Purchasing An Existing Domain Name

Today was a day of interesting frustration as it pertains to doing some things online. I’m sure I’m not the only one to go through something like this, so I’m sharing my tale with you. On Friday, I purchased an existing blog, which I’ll be bringing up pretty soon. Actually, I’ve already tried bringing it up, but I don’t want to jump ahead in this story.

On Tuesday, someone posted on Twitter that there were two websites that someone was selling for a relatively low amount. I’m the curious sort, so I figured I’d meander over to see what all the fuss was about. Indeed someone had posted on the Warrior Forum that they were selling two websites, and one of them was a blog. This particular blog is something I know a little bit about, but want to know more about, and it was relatively new. The owner had decided he didn’t have enough time to work on these two projects and decided to unload them. I wanted this one, so I wrote him. Actually, I had to write a comment on one of his blog posts, because he hadn’t created a contact page, so I had no other way to reach him.

The next morning, he responded to me and said that no one else had put in a request for it, and if I wanted it then it was mine. I was happy; I figured this would be an easy conversion, it already had a couple of posts, and because he had written basically every 10 days or so I could take some time with it, as it hasn’t really built up any following yet. I finally wrote him and asked if we could take care of the transaction over the weekend, since I was packing so I could go to my mother’s for the Thanksgiving holiday. He agreed, so we said we’d contact each other on Saturday.

Instead, I ended up coming home relatively early Friday afternoon because I had another commitment planned, but that got canceled. Sitting around on a Friday night with nothing else going on, I wrote him to see if he was available, and he was. So, here’s the process of purchasing and transferring a domain name to someone else.

I started off by paying him the amount he’d requested for the domain. He gave me his Paypal email address, so I went into my Paypal account, clicked on the option that said “Send Money’, put in his email address and the amount, and away the payment went. I got an almost immediate notice saying the payment had gone through, so I felt pretty good about that. Then I sent him an email mentioning the payment, and I gave him my GoDaddy account number, since that’s where he’d purchased his domain name. That’s all he needed; he didn’t need my password, which was a good thing. Now, if we hadn’t had accounts at the same place, I’d have had to create one wherever he’d purchased his domain from, and then I could have transferred it to whomever I wanted to at that point.

Within minutes after he’d set the transfer in motion, I had an email from GoDaddy saying there was a transfer in motion, and I had to sign onto the site to accept it, which of course I did. About five minutes later I received an email saying the transfer was complete; it can take up to 48 hours in some instances, so I was pretty happy.

The next step for me was to go to my host and set it up for acceptance of the new domain. As usual, when you do this you get the DNS servers for you to put in where you’ve temporarily parked the domain name, and while you’re doing that your account is being created by your host. I went to GoDaddy and did what I needed to do, then waited. The first notice I got was from GoDaddy saying the nameserver transfer had gone through. I then went back to my host, 1&1, and saw the message that my account had been created and was ready for full processing; sweet!

I went into the domain account, created a directory and set up a password, waited about five minutes for it to be created, then I started loading the database that the guy who’d sold me the domain name had backed up. That took awhile, since it’s a WordPress blog (most of you know it’s an easy process, but can take awhile sometimes). When it was finally loaded, I was ready to go see the fruits of my labor.

This is where the problems started, but they’re not going to be what you thought; don’t jump ahead. I typed the domain name in, expecting to see the blog fully set up, and instead I had this message that said “Error establishing a database connection“; I was not a happy man. I thought that maybe I had done something wrong, and indeed I had, as I hadn’t saved the correct files in the correct place. So I had to load all the files again, knowing that this time around it was all going to be good.

Nope; I still had the same error message, and now I really wasn’t happy. I wondered if I was supposed to run the blog process through the host first, as they have a program which will create a WordPress blog for you on your domain. So I signed into my account and selected that option, figuring that I didn’t mind if it overwrote what I’d uploaded, since I could always upload whatever I wanted to again. This time it was going to work, right?

