Be sure to look around the store. They have tons of bargain-priced used books. If you’re a bibliophile, you’re sure to find some treasures you can’t pass up!
Be sure to look around the store. They have tons of bargain-priced used books. If you’re a bibliophile, you’re sure to find some treasures you can’t pass up!
On October 3, 2016, Amazon.com changed its policy, and incentivized reviews are no longer allowed. Previously, it was acceptable for sellers to provide free samples or discounted products, including books, in exchange for reviews as long as the reviewer included a disclaimer. Many of the 1200+ reviews I’ve posted on Amazon included this statement: I received the product for free or at a discount in exchange for this honest, unbiased review.
I have always given my honest opinion in all my reviews, regardless of whether I paid for the product or not. I try to point out what I like and don’t like about the product and give a star rating commensurate with my experience. The only difference is that I would not have purchased most of the products I received in exchange for a review—either because the product was a luxury I didn’t think I could afford or because I didn’t even know the product existed.
I started reviewing books when my first novel, Stroke of Luck, was released. If I wanted readers to review my book, I thought I should review the books I read. Over the years, as I wrote more and more reviews, authors started to ask me to review their books. I decided I should review everything I bought at Amazon, so soon sellers were asking me to review other products.
Many Amazon sellers are small, family-owned businesses with no advertising budget. Reviews are critically important to sales on Amazon, so sellers are happy to give away or heavily discount products to introduce their products to reviewers.
Most sellers and most reviewers are honest, but there are sometimes abuses. I have had a seller demand—unsuccessfully—that I change my review and give the product a 5-star rating, even though I didn’t believe the item merited 5 stars. But that kind of thing happened seldom, and I believe consumers can make up their own mind as to whether reviews are honest. They know by the disclaimer if the reviewer received any incentive, such as a discount.
Someone did research that showed incentivized reviews averaged slightly higher star ratings than non-incentivized reviews, and from that statistical fact they determined that incentivized reviews were inherently biased. However, that is not necessarily true. Reviewers who accepted free or discounted products were obligated to write a review; customers who paid full price had no such requirement. Most of us are more apt to write something negative if we’re unhappy than to write a positive review if we’re happy. We want people to know we didn’t get what we expected, but we don’t feel the same compulsion to tell others that we got exactly what we wanted and expected. Therefore, it’s quite likely that the greater percentage of positive reviews is simply an indication that reviewers who wrote incentivized reviews simply took the time to write reviews of more products they liked than purchasers who had no incentive to do so. Dissatisfaction is an incentive in and of itself to write a review; satisfaction is not.
I’m disappointed that Amazon has decided to change its rules, but as a private company, it is certainly free to make that decision. However, I think it’s unfair not to allow any type of transition. As of October 3, 2016, Amazon no longer allows incentivized reviews, even if the seller and reviewer had already made an agreement. For example, at that time I had more than two dozen products that I had agreed to review but hadn’t completed my evaluation. Some products were still in shipment at the time Amazon announced the policy change. So all those sellers provided free or discounted products to reviewers with the promise of reviews—and now the reviews are not allowed. As a reviewer, I feel guilty that I made review commitments that I can no longer honor.
Therefore, I started a review blog: Reviews by Lillie. First, I will post reviews that would have been posted on Amazon.com if they were allowed. Obviously, this won’t be of equal value to the sellers as a review on Amazon.com, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances. I will also publish other reviews, especially my book reviews on Goodreads, and other products from Amazon and possibly from other sources as well. Hope you’ll visit my blog and read my reviews.
I wish you a blessed Christmas and offer you my gift of a little inspiration to carry with you.
Download a PDF document that includes ten Scriptures on one side with corresponding prayers from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer on the back. Print on both sides of a sheet of business cards. Separate the cards, and you will have ten cards with a Bible verse on one side and a related prayer on the other side.
The image in this post is an example of a Scripture that is on the front of a card and the prayer that is on the back.
May the Lord bless you with these encouraging and inspiring words!
I provided the following summary of my services to someone recently and decided to share it here. Most of this information is also available on my Services page with more details about how I work. However, the “Create” section below is not spelled out elsewhere.
My associate, Jan McClintock, and I will write your personal or business documents, guide you as an author from rough draft to published masterpiece and promotion, or create a literary work featuring you or a loved one.
• Blog posts
• Training manuals
• Policy handbooks
• News releases
• Other business documents
• Books (ghost write your story)
• Book Manuscripts (fiction and nonfiction)
• Articles and Reports
• Business Documents (manuals, correspondence, white papers, and more)
• Other Documents
• Evaluate the different forms of publishing to determine if self-publishing is the best for you.
• Review the steps and services required to write and publish a book.
• Compare using a subsidy publishing company to doing everything yourself.
• If you choose to use a company, compare the services and costs of various companies.
• If you choose to do it yourself, recommend vendors for various services.
• Advise on promotion and assist with distribution.
• Design, create, and maintain your website and set up social media pages.
