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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Twenty-Six

Updated on November 28, 2016

Is It Time for a Pep Rally?

Well I just happen to be a pretty good cheerleader, so let’s get started with our rally.

I’ve said this before, but I think we all need to hear it from time to time.

The world needs us writers!

Imagine, for a moment, a world without books. Imagine a world without poetry.

In a word, that world would be BLEAK!

We writers bring beauty into the world, and during my lifetime, which now spans sixty-eight years, I can safely state that this world, today’s world, desperately needs what we provide.

So don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t stop one page before the miracle happens.

The world needs us!

And now, the Mail!

The Mail Room
The Mail Room | Source


From Sally: “Very interesting one this week Billy. I keep on looking at CreateSpace and wonder if it is really the place for my writing. I think the thing that is holding me back is the idea that I have in my head that perhaps I won't be able to use enough images to explain what it is that I want people to understand. For most people who are writing a novel, this would not be an issue but I do wonder if it is the place to write a craft book on. What say you? Happy Monday Billy.”

Sally, I totally understand your concern and reluctance. Let’s take a look at what CreateSpace suggests:

“Your cover and any images you use inside your book need to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch) to ensure they look good once they’re printed in black and white. As a comparison, screen resolution images are only 72dpi on average. And if you’re printing those images in color, this is even more critical. Okay, if the look you’re going for is blurry and/or pixelated, then that’s a conscious decision – just remember there are ways to achieve this and still have a high-res image.”

For me, Sally, and this is just me speaking, I’ve never downloaded a single picture on CreateSpace, other than the covers, of course, so I can’t speak from personal experience. I do know authors who have done it, though, and they had no trouble doing so. That’s all I can tell you.


From Hugo: “I read somewhere recently that we shouldn’t use stop words in the titles of our articles. Would you please address this issue and clarify what stop words are?”

How much time do you have, Hugo?

I should probably just write an article about stop words. I need more space than the Mailbag allows to tackle this question.

Quickly, stop words are words that the computer gods do not recognize during searches and, in many cases, can confuse those same gods. They are oftentimes the most common words, like “the” or “is” or “they.” They are automatically filtered out by Google because they are considered confusing or unnecessary, and it is suggested that you do not use them in your titles. If you go online and type in “list of stop words,” Google will be more than happy to supply you with those words, and if you are concerned at all with search engines and SEO, you need to pay very close attention to stop words in the future. They really do affect the value of your article.

My thoughts on co-authoring
My thoughts on co-authoring | Source


From John: “Bill your comment about not being a James Patterson fan gave me an idea for a question. He, and it seems an increasing number of writers seem to co-author books e.g. James Patterson and Andrew Gross, Steven King and Peter Straub etc. Do you think both authors actually collaborate on the writing of these books, or does the lessor known author write the story and just have the more famous author add his name to increase sales? I can't imagine how Patterson for instance can publish books so frequently, maybe he employs others to write books in his name as well. I have read a few and they don't always seem like they have been written by the same person.”

Great question, John, and this just happens to be something I was talking to my wife about recently.

As many of you know, James Patterson has actually sold more books than any other writer since 2001, so whatever he’s doing, he’s doing successfully. I did some research and found one of Patterson’s co-authors talking about the process. Here’s what Jonathan Mahler has to say about working with James Patterson:

"The way it usually works, Patterson will write a detailed outline--sometimes as long as 50 pages, triple-spaced--and one of his co-authors will draft the chapters for him to read, revise and, when necessary, rewrite. When he’s first starting to work with a new collaborator, a book will typically require numerous drafts. Over time, the process invariably becomes more efficient. Patterson pays his co-authors out of his own pocket. On the adult side, his collaborators work directly and exclusively with Patterson. On the Y.A. side, they sometimes work with Patterson’s young-adult editor, who decides when pages are ready to be passed along to Patterson."

So there you go, John! You didn’t ask me what I think of this “writing factory” Patterson has created, so I’ll keep my opinion of this b.s. to myself. Oops, I think I just gave you a hint of what I think of it.

