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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 211

Updated on July 16, 2018

A Little About Me

Just a glimpse inside yours truly, one little fact you may not have known . . .

I don’t debate social issues, religious issues, or political issues.

Reason: I think it’s, at best, a lesson in futility, and my time is much too precious to waste trying to convince you, or anyone else, to change your opinion on any matter.

That doesn’t mean I don’t express my opinions. They are on display in many of my writings, for all the world to see, proudly draped in blood, sweat, tears, and my experience.

But I won’t debate with you, and I’m really not concerned whether you agree with me or not, so don’t waste your time trying to get me engaged in debate, and please don’t waste my time either.

I work for change within my community. That’s what I do. I work for change in my one-on-one relationships with friends, family, and strangers. I try to be the person, the husband, the neighbor, and the citizen, I would like to see all around the world.

But I won’t debate with you! Believe what you want to believe, on any topic. It’s fine with me. I am not evangelical. I am not threatened by your beliefs. In fact, I am perfectly secure in my little world, no matter what you believe. There is far too much division in this world of ours, and I won’t be an active part of that division.

And that is how I expect to be treated by others.

Welcome to the Mail Room! You are safe here, no matter what you believe. Just be respectful of others and we will get along just great.

Shall we get started?

Welcome to the Mail Room!
Welcome to the Mail Room! | Source

More Title Dilemmas

From Eric: “Really cool stuff on keywords which begs the question about series of articles like yours and mine. Should we really put the subject matter first and then the series title? Getting hits is really not my thing as we have a congregation of 100 or so.”

Eric, you already answered your question. Getting hits is not your thing, so who cares how you title any of your articles? Seriously, don’t pay any attention to the SEO nonsense and just write for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of your readers. That, really, is writing at its most basic level: there is a writer, there is a reader, and there is the written material.

And Google can go take a flying leap!

Wanna know a secret? I hate the SEO stuff. I make a living doing it, and I can play that game with the best SEO writers around, but I despise everything it stands for. At its core it is manipulation. It is Marketing 101. Send a subliminal message to the masses and lead them in the direction you choose.

I don’t do it with my creative writings and I submit to you that you will be happier if you don’t do it with your writings.

Google loves photos in articles
Google loves photos in articles | Source

Photos in Hubs

From Zulma: “I know you're really busy so I don't expect an answer straight away. Is it mandatory to have photos in your hubs? I have a story ready to post, but it doesn't contain photos. Do I have to? I notice you tend to use the same ones over and over again, so that's why I'm wondering?”

I’m never so busy, Zulma, that I can’t chat with a good friend for a few minutes, so let’s you and I chat about HP and SEO.

Is it mandatory to have photos in our Hubs? No, not at all, but if you want them to be featured by the HP staff yes, it is mandatory to have a minimum of three photos.

Now, having said that, and in defense of the HP staff, they did not pick that number at random. They are following Google and SEO guidelines. Google, the search engine, gives more value to articles with pictures, just as they give more value to articles with a good SEO title and good linking. It’s the SEO Game, and all writers must follow the rules of that game IF THEY WANT TO ATTRACT ONLINE READERS!

Yes, I tend to use basically the same photos over and over again. If those photos relate to the subject matter then everyone is happy. Since it takes me all of about one minute to add pics to my Hubs, I don’t mind doing it. That is my concession to this SEO game and to HP. A side note: on my blogs I only add pics if I think they add to what I am posting. I don’t play the SEO game at all on my blogs because, well, I just don’t care. I don’t have blogs because I want to make a lot of money. I have blogs because they give me a freedom to express my ideas without Big Brother watching over my shoulder editing what I write according to some made-up game of keywords and word count.

Writing a Series

From Francis: “I’m thinking of writing a fictional series of novels, perhaps five or six in the series. What one piece of advice can you give me before I begin?”

Francis, my one piece of advice can be said in one word: organize!

You can save yourself a ton of trouble by outlining your five or six novels in advance. Mind you, I was not smart enough to do that with my “Shadows” series, but it is what I recommend. Writing a series, with recurring characters, and with overlapping plots, is difficult. It is extremely hard to keep track of everything you have written before, in earlier novels, so having a “cheat board” of some sort, where you can go and refresh your memory, is a huge time-and-headache saver.

Do I wish I had done this with my “Shadows” series? Oh my God yes! But that cow has left the barn, so racing to close the barn doors now is a bit silly of me.

But you, Francis? Go close those doors now!

Organize ahead of starting your series
Organize ahead of starting your series | Source


From Lori: I just read the following announcement on createspace and have questions.

"CreateSpace no longer offers any paid professional services, such as editing, interior or cover design, or conversion to eBooks. If you’re an author who purchased services that are not complete, those services will be cancelled and you will receive a refund for the purchase price. Information regarding refunds will be sent to the email address associated with your CreateSpace account. If you’re an author with complete services, your files are available in your Project Services Toolbox. To access the toolbox, click on “Project Services Toolbox” in the upper right hand corner of your Project Homepage. If you have questions about your book, log into your CreateSpace account and click “Contact Support” under My Account to connect with Customer Service."

My question is how does someone who has an account like me but has not completed the writing process and not ready to print supposed to design their interior and cover design?

Also, is createspace taking new customers?........

Lori, if I understand this correctly, all CreateSpace is saying is they will no longer have a paid service where someone else will do the formatting and covers for you. You can still publish through CreateSpace; you just can’t hire one of their staff to do the “dirty” work for you.

You will either have to design your interior on your own, like I do, or have a friend or fellow writer do it for you. The same is true for cover design. There are a number of writers on HP who can help you with cover design. I have been helped repeatedly by one HP writer who does covers for others, and I’m sure you can find a similar help partner. I would give you his name but I don’t feel comfortable with doing that without his permission.

So Lori, it’s not the end of the world for you. J It simply means you will have to get help from your friends.

I have recommended one book, in particular, to others and I recommend it to you….”A Detailed Guide to Self Publishing on Amazon” by Chris McMullen I believe. That book has everything you need to wade through the formatting on CreateSpace.

And yes, CreateSpace is taking new customers.


“Imagine all the people, living life in peace.”

Thank you John Lennon! I’m not that loosely-wired. I wish the world could live in peace, but I’ve never seen it happen in my sixty-nine years and I really don’t think I’ll see it during the remainder of my lifetime. That doesn’t mean, though, that I get a free pass from trying to be an instrument of peace.

So no debating! No words of vitriol from me. No chastising will spew from my lips. I will not label you based on your beliefs. I will not belittle your stance on any issue.

And in return all I ask of you is the same . . . respect!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me, R-E-S-P-E-C-T . . . thank you Aretha, and my thanks to all of you for stopping by and sharing a moment with me.

I just noticed we passed the four year mark for this series a couple weeks ago. Four years of the Mailbag, and it’s all because of all of you. Thank you!!!!!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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