Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fresh Eyes for Authors

"Avid readers notice mistakes, and it affects whether they want to
finish your book, review it or buy another one in the future. "

Fresh Eyes For Authors 

by Sandy Penny

Blue eye with heart in the centerI just launched a new blog today, Fresh Eyes Proofing. I have been a writer, editor, proofreader and graphic designer for more years than I'd like to reveal, so I'd like to offer a perspective on proofing.

I read dozens of books a month for my Sweet Mystery Books website to review and help promote independently published authors. Unfortunately for those authors, I find so many errors in the books that unless I am just blown away by the rest of the novel, I don't review them. I do, however, let the author know that I was distracted from the story by the poor proofing. Until today, I was not promoting the fact that I can proof their final manuscripts and save them the embarrassment of publishing those mistakes and sometimes the additional cost of fixing them after publishing. This is especially important for printed books.

Typos, wrong words, missing words, and misspelled words jump out at me like a Jack-in-the-Box. I hate it when something I write has errors, and just as it happens to others, it happens to me. Every author starts to lose focus after going through the same material repeatedly. And, once you make a few edits, the likelihood that words are missing, or tenses no longer match, or something has been repeated is almost inevitable. That's why I'm offering to be a final proofreader, to be YOUR fresh eyes just before publishing.

Even if you have an editor and several early readers, you still need fresh eyes at the end of the project. Every writer needs a proofreader. When I was writing for the corporate world, we had designated proofreaders that read every draft after changes were made. And we rotated the person we used so that no one became jaded.

If you want to successfully market your self-published novel, it needs to be as perfect as possible.
Avid readers notice mistakes, and it affects whether they want to finish your book, review it or buy another one in the future. 
All those decisions affect your bottom line and acceptance as a professional. This is particularly important if you plan to write a series of books. The first book will set the tone and expectations of readers. It's like a first date; you want to make the best possible impression, or there may not be a second date.

And, if I like your work, after proofing it, I have lots of avenues to help promote it, and I do that as a matter of course. The Sweet Mystery Books site was launched because I was helping an author promote her novel, and many of the mystery book marketing sites would not accept self-published novels for promotion. I felt I could help her and other indie authors while building a little book-selling business as an Amazon affiliate. I've met some wonderful authors, and I try to encourage anyone who has had the tenacity to complete a novel. I do not post bad reviews. I just don't review them.

If you'd like to know more about my services, click here.

For another blog post about proofing, click here. 

Yola offers automatic translation for mobile devices and great easy to use sitebuilder tools:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mobile Wreaks Havoc on Marketing Sites

Mobile Wreaks Havoc on Marketing Sites . by Sandy Penny .
Wow, this whole mobile web surfing craze has surpassed everyone's expectations. Even the mobile developers have fallen behind on offering solutions to problems that are arising from the shift to tablets and smarter all the time phones. 

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and I love it, being an avid reader, and I can web surf on it too, so I decided to take a look at my sites and see how they looked on it. Much to my shock and dismay, I found that none of my audio players and slide shows showed up.

I am an Amazon Affiliate, and I use Amazon widgets all the time to offer collections of books and other items on my sites. They have great scrolling slide shows, carousels that rotate and all kinds of eye-catching fun ways to share their products with potential customers. Guess what, none of those work on mobile. So, now hundreds of hours I spent creating them, selecting the books, etc. cannot be seen by the vast numbers of mobile phone users. Eeeek.

The problem is that Flash is used for all the slide shows and moving items, and Flash is not mobile friendly. In other words, it does not work. When you have a slide show on your site, and look at it from a mobile device, it's just a big white gap.

I searched the web to see if I could find an alternative that does work on mobile, and there really is not one at this time. Whoever solves that problem is going to make a lot of money. Finally our usage of technology has exceeded the techies ability to keep up with us. We used to be running behind them, but now we're out front pulling them along in our wake.

So, back to the problems at hand. Here are some of my workarounds until new technology arrives.

Amazon product links:
Amazon now offers an image only link to products, and a bit of html code placed on the page shows a scroll-over drop down telling you it's an Amazon link and details of the product. However, the touch screen technology does not allow that to work on mobile either, but you can use the photos with their auto links. They work and look great. (See For the carousels and slide shows I wanted to keep, I just moved them to the bottom of the page, and above them put links back to the authors list of books. That way, mobile viewers won't know anything is missing because they won't see a blank space in an odd location, and they can view the same content by clicking the link. And, just so you know, those Amazon linked items will not show up on search engines, so you need to include a little bit of text identifying the item in order for it to be searchable.

YouTube Videos:
If your site offers YouTube videos, and you used a widget to link to that video (like on blogger), it won't show up on mobile. You can go to YouTube and click share below the video, there is a choice for embed code. Choose the size of the video you want to display (smaller is better for mobile browsing), copy the code and paste it into an html box on your site or blog. Then your video will show up on mobile and PCs.

Audio Players:
Many audio players offered on blogs and websites will not work on mobile. There is code that will fix the problem, but it has some glitches, and is complicated, so I won't share it. Yola's help desk gave me some code, and I chose everything correctly, and the audio works fine on mobile now, but the Firefox Browser now drops it out and just shows a white box, and Google auto plays the audio when you hit the page, even though the code is set not to auto play. If you have several audio files on one page, they all start playing at once, it's not a good thing. So, for now, I recommend you just put a note saying that the audio files are not yet available for mobile. Or, you can upload your audio files to I-tunes or similar.

It's a lot of work to make these changes, but if you want to offer full access to the millions of mobile users, it's really a must. And, if you just wait for a while, these glitches and bugs will get solved, but who knows how long that will take. The Flash issue is a difficult one. If it wasn't, it would already be solved.

Don't be discouraged. This gives us a bigger market to sell to. Keep writing and marketing, and if you have any specific questions, drop me a note from

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blogging Tips from My Marketing Perspective

by Sandy Penny
(30 years of corporate marketing with a specialty in company communications/newsletters/blogs.)

Business Blog - Home Office - Sandy Penny

This is for business blogs:

1. Don’t beat around the bush and write a long intro to your post. Your readers came based on the title subject, get right to the heart of that information. Engage the reader immediately or they’re likely to close the window. Short attention spans and time crunches rule. If you tell a short life story, make sure it directly applies to the subject. Save those cute personal items for your personal blog.

2. Use the fewest words to say the most. Long, meandering sentences won’t hold the multi-tasking minds of today’s business reader.

3. Choose subjects that are important to you so that your passion and knowledge will shine through and set you apart from the competition.

4. Do use interesting visuals, photos, drawings, etc. Unless your blog is about pets, don’t post your pet’s pics. Unless your blog is about fashion, don’t post over-the-top photos of yourself. Keep it businesslike, in keeping with your particular business.

5. Always respond to those who comment on your blog, unless they are spammers, then just delete them and block them. Responding may open a dialogue with a new client, and it shows you care about your readers’ opinions.

6. Check your grammar and spelling and your facts. You readers will respect you more and come to rely on your correctness.

That’s it for now . short, sweet and to the point.

Click the book cover below to go to the Amazon info and book buying page.
Social Media Fundamentals

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