Archive for the ‘Words on Writing’ Category

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. It’s new, it’s big, it stinks, and it’s taking up way too much space in this cramped area. Heck, everyone is over-talking about it these days.

If you haven’t seen any blogs, news, articles, social media posts, chats, ads, or heard anyone talking about AI writing, then you must be hiding out in a very out-of-the-way writing retreat with no contact with the outside world. Kudos to you and how the heck did you find it? What’s your secret?

Back on topic.

If you just went, “Huh?” at the “AI”, it is Artificial Intelligence. ChatGPT is just one, but there’s a rush of companies jumping on that wagon, including, if you haven’t heard, Bing’s cringey chatbot Sydney, who apparently has shown some pretty manic personality traits to its testers, assuming a computer algorithm at this point can have a personality.

What is the fuss all about?

Programs like ChatGPT are artificial intelligent chatbots. It simulates and processes conversation. You ask it a question, and its algorithm comes up with an answer. Will the answers be correct? You would have to fact check them to find out. The thing about programs is that their capabilities are limited to their programming. The responses have to come from somewhere, some kind of input. Is that input a pre-programmed catalogue of potential responses? Is it farming the internet for the data to give you? If it is pulling from the internet, how do you know it’s coming from reliable factual sources vs. simmering piles of bogusness? (That actually is a legitimate word. I didn’t even make this one up.)

AI chatbots are a new tool in the box. They are still in their infancy and need a lot of improvements before they’ll see their full potential. I have no doubt they will find their niche of being essential. But, like any other tool, it will have its time and place of usefulness. Do I want to use my Phillips screwdriver to put together that desk I bought at Ikea? As the saying goes, “Only if the screw fits.” (Okay, I might have made that up. Is it a real saying? I don’t know.) Probably I’ll need an Allen Key. I definitely won’t be using it to fix that hole in my pants. You get the idea, use the right tool for the job.

Can I or should I use AI chatbots for my writing?

That is the big debate these days. Some see nothing wrong with using it for research. The problem with that is at this point there is still open debate on whether or not those research answers are correct.

You likely already know that when you use search engines like Google for research, you need to check multiple sources. You also need to make sure those sources are reliable. A bad source only hurts your legitimacy. Can you get the chatbot to give you its sources? If it does, can you find them to verify them?

How about using chatbots to bounce writing ideas off of? Maybe you have writer’s block or are stuck on your project. Some see this as okay, while others are against it. There are strong opinions on both sides of this debate. But, how good are those responses going to be? Remember, this is a computer program running on a pre-determined set of algorithms and input data. What that means is, it is not coming up with anything intuitively new. It is not sentient and does not have an imagination. If it seems like it does, that’s likely your hopes mixed with some clever programmed responses.

Now the big question. Can you use chatbots to do your writing for you? Here is where the debate gets really heated and ugly. This is also where the question of cheating comes in and, of course, the questions of legitimacy, copyrights, and plagiarism. Let me ask you this, if you want to brag about how you drove a 1970 Dodge Charger RT, do you want to have ‘driven’ it from the passenger seat? How about if you ‘drive’ it from standing on the sidewalk watching it go by?

If you didn’t write it, if you had a chatbot write it for you, then you did not write it. Just like you didn’t actually drive that car if you are not in the driver’s seat, hands on the wheel and foot on the gas controlling it. If you are fine with that for something you are using for your own private purposes, then fine. If you are submitting something that is supposed to be written by you, for school, work, or as an author, then that means it should be written by you. You should be the author, not by your friend or neighbor, your partner or child, and not by a computer program.

Yes, famous people do hire ghost writers to write for them and publish under their own names. Some famous authors do this too. While some can argue that in a sense this is cheating, putting out work as your own that isn’t, they are hiring a service, paying the real author for their time, and it is considered legit. The difference is, they are hiring a service here to buy unique content created by the person they hired.

Can you hire a ghost writer to submit to that magazine or anthology you want your name in? It’s probably not a good idea. The well-known assumption, often not stated in the submission guidelines, is that your submission is written by you, not by someone else. Sometimes it is in the guidelines in wording like, “Entries must be original works of the Entrant.”

Can you copyright something you had a chatbot write for you? Don’t count on it. In countries like Canada, you own the copyright to your writing from the moment you create it until you sell the rights. The defining thing here being that you created it yourself. If a corporation or other business creates the text, likely through paid employees, freelancers, or otherwise hired, that business owns the copyright. If the AI program pulls the phrases from the internet, then it’s giving you something that is likely already copyrighted by someone else. So who actually owns the copyright to the work the AI chatbot generated for you?

The Abuse of AI Writing

Here is where things are going sideways and creating a lot of animosity in the publishing world we are all trying to find our way in.

There is a growing use and awareness of AI writing among writers, editors, and publishers. While an author takes hours, days, months, even years, to complete, edit, and perfect a piece of writing, an AI program can spit it out in seconds.

I’ve seen the first-for-me submission calls specifically spelling out that they do not accept any work ‘written’, co-‘written’, created, generated, or assisted in any way by the use of AI. I used the term ‘written’ loosely here. If you are not writing it, it is not ‘written’. ‘Written’ infers organically written. AI stories are generated through computer code using words and phrases input into it. They are not ‘written’ in the organic sense.

The market for submissions was already overloaded before AI ‘writing’ made its public debut. Many submission calls are absolutely deluged with hundreds of submissions for a handful or two of slots. Many of those will be poorly written and edited, maybe not taking the time to follow the simple submission instructions. And many are scam spam, mass-produced and submitted without care for the hope of a quick buck. Editors have to weed through all of that to find the, also many, well-written and carefully edited work by authors passionate about their craft.

Non-writers are abusing the use of AI generated stories to mass submit to the better paying publications in hopes of earning an easy payday, making an already tight market harder for authors. These are people who are just looking for that quick buck no matter how they can scam their way into getting it. Editors now have to weed through this mountain of submissions on top of those sent in by authors.

One well-known Sci-fi magazine recently announced the closure of its always-open submissions due to a deluge of AI created stories. Another editor shared that their publication is permanently blacklisting anyone submitting AI created content without notification. Wording like, “No stories written (generated), co-written, created with, or assisted by AI will be accepted or considered.” is beginning to show up in submission calls. When a well-known magazine editor floats reducing submission windows, accepting solicited submissions only, private submission opportunities (by invite only) to “known” authors, and regional bans among other steps publishers might consider to reduce AI generated content submission spam, it’s a good indicator of how serious the AI question is.

At present, it seems, the majority of editors are not willing to embrace work generated by or co-created with AI, and for good reason. The questions of quality, sources, copyrights, plagiarism, and legitimacy all need to be worked out still.

Writing, in our sense of the word, is organic. It is human creativity. Imagination. Things that a computer program is not yet truly capable of.

If you are tempted to take what feels like an easier route, know that writing is not supposed to be about easy over art. If you are considering having a computer program generate a story in seconds that would take you hours, days, or more, think again. Writing is not supposed to be easy. It’s an act of passion. It’s work.

Sure, it could be a faster route to self-publishing that story you feel the urge to get out. Why spend months or years writing what you can have AI do for you in a fraction of that time? Why spend hours or days on that short story that AI can pop out in seconds? Why actually put your own effort and passion into something when you can get instant gratification? And that is why. Instant gratification. But won’t that gratification sit hollowly? The seed of the story is yours, the idea, but you will always know the story, or poem, or whatever it is, really belongs to an AI bot. It’s not really ‘your’ story because it was generated by a computer program and not your own words. Won’t it be more fulfilling knowing you created it yourself? But maybe that doesn’t matter to everyone.

Then there is that lingering question of legitimacy. No matter how you come to have it, submitting work as your own that you did not create, in a market with the assumption of organically created work written by the person claiming authorship, is a lie. And at present, the market for AI generated writing calls is very small.

If the submission call does not specifically say they want AI generated or assisted submissions, assume that using AI will be an automatic rejection and possibly get you blacklisted permanently from the publication.


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“In this course for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, you will learn about the targeting options for Amazon Advertising’s sponsored ads and determine the most effective targeting method to meet your objectives.

After taking this, you will know how to:

  • Recognize the targeting options available for both Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products.
  • Explain the different keyword match types.
  • Leverage product targeting in your next Sponsored Products campaign.”

Okay, let’s do this. I’m taking the course.

It’s supposed to take 22 minutes. The last one was supposed to take 12, but took me closer to half an hour, but I needed to grab a coffee and had multiple interruptions. I didn’t track how long it took this time, again with multiple interruptions.

