"Roundheads and Ramblings"
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

Why I'm Being an Absolute Sloth!
Lessons We Learn Too Late
Christmas Without . . .
Another Thankful Morning--This Time for Alert Cats.
Connections

Categories

A new contest
Abolition
absurdity
academic myopia
Agents
Almost Free
Amazon
ancestors
Announcement
apocalypse
Applications and software
Appomattox
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audience
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
awards
baseball
basketball
Battle of Port Royal
Battles
biographical
birthdays
blind artists
blockade
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
bookstores
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
business
Business plan
Busy-ness
Butterflies
Career choices
cats
celebrations
cemetery research
Census
challenges
chaos
characterization
Characters
Charleston
children
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas
Christmas Past
Civil War
Clues
commercials
Computer Hacks
Confederates
Conferences
Connections
constitutional amendments
construction
Contract labor
cotton
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
CreateSpace
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
Deal of the Day
decisions
depression
diversions
dogs
Do-Overs
DRM
earthquake
e-book pricing
e-books
editing
elections
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
Emancipation
England
English class
evidence
Excerpt
exclusivity
Exercise
Expertise
Facebook
fact and fiction
failures
fame and fortune
family affairs
Favorites
Fear of Failure
fires
Fish
flood waters
flowers
food delights
Formatting
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
freebies
Friendship
Frogmore
garden
gardens
genealogy
Getting organized
ghost stories
Giveaway
Goals
good business
good news
Goodreads
grammar cops
gratitude
gray horses
gripes
grocery shopping
guest blogs
Gullah
handicaps
hardbound books
Harriet Tubman
Hiatus
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
Holidays
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
horses
hurricanes
identifying your audience
illustrations
imagination
indie authors
Inspiration
inspirations
internet
internet history
intruders
ISBN
Kalamazoo
karma
Kindle
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
kings
Klout
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
landmarks
language
Laughs
launch dates
Laura Towne
Layouts
legal matters
lending library
Lessons Learned
lessons unlearned
libraries
literary genres
local news
loss
love story
making choices
Marketing
Matchbooks
medicine
medieval-isms
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
memories
Milestones
military matters
mind-mapping
Misfis
Monthly Musings
name recognition
NaNoWriMo
Nellie Chase
Nellie M. Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
newsletters
nonfiction
non-profits
nostalgia
Nurses
oddities
odds and ends
olympics
omens
opening lines
outrage
Oxford
Papacy
parties
Penn Center
photographs
photos
picture book
Pinterest
Pinterest and copyrights
Pirates
planning ahead
plot
point of view
polite society
politics
portraits
powerful women
Predictions
pre-orders
press release
previews
pricing
Principles
procrastination
productivity
Profiles
Progress Report
Promotions
proofs
pros and cons
publishing
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
puzzlements
quiz
rain
random thoughts
RBOC
read an ebook
readership
Reading Enhancement
recipes
Reconstruction
Relaxation
research
Resolutions
reviews
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
royalties
rules
SALE
Sales
scams
schedules
Scoop It
ScoopIt
seasons
Secessionville
second edition
Second Mouse
self-publishing
settings
Shiloh
Short Stories
Silliness
slander
Slavery
small world
Smashwords
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software
software disasters
South Carolina
Speechless!
sports
Spring
story arc
Substitutes
Success
summer
Synopsis
Taking a Break
Taxes
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Theme
Tongue-in-cheek
Traditions
trailer
Travelog
trilogies
Trivia, Nostalgia
trolls
Tweet
Twitter
Upcoming Events
using commas
Vacation
vacation photos
Valentine
video
Visitor
vocabulary
Volunteering
voting
warnings
weather
weather trauma
website
word counts
Word-of-Mouth
Words
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process
X-Rays

Archives

March 2019
February 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"

February 2012

Bargains Are Out There If You Know Where To Look

Some breaking news as Launch Week for my newest book winds down:







1. The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese is currently listed for free in the B&N Nook bookstore. Get it here if you have a Nook reader, or tell Amazon Kindle about the lower price.  If you're a Kindle user, the book is only $0.99 right now. I have no idea whether they will price-match the Nook bargain, but we can hope.














2. I still have three "Mouse" mousepads to give away in a random drawing. Leave a comment here or on yesterday's blog to put your name in the hat. Drawing will be held at end of he day on February 16th.








So You Want to Write a Book? Answers to Your Self-Publishing Questions

An old saying begins: "If I had a nickel for every time I _____________,  I'd be rich by now."  If I had to fill in that blank, I'd say, "every time someone asked me a question about how to get a book published. . ."

