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Friday, August 26 2016 @ 07:02 AM CDT

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How to Build (and not Build) an Author Site

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Courtesy Oregon State Transportation Department/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. 	When I released my first book four years ago, I wasn’t convinced I needed an author site. After all, an Amazon Author Page includes most of the basic elements needed to establish a web presence, and it’s free to boot. I decided to build one a simple WordPress one anyway for the experience I’d gain in doing so, and now it’s time for a major rebuild. Here’s why.

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A Happy Birthday Book Review

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Courtesy Elmar/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.Notching another year in the metaphorical – and rapidly diminishing - stick measuring one's life is not exactly a celebratory event. In fact, it's right up there with performing your morning check in to confirm that you haven't sold any books. Again. But every now and then, someone you don't know leaves you a really nice review, and that can make your day.

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Do Free Book Promotions Work? (Part II)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Courtesy Wikipedia CommonsTwo and a half weeks ago, I posted a report on the initial results of a free copy promotion I ran, using four of the more effective book newsletter services. That campaign was successful in the near term, resulting in 4,360 downloads of my second book. In the conclusions, I noted:  

I’ll need to collect further data before I can report back on whether a trial of this scale, duration and impact had the desired effect. The real test will be whether a week from now my base line of sales and page reads steps up from the base line before the sale.

And the answer is?… [drum roll]…No on sales, yes on reads. For the details, read on. As before, I’ll include specific figures and detailed sales charts.

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Do Free Book Promotions Work? (Part I)

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Courtesy Rugby471/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic licenseFor years now, the prevailing wisdom in self-publishing has been that periodically pricing a book at free for a few days is a great way to build an audience. More recently, many authors are reporting that giving away thousands of free copies of a book has almost no ongoing positive impact on sales. Which review reflects reality?

The evolving consensus seems to be that while massive giveaways worked well in the past, they don't work now. Multiple authors have reported that their giveaways have resulted in few, if any, reviews, and also that it was difficult to ascribe many (and sometimes any) downstream sales as a result of their free promotions.

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UK Cabinet Office Says "Hello, You Must be Going" to ODF

OpenDocument and OOXML

We will never reject an incoming editable document in ODF format. Asking someone to resend a document in a closed proprietary format is akin to bad manners - Home Office OpenDocument Format Adoption Plan

Hello, I must be going. I cannot stay, I came to say, I must be going.
I'm glad I came, but just the same, I must be going
- Groucho Marx, Animal Crackers

Technological evolution is famous for obsoleting wonders created just a few years before. Sometimes new developments moot the fiercest battles between competitors as well. That seemed to be the case last week, when Microsoft announced its Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on…(wait for it)…Linux, the open source software assailed by the company’s prior CEO as a communist cancer.
 
It also saw the UK Cabinet Office announce its detailed plans for transitioning to the support of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), a document format that was just as fiercely opposed by Microsoft in the most hard-fought standards war in decades.  But at the same time, the Cabinet Office announced its commitment to work towards making document formats as close to obsolete as possible.
 
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What is Open Source Pharma (and why should you care)?

Monday Witness

I’m writing this over the north Atlantic as I return from most of a week of very compelling meetings at a castle in Germany. Nominally, the subject of the discussion was something generally referred to as “open source pharma” (OSP). But more particularly, the meeting was about working towards saving the millions of lives a year that are lost either to so called “neglected diseases,” or because those stricken cannot possibly afford the price of the drugs that could provide a cure. Even though the actual cost of manufacturing the drugs they so desperately need may be only pennies a pill.

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Donald Trump and Wikipediology

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Here's another look-back to the last election to prove once again that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Try reading this while replacing the name "Palin" with the name "Trump," and "Paul Revere" with "illegal immirgration" and you'll see what I mean.

Courtesy National Archives Administration - Unrestricted useSome time back, I wrote a blog entry called "The Wikipedia and the Death of Archaeology."  The thesis of the piece was this: archaeologists study periods as recent as a hundred years ago, because even with newspapers, magazines and photographs, a substantial percentage of everyday reality still slips through the historical cracks.  If that sounds bogus, consider the fact that several times in your life (at least if you're an American), you've read an account of someone sealing or opening up a "time capsule" intended to preserve everyday objects for about the same time frame. 

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Election Day: What would Darwin Think?

Monday Witness

Last Monday I reposted an entry with a Darwinian theme from the beginnining of the last U.S. presidential campaign. Here's one from the end.

Praises be, it's over — over and done with — finis — no longer plaguing us and finished. I refer, of course, to that quadrennial paroxysm of democratic hysteria we prosaically call a "Presidential Election." Thank God.

Along the way, we heard enough lies, damn lies and Super PAC ads to last us for the rest of our lives, and then some. And early in the process, it seemed like we were living in the middle of the next installment of Men in Black, except that none of the primary candidates went back to their home planets after they were defeated.

At the heart of all this nonsense, though, there is a central reality that never ceases to amaze me: how is it that so many Americans can disagree so fundamentally with each other about so much, each convinced that he or she is possessed of the equivalent of divinely revealed truth while those on The Other Side are possessed by the Devil, or worse?

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Standards of Political Civility and Darwin's Finches

Monday Witness

I wrote this piece five years ago. Sadly, it's still timely today. Only the names have been changed to update the idiots

Courtesy Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.Heaven help us all (all us Americans, anyway) — it's election time again. That means we're once more descending into a morass of partisan invective, not to mention lies, damn lies, and (of course) statistics. Except that this campaign year it seems that everyone is behaving even worse than last time, when everyone acted even worse than the time before, when, well, do you sense a trend here?

One hallmark of this year's political "discourse" (to abuse a term) has been the number of astonishingly angry and ill-informed accusations made by some candidates against their opponents (and others). Nothing unusual about that, sad to say. But what is different is the degree of acceptance, and even approval, exhibited by many voters that in earlier years might have rejected these candidates as well as their statements.

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Exclusive Presidential Debate Preview!

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 Readers of my first book, called The Alexandria Project, know that most of what I concocted in that supposedly fictional work turned out to be eerily prophetic. Events that I had made up out of whole cloth began occurring, one after another. And why not? They were all based on genuine, underlying geopolitical realities. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when events from my second book, called The Lafayette Campaign, a Tale of Deception and Elections, began happening almost immediately after I released it. Like what? Well, like incredibly improbable candidates for president of the United States immediately jumping to the top of the polls, while credible candidates languish (Donald and Jeb, take notice). We’ll have to wait and see whether the explanation in real life is the same as the one in the book.

In the spirit of public service for those who may be unable to watch tomorrow's kick-off debate, I therefore post below the chapter from my new book where I describe the first squaring off of my fictional cast of presidential candidates. I’ll leave it to you to decide on Friday morning whether the real, or the fictional, candidates are more outrageous. The Lafayette Campaign, by the way, is currently and briefly on sale at Amazon for the ridiculously low price of $.99 (and free at Kindle Unlimited). Why don't you give it a try?