Amazon Is Culling Book Reviews!

Attention all authors!  Have you had a friend, a family member, another author, or even someone you don’t know give you a favorable review? Amazon may delete it!

If you’ve checked your amazon book page lately, you may find that you’ve lost some reviews for no apparent reason. Be sure to check out an article written by, David Streitfield, on Amazon’s new review policy. His article explains Amazon’s new policy and how it is affecting thousands of authors. Even more, Amazon’s new “purge policy” is affecting tens of thousands of book reviews.

Click on the link below to read David Streitfield’s excellent article!

http://www.nytimes.com/…/amazon-book-reviews-deleted-in-a-p…

What Is The Truth Behind Amazon’s Purge Of Book Reviews?

I recently had a review removed from my latest book, The Ghost of Blakeley Past.  http://amzn.to/1ji9HE9 I am not sure why it was removed, and Amazon’s explanation was very vague and generic. This problem seems to be happening more and more with Amazon and has become a troubling issue for many authors.  In view of the current trend of events regarding book reviews, I wanted to post information from a variety of sources. I am not stating an opinion either way, but simply relaying information.  You be the judge!

Below are several websites that discuss the issue of Amazon deleting book reviews.

Don’t Let Your Amazon Reviews Be Deleted   http://bit.ly/1D2Ni9n

Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars?  http://nyti.ms/1F92OjA

Amazon Reviews Are Disappearing   http://bit.ly/1EaaIaB

Disappearing Amazon Reviews   http://bit.ly/1EUhAtS

Amazon Tackles Review Problem, Deletes Wrong Reviews   http://onforb.es/1NGNu15

Amazon Removes Reviews    http://huff.to/189O1YK

Why is Amazon deleting writers’ reviews of other authors’ books?   http://lat.ms/1AeBgUe

Amazon Still Deleting Books and Reviews Inexplicably. Or is There an Explanation?    http://bit.ly/1KTGJtT

Amazon removes book reviews by fellow authors    http://bit.ly/1Hy5nuQ

Amazon Freaks Out About Sock Puppet Reviews And Deletes A Bunch Of Real Reviews    http://bit.ly/1D2MDog

Great tips for reducing eye strain and headaches!

If you’re getting headaches or eye strain from staring at a computer screen, here are 10 great tips, courtesy of http://yhoo.it/1bogWFT

  • 1. If you are still using a CRT monitor (the big ones from the back that are NOT LCD monitors) then consider getting a gamma filter. It is a little screen that you put in front of your monitor to filter out most of the bad stuff that directly harms your eyes. It will not work for the LCD monitors because they work on entirely different principles.
  • 2. Sit up straight and try to reduce the stress on your eyes as much as possible. For example, don’t tilt your eyes and then force your eyes to the side to stare at the screen. The screen should be directly in front of your eyes so that you don’t turn your head or your eyes to look at the screen.
  • 3. Never stare at the screen continuously (like when you are reading something). Look away (at the keyboard for example) every few seconds. Preferably look at something far away like the opposite corner of the room or something because you don’t want your eyes fixated on something close for too long.
  • 4. If you are using any monitor (LCD or CRT) then turn down the brightness, contrast, and the color settings. (Personally I leave them all around 10 or something or the “economic” setting some of them have) but if you are only using it for work then technically black and white should be enough for you. Turn those down to absolute minimum so that you can still read and see because you don’t want to make the screen too dark and then squint your eyes to read something that is too dark or not sharp enough.
  • 5. Lower the resolution (for me 800×600 is good enough) because that will make everything look bigger including the text and images so that you don’t have to force your eyes to work harder. You won’t have to squint them to see something. It will also allow you to sit further away from the screen.
  • 6. If you don’t want to lower the resolution (because it cuts in the amount of workspace you have on your screen) then just increase the default size of text and icons on your desktop. Change your browser settings to make the text appear larger than it normally shows.
  • 7. Never lean close to the monitor. Always sit up straight and as far back as possible without having to squint your eyes to read something. This prevents neck injuries too.
  • 8. In general, try to give your eyes some exercise. Everyday (preferably in the morning, outside in fresh cold air without your glasses if you wear them) just roll your eyes completely 10-20 times all the way around for about 5 minutes. And then at night, wash your eyes thoroughly with cold water before you go to bed. Cold clean water is the best moisturizer/cleaner for your eyes. Don’t waste money on the pharmaceutical companies. Trust me, this is very refreshing.
  • 9. In general, while reading or even working on your computer, make sure that lighting is sufficient. It shouldn’t be too dark because you will be stressing your eyes and the contrast of the screen with the surrounding area will be too high. The lighting shouldn’t be too bright either because bright lights will just tire your eyes quickly and they may also be desensitized which means that the screen will appear too dark this time and again you will have trouble.
  • 10. In general, getting a lot of rest and the entire needed sleep will help your eyes a lot as well. Instead of working late at night. Go to bed on time and then wake up early to finish the work. This is a much better option than working late at night, especially on the computer, for your eyes.
  • All of these together will help your eyes a lot. Try these out for a month or so and if you still get headaches, then your eyesight may be weak and you should definitely see your optician.