The first batch of “pulse check” questions were way too easy. The answers were literally in the questions.

Wow. So apparently you should add misspelled keywords for seekers who are typing challenged (like me typing on my phone!), and other causes of misspelled search terms entered. If I search “thrliler” the keywords won’t pick it up as a misspelling of “thriller”. Less important search words (if, and, of, the, when) are ignored when the algorithm matches search terms to keywords.

Ooh, again using crime novels as the example. I like these people.

Broad match keywords for customers looking for “crime novel”. Pretty much the broadest search option:

“Ads associated with these keywords would be eligible to display:

  • Crime mystery novels
  • Novels about crime

But ads associated with these keywords would be ineligible to display:

  • Criminal novels
  • Crime books”

Phrase match keywords for customers looking for “crime novel”:

Customers need to use the exact phrase, or close variations, and be in the same order as keyword term. It will also reach a smaller audience than the broad match, but your targeting is to more specific searches.

For your crime novel these keywords are eligible:

  • Crime novel eBooks
  • Best seller crime novels 

But these keywords are not eligible:

  • novels about crime
  • crime eBook novel

Then you get your exact match keywords, which are exactly that. The search term has to exactly match your keyword term. Their query words have to be in the same order and without extra words. Your keywords are “crime novel” and “crime novels”, but they searched “best crime novel”, so your ad does not show on their search. It narrows it down to cost you less, but also limits your ad reach to exact matches only.

I always wondered what these “negative matches” were about. Now I know! I, for example, will want search keywords like “crime novel”, “crime”, and “serial killer”.

But for my “negative matches” I would definitely want “true crime” so I’m not paying for clicks for people who want true crime stories instead of fictional crime stories. The same goes for “cozy” to weed out people looking for a cozy mystery. Mine is not cozy. That might have saved me some $$$ when I tried to do ads before!

If your recall, my previous attempts (how long ago now?) at paid Amazon ads resulted in it costing me more for the ads than my royalties for purchases. In total, from Sep 20117 to Sep 2018 I spent $87.40 on ad clicks, with an average cost per click of $0.28. That got me a total of $37.80 in sales. That’s the list price, not the royalties you earn. And not all of those ads even had any clicks, but at least you don’t get charged for that.

In the product targeting, I immediately had a question. Do my POD books qualify for “Prime Shipping Eligibility” and how do I find out? Because that is one of the target categories.

I logged into Amazon using my partner in all thing’s account, which has Prime and searched one of my books. Here is what I found. The book on the left would be the one uploaded to IngramSpark. The one on the right is pulling from Amazon. Note the price difference because to get the same royalties you have to price it higher on Ingram. This is prices in CAD, not USD. The US prices are lower, but still higher through IngramSpark than the Amazon book. Also, this book is now available in hardcover, but only through Amazon.

Only the book on the right mentions Prime in the product search screen.

As you see below, the IngramSpark book does not show the Prime emblem, but the Amazon KDP book does. So, I guess the answer to my question, “Do my POD books qualify for “Prime Shipping Eligibility”?” is yes to the ones uploaded to Amazon KDP, and no to books uploaded through another platform. But both show free shipping. That’s a bonus for me and the buyer.

When I searched using my own non-Prime membership, the IngramSpark book shows free delivery. Curiously, it also shows “Ships from United Kingdom and sold by Book Depository CA”. Funny that I assumed IngramSpark would print it in the US with ground shipping to Canada instead of shipping it overseas. Whereas the Amazon book lists “ships from and sold by Amazon.ca” and free delivery if you spend $35 on items shipped by Amazon.

So, both books benefit from Prime memberships with automatic free shipping and only the Amazon one is charging shipping for non-Prime members, but the latter might be a bonus because I bought Stephen King’s “Danse Macabre”, which I’ve been contemplating for some months when I decided I might also want his “On Writing” memoir. When I saw that I got free shipping because together they were over $35, I used my own account to buy them instead of the Prime account of my partner in all things. But for someone without access to theirs or someone else’s Prime account, they save the shipping if they buy two of your books, or your book and something else sold and shipped by Amazon. Or, as in this example, by spending a little more for your IngramSpark book.

*Note, this one did show the hardcover option too until I shrunk the Google window down. It hid it when it reformatted for the new window size.

So, while most of this course was stuff that seemed pretty obvious, I did learn something because I wasn’t really sure about what “negative matches” was. Turns out my suspicious was right, but I avoided it in my prior ads because I just didn’t really know.

Bring on the next challenge!

I started setting up my first experimental revisiting book marketing endeavor. But at the recommended $1.17 default bid per click, and if I use the “Dynamic bids”, I have to set my daily budget for $1.17 X 2 = $2.34 minimum per day in order for the dynamic bids to work. That puts my minimum projected expense for the 15 days at $35.01, which allows me to get one bid per day at this maximum charge. If I set a budget of $60 for the next 17 days, maybe I’ll win more than one click per day? Still, that’s a lot of money for me to spend for half a month of advertising that I’ve had no success with before.

How the bids work is that it will bid up to your maximum, but only charge you a little over the next highest bid under yours. It charges you that cost per click for that ad showing up in someone’s screen (only if they actually click on that ad). So, if I win a bid and am charged $1.56 and ten people click that add, I expect to be charged $15.60 for clicks. What are the odds enough of those 10 people will actually buy the book for the royalties to cover my cost?

I’m thinking zero.

Amazon, of course, recommends using their automatic targeting especially when you are not experienced at advertising with them (like many of us!). But since I don’t really have that $60 budget, and ideally you want your sales to pay for your advertising instead of losing money on it, I feel like I need to seriously undercut their recommended default bid, change it to set bids by target group, or switch to manual targeting with a very narrow target.

$60 over 15 days is a daily budget of $4.00. When it reaches $4 in clicks on any given day, it shuts down the ad until the next day.

Okay, so after some playing around, I chose: Garden Grove (paperback and eBook)

  • Manual targeting
  • Dynamic bids
  • Product targeting: /Books/Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Thrillers & Suspense/Suspense…” category “Suspense Thrillers”.
  • I used the suggested bid ($0.38). That’s a whole lot less scary than bids of up to $2.34 per click!
Garden Grove

I had zero success coming up with anything in the search for negative product testing, so I didn’t bother. I’ll try that another time when I do the keywords targeting instead of product targeting.

Because the book is uploaded through multiple publishing platforms, I actually had to check the ASIN numbers to make sure it was the Amazon book. But it looks like any book pushed to Amazon from other platforms can also be used in the advertising campaign.

It’s cool that Amazon also happens to have these book discounted. Yeah!

Remember, when Amazon discounts the book on their own, they still pay you the full royalty as if it’s not discounted. Sweet and a bonus on my potential advertising dollars’ sales?

 I also rummaged around the KDP discussion boards before doing this and noticed some people say they only do the ads and only recommend doing them when there is a new book because of their lack of success also with the ads. I’m going into this eyes open knowing I’m likely to only lose money advertising on Amazon. But enough companies do it that it must be of some benefit to some, right?

And while I’ve only really seen people recommend advertising NEW books, what about everything else you’ve put endless hours of yourself into? My name and fame are not enough to sell my already published books and I don’t have anything new currently coming out. I’m working on it but am not there yet. The new books, that is, not the name and fame.

Okay, this campaign is going live. Wish me luck.

Oh, um, what? It shows the $1.17 default bid from prior to my changing it to the product default.

But on the dashboard screen is shows the $0.38 per bid, so I guess I’ll give if a few days and see what happens. I will be watching this closely because I left it at a $4 daily budget, which I can’t really afford because life is a budget and anyone who’s paying attention to life knows the cost of everything has been going way up the past two years while your job that pays the bills paychecks never increased with the cost of living pre-Covid and are trailing even further behind now. And the cost of everything is about to explode (gas prices already are) because of the horrendous actions on another continent of one person who I do not wish to soil my blog at this time with his vile name.

Keep writing, reading, and promoting my friends.

Previous Posts:

Next Posts (coming):

  • Amazon – Marketing Resources: “Start with a Book” & Breaking Down the Price of a Book vs. Royalties
  • Amazon – Marketing Resources: A+ Content (New!)

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Well, this is new. I’ve never had an issue trying to log into my Amazon author page.

I would just Google search Amazon Author Page and my name and it comes up. I may have to log in if I’m not already logged in to Amazon KDP on another tab.

Keep in mind, I haven’t actually touched any of this stuff in two years over the Covid lockdown.