Seriously, it sometimes seems like every person I talk to has a secret ambition to write a book.  If  you're reading this blog, you are probably one of them. You have family stories to tell, or family recipes, an idea for the perfect murder, an inspirational tale about a friend or neighbor, a collection of photographs, a secret stash of poetry -- something that is so important to you that you want to to turn it into a book. But of course, the very reason you ask how to get started is that the question is too big to be answered.

For a while I tried to provide some guidance on this blog. In one post, I wrote, "Start exploring the advice available on the Internet, keeping in mind that not all sources are equally valuable.  If I had to choose one blogger’s advice, I’d go to Dana Lynn Smith’s Savvy Book Marketer site. For general money saving tips, you can’t go wrong using Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s series of “Frugal” web publications."

For the rest, you can find dozens of bloggers and columnists who have made successful careers out of telling others how to use the resources of the Internet to write a book. I decided not to recommend any one over the others, because much depends on your own needs and personality. I subscribed to one promising blog, only to discover that the writer knew less than I did about the Internet and could provide only the most basic bits of advice. Her simplistic remarks sent me pounding on the delete key. Another site turned out to be written so far above me that I felt I was reading a foreign language. My best advice was to sample widely and find a few resources that prove helpful.

Eventually I realized that if there were ironclad rules for "writing a book," someone would have laid them out a long time ago. Instead, I decided to tell my own story, from the first decision to self-publish to that heady moment when I found myself at the top of one of Amazon's bestseller lists. My choices won't work for everyone.  My problems were specific to my own book. But I learned a lot along the way, and I'm happy to pass along any tips that will help you to get started on your own writing project.  That's how The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese came to be.

Don't expect to find a heavy volume of unbreakable rules and stuffy grammar. This is a light-hearted anecdotal account of my ups and downs as I learned about the publishing world. I want you to smile while you read it. My little cartoon mice pop up occasionally to remind us all that if you're not having fun at what you're doing, you probably need to do something else. One reviewer commented that she felt like she was chatting with me over a cup of coffee. So if you've ever thought about writing a book, click on over to the Book Launch page and find out how you can get your own paper copy at a reduced price or a Kindle edition for only $0.99.  You might even qualify for a prize. Then grab a mug, pull up a chair, and let's talk about self-publishing.

A Biology Lesson for Social Media Butterflies

Despite the fact that I am a serious writer, with a deadline hanging over my head, I seem to be spending all my time lately on social media. Now, I know that social media websites are useful tools for writers. If you're a writer, you can announce the publication of a new book and, with just a few clicks on the cut and paste keys, send that announcement out to thousands of potential readers. Your followers are your most likely purchasers. Your friends are the people who will share the news and help you celebrate. The internet provides the cheapest advertising  you will ever get. But what about the downside? How much time do you have to devote to engaging all those friends, to providing your followers with useful tidbits of information, to share a joke with people you've never met?  Several experiences recently have almost convinced me that a nasty, green-horned caterpillar lurks behind every social media butterfly.

I still don't fully understand Google+ and what it hopes to accomplish. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm seeing two kinds of people turning up on my desktop.  The first group includes people I know, either through personal contact or previous internet interactions. A familiar face is always welcome when I go to a new site, but more and more, it seems that the people I know are simply reposting their comments from Facebook or Twitter.  I don' have the time to read most posts meveral times. Then there are the people in my Circles who have popped up without an introduction and asked to join the conversation.  OK, that's fine. At least they're saying something new.  But more and more, the ones I get are either trying to raise money or push a particularly offensive political agenda. No, thanks.

I'm also becoming more and more suspicious of the "Groups" appearing on Facebook and LinkedIn. Talk about agendas! It seems like a good idea to connect with other people who share your interests,  But these groups soon become monotonous if they can only share one set of goals or ideas. I go out into the internet to find new  tastes, not a steady diet of the same old meat and potatoes. Today was a particularly annoying one.  Someone in a group to which I have subscribed suggested that we all post the URLS of our Facebook pages, so that we could help to promote each other. I should have known better, but since I had recently developed a new style of Facebook fan page, I posted my URL. A plague  of locusts descended! Three times I found my mailbox jammed with messages from group members saying, "I liked  you page; now please go and like mine." I felt as if I were trapped in a revolving door.

And then there's Pinterest. I waited eagerly for my invitation, all the time believing that this new site was rapidly becoming the equivalent of Facebook. People kept telling me how wonderful the site was.  I should have listened more closely to the ones who said that they got lost in in for hours at a time.   If I understand how it works, members create little corkboards that reflect their personal interests. Then they pin pictures, sayings, blurbs, and whatever else they can round up to those boards -- for the purpose of sharing them with others. So members follow each other and look at each other's treasures, and maybe borrow what they see to add to their own boards. I still don't get the purpose of all of that.  And the time it takes is indeed a sinkhole in the middle of your day.  You have to find the items to be pinned, download the, assign them to one of your boards, and then identify each one with source and comments. I don't see the appeal, and I certainly don't have that kind of time.
 