Nope; it still didn’t work. Now I was frustrated, so I called the hosting company to ask for some assistance. One of the problems you sometimes have with customer service when it’s based in another country is that you may be using the same words, but you’re not speaking the same language. In this case, the person on the other end first said that I’d created the wrong kind of directory, which didn’t make sense since I’ve done this many times before, and then he said that maybe I need to make some corrections in my data.

I took that to mean that I needed to go into my account through my ftp server and delete some files. I ended up deleting all the files, which, unfortunately, takes much longer than uploading them, because you can’t delete a folder until you’ve deleted everything in that folder first, and of course some folders have multiple folders themselves. I spent pretty much just over 3 hours deleting every single file I’d uploaded so I could try the process again.

This time, I decided to call customer service back to ask about this directory thing, which I knew had to have been correct the first time around. I got someone else, still in another country, but we were understanding each other better. He said the directory was fine, but said he didn’t see anything in it. I told him that was because I’d deleted everything in the directory, based on the previous conversation with another representative. He then said the system was showing that the full transfer of the new domain to the new nameservers was still in process, and could take from 24 to 48 hours. I said I thought it had already completed, and he said no; that explains why I couldn’t see anything online. Ugh!

So, I had to upload everything again, and this time I guess I’ll be patient and keep checking over the next 24 to 48 hours. I hope it’s sooner than later, but until I see it for myself, I’m not going to mention the name. But there’s another lesson learned, and now I hope I’ve helped y’all learn a thing or two also.
 

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WP Super Cache

There’s a plugin for WordPress called WP Super Cache that I’ve been experimenting with lately. The main purpose of it is to helps speed your WordPress blog up by creating a series of HTML files out of your PHP files, and thus it speeds up your site because PHP can be a heavy load. I’m not going to get into all of the science of it, because frankly I don’t quite get how it works, so instead I’m going to talk about what I’ve seen thus far.

First off, you have to remember to do a little bit of configuring before the plugin works. I’ve noticed that the first time I ran the program, then the second time I’ve decided to run the program (I inactivated it once; I’ll come back to that), I forgot to enable the cache, which it mentions on the plugins page. If you forget to do that, your blog will hang, and it’ll take you forever to get back into it; anyone else, for that matter. Also, there are other choices and recommendations for things to do after you’ve enabled the cache; some I’ve activated, some I haven’t. For instance, you can enable the compression of files, which helps things move faster, and I’ve done that, although it does warn that some ISPs might not work well if you do that; so far, so good. At the same time, I didn’t enable something called Lockdown, which is supposed to protect you against a spike in comments. Trust me, I’ll feel elated with a spike in comments, at least the first time around.

The first time I inactivated the program because my blog started running really slow, and it was the last thing I’d remembered adding at the time. Later on, I thought about the javascript, which I wrote about here, and of course it did turn out to be the javascript issue all along. So, I brought the program back, and things have gone along pretty well.

I did have one more issue, though, which led to my forgetting to enable the cache again. This morning I tried to update my blog to 2.6.5 because of more security flaws, and this blog just wouldn’t load using the WP Automatic Update program. I wondered what was wrong, so I went and updated my other blog, which is also WP, and it worked just fine. I then figured it had to be this plugin, so I inactivated it, and voila. I then reactivated it after the update, and, of course, just now went through that problem of not being able to get to the blog until I enabled the cache; ugh. I wonder how many people tried to come to the blog and couldn’t because of that idiotic mistake. Oh well,…

Right now, the jury is still out on this plugin, but the blog does seem to be moving pretty fast right now. Unfortunately, using this plugin didn’t affect the bad performance of the javascript in any fashion, which was disappointing. However, I’m doing some research on that issue, and if it works out I’ll write about it here, so stay tuned.


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Book Writing Series Part Six – Publishing Your Book

This is the final part of the book writing series, and today we’re going to talk about the process of trying to get your book published by someone else, as well as self publishing your book. Before we get there, though, let’s do a quick recap of what I’ve talked about thus far.

Part one talked about coming up with the concept for whatever it is you want to write about. Part two discussed how to plan the steps you want to take before writing your book. Part three talked about determining when you wanted to write and what method you were going to take. Part four talked about ways to tell your story, no matter if you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. And part five talked about the editing process.