Amazon KDP has made some changes to the marketing resources, adding new features that were not there before.

Now when I try to gain access to my page with this address (https://author.amazon.com) I get this:

Take special note of that little round picture in the top right corner. That, my friends, is my profile picture from somewhere or other for my alter ego middle grade books pen name. The same books shows here, and the top pen name listed.

I have separate Amazon author accounts for each pen name.

I am also currently logged into my Amazon KDP author account for L. V. Gaudet under another tab, and also happen to be logged into my Amazon buying account of the same name under yet another tab.

But it is still trying to default to Vivian Munnoch, which is not logged in anywhere at all.

I don’t recall actually seeing this “Join Amazon Author Central” since joining. Normally it seems to bypass this altogether.

But, no worries.

Logging into your Amazon Author Page.

A quick Google got me this:

I went back and clicked the “Join Amazon Author Central” button and it popped me right into the author page.

Um, but this looks different. I also isn’t the author pen name account I’m trying to get into.


Remember that other screen had a line that said, “We’ve carried over your Author Central account information associated with.”

Sheesh, how long has it been since I even logged in here? I haven’t had any new books to claim until now. I want to try to get that new anthology I have a short story in showing up, All Dark Places 3 published by Dragon Soul Press. (p.s. remind me to order those author copies before these crazy fuel prices jack up the cost!)

This calls for another Google search.

Yup, there we go. I am so behind with the times. Not something you want to do, by the way, if you want to sell books.

Amazon moved their Author Central to a new portal.

When did this happen? That google search article is dated November 15, 2020, so my guess is some time around or shortly before then. My bad for neglecting even visiting this page for two years and 9 ½ months. Okay, more like three years if we want to be honest.

So far at just this first page I think I like the new portal better.

Right there is has links to:

  • View all books
  • View sales ranks
  • View customer reviews
  • See how the page looks in different countries

I‘m going to have to play around in here a little, but I still need to switch to the other author account to resolve a few issues there.

Namely, getting that anthology All Dark Places 3 published by Dragon Soul Press, showing on my L. V. Gaudet author page if I can. And when setting up the A+ content for a few books, I ran into the issue that one book’s eBook link was not linked to the paperback. It shows only the eBook version in the Amazon store without the other version available. You want all format types on Amazon showing every time someone views your book on Amazon. It appears the paperback on my KDP account for some reason is linked to the eBook imported from IngramSpark, instead of to the Amazon KDP eBook. I believe your Amazon KDP account, however, is the place to fix that

Now, how do I switch to the other author page?

Switching to your other Amazon Author Page.

I just fell in love with this new portal a little more. No logging out and back in under the other name like so many platforms make you do. Like a few other platforms lately, Amazon has also streamlined this.

Seriously, I love that now on platforms like Instagram and Twitter I can now switch between the multiple accounts I manage for myself and the Writers’ Guild without having to log out and in. That’s way too many passwords to remember all the time.

So easy! In the top left corner, just click your name and it pops up with pen names to choose from.

And just like that I’m in the Amazon Author Central profile page for my other pen name.

Sometimes change really is good.

Now I have to figure out what is up with all these editions! Six editions for Garden Grove? Four editions, five?

Play around with this Marketplace tab:

I rather like this sort option:

But the first business of the day… adding in that new anthology All Dark Places 3 published by Dragon Soul Press, where you can find my short story “Dark Shadows” published under my darker adult stories pen name L. V. Gaudet. (You didn’t remind me to order those author copies .) You see here below an old anthology I was published in years ago, Mystery In The Wind, with my story “Falling”, also published under the name L. V. Gaudet. (My writing has improved a lot since then!)

Now I have work to do.

Keep writing my friends, and reading, and schmoozing and marketing, and being kind to each other.

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D2D finally brought in the long-awaited print book option. I don’t know when. I haven’t even looked at it in two years.

Note that with their new print book option, you are allowed one print interior or cover change every 90 days. That includes your initial upload. So, if your first cover or interior have errors, your expected options are to wait 90 days to correct one, then another 90 days to correct the other, or pay $25 USD per upload correction. That means if you need to re-upload both your cover and interior file, that’s going to cost you 90 days in D2D jail for first one then the other, paying $50 USD to upload both a new cover and new interior ($25 each), or a variation of the two options.

If you are going with the free D2D provided ISBN, you need to NOT EXPECT TO PUT THE ISBN IN YOUR INTERNAL FILE! At least not right away. (But read on!)

Yeah, I know. You want it to look 110% professional and all the books in bookstores have the ISBN in the front matter.

You can re-load the file later with the ISBN ($25 USD cost to upload a change or wait 90 days!), but unlike others like Amazon, 2D2 won’t give you the ISBN until AFTER you have finalized and approved your book to print.

I was hoping they would have considered that and get a chance to at least re-upload the internal file with the correct ISBN before it goes to publication. Nope. No dice. You do not get the ISBN to include it in your internal file until after you hit the publish button, and then not even right away to try to trick it into letting you re-upload the interior in another internet window that’s still sitting open on that page.

Being me, I stubbornly pressed on, hoping for another chance while at the same time knowing the outcome will be exactly as I suspected it would be. The file I uploaded was already set up for the same trim size. All I needed was to change the ISBN and add that new anthology I have a short story in in the front matter. I guess I’ll wait to see if they reject it and hope I have a chance then to upload the file with the correct ISBN without paying the $25 USD fee. Either way, if it gets rejected or not and I have to pay, I’m going to try waiting the 90 days to upload the correct ISBN interior free.

At this point I feel like I’m yelling at them, “Don’t tell me what to do!”

To me, allowing you to include the ISBN in your front matter whether you have them convert your eBook file or upload your own interior should be an automatic thing. It should not be restricted to the converted eBook file only. My guess is they’re trying to cut their costs on buying ISBN’s by not assigning them until you are committed to publishing it and hit the publish button.

Auto Conversion of eBook to POD

You can, of course, opt to let them convert your eBook file to print, if you aren’t too fussy about how your interior looks.  And, providing you did not upload your own eBook interior with the ISBN embedded in so it can be consistent with your book published through other sources.

You see below my POD front matter, with the D2D eBook ISBN number.

And here, below is where D2D puts the front matter with the ISBN if you chose the file conversion and click the box for them to add it. Why does this look weird to me? I had to go back to the books on my bookshelf. It was a 50/50 shot whether the copyright page was centered or left aligned. They also pretty much filled that page, so it didn’t look as weird to me as this short little blurb in the top corner.

This is all you get with their option to include it with converting your eBook file to POD.

Here’s a closer look of what it looks like from the PDF preview download:

Allowing D2D to convert the eBook file to POD also added almost a hundred pages to the paperback book length of one book when I tried that. Just how big is that print they use?

This second book I’m using as an example is 353 pages printed elsewhere, but D2D’s conversion is 416 pages. That might be fine for a shorter word count, but this is an extra 63 pages you have to pay printing costs for. Printing costs generally are a base rate plus price per page.

Using D2D’s cost calculator, a 416-page 5.5 x 8.5 inch trim size book costs $6.30 to print. March 1, 2022, they have a price increase in effect, and it will cost $6.45 per book to print.

Comparing the 353-page count elsewhere to the D2D 416-page count converted eBook:

  • 353 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $5.66 with D2D after March 1, 2022
  • 416 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $6.45 with D2D after March 1, 2022

$0.79 USD doesn’t seem like a lot per book, but you generally are not working with a large markup margin, and this comes out of your royalties. Let’s assume a $15 list price. Your 45% royalties on a $15 list price book are $6.75.

  • 353 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $5.66 print cost = $1.09 royalty/per book
  • 416 pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $6.45 print cost = $0.30 royalty/per book

You cannot sell a 416-page book for $0.30 royalties per book. This gives you 30 cents USD per book sold for marketing costs before you are losing money.

The higher your word count, the larger you can expect this page count disparity in uploading your own interior vs. allowing D2D to convert your eBook to be.

Interior File for Auto conversion of eBook to POD

If you are going with allowing D2D to convert your eBook file, I strongly recommend sticking strictly to the “D2D Simple” template style.

Most of the interior file options look very gimmicky with junk like magnifying glasses, birds, or whatever that interior style option has, everywhere you have an extra line return spacing out your paragraphs.

I might have liked this when I was eight. Maybe. Garbage.

I’ll stick to formatting and uploading my own interior files – but without the ISBN number in the front matter until the 90 days of upload jail or fine expires. Then I can upload a proper interior file with the D2D POD ISBN number included.

