Remain Tee-shirt

My First Teespring Publishing Project!

As you may know, Teespring is a website that lets you design and publish tee-shirts and other garments and make money if they sell.

It’s a site I’ve known about for a while, but never got around to exploring. But after the result of the recent Brexit referendum here in the UK, I saw a golden opportunity to try it out for myself.

As you doubtless know, the outcome of the Referendum was a narrow (52 to 48 percent) vote for Britain to leave the EU. A lot of people who voted for Remain (which includes me) were shocked and disappointed by this, all the more so when some of the consequences of this decision started to become apparent.

So I decided to try my hand at designing a tee-shirt on Teespring aimed at disappointed Remain voters. You can see the result above and click through here to visit the Teespring sales page. The campaign will run for seven days from today, and I am promoting it in various ways (including some paid Facebook advertising).

I am doing this as an experiment as much as anything, and will report back in due course on the results I obtain. I must say that I was impressed by how easy it was to design my shirt on Teespring and set up a campaign for it, but of course the real test will be whether anyone wants to buy it!

  • Have you tried making money as a Teespring publisher? I’d love to hear how you got on! Please post any comments or questions below.
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World’s Richest Short Story Award Now Open for Entries!

Here’s a writing competition with a prize worth winning!

The Sunday Times Short Story Award 2017, with a £30,000 first prize, is now open for entries.

The contest is open world-wide, though you do have to have had work published professionally in the UK or Ireland. More information from the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio website is copied below…

Writers from around the world are invited to enter the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The winner will receive £30,000 (approx US$40,000), making this the most valuable prize in the world for a single short story.

The prize is for stories up to 6000 words in length and there is no entry fee. Stories can be either unpublished or published. If published, the work must have first appeared after 31 December 2015.

Writers can enter regardless of their nationality or residency but they must have an existing record of publication in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Source: The Sunday Times Short Story Award 2017: Entries Now Open for the World’s Richest Short Story Prize

Full terms and conditions for the prize can be found on this page (PDF) and you can access the entry form via the Short Story Award website

The winning story from last year’s contest by UK author Jonathan Tel, along with the other five works shortlisted for the 2016 prize, can be read in this low-priced Kindle e-book. The closing date for entering this year’s contest is 29 September 2016.

Good luck if you enter this contest. Even being longlisted would be a considerable feather in any writer’s cap. And if you win the top prize, remember who told you about it!

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readers favorite

Get Your Book or Ebook Reviewed for Free at Readers Favorite

All self-publishing authors know that getting reviews for their books or e-books is an essential requirement for getting sales.

So I thought today I’d bring to your attention a website that promises to review your book free of charge through a network of volunteer readers.

The website is called Readers’ Favorite. It’s been around for a while, and is used by top authors and publishing houses as well as self publishers. It’s a site that any entrepreneurial author should definitely check out.

And yes, they do genuinely offer to review your book for free. The way it works is that once you have registered your book or ebook, it goes on a list that is circulated to their volunteer reviewers. If one of these people likes the sound of your book they can claim it, and promise to provide a genuine review once they have read it.

Obviously, this does mean that there is an element of chance about how quickly your book gets reviewed, although you can improve its prospects by creating a compelling description. If you want to guarantee a quick review, however, you can also pay for a guaranteed “express review” in two weeks or less. They review both print books and ebooks, and even audio books.

Readers’ Favorite posts reviews on their own site, Barnes and Noble, Google Books, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. You can also post their reviews on your Amazon page.

In addition, they say that their reviewers will often post reviews of your book on their own websites and blogs, and on popular review and social media sites.

You might wonder what if the reviewer gives your book a bad review? Readers’ Favorite say they only post 4 and 5 star reviews. If a book receives a poor review, they provide constructive criticism direct to the author instead. As they say, they are in the business of helping authors, not hurting them.

There are certain other advantages to submitting your work to Readers’ Favorite. For example, if their reviewer gives your book a five-star rating, they allow you to use the Readers’ Favorite Five Star Review Seal on any of your marketing materials (website, book cover, etc.).

Readers’ Favorite also run their own Book Award Contest, which is quite heavily promoted on the site. There are substantial cash prizes for the winners, but of course you do have to pay a fee to enter.

The Awards are run separately from the reviews service, and you don’t have to submit your book for review to enter it for an award (or vice versa).