Now we’re up to the publishing part of the story, which is the final piece of it all. This presumes that you’re looking to try to do something with what you’ve written; if not, you can skip this part.

You’ve now edited your book and it’s time to find a publisher, or an agent. There are a few things you need to know before you try. Publishers don’t have any idea how to promote your book; plain and simple. Sure, if you’re already a big time writer, or a famous person, they’ve got a clue. But don’t expect any publisher to even look at your book unless you can sell them on what your book is all about. Not only that, but you have to try to convince them why your book is worth their attention, who the market will be, and how they should market it. You’ll need to have a catchy title, which can be a major problem for some, and it has to make some kind of sense to the rest of the story. You’ll need to have an outline of what the book is all about. You may need to send either the first few chapters of the book or even the entire book. And you’ll need to have a killer cover letter that’s not too long, or not too short.

Yes, that’s confusing, but here’s how you end some of that confusion. There’s a book called the Writer’s Market, and it’s where you’re going to find the list of publishers of all types of books or magazines and the genre’s they cover. Each publisher lists their guidelines for how they want you to submit your book to them. Some of them are going to say they don’t take any original manuscripts directly from the writers. This always means they only work with agents; some publishers will tell you that directly. You can either buy this book, or go to the library, as every library in the country probably has this book in circulation.

Either way, you’re still going to have prep work to do, whether you’re trying to pitch to an agent or a publisher. There’s a debate as to whether you should send your book to only one publisher or agent at a time; some say yes, some say no. I tend to go with the side that says it’s okay to submit your book to more than one publisher at a time, for two reasons. One, if you’re a new writer, you’re probably going to have difficulties cracking through in the first place, so why not get as much early feedback as possible. Two, if you’re lucky enough to hear from more than one publisher, you get to pick which one to go to, and it will probably be the last time you get to make a decision for yourself for a long time.

My tale is that I sent my book out to ten publishers at a time. Some of them accepted email submissions, which made it easy. I started at the beginning of the alphabet, which made it easy to keep track of. Sometimes you might have to submit something more than once to a publisher after the time they say they’ll take in the book, but you get to make that decision for yourself. When I’d heard from at least five publishers, I’d try again. All in all, I sent my book to 67 publishers, and heard back from 47 of them. Of course, every one of them rejected my book, but not all of them rejected it without a reason. About half of them rejected it saying they weren’t publishing anything of that particular genre “this season”; this was back in 2002, and remember, the genre was leadership and management, which hadn’t quite grown at that point.

Just over half of the rest of them said they didn’t know how they’d market the book; that was purely my fault, because I didn’t know at the time how to tell them to market it. Truthfully, before I’d written my book, I had never read any other books on the topic, because I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone else’s process. If I’d done it properly, I should have checked out the market after I’d written my book so I’d have had a better understanding of how to promote my book. I also had a problem with the title; I didn’t have the title Embrace The Lead until over two years after I’d written it, so I really hadn’t given anyone much to go on. Some of these people must have actually read whatever I’d sent them, because they said some nice things about it while saying they didn’t know what to do with it. The last bunch just rejected it outright, with the standard “no thank you” letter, and left it at that.

At that point, I could have considered myself at a crossroads. Instead, I decided I would self publish my book. Now, there are four options one can decide upon when it comes to publishing one’s own book. The first option is to go the ebook route, which I started out with. I began by selling my book off my website in two forms. One could purchase the entire ebook, or one could purchase the book in three individual sections, since it’s broken out that way.

The second option is to go to a vanity publisher of some type. There are multiple types of vanity publishers, and you’re going to end up paying some kind of money for all of them. The one I know the best is Publish America, but I’ve also heard some fairly nice things about Lulu. Each of these offers the opportunity to pay someone to help edit the book, which you might want to take advantage of if you decided not to spend all the time I did in self editing mine. What they both offer are custom made covers, print on demand books (this means you pay them if you want more books to sell for whatever reason), assistance in obtaining an ISBN number (International Standard Book Number; this is the publisher number which allows you to sell your book on sites such as Amazon and Google Books), and so many “free” copies initially for however you choose to use them. This isn’t such a bad way to go, but I decided it wasn’t how I wanted to go.