Using Your Own ISBN

You’re probably asking why I don’t just use my own ISBN. Cost, that’s why. Here is a quick Google search on the price of an ISBN for those of you who have to go through Bowker in the US:

Here in Canada ISBNs are free through the Library and Archives Canada. But there’s a catch. Once your book is published using a Library and Archives Canada ISBN, you are required to send them physical copies of your book. How many depends on the number of books produced. Assuming you want to sell more than 100 copies, it would be two physical book copies you need to send.

When I priced this out years ago, between the print and shipping costs for the two books and the postage to ship them to Library and Archives Canada, it was not cheap. I don’t remember what the cost was, but it was close to the Bowker cost. I don’t have a budget for this. The day job that pays the bills, like so many others, pays the cost-of-living bills without wiggle room to invest in my own interests. Your spending money doesn’t go far when you use it for things like school fees for your kids and in-between payday grocery shopping food items. My writing costs have to pay for themselves and it’s not cheap to publish, get author copies and table stuff for book events, and all that. I’m already in the red on this. I just used money I’ve been saving for a few years for a replacement computer to buy a cheap filing cabinet because of the lack of budget for this.

I haven’t even ordered author copies of the new anthology from Dragon Soul Press, “All Dark Places 3” with my short story Dark Shadows yet because that’s also going to cost me money out of pocket, putting me further in the red. I will have to before I do any author events, once those things open up again.

Assuming $1.50 USD net royalty per book, more than the example above, you would have to sell 84 books just to pay the $125 USD ISBN cost. That’s assuming they don’t charge a tax on it. I didn’t look to see if they do.

If I sell that book for a list price of $17 USD: 45% royalty on $17 = $7.65 gross royalty per book less the printing costs.

  • 353 (my own interior upload) pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $5.66 print cost = $1.99 royalty/per book
  • 416 (eBook conversion) pages at 5.5 x 8.5 trim = $6.45 print cost = $1.20 royalty/per book

At $1.99 net royalty per book for my own interior file upload, I still have to sell 63 books to cover a $125 ISBN cost before I make a penny off book sales, without spending any money on marketing.

But Bowker has their reduced price per ISBN deal for a 10-pack!

Let’s say you bough the $295 10-pack of ISBNs. You use two on Amazon, two on D2D, and two on IngramSpark. You’ve used six up on one book. But you want a hardcover version in addition to the eBook and paperback. That’s two more assuming two publishing platforms.

In three publishing platforms, you’ve used 8 of your 10 ISBN numbers for paperback, hardcover, and eBook versions of the same book, because each and every version on each platform requires a unique ISBN number. That’s an ISBN cost of $236 USD for one published book edition. At $1.99 net royalty, you have to sell 119 books across all versions and platforms just to cover the cost of the ISBNs, not including any money spent on advertising.

Also, if you are in Canada and taking advantage of the “free” (not free because you have to mail them copies of your books), you have to send them physical copies for each ISBN used for print books.

That’s why I opt for the free ISBN’s.

But You Aren’t the Publisher Unless You Use Your Own ISBN

I haven’t forgotten this. Yes, the ISBN code breaks down to numbers that identify the country, publisher, and book title. The first two are only included in the 13-digit number:

EAN – Bookland country code.

Group – Country identifier for national or geographic grouping of publishers. Basically, the country it’s being published in.

Publisher – You or the publisher/publishing platform.

Title – Unique number assigned to that particular edition or format of your book title.

Check digit – Exactly what it implies. It’s a check digit that validates the ISBN. An internal control verification digit in ISBN Book Land, which has no bearing on the country, publisher, title, etc.

How important is having this unique to you as a publisher? That depends on you and what you want.

This is what your buyers are going to see. It’s a series of digits catalog number. The only identifier that means anything to them is what you put in your front matter as your publisher identifier:

Interior front matter:

Back cover:

Apparently you can search the publisher name from an ISBN number here, but most people won’t know that and even fewer will care enough to bother.

Update: Results from D2D Review

Fast forward to days later…

D2D has reviewed the book upload and, as I would have been disappointed if they had not done so, rejected it because the ISBN in the front matter does not match.

The good news is that it allowed me to upload that interior file with the correct ISBN without having to pay $25 USD or be in D2D upload jail for 90 days.

I win!

Now, if you’ve thought to publish on D2D, IngramSpark, or anywhere else prior to putting up a paperback or hardcover on Amazon KDP, you’re going to run into a problem with Amazon KDP. Expect them to reject it as being already published by another publisher. Their list of approved correspondence “proof” specifically denies your own pledge of being the author and publisher and wants a third-party letter. Oops to all the self-published writers out there.

Keep writing my friends. Let’s make this world better one emotionally stirring book at a time.

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“In this course for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, you will learn about Amazon Advertising’s sponsored ad types, identify benefits and use cases, examine placements across devices, and select the appropriate ad type for your campaign objectives. 

After taking this, you will know how to:

  • Identify the benefits and use cases for Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products.
  • Select the appropriate ad type for campaign objectives”

Okay, let’s do this. I’m taking the course. It’s supposed to take 12 minutes. It took me closer to half an hour, but I needed to grab a coffee and had multiple interruptions.

I already knew how the auction process works from doing it before. I paid more in clicks than I made in sales, so it was a fail when I did the charge-per-click auction campaign before.

When I get around to trying a sponsored brand ad, now I know that I’ll need to create a custom landing page. I’m assuming I’ll have to create it, anyway. I haven’t gotten that far yet to find out how that works.

Bring on the next challenge! I’m going to experiment with the first book marketing endeavor.

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The Enroll in free Amazon Ads training courses starts with a “Complete the quiz to earn a badge!” declaration with a “Get Started” button and options to choose course, do the quiz, and take a survey. Teenager number one made a face of disgust and properly done eyeroll at the badge thing.

But hey, let’s earn that badge!

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Damn. “Authentication Required”. You have to log in with Amazon (again) to unlock this additional content. Now, what’s my password again?… I also had to allow Amazon Advertising to access my Amazon account profile.

Cool. Apparently, I can “Earn certification”. “Demonstrate your proficiency and earn certifications in Amazon Advertising solutions.” And they have a help button. I usually need help.

It’s a 17 multiple choice question quiz and was focused to writers. Mystery thriller books even and running out of advertising funds and being unable to increase the budget. I feel embraced and understood for the first time, haha.

A few questions the answers included 4-character acronym terms I did not know what they meant. I know what KENP is, sort of. I don’t remember what words make the acronym but have an idea of its meaning. What is ACOS and CTR? I guess I’ll be learning that. I’ve chosen KENP a few times just because I didn’t know what ACOS and CTR are.

There was a question using children’s author, science fiction novels, and fantasy trilogy examples for those of you out there.

Do I get a badge? I failed! Pre-taking any of the courses and webinars, I scored 41% on the quiz. 7/17. Nope. You have to earn 80% or higher on the quiz to receive a badge. “Sucks to suck,” as teenager number one in the house would say. She was also completely unimpressed with my failing. This is the kid who gets mad if she gets below a 98% herself on anything, so I guess I burst her little bubble of my awesomeness.

The review didn’t let me actually review the test so I can re-take it and cheat to pass. I guess I have to actually do the courses and learn before I retake the test to earn the badge.

Oh well, that’s the intent anyway.

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I like to think I’m not alone in this, but over the past few years with so much feeling useless, first from the surreal feeling of being virtually imprisoned in your own home, relegated to working and living looking out the window at a world untouchable to you, feeling agoraphobic even with the scary new world out there shut down by Covid, a character in a story not of your own making…

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Before you read on know that I, for one, am a middle ground person. I like the middle ground. It’s a space for tolerance and allowing more and bigger differences. It’s looking at both sides without having to feel like you aren’t allowed to empathize. You can see the truths and crazy on both sides and know that somewhere behind all the angry posts and memes of people attacking each other is a different world where these people were once perhaps friends, comfortably friendly neighbors, and families that joked over a seasonal holiday meal and hope we will one day return to that world with the devastating rift of these recent years an old fading scar we don’t like to think about. You can stay true to you without taking sides in a fight you don’t always feel is yours to side on and that sometimes, sometimes often, feels like it has gone a step or a mile too far. You can’t mediate the un-mediatable, but you can embrace that small warmth still in your heart and maintain friendships and family relationships with people on both sides of a thing where you can still see it from a different and less biased (because whether unbiased truly exists is speculative) perspective – your own.

