Google Chrome will block autoplay video starting January 2018

7 December 2017

From Ars Technica:

Google is taking on the irritating trend of auto-playing Web videos with its Chrome browser. Starting in Chrome 64, which is currently earmarked for a January 2018 release, auto-play will only be allowed when the video in question is muted or when a “user has indicated an interest in the media.”

The latter applies if the site has been added to the home screen on mobile or if the user has frequently played media on the site on desktop. Google also says auto-play will be allowed if the user has “tapped or clicked somewhere on the site during the browsing session.”

. . . .

In addition, Google is adding a new site muting option to Chrome 63 (due for release in October), which allows users to completely disable audio for individual sites. The site muting option will persist between browsing sessions, allowing for some degree of user customisation.

However, Apple’s upcoming Safari 11 browser—which features its own auto-play blocking tools—will allow for more granular control, enabling users to mute auto-playing media with sound or block auto-playing media entirely on specific sites or on the Internet as a whole.

. . . .

In addition to auto-play blocking, Google is planning to implement ad-blocking inside the Chrome browser. The Google ad-blocker will block all advertising on sites that have a certain number of “unacceptable ads.” That includes ads that have pop-ups, auto-playing video, and “prestitial” count-down ads that delay content being displayed.

Link to the rest at Ars Technica

5 Things I’m Not Doing to Launch My Book—Plus What I’m Doing Instead

4 December 2017

From  Deanna Cabinian via Jane Friedman:

The gist of all marketing advice for authors essentially boils down to: try everything and see what works. I’ve tried a lot of tactics over the last year [to launch and] market my debut YA novel.

. . . .

I’m launching One Love, my second novel, there are some efforts I’m not going to spend any time on.

. . . .

2. I’m not paying for trade reviews.

With One Night I purchased sponsored reviews from Portland Book Review and Midwest Book Review. Because it was my first book I felt I needed some industry blurb to help me market my book. Here’s the thing, though: I can’t prove that either of these reviews led to a purchase. And as a consumer, I can say that a trade review has never been a huge factor for me when it comes to deciding what books to read. They might pique my interest, but there are plenty of books that review publications like that I don’t and vice versa. For my second novel I’ll be using blurbs from the blog contacts mentioned above.

3. I’m not accepting any and all event opportunities.

As an independent author it’s tempting to accept every publicity option available because few venues are willing to have us. But after doing several events I’ve learned that single author book signings are generally a waste of time. If you analyze the number of books sold versus the time and effort you put into it, the ratio is not a good one. Instead I am only doing multi-author events, events with guaranteed foot traffic (such as festivals and farmers markets), or speaking opportunities that have a built-in audience (for example, school visits).

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

Here’s a link to Deanna Cabinian‘s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Agencies Are Scrambling to Meet Client Demands for Amazon-Specific Solutions

28 November 2017

From AdWeek:

Amazon is no sleeping giant.

As the Bezos behemoth continues along its unstoppable, disruptive path, brands are increasingly requesting Amazon-tailored services. Agencies have been ramping up their capabilities on the platform and even launching dedicated practices as a response.

Many marketers now view Amazon as a legitimate competitor to Facebook and Google, according to 22squared vp, director of media planning Brandy Everhart. “What they bring to the table is an expensive data set that you can’t get anywhere else,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of successful campaigns that are focused on driving conversions on the Amazon platform.”

Even brands that don’t sell on Amazon are asking questions due to the power of its search reach and the benefits of its data sets. “Clients want me to increase their engagement in every possible way,” said Matt Bijarchi, founder and CEO of digital brand studio Blend. “We’ve learned ecommerce is also a brand-building opportunity.”

. . . .

Frank Kochenash explained that the agency developed Amazon-related services well before the partnership, offering “everything from strategy to content development to content optimization, paid search management, media management, all on or within the Amazon ecosystem.”

Explaining the Mindshare partnership, Kochenash added that conquering Amazon is a challenge for his clients, as “some are scared and some see the opportunity, but they need an Amazon answer.”

. . . .

Specifically, Kochenash said the Alexa algorithm has “a tremendous amount of control” in determining purchasing patterns, something “brands are rightfully concerned about how to address.” He noted brands face two paths to success on Amazon: either create a great product that results in continual reordering, or have a brand that’s already so strong that customers actively seek it out.

