Blog & Site Updates

7.05.17 In the last few weeks I have changed ebook distributors, moving my epubs to Bookbaby. The choice was difficult and rather expensive, but their distribution platform includes Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Amazon, Kobo and a whole plethora of other ebook sellers. This is a distinct advantage over my old distributor, Lightning Source, which appeared to favor printed books over ebooks. I never sold enough through LSI to make it a worthy enterprise. Bookbaby is also user friendly, accepting DOCX files instead of HTML to convert to readable text epub files suitable for almost every device. I also received a shop of my own where I could sell the epubs using a simple link on my Antellus website. They would take care of the sales and distribution while I continue to create.
     Meanwhile, my Etsy shop is going along well. I have had some sales, but sellers complained of low sales in the last few months. Me, too. My ArtYah shop is not doing well, but since they are a startup company I don't think there will be any results until maybe August or September, when the serious shopping period commences.
     I have been forced to charge Priority Mail rates along with my regular rates for shipping because of shipping issues associated with the USPS. I don't care what their commercial says, I have received nothing but complaints about missing packages, postage due, and "smashed" deliveries. That is the side of USPS that USPS does not want people to know. Some people expect "special" consideration and if they are willing to pay for it that's fine with me.
     On July 4th I took the day off and did nothing but watch marathons. That is about the extent of my vacations, as I do not take the week off. There is just too much to do. But it was interesting when I turned on the news, and the news chopper pilot showed a panorama of illegal fireworks going off across Los Angeles. There were also gunshots. There were 3 house fires and a group of bush fires caused by fireworks during the day. Fireworks are illegal across L.A. but people shoot them off anyway, and the surrounding cities tend to sell and use without such a restriction. It's a little like Prohibition. The law is there but it is not really enforced, and I suspect that it is so unpopular it will be rescinded one day. But otherwise the day was filled with celebrations and fireworks at controlled venues, with an attendant increase in security. I don't think there were any problems.
     That's it for now, and I'll be here to blog later. ♦

6.15.17 Today marks the return of my blog, which includes site updates and commentary about my other sites and the attendant problems facing me as I continue to conduct business. I have been working hard to improve the quality and navigation of my sites, so that all the things I produce and sell are easily visible on the internet. Since so many stores are closing in favor of selling on the internet I realize I will have quite a bit of competition, but I am confident that visitors will get a presentation that will get them interested. But my path is beset with problems I may have overlooked, so I have been under some pressure lately.
     A few days ago, I discovered to my horror that the links to the key pages for my books on Antellus did not work. It turns out that a subfolder was not included to make the links work. They have since been repaired, and as you can see I have done some things to improve my front page here on my home site.
     Also, I have decided to diversify my jewelry design offerings beyond my Therri's Treasures site. Etsy, for example, can and does host books and ebooks, so I have established listings there. On the other hand, ArtYah does not. So I am tailoring my listings accordingly.
     You may ask why all this is necessary. Mostly it is because Etsy, that champion of all things hand made (or so it claims to be), is on a steady decline. At one point it had somewhere around 1.4 million shops or sellers in its vast catalog. Now, thanks to some misunderstanding on the sellers' part, there are about 950 thousand or so. The statistics are not easy to prove, because as one seller departs, two new shops arrive to take its place. So the numbers are really irrelevant. Shop owners have declared that sales are down drastically from last month to even last year. Visitors have become scarce, as loyal followers of departing shops go wherever they go. But what is especially disturbing is the fall off of outside viewers. So, less or non-existent sales as a result.
     As with some who discovered it, I have started listing with ArtYah.com, which has a set up similar to the old Etsy before it went public. I cannot sell books there, but at least I have more leeway with listing language and can dictate what kind of shipping charges I want to charge.
     On Etsy there was pressure to purchase shipping labels, which means I must load the printer with adhesive label paper and waste a lot of it printing one label. It was all part of Etsy trying to make money off the sellers, which I can understand; but it presented a problem if, for example, the calculation does not match what USPS has chosen for a particular type of package. I opt for First Class Mail for small items because a small flat rate box costs too much, and I don't use Priority Mail anyway. I use USPS.com to get my postage, so I can use my own envelopes and labels and charge accordingly. I truck things to my local post office and get a more accurate calculation based on the destination and distance.
     The other thing which is difficult to do is promotion. I try to post photos to my own Facebook page, and I have two: one for Antellus and the other for Therri's Treasures. I promote by spending to boost posts, and have begun to post videos on YouTube and Facebook. But even if I receive a bunch of "likes" for each page, that does not guarantee that people will migrate off Facebook to look at my books or my jewelry. I suspect that they don't want to, so I can only occasionaly whet their appetites and hope.
     I have also closed my Nook Press account. It appears that they are not up to date with their site. I got lost trying to change something on my vendor account, and found a glitch which takes me where I don't want to go. Then, I have not had any sales from Nook Press for over a year, so it looks like they are failing, too. Right now I can sell PDFs, which is the basic ebook everyone can look at without DRM or other bells and whistles. There is a risk with piracy but at least I don't have to fool around with epubs, which can only be seen on dedicated readers that support the format. I have posted my copyright information on the PDFs.
     I closed my KDP account for almost the same reasons, but then I wasn't making any money there either. Amazon has proved itself to be a dog & pony show, with no governance and no discipline. Apparently they are also starting to place Amazon published books and other things ahead of independent publishers, which means my works are languishing somewhere in a black hole, with no opportunity to grab readers.
     I also have to figure in the reluctance by shoppers to risk their buying dollars. Right now, the political climate appears so bad the people are hanging on every word with the hopes that it will all be over soon. So they are not spending money. I don't care if the pundits claim that the economy is improving; the proof is not in the pudding. People are not spending money, period. Which means I must stand around and wait for everything to reactivate, like the Selenes in "First Men In The Moon". The world appears at a standstill. ♦


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