Privacy in the Digital World

A couple years ago, there were a lot of articles being shared online about how ereaders/tablets were “watching” their readers. In the digital age, privacy is a legitimate concern. In addition to hackers, companies collect and track data from their users/customers, and there’s also concerns over how much the government sees.

There’s definitely a trade-off between convenience and privacy. And over the last few years, it’s sparked a lot of interesting debate and conversation. In particular, there’s been a lot of talk over how to protect the privacy of minors.

In 2013, California made a law that anyone under 18 had the right to delete things they said online. DBW also reported that teens took matters into their own hands and avoided or uninstalled certain apps due to privacy concerns.

There are also new concerns over how to protect the privacy of the deceased. Sometimes if you don’t know the passwords to social media accounts, it can be tricky to deactivate accounts. The Next Web, however, offers a helpful guide.

For people who may be concerned about who knows what they read digitally, Eric Hellman wrote up a post on which research journals let their ad networks collect data about their readers. Electronic Frontier Foundation also created a detailed ereader privacy chart, sharing exactly what information companies collect (though it is from 2012, and may be a bit outdated).

Have you encountered any issues with reading digitally? Please share in the comments!

Guest Post: 8 Secrets to Increase Your Twitter Followers

By Andy Thompson – Freelancer

Twitter is one of the biggest social networks, and for indie authors, it can be helpful to grow a following on Twitter. Andy Thompson details 8 strategies on how to increase your following.

Twitter is certainly one of the social media foundations of the cyber world we are in. It is one of the most instrumental arenas to promote social media page and establish your brand or identity. You have lots of reasons to pay adequate attention in finding strategic ways to promote your social media page. Twitter page management can be best done if the most suitable Twitter strategies are integrated.

The most basic way to measure Twitter success is by merely looking at the number of people following you. Unless you are a celebrity, it won’t be easy for you to build a huge volume of natural follower base overnight. Thus, you have to be more tactical in planning how to promote your social media page fully. Here are some Twitter strategies you can apply to start reaching your Twitter page management journey:

  1. Use the LinkedIn and Email Connections You Have

You will be most likely followed by people whom you are already connected with. Try to find your LinkedIn connections right on Twitter and start following them. Twitter doesn’t have a way to automatically do this yet, but you can do something to make this step way easier.

First, go to your LinkedIn Contacts page and choose “settings”. You can then see the option of exporting contacts through a .CSV file. This file can just simply be uploaded to the email contacts you have. From Twitter, you can already import your email contacts more conveniently. This now includes your LinkedIn connections. The last step would be to choose which among them you want to follow.

  1. Maximize the Tools Available to Schedule your Tweets Easily

If you want to raise the chances of multiplying your followers the natural way, you have to make it a point to load your page with lots of fresh content. However, posting each of them manually could be an ultra taxing job, so to make the job done instantly, simply schedule your posts to your desired time intervals.

Some tools are totally free and some have a very minimal fee. You can use Hootsuite in scheduling you tweets ahead. This sustains a continuous flow of content updates and this saves a great deal of time in your part. Users who post regularly are more likely to receive engagement from their fans.

  1. Join Twitter Chat

Each week, groups that come from varieties of industries gather on Twitter to converse about a certain theme. Joining these chat sessions and interacting with other users can help you meet new acquaintances that can be potential followers. You can also obtain a more substantial benefit by actually learning from the experiences of these diverse people, and you can get to share your industry insider perspective as well. Some of the most popular chats include #blogchat, #CustServ, #tchat, #mediachat, and #HBRchat.

  1. Multitask

Most of us have some spare time that can turn productive. For example, you can actually tweet while commuting on your way to work. Tweet while you’re on queue or while you’re in the gym. Tweet during commercial breaks while watching TV. You have 24 hours a day and you can surely use your idle time to boost your Twitter page management.

  1. Answer People Who Show Interest in the Same Content

When you receive comments from other users, or a retweet and a favorite, you must engage with these people that took time to notice your content update. The more you interact with them, the more likely they are to follow your page. This is one of the Twitter strategies you should consider.

  1. Tweet Inspiring Quotes

Quotes prove to entice a large volume of engagements. Choose the most striking quotes that your target audience will be likely to relate to. There’s also another app you can use for this. You can maximize Forismatic to have a large collection of inspirational quotes that you can post in a snap. This saves you time and boosts your Twitter presence.