Virtual Assistants

From Mary: “I have a question for an upcoming mailbag. What are your thoughts on virtual assistants? You've always said that a writer has to wear many hats if they go the self publish route, marketing being one which is necessary. To expand the marketing reach what would you see as a point at which one would hire in extra help, if ever.”

For those of you who don’t know, here’s a definition of a virtual assistant:

“ A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients--usually to other independent entrepreneurs and solo and small business practices, such as that of a lawyer or realtor. Virtual assistants work from their own office (hence "virtual"), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession. It is estimated that there are about 5,000-8,000 virtual assistants worldwide. Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and fax machine. Although the occupation gives a degree of independence, work is on a contractual basis, and a long-lasting cooperation is standard. Typically 5 years of administrative experience in an office is expected at such positions as executive assistant, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, office manager, etc.”

As for what I think of them, I think they are great if you have the money in your budget to hire one. I don’t! I did use family members as virtual assistants for my very first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” but I couldn’t talk them into it for the next nine books, so I’m on my own. That’s all a long-winded way of saying if you can afford one, I really don’t see a downside to doing so, as long as parameters are set and communication is good between you, the writer, and the virtual assistant.


From Rasma: “Taking a giant step backwards in order to catch up and glad I caught this mailbag. It made me fondly smile knowing that at least for now the greatest and best challenge I can get through is the April poetry challenge that comes every year. In regards to writing and to poetry as well do the topics have to be seasonal or is it perfectly alright to write about the summer during the winter and vice versa? I am not referring to novels just to stories and of course to verse.”

Rasma, in almost three years of the Mailbag, this question has never come up, so congrats. In fact, this week we have several questions we’ve never seen before, so very cool!

The only time, in my opinion, that it is important when you post a seasonal piece of writing, is when you are writing an informational article about a particular season. For example, if I’m writing a Christmas recipe, and I want it to gain maximum online exposure, the best time to post it online is about six months in advance. It takes about five or six months for an article to gain traction online; thus the six month suggestion.

If you are simply doing creative writing or poetry, my first reaction is probably the same reaction I’ll have next week or next month or in ten years: there is no deadline for great writing! A great poem about Christmas will be a great poem whether it is published in June or December. Just my opinion, of course, but I happen to think I’m right on this. I have nothing to back up my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.

Write seasonal articles in advance of the season
Write seasonal articles in advance of the season | Source

Google and Comments

From Mel: “Here's a possible question for your mailbag: Doesn't Google weigh posts with comments a little higher? If that's true, then commenting and receiving reciprocal comments is just good business. Great stuff.”

Great question, Mel, and I gotta tell ya, the answers I’ve read are all over the board about commenting and the value of commenting. The general consensus is that commenting does not, per se, help you with Google. Google tends to ignore comments in the whole SEO world. However, on blogs that ask for your name and your website before you comment, that website link is invaluable for you as it does increase your website’s value in the eyes of the Google gods.

But then I’ve read a couple articles that say there is no value whatsoever in comments other than giving the writer more visibility, and getting his/her name out there among other writers.

I’m hoping someone will give us more thoughts on this in the comment section.


Was that a great Mailbag or what? You learned about stop words and seasonal posting, and James Patterson was revealed, all crammed into 1,500 words and the cost was nothing.

How cool is that?

If you’re looking for more cool, join us next week for another installment of The Writer’s Mailbag. In the meantime, if you have a question for the Mailbag, either include it in the comments below, or email it to me at

Thanks to all, and if you are interested in my new thriller/mystery, “Shadows Over A Hangman’s Noose,” it will be released on Kindle and Amazon next week.

Do you have something you would like to share with my readers? I’m into guest-blogging, so hook up with me if you’d like to guest-blog here.

Thanks a bunch!

