Blog & Site Updates

9.18.18 Mischief managed. Yesterday I got an email from my distributor confirming that they have removed the series name from all the books, including the one which Amazon refused to amend, and BBB has closed the case. Barnes & Noble never contested the issue. This is the difference between the two booksellers. And Barnes & Noble has always remained just a bookseller and media seller, not a big box store like Amazon. I have removed all links to Amazon on the site, knowing that if readers really want the books they can go to Amazon directly. I will not be promoting Amazon in any way from now on.

9.16.18 Today I read an upsetting email from my distributor informing me that Amazon said books I removed from a series should remain in the series. Of all the cheek! Who is the publisher here, me or Amazon? I referred the emails to The Better Business Bureau (BBB) based on the case I had generated with them. Then, I looked up a publishing lawyer and contacted him about it. According to his website, he is also a teaching professor so that means he knows what he is talking about, and he is in Los Angeles so if he wants to see me in person that's ok with me.
     As it is, I have no love lost with Amazon. They have inconvenienced many other authors as well as major publishers over the last decade. I tried selling my ebooks through them only to get crickets. I moved my ebooks off their catalog. If it were not for the contractual agreement between my distributor and Amazon, my print books would be gone, too. But there it is. Only time will tell whether I prevail. And I will, come hell or high water.

Work on Science Fiction Films of The 20th Century - Men In Space and Alien Invasions proceeds apace and I will be entering the 1950s soon. I think I will amend the subtitle to "Mad Scientists, Men In Space, And Alien Invasions" because of the 1940s and the many serial adventures involving scientists with alterior motives. Yes, I will be adding the 1950s to the list because otherwise the book would be too short. I was on the fence about it until I saw the number of pages created so far. Anyway, life goes on.

9.11.18 Today marks the 17th anniversary to the day that on 9/11/2001, terrorists hijacked four airliners and took down the World Trade Center, a portion of the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania on the way to Washington, D.C.. On that day, my significant other woke me up when he had seen the first plane hit the south tower of the WTC, and I was awake for the second impact, horrified by its destructive power. CNN covered the scenes from morning through long past midnight. I saw the wreckage of the planes, and even audio snippets from people's cell phones as they bid their families and loved ones goodbye. In the event of the field impact, the authorities talked about it as a lucky break. Had the plane hit the capitol or the white house, they would have scrambled the jets to destroy Iran. What was so remarkable about the plane was that there were passengers on it willing to sacrifice their lives to stop the terrorists who took the plane. One of them said, "let's roll", a line heard in the latest Batman film.
     I remember that day as clear to me as the day itself. I was in tears, and could not read or write for days after that. Events I had contracted with to sell did not cancel, saying that we should carry on our lives as if it never happened. Of course, they were right. This was in defiance of the terrorists' message: capitulate or die. I could not fathom how anyone could be that evil, to kill thousands of innocent people in order to make a point.
      And we retaliated, only not directly. Pres. Bush (43) directed that we should declare war on the terrorists, but then we were suddenly attacking Iraq. It was about oil, not about the lives of the victims. It was not until Pres. Obama directed a special team to take down Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan that we saw some victory against the factions who had attacked us on our own soil.
     Today we saw Trump (not my president) barely even mention the attack in human terms, except for a lipstick declaration of success from 17 years ago. He did not appear interested unless the attention was directed toward him alone. No mention of the many first responders who later died from emphysema and other pulmonary diseases contracted from breathing the smoke and dust of the towers going down. No mention of the thousands of people who died, and those on the airplanes, and those living in the aftermath, missing those they loved.
      I spent today looking for memorial celebrations in the capitol and found none. Is this what we have sunk to? When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 there was way more reaction than that. Is human life so worthless that we cannot respond to their deaths in an honorable manner?

Today I have posted an XML on the site, on the front page. I was told that I should do this so the robots could crawl the site better. While I have done this, I cannot understand why no one had told me before, in the many years that I have operated the site. It seems like only another hoop I should jump through to even get noticed these days. It's bad enough that I should work hard on coding, only to see another obstacle placed in my way. I am not a big box store. I am a little store. Leave me alone.

9.04.18 I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend. Today, I have taken down all links to Barnes & Noble Nook listings, thanks to a dismal 6 months of no sales. After reading several articles which point out that BN was not even promoting its own reading device in all their stores, I concluded that perhaps marketing my books in digital form through one or two sources alone was not a good idea. To that end, I have begun work to prepare my digital files for publication through Smashwords, which distributes ebooks to many sellers. Some of their channels include Rakuten, Kobo, which has recently started selling the ebooks through Walmart, Target, and others. Smashwords has the virtue that it can take a basic file and convert it into several different digital formats. I have recently been able to upload Destiny's Forge to Smashwords and should have the link available to post soon. Meanwhile, please consider purchasing the PDFs, which are more complete and better formatted than most other types of ebook.

