Saturday, October 18, 2014

Free Promotion

Starting today and for 5 days only, Keeping a Backyard Horse is available FREE for #kindle readers. Don't have a #kindle? No problem. The Kindle app is available on Google play and iPhone. Want to order a Kindle? Check out Amazon for deals on Kindle readers. Waiting for your kindle to arrive? You can still get the book on Amazon  here and download it later!

Bridging the Language Barrier

In this day and age of the world-wide-web, we as marketers have the potential to reach virtually every country on our planet. But us Americans tend to be rather arrogant and sometimes assume that everyone can speak English. But this was quickly disproved to me when I tried to hold a conversation with Amazon France.

I managed to pick out enough words close enough to English that I was able to compose an email to customer service. You can imagine my surprise when their return email was entirely in French! What to do?

So, I grabbed my trusty smart phone and hooked into the Google Play store, searching for a 'translator' app. I found one called Google Translate that had decent ratings (and was free!). I read over some of the reviews. There were some complaints that it performed poorly with some Oriental languages or specific dialects, but in general, for the 'romance' languages like Spanish and French it worked nicely. This just so happens to be the same translator that I've attached to the bottom of my blog here, to make it easier for my readers. So I downloaded it.
 Usimg simple copy and paste from my email, I was able to translate the entire message. Not only that, but I was also able to compose a return email, also in French! The app seemed to work rather well for this purpose.

From the reviews, I gather it also has a speech function, but I haven't tried that out yet. All I needed was a text translation. It also seems to have downloadable 'language packs' that allows the app to operate even if you're out of your service area. That's definately beyond my needs! But if you're in need of a translation to other languages, I encourage you to try this app. It may not be perfect, but will enable you to somewhat cross the language barrier. And in sales, that could definately be a plus!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Marketing: Smart Links

Ok, I've finally figured out this whole smart link issue and, I believe, worked it out to the best of my ability. So I've now got the use of shorter links which will enable my users anywhere in the world to check out my book listings on Amazon at their country's proper Amazon storefront.

The issue which violates Amazon's Terms and Conditions I can simplify in this way. It is okay if you post on a website "click here to purchase on Amazon" and then use your third party smart or short link. What violates a person's agreement with Amazon is by posting "click here to view my Facebook page/blog/website" and instead of a link sending them to your page/blog/site, you instead use your smart link to direct them to Amazon. In other words, Amazon wants the customer to know when they click the link that they're going to Amazon, not get tricked into viewing their site.

So, I feel that I've finally got an understanding of how this works, and I'm hoping the information I've dug up can help others out there!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Smart Link Follow-Up

This post is a follow up of yesterday's, where I was talking about smart links. Another author on my writer's group, Scribophile, mentioned in my post that she'd heard of an author getting their Amazon account closed due to using smart links. She couldn't remember her source, she was still trying to find it, and I searched on Amazon's help page and was unable to find anything about the use of smart links. So I went right to the source, and emailed Amazon's customer service department directly.
 I suspect, if this is true that Amazon discourages the use of third-party smart links, that this may have something to do with the pay-per-click type of a thing that the third party site offers. I haven't delved into that department yet. Though my source on Scribophile did mention something about the links not connecting to the proper Amazon store, and that may have to do with the quality/reputation of the site creating the links. But I will, of course, post as soon as I find out anything from Amazon directly.

 UPDATE: Here is a partial update and some information I got from the CEO of Georiot. The use of smart links to Amazon products is okay as long as you specify you are sending them to Amazon to purchase an item. So saying 'get this at Amazon by clicking here', you can put your smart link in and you're okay. Saying 'click here to visit my Facebook page' and linking to Amazon instead is NOT okay. This has to do with the fact that people who are Amazon affiliates and advertise for Amazon on their website can claim a monetary commission for referring a customer to Amazon, even if said customer didn't purchase YOUR product on that visit. Check out Georiot's blog post for more details.

Unfortunately, I've learned that my state of Missouri is one of a handful that are not allowed to become Amazon affiliates. The reason why is unclear to me, but I'll ask Amazon if they return my email. I've also sent a follow up message to the CEO of Georiot, asking if I'll still be allowed to use the smart links his website created, even though I'm unable to affiliate. I'll post an update on his reply as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Marketing: Reach as Far as You Can

Today I'm going to talk about something that might be new to some readers. And I can't take credit for this; I read it in another blog from Twitter and I'm not sure now whose it was.

As you may know, Amazon has a number of website addresses for countries spanning the globe: .com is for the US, for the United Kingdom and so on. But what had never occurred to me was the fact that all the links I used to advertise were .com links to Amazon.

Not so much bad if someone from the UK were to click on a .com address, they can speak English, though the price will, of course, be in US dollars. But what if someone from Japan, or Denmark, or other countries were to click on that dot com address? They might not have understood what they've seen, and might not know how to pull up your product on their appropriate Amazon site. What to do? Memorize or copy and paste dozens ofURLs? Enter "smart links".

