Weekly Feel Good Post! :)

Great suggestions to help anyone feel better about him- or herself. (I also recommend checking out some of the poetry at this site.)

petitemagique

Yes!!!!

It’s time to take a look in the mirror and just feel good about ourselves! 🙂

So, this week we WILL take a look in that mirror…

 

The first thing most of us see when we look in a mirror are the things we DON’T like about ourselves.

Today is different. We are going to spot some things we DO like about ourselves! Yes, everyone can name a couple of things they like, trust me.

 

Just smile at yourself. Like your smile? I do. I love to see people smile. Not just people who have smiles that come straight out of a dentist commercial. Those look fake, I don’t like them.

I like the honest smile. The one that reaches the eyes. A smile who shows the world that there is still a lot of fun and beautiful things to discover!

A smile makes everyone beautiful.

 

Take…

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Which Came First: The Painting or the Artist?

It probably seems pretty obvious that the following evolution occurs:

  • The artist first conceives of the idea, perhaps in the artist’s mind’s eye.
  • The artist selects a suitable medium.
  • The artist creates the masterpiece.

In the previous ordering of events, the artist clearly came before the painting.

How can it possibly be any other way?

Please allow me to present a fascinating alternative. I’m not asking you to change your beliefs. You may consider this to be just for entertainment purposes, if you will. (However, if you want to incorporate this into your own philosophy, feel free.)

Consider this possibility (or impossibility, or whatever you may prefer to call it):

  • The Mona Lisa is transcendental. It always has been and always will be.
  • The Mona Lisa selected Leonardo Da Vinci as a suitable medium.
  • The Mona Lisa channeled itself through Leonardo Da Vinci, bringing the artist to life.

Is it really such a stretch?

Perhaps I worded it the wrong way. Using the word ‘channeled’ probably wasn’t the best idea. Let’s consider something simpler for a moment.

How about a triangle or a dodecahedron? These geometric shapes have always existed, right? They weren’t ‘invented’ by the first human to draw them.

 Shapes

A painting consists of shapes, colors, and textures put together. Can you insist that a triangle existed before geometricians, but that a painting doesn’t exist until the artist paints it? What if the artist paints a cube?

Another point to consider is that every artist has human experience. The ideas and visions that we have are very much shaped by our experience. So a painting is not a totally brand new vision, but a product of the artist’s human experience. Even if we paint something that seems out of this world, it’s inherently affected by our experience in this world. In a sense, the art has been developing within the painter for many years before it ever touches the canvas.

If I could paint, I would try to paint a picture of a Klein bottle in an Escher-like fashion such that it looks like both a chicken and an egg transforming into one another. It would have been the perfect image for this post. Instead, you’ll just have to envision that in your mind. Perhaps someday an artist will paint this picture. If so, remember that I already gave birth to the idea. Or has it always been there?

Chris McMullen, author of The Visual Guide to Extra Dimensions and A Visual Introduction to the Fourth Dimension (ironically, perhaps, these are conceptual geometry books, not philosophy books)

Formatting the Book’s Blurb

You can include boldface, italics, and bullets (with dots or numbers) in your book’s description on Amazon.

If you publish a paperback book with CreateSpace, you can include this formatting in your description when you publish. There is an advantage of using CreateSpace for this if you enable the expanded distribution channel: Online booksellers may preserve this formatting. For example, Julie Harper has a CreateSpace published handwriting book at Barnes & Noble with such formatting (click the link below if you want to check it out, then scroll down to the Overview). The caveat is that you must use basic HTML. But don’t worry: Even if you don’t know anything about HTML, the only HTML that is allowed is so simple that you can do it easily. Hold your objection further: There is even an easy way out of the HTML all together, if you really must. You can find this solution at the end of this blog post.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cursive-handwriting-workbook-for-girls-julie-harper/1116092847?ean=9781490515717

If you have an eBook or didn’t publish your physical book with CreateSpace, you can still format your blurb using AuthorCentral. When you login to AuthorCentral, click the Books tab. Then click on your book to edit the description. You can format the boldface, italics, and bullets yourself, or you can choose to write the description with HTML, if you prefer. Use <b> for bold, as in <b>bold</b>, <i> for italics, as in <i>italics</i>, and <br /> to force a new line (the Enter key won’t have any effect on the output text in HTML mode; the <br/> command basically has the same effect as the Enter usually has). If you want to create a blank line, use the <br /> command twice. Strangely, the <br /> command has a funny space between the ‘br’ and slash in AuthorCentral’s HTML.