  1. Follow Users Who Follow Your Followers

You can use another tool for this called Tweepi. This scans the list of accounts which follow your followers on Twitter. These people most likely have similar interest with you and have higher chances of sticking to your page.

  1. Follow Accounts Twitter Recommends

Go to the #Discover section on your dashboard. Twitter actually has a list of people they recommend you to follow. This can help you in the long run as well.

image7Andy Thompson has been a freelance writer for a long while. Her passion in writing is her main drive in crafting articles that are engaging, informative, and meaningful. Her partnership with TroopSocial has given her a whole new opportunity to take writing to a whole new level.

Ebook Review: Creeping Beath

Beath_Cover4Creeping Beath (Book 4 of Zombie RiZing) by Matt Pike

As the gang head deeper into the Zombie RiZing, the salvation of the shopping centre awaits – food, supplies, weapons – everything they could need for their future survival. The only problem is, when we say salvation, we could actually mean another level of monster-plagued, bad-guy-laden, lair of despair.
Beath and her magic-wielding friends are about to cross paths with fellow survivor Karl Dreeks, and if they’ve learned one thing in the RiZing, it’s that you can trust the fellow survivors about as much as you can the monsters.

Oh, speaking of which, did we mention the new breed of monsters? We didn’t? That seems like an oversight, as these new bad boys can fly!

So, when we say salvation, it could just be code for things are about to get a whole lot worse!

Continue reading

Guest Post: Piracy on the High Ether


By Valley Brown – author of Speeding Tickets

Piracy can be a serious issue for indie authors of ebooks. Valley Brown explains her personal experiences with digital piracy, and what she did to fight it.

The Internet is a vast ocean swarming with pirates. So I had been warned by any number of publishing professionals and experienced authors. Being a newbie author with an appalling lack of discoverability, I doubted I had to worry about that little problem for some time. Wrong.

August 2014: A Google Alert popped up in my Inbox. “Speeding Tickets by Valley Brown” was available as a free download on Google Docs. What?

I had never used Google Docs, and I certainly hadn’t put my book up there for a free download! I followed the link. The only legitimate PDF version of my book was available for sale through Smashwords, but they had no sales for my account. The supplier of this PDF version had a totally foreign name, which appeared to be of Eastern European origin. Through the Google Doc site, I was able to register a complaint for copyright infringement, after proving that I was indeed the owner of said intellectual property.

The online form – there was no way to contact a live human for this issue – stated the results of the claim would be sent to Chilling Effects and that a notice would be put up in the place of the removed material. I soon received an automated email reply from Google letting me know that they were taking this seriously, but due to the high volume of claims they dealt with, it might take them a while to investigate, and then to take the offending site down. Great. While my paperwork is lost in the ether-queue, hundreds or even thousands of people could be downloading pirated copies.

This was a real problem to me. I had barely any sales on this first book, even after (or maybe I should say especially after) having made the Kindle version free for three days the year before. It had not begun to pay its own expenses. The last thing I needed was someone cheating me out of income the book needed to earn. Within a week, Google took the book down. I had no way of knowing how many – if any – copies were downloaded, but at least I was safe. Not.

September 2014: Another Google Alert! Quite possibly the same individual had put my book up yet again for free download on Google Docs. Again, I filed a complaint with Google. Again, they took the book down. I was irritated at having this happen a second time, and so soon. Surely this person would be banned from Google Docs for life. Right.

January/February 2015: Another Google Alert. Seriously? The scenario repeated itself. I repeated the complaint. Google responded, a bit more quickly than the previous two instances. I could only shake my head. Why my book? It was still an unknown little tome adrift in the online ocean. My son, who is far savvier and techie than I, informed me there are a lot of individuals out there who spend countless hours pirating books and other forms of entertainment, all to share these luxury items with the less-wealthy around the web.

This perplexed me. Was this a form of flattery, or had I simply been ensnared in a wide net with who knows how many other unsuspecting authors? I had no way to know. And then…

March 2015: The now-familiar Google Alert arrived in my inbox. This had become more than annoying, more than ridiculous, and I let Google know it in my comments. The book was removed in a matter of hours, not days. Somehow, a live person must have seen the comments and raised an eyebrow over them.

Four times in seven months. That’s a lot, I think. I’m thankful I had Google Alerts set up for all my books, name and pen name. They catch a lot of tidbits that are nothing to fret over, but they also caught all of these piracy incidents. It begs the question: what DIDN’T they catch?