The third option is to go to a copy center such as Kinko’s and have your book made by them. The problem I had there is that they’re not really book binders, so they would have created my book with a spiral binder, and that was unacceptable to me. It would have been very cost effective, but it would have looked more like a manual than a book.

I wanted it to look like a book, so I chose the fourth option, which was taking it to a printing company. The costs associated with doing this will vary based on what you ask for. In my case, I decided that the only color I wanted on the cover was having the title and my name printed in blue ink. Color gets very expensive, and had I wanted every page of my book in color, the cost would have jumped. If I’d chosen a color background it would have gone up a little bit, and if I’d chosen more than one color, the cost would have gone up drastically. That would apply if you decided to put any pictures in your book also; black and white images cost nothing extra. What surprised me is that they wanted the book in a .pdf format instead of a Word document; I gave it to them both ways, just in case.

I decided I wanted an initial run of 300 books. That cost me around $1,300, and I was happy with that price. That came to $4.33 a book, which was well worth doing it. At that rate, I would have to sell 52 books to make my money back if I sold it at $25, which is the price I sell it at now off my website. However, when I take it with me on speaking engagements, which was the reason I wanted so many books, I usually reduce the price to either $20 or, every once in awhile, $10 a book, depending on who I’m speaking in front of. I have easily made back my initial investment; thank goodness. I still have about 150 books left, though, in case anyone wishes to buy one, and I even autograph it if requested. The most important thing for me, though, is that it looks like a book. Sure, a pure white book with no frills, but still a book.

As for the ISBN number, I purchased my own at the link above, paying for 10 ISBN numbers, which means that I can write nine more books and already have a publisher number for them. I didn’t have the publisher number when I published the first book, but when I write my next books, I’m going to be sure that number is on the book. It adds extra credibility to your book to have that number on there, even if you don’t decide to sell it anywhere other than on your own website, or with the assistance from other places.

My book is listed on 10 other sites, none of them paid for, and only one of them asked for a reciprocal link, that being Published.com, and I’m happy to give them that link. Basically, it’s like any other internet marketing venture; the more you can get the word out, the better the opportunities you’ll have to sell your book.

I want to mention this one point, if I may. There are different benefits between getting your book published by someone else and doing it yourself. Big time publishers will give you an advance on your sales, but if your book doesn’t end up selling some request the difference back, though most will just cut your contract and move on with life. Most books that are published by new writers don’t make a lot of money, even some of those that gain nice publicity. There’s a lot of work involved, as publishers expect their writers to travel to support the publicity of the book, but if you’re not a big name, you’re going to pay for your own publicity tour. Therefore, though you got an advance on future sales, you could end up eating some of that while on some kind of tour. And, the amount a writer gets from each sale isn’t all that much; sometimes not even 5% of whatever the book is selling for. If you end up being popular, that’s not a bad deal because your next contract will be much better; if not, the publisher may never recoup their money, and you’ll never make another dime.

By self publishing, if you know how to market, you get full profits from your book sales. That’s how I made my money back. In today’s world, many musicians are finding that they’ll make more money from fewer sales than they did with bigger sales. Prince was the first big time musician to realize that when he sold 350,000 copies of one of his albums online at $15 a copy as compared to how much money he made when Purple Rain sold 18 million copies. When you self publish, you can cross genre’s, because at that point it’s all about the writing and however you decide to market, not the whim of some publisher who wants you to make a lot of changes so that it will fit into a category of their choosing.

And that’s the conclusion of this series on writing a book. Within a week or so it will appear as a headline topic in the header. I hope I’ve given some valuable information to most of you. As always, I encourage your comments and your questions.

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Book Writing Series Part Five – Editing

Now you’ve written your book, or you’re almost done with it; congratulations! At this point, you’ve finished the second hardest part of your overall project, and you’ve done something that the overwhelming number of people in the world have never done. That warrants kudos on its own; but you’re not even close to being done.