The endless days into weeks into months, now passing two years of the world being an utterly alien place of people hiding behind masks, nervously pretending bumping elbows is the new handshake, scenes of grocery store rage when someone gets too close to someone else, doesn’t follow the now worn out arrows on the floor, or takes too long deciding what they want and holding up the whole aisle of people who aren’t supposed to pass… now morphed into two angrily divided factions of the rule followers vs. the equally defiant declaring, “You are not the boss of me!”, both surrounded by everyone else who just wants to get through another day with the shredded remains of their sanity intact.

Your social media groups and friends dwindle as you find groups overrun by political meme bots and trolls erasing all relevance the group had to replace it with a series of false ‘truths’ and memes designed to spread lies and inspire division and anger, and unfriending people who cross a line too far for you in their newly embraced beliefs, or newly empowered to declare beliefs you had no idea they had and subsequently attack anyone with a differing life view from them.

Without the ability to do book events, speak to actual real life people who are interested in your books and writing, cutting you off from any feeling of support in the writing that drives you, that is who you are, and feeling trapped in the unreality of fog of a life completely out of your control where you are witnessing through a computer or phone screen everything going down, people you know falling down a darker version of an Alice In Wonderland rabbit hole of madness into the world of conspiracy theories that deny logic, up means down, truths are lies and lies are truths, everything that is not what they want to hear is automatically a lie, and everyone who doesn’t rejoice in their beliefs is the enemy,…

Adding to that the long dark and short days of a winter that seems colder and has had more bad weather and bad road conditions days, and much more snow than we’ve had in a while. We’ve now hit the third highest snowfall by this date in 150 years here at 156.6 centimeters of snow!

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It’s all made writing and attempting to market writing feel kind of pointless. Okay, totally pointless. Everyone out there seems to be too busy being angry at each other for mundane things like your books. Even trying to write a blog post is a chore you just don’t see much point in. You do a few bits of writing or blogging, promising yourself and all 2.4 followers that you will do better and blog and write more consistently, and drop off the face of the blogosphere for more months without being able to get your head in the writing zone.

And all of this nervous anxiety, stress, and growing frustration that surrounds us all and filled our world like a suffocating dark pall has now erupted into an even more volatile divisive ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mob mentality where for the rest of us it feels that a middle ground is an unwanted by them and uncommon place somewhere beyond the dark mountains of Grimdark, past the Forbidden Forest, and beyond the river deep in the Netherworld that takes you to a new undiscovered world. Canada has erupted into protests of an eclectic smorgasbord of anti-Covid mandates, anti all Covid safety measures, anti-government, anti-anti, anti-protests, and anything else anyone wants to declare anti sentiment to. There seems to be something for everyone and anyone not following any given crowd or other is somehow the enemy. Country border crossing and streets surrounding government buildings are being occupied and blocked off with the gleeful blaring of horns, music, dancing, and street parties with, yes, bouncy castles, saunas, hot tubs, and where’s the beer garden.  They rejoice with a sense of righteousness the growth and spread of this movement to other countries and continents and are genuinely shocked that anyone would oppose and try to shut down their righteous protests. Businesses already sorely hurting from the seemingly never-ending effects of Covid are forced to shut down by the protests and local residents are yelled and sworn at, threatened, and in some cases assaulted in various protests across the country. Hospitals are targeted with slow drive-by caravans and amassed protests meant to intimidate and block access to emergency care as if they are somehow the enemy. The once celebrated doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers are warned to not wear their healthcare uniforms outside the hospital walls out of worry they might be targeted by the protestors blocking their places of work. Schools are made the targets of protests with kids sometimes being verbally attacked by adult protestors for why? Being there? – as if somehow the schools and kids are to blame for safety restrictions, are somehow the enemy too. People have been physically assaulted by having their masks ripped off their faces and angrily demanded to stop being “sheep” at some protests as though their right to choose to wear it is somehow less important than their attackers’ rights to choose not to wear it, and to demand everyone else comply with not wearing them regardless of their health concerns and what makes them feel safe even as they proclaim to be fighting for everyone’s rights to choose.

Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

All this ever growing boiling up hate, fear, and anger seething around us in an ugly-dark tempest both online and in real life should be a wellspring of writing muse for any writer of darker fiction, right? It’s a million bases for horror stories playing out in the real world like a tangled heap of writhing demonic limbs in a Hades pool.

So why is it so hard to get the head into the writing game? To bring that focus to the muse and stories to life at your fingertips?

Perhaps it’s the real-life horror of having lost people you care about and worrying about loved ones, and perhaps yourself, who are at heightened risk of dying of this disease, people who need to be protected while all around you are the cries of “Me! Me! Me!” and “My rights!”, while their very demands would take away the rights of people you care about and want to protect, perhaps yourself, making them prisoners in their homes, further marginalizing the weak and sick in favor of the ‘rights’ of the healthy.

With all this, I have a confession to make. I have abandoned even trying to market since that first Covid lockdown. I’m still struggling impossibly to get my head and heart into a writing focus, let alone even thinking about marketing. I have abandoned the various blog series of posts I felt I was valiantly committing myself to. And my sales are clearly showing it. I downloaded what I could of my sales numbers for the past two years across multiple platforms and markets to find a consistently round figure appearing again and again, one that resembles a slightly elongated “O” – the ever majestic, or in this case pitiful, “ZERO”.

But at last, there seems to be that glimmer of hope. All the cliches, light at the end of the tunnel, and so on. With the mutation of this hateful disease into something that has once again overwhelmed hospitals with the sheer vast numbers of its now extremely high transmissibility, but has proven to be much less deadly overall, and now those hospitalizations beginning to drop, the world is starting to peak out of our dank dark cave to the new dawn breaking on the horizon. While some governments are caving to the angry political pressure of the protests, others are embracing a more measured careful approach to loosening restrictions and opening our lives back up.

We are finally stepping into that long promised “new normal” of learning to live with a new endemic, but still deadly for some, virus.

So, can we please now get back to writing, marketing, and life?

I am going to start with a three-pronged attempt:

  1. Tackling marketing, essentially re-learning it. My first glimpse showed me new options that I was unaware if they existed two years ago.
  2. Organizing myself and my tiny writing ‘world’, and
  3. Writing. Writing anything: A blog, story idea, story start, editing, revising, progressing WIPs those baby steps our mountainous leaps towards completion.

I ordered myself a filing cabinet. I needed one for years. Probably need two. But I wanted one that matches my desk, aesthetically, and in height to essentially give me a larger working surface. My desk pretty much just fits my laptop and because of limited living space is front and central in the living room. I’ve searched off and on for the past 3-4 years. My partner in life and everything found me the perfect filing cabinet. It’s not ugly, is really quite nice looking, and matches the desk aesthetically and in height. Naturally with the current shortages in everything from paper and wood products to driver and shipping shortages, it’s out of stock and unavailable for the foreseeable future. But I found another one, black and metal, not quite what I want, but the height measures 0.02 inches off from my desk height. I could probably put an area mat under the desk to fix that.

Unfortunately, the nice pretty perfect but out of stock filing cabinet also happens to have a desk designed to match it. So, there won’t even be a small color variance.

Can a writer collect desks like a reader collects books? Anyone want to buy a few hundred of my books so I can afford it?

While I’m waiting on that filing cabinet to be delivered (I LOVE ❤ free shipping!), I’m starting to work on re-learning the marketing thing.

I’m starting on Amazon. And, because my sales have been at or near zero across all channels with zero efforts towards promotion and marketing, It’s like starting with a new slate. I’m going to pick one book and target it alone with one marketing effort. Then I’ll pick another book and different marketing resource. I’m going to run an experiment on myself, targeting each book one at a time with a different marketing effort and see how the numbers play out. I have ten books published under two pen names, but that includes a 4-book series and one that is so far 2 books. So, when I expand into the subsequent series books, I expect any successful marketing on those will also affect other books in the series.

Under “Amazon Ads”, Amazon also has options to register for Amazon Ads webinars and to enroll in free Amazon Ads training courses. It sounds like a grand place to start.

I clicked on the Amazon Ads webinar link and it even filtered it already specifically to “Webinars” and “Book author” advertiser type for me. Nice. It wasn’t immediately clear if they charge for the webinars. They are on demand and you have to register for them.

This is what I found: “Amazon webinars and workshops are free of charge unless otherwise stated during the registration process.” So, I’ll be checking out those. I don’t have a marketing budget let alone a training budget. I need to sell books to have a budget. The ‘pays the bills’ day job helps pay our cost of living bills. There isn’t much of a wiggle there for personal interests to be added to that budget.