To create bullets, use <ul> for dots (unordered list) and <ol> for numbers (ordered list). Place <ul> at the beginning and </ul> at the end. For each bullet, place the text for that bullet between <li> and </li>.

EXAMPLE

<b>Here</b> is an <i>example</i>. <ul><li>This is the first point.</li><li>This is the second point.</li></ul>

The HTML above produces the following effect at AuthorCentral.

Here is an example.

  • This is the first point.
  • This is the second point.

Unfortunately, (almost all) fancier HTML won’t work in AuthorCentral.

I recommend formatting your blurb in three stages:

  1. First, type the blurb in Microsoft Word as just basic text (no formatting). Use Word’s built-in spellcheck and grammar-check tools to ensure that you didn’t make any obvious booboos. It’s probably easiest to edit your text in Word. Typos in the blurb tend to kill sales.
  2. Copy and paste the blurb from Word to Notepad. This will strip it of unwanted formatting. If you omit this step, you might get a nest of extra stuff that you didn’t even know was there in Step 3 (you might be able to see it by clicking on the HTML option afterward).
  3. Copy and paste the blurb from Notepad to the description at AuthorCentral. Toggle back and forth between the Compose and Edit HTML modes a couple of times to ensure that everything looks okay (if not, you should notice something ‘funny’ when you go back to Compose).

How to format the blurb at CreateSpace without knowing HTML:

Follow the three steps outlined above. Then copy and paste the text from the Edit HTML window at AuthorCentral into your description at CreateSpace. You’ll need to remove the space from every <br /> to make it look like <br/>, otherwise you’ll get an error message. After saving your description at CreateSpace, open your book’s project page and click the Channels link in Distribute, then click the tiny link for eStore Setup. Now click the link for Title URL to view your CreateSpace eStore. This will show you how the formatting looks. Preview this carefully and correct any mistakes.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

The Query Letter

Great tips for writing a query letter. 🙂

readful things blog

Pen &amp; Notebook 3  The Query letter. No, really–it is not an evil device of torture sent from the writing Gods just to make you suffer. Okay, well it might be, but the ability to write a good query letter is also an integral part of any writer’s repertoire.

 

It is difficult to write a captivating and effective query letter that will not only command the attention of an agent/editor, but also shed light on your fiction/non-fiction project and make them care enough about your protagonist/story/piece that they want to see the entire manuscript. Imagine condensing a 100,000 word book into a query letter of less than 200 words…wait…where are you going…I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to explain how to do this without tearing out your hair.

 

We are going to break the parts of the query letter down into weekly sections for the next four weeks and…

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Book Reading or Signing: Is It Worth the Effort?

The best way to answer this question is from a cost-benefit analysis.

You have to be careful with this. You might get the answer wrong if you only consider the financial costs and benefits. There are some indirect costs and benefits that are important to consider, too.

With this in mind, I will try to demonstrate how every author can benefit from doing at least one reading or signing, but that most authors shouldn’t hold multiple events.

Costs include:

  • Transportation: Gas and wear and tear on your car getting to and from the event, airline tickets, hotel stays, food expenses that you wouldn’t have otherwise incurred (if you’re out of town), etc. If it’s a local event, it should just be gas and mileage.
  • Stocking titles: Ordering paperbacks or hardcovers (don’t forget to include shipping and handling from the publisher to you) to stock up for the event.
  • Materials: You may be able to keep this free, but it could include a nice pen, a sign with your name on it, bookmarks to put in the books, business cards, jump drive (to load the files onto a computer supplied by the venue, for example), and anything else that you may need to buy in order to hold the event.
  • Venue fees: I suggest trying to avoid this, if possible. If the local bookstore is charging a hefty fee, it may be a way of trying to discourage indie authors from doing this. (However, if you’re holding a conference and planning to sell tickets to the conference, for example, then paying a venue fee may be worthwhile.) If you’re having trouble finding a venue, what prevents you from doing a reading at a public park? Maybe a coffee shop would host it with the prospects of selling coffee to your audience. Where there is a will and some creativity, there is a way. For example, if you have a zombie book, setup a zombie race, then do a zombie reading at a campfire.
  • Miscellaneous financial expenses. For example, you might want to get setup with PayPal to accept non-cash payments, in which case you must account for transaction fees. You might make a special trip to the bank to get plenty of change for cash payments, too (there is more gas and mileage, unless you plan ahead and get this during a routine trip to the bank).
  • Time and effort: These are costs, too! Your time is worth money. It is possible to spend just a little time finding a possible venue, setting it up, promoting the event, attending the event, and getting there and back. If so, then there may not be much time and effort involved. But if you’re spending many hours on this, don’t forget to consider time and effort as part of the total cost.
  • Money and effort that you put into promoting and populating your event. Running an advertisement costs money. If you’ve already built up a very large following in the location of your event, it should be easy to share the news and gather an audience. If you’re a new author or don’t yet have a very large following, it may be difficult to get an audience (it’s not impossible, though: First, you can get friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers to help populate the event; you can also be creative, and put Zombie Race flyers, for example, all over town where your target audience is likely to see them). Either way, you can populate an event with little cost to you. In fact, advertising to generate a following probably won’t pay off.