The next step is the editing step, and it’s the hardest step of the entire process. It’s the hardest process because if you’re going to do it right, it’s going to take longer to edit your book than it took you to write it. First, you have to confront your own demons while editing it. This is when the gut check takes place, where your confidence is tested, because now you’re revisiting your own words, and some of them are going to look and sound alien to you. If you make it through the first edit, you’re going to be fine. But the first edit is crucial.

I know, you’re saying “first edit”? Yes, I’m saying first edit, because when you edit your book, you’re going to have to go through it more than once. I’m going to describe what I went through, so you can see what I’m talking about. I’m going to tell you my story; sound a little familiar?

After I wrote my book, Embrace The Lead, I knew I had to go through the entire thing again. Luckily, I had written it in Word, which checks your spelling as you go along, so I knew that all the regular words were going to be spelled properly. However, I had also used voice recognition software, so I knew there were going to be some alien-looking phrases that were going to stand out. And I knew one more thing; I was going to rewrite as I went along. Everyone rewrites, unless they can hammer something out in one piece and feel fairly comfortable with it. When it comes to something large, though, you’re probably going to rewrite something; it’s perfectly normal.

The first edit was painstakingly long. I’m a speed reader, so I had to change my own mode of reading and actually study my own text. I have to say that I did a pretty good job with the first edit. Word is a great program to use because it allows you to make some mass changes whenever you need to. For instance, there were many instances in the book when I used my wife’s first name by mistake. So, I was able to mass change the entire book from her name to “my wife” with one keystroke; that was great. I also noticed a consistent typo, where my fingers just wouldn’t let me spell this one word correctly, and I was able to make that change all at once.

The first edit of my book took me 5 days. I didn’t end up rewriting all that much, but I did end up adding more to many areas, trying to explain myself better. Still, after the first edit of my book, I felt fairly comfortable with it; but I knew I wasn’t done.

The next edit is something that couldn’t have been done in the past, but in 2002 it was something available to me, and it’s probably available now. I had downloaded a program where I could paste blocks of text into it and it would read them to me. As odd as this sounds, I felt it was important to hear what the book sounded like if it was being read aloud. This didn’t take as long as one might think, but I’m glad I did it because there were some parts where even I got confused, and I was able to fix those areas so that it would read smoother. I belong to a writer’s group that meets once a month, and whenever it’s my turn to present something, I always ask someone else to read it aloud so I can hear if it’s flowing properly. It’s also a rush to hear someone else reading your material, even if it is just a program on your computer.


Two Steps To Writing

Another thing Word can do for you, which became my third edit, is check your grammar. Although Word and I don’t always agree, I decided to change the settings and let it highlight what I’d written, just to make sure there were no major faux pas. It highlighted many areas, which I expected, but it also found some things that I decided to change, so I didn’t mind doing it.

The final part for me was asking some of my friends, those who I knew would read it and look for something critical, to read it for me and point out things they didn’t understand. I specifically told them I didn’t want them to critique the content, only the grammar, and whether they understood what I was saying or not. Debate can be for another time; what I needed was a critical eye only.

I have found that point to be one of the most important things I’ve ever had to do whenever I’ve asked someone for a critique. You have to tell people what you want from them. If you ask someone to read something and tell you what they think, you never know where they’re going to go, and you lose any value you might have been able to get out of it.

When I wrote my first business newsletter, I sent it to about 20 people and asked them what they thought. I didn’t get a single person who gave me anything that I could use. Instead, they wanted to talk about writing style, the layout, the word justification, the concepts I was talking about in the first article, and some just said “nice job”. That wasn’t helpful at all, but it taught me a valuable lesson; it’s one you should learn also.

Of course, at some point you’re going to want some people to actually read it and give you an honest appraisal, something you hope will come out sounding like a testimonial if they actually liked it, but not during the editing process. If you need to, tell the people you’ve asked to edit to write any other comments down and save them for when you’re ready for publication.

As I indicated, the editing process is where you grow up, where your book has its opportunity to mature, and where you’ll find out what you’re made of. If you’re actually lucky enough to get either an agent or a publisher to accept your book, they’re going to pick it apart even further, and you may not like it. But at that point, it means they’re serious about your book, and that may or may not be a good thing. I wouldn’t know, as you’ll learn in the next part of this series when I talk about trying to get published. See you next time.