Who’s been spying on me?

Would you like to know some interesting facts about my blog and which people around the world have been reading it?  The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report.  Click here to see the complete report.

A bit of interesting trivia:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. My blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

The Truth about Writing and Getting Published

When I first began to write children’s books, I thought that it would be easy to get published. Boy was I wrong! Now, fifteen years later, I have learned a few things. Listed below are fourteen points about writing and getting published that I think you will find helpful.

1. You have to want to write. It has to be so important that you can’t give it up.

2. You have to write about what you like and what you know. That’s where your best writing will come from.

3. You have to spend a great deal of time honing your writing skills and learning to write the best that you can. This process may involve writing classes, critique groups, help from free-lance editing services, professional organizations, and of course writing and rewriting.

4. Read, read and read some more. Read every type of book, magazine, online articles or any other type of written word that you can. Get a feel for writing styles and what makes an author’s writing interesting or worth the read. It is especially important to read the types of articles or books that are similar to what you are writing. Find out what makes a book a best seller or why certain articles are so popular.

5. You must use every opportunity to write, any place you can find: a personal diary, letters to your local newspaper, book reviews on Amazon, a critique of someone else’s work, blogs, or any type of writing you enjoy. Don’t overlook any opportunity.

6. Learn to write a good synopsis and query letter before you submit. A good presentation of yourself and your work will get you in the front door.

7. Before you submit your finished book, article or poem, make sure it is your very best. You usually only get one chance. Make it count!

8. When you get a rejection slip from an editor, especially online, contact that person and ask what he or she didn’t like about your book, article or poem. Many times the editor will email you back with honest, helpful remarks. When you get the same types of remarks from several different editors, take it seriously.

9. You have to develop a thick skin and learn to accept constructive criticism as a good thing. It is your friend not your foe.

10. The publishing business is all business. It is about making money. A publisher will publish your book or article because it is well written and because it will sell.

11. Research each publisher before you submit. Learn the types of books that they publish and if your book fits their mold. You may get a rejection slip from a publisher because it isn’t what they publish. Be sure you know before you submit.

12. All publishers are hard to please. Whether it’s a big name publisher or a small independent one, it’s extremely difficult to know what they want and how they want it. The ones that accept your work, without question, are either vanity presses, that require you to pay them, or a publisher that has highly questionable business practices.

13. If you want to publish your work through an E-Book Publisher, Print-on-Demand or Vanity Press, check them out first. The best way to do that is through various online writing sites such as Preditors and Editors, Piers Anthony, Absolute Write, Writer Beware and others. You can also put in their name, plus the word scam, in Google or Yahoo and see what you come up with. One other way to check out a publisher is to contact some of their authors. I have done that many times and usually gained useful knowledge by contacting them.

14. Be persistent and don’t ever give up! No matter how discouraged or how disgusted you get, don’t let your dream slip away. Learn from your mistakes and move on!

Getting to Know the E-Book Market

Although the following article was written years ago, I feel that the lesson learned is still appropriate today. I hope my experience with E-Publishing is helpful to you.

http://www.writers.net/articles/writers/ebook_market

Getting to Know the E-Book Market

In a jungle of print market publishers lies the ever-tempting “E-Book Market”.

Today as editors become more influenced by potential sales of a book and overwhelmed with an increasing number of manuscript submissions, they have become short on attention and long on rejections letters. We all have grown weary of those worn out cliches like, “your book doesn’t fit our list,” “your writing has a mid-list feel to it” or “we are temporarily closed to submissions.” The reasons go on and on and are usually justified by, “I wish you the best of luck in finding a home for your work.”

