Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not your usual rant.

(A page from Time-Storm. Nothing here to fix.)

This is not your usual rant.

No, this is a far more lucid and sophisticated sort of a rant.

Troubleshooting Messed-Up Table of Contents.

The other day I uploaded my latest novel, ‘Time-Storm,’ to Smashwords. According to my practice, as soon at it was converted, I downloaded Kindle and Epub versions of the book. I flip through them page by page.

Chapter Sixteen was listed twice in the table of contents, and Chapter Twenty-Two was not listed at all. This has happened before, and it’s no big thing. I went back to Smashwords, clicked on ‘un-publish’ for this title, and then went through my file. I fixed the chapter numbering. I also noticed indents in the front matter, as I had decided to try left justification. I could have just taken it out. For whatever reason, I use a 0.25 indent, although it seems to make no difference on certain platforms and certain operating systems. I centred that up the way I usually do it. Then I re-uploaded the file. Same thing—I checked the Kindle version first, and the chapter numbers were screwed up.

What the heck was going on? I only have one version on the desktop—it’s not the wrong file. Short story long, first I had to delete the very first download from Kindle for PC, that’s a free reading app. It was in my Kindle Library. But the Smashwords download appears on the desktop as a blue-coloured, book-shaped icon. When I clicked on that, it opened up the Kindle app and Kindle presented me with the first file. It took two and a half hours to upload a book, and an image, to write and post the blurb, etc.

File Permission Revoked.

It gets better. When I went to check my blurb, maybe make it a little longer, it wouldn’t open. Apparently I don’t have ‘permission’ to open the file! Honestly, it looks like a computer glitch, possibly due to the age and decrepitude of the machine. I lost three images and a couple of files there—one of them the latest and most up to date version of my newly-published novel, ‘Time-Storm.’ That is the file, modified slightly, that I would have used to make an .html file for upload to Amazon. I lost the marketing image. I lost images for another two books as well.

A file dragged and dropped into the same folder became un-openable. I just grabbed some old thing from anther file. Hopefully it wasn’t too important. It’s gone. The good news is that I managed to get everything still in good condition out of that folder and into others. When I try to delete that folder, it won’t even go into the recycle bin. It sits there on the desktop, defying my best efforts. Without that image, putting an ad at the top of this page is problematical. I’ll probably just make a new one.

Back Everything Up.

So, the thing to do is to back everything up as soon as we write it. Put it on a disc, print it out, or e-mail a copy to yourself. Do the same with important photos.

I really only have one unpublished novel left, and it is safe enough. All of my short stories, (hopefully,) are backed up in various ways. That’s not to say that losing a file permanently would not be an inconvenience, because it is. I spent six weeks or a month re-writing and editing ‘Time-Storm.’ I do have an older version somewhere.

But, luckily for me, I got a fresh file from my Smashwords account, and I’m getting pretty handy with the tools.


Active blogging.

Now, in terms of active blogging, one thing I see from my stats page, is that if you stop producing original content, and stop posting, the page hits drop off pretty dramatically. The odds of creating a viral piece of literature would appear to be slim. It takes persistence and constant attention. It also takes thoughtful targeting as to audience.

However, there is an exception in terms of content-type. My short little piece, ‘Kobo Not Recognized by PC,’ keeps showing up in the analytics. There’s a simple reason for that. People buy new Kobos every day. They take them home, plug them into the PC, and try to get it going. If that story generates five or ten hits a week for an extended time, it stays on the first page of the relevant links longer, and ultimately more and more people will hit on it. Another one, ‘Formatting a 5 x 8” POD on Createspace’ is a good example of fairly short, specific, how-to articles that are helpful to a specific audience, that are not just all positive attitude and having little or no substance.

These are all white-hat techniques for SEO.

The discoveries are sort of accidental, but we know better now and we will put some thought into discovering a tight little audience somewhere, and then writing something that serves their needs. Let’s face it: on the right hand side of my blog are product images and links to my books and stories…right?

Photos are important to a blog or website. Pinterest looks for photos, and we see a fair bit of traffic from there. In the above photo, spell-check and grammar-check are turned on. This is a good feeling for a writer, to see that nothing there needs fixing. This blog post was written in Word, and copied and pasted into the Blogger interface. This is all part of active blogging.

And, I promise not to drag and drop it into that contaminated folder, and neither do I plan on sticking the contaminated folder in any other folder...

Next Novel in Mystery Series.

‘Cause that would just be stupid. Since Friday, I’ve written about 2,000 words on the second of the Inspector Maintenon mystery series. I will be following SOP, Standard Operating Procedure until that is published. The character was originally created in the short story, ‘The Handbag’s Tale,’ and the first book in the series is ‘Redemption: an Inspector Gilles Maintenon mystery.’ They’re available from Amazon and other fine online booksellers.

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