8.28.18 - Why it is not a good idea to couch books in a series: As part of my effort to make my books more accessible and readable in their respective categories, I had discontinued a series which appeared to lead readers to buy thinking they were following a continuing story. Since the books were actually related but covered differing subjects, I felt that the series was misleading, so I "emancipated" the books so they could truly stand alone. I changed the book covers and amended the metadata at my distributor to reflect this. This was over 3 months ago.
     In the middle of July, I checked my Amazon listings through Author Central and thought the issue was resolved, except for one title. I contacted Amazon and told them that the series name was still on the one title. I got a no-reply email responding that I should talk to my distributor. I did so, several times. I got a no-reply email issuing me a ticket for that task. Later, I got an email saying that the series name still showed on the books but that Amazon had removed them according to my metadata. The distributor, however, still had the series name on the listings.
      Later, I sent another email to Amazon about the issue, which had not changed for them. After about a week of no response, I sent the issue to the Better Business Bureau, which gave me a case number, and I outlined my complaint as clearly and distinctly as possible. Through the BBB I got better service, but Amazon insisted I should contact my distributor. I did. In another phone call, I got bogged down on hold for another 20 minutes, after which I hung up. I got onto their chat room, I gave them the ISBNs for all the books affected and pointed out that it is not good business to leave their customers hanging on the phone.
     So the next time you want to start a series, be sure you want to issue your books that way. Be sure that the subject of your books are similar enough, or follow a particular time line, or a specific character or period in history as relates to your series. Books which are similar in subcategory may not follow those rules, as mine did not. Once I established that they would be stand alone books after all, the series was rendered superfluous. It has taken me 4 months to correct my error. Save yourself some headaches and keep them independent of one another, unless you are following all that a series requires.

8.13.18 As part of making this site more secure I have logged it with a service which monitors sites and makes sure that they are not invaded or hacked into. In the meantime I have made some subtle changes to the product pages to facilitate their service. You need to do nothing. Just explore as you normally do.

8.07.18 8:30 am PDT. Update: Mischief managed, for the time being. I finally got a reply to my ticket request and the CS rep said the problem would be fixed. Why does it take over 3 days to fix what could take only 5 minutes?

8.07.18 There has been a shocking lack of concern at my publishing service about fixing problems. I found an omission in one of my books and, when I corrected the galley files, uploaded them into my book's listing module on Friday. Lo and behold, the page behaved as if it was an ebook. I emailed customer service on that day pointing out the error. I could not proceed to actually pay for the revision. No response was forthcoming from them. On Saturday I tried again. Again, no response. On Sunday I tried again. Same problem. On Monday I called them by phone and was forced to wait for 20 minutes before an automated recording came on and told me to hang up and try again. There can't have been that many customers on the line, but Monday seemed unusually crowded. I tried uploading the files again on Monday and got the same problem. I emailed them again, and got a form email telling me a ticket was generated and they would get back to me.. No response came ALL DAY. I emailed them this morning about it and was thoroughly ticked off. I may have to close my account and take my books elsewhere.
     This is a disappointing situation because it is a service which offers professional services and worldwide distribution, compared to most others. I have tried at all times to publish my books with that in mind. However, if there was a change in management upstairs, or of the customer service I used to know, it means that my publishing service is no longer reliable.
     I have gone to the BBB site and read nothing but negative reviews all outlining my problem with lack of communication. This was also a shock. I guess I thought they were perfect, because they got back to me almost right away before. Most of my books were processed properly before. Revisions took almost no time at all. But now, they have delayed fixing the problem for too long. I'd hate to think that they were doing it on purpose.
     So today I have suspended sales of the book on the site, and I would assume that the book is still available on other sites because it shows as available, no matter what I do. I have also recorded a complaint with The Better Business Bureau and also Consumer Affairs, if you care to read them.

8.03.18 Today I have lowered the prices on all ebooks. It makes no sense to expect more, since many customers have said they will not pay more. It is also digital content so there was little cost associated with creating them. Since ebooks are slowly declining in demand thanks to the return of hard copies, I think those who want the ebooks anyway will see that I am flexible. Right now, the only ebook seller who markets them is Barnes & Noble, since I have removed my titles from Amazon for lack of sales. I will wait until the end of the year to see if there is any improvement in sales of the ebooks. If there is not, I will discontinue publishing them and remove them from the catalog on December 31. So I would strongly suggest that if you want ebooks, you'd better get them now to encourage me to keep them on sale. Thanks.
     Swords of The Dragon's Blood was published on July 28, and was made available for sale on July 31. It took me 4 years to write and edit, so please take a look.
     A future book of the same genre is planned for publication some time next year. It will be a western/sci-fi novel or novella in the tradition of Rex Stout and other writers. Also, I am going to work on a cold war novel. But plans for those are well off yet. I am proceeding with working on the next SF Film book and it should be out sometime in the fall.

