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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #218

Updated on August 27, 2018

Giving Back to the Community

People keep thanking me for this series. Thanks for the hard work, Bill. Thanks for keeping this series alive, Bill. Thanks for always being willing to help, Bill.

It ain’t necessary, folks, but thanks all the same.

The thing is, I’m just doing what I was raised to do, namely to help others in my community. To my parents, that kind of community responsibility was as natural as breathing, and they passed that on to their only son.

And HP, to me, is a community . . . it is my online community. HP can talk all they want about mergers and SEO and visibility; they can edit and mess around with ads and do all manner of annoying, invasive things with our articles; but the bottom line, for me, is this is my community, where I was welcomed many years ago, and where I am still welcomed today.

HP may be a corporation to some, but to me HP is all of you!

And community members help community members.

It’s just that simple to me. Support was given to me early on. Encouragement was freely given to me. I’m just paying it forward.

So let’s get to it!

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

Valid Criticism

From Anusha: “That's some great advice and wise acceptance. We do tend to fixate on negative reviews and comments. As conscious creative minds, may be over a period of time we tend to train our senses to ignore such negativity. But then there is an important question. We all do need genuine feedback. But how do we select valid criticism from other nonsensical, useless comments? This critic of our work might not always be constructive, but in my opinion we need to understand our audience. So how do you do it? How can all of us do it in general?”

Anusha, I am far from perfect in this matter. Amazingly I still have thin skin when it comes to constructive criticism, or criticism of any sort. I would venture to guess that is true for most people, let alone creative types. That’s just the nature of the beast called man.

But you are correct, a certain amount of constructive criticism is good for us, and understanding our audience helps in that regard. I have probably seventy-five HP friends who I have known for quite awhile now. I know whatever constructive criticism they give is meant to help, so my reaction to what they say is less explosive than, say, criticism from a couple guys I know, who shall remain nameless, who only seem to survive here on HP to criticize in a mean-spirited way. They speak and I immediately close off from their message, because their message is ALWAYS NEGATIVE in nature.

Another aspect of your question is this question: how do we know any constructive criticism we receive is helpful and should be followed? I had someone criticize my first Shadows novel, “Shadows Kill,” saying it was too violent and I should consider watering it down a bit.

No, I won’t! It was meant to be violent. The whole purpose was to demonstrate the constant struggle of good vs evil, and to do that Evil must be highlighted in all its gory glory.

Or random criticisms by the HP staff when they do an edit on our work . .. is that constructive criticism or meddling?

How do we know? Follow your gut and heart, and try to be honest with yourself. That’s the best I can do.

I’m rambling, and I’m not sure I answered your question, but those are my thoughts.

High Cost of Book Printing

From Venkatachari M: “Thanks for answering my question. Even though I got a picture of it all with your reply and that comment coming from @mckbirdbks, I wonder why it costs so much high and why can't they (Amazon) provide these prints from all countries and from any region on demand. It needs only the printer for them to install at all those places.”

I hate to seem cynical, Venkatachari M, but I suspect it all has to do with the laws of Supply and Demand. Amazon has picked a certain price point, and that price is what is presented to us as a printing fee. If no one paid it, the price would drop. That’s a basic truth of the marketplace. The fact that we are willing to pay printing fees is justification for keeping those fees at whatever level they are at.

I truly have no clue why they can’t provide those printing services from all countries or any region on demand. It seems like a simple matter to me, as well, so obviously I’m missing something. In fact, I just assumed printing services were available to all countries, so your question caught me by surprise.

Average price per printing:  Between $4-$6 per book.  I'm willing to pay that, but is it a fair price?
Average price per printing: Between $4-$6 per book. I'm willing to pay that, but is it a fair price? | Source

The Weekly Mailbag

From Jo: “There is something very comforting about seeing your mailbags every week. So predictable--like the sun coming up every morning. Have you ever missed a week?”

Well, Jo, I’m very happy to hear that. Comparing anything I do to the sun coming up is reason to celebrate.

No, I have never missed a week in over four years now, and I have no intention of doing so. If a week should arrive and there is no Mailbag, you can assume there is a major problem in my life. That’s how predictable and reliable I am.

Renewed Interest in Blogging

From Rodric: “I let all of my blogs fall to ruin because I don't invest my best effort there. I do so here. How do I get my blogs going again? I am afraid that no one will see what I write if I put them there. I have no followers because I have been lazy.”

Well shoot, Rodric, it seems to me you just answered your own question: stop being lazy! LOL

No, seriously, you actually are asking a pretty valid question, and you have stumbled upon a pretty common mistake with blog writers, namely allowing the blog to die a slow death due to neglect.

One of the first things I learned when I began blogging is that posting on a particular day at a particular time is beneficial; posting randomly is not beneficial. It’s sort of like this Mailbag. People expect this Mailbag to be posted Monday morning at about the same time each week. Your blog should be the same situation. Choose a time and a day and stick with it. Stamp it into the minds of your followers that Rodric’s blog is due out Tuesday at noon, or Friday at eight, and then make darned sure it appears at that time on that day.

The other aspect of this question/dilemma is to re-grow your audience, and that takes some online marketing work on your part. In truth I didn’t even know you had a blog. That’s not on me; that’s on you. I follow other bloggers weekly, but I only follow bloggers who reciprocate and follow me, and who do a sufficient job of marketing so I’m aware of their blog. That’s the blogging world in a nutshell. Give your audience something interesting to read, show them that you are interested in what they have to say, and your audience will slowly grow.

Or it will die on the vine quicker than ignored and neglected grapes.

Your blog should be as reliable as the sunset. If not you will lose readership.
Your blog should be as reliable as the sunset. If not you will lose readership. | Source

So What Do You Think?

Feel free to add to these conversations. I readily admit I don’t know everything about everything in the writing world, but combine all of our knowledge about writing and I’m confident we know quite a bit.

Thanks, once again, for being my online family. You mean a great deal to me, and I hope you all know that.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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