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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jean Allen on making reading easier.

Style, plot, and characterisation are but a few of the abilities writers use to hone our work for our readers. We care about their reading experience as well.
Recently I had to have cataract operations on both my eyes. What a wonderful era we live in to have this surgery available. I had the near sighted eye done first and arranged to have the long sight eye done two weeks later; which was just as well as I was found to be allergic to one of the eye drops used before and after surgery. I could read, just, but the discomfort to that eye made it too sore.    
Remedy? My kind husband went to the library and chose for me three Large Print books. E-books also proved good with their larger print options and a friend lent me some audio CDs. Of these I still preferred the Large Print books. I love the feel, smell and familiar look - and many now have lighter weight covers for comfort.
Blind Institutes worldwide have long provided for the blind or near blind; now those of us having short or long term seeing problems have options. My personal, short term experience has made me decide I shall follow some of my fellow writers’ lead and seek to add to the supply of e-books, large print and audio CDs – and incorporate them more in my own reading interests. And maybe I shall find other options.
This is Jean ‘Angel’ Allen hoping my new eyes haven’t made any mistakes and that you are enjoying your favourite reading method today!


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Barbara Algie on NZ Sporting genius!

‘Strike up the Band’/’Roll out the Barrel’/’Congratulations’/and ‘Wasn’t that a party?’ All amazing songs but I’ll tell you more about them later.

Right now it’s all about National Pride in this under-populated chunk of land whose exact whereabouts has some people in the world scratching their heads. This week we are celebrating a host of amazing moments in the worldwide sporting arena

1) National Sport – ‘Rugby Racing & Beer’. Our All Blacks, whose veins are a combination of fibre optic cable and No.8 fencing wire, brushed off mangled muscles to defeat a burly South African team by a country mile, causing nationwide Sunday hangovers.

2) Ranfurly Shield – Provincial challengers have been playing ping-pong with the ‘Log o’ Wood’ as
it’s widely known. Otago (rank outsiders) held it briefly before it was wrested from their grasp by the Magpies from Hawkes Bay who didn’t even have time to give it a polish before it found itself in the firm grip of Counties Manukau. The Shield is beginning to feel dizzy, so – watch this space.

3) Sweet was the victory of Netball’s Silver Ferns over their Australian opponents in the first of a bruising series of Five Tests where the slogan of our so-called friends across the ditch is ‘take no prisoners'. For once our kiwi girls managed to forget they were the nice-guys and inflicted the necessary amount of push, biff and shove, for a narrow cliff-hanger win. ‘Go the Ferns!’ for the series.

4) World-beater Lydia Ko – what can we say? This young lass has put new emphasis on the phrase ‘a real cool cat’ by astonishing the golf world with her ability not only to make the cut in every tournament in which she has so far competed, but whose short game is the envy of players, male or
female. Her aim? To be the best in the world. Good luck Lydia - ‘Go Ko – Turn Pro!’

5) NZ Rowers – Bedecked with so many medals they set the airport security devices ringing like the Bells of St Mary’s. Rowing – showing the world how it’s done.

6) Now to the ‘biggie’ – America’s Cup where Team New Zealand need to win just one more race to bring the Auld Mug back to where its empty (burglar-proof) cabinet awaits in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. I’m not sure the description of this event as a ‘Regatta’ is correct. Rather than a genteel afternoon picnic with cucumber sandwiches it’s more a bitter battle currently being waged on San Francisco Bay. The rivalry between Jimmy Spitall (the Pitbull) and the Deano/Dalton duo (the Icemen) is intense, but thankfully somebody has resurrected a pair of red socks. A gimmick yes, and some smell of mothballs, but one which seems to be working for our unflappable crew.

So please don’t worry about stomach ulcers or angina pains – put on those red socks and pray – HARD – and after we win tomorrow’s race (fingers crossed of course) you can start singing all those songs at the top of this blog and don’t worry about impending hangovers – they may go on for a month or two but ‘they’ll be worth it’!

Barbara Algie
Sept 19 2013

                                                           Photo: Bev Robitai


Friday, 13 September 2013

Vicky Adin on Facebook for authors

For those indie authors who wonder how to reach those elusive readers, I came across this post - – the best I’ve seen – explaining the difference between a Facebook profile (personal) and a Facebook page (professional).

A Facebook profile is for people. A Facebook page is for products (books!), services, nonprofits, and businesses.

Having a Facebook page will enable you to promote it, announce your readings, and inform your readers of upcoming workshops you’re giving. Technically, writers can’t promote their wares on their Facebook profiles

Even so, I struggled with some of the concepts.
After several experiments, the author – Frances Caballo – came to the conclusion that:

     On your Facebook profile, personal information trumps beautiful images. Profiles are for friends and they want to hear about your life, your travails and your accomplishments. They also want to help so don’t forget to solicit their feedback.

     Information about your specialty or niche will perform better on your Facebook page, not your profile. I’m a writer who specializes in social media. I love to post about books, libraries, social media marketing, and authors. However, those types of posts work better on my Facebook page where my fans expect me to write about social media and as writers themselves, appreciate quotes by writers. So keep professional interests on your Facebook page and keep personal information you’d like to share on your Facebook profile.