The Enroll in free Amazon Ads training courses starts with a “Complete the quiz to earn a badge!” declaration with a “Get Started” button and options to choose course, do the quiz, and take a survey. Teenager number one made a face of disgust and properly done eyeroll at the badge thing.

But hey, let’s earn that badge!

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Here on my next episode of “How Technologically Illiterate Can I Be?” let’s delve into Youtube.

Photo by Joey Huang on Unsplash

This is also a reminder that as writers we need to explore new things and learn new to us (sometimes now old and perhaps less popular in certain demographics) social media to share and market ourselves and our writing with.

Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know, but in my attempts to set up a Youtube author channel, create and upload some content, link it to a few social media resources to upload that content, and cross-link social media to each other, I managed to create a second Youtube channel.

Whew, that was a long sentence.

See all my subscribers? Yes, that’s me subscribed to my own self. (I also subscribed to myself using my other author channel for middle grade dark fiction, Vivian Munnoch, which has a whopping one video uploaded – text to speech again as noted below, because I have yet to learn the ability to speak coherently while recording myself.)

This is the “L. V. Gaudet, author” channel I want to keep. It has a whopping two subscribers (both me) and two videos uploaded:


I think these were both the videos where I used a text to speech app for the voiceover because I am really bad at reading script while being recorded. So bad that the awful text to speech app sounds way better than I can, even after a ridiculous amount of time spent rehearsing reading the same flash fiction piece.

Two Identical Youtube channels serves me no purpose and would split any potential followers between the two, making the numbers on both worse than they already are.

p.s. this is also why you want to maximize your publishing numbers for your book by using fewer publisher methods (ie uploading to Smashwords, Amazon, Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, etc – because bigger numbers on one book or channel is better than those same numbers spread across multiples in smaller numbers on each.

This should be a breeze, right? All I need to do is delete that extra channel. Sounds easy to me. Except that I’m not always as technologically smart as I think I should be. I can’t find where to delete the extra channel! Great.

But that won’t stop me. Research time. And This will drive me to distraction until I figure it out, so I will find the answer.

Okay, so it turned out to be very easy, both to research and to do, although frightening that it took SOOOOO LOOOOONG on a channel with zero followers, zero follows, zero comments or likes given or received, and zero content.

In the top right corner click your profile picture, then click “Switch account”.

Click on the channel you want to remove (the top is my personal profile, the two identical are the channels).

On the left click “Settings” and then click “Advanced settings” at the bottom (see how bad I draw with my mouse? Haha).

Here it actually gives you the option of just hiding the content or removing it and your channel. Click “I want to permanently delete my content”.

Google gives you a chance to change your mind. This is your last chance. Click the boxes to let Google know that you know what you’re doing and aren’t just like drunk or something. Then click “Delete my content”.

Ok, so just in case you are actually RAGE QUITTING! your Youtube channel and deleting all content in a fiery burn of fury, Google gives you one last last chance to go back and not do this.

Type in your Youtube channel name in the box to verify. Just in case you do happen to be too drunk or something to remember, it conveniently shows it here in brackets for you.

Somewhere in one of these steps it made me log back in again. So if you can’t remember your Google password you’re kind of screwed there.

Then I had to wait a crazy long time for it to delete the channel despite it having zero followers, zero follows, zero comments or likes given or received, and zero content.

And apparently Youtube or Google felt like I just unfriended them or something, because after a few refreshed attempts to get back into Youtube to check – after that really long wait for the deleting message to clear – and having to re log into Google again even though I had it open  and my login active, I also had to re log in again to get into my account Youtube. Isn’t that supposed to be automatic when you are logged into Google? I mean I didn’t have to log into Youtube when I started this exercise.

And the extra channel is gone! Yay!

It was actually pretty easy. It took longer to re log in to Google and Youtube than to delete the extra channel. The longest was that wait for it to delete all the nonexistent content. I’m afraid of what it might take if I actually had a bunch of content and activity. I think that might actually take a day or two.

Keep writing my friends.

Any tips on speaking coherently when you are recording yourself so you don’t sound like you are tripping over your own lips and tongue? Hahahahaha. Seriously, those text to speech programs are not good. They sound like bad robots and confuse a lot of English language words, especially with Heteronyms like lead (is it the metal or to lead?), read, live, wind, etc.

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An Epic Journey Figuring Out Why My Shared Word Document on OneDrive is Read Only. But Why? It is NOT a read only file on the computer. I Want to Edit It On My Phone!

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If you know me, you know my technological literacy is spotty and incomplete. Some things I learned; others are as mystifying as the vastness of the Netherworld.

I also have an annoying habit of having to figure it out when I don’t know something. Who is that actor who seems so familiar and what did I see them in? Well, put that movie or show on pause because I have to know. (Nope, that guy in the episode of Yellowstone has a resemblance sort of, and voice that we thought sounded like him, but was not the actor who played Face on the A-Team). That nagging feeling something in a story I’m working on doesn’t mesh with something? I’m going to prove it to myself, even if it looks like it’s just a weird unprovable déjà vu because I can’t find it. I still won’t just drop it, though, because that nagging sense will still be there.

Why can’t I edit my file on One Drive? I have to know!

Jump to the answer! Or read on through all this rambling drivel.

Or; here is the quick answer if you don’t want to waste time reading anything else here:

In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots in the menu (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices.

In my efforts to get back to writing and editing with some reasonableness of frequency (aka not not writing and editing), I tried saving a few WIPs in Microsoft Word with the AutoSave to OneDrive feature. The idea being that I can edit the same file whether I’m on my laptop or on my phone in another room, or perhaps laying in bed awake at 3am with insomnia.

I’ve been very hesitant to embrace cloud saving of any kind. I’ve also been accustomed for years to working on anything personal (aka not the pay-the-bills-job) as much in places where I have no Wi-Fi as I do at home with Wi-Fi, including on my lunch breaks at that job for years before Covid sent us to work from home. No Wi-Fi in that lunchroom. Thus the learned extreme hesitancy of using any sort of cloud-based storage where I wouldn’t be able to access anything stored there half the time. One of my favorite places to write before we had to sell it was at the camper, in the peaceful  relaxing slower pace away from home and happens to be far from any sort of working Wi-Fi.

So this attempt at cloud-based file sharing with myself is both an unutilized technology and behavior to be learned.

I tried it with one WIP file and it was pretty cool. The idea of being able to edit the same file with real-time live updates on both devices was fun. I sat there typing on the laptop and watching the words appear on my phone. Then I did it the other way around just because I could. Yeah, I know. I’m lame.

My second file attempt – The Woods, a novel I have been so painfully close to completion for so long and promising to finish and have published, and actually think might in many ways be one of my, if not ‘The’, best – did not go so well.

I’ve clicked the AutoSave in Microsoft Word to save it to OneDrive cloud-based storage, deleted that OneDrive file, and re-clicked it a number of times. I just cannot get it to open in the Microsoft Word app on my phone as an editable file like the other one. It will only open as a read only file.

So what am I doing wrong?

The first thing I found on the issue was a Microsoft issues chat from 2014 where all the answers suggested the *fix* of just downloading and saving the file as a new file to edit. Sounds easy right? As long as you have no intention of going back and forth between devices or have multiple people co-working on the document. As the original poster of the question commented, this is not a fix, but rather a workaround. It also means you essentially end up with more than one file document you now have to be on top of constantly making sure to either upload, download, and save as every time you are going to work on it, or will later have the laboriously time intensive task of using Microsoft Word’s compare files feature to try to combine all the revised file copies into one revision copy.

I’ve actually done that with files and it’s a great feature when you have the need for it. It’s nice when you find yourself with multiple rough WIPs of something and don’t know which is better or what changes were made on which and why. But I would not choose to do it unnecessarily because you are going through every single space, character, word, sentence, paragraph, and formatting change made on the two versions through the entire document. And repeating if for every extra revision copy you need to combine. You then have to go through and thoroughly edit the whole thing because you may or may not have remembered right and clicked yes or no to changes correctly throughout the entire document.

So, nix that non-fix.

Next try:

I tried opening the OneDrive folder and checking that the file folder within it and the WIP file both have the sync symbol showing sync is turned on. I don’t think you can actually turn that off? Here are three status symbols that show up:

  • The cloud one is a video of my itty bitty teen punching out another girl sparring at boxing. (She’s pretty good!)
  • “Shroud Eaters” is a horror in early stages and my first attempt at file sharing between the laptop and phone. That’s the one I could open and edit no problem with it revising the file for both devices in real time. This was my NaNoWriMo 2021 challenge to continue working on, which I did not get far on.
  • “The Woods 2021” is the newest save (thus the “2021”) version, keeping the previous save intact as an unrevised just-in-case backup. This is the file that will only open as a read only file on my phone with the Word app.