Benefits include:

  • Immediate direct sales of physical copies or e-books (come prepared to transfer a .mobi file right onto a Kindle, or a PDF right onto a laptop; and you can even find an electronic tool for signings). If you already counted your purchased author copies as a cost, then figure the total sale price as a benefit.
  • Leftover author copies may not be a sunk cost. You might be able to reuse them at a future event, supply them to a bookstore, send them to the media as part of a press release package, or sell them in person. If so, the leftover copies do provide you some value.
  • You may sell future copies from bookmarks, business cards, and other promotional materials that you passed out. Someone who didn’t buy a copy at your event may go home and buy a copy later.
  • A very important factor is referrals that you generate during your signing, which may not have come otherwise. This is difficult to predict and still difficult to gauge months later. How much do you believe in your book? Is the material so good that it’s likely to generate referrals, and is the packaging so good that it’s likely to generate sales from those referrals. Another issue is that it can take many months for branding and referrals to pay off. Unfortunately, many referrals don’t pay instant dividends. But those future sales are important benefits. They count, too.
  • Any promotion that you do to spread awareness of the event also helps with your overall marketing and branding efforts. It’s not easy to judge what effect this may have, if any, on your sales, but it has the potential to improve sales a little.
  • Suppose you want to tour the country in your r.v., or suppose that you’d like to visit the Statue of Liberty with your family, for example. The trip itself may have many benefits. If so, you might be willing to invest in the trip simply from a vacation perspective. This could have a large benefit to you or your family, personally, which may offset the financial business cost to some degree. If you would take the trip anyway, but are thinking about holding the event while you’re there, then the costs and benefits of the trip may cancel one another out, more or less.
  • There may be some tax benefits. You get to subtract your business expenses when you prepare your tax forms (see an accountant or attorney to be sure).
  • Here is an important benefit that may make it worthwhile to hold the event once, even if otherwise the cost-benefit analysis would suggest not to do it: Think how your AuthorCentral page, fan page, blog, social media, and any other websites will look. First, you can put the event on your schedule, announcing that you’ll be holding the event. Afterward, you should post a picture of yourself at the event (showing a professional-looking, well-attended event in the background). You can even post a video on YouTube (and link to that from your blog and elsewhere). Will it improve your author image? If so, it may help with the image that you brand.
  • The experience of holding the event itself has value, especially the first event. This counts, too.
  • You get to interact with some of your readers and potential readers. This by itself provides some value to you. In addition, readers are more likely to buy your books when they meet you in person, interact with you, and enjoy the interaction. This also improves the prospects for sales, reviews, and referrals (of course, if the book doesn’t look professional or isn’t well-packaged, the event seems unprofessional, or you make a poor impression, then all of this will be negated; you have to judge all of these things, too, in order to properly weigh the costs and benefits).

Why should every author do (at least) one reading or signing?

See the last three points above. If the costs seem to outweigh the benefits financially, you should still strive to put together a low-cost event, populate the event as best you can, and aim for the benefits that these last three points have to offer. If you get a few sales and referrals, too, great; but focus on the last three points.

You can keep the costs down by finding a free local venue (like a picnic in the park), only holding one event, not spending money on advertisements or promotions, limiting the stock to just a few copies (or going e-book only), not spending too much time on setup, using only materials that you have handy, etc. If you want to, you can definitely keep it affordable. If you’re a new author or have very little local following, and if you have friends, family, acquaintances, or coworkers to support you, you can at least put a small group together. This still gives you the chance to announce the book on your blog and author page and to post photos of the event afterward (do your best to make it look professional in the photo – you signing a book with a couple of people in line is fine). If you get a few readers you don’t know to attend, you sell any copies, or get any referrals, that’s gravy.

Who should do multiple readings and signings, and who should only do one?