Nick Godfrey, COO of digital consultancy Rain, explained that Alexa was so technologically advanced compared to Siri’s first iteration that Amazon had a “head start” over competitors like Google and Apple. Alexa’s established user base also better justifies innovation budgets for clients and agencies.

. . . .

“If you’re a brand in 2017, you better have an Amazon strategy,” said Godfrey. “The dominance of Amazon goes hand in hand with the dominance of Alexa.”

Link to the rest at AdWeek

PG notes that Alexa was introduced just three years ago and some experts ridiculed the idea. PG has recently read that Hindi and Japanese versions of Alexa are under development.

8 Ways For Authors to Waste Their Money

26 November 2017

From The Digital Reader:

Publishing a book can get quite expensive. A good cover designer can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the editorial costs alone can set you back even more.

While there are many important expenses, there are also many ways to spend money and get nothing useful back. For example, take the Bowker SAN. This costs $150, and is basically a way for you to list your physical address in a Bowker database – something you can do with your website, or  dozen other services, at no cost to yourself.

I recently polled a number of experts, including David Gaughran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Joel Friedlander, Victoria Strauss,  Jane Friedman, and Hugh Howey. The following post lists a few of the things they thought were a waste of money.

. . . .


Of all the suggestions made by the experts, publicists topped the list, with several experts saying that publicists just weren’t worth the cost. “They don’t do much you can’t do on your own, and what they do, they do poorly,” I was told.”They also cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

It would cost less to learn how to do the work yourself (or at least get a virtual assistant to do it), and you’ll get better results.

. . . .

Classes on the “Secrets” of Millions Sales

Like most professions, it takes a lot of learning to be a successful author, and you have to keep picking up new tricks all the time. And there are many experts out there who can teach you what you need to know, but there are also a lot of scammers who promise more than they can deliver.

Authors would be wise to avoid any course that promise to show you “the secret” to getting millions of sales. Before you sign up, you should check to see if the “guru” has actually written and sold a lot of books or just teaches marketing courses for a living.

Many of these million “sellers” have either given away most of their copies or sold the copies of their fiction books at a loss. Other have sold hardly any books at all, and are making money from their marketing tips, not from their writing.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

The Epic 4,000-Word Guide to Differentiating Yourself as a Writer

11 November 2017

From Medium:

It started when one of my friends made a surprising change.

“I’m going to focus on my YouTube presence more,” he said. “I feel I’m going to be able to differentiate myself there.”

Then he said:

“It’s hard to differentiate yourself as a writer.”

Truthfully, I’m a little jealous. He will spend the next year romping around Pittsburgh with a camera and a cute toddler. I assume his popularity will skyrocket.

. . . .

Maybe you want to be a Writer with a capital W. You scrawl random words on post it notes and wake up in the middle of the night to jot something down in your notebook. You want to see your name on a cover.

If so, I have awful news for you:

My friend is right.

It’s difficult to separate yourself as a writer. Your Instagram friends will cross the world and shoot infinite exotic and beautiful locations. You will lock yourself in a room, pushing buttons to try and express how you feel. The latter is not a natural thing.

. . . .

In order to chunk this monster post up a little, I’ve divided the key components into three sections:

  • Why You Should Even Bother Writing
  • 10 Ways to Outstrip Your Writing Competition
  • Practical Steps to a Viral Post

Link to the rest at Medium

Here’s the Social Media Content Your Audience Does NOT Want to See You Post

6 November 2017
Comments Off on Here’s the Social Media Content Your Audience Does NOT Want to See You Post

From Medium:

Let’s be honest for a second here. When it comes to quality, a large amount of social media content posted by brands isn’t good. In fact, in terms of subject matter, copy, photo quality, and more, much of the content is downright cringeworthy.

. . . .

1. Inauthentic, forced content

You see this mistake all the time. Companies and individuals force trending topics into their posts in hopes of gaining more followers and engagement. Examples could be anything from an athletic event to the latest dance craze to a natural disaster.

Just because LeBron James is trending on Twitter doesn’t mean your company has to post about him.

. . . .

6. Way too many hashtags

. . . .

According to research by Buffer, on Instagram 11 hashtags is the ideal number, and on Twitter the amount is one or two.