There is quite a bit more to the site than I have been able to mention here, so I strongly recommend visiting Readers’ Favorite and spending a little time exploring it. There is nothing to lose, and potentially a lot to gain, by submitting your book for a free review at least.

Lastly, I should also mention that they are always on the lookout for more volunteer reviewers – so if you fancy getting your hands on some extra reading matter, it’s worth checking out the site as well!

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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3 Minute Journals Review

3 Minute Journals is the latest writing product to be launched by the prolific Amy Harrop, in association with her regular collaborator Debbie Drum.

Amy is a successful author, and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

3 Minute Journals is a software tool and training course for creating print journals for publication on CreateSpace and other print-on-demand services. For those (like me) whom this trend has largely passed by, journals are print books where most of the content is supplied by the purchaser. They take a variety of forms, including diet journals, prayer journals, dream journals, and of course writer’s journals!

Journals and other types of interactive print books are very popular right now, and this product is designed to help you publish your own. Essentially, all you have to do to create one is add some artwork and page borders and perhaps a few inspirational quotations. Once your journal is published it can be a source of ongoing royalty income, potentially for many years to come.

Like many of Amy’s products, 3 Minute Journals is accessed via a password-protected WordPress site (so don’t lose your log-in details). This has the advantage that that you can access it from any computer with an internet connection, and it can also be easily updated and expanded.

The members area is divided into six main sections, each of which contains training videos, PDF guides, and so on. You can also download the 3 Minute Journals software from the “Creating Your Journal” page. The full list of sections is as follows:

  1. Welcome
  2. Why Journals
  3. Creating Your Journal
  4. Formatting Your Journal
  5. Publishing Your Journal
  6. Getting Exposure for Your Journal

As you will gather, the training takes you from a discussion of journals and why they are an attractive outlet for self-publishers, through creating your own (using the 3 Minute Journals software in conjunction with Word or similar), to publishing via Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and then to publicizing and promoting your journal/s. The training is largely video-based, although there is some written content and there are also PDFs you can download.

The 3 Minute Journals software runs on Java, and it is important that you have the latest version installed on your computer. It turned out that I didn’t, so the software didn’t initially work for me. Once I had updated my version, however – which is straightforward enough – everything worked without a hitch.

One other thing to note is that the software doesn’t actually install to your PC. You simply double-click to run it. This makes it straightforward to use and (I believe) reduces the system demand on your computer. You do need to save it somewhere sensible on your PC, though. The desktop would be a good choice for many people.

The software is essentially a structuring tool for your journals. It lets you decide how many pages your journal will have, the page size, chapter headings, number of pages per chapter, number of ’empty’ pages, and so on. You could do all this in Microsoft Word, of course, but the software makes it quick and easy to create a basic journal structure, which you can then export to Word to add images, page borders, and any other bells and whistles. Here is a screen capture of the software with a sample project in progress.

3MJsoftware

The training covers pretty much everything you need to know to use the software and publish your journal on CreateSpace. One thing I did notice, though, is that some of the resources refer to other types of product than journals, including ordinary books. I assume these have been borrowed from other training courses that Amy and Debbie have created. It’s not really a problem, although ideally it would be nice if all the resources were solely about journal creation and created specifically for this product. On the other hand, if you plan to publish other types of print book as well, I guess you would find this useful.

Overall, I thought 3 Minute Journals was a high-quality guide to creating and publishing a type of print book that has good long-term selling potential. Inevitably there will be a learning curve, especially if you have never published on CreateSpace before. Once you are up to speed, however, there is no reason you couldn’t publish a range of journals very quickly. It is definitely an opportunity any entrepreneurial writer should consider.

Finally, I should note that 3 Minute Journals is on sale at a launch offer price of $27 until 24 June 2016, after which the cost will almost double.

As always, if you have any comments or queries about 3 Minute Journals, please do post them below.

 

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Outline Master by Lina Trivedi

Review of Outline Master by Lina Trivedi

Outline Master is a software product for writers from Lina Trivedi. It aims to provide a simple tool for creating outlines for non-fiction books or articles. These outlines can then be used as a framework for constructing articles, books or websites.