I built my smart links on for free. It was very easy! All I did, after creating a user name and password, was copy and paste my Amazon product links into the box and hit enter. The site did the rest! Now I have short universal links that, when clicked on, will determine where in the world the person is, and redirect them to their appropriate Amazon website. The site also provides me with certain stats: how many times the link is clicked on, how many times per hour, where the person is, what site they were on when they clicked the link, even to what type of device and operating system they're using. Heck, maybe even what they ate for breakfast! No, kidding. But even though my smart links have only been up for, oh, about five hours now, I've already seen almost 400 clicks and as far away as Japan and South America! I can see this might become a valuable marketing tool!

Also, with that in mind, I will shortly attempt to add the translator gadget to my blog here so that my readers all across the world might benefit. I've had readers from as far away as Malaysia.

My advice to you is this: use every tool you can possibly use to spread your influence as far as you possibly can! Don't miss a sale just because someone out there clicked on your dot com address when they really could have used another. The less work you make buying your product, the more success you'll likely have!

So here are my smart links: Once Upon a Western Way, click here .  My Butterfly Cancer, click here . And Keeping a Backyard Horse, click here . So go ahead and check them out! If you're outside the US and they direct you to your proper Amazon store, feel free to comment and let me know!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Today is one of the bad days. Today, more so than other days, I'm reminded that I'm now disabled. I didn't sleep well, due to a migraine trying to creep into my head. Not to mention I stayed up later than I should have because I got caught up in watching Stephen King's Misery, something I never should have watched right before bed, after having recently published three books!

It's been cloudy and rainy for three or four days now, but today in the early afternoon, we had serious storms roll through. Bad enough that we were issued a tornado warning. We don't have a basement, so the best shelter we can hope for, beyond the brick walls of the house, is a single closet in my youngest daughter's room that has only one outside wall but is rather large due to its unusual shape. I think they took the furnace closet and combined it with the smaller bedroom closet. Anyway, if need be, it might still be difficult to get five people and three dogs into it!

Athena, my horse, seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to really bad weather, and she stayed in her stall mostall day. We've learned to watch her when weather might turn bad. In a light rain, especially when it's been a hot day, she doesn't mind getting wet. But even if she does stay outside in the rain, she always turns her butt to the direction it's coming from!

This kind of weather, I've noticed, seems to play havoc with my body after my chemo treatments. Just like a long-healed broken bone, the change in temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure causes all the scar tissue left in my body to scream in pain.
 Chemotherapy drugs are very toxic to body cells. It's designed to kill rapidly-growing cells like cancerous tumor cells. But there's no way to 'program' the chemo to ONLY attack the bad cells. So it also attacks the cells in the mouth, the intestines, the skin, and the hair, among others. And some chemo causes intense pain, which is the body's signal of tissue damage. So how can they know that the treatment really isn't causing any lasting damage? Long-term side effects of chemo are harder to research, as I've found out myself in trying to learn more about chemo and its effects.

Days like today remind me that I may never be able to rejoin the "normal" workforce. After all, it's a rare boss who would accept "sorry I can't come to work today because it's raining." Being my own boss is proving to be more difficult than simply showing up to work. But I'm going to give it my best shot!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Yes, I'm posting twice today! Since I posted earlier, I was given the website of ACX , a service that turns printed books into audiobooks. I have created a profile and began the process of turning My Butterfly Cancer into an audiobook.

This may not be as easy as publishingprint versions. I had to use an excerpt from the book to use as an "audition", and I have to wait until a narrator sees my book and gives me an audition of the material. Then I have to see if I can get a producer involved to actually produce the thing (for half of my 40% royalties), and go on from there.

But, it hasn't cost me anything at the moment, so I've put it out there. This may be of benefit to cancer patients, who (as I know from experience) may have a hard time reading the printed work while undergoing treatments.

It's just another avenue to explore on the writet's journey!

Using Youtube

I've been seeing quite a few authors using Youtube to generate more interest in their books (and by thay, hopefully more sales!), so I thought I would try it myself. After all, everyone can upload videos to Youtube and everyone can view them.

But I definately did NOT want to be in my own video! Not to mention I had no idea what to say. So my oldest daughter helped me to create some slide shows using the PowerPoint with my word processor.You can view the trailer for Once Upon a Western Way or for My Butterfly Cancer or Keeping a Backyard Horse at these links.

There's no music to them yet, and that might be a little difficult to do as there are copyright laws that prevent the use of something already existing to sell something of yours without getting permission. It's one thing in a book to say "so and so and blah blah blah" and then cite your source. It's another to use your favorite song by your favorite artistin a video for advertising purposes. That's also the reason I bought my butterfly logo, so that I could use it whenever I wanted.