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Old 06-19-2013, 01:34 PM   #16
Alyssa Miranda
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More on "do it yourself" web site

Several posts have pointed out a distinction between wordpress.com, which is hosted for free by wordpress, and wordpress.org, for which you have to secure and pay for your own host. Another important distinction is the lack of support for e-commerce (a "shopping cart" or "buy it now button") via plug-ins on wordpress.com. I ran into this limitation while constructing my own "do it yourself" web site on wordpress.com (which is still a work in progress), and am attempting to surmount it by linking to an off-site service which will download files after payment to PayPal. That aspect works fine, but I've run into a snag downloading EPUB files, which will not sideload on the Nook (MOBI files for the Kindle and PDF files sideload with no problem). I've found a work-around the problem with the EPUB files, but it's somewhat cumbersome - download the file first to Adobe Digital Editions, and from there, transfer it to the Nook. If I discover a more elegant fix I'll post it, but meanwhile if others have encountered problems downloading EPUB files and come up with fixes I'd be grateful to hear them.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:52 AM   #17
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I know it's early, but how are things going with GoDaddy?

This is a follow-up to Greg Bell's post on May 29th, following which, in seeking to establish a "do-it-yourself" website he decided to go with GoDaddy in preference to WordPress. Meanwhile I have also been struggling to establish a do-it-yourself site, but have stuck with wordpress.com despite its lack of an e-commerce capability, as noted in a previous post. The most daunting problem has been to find a way to download content to the customer in the various file formats (in my case, PDF, and EPUB and MOBI via calibre), and to the various devices (again in my case, limited to the Kindle and Nook).

To see how other sites have addressed the problem I looked at Smashwords (which I assume is the most prominent of the non-Amazon, non-BN, non-Apple sites), and found, in the FAQ section, two full pages of downloading/sideloading instructions in small type, this in contrast to the convenience of the wireless capability of the major sites, where, after clicking to purchase it the content appears literally moments later on your device, ready for reading. To me at least, this difference appears to limit non-wireless transmission (sideloading) more or less to the techie community - a vastly smaller market than the reading public at large.

It may be out there, but to date I haven't found anything better than the hoops the customer must endure (i.e., those noted above for Smashwords) to obtain content non-wirelessly. If there were such a service, ideally it would:

1. Allow storage of the author's content on his/her website, i.e., hard drive, flash drive or server;

2. Provide a link to the downloading service which would, once he's there, ask the customer what book he wants and what device he wants it downloaded to; and

3. After payment, convert the requested content on the fly to the format appropriate for that device and transmit it to the customer wirelessly.

While this would be the service's core capability, it could also provide such bells and whistles as accounting services (tracking sales, etc.). Is any of this possible with GoDaddy? Or another service?
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:16 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Alyssa Miranda View Post
It may be out there, but to date I haven't found anything better than the hoops the customer must endure (i.e., those noted above for Smashwords) to obtain content non-wirelessly. If there were such a service, ideally it would:
With the exception of Kindle (via the personal documents email service), the devices themselves (and their related ecosystems) aren't really set up to do what you want. I believe Baen offers the Kindle email delivery option, where the customer can enter their device email and have the book delivered to the Kindle. However, even this option requires that the customer manually go to their Amazon account page and add the Baen email address as a trusted sender.

Devices that have a browser, as well as tablets, can be used to access the site directly, and download the file right onto it. How this works can vary by device, and may require MIME type configuration on the server side.

Take a look at Baen's ereader instruction page. While it's a bit long due to the different device types, I think their instructions are pretty clear, and cover multiple ways of getting the ebooks onto the devices.

It's worth noting that anyone who has ever bought ebooks from somewhere other than the store "attached" to their device has likely already had some sideloading experience. I'd also wager that a good portion of those who haven't bought from outside their ecosystem probably aren't going to buy your book unless they can get it in their preferred store.
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:59 PM   #19
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With the exception of Kindle (via the personal documents email service), the devices themselves (and their related ecosystems) aren't really set up to do what you want. I believe Baen offers the Kindle email delivery option, where the customer can enter their device email and have the book delivered to the Kindle. However, even this option requires that the customer manually go to their Amazon account page and add the Baen email address as a trusted sender.

Devices that have a browser, as well as tablets, can be used to access the site directly, and download the file right onto it. How this works can vary by device, and may require MIME type configuration on the server side.

Take a look at Baen's ereader instruction page. While it's a bit long due to the different device types, I think their instructions are pretty clear, and cover multiple ways of getting the ebooks onto the devices.

It's worth noting that anyone who has ever bought ebooks from somewhere other than the store "attached" to their device has likely already had some sideloading experience. I'd also wager that a good portion of those who haven't bought from outside their ecosystem probably aren't going to buy your book unless they can get it in their preferred store.
If I may...

As someone who deals, near-daily, with people who have issues loading content, I've posted several times here on MR about the problems that my would-be self-selling publisher clients have encountered trying to sell digital content--even those with the most advanced, heavily-supported websites and digital carts.