I suspect social media sites are multiplying like those ugly green hornworns that will infest your tomato plants next summer.  Yes, if you leave them undisturbed, they will eventually morph into a lovely butterfly, but not until they've stripped your plants of leaves and bitten gooey chunks out of  your vegetables.


Oh, I'm not swearing off all social media.  I'll keep my Facebook page because it lets me know what my real friends and relatives are up to. It provides a quick way to say, "I care about you."  I'll keep my Twitter account, not only because it teaches me not to be wordy, but because among all the dreck, there are some terribly wise sayings that appear--bright new ideas that I need to hear. And I'll keep my LinkedIn account because its basic premise is to establish networks of professionals. But don't expect to see me every time someone comes up with a new idea for sharing. The caterpillars outweigh the butterflies.




Want to Self-Publish? Learn to Play Whack-a-Mole.

On "Good Morning America" today, the "Play of the Day" featured a chimpanzee who is able to memorize the locations of randomly-placed numbers.  He can handle as many as 19 numbers, even when he sees them for less than a second.  I need that chimp!

The numbers popping up all around me this morning are book prices -- my own book prices -- which have been changing and bouncing around without warning.  When I began to plan for the book launch of "The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese," I decided to reduce the prices of all the books on my website. Now, understand that we're just talking about trade paper copies of the books. (To get electronic editions, you have to go elsewhere.) So I took $3.00 (a nice round number) off both of my self-published books and offered free shipping.  I already had cut the price of "A Scratch with the Rebels" in half because the remaining copies in my inventory have been laying around here for almost 5 years. I finished editing the website to reflect the new prices, and sat back, satisfied with my decisions.  

Then up popped a couple of moles. First, Amazon lowered the price of of one of those books by 28%, making the paper version of "Mouse" a strange $9.32. Several days later, they lowered "Beyond All Price" by 15%, to $12.78. At that point, one of my special offers was lower than theirs, while the other was higher. Sales were doing a little better than I had expected, so  I decided to leave well enough alone.

Ah, but we weren't through. I had set the price of "Mouse" on both Smashwords and Amazon at $0.99, which should have been appealing to budget-minded folks, but apparently wasn't.  Meanwhile, the publisher of my  2007 history, "A Scratch with the Rebels" enrolled that book in the Kindle Select program and opted to take their free days right now. They're doing amazingly well.  The Kindle free version has popped up at #2 in Civil War history, bested only by a version of Lincoln's Gettysburg address! But "Mouse" is suffering from the competition. 

There's only one solution to competing with a free book (even one of my own!).  I have now listed "Mouse" on Smashwords for free. Will Amazon follow suit? Probably.  They don't like being undersold. But when will that change occur? I have no way of telling.  I'm just sitting here, waiting for that particular mole to pop  up.



In my days of traditional academic publishing, I could release a book and sit back, knowing exactly what was going on -- a set price and standard distribution channels. But self-publishing? Wow! It's a constant challenge to keep up with the changes. Wonder how I contact that chimp!

Have You Heard about WIX Pages?

I've been working non-stop for the past couple of days on launching my new book on self-publishing.  In that process I discovered a new application that allows its members to create small, specialized websites for free. I've designed one for "The Second Mouse" that looks like this. The panel on the right side changes when you push one of the five buttons on the left. This picture of the cover is the HOME page.  

The WIX site provides a large selection of templates.  You choose the one whose appearance you like.  Then you can delete their pictures and add your own.  You can erase their text and add yours. You can add music, videos, new backgrounds, and special effects, if you're the type who likes to see things moving around on your site.

To create The Mouse page, I started with a site designed for a bakery.  Where they showed bread and piecrusts, I added mice. Where they had price lists, I inserted book descriptions and reviews.  The whole thing took several hours but was relatively pain-free.  Once you have your website finished, you can upload it to a Facebook Fan Page, for a really neat presentation. Mine is at www.facebook.com/TheSecondMouse .

To see my whole site in action, you can also go to its own website at: http://www.wix.com/schribercat4/second-mouse

The initial design account is free, but you can expect to be pressured to upgrade to a Premium account. So far, I don't see much of an advantage to doing the upgrade, especially since it costs $100 a year or more. I'm trying the premium settings for a month before I decide to commit to that kind of investment. Right now, I can't recommend anything but the free site. I suggest you try it out for yourself.  Design a page and put it up on your Facebook page for a unique presentation

If you'd like to build a page for yourself, the site is WixPages - Boost Your Facebook Page Design for FREE!