I’m just waiting around for the next one, for it surely is inevitable, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. With all the sophisticated software available (as free downloads, even), no form of digital/electronic IP is safe from being pirated. I trust that the majority of people out there don’t steal, that they respect and value our writing enough to pay us for our labors. Thank God for those readers. They allow us to pursue our dreams, and it is a privilege to share with them.

Incidentally, you should visit Chilling Effects sometime. The number of copyright-infringement complaints registered involving Google are endless. Mine were in company with such well-known names as The Zac Brown Band and Coldplay.

ValleyBrownSmallPromoPhoto(credited)11March2011Valley Brown lives in Southwestern Indiana with her husband (who swears she killed him off in Book One – “Speeding Tickets”). She is a member of Romance Writers of America, including Indiana RWA. “The Rocky Road” romantic suspense series celebrates mature women who realize life is one big amazing journey and that love is always worth a second chance. Valley openly admits lusting after Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream, but chocolate and coffee will always be her first loves.

Valley’s books on

YouTube Book Trailer:

The Rocky Road Series by Valley Brown

Guest Post: Why Forgotten Books purchased 500,000 ISBNs

Forgotten Books

By Elisabeth Forsythe – Head of Media and Public Relations, [Forgotten Books]

International Standard Book Numbers, or ISBNs, are an important part of book publishing. They help with book discovery, and are used with each edition of a book. Elisabeth Forsythe explains why Forgotten Books, the world’s largest online library, recently purchased 500,000 ISBNs, and what that means for readers.

So why did we buy half a million ISBNs? It is because Forgotten Books is doing something extraordinary – we are in the process of resurrecting millions of books, most of which are currently out of print. In order to do this we’ve been diligently collecting scans of these texts (some of which were originally published as early as the 1600s) and restoring them to their former glory using purpose-built, specialist software developed in house. Continue reading

Indie Authors and Kindle Unlimited

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) service, where readers pay $9.99 per month and authors are paid out of a monthly fund, seems to be very polarizing.

Continue reading

For the Readers: A List of Sites, Tools, and Examples of Beautiful Works

More and more platforms are springing up to help both indie authors and readers looking for their next great read.

image3One new platform that does just that is The Books Machine, which allows authors to gift their books to hundreds of thousands of readers, according to the website. Readers have 30 days to read the book and write an honest review.

Reader membership is free, and readers can access excerpts of any titles that sound promising to them. The Books Machine is a community, a meeting place, and authors only pay $10 per month for access to potential readers.

Indie authors, there are a few other useful tools out there. A couple include LibraryJournal, where you can submit books for review, and Curator’s Code, which helps attribute content.

Reader Research

Having a reader base is essential to an author’s success. And more and more readers are turning to ebooks to get their fix, though according to Forbes print is still big. However, a survey found that people who own ereaders and tablets read 60% more than other readers. USA Today found that people read more on tablets than ereaders, and Venture Beat reported more people read on smartphones than tablets (though Publisher’s Weekly reported that adults don’t read as much literature as they used to).

According to Galley Cat, kids who read for pleasure do better in school (Salon also wrote an article arguing that making reading a chore was terrible for kids). And Publishing Perspectives created an infographic showing how much kids should read.

Salon wrote that reading is not yet a social activity, but though Readmill tried before it was bought by Dropbox. Still, reading seems to be becoming more social, with sites like Goodreads, The Pigeonhole (and its new private book clubs), and others.

If you want to know more about readers around the world, then check out Publishing Perspective’s chart.

Other Sites for Readers

There is a whole lot to read out there, and sometimes it’s hard to find something that suits your preferences. For readers looking for other books (and short stories, articles, etc.), here is a list of additional places to find them (in no particular order; some are paid, some are free):

Reader Tools

For people who love to read, here are some tools to help you stay organized:

Reading Online

If books aren’t enough, or you’d like to turn a web page into a book reading experience, this list is for you:

Examples of Beautiful, Interactive Online Articles

Just for fun. Also just for fun is a book that judges whether or not you’re worthy of reading it, based on scans of your face.

Guest Post: What Everybody Ought To Know About Facebook Account Management

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 9.51.16 AM

By Andy Thompson – Freelancer

Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms, and indie authors can use it to help build an audience and promote their books. Guest author Andy Thompson goes over the basics of Facebook pages, as well as strategies on how to implement them.