I do not have one single client (out of over 2,000 books converted for over 1500 clients) that has stuck with selling from their own websites, because the customer service burden is so overwhelming (phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.) that they decided that they would happily pay Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc., their percentage, rather than continue to devour any and all "profit" made by having to support all the customer downloading problems. Not one. Not law firms, not medical companies, not even companies specializing in providing instruction in various areas. Every single one found that the customer service burden was quite simply too high. None lasted even 180 days of self-selling. Unless you plan to spend time on the phone walking people through downloading books, etc., I'd strongly suggest you give it a long second thought.

We deal with this at my company literally every day; with anywhere from 130-180 books in production at any time, no matter how good the videos, no matter how detailed the instructions, people who don't understand files, downloading, downloading from browsers, etc., struggle with using reading software, and get really freaked out about using USB cables, transferring to "documents" folders rather than the "books" folder, etc. People blithely assure me that they are "tech-savvy" who don't understand that they cannot launch a file attached to an email if they don't have a program installed that can use it (say, ADE, for example). Most people--this is surprising, but true--cannot download a file from a browser; they only know how to "download" a file that comes to them in email, and is already the product of a program that they already have installed, so that they need only "open" the attachment, not save it somewhere on their computer. Most people cannot find their "download" folders. I'm not making this up; it's the single biggest overhead item in my company that isn't part of the line costs. (n.b.: several of our law firm clients said that they--unbelievably--had the same problems with people trying to buy/download PDF's. Seriously).

So, as I said, unless you plan on sending out emails and returning phone calls about downloading and installation and sideloading problems, I'd just use whatever retailers are available. Just my $.02,and worth what you paid for it.

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Old 07-09-2013, 08:26 PM   #20
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If I may...

As someone who deals, near-daily, with people who have issues loading content, I've posted several times here on MR about the problems that my would-be self-selling publisher clients have encountered trying to sell digital content--even those with the most advanced, heavily-supported websites and digital carts.

I do not have one single client (out of over 2,000 books converted for over 1500 clients) that has stuck with selling from their own websites, because the customer service burden is so overwhelming (phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.) that they decided that they would happily pay Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc., their percentage, rather than continue to devour any and all "profit" made by having to support all the customer downloading problems. Not one. Not law firms, not medical companies, not even companies specializing in providing instruction in various areas. Every single one found that the customer service burden was quite simply too high. None lasted even 180 days of self-selling. Unless you plan to spend time on the phone walking people through downloading books, etc., I'd strongly suggest you give it a long second thought.

We deal with this at my company literally every day; with anywhere from 130-180 books in production at any time, no matter how good the videos, no matter how detailed the instructions, people who don't understand files, downloading, downloading from browsers, etc., struggle with using reading software, and get really freaked out about using USB cables, transferring to "documents" folders rather than the "books" folder, etc. People blithely assure me that they are "tech-savvy" who don't understand that they cannot launch a file attached to an email if they don't have a program installed that can use it (say, ADE, for example). Most people--this is surprising, but true--cannot download a file from a browser; they only know how to "download" a file that comes to them in email, and is already the product of a program that they already have installed, so that they need only "open" the attachment, not save it somewhere on their computer. Most people cannot find their "download" folders. I'm not making this up; it's the single biggest overhead item in my company that isn't part of the line costs. (n.b.: several of our law firm clients said that they--unbelievably--had the same problems with people trying to buy/download PDF's. Seriously).

So, as I said, unless you plan on sending out emails and returning phone calls about downloading and installation and sideloading problems, I'd just use whatever retailers are available. Just my $.02,and worth what you paid for it.

Hitch
Exactly.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:30 PM   #21
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@ Hitch:
Not that I'm wishing to deny Joe & Jane Average the comfort and simplification of a lot of everyday tasks computers (esp. the net - connected ones) provide; but - don't you too wish back the days when only people willing to learn how to use them posessed PCs?

I admit I noticed a raising ahm (how to name it?) dumbification of the average user... but what you report is simply hair raising and let's face it - sad.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:26 AM   #22
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@ Hitch:
Not that I'm wishing to deny Joe & Jane Average the comfort and simplification of a lot of everyday tasks computers (esp. the net - connected ones) provide; but - don't you too wish back the days when only people willing to learn how to use them posessed PCs?

I admit I noticed a raising ahm (how to name it?) dumbification of the average user... but what you report is simply hair raising and let's face it - sad.
@Freeshadow:

Well, obviously....the poser is that my company literally wouldn't exist without these same people. If the entire world were made up of MR'ers, I'd have no ebook-making biz, would I? But, that being said....my house had the 18th Internet connection in my city (a large city of over 2million people at the time, in the early 90's, I think it was?). Literally, we had a customer number of 000018, LOL!, back in the day. I do remember the more academic days with some fondness, when you had to know the command line and at least Archie, Gopher, etc. And I admit, I get a little gobsmacked when we get clients that can't log in, or download files and the like. Especially when I walk them through it on the phone for (not making this up, in the case of one very nice man) the 10th time.