The first thing I should say is that Outline Master is an online product rather than downloadable. Once you are logged in to the members area, you start by entering four pieces of information regarding the topic you want to prepare an outline for. I’ve copied this below…

I did find some of the item descriptions a little confusing. In particular, I think the second one should read ‘as a noun’ rather than ‘in present tense’. And if we’re being picky, ‘complimentary’ in the third item should presumably be ‘complementary’.

Once you’ve filled in the form, click to continue and the software will go ahead and generate an initial outline for you. Here’s one it created for me on the subject of blogging…

I was reasonably impressed with this. Obviously it would need a bit of re-jigging, but there are some quite good ideas for structuring your content. Any items you don’t want you can deselect by clicking to remove the tick in the box to the left. You can also add your own topics by clicking on a link lower down (not shown in the screengrab).

Click to continue again and a new page will open showing your revised outline, incorporating any additions and/or deletions. You can re-order any item by dragging your mouse on the small up/down arrow to the left of the item concerned.

Click to continue again and a new page will open showing your finished outline.

You can choose a name with which to save the file in the universal RTF format. You can then download and edit it in Microsoft Word or Open Office.

Here is a video produced by Lina which walks you through the entire process…

 

And that’s Outline Master in a nutshell. It’s a simple program, but it does a useful job. Of course, the outlines it produces will all follow a similar pattern, but it’s still a good basis to start from. It might be nice if you could add subheadings as well, but that would reduce the simplicity which is part of the software’s attraction. And you can always add subheadings once you have imported the outline to Word, of course.

In addition to Outline Master itself, you get a couple of bonus items. One is a basic guide to Kindle publishing, which will get you up to speed with publishing e-books on the Kindle platform. And the other is a guide to outsourcing content creation. Lina says she has used the process set out in this to outsource more than 500,000 words of content herself.

Finally, I should mention that there are a couple of ‘one-time-offers’ you will see when purchasing Outline Master. The first is for some software you can use to expand your outline into a full-length article or book. And the other is for formatting software designed to convert your book into Kindle-ready files. Among other things, it automates table of contents (TOC) creation, and optimizes images for size and placement. It’s not especially cheap, but may be worth buying if formatting your book for Kindle is a concern for you.

Overall, while it’s not earth-shattering, I think Outline Master is well worth considering at its current modest price of $15 (about 10 UK pounds). If you regularly write content for blogs or websites it could be a valuable time-saver. You could also use it for outlining longer projects, such as e-books in the popular how-to category..

If you have any comments or questions about Outline Master, as ever, feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

Outline Master

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Wilsden bungalow

Lovely four-bedroom bungalow for sale in West Yorkshire!

Something a bit different for you today. Together with my sisters Annie and Liz, I am hoping to sell a beautiful four-bedroom bungalow in Wilsden, West Yorkshire, BD15, that used to belong to my stepmother, Shirley. A picture of it is shown above.

The bungalow is situated in a quiet, rural location, with lovely views to the rear of open countryside. The living accommodation is mainly on the ground floor (obviously!) with two additional attic bedrooms. A driveway and garage is also included, as are the small but beautiful gardens to the front, rear and side. I’ve posted another picture below (taken from Google Maps) which shows the gardens and garage a bit more clearly.

Bungalow02

There is no chain involved, and the buyer will be able to move in straight away.

You can see full details of the bungalow on this page of the RightMove website.

As it says on the RightMove page, if you would like more information and/or to arrange a viewing, please contact our local agent, Dacre, Son and Hartley, telephone 01274 399121. The full address of the house is 40 Spring Park Road, Wilsden, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD15 0EA. A local area map from Google Maps is embedded below…

 

Despite its rural location, the house is only two miles from Bingley and five miles from Bradford. It is also within easy commuting distance of Leeds and Halifax. The beautiful and historic town of Haworth (home of the Bronte sisters) is only five miles away, as is Saltaire, the Victorian model village built by textiles entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt.

Please feel free to share this post if you wish. And if you have any questions, as always, please do post them below!

UPDATE OCTOBER 2016  Although there has been a lot of interest in the house, as yet no genuine buyer has come forward. We have therefore lowered the price to £179,950. This is substantially less than the current Zoopla valuation of £198,000 and £20,000 less than the £199,950 paid when it was last sold in June 2011. We hope for (and expect) a quick sale at this price, so don’t delay if you’re interested!

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016 I am pleased to say that the house has been sold, subject to contract.

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