For any successful business these days, the concept of social media marketing is undeniable. On one hand, we have business giants like Starbucks using their Facebook page to announce their new plans and products. On the other hand, we have rookies (think of your local pizza place) trying to promote social media page, allowing more people to be familiar with their products via the Internet. Proper Facebook page management and using the right Facebook strategies have created success stories for a large number of businesses. Hence, if you can properly manage your social media account, your business might be added to this successful list.

Before you begin your social media exploration spree, here are some Facebook page management basics:

1. Multiple admins

As a page owner, you probably know that you can assign a number of people as administrators as well. There is no limit to this number as long as the ones you include in the circle have liked the page. However, Facebook also provides the option of assigning different positions and privileges to your fellow admins – Manager, Content Creator, Moderator, or Advertiser and Insight Analyst – each with different degrees of allowances. By default, all admins are managers and have page privileges. Hence, when choosing admins, be particular about the post you assign them.


2. Page Insights

An important tool for all page owners, Facebook insights lets you know the reach of your page and how successful the posts are. It is extremely helpful to understand what works and to use this data in promoting the social media page.


3. Public posting preferences

So you’re trying to get a good name for yourself online, but sneaky little punks keep ruining your timeline with negative comments? Apart from trying to improve your product, you can manage your social media reputation by checking who can post to your timeline. By disabling posts by other people on your timeline, you can put a check on negative comments, at least on your Facebook page.


4. Page restrictions

If you’ve got a page about a local nightclub, liquor, or basically anything, you wouldn’t want children to know about. You can now prevent them from finding out about you on Facebook. Two of the most important Facebook page management tools are the age and country restriction tools. These tools let you choose the age group and region of the people whom you would not want to know about the page. Facebook provides you tools for post visibility to different audiences and screening out the profane words so you won’t get into trouble with the conservatives.


Now that you are aware of the basics, here are some tips and Facebook strategies to up your social media account:

1. Use insights

Use the Facebook insights to determine what works most for your page. Is it pictures? Promotional posts? Humor? Increase the number of such posts in the future to gain a greater number of likes and a wider audience. Also, figure out the region and the time you get most of your likes and post accordingly.

2. Pamper your audience

Any successful page makes its audience feel important and involved and that’s exactly what you should do. Replying to the audience’s comments and queries shows that you care. Also, remember to thank your followers whenever you reach a milestone.


3. Get involved

Many companies like Starbucks, Coke, Red Bull and others started out with online campaigns and competitions to get their users involved. You could have, say, an online selfie competition or a hashtag campaign. This tactic is undoubtedly one of the most successful ways in promoting social media pages.

4. Utilize Strategic ads

Facebook ads definitely work and it doesn’t need an explanation. Use insights to find out who and where most of your audience are and publish your sponsored posts with that in mind to get the most of your ad money.

Link other social media accounts such as Twitter and Instagram – this shows you have a larger reach and helps people across social media platforms find you easily.

Kiev, Ukraine - October 17, 2012 - A logotype collection of well-known social media brand's printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

5. Link to other social media

Whether you own a business page or community page, the proper Facebook strategies and page management will help you reach your target audience. Work hard and smart and you’ll undoubtedly see desired results.

image7Andy Thompson has been a freelance writer for a long while. Her passion in writing is her main drive in crafting articles that are engaging, informative, and meaningful. Her partnership with TroopSocial has given her a whole new opportunity to take writing to a whole new level.

CODEX Hackathon: Connecting People with Books


Code for America, where the hackathon took place

Over the weekend, I participated in my first hackathon, called CODEX Hackathon. I had no idea what to expect; all I knew was the theme was “‘connecting’ — connecting around books, connecting readers and authors, connecting libraries.”

Things kicked off Friday night with an opening reception at Github, which has an amazing office space.


I only saw the first floor, but there was a bar, live music, plenty of room for eating and drinking, and even a foosball table. The reception was also for the concurrent ALA Conference, and it was great to meet librarians and other attendees as well as people from the hackathon.

reception Continue reading

Ebook Review: My Life As A Sperm

imageMy Life As A Sperm by William Darrah Whitaker

Buddy Price, a Hollywood agent, dies in a car crash and finds himself in Heaven. There, he discovers God’s had enough with people and plans on pulling the plug if we can’t learn to get along – a ‘love thy neighbor or else’ sort of message. An unlikely hero as there ever was, Buddy convinces God to let him fix things and gets a second chance. From the first few lines of the book, we know that he’s probably the last person we’d want to depend on to save the world, but God’s got his plan. Our fate rests in Buddy’s hands… or, who knows, maybe he’s just crazy and needs lithium or something.

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