A Slave To The Numbers

Michael Jackson has the biggest selling record in the history of the industry with Thriller. At its peak, it was selling a million albums a week. Sales are estimated to be between 47 and 108 million copies worldwide. There were only nine songs on the album, but seven of them were released as singles and four of those songs went to number one; the others all made the top ten. Thriller the album won the Grammy, American Music Awards, and just so many other awards that it’s scary to try to think about it.

Thing is, since that time period, Michael Jackson has done fairly well musically, but he’s never been able to get anywhere close to the standard that Thriller did. It doesn’t seem to matter that no one else has either; people look at him as someone who did it once, so why can’t he do it again. And that’s with his second album selling over 25 million copies and having five of those songs hit number one. Even with that type of success, he, and everyone else, keeps looking at the numbers, wanting more, wanting to be better.

That type of thing hits many of us who are trying to monetize our blogs. We look at the top bloggers in the world, who show us their monthly figures, and wonder how we can get there. We check our Technorati stats to see how we’re progressing, and get worried if we slip a notch here and there every once in awhile. We check our Adsense and our Widget Bucks and our Commission Junction affiliate performances and do our tweaking, looking for that one big post, or that one big product, that’s going to put us over the top, so we can join the pantheon of top bloggers and proclaim our success to the world.

It’s tough not to. I’m one of those people, mind you. Not only do I post my monthly statistics on this blog, but I’m looking at my figures often, trying to figure out why one particular post hit the masses and made them stand up and say “hey, this was good”, or why I’ll write something else and have it totally get ignored. I wonder why my Adsense performance is so far down on my blog, but doing fairly well elsewhere. And I wonder how others are doing, those who don’t share all this information. I wonder where my blog ranks with all the other blogs in the blogosphere. Okay, sure, right now it’s ranked in the top 300 blogs, sitting at #279 (look at that badge on the right), but who knows how long that will last, or if I’ll be able to move up the ladder some more?

So, what determines our success with our blogs? Is it the number of visitors we get? Is it the amount of money that we might make, if we’re trying to make money with our blogs? Is it the design, how pretty our blogs are, or how ugly, how many ads we have on our blogs? Is it the pictures, or the widgets, or any of that fancy stuff? For that matter, is it our content?

Or is it the fact that we’re blogging to begin with, and not only blogging but adding more and more things as we go along? In a way, we put ourselves out here for the masses to grade us, and it can be somewhat scary at times. Not everyone agrees with our position, and sometimes we have to deal with that. It’s kind of life what I’m talking about in my book writing series, the guts that it takes to even start writing, let alone finishing. I look at all you wonderful people here in the blogosphere and then I look at my friends, and I can easily say that the friend to blog ratio doesn’t figure out all that well. It could be that most of my friends are older, but I’m not sure that qualifies anymore.

As I’m about to embark on another professional adventure, heading to Reno next week for a consulting assignment, I wonder whether the obsession for chasing better and better numbers will wane a bit, or whether they’ll stay as intense as they already are. In any case, I hope to keep up my blogging schedule as it is now, but realize that it might come down to 3 or 4 posts a day, unless I do what I’m hoping to do, that being writing a bunch of posts on the weekend and dating them for future posting. After all, that’s how I’ve done my book writing series, which ends Wednesday morning. I hope y’all have been checking it out, by the way, and sharing it with others. Oh yeah, I’m supposed to ask that of people, to share the idea and spread the word to anyone hoping to write anything. I guess I’m also supposed to ask you to flag them on any of those social networking blog sites so that people will supposedly come over and check the articles out for themselves.

Nah, I’m not going to ask that. It’s enough that I’ve told the world that I want more RSS subscribers (and I still do, by the way, so let’s keep it going!), but I’ll have to do with getting those higher numbers the natural way, I suppose. And I’m going to gain control over myself as it pertains to checking all those other numbers also.

Yeah, right; we all know that I’ve already checked my Adsense and my Technorati score. 🙂


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