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Those are very kind words, Aesta, and I thank you for them. That was the whole purpose of this Mailbag, so you made me happy with that comment.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Billybuc. I have to admit I am learning more from this mailbag than the Forum. This is my Go-to when I have time to visit HP.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lawrence, that's something most writers don't understand. It takes a good six months for an article to get established on Google, so everyone, be patient! Write, publish, and repeat. That should be our motto as writers.

      Blessings to you this holiday season.


    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Wow! So much here to think about! Reading the stuff about 'co-authors' was interesting, and left me with more questions than answers! I can see the advantage, getting your name 'in print' and potentially a big paycheck (I noticed nothing was said on if it was a flat fee or 'per book' sold) but it left me wondering about creativity and how much the 'Little guy' has in the process?

      By the way thanks for telling me I'm 'going it right' with my articles on Niume!

      I'm writing about growing g summer veggies there, so in about six months they might get more traction!

      Blessings and Merry Christmas


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Sha! I didn't know about them until about a month ago. One of my clients pointed me to them. I felt like a fool having a client mention them. LOL

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      Very interesting mailbag this week, Bill. I learned something new. I didn't know about stopwords. I Googled it, as you suggested and bookmarked the list. Thanks!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I hope so too, Rajan, but I'm grateful for today's visit. Thank you sir!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting questions and it is a very educative read. I have been missing these useful mailbags. I hope I'm able to squeeze out some time from my other preoccupations to be here more often. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thanks Catherine! I'll see if I can find the time to write that hub.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks for the info on stop words. I will have to check that out. I encourage you to write a hub on the topic.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And I appreciate yours, Flourish. Thanks for weighing in on the comment question, and thanks for always being here.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      Congratulations on the upcoming book publication! As far as the comment regarding if Google weighs comments, Google may not count them directly but I think they have a whole lot of impact on initial views, perhaps shares, and maybe even time on page if the comments are really good.

      It's so frustrating to follow someone and make comments on their hubs and never have this returned. One-sided relationships don't feel good and usually don't end up as successful. And hey ... I appreciate your loyalty by the way!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, I'm sure there are those out there who idolize Patterson and think he can do no wrong, but to me this is just a cheap marketing plan and in no way makes him a better writer. A strong opinion for sure but buddy, I just don't get his approach and never will. :)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Once more I thank you for this wonderful series. I really don't know much about this whole successful writing stuff, I say to myself. But then I just think about it and I have followed this since the beginning, so in fact I must know quite a bit. That part on Patterson really got me thinking. It seems to me that Patterson thinks he has perfected his craft so well that actually sitting down and writing would not help him get better at it. It seems like that would be blasphemy toward our writing God's. Could it be possible to reach a point that by doing the writing we can not get better. Is writing different than the rest of the world and really something we can perfect?

      You know me Bill I am great at asking the questions of life, but just piss poor at answering them.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Brian. I'm glad someone asked about stop words because I wouldn't have thought to write about them.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Chris, I don't think it's criticism. I think it's a statement of reality. I noticed that about Cussler about five years ago and stopped reading him.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I'm not sure it will do any good to alter titles. If the URL doesn't change when you do so then don't bother. It's the URL that does the damage.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, good to hear from you again. Stop words are not new but there are a ton of writers who have never heard of them, so you aren't alone.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks so much, Shyron! I just believe in respect to all...until they prove they aren't worthy of it. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kailey, your mother probably wouldn't believe you about Patterson. I've found his followers to be rabid in their loyalty.

      Thanks young lady. It's always good to see you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Alicia, and I thank you for always being here.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, Audrey! As long as the Mailbag stays relevant, I'll keep posting it.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Letstalk, that is a perfect holiday wish. O'Reilly? A children's book? My head is spinning. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, John, and it was my pleasure.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kristen! Actually, early on, I think Patterson was a good writer. He did much with a brevity of words, and I was impressed ten years ago. Not so now. :) I would imagine his Master Class is a good one. The man has knowledge and game, even though he's living, in my opinion, off his reputation as of late.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure, Steele, PS. Another good example. Thanks for mentioning that writer. I hope, and pray, that life is easier for you and your family. Keep up the good fight, always armed with love.