You shouldn’t invest much time and money on a reading or signing, and you shouldn’t hold multiple events unless and until you have a very large following in the area.

A new author should just hold one low-cost event and shouldn’t expect outside attendance (i.e. beyond what you can put together with people you know). Any other author who doesn’t have a significant following in the area should do the same.

Your blog following consists of people from around the world. Very few are likely to live in any given city (well, if you have friends, family, and acquaintances on your blog or if your followers gravitated toward you because of your common roots, these might be exceptions). You can’t look at your total number of followers either: How many people are likely to view one post? If about 10 people view a post, and these 10 people live all over the world, you can’t expect your blog following to generate an audience at your event.

If you’re only selling 10 copies per day at Amazon, most of the customers won’t even check out your author page, and if they do, most live all over the US. So you can’t expect random customers to populate your event.

If you have a fan page with thousands of fans signed up, that could be significant. If you’ve sold thousands of books, that may help you to generate an audience at your event. If you’re a celebrity of sorts, you may have a significant following on FaceBook and Twitter. In these cases, it could pay off to go on a tour, especially when you release a new book. But in these cases, you’re probably already a very well-established author.

If you have a strong local following, that’s significant, too. In this case, multiple events in your region may be worthwhile. This is one way that a new author can benefit from multiple events.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

The Squeaky Wheel Poem (+ Marketing Afterword)

Squeaky Pic

As the horses galloped along,

The wheels went ‘round and ‘round,

And the wagon rolled steadily onward.

 

When the left front wheel squeaked,

The driver halted the horses,

And pampered the wheel with oil.

 

The horses galloped along again,

The wagon rolled forward again,

And the driver enjoyed the ride.

 

The left front wheel squeaked again,

Everything came to a stop again,

And the wheel was pampered some more.

 

The other wheels became jealous;

They worked just as hard.

Where was the reward for not complaining?

 

So the right front wheel began to wobble,

Demanding attention of its own,

And the driver tightened its screws.

 

A competition ensued:

The left front wheel squeaked,

While the right front wheel wobbled.

 

Soon, the right front wheel wobbled

More than the left front wheel squeaked.

It had succeeded in hogging all the attention.

 

Until one time the driver did something new:

He replaced the right front wheel with a spare wheel.

The old wheel was abandoned on the wayside.

 

At first the left front wheel smiled smugly.

Then when it was time to squeak again,

It had second thoughts about it.

 

But what about those poor rear wheels,

Who worked no less hard than the front wheel,

Yet demanded and received no attention at all?

 

Marketing Afterword

At first, it kind of seems unfair, doesn’t it?

Ideally, if you are shopping for a product, you would like for them all to be equally visible, with the better product priced a bit more and the worse product priced a bit worse. Then you would decide what you are willing to pay versus what quality you would like. But that’s not the way it works, is it?

You can’t just make an excellent product at a good price and expect everyone to show up at your warehouse the next day. How do people know that you have a product? How do people know that the product is excellent? How do people know that the price is good? They won’t just by being psychic.

The first step is to make the product visible. Every company wants their product in stores where their target audience shops. They all want their products to stand out – put it on the endcap, in the advertisement, etc. Of course, they can’t all be equally visible. Just getting into the store is a big step.

The second step lies in the packaging. The packaging should first clearly show the customer what kind of product it is, then when the customer finds the product, the packaging should stand out from other products like it. It should look professional. It will describe itself in a way that helps to sell it.

Another step is getting people to try the product. If they like it, they may recommend it to others. This begins with a focus group when it’s being produced. Then you need to sell it to stores, get people or businesses to review it, and give away samples or coupons to help get initial customers.

In the end, the more expensive product isn’t necessarily the best product. Packaging and marketing are involved in the equation, too. The perception may be more important than the actual quality, to an extent.

Here is a concept that relates to the squeaky wheel: A company that has an excellent product should, theoretically, invest more time, effort, and money into the marketing. (It doesn’t always work out that way, but the notion does affect purchasing decisions.)

Companies are trying to help their target audience find their products. This is the idea behind marketing.

The company that doesn’t squeak can still sell products, but in this case it’s relying strongly on packaging and referrals.

The less visible the product (like many books), the more important the referrals and marketing.

The company that squeaks is likely to get more initial attention. Unless, of course, it squeaks so much that potential customers tune it out (like tweeting several times every day, “Please buy my product”).