• Serve as a resource throughout the process to answer questions and assist in resolving problems.
• Perform a complete content edit of the manuscript.
• Assist with obtaining ISBNs and registering copyright.
• Format the manuscript for publication.
• Negotiate and contract with a cover artist and book designer on your behalf or perform these services for you.
• Proof the cover and completed layout.
• Negotiate and contract with a printer on your behalf or set up account with a POD printer.
• Create e-book formats and upload to sales sites.
• Advise on promotion, including your website, and assist with distribution.
• Serve as a liaison among all parties involved in the publication, distribution, and promotion of the book to ensure production of a quality product within an established timeframe.
• Write a story using you and/or loved ones as characters and design an attractive booklet with the story.
• Write a poem for or about a special person and create a framed, artistic presentation.
• Develop a tribute to an individual or organization in an attractively designed presentation.
Image: © Depositphotos.com/OlezzoSimona
Previous post in series: What’s Next: 1 – Hearing the Call
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” … “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” ~ Exodus 3:11, 4:10 (NASB)
The feeling that this book is supposed to be a devotional was strong, but I doubted. For several months, silent conversations took place in my head.
“Who am I to write a devotional? There are lots of devotional books already in the market, written by people much more skilled than I am.”
Don’t worry about other writers and other books. Just focus on the one you are going to write.
“Lord, my writing is simple and plain. Devotionals should be beautiful and eloquent, like the 1928 Prayer Book.”
Your book will be Finding God in the Everyday. The language and the subjects should be everyday.
“I’m sixty-eight years old—too old for something of this magnitude.”
Moses was eighty when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Joshua was ninety when he became the leader of Israel. Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark.
“I’ve already put a lot of time and effort into getting the book to this stage. Changing it to a devotional book will mean I have to start over.”
Yes, it does.
I talked to a writer friend and mentor. When she heard about the devotional book, she reminded of several reasons it wasn’t a good idea: The articles varied dramatically in length, from 200 words to 1200 words. A devotional book should include devotionals of a consistent length. The pieces were all about my experiences, which wasn’t appropriate for devotionals. I’d had the idea for this book nearly four years ago and had made a lot of progress on the current book. It didn’t make sense to start over and do something so different.
Yet I still had the strong feeling that I was supposed to take the book I had drafted and turn it into a devotional book.
Image: © Depositphotos.com/olly18
Next Post in the Series: What’s Next: 3 – Answering the Call
Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” ~ 1 Samuel 3:8-10 (NASB)
I don’t usually hear God speaking to me in a voice. Instead, I get a strong feeling that won’t go away or circumstances seem to lead me in a certain direction.
Nearly four years ago, I started putting together a book. I had participated in a group writing project on the theme of “What I Learned from …” for a couple of years. Each month, the host posted a theme, and other bloggers wrote posts on that topic. The host blogger then wrote a post that included links to all the entries in the project.
All my posts described a personal experience I’ve had followed by the life lessons I’ve learned from the experiences.
After the project ended, I decided to compile my posts into a book. I contacted the originator of the project to be sure he had no objections to my using the theme of his group writing project as the theme of my book. He encouraged me to write the book, and I started compiling the posts from my blog.
Then my husband’s dementia worsened to the point that he needed constant care. The book got put on hold. After Jack’s death and more than a year of grieving, I decided to take up the project again.
I downloaded all the blog posts I had written for the project and chose other posts that hadn’t been part of the group writing project but that fit the theme of What I Learned from Life. I came up with additional ideas and wrote more articles. I organized all the articles (about ninety) into a logical order and was about halfway through the first edit.
Then one night I woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in bed with a strong feeling: This book is supposed to be a devotional book.
Image: © Depositphotos.com/voronin-76
Next Post in the Series: What’s Next: 2 – Questioning the Call
You may know my sister and I have a tiny little store a few miles outside of Dilley, Texas in the Eagle Ford oilfields. Lil Country Store is a convenience store with a collectibles corner, where we have unique items we find at auctions and estate sales. If you’re anywhere in south Texas, I think it’s worth a drive to visit our quaint lil store. Of course, I’m totally unbiased!
We’ve started posting country wisdom on our website a couple of times a week. The image in this post is a sample. I’ve having fun coming up with the sayings and matching them to appropriate images. Some are humorous; others are inspirational; and some are thought-provoking.
I’d love your input if you have any favorite redneck sayings or down-home country wisdom. Leave your suggestions in comments or email me at moc.nnammaeillilnull@eillil. And I hope you’ll visit Lil Country Store, online or offline–or both.
On two different occasions recently, I have received emails asking if I could recommend someone for a specific aspect of indie (self) publishing that the requester thought I didn’t do. In both cases, the requests were for services I provide. It seems I need to make information about my services a little more prominent.
I call myself an editor, because that is the primary service I offered authors in the beginning. Then clients started asking me to do more.
“Can you get the book ready for the printer?”
“Please help me get the cover designed.”