    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      2 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Lots of good questions and answers, as usual, Bill. I'm glad to find out about stop words.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      2 years ago from Lowell, MA through the end of May, 2019.

      Hi Bill, I've seen Patterson advertising a writing contest which features as the top prize, cowriting a novel with JP. Another author I have actually enjoyed in the past is Clive Cussler, but I finally got to the place where the stories were nearly indistinguishable. That's bold criticism from someone who has only had a few short stories published. Thanks for another interesting MB.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 years ago from Brazil

      Thanks for answering my question about virtual assistants. I look forward to the time I can hire one.

      I found the question about stop words interesting, I'll need to alter some of my titles here on HP.

      Congratulations on the upcoming release of your book, what is next in the pipeline, a vacation?

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      2 years ago from Tennessee

      I'm definitely still in the learning phase about online writing, so your information about stop words was a new bit of information for me this morning. Always good to begin my day by learning something new. I also learned that I'm glad I've never read a James Patterson novel.

      Keep up the good work, Bill.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Bill, you are a diplomat and you give us such good advice. I look forward to reading on Mondays. Thank you for the help.

      Blessings an hugs my friend

    • social thoughts profile image

      social thoughts 

      2 years ago from New Jersey


      Well, that is disappointing news on James Patterson. I don't read his stuff, personally. My mom and a few others do, though. Perhaps, I shouldn't tell them. ;)

      I had never heard of the term "virtual assistant," but that describes at least two of my past positions. Go figure!

      We're always learning new things from you. Thank you.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very educational article, Bill. It's great that new topics have been brought up in the questions.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      2 years ago from California

      I have wondered what stop words were--a great mail bag!

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 years ago from Bend, OR

      Now James Patterson and Bill O'Reilly have teamed up on a children's book about manners. Ugh! There are so many talented writers and illustrators out there who would die to get a children's book published. I hate that we support these celebrity authors. Hopefully, during this holiday season, people will choose books thoughtfully and go for talent, not star value.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for researching and answering my question Bill. That was very interesting and revealing. All,other questions and answers were great too.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Bill, great mailbag as always. I've heard about Patterson's outlining about a decade ago or so from someone. What do you think about his Masterclass writing program? Just curious. I hope to send you my question to you real soon. And Congrats on your book!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...thanks, Bill. I just think authors like James Patterson are cheating the reading public and it is, at best, shoddy marketing. But what do I really know?

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Interesting answers...I won't weigh in with my opinion on Patterson and others as we all know what 'they' say about opinions, don't we? I kind of feel the same way about him that I do about Steele...oops.

      Anyway, got lots of info I did not know and that is one reason I keep coming back.

      Take care and know those precious Angels are once again Washington bound. ps

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sally, you are never late to the Mail Room! :) Thanks for being here.

      Sorry I couldn't give you more on your question. I do know it costs more with photo, and colors especially. Maybe go the Kickstarter route and self-publish using one of the independent publishers out there...Kickstarter can be quite an effective way to pay for the printing of books.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We all need you to get back to writing, Ann! Hurry please!

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      A man of many talents - now you're a cheerleader. Great! And more great questions and answers, which I've come to expect on Monday. Oh, and I like your thoughts on co-authoring. What a lovely toilet! Have a great week, Bill.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Billy,

      Sorry so late, been awfully busy today. Enjoying the nice weather we had today:) and creating another Tutorial.

      Thanks for having a go at my question. It does not quite solve my issue but I am working on it. I found a couple of forum topics on CreateSpace which seem to suggest that the number of pictures is unlimited and that you have to use either black and white images or colour, not a mixture of one or the other! It would be nice if there were templates that made it easy to just drop the resized images into but it clearly is a learning curve which I am going to have to make an effort to come to terms with. Thank you for making a valiant attempt to clear up the issue for me. It is appreciated.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      I hope so, bill. I need to get back to writing a lot more but needs must. Having said that I haven't stopped, just permanently in first gear for the moment!