     The image posted was beautiful, but it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t a picture that I’d taken on vacation or after a day at the beach. If that had been the case, more of my friends would have left comments. Images in and of themselves, despite the beauty they capture, won’t generated the engagement you’d like to have on your profile.

     Facebook users love to laugh. Whenever I post an image that’s hilarious, whether it’s on my profile or my page, the engagement goes up. This is true for both your page and your profile; something truly hilarious that isn’t offensive may trump everything else, except for your profile when you ask people for their help.

I agree that photos and images are postings that attract comments and likes. A good photo or humorous image and hitting ‘like’ is quick and simple. But in this article, the author also pushes the personal - Facebook profiles are all about sharing one’s drama, struggles, parties, promotions, and other personal items. And this is where I have a problem.

I am happy for people to know about me as an author, but do they really need or, more importantly, want to know if I have a cold, had chicken for dinner or my granddaughter was cheeky? My friends will, I agree; my family probably already know as I talk to them, but do my readers, followers and people who ‘like’ me want to know? I’d be interested to know your opinion.

As a reader I want to know what about my favourite authors: something of their interests and what excites them, but not personal and intimate posts. I want to know a lot about what they are writing, what the theme for the next book might be, and what inspires them. I am also more interested in the struggles they are having with writing rather than anything in their personal lives. Is that just me, being a fellow writer, or am I being too ‘out-of-touch’ in today’s world?

So this is where Facebook doesn’t work for me. You must have a personal profile to have a Facebook presence – okay, so far so good – and if you ‘like’ a business page (which I have done) you would expect to receive updates according to your setting.  Unfortunately, that also means an author not only has to spend time commenting on their personal page but also on their professional page, which takes them away from what they do – write books.

Yet anything posted on that business page does not necessarily appear in your personal news feed. Sometimes it might and sometimes not. I have a friend, both personal and on Facebook who updates here personal profile with interesting news. She is also an author. I have ‘liked’ her professional page, but rarely do I get any updates from that page.  I wondered if it was my ineptitude and somehow I didn’t have the correct settings. It appears not.

Another article by Stephanie Chandler - - tells us Facebook deliberately controls the number of people who see the posts on your business page. The only way to overcome this problem is to spend money and pay for Promoted Posts.

What do you think?

Do you want read personal updates about people who you ‘like’ on a business page? Shouldn’t that sort of personal information be just for friends and family – people you know? Are your readers also your friends? What is the difference between a friend and a Facebook friend? I don’t like to share my personal with the wider world out there in cyber space who I don’t know, but thousands, even millions of people do. So much for the GCSB debate! (But that’s another story).

What would be the factor that would attract you away from the personal profile of an author to the professional page of the same person?  If I put my writing information – and I don’t mean hard sell: that doesn’t work in anybody’s world – but a link to my blog, for example. Would you follow that link more if it was on a professional page rather than my personal profile? According to this article, yes:

Facebook friends want to hear about the highlights of our lives, and not have to click a link that take them to a blog post. Do you agree?

Seems to me that social media, which is constantly highlighted as THE way to connect with your readers, is not all it’s cracked up to be, but then I’m old-fashioned like that. I want people to read my stories, not the story of my life today in one-sentence updates. So, I still have the problem – how do indie authors find their readers?

Vicky Adin

Friday, 6 September 2013

The New Face of Bookshops

When travelling last month I took the chance to check out the state of bookselling in Canada and the UK, and it was mostly a disappointing exercise. Bookstores, unable to make enough profit by selling books, have become houseware and accessory stores, filling their retail space with knicknacks and completely unrelated products.
 This is a branch of Chapters - the equivalent of Borders - hardly looks like a bookstore, does it?

I guess they need to do whatever it takes to survive. There were certainly no independent bookstores in sight in any of the towns and cities I visited, only big chain stores, or secondhand bookstores.

But on the positive side, I was impressed by the care taken by the Toronto Central branch of Indigo, where I found all kinds of interesting displays designed to unite books with readers who would enjoy them. That's where bricks and mortar stores need to concentrate their efforts to stay relevant. Having titles recommended, either by a human or a well-thought-out display, tips the balance between buying a book in the shop or getting it later online.

 Here are books for Book Clubs, and mystery lovers.
 The books most often stolen! Fascinating set of titles!
And special interest books grouped together so customers can browse them easily, probably finding more than one they'd like to buy.

There's no silver bullet to 'fix' the problems with book selling, and I think bookshops will continue to struggle in the face of cheaper and more convenient book-buying options. It will come down to customer support. If they can offer an experience the customer is willing to pay a little more for, then they'll survive.

Meanwhile, writers continue to find new and exciting ways to get their books in front of readers with or without bookstores.

Speaking of which - open invitation to a double book launch on Tuesday 10th, 6pm at Takapuna Library. Shauna Bickley and I are talking about our new publications Lies of the Dead and Sunstrike. All welcome!