7.20.18 Work proceeds apace on both books, and one will be publish sometime before the 29th. The other is going nicely and I see it being published in August instead of September. More updates later.
      Today I have returned my art gallery to this site, and will change my home site to redirect the gallery to this site. It appears that having 3 sites with the same things on them is confusing enough without having the products listed all over the place. So check out my latest additions. ♦

6.22.18 Now that the first book has been published, we begin work on the next volume of the series, Science Fiction Films of The 20th Century: Men In Space And Alien Invasions, which will not be published until sometime this fall. Meanwhile, work on Swords of The Dragon's Blood continues, and we plan to publish it in July. ♦

6.19.18 Science Fiction Films of The 20th Century: The Early Years has just gone into the print hopper and should be available in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I have put up the buttons in case you want to order. The next book in this series will probably be published sometime in August or September, as I have another book I have to finish before all else is said and done. ♦

4.15.18 I just did a search on some of my paperback books and Amazon is running some kind of sale where a book is priced as low as $2.93 with free shipping, as long as one has a Prime membership. Apparently they can't sell them fast enough. Meanwhile, anyone who sees the list price posted with a Kindle listing is asked to compare the prices between the paperback and the file. It's apple and oranges as far as I am concerned. And I haven't seen any sales since mid-March. I don't know what's going on with them.
     Doing my taxes right now, along with rearranging my files. I'll update you on upcoming books later. ♦

3.14.18 I am reminded that this is PI Day, which is any day containing the numerals 3 and 14. It stands for π, the factor used to compute the circumpherence of a circle. But by circumstance today is also the day that Sir Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) died at the age of 76. Hawking was a theoretical physicist who unlocked the secrets of black holes and united their effects with the theory of general relativity as documented by Albert Einstein. He said that the heart of any galaxy in the universe is a supermassive black hole. He wrote several books, including A Brief History of Time, a book designed for laymen. His latest work was exploring the concept of "dark matter" and "dark energy", the properties of which are yet to be defined. He was diagnosed with amyolateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21 and was given 2.5 years to live. Instead, he and his family decided to fight it, and he lasted another 55 years. He had an ever effervescent wit and sense of humor, and despite the effects of the disease, managed to continue to teach and work on his favorite subject. ♦

3.13.18 A difference made. Finally, I retired the order form I had posted in case there were any credit card orders from people who did not like to use PayPal. It turns out that PayPal is perfectly fine for everyone. There was also the risk of the form being intercepted between the buyer and Antellus® by those wanting to farm the form for data, though there was little sign that this was happening. It was an experiment which saw little to no results, so I have shed it. Anyone wanting to deal by credit card can just contact me and negotiate by email. I have seen it work for other sites, so no more cumbersome forms. I have simplified the Buyer's Info page to reflect the removal of the form.
     You will also notice that the product pages are now simpler to see, and I plan to publish more links where I can find them. There is no reason to restrict the availability of the books. Right now I have links to the ebooks on the major booksellers. I may add more if I can find them. ♦

2.25.18 Good news! My ebooks are now on sale through Barnes & Noble Press (formerly Nook Press). So far I have had some sales since 2.8.18, and I have posted links on the product pages.
      Principles of Publishing In The Digital Age: 4th Edition is now up for sale in print and PDF formats.
     Work proceeds apace on Swords of The Dragon's Blood and Science Fiction Films of The 20th Century: The Early Years. I have found that there is enough space in the latter book to take the segment from before 1900 to 1940. I will cut it off there and continue with another volume as soon as I know what to call it. Later, I will worry about setting up Kindle and Nook editions where possible. Watch for further developments. ♦

2.7.18 As part of our outreach to other markets, I am trying to establish a vendor account with Barnes & Noble to post our ebooks there. I had been a member of PubIt, which turned into Nook Press, but since NP was not forthcoming with sales I closed the account. B&N rebranded the site into Barnes & Noble Press. Now, thanks to a glitch in the vendor account form, I cannot proceed without activation, and that depends on tax and banking information which must match (according to them). I tried 6 times, and each time the form rejected the same information I have been using for over 40 years. I have sent them an email explaining the problem and hopefully they will fix it. In the meantime, I am reconfiguring the files according to their specs (which are radically different from KDP) but am not putting them up until the account is verified.
     I have put Principles of Publishing In The Digital Age 3rd Edition to bed in preparation to publish the 4th edition, which will be updated with new information and more aids to publishing. I anticipate it will be published in March. Swords of The Dragon's Blood is still in the works, and other books will be published later in the Spring and Fall of 2018 as I finish them. More news later. ♦

1.25.18 This is the first post for 2018. I have been reconfiguring the book catalog so that the catalog numbers are simpler. Before, I was assigning numbers based on the year, the order of a book by series or category, and the number of the book itself based on its original publication date. Now, all book catalog numbers are based on the order of publication and that's it. It's easier to keep track of and I don't expect to publish a thousand books in my lifetime. The art prints are in the reassignment process, so I will post them on the site later.
     I am also republishing all of the books with different page counts and prices. This year I have decided to drop the 99 cents appended to each price and offer the book with an integer price. It is worth the effort because, now that I am selling exclusively online, a penny's difference does not matter.
     I hope you had a lovely holiday season, and I look forward to doing business with you in this more positive new year. ♦


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