Archive for May, 2010

As those of you who have been following along will know, I’ve been working with the BookBuzzr people to test out whether their service was a better choice for me as an Independent Author versus Scribd. After looking over their services and comparing stats from both, I’ve come to one conclusion… neither one is perfect for my needs when used alone. It’s not that either one is just a bad service, it’s that each one has different things I really like and things I wish were better.

Just looking at the stats, I’ve had 112 reads on Scribd since uploading my excerpt on April 13, 2010, and 203 full screen views (800 widget views) on BookBuzzr since May 4, 2010. If I looked only at the stats, then BookBuzzr would be the clear winner, but there is more to marketing than that. I need detailed information for one. I can get those details easily on Scribd, but BookBuzzr only gives totals (and yes I read each entry in the FAQ looking for info on getting more detailed stats with BookBuzzr).

I also liked that Scribd was so easy to upload my document to. With BookBuzzr I had to fill out three pages of forms, upload a .pdf version of my book excerpt and then a .jpg of my cover. I then received an error message that said something about my file either being too big or in the wrong format so it wouldn’t be converted. A day or so later I received an email that said my book had been converted into the BookBuzzr format. Huh? When I checked it out my book was there, just as the email said, so why the initial error message?

In marketing techniques, however, BookBuzzr was the clear winner since Scribd doesn’t have any marketing options included. With Scribd you have to do all of it on your own. BookBuzzr has numerous ways available to market your book from mini-widgets you can use just about anywhere…


…to automated tweets when your book excerpt is read. It all makes marketing your book just a little bit less stressful, which is all to the good for every busy writer since our main occupation is to write, not sell.

The main issue I’ve had with BookBuzzr is in it’s claims that their widgets can be easily shared in a variety of places. As ongoing readers can attest, I’ve had my share of difficulties getting their mini-widget to “stick” to a blog post intact. I have to thank the tech people at BookBuzzr for staying with me as we worked to solve that particular problem.

In that process I also found out that the larger widget cannot be shared on just any wordpress blog. You must have a wordpress.org blog for it to work. Sorry, but if you’re using wordpress.com BookBuzzr can’t be shared to your blog and you can’t put it in your sidebar as they say you can in their FAQ. I hope they will change that entry soon to let people know that little fact before the next person to try the share option is as disappointed as I was.

On the other hand, the widget works beautifully on my Facebook profile. It even has its own little spot on the sidebar that encourages visitors to “grab it.”

As for their claims to have an email signature authors can use, as best as I can tell it only works with Yahoo!Mail, at least easily. For any other email client you have to do a bit of work to put the widget in your signature. For instance, if you use Gmail, like I do, then you must:

1. Open the BookBuzzr.com / fReado.com website in Firefox
2. Login to your account which leads to ‘My Books’ profile.
3 Open Gmail in another tab of Firefox and click on Compose Mail
4. Click on the flipping book image (i.e. left click with your index finger)
5. Keep your index finger pressed on to the browser and move the mouse-cursor to the new tab. You will see that the image outline moves along with your cursor. When you get to the new tab, release your index finger from the mouse.

Please note that since Gmail does not allow for creating a default BookBuzzr signature you need to repeat the above steps for every email composed.

That seems like a lot of work to me. The other drawback is that you have to use a particular browser. Since I only use Google Chrome, that’s not going to work. I hope, again, that BookBuzzr will fix that problem in the near future.

Lastly, my attempt at sharing via the main widget to Twitter sort of garbled my book title: Fear-Not:-Discovering-God\’s-Promises-for-Our-Live. It should read Fear Not: Discovering God’s Promises for Our Lives. It’s a minor thing, but one this perfectionist didn’t like. The auto tweets, though, have all looked just fine: My book ‘Fear Not: Discovering God’s Promises f…’ was viewed in the last 24 hours on #BookBuzzr by 7 Readers.

I like the ease of uploading and the ability to get detailed stats from Scribd, but doing all the marketing on my own takes up time I need to work on other projects. I like the marketing gadgets available with BookBuzzr, though I can’t use them all due to technical issues. In the end, until BookBuzzr makes everything easy to use across a lot more platforms, I’ll be using both to grab the attention of wayward travelers on The Road to Writing.


For Further Reading:

3 Ways To Boost Potential Book Sales Using Samples

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You’ve been asked to read a friend’s manuscript. After dutifully plowing through 100 pages of less-than-perfect, sometimes entertaining, but often difficult to understand prose you’re left with one question: how do you tell your friend her manuscript needs a lot of work?

Unless you really don’t care about hurting your friend’s feelings and possibly losing a friend, this can be a very tricky situation. I know several writers who refuse to read other people’s unpublished works for just that reason. Yet, it seems crueler to me to let a friend send an unpolished manuscript out knowing you could have helped.

Enter the sandwich method. I don’t know who first came up with the idea, but I say, “God bless ’em,” because it makes giving (and receiving) constructive criticism a lot easier on the old ego. Simply put, the sandwich method gives the criticism “sandwiched” between bits of praise.

I can hear my husband saying, “So I can say ‘I like your hair. Your characters stink, but those jeans are really slimming on you.'”

Uh, no. The praise has to come from something in the manuscript.

“But, Virginia,” you may be whining, “it’s nothing but sentimental drivel and inane cliches!”

That may be; however, as Brenda Ueland says in If You Want to Write, even in the worst writing there is something of value. You may have to look hard, but it is there.

As for the actual criticism, it’s always best to be specific. Telling someone their story didn’t hold your attention doesn’t cut it. Why didn’t it “hold your attention?” Was there too much description? Were the characters two-dimensional and uninteresting? Perhaps the sentences were too long and rambling. Be specific.

Last of all, be sure to end with some more praise. I like to point out something good in the work I didn’t mention before. Sometimes all you can do, though, is reiterate the praise (using different words, of course) that you already gave. Either way, I tell the manuscript’s author that it has potential because I honestly believe everything has potential. Some things just need a lot (and I’m talking about a whole overhaul) of work.

It’s the process of growing one’s work from potential to published through the use of helpful constructive criticism that makes it worthwhile to travel The Road to Writing.

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Okay, so if you’ve seen the previous post, then you know the mini-widget is working when I’ve added text first, then copied and pasted the code. In this post I re-published the content of the previous post, then went back to edit the text. Wish me luck…


Well that’s just awesome! It’s working just as it’s supposed to. Thanks, tech guys!! I’ll be doing a full review of BookBuzzr on May 29. Stay tuned!

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Okay, so if you’ve seen the previous post, then you know the mini-widget is working without me writing anything to go along with it. Now I’m going to try adding the mini-widget to this post after I’ve written something. We’ll see how it goes…


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According to the tech team, the reason the mini-widget did not work in the previous post regarding BookBuzzr was due to an incomplete code. Hmmm… I’ve copied and pasted the full code several times into this post only to have some of it disappear each time I hit publish. So it’s back to the techies to see if they have any idea why that is.

As I said before, I really like the idea of BookBuzzr, but I’m not sold yet. I’ll let everyone know the full details May 29, so keep reading.


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I’ve often heard it said that everyone dreams of writing the next great novel. That may be, but few get beyond “trunk writing” and fewer still actually publish something of quality. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because, while people may dream of being a “writer,” only those with a true passion for writing can find the energy to do it.

Read the rest.

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