Let me cast this in a different form specifically for authors. You’re not really just a writer. You’re not really a salesman either. People aren’t buying your book for the paper and ink. They’re buying your book for the ideas. You’re selling the ideas (story, entertainment, information, etc.).

The ideas that you’re selling are not just in your book. Squeak your ideas to help sell the ideas in your book. For example, provide related content outside of your book (e.g. in articles), preferably where it will be visible to your target audience. Then your book is simply a way for the audience to find more ideas like it.

If the wheel squeaks and the driver finds a quarter next to the wheel every time it squeaks, the driver is likely to look for a store where he can buy more wheels like that one. You don’t want to give away quarters, but you do want to provide some valuable content to help your target audience find your product.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Nutty Search Engine Results (on my WP Stats Page!)

New York 576

If you’re familiar with my blog, consider whether the phrase “headless horsman [no e!] nude” should match anything in my WordPress blog. (I added the [no e!] part myself to emphasize that I do know how to spell the word correctly.)

Well, I was checking the search engine results on my site stats page at WordPress, and that was one of the search engine terms that someone used and not only found my blog in the search results, but even clicked on it.

I’m afraid if the searcher was looking for anything “nude,” they must have been gravely disappointed. (Of course, now I’ve used that word twice in this post. I hope I haven’t created any future disappointments.)

The funny part, to me, is that the search term misspelled “horseman,” has another word that totally doesn’t apply to my blog, and still pulled up my blog in the results (and there were only three words in the search).

Curious, I went to Google and tried this search myself. I was persistent enough to find my blog on page 9 of the results. However, I deliberately didn’t click my search result: Since the result clearly isn’t relevant, I didn’t want Google to get any crazy ideas. (Well, now if everyone reading this blog post does this, I guess I’ll be responsible for creating mayhem after all…)

Ordinarily, the search terms make sense. For example, I see search terms like “image compression Word,” which actually is a topic of one of my posts.

Have you figured out which of my previous posts might be a search result for “headless horsman nude,” (remember, there was no ‘e’ in “horseman”)? It was the post on Lyndhurst Castle, from when I attended a wedding in Tarrytown, New York. (I hope this silly post doesn’t start showing up in the “Lyndhurst Castle” search results now. If it does, I guess they can always click on the link below to my other post.)

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/photos-from-lyndhurst-castle-in-tarrytown-new-york-sleepy-hollow/

I reread the post, but don’t see any e-less horsemen… You can see the rear end of the statue in the foreground of one of the castle images, but I don’t believe I used the word “nude” anywhere…

Good grief! 🙂

Dis-a-vowel-ed (A Simple Word Puzzle)

I have a little puzzle for you. Don’t worry, it’s easy. You can figure it out. 🙂

See if you can figure out what the following puzzle says. It’s in English! Really, it is! Following the puzzle is a hint. If you need help, read the hint (but not the answer). When you want to check that you’ve solved the puzzle correctly, then you can check the answer.

PUZZLE

O cen nut omegoni why yua moght nut bi ebli tu andirstend thos!

Ell yua hevi tu du os ripleci iech vuwil woth thi vuwil thet pricidis ot, whiri thi littir ‘a’ pricidis thi littir ‘e’ (will, nut qaoti, bat thet os thi ginirel odie).

Hevi yua gut ot fogarid uat yit?

Thos os yuar lest chenci.

HINT

If you didn’t mean to read this far yet, you better lift your eyes in a hurry!

Ready or not, here comes the hint: Try reading it aloud and you might recognize some of the words. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider the title of this post, too. 🙂

SOLUTION

Here comes the solution. So if you don’t want to read it yet, look up fast. All of the consonants are correct. The vowels are correctly positioned, but each vowel has been changed. More precisely, each vowel was replaced with the vowel that follows it. For example, ‘a’ was replaced with ‘e,’ ‘e’ was replaced with ‘i,’ and so on; also, the ‘u’ was replaced with ‘a.’

For example, the word ‘idea’ becomes ‘odie.’ Note that one sentence from the puzzle has a phrase that reads, “where the letter ‘u’ precedes the letter ‘a,’” in which the ‘u’ changed to ‘a’ and the ‘a’ changed to ‘e.’

I thought about changing the ‘u’ to a ‘y’ and the ‘y’ to an ‘a,’ but only when the ‘y’ makes the vowel sound, but I decided to keep things simple. 🙂

If you had to read the solution to figure out how to solve the puzzle, it isn’t too late to see if you can now translate the puzzle text.

ANSWER

Following is the translation of the puzzle text using the technique described in the solution. Don’t read the following text unless you are ready to check your answer.