Link to the rest at Medium

Do You Know Where Your Domain Names Are?

31 October 2017

From CommLawBlog:

Failure to renew a domain name can cause your website to go down. The need to renew your domain names seems obvious and simple enough, but numerous companies and individuals have gotten famous for forgetting and letting domain names lapse, including Microsoft, Jeb Bush, the Dallas Cowboys, and,  recently, Sorenson Communications.

Last year, Sorenson Communications let a domain name lapse. It was SORENSON.COM which it used for providing access to its Video Relay Service (which Sorenson operated under the brand name “SVRS”). The domain name expired, the website was inaccessible, and Sorenson’s customers could not receive or place video relay service, 911, and other calls during the outage. Sorenson’s SVRS customers lost their telecommunications relay services, which left individuals with hearing and speech disabilities without the ability to communicate using a phone to call. Although Sorenson notified the FCC the morning the outage began, the domain name was not renewed – nor the website available — for another two days. Although the SVRS services were restored, the FCC was not amused by what it called at “preventable, internal operational failure.”

In the FCC’s September Order, Sorenson agreed to “reimburse the TRS Fund the sum of $2,700,000, and pay a settlement to the United States Treasury in the amount of $252,000.”

. . . .

Accordingly, set your domain names to Auto Renewal. Whether you have registered your domain names for one year or ten years, you will probably forget when they expire (and inevitably the email reminder will be sent to your spam file). Auto-renewal service is found under various names for different domain name registrars, but it operates in the same manner and allows you to post a credit card on file and automatically renew your company’s domain name(s) in case someone on staff forgets, avoiding unintended expiration. Even if you don’t actually want to renew the domain name, the cost of renewing the name – even to “park” it for the short term – pales in comparison to the expense of getting it back.

Link to the rest at CommLawBlog

PG will add that if the credit card on file with whatever company is responsible for auto-renewing your domain name expires or if the old credit card is retired for any reason (it’s reported as lost or stolen, for example) and you receive a credit card from the same issuer with a different number, you’ll need to update the credit card information that is used to auto-renew your domain name.

As a specific example, Costco has long offered a Costco co-branded credit card to its customers. Among other things, the credit card could also serve as a Costco membership card which must be displayed when a member enters a Costco store. At checkout, the membership card must again be presented and scanned, so, although it is not required, it is convenient for the customer to use the same card for the purpose of both providing a customer number for checking out and paying for their purchase.

A year or so ago, Costco terminated its relationship with its co-branded card issuer, American Express, and, with customer consent, transferred all their customers to a new Costco branded Visa card. The Amex accounts were cancelled with no option (that PG could find) for continuing to use a newly-issued Amex card with the same number.

If a Costco customer had used the Amex credit card for auto-renewal of domain names and neglected to replace that card number with a new one, auto-renewal would have failed.

PG will note that some domain registrars are not noted for high levels of customer service so you can’t count on receiving a message when your domain registration is about to expire.

Seven WordPress Plugins for Author Bookshelves

25 October 2017

From The Digital Reader:

Author websites come in many shapes and forms, and can be found on just about every platform from Squarespace to WordPress, but the vast majority share at least one common feature.

Generally speaking, they all need to display the books an author has written, or is working on.

Authors with a site on Squarespace,, etc, will have to build a book listing page by hand, but this is one area where self-hosted WordPress websites excel.

Authors with a self-hosted WordPress site have any number of options for listing their books on their sites. They can either use a theme like Preface, and use its built-in features to create book pages and book shelves, or they can use one of the following plugins.

. . . .

I recently undertook a survey of bookshelf plugins so I could recommend one to a client. There aren’t a lot of options, but I did find a couple great plugins.

When I look at bookshelf plugins I try to keep three requirements in mind:

  • The plugin has to look good on my site, and include both bookshelf pages and book pages
  • It has to be easy to use.
  • It needs to have widgets that I can use on to automatically display book covers and blurbs the front page of my site, and other pages.

. . . .

Here are 7 WordPress plugins that authors can use to list their books on their sites, and some comments on my experiences with the plugins.

. . . .


This is the second of my preferred plugins. The free version is great; it lets you reorganize the book listing layout to your own design, and it even includes many of the features other plugins would ask you to pay for.