What do these symbols mean? I had to look it up. This is what I found:

  • The cloud – this file is available only online and cannot be opened without some form of internet connection. This file takes no space on your device.
  • Green checkmark in a circle – “When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and becomes a locally available file. You can open a locally available file anytime, even without Internet access.” In other words, this file when opened will download to your device, take up file space, can be edited with or without internet, and should automatically save back to the cloud location to sync and update with revisions made to the shared file on other devices. Sweet.
  • The circling arrows – means that a sync is in progress. If it shows this with a “processing changes” message, you may have a problem. Processing changes is okay because that means it’s actively syncing, but if it doesn’t go away your sync is stuck. When I hover the mouse over the file line with the circling arrows in the folder it does show “Availability status: Sync pending”.

(P.s. as noted below, closing the file on the laptop turned these to green checkmarks – so sync pending was not actually stuck or anything. However it apparently can get stuck. In this case it was just letting me know the file was open somewhere and waiting to sync when I start typing in it.)

I tested by editing “Shroud Eaters” on my phone while watching the OneDrive file folder on the laptop. The green checkmark didn’t even blink. The file is open on both the laptop and phone. I tried typing in each while watching the file on the other device, and the watching it change on the other screen in real-time didn’t happen this time. Weird.

So, I closed OneDrive and clicked the app on the phone to open the file folder and saw this:

This actually doesn’t surprise me because I’ve already encountered the problem I have yet to resolve of somehow ending up with multiple OneDrive files for the same file. That’s why you see the “Shroud Eaters (3)” file.

So now I have the added issue of which of these is the most recent and current file with the hours of work added? Bugger. And why when both the phone and laptop open files should be the same file syncing on both devices did the changes not sync? It also shows one updated a half hour prior, not both just now, which would answer why the two devices show the revisions from each other.

I figured out the most recent revisions file and deleted all the extra “Shroud Eater” files from OneDrive via the laptop. I got the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere.

Now, in the OneDrive folder on the laptop the one Shroud Eaters file shows the same circling arrows that when I hover over them is shows “Availability status: Sync pending”. Great. Now both files are broken and not syncing. Good job.

The weird thing is the rest of the files are gone from the OneDrive folder on the computer, but not from that same folder on the phone. “Shroud Eaters (3)” vanished, but the others are all still there.

After about ten or fifteen minutes the warning that deleting the files will delete them everywhere came up again for another file and I clicked okay through it again and the extra files vanished from the phone folder a few minutes later. So, a major delayed reaction which might be a clue to the non-syncing issue. Or not.

I don’t always think of trying things in the most logical order, so thinking my sync pending is stuck, now I try closing the files in Word. Magic. Sync pending circling arrows is gone and they are green check marks. That’s not the problem apparently.

I opened Shroud Eaters and testing it again, typing on the laptop and it did not change in real-time on the phone document like it did the first time I tested out doing it. But closing and reopening the file on the phone synced the changes. It also made the typing in either device make real-time changes on the screen of the other again. Cool. It also showed them as markup changes – aka the text added on the phone and deleted on the laptop showed as strikethrough text on the phone and flagged a revision spot on the laptop file saying I cannot revise it until I finish revising it on the phone to avoid conflicts.

This hasn’t happened before. And the phone gave me the option to accept or reject the change. Clicking accept brought a notification that I can use the feature if I buy Microsoft 360. Um, no. Not right now. But maybe that’s why the navigation isn’t on the phone like it is on the laptop Word program? It’s something to think about when I maybe need to buy the personal or family plan by the end of the school year. Closing and re-opening the file on the phone again made the updates happen, so no worries there. It will update eventually and lose the markups.

So, back to trying to open The Woods on the phone. Nope, it’s still a read only file. Why? Hell if I know.

I deleted The Woods from the OneDrive file, opened the file on my hard drive, and re-saved it again on OneDrive. I opened it on my phone with the Word app, and it’s still a read only file. Crap. Why? Why does this technology hate me?

I found this curious and completely useless for my problem conversation about this issue. Except with their issue they discovered it opened as read only when saved in Google Drive and opened fine as an editable file when saved in OneDrive. My files are saved in OneDrive automatically by the Word app and one file works while the other only opens as read only in the Word app on the phone. So mine should work!

One commenter said whether a file worked on their phone (Andriod like mine) depended on how they opened the file. But I’m opening both files exactly the same way and one opens as editable and one as read only.

Both files are Word documents with .docx file extensions.

I tried opening “Blood And Canvas” on my phone. It too opens as a read only file. I have a new clue! What do “Blood And Canvas” and “The Woods” have in common that “Shroud Eaters” does not?

All three are Word documents created on my laptop and have .docx file extensions.

They were all three each started and the files created originally at different times years apart using different versions of Microsoft Word, and different laptops as one died and was replaced with another, so that it something none have in common.


Under the “File” tab at the top of your Word document on the computer click the “Info” option to view the information on your file. How to do this might be different on older versions of Word.

Both Blood And Canvas and The Woods show “Compatibility Mode”. Shroud Eaters does not! So now I know what the two files that open as read only on my phone have in common that’s different from the one that works.

Compatibility Mode is how Word allows a file created in an older version of Word to be opened and used in a newer version of Word. I found this: “As long as a document is showing [Compatibility Mode], new or changed Word features that were not included in the earlier version will be disabled.

Good thinking. I’m talking like really old versions of Word each these files would have been created it, even though they are saved with the .docx file extension.

Then I found this on the types of file extensions that are supported by Word:

This tells me that all three files were created using versions of Word from anywhere between 2007 and 2019. If they were .doc files, they would be from even older Word versions. With that and reading that link about how Compatibility Mode disables  features that were not available in the Word version the document was originally created in, I think Compatibility Mode is stopping the files from being editable on the phone – a phone app and OneDrive cloud storage that was created AFTER newer versions of Word replaced those older outdated ones.


If your Word document is in Compatibility Mode, that is likely blocking it from opening as an editable file from OneDrive on your other device. You need to get rid of Compatibility Mode by have Word convert it to the new Word format.

In the document open on the computer, I clicked the “Convert” button in the document information screen and clicked “OK” through this popup warning message to let Word convert, clicked the Save/Sync button to make sure it saves the converted file to OneDrive, closed the file on the computer, then tried to open it on the phone. I had a little gray line at the top that opened to a message giving me the option to refresh to the new file. I did. And IT WORKED! The files saved on OneDrive now open on the phone Word app as perfectly editable files.

Now I’m asking myself, what if I did not have the laptop handy to fix it? What if I was somewhere else with just my phone and want to be able to edit and have the file sync when I open it later on the computer?

How do I fix a “Compatibility Mode” problem through the Word app on the phone?

I deleted the OneDrive “The Woods” file and re-saved aka clicked the Auto-Save to OneDrive on the hard drive document that is still in Compatibility Mode to test this.

  • Save the file using your phone: In the file opened with the Word app on the phone (this was using Android) Click those three dots to open “File actions” and click “Save”, not “Save As”. Click “Save” again, chose the save location, and save it.
  • Here’s the trick: Make sure you are saving it in the exact same OneDrive file location, including whether it is in a sub-file. You want the “Replace file?” popup message. If you don’t get that message you are just saving it as a second file instead of replacing the existing file. Click “Replace” and your Word doc file saves as the newer version of Word.
  • The good thing is the new file is in the new format and does not open in “Compatibility Mode” on the computer, and you didn’t just create a secondary file to figure out later. When you or whoever else opens OneDrive to work on that file with another device, it’s fixed just the same as if you fixed it with the Conversion option on the computer.

Now, what if someone is using the file, say on the laptop while I do that trick with my phone?

Hint: this is totally awesome!

Do the exact same thing! It worked!

I deleted the OneDrive file and did the re-AutoSave to OneDrive again with the Compatibility Mode file to test it. I added some gobbledygook nonsense typing to it on the Laptop. Yup, when I opened the file on the phone it was read only and the added gobbledygook nonsense typing was there. This is definitely the same file and not some weird other file that somehow exists.

With “The Woods” Compatibility Mode document in OneDrive still open on the laptop…

On “The Woods” read only file open on my phone I did the … and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. I made sure it was the identical file location of the existing file. I even clicked on the existing file for good measure, although it’s totally not necessary. I clicked “Replace” when that popup message appeared. Waited for it to save and update.