I can not imagine why you might not be able to understand this!

All you have to do is replace each vowel with the vowel that precedes it, where the letter ‘u’ precedes the letter ‘a’ (well, not quite, but that is the general idea).

Have you got it figured out yet?

This is your last chance.

Be a Knight in Shining Armor

Knight Pic

If you meet people who are down, help lift them up.

If meet someone who could use a friend, be one.

If you see someone in need, offer your assistance.

If you simply smile, it will spread goodness throughout the land.

 

If a friend can use your trust, keep it.

If a friend needs your support, give it.

If a friend reaches out to you, reach back.

If you are a good friend, you will become a legend.

 

If you use a good product, share it with others.

If you watch a good movie, tell a friend.

If you read a good book, review it and refer it.

If you spread goodness, you will rid the land of evil.

 

If you give an inch, someone will take a mile.

If you do a good deed, you may feel like it was punished.

If you make any investment, it carries some risk.

If you invest in a better world, you may discover treasure.

 

If you do not want to wear shining armor, realize that it is optional.

If you do not want to be Prince Charming, be Princess Charming.

If you do not want to be famous, remain anonymous.

If the prophecies did not destine you for greatness, you can still be a hero.

Authors: Where Is Your Happiest Place Online?

I’ll discuss a few places, then I’ll cast my vote in the last paragraph. I’d also like to hear your vote, if you’d be so kind as to leave a comment.

Let me start with Amazon, since it’s a huge website that authors are familiar with. I love shopping for books (and more) at Amazon and I love the support that Amazon has given to authors, including indies. It doesn’t win my vote with regards to happiness, however. For one, the current customer review and comment platform detracts a little from what would be a much more positive ambiance. It’s great that they promote freedom and independence, I just wish they could do that and still limit the occasional spitefulness. Another problem I see is that I sometimes find myself frustrated when trying to search for and discover new books by keyword or in a category. It’s sort of an inherent problem in trying to search through twenty million books. Maybe if we could see more than a dozen or so books on a page that would help speed up the process; sometimes, the way the results are ordered seems to make us scratch our heads, too. Still, I love Amazon and continue to use it.

There are many features that I enjoy at Goodreads, both as a reader and an author. Authors can connect with other authors, and friend reviews are allowed but clearly marked as such (I happened to see one on an author’s page recently, and thought it was an interesting option). You can see what friends have read, are reading, or intend to read. You can discover new books. However, there seems to be a little too much negativity (enough that some authors actually shudder at the mention of the website’s name), but not enough effort to try to make the ambiance more positive throughout. Again, perhaps the negativity is associated with the effort to provide independence and freedom. On the other hand, my vote goes to a website that seems to promote freedom and independence quite well, yet still appears to be a much more positive environment. If they can do it, why can’t others?

Another popular place among authors is CreateSpace. There may be a little room for improvement, but overall I like the way the website works as far as publishing books goes. I also love the wealth of free publishing and marketing information available to authors (if you haven’t checked it out before, you should). The community discussion forum is a nice place for authors to interact with one another, and a good place to look for publishing help. There are many helpful members there, some who are small publishers with many years of publishing experience. For the most part, the forum is very courteous (especially, compared to some community forums on other websites). Still, there are a couple of reasons that CreateSpace didn’t receive my vote. First, the file review process can be a little frustrating at times – even if you submit the interior or cover to specifications, there are sometimes unexpected changes (like telling you that your file is too complex, or resizing the cover on you). The defect rate may be a little higher than we may like (we can hope that they are working to improve this), yet there are defects with all publishers. Finally, eStore sales require the customer to setup a CreateSpace account and it’s not intuitive for customers to search for books on CreateSpace. Nonetheless, I still love CreateSpace and continue to use it, even though there are promising new rivals like Ingram Spark.

I’ll cast my vote now. WordPress is the happiest place online for me. Authors seem to enjoy ample freedom, independence, and creativity, while also in my experience it’s usually a very happy place online. The exception may be the occasional bitter rant, but that’s easy to ignore if you want. The comments section is often filled with positive interactions. The sense of community here at WordPress has been excellent, in my experience. WordPress draws me in like a magnet. I don’t hesitate, fearing negative experiences. I find myself spending way much more time writing posts and reading posts than I ever imagined, and I enjoy it. A positive ambiance attracts people, and the people make or break the place. Here’s a big THANK YOU to all the great people who make this place. 🙂 Please remember to cast your vote and share your opinions and experience.