So where does that leave us? In one word, frustrated! We have become the victims of a “dog eat dog” business and are forced to search for other avenues and opportunities to get our work published. But what are they and where are they? One answer to that question is right in your own computer!

Electronic publishing, one of the newest and most upcoming publishing markets on the Internet, is only a few clicks away. Bright and colorful web-sites that draw you in and promise to fulfill your dreams of being published have caught the eye of many aspiring authors. Many e-book publishers accept a synopsis or a complete manuscript as an e-mail attachment. This serves to only further the urge to grab for “a bird in the hand”.

I was ultimately drawn to this newest and most alluring market. I saw a quick and easy fix to years of struggling in the print market. I began contacting several e-book publishers and was fortunate enough to find two that were willing to publish at least one of my books online. At first I was overjoyed with the idea of finally getting my book published and having it on the Internet for everyone to see. I would even be paid a percentage. What I thought was a golden opportunity soon turned into a disillusioning experience.

The first e-book publisher taught me the lesson of waiting. After accepting their offer via e-mail, I was told my book had been sent to an editor and, as soon as the contracts were finalized, she would start editing my book. After two months of no word and wondering how difficult it was to issue a simple contract, I became wary and decided to decline their offer. I still have their web-site on my desktop screen and I’m sorry to say it is exactly the same as I found it nine months ago. There have been no new books added to their list and several categories such as poetry still have “coming soon” written under them.

My second experience was no more encouraging. After being issued a contract I downloaded from their web-site, I began to ask a series of important questions. Most were answered in a courteous and sensitive manner until I asked the wrong question. The answer was not only rude and insensitive but also very revealing about the editorial director’s attitude toward authors. I decided to decline the offer in lieu of her insensitive manner. Thinking the whole matter closed, I subsequently received an e-mail from one of their authors I had contacted as a reference. After she revealed that she had not received a royalty check from them in almost a year, I was greatly relieved that I had refused their contract.

So where does this leave the issue of E-Book Publishers? It leaves it the same place I found it. A mixed bag of pro’s and con’s, good and bad.  A new and emerging market with great possibilities but not without the struggle of growing pains and sometimes, even failure. As we all strive to put our years of hard work into print, let us remember the phrase “cautiously optimistic”.

I would like to add that I have found a great E-Book Publisher, Kindle. I have also found a great husband and wife team that converts your print file into an e-book format to submit to Kindle. I have used them for all five five of my books and will continue to use them for future books.

Lastly, I can recommend Createspace for print publishing, although I can not recommend their various services such as editing, formatting, and book covers, etc.Those services are quite expensive. If you submit your book(s) print ready, there is no charge and your books will be featured on Amazon’s site. There are plenty of other sources for editing, formatting, and book covers, etc that you can find on your own.

Kindle Direct Publishing  http://amzn.to/1hYGsGI

Jason Anderson  http://www.polgarusstudio.com/

Createspace https://www.createspace.com/

Helpful Links for Writers

Although the title of this blog is Helpful Links for Writers, I wanted to stress the importance of promoting your work, too. The picture you see above was taken at a presentation for my book, Intruders on Battleship Island, done with fourth graders at a local elementary school. I spent two days talking to several classes about my book and the history of the island described in the book. I also included a follow-up activity folder that I gave each teacher. Being a former teacher myself, it gave me an opportunity to work with kids again and a chance to promote my book!

Here below are the helpful links for those of you who are new to this and may need some help in knowing how and where to submit. You may also be unaware of some of the pitfalls in the writing business. Here are a few of the writing sites that I’ve found helpful over the years. There are many others, and I will continue to add to the list as I find them.

Hope you enjoy!

1. Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI): http://www.scbwi.org/

2. Preditors & Editors: http://pred-ed.com/

3. Piers Anthony’s Internet Publishing: http://www.hipiers.com/publishing.html#publishers

4. Guide to Grammar and Writing: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/

5. Directory of ePublishers: http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/epublishers.html

6.Writing-World.Com: http://www.writing-world.com/

7. Colossal Directory of Children’s Publishers: http://www.signaleader.com/

8. Book Editors and Book Publishers: http://www.bookmarket.com/childrens.htm

9. JacketFlap: http://www.jacketflap.com/

10.Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/