“How do I get an ISBN for my book?”
“I want to sell my books online. Will you create a website for me?”
“Formatting and uploading the files for Kindle and Smashwords is driving me crazy. Can you help?”
So one by one, I added additional services. I’ve tried to come up with a title that encompasses everything I do. Some people who offer similar services call themselves book shepherds. While that’s an intriguing title, it doesn’t necessarily convey all the services I offer. I’ve said I’m a book midwife, helping to birth bouncing baby books for my clients. Yet that still doesn’t explain the specific functions I perform. My client David Bowles inscribed his most recent book to me as follows:
To Lillie, author’s friend and bookmaker.
That made me smile. I am selective about the clients I take. Being friendly, having a good working relationship, and being comfortable with one another are critical for me to help the writer successfully publish a book. And bookmaker, though it conjures up images of betting on horse races, also describes the process of turning a manuscript into a book. The following list of publishing services comes from the description of my publishing services:
Normally, I, along with my associate Jan McClintock, provide most or all of these services for each of our clients. The first step is actually determining whether indie publishing is the best option for the client, and if so, whether Jan and I are the best option for the client to reach that goal. Part of that decision is how we feel about the project. We won’t take a project unless we feel comfortable working with the client and are excited about the manuscript. There are some genres we aren’t knowledgeable about or interested in, and we decline those projects. The author deserves to work with someone who believes in her book as much as she does. Of course, the potential client has a chance to determine whether she likes our work or not through a sample edit.
Once we’ve agreed that we will make a good team, we hold the author’s hand throughout the entire process. We encourage him when he needs a little motivation or a little help believing that he can do this.
We edit the manuscript, not only correcting grammar and spelling, but also suggesting revisions that will make the story and/or the characters stronger. Every manuscript goes through three rounds of edits. Usually I do the first edit; when I finish a pre-determined section (a chapter or several chapters), I send it to Jan. She does an edit and returns it to me. I review her edits and perhaps add comments or make additional suggestions. Then the edits go to the client to be sure we’re on track and that all our changes meet with the writer’s approval. After we have gone through the entire manuscript and made all the changes, I proofread the complete manuscript before it goes to Jan for layout.
We ensure that the client understands about ISBNs and obtains the needed identifiers. Jan designs the interior in the design program InDesign, then she sends it to me for review. In the meantime, we and/or the client have been working with a cover designer. Both Jan and I have created covers, but we generally work with a graphics designer for a beautiful cover that draws attention and inspires readers’ interest. When the interior and cover are ready, the writer has another chance to review and approve both.
Then one of us (or sometimes the client) creates an account with the printer, usually CreateSpace, uploads the files, and goes through the review process. If the review turns up something that needs attention, we make whatever changes are needed until the printer accepts the file and everything looks good to us. Even so, we always order a proof copy to ensure that the book looks as good in print as it does on the computer screen.
In most cases, we also create ebook formats, typically Kindle edition at Amazon.com and several formats at Smashwords. Smashwords distributes to a number of ebook retailers, so these two places cover most of the major ebook sellers. Again, we format the books, review to be sure all looks right, create the accounts and upload to Amazon and Smashwords, monitor the review process, and make changes, if needed, until the ebooks are available for sale.
We also create websites for clients to promote and/or sell their books. Some clients ask us to create pages for them on various social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Nothing Binding, Goodreads, and more. In some cases, we search out reviewers appropriate for the genre and send out review copies. Throughout the entire process, we help the author understand what needs to be done. We coordinate with the client and other service providers (such as cover designer, POD printer, and ebook distributors) to make the indie publishing process as smooth and easy as possible for the client.
While Jan and I have different strengths and specialties, we can each perform every step of the publishing process. So if one of us gets sick (or when I was caring for my husband near the end of his life), the other can step in to make certain the client has a friend and bookmaker at his side. We love working with writers to take their story or nonfiction from manuscript to print and digital books.
However, not every author needs all of our services. Perhaps a writer has had his manuscript edited, but he needs the interior and cover designed. Or maybe the print book has already been published, but the writer wants to add ebooks. Whatever piece of indie publishing an author needs help with, we can almost certainly help.
So if you’re an indie author who needs a “friend and bookmaker,” email me at moc.nnammaeillilnull@eillil, and we can determine if I can help you in your publishing journey.
Image: © Depositphotos.com/Romul-2009
April is Book Blogging Month, and I’m working on a book. I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, and I will soon share about the great new tool I’m using to compile the book.
My draft outline now consists of 70 essays/posts. Most will be posts edited to make them more appropriate for a book, but I am adding some new material as well. The title is What I Learned from Life, and each piece will describe what I learned from a particular situation, condition, or event.
Even if you are a long-time reader of my blog, you aren’t likely to recognize all the posts I’ve taken from the blog. They were written between 2006 and 2014, and they cover topics ranging from adversity to someday, from sports to government.
Stay tuned! I’ll have a publication date soon.
Image: © Depositphotos.com/stockshoppe