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear that, Larry! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I'm hoping for a brilliant week for you, as well, and hoping that light guides you in the right direction. Find it soon and come out the other end, my friend.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know, Mike, right? Maybe you and I will be smash hits after our deaths. LOL

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All true points, Buildreps. Content writers are still advised not to use them, to avoid them at all costs. I think it's much to do about nothing, quite frankly.

      Thanks my friend!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      True for me a well, Pop! Makes like much simpler, doesn't it? :) Thanks my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No, Eldon, Shadows is a book completely separate from HP activity.

      As always, thanks for being here.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Always helpful:-)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Congratulations on releasing your new novel, bill! I have no doubt it's a goodie and I'm looking forward to reading it - when is a different matter! I shall be so glad when this house is finished and my life can cover other things! The light is shining brightly at the end of the tunnel.

      I didn't know about stop words so thanks for that. Lots of interesting things here. The mailbag is always interesting of course but some weeks have subjects more relevant to me; I'm sure that happens to all of us.

      The mailbag thrives as much as ever which is definitely a good thing for all of us.

      Have a brilliant week, bill!

      Ann :)

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Well, I never heard of a top word in relation to writing, but I heard stop plenty of other times.

      As for Createspace and color photos, I always found the price of the book too high for the public to bear. So, no color pictures in the interior.

      We had it through a big holiday.

      The questions where tougher this week, yet you found answers.

      I sure hope you are right about writing for the next generation.

    • Buildreps profile image


      2 years ago from Europe

      Billybuc the cheerleader. That's a good one. The issue about stop words is so old. News papers don't seem to use them as well to make the headlines more efficient. But not using them makes some titles hard to comprehend. Nevertheless, it's maybe a good idea to review some titles. Have a great week, Bill!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      2 years ago

      I thing I know I am happy about is that I don't ever concern myself with Google or for that matter HP. I write and I am content.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 

      2 years ago from Cooley, Texas

      Are parts of 'Shadows Over A Hangman's Noose' published on Hubpages? Did I miss? Thanks for being a constant on my line, season's greetings and goodbyes,


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great tips, Denise, and I thank you for them. It's always good to hear from people who know what they are talking about.

      Blessings to you, my friend.


    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It really does, Dora. I don't know how I feel about it either, but I guess my opinion on that matter isn't important. My only real concern is that many people who buy Patterson's books think he is writing them, and I feel that's a bit of a lie.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Ruby. Of course, if you aren't concerned about view and SEO, use "the" all you want. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It was a nice Thanksgiving, Melissa, and I'm glad it's over. LOL I hope yours was nice as well, and thank you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Venkatachari M, true, "the" in this title really shouldn't be there. The only reason it is is because I don't do these mailbags to please the SEO gods. :) Good catch, my friend, and thank you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Hi Bill,

      Looks like a great mailbag today. Seems that Heidi Thorne already had a word or two to say about CreateSpace but I'll throw in my two cents. I use it for craft books, both black and white and full interior color. The color photos make the book cost more but sometimes it really is needed and you just pay the price. However I do sell the black and white craft books more often than the color. I guess people are cheap. You already stated that resolution is important and that's true. I save my documents in PDF so that the photos done move from where I want them placed in the text.

      Have a great week.



    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Yes, this was a great mailbag and I learned much. Patterson has made that co-authoring setup successful so cheers to him! Don't know about the co-authors who don't care about expressing their own souls. Takes all sorts to make a writing world.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I learned to not use stop words in a title. I was unaware of that, so thank you again for helping us be better writers...