As you can see in the demo, a book listing takes up a lot of space on the page. This plugin begs for a theme with a lot of whitespace, so it’s not going to work for everyone.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG has never had problems putting widgets for Mrs. PG’s books onto her website. However, he’s planning to check out several of Nate’s suggestion to see if there is a better way.

Indie authors: Your Pub Date is Not As Important as You Think

11 October 2017

From Writer Unboxed:

The pub date: THE big day of an author’s life, right? All of the toiling, editing, revising and decision-making comes down to a fateful 24 hours — a speck on the calendar, but a very important speck.

Or so they say. But that’s not necessarily the case, at least, not for us indie authors.

We hear a lot about the all-important pub date as authors, but it’s important to parse whom the pub date really matters to and why. For traditionally published authors, a book’s success can largely hinge on early sales. Much attention is given to garnering pre-orders in hopes of pushing a book onto a bestseller list during release week and encouraging retailers to order more books.

For an indie pre-orders and a strong launch matter too. But an indie can and should imagine the book’s launch as one among several, long-term opportunities.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, indie authors have the advantage of focusing on one single title or set of titles: our own. Unlike publishers, who may be juggling many dozens of titles each season, we indies can put all of our energy and attention into the books we have written and published. Often, publishers place disproportionate emphasis on the pub date because with dozens of titles to manage, that date provides them with a logical point for turning their attention and resources to  the next book.

Second, our overall marketing and sales model is different. We aren’t worried about strong pre-sales enticing booksellers to buy large quantities of our books because we aren’t able to penetrate the bookstore market anyway. Instead, we have direct access to our readers and therefore can largely bypass bookstore sales in favor of online or direct sales.

. . . .

I did everything necessary to help my novel hit an Amazon bestseller list around its pub date, but that did not pan out. It was only months later, after I ran a discount promo on Amazon with a hook about Comicon, blasted it all over social media, and combined that with a few online ads that sales began really taking off and I hit the coveted best-seller ranking!

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

How to Save $39,000 When Choosing a Domain Name for Your Author Website

10 October 2017

From The Digital Reader

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a book must be in want of a website. They need a home on the web to call their own, one safe from the fickle whims of Facebook’s algorithms.

That home will need a name – but what to call it?

. . . .

Some authors choose to go with the perfunctory choice, but others choose a domain of a more personal nature, or a whimsical one.

. . . .

Well, you could go for the obvious and staid choice such as the author’s name, book series, character name, or book title. Those options usually work well – the author name is a great default that brings all (most) of an author’s work together on a single site (but it might exclude pen names), while naming the site after the book series or main character might add a small boost to SEO.

I named my blog The Digital Reader because it referenced the topic I wanted to cover :digital reading, in its many forms. It is a decent choice, but it is not without its problems. For a number of years people kept confusing me with a competitor who hs a similar first name and blog name. (If I had realized that would be an issue, I’d have chosen a different name.) Also, I never did get the domain I wanted – I had to go with because domain squatters were demanding exorbitant fees for the domains and

One of the domains would have cost me eight grand, and the other is listed at $39,000.

. . . .

Another way to come up with a topical title is to use the “And Method”. This is a trick for coming up with unique names where you combine two otherwise unrelated words, and in this situation an author might choose two words that hint at their work.

Swords & Sorcery, to name one obvious example, suggests a D&D-style fantasy, while Coffee and Corpses hints at police procedural, or detective stories. And then there is Death and Texas, which is both clever word play and possibly a topical reference to for author whose mystery novels are set in Texas.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG has found a site called Nameboy helpful for locating good domain names. This site has been in operation approximately forever.

On Nameboy, you type in a primary word and, optionally, a secondary word. Thereafter Nameboy generates all sorts of possible domain names based on those words. It lists them in a table that shows you which of its generated site titles are available as domain names and which are not.

For example, entering the words dragons and sorcerer reveal the following names are available:, .net, .org and .info, .net, .org and .info is gone, as is, but .org and .info are available.

teamdragon, team-dragon and magic-dragon are gone in all four basic domain extensions is for sale for $1595, but .net, .org and .info are available

Perhaps the best name (in PG’s non-dragonish mind), thedragonsorcerer is available in all four basic domain extensions.

And for those who seek a more dynamic feel for your website branding – is available.

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