Magic! My file is now editable and not read only, updated to the new file type.

I typed some more gobbledygook nonsense typing in the file on my phone and watched it magically appear in real-time in the still open document on my laptop – a document that also now just like that was also the newer version of Word and no longer in Compatibility Mode.

Easy frigging peasy fix! (How the heck do you even spell “peasy”?)

My final question is why can I never come up with the right and very fast and simple answer first without wasting a lot of time searching for and answer that apparently exists NOWHERE in the whole World Wide Web, experimenting, and finally getting it after so much wasted time?

From my online searches, apparently I’m not alone. I could not find any answer anywhere that simply says, “In the document open on your phone Word app, just click the three dots (…) and “Save” (not Save As!) and “Save” again. Save in the identical file location of the existing file and click “Replace” when that popup message appears. Wait for it to save and update. It will convert your “read only” Compatibility Mode old version of Word file to the new version and make it editable and syncing across all open files on different devices. I can’t guarantee if more than one are actively typing in the shared document it will pick up all synced changes at the moment it saves over that file, but hopefully it will. After all, the document stayed open and unchanged on my laptop, other than losing the Compatibility Mode until I started editing the file on the phone – which updated the other file in real-time sync. I’m not talented enough to type in both the document on the computer simultaneously without pause while saving it on the phone to test it. That would take the help of another person to do one part while I do the other to test that fully.

Keep writing my friends.

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Aka Don’t Fall For The Open-Ended Questions Cloaked As Being Meant to Inspire Discussion, But Really Are Open-Leaders For Trolls, Scams, and Pushy Salespeople.

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

Is it just me, or has social media become more toxic, nasty, and predatory the past few years? I’ve backed off a lot on it because of this. That and the drive for these massive companies to maximize monetizing your online activity has increasingly pushed them to create algorithms that make them progressively less relevant to your wants and needs. At least it has for me.

It feels like this never ending course we seem to be trapped on where divisiveness, anger, hate, and extremes being publicly celebrated and gleefully politicized by politicians and news media is feeding that greedy toxicity monster infesting social media.

Where did all the puppies and kittens go? Every post now feels like a political minefield ready to go off.

Social media is the ultimate double-edged sword. But it’s more than that. The metaphor can especially be taken both ways with social media – of having the possibility of both favorable and unwanted unfavorable consequences, and that it can harm both its wielder and anyone else who gets too close.

(Sidetrack: Now I have to ask, why is it that in a hardcore close-in fight the person wielding the sword in entertainment media – movies, shows, books, etc. – so often does not get cut when they handle the blade which is shown to be so ridiculously sharp that the slightest touch to fabric or their opponent’s skin results in serious cuts, and yet a lesser touch slices their opponent?)

Social media is a cesspool of tainted necessity.

Social media – friend or foe?

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

As a writer, having a platform is essential. Publishers and agents look for it. And not just a platform you started last month and have three friends and a few posts because you feel awkward doing it.

Social media is your necessary evil.

You have to have a public face. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a website, blogging, etc. This public face ideally would be vibrant and established before that publisher or agent gets your query. While they are your target for getting published, the audience is your readers and potential readers.

Having a vibrant and established platform is also time intensive. Self-promotion is a full time job. It’s also more than just posting stuff for others to see. It is interacting with people and building a network of connections – friends, family, associates, associations, companies, fans, followers…

Your readers and potential readers following your public face want to know about you. They want to know about your writing too, but without feeling like they know who you are, that falls flat. They want to feel a connection to you, as a person.

This is where some authors go wrong. The airing of personal opinions can make your fans love you or hate you, all depending on what those opinions are. Remember the J. K. Rowling vs. LGBTQ+ debacle? Publicly airing her insensitivity lost her more than the LGBTQ+ community fans she offended. And then she made the second mistake. With every attempt at defending herself she only dug that hole deeper. Fans who loved to feel like they knew her saw a new side of her they didn’t know existed and they did not like that person.

Social media is also about networking. It’s not just about putting out posts for your readers and potential publishers and agents. You also need to schmooze others in the industry. You want to make connections and friendships with other writers, publishing professionals, readers, and anyone else who can help your writing career.

This means putting yourself out there and joining social media groups. Facebook has more than you can imagine, but not all are equal. Some have too little oversight, allowing the trolls to take over. Some get spammed with junk that has nothing to do with the group and does not belong on it.

These past few years I’ve never seen so many writers groups so spammed by bots pushing political agendas. So much that the moderators cannot keep up and sometimes give up trying. I’ve never left so many writing groups because of the politicized and hate spam posts that do not belong there and were not being moderated out. P.s. this is why I like the groups that pre-moderate posts, having to approve them before they show up.

Now here’s a caution: never ever publicly complain in the group about the posts or virtually voice your leaving because of them unless you want to be publicly tarred and feathered by the trolls. Nothing brings out their claws like someone complaining they are leaving a group. Just go. Quietly.

You join these groups and work to develop a sense of community with your fellow writers and publishing peeps. You make friends and contacts. You comment on and like others’ posts and post your own hoping for meaningful dialogue.

Sometimes that dialogue is meaningful and sometimes it’s attacked by the nasty trolls. I like to block those people who unreasonably attack or pick fights with others. They are not people I want to associate with. And if the group moderators do not bring the hammer down on the trolls in any attempt to control their assaults, then I will gladly seek out a more moderated and friendly group.

Often comments on questions fall in the range from helpful to offering questionable resources.

And then there are the open-ended questions mean to inspire discussion in writers’ groups….

Don’t fall for the open-ended questions meant to inspire discussion in writers’ groups.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

If you’ve been in any of the writers’ groups on social media, you’ve seen them.

While some of these questions are people legitimately looking to start a meaningful discussion, there are also others posting them with ulterior motives. There is an army of people lurking in social media groups seeking to sell their services, dropping these open leader questions and pouncing on the people who comment on them like the spam calls spoofing numbers ringing on your phone.

They are often also cut and pasted into multiple groups. If you see the identical question popping up in multiple groups, that for me is a big waving flashing red flag.

“Blah blah blah… share your book links. Go!”

“What inspires your writing?”

“How do you promote your books?”

The questions referencing promoting are, for me, the biggest red flags.

The list of examples is endless and I’ve fallen for a few, dumbly leaving my comment among the rest of the comments, to suddenly find myself with a new ‘friend’ (the author of the post) messaging me. Sometimes they are quicker to back off, others are more along the lines of the horror I once experienced sitting through a timeshare presentation for free tickets to the Tournament of Kings dinner show in Vegas.

You know the pushy sales tactic, where (they literally did at the timeshare presentation) tell you that you are a bad and neglectful parent and your kids will hate and resent you for life, and that you don’t deserve to have kids, if you don’t buy into their vacation timeshare. They just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, try to guilt you into it, and may even resort to veiled threats, ahem suggestions, that not buying their services will harm your chances of ever seeing happiness and will result in the loss of your marriage, kids, and everyone else in your life, forcing you to live a life unhappy and alone (or for writers, book sales).

In this case the kids are your published books, your love life is potential publishers, and the vacation timeshare is paying this person for their advertising and promotion services.

“So why don’t you want to sell any books?”

“Don’t you like your books?”

“Why don’t you like money?”

“Why don’t you want to make money selling your books?”

Falling for commenting on one of these posts a few times was enough for me. It turned me off participating in online discussions. I have an especial dislike for pushy people who will not take rejection, whether they ignored the “no soliciting” sign on my door, leaving me dealing with manically barking dogs with people in the house sleeping or trying to do Zoom calls, or they find the words “No thank you, I’m not interested.” incomprehensible. No means no, means no, means stop asking.

This is why I may be tempted on occasion, but now generally avoid commenting on any open-ended posts that trigger discussions. Too often they are fishing posts. I carefully think about what posts to comment on, be it groups or friends, and still sometimes find I made a mistake commenting on the wrong post. It’s not just those fishing posts, but in the growing toxic online world too many people have become quick to anger if they happen to have a different viewpoint.

This is also why I carefully consider which random stranger friend requests I accept, and which out of the blue stranger IM messages I respond to. Because it might be one of *those people*, the pushy ‘you hate money and your books if you don’t give me money because I promise to promote your books’ people, although more often they are of the widowed or divorced veteran with kids romance scam variety of friend or IM requests.

In fact, lurking instead of commenting leaves me with only the romance scammers reaching out to me.

Keep writing my friends and play safe out there.

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