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      Happy Monday Bill! Great mailbag to start off my week, as usual. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      One more great mailbag with interesting questions and intelligent answers. I never came across James Patterson. But, heard about joint authors and VAs. Stop words also I never heard about their being ignored by Google. So, "The" in your above title of The writer mailbag instalment is not recognised by Google. I used to use it in many of my titles. Thanks for sharing about this fact and that regarding comments also.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, once again my work is done. Your comments are always as valuable as the article. LOL Sometimes I wonder why I waste my time when you'll do a better job than me with your comment. Thanks my friend and Happy Monday to you.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, thank you! Good luck with that 200 + article review. Stop words are most important on titles and article summaries....just so you know. :)

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad you found it helpful, Vellur. Thanks so much for being here once again.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasma, I'm glad you found my answer satisfactory. As for stop words, they are something all writers should be aware of. A little more research about them would be good for all of us.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Happy Cyber/Mailbag Monday!

      Re: Createspace and Crafts. Yes, pictures definitely have to be high resolution to print correctly on CS, either in B&W or color. I've had some issues even with B&W tables and very basic graphics in my CS books. They actually looked okay when printed, but could have been better. I think craft authors need to decide where their key audience is. Are they looking for this material on the likes of Amazon? Or would some other craft sales site be better? It's more of a marketing question and not a printing/technical question.

      Re: Stop Already. Putting target keywords at the beginning of an article's title and URL. It may create some awkward titles, but it can be done. I do it all the time. If search visibility is of primary concern, then go for what works for the robots. Also realize that Google and friends are getting better and better at "reading" content. So this may not be a concern as search capabilities advance.

      Re: Virtual Assistants. A VA can be a tremendous help for many businesses. I know a few who are amazing. But to save bucks, you really need to clarify exactly what you want this person to do for you. This takes a great deal of self assessment on your part. As well, you need to be able to clearly communicate that to this person to avoid disappointment.

      Re: Seasonal Writing. It doesn't matter when you write it. It's when you promote it that matters.

      Re: Google and Comments. Honestly, other than the happy chatter of comments that we have here in our HP community, I don't care if people comment on my blogs. In fact, on my self-hosted blog, I eventually turned off comments due to the deluge of "spammenters" who were either doing nefarious things or just looking for backlinks to their sites. Best comment I can receive? That someone shared my work with their network via social media, etc.

      Have a great post-holiday week!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Stop words. I probably have a ton of them--will look through my 200+ food hubs and see which ones I can (and should) tweak. Thanks for explaining that.

      This was a really interesting mailbag. And to think that I was concerned that people would be so busy stuffing (themselves or a turkey) to write this past week.

      Thanks again and have a great week. Stay dry.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      Now I know what stop words are and how it affects an article. Another great Writer's Mailbag installment, thank you for sharing.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Happy Monday! Thank you for the response to my question. Now I won't worry about making people feel better by posting poems about flowers and such in the wintertime. I am also glad for your response on stop words. I have sometimes been warned before publishing that my title includes a stop word but never really knew what it meant. I'll take a look at that Google list. Hope your week is inspirational.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Not many writers know about them, Nell, so don't beat yourself up over it. :) Now that you know you are ready to go!!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      Wow who knew? James Patterson! as for Stop words, I have been doing this for years and never heard of them before! now I will do all I can to avoid them, thanks! Another great dollop of genius tips and self help! lol!

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree, Manatita, kudos to his smarts. It's not for me, and I won't read his work, but he's successful doing it.

      Welcome back, my friend.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Duane! I am glad you stopped by for coffee this morning.

    • billybuc profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Janine! I appreciate you so much, dear friend.

    • manatita44 profile image


      2 years ago from london

      Great questions Bill, and great answers. This Patterson guy seems to have created a successful formula.

      I like the authetic guys: Mark Twain 's Samuel Clemens, Ray Bradbury, Rushdie and King but hey, kudos to his 'smarts.' Germany again Bro. Back today p.m. Continue ... continue.

    • Duane Townsend profile image

      Duane Townsend 

      2 years ago from Detroit

      Illuminating as always Billy.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      2 years ago from New York, New York

      Love how you are cheerleading here always and definitely a great way to start a Monday morning and new week off, as well. Thank you, Bill for all your wonderful advice always. Happy Monday now!! :)


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