snare new readers or people on the bubble about checking out my work, which is a great thing. The wrinkle? To partake in this service, the book must be enrolled in the KDP Select program, which means that it must be exclusive to Amazon’s digital platform, and not available anywhere else. No Nook. No iPad bookstore. No Albanian Digital YakNet Reader. (I… I don’t know what they have in Albania.)

In the past, I’ve always argued strongly against digital exclusivity for self-publishers. Let’s face it, my audience is small enough as it is, it didn’t seem to make sense to limit the potential size even further. Recently, though, I’ve been rethinking this position. Here’s the thing guys: although I never feel comfortable discussing exact numbers, I can tell you this much — my sales last month on Amazon.com were over ten times higher than my sales on all other digital platforms combined. And this is normal. I’ve got no idea why this is. Have Barnes and Noble fans instituted a silent boycott against me? Do iPad readers take umbrage at the fact that I use a Kindle Fire? Or are there simply so many more people with Amazon readers that their audience is that much bigger, and the ratio is perfectly normal?

Fact is, I don’t know. And what’s more, as a writer, I make a terrible businessman. (This is among the reasons I am only a part-time writer.) I find myself wondering now if it would make sense for me to sacrifice that ten percent I’m getting from the other stores in the hopes of reaching out and grabbing a bigger chunk of the Amazon pie. I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’m going to try to do my homework on this, get testimonials from other writers, crunch some numbers, look up what “crunch some numbers” means, stuff like that. But the important thing here is that I’m seriously considering it.

Now you Nook people who may be upset if I take this route, there’s one surefire way to keep it from happening. Get your Nooks and your Nook Friends and have them buy Nookbooks on their Nooks to Nook with. Also, y’know, maybe write some reviews of the books on the Barnes & Noble or iTunes stores to ratchet up the sales. If those numbers were even close to Amazon’s, I wouldn’t be considering this at all.

But for now, I gotta be honest, I think it would be foolish of me to not at least consider this.




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