As I said, it's my single biggest cost item (unrelated directly to the making of the books themselves)--the tech support of the clientele, which isn't even really included in my services (pricing), because clients think we're giving them s**te instructions, or my videos are bad, my Prod. Mgr's emails aren't clear, or the goblins come and take files in the night...I wish I had a place I could post some of the things that get said without risking offending my clients, but...man. It's incredibly time-consuming and can be remarkably frustrating. For any author who is still a relative unknown, and cannot afford to hire someone full-time to provide CSR, I'd strongly recommend biting the bullet, using the available retailers, pay the piper and let them deal with the tech-support and customer service. When you're King or Brown or Hamilton or whomever floats your boat, you can let some other person deal with downloads, LOL!

Honestly, I cannot stress this enough. I think one author working here one day-just one, any one--would change their mind about selling books from their own website (other than links TO the retailers, which I heartily endorse) before the day was out. Think about numbers when you think about Amazon's measly percentage. How many books would you have to sell to pay for a near full-time (or even half-time) person to answer the phone, emails, tweets, etc., about how to download books?

On the other hand, I'm all for self-experimentation. When we get emails from prospective clients complaining about pricing, I strongly encourage them to "give conversion a go" themselves, and if it works out, great. If not, they know where to find us. We get a shockingly high number of return clients from this approach. But who knows? Maybe the OP loves to talk to people, and would actually enjoy providing this level of service. I don't mind providing it, itself, in that I get to talk to a lot of lovely people, but....it absolutely makes a very real dent in my annual profit statements. A LARGE dent.

FWIW!

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Old 07-10-2013, 07:27 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Alyssa Miranda View Post
This is a follow-up to Greg Bell's post on May 29th, following which, in seeking to establish a "do-it-yourself" website he decided to go with GoDaddy in preference to WordPress. Meanwhile I have also been struggling to establish a do-it-yourself site, but have stuck with wordpress.com despite its lack of an e-commerce capability, as noted in a previous post. The most daunting problem has been to find a way to download content to the customer in the various file formats (in my case, PDF, and EPUB and MOBI via calibre), and to the various devices (again in my case, limited to the Kindle and Nook).

To see how other sites have addressed the problem I looked at Smashwords (which I assume is the most prominent of the non-Amazon, non-BN, non-Apple sites), and found, in the FAQ section, two full pages of downloading/sideloading instructions in small type, this in contrast to the convenience of the wireless capability of the major sites, where, after clicking to purchase it the content appears literally moments later on your device, ready for reading. To me at least, this difference appears to limit non-wireless transmission (sideloading) more or less to the techie community - a vastly smaller market than the reading public at large.

It may be out there, but to date I haven't found anything better than the hoops the customer must endure (i.e., those noted above for Smashwords) to obtain content non-wirelessly. If there were such a service, ideally it would:
Above and beyond my other post, I should have answered this poster's actual questions:

Quote:
1. Allow storage of the author's content on his/her website, i.e., hard drive, flash drive or server;
You can save whatever content you want on any server where you have the space. That's simple. You'd download it from the server to the desired location (folder on your harddrive, the cart, etc.).

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2. Provide a link to the downloading service which would, once he's there, ask the customer what book he wants and what device he wants it downloaded to; and
With the installation of a digital cart, which is not free (and/or the free ones don't work), your customer buys the book in the format s/he wants, and pays. S/he then receives a link for a download. S/he downloads it from your server to his/her computer, not his/her device, and they must sideload the book from there. You may--I stress, MAY--somehow be able to use Calibre in this process, but...lotsa luck integrating that and getting clients to install it, hook up their devices, etc., before they have the book in-hand. See my previous posts about this end of it. No cart will do what you are otherwise asking; the client won't be asked what "version" he wants, nor what "device" to download it to; you have far too many variables involved. The cart delivers a code via email that the user copies and pastes to the cart, and then downloads the file. That's all you can do auto-magically at your end, and that's not done with some freebie go-daddy account, either. That's semi-custom coding, depending.

Quote:
3. After payment, convert the requested content on the fly to the format appropriate for that device and transmit it to the customer wirelessly.
No, not without custom coding, which should, on a small scale, run you about $3500 or so. Just for that part, never mind the rest. Again, maybe you can try to run the Calibre API, but....

Quote:
While this would be the service's core capability, it could also provide such bells and whistles as accounting services (tracking sales, etc.). Is any of this possible with GoDaddy? Or another service?
You are now talking about an e-commerce site. You can find some out there that are very basic, and cheap. What you've asked certainly isn't possible with ANY free website or service that you can simply download and plug and play. You can do this with custom coding, or by using a more advanced CMS, like Expression Engine or Drupal, ektron, ezPublish (very expensive, please note), MODx, or, one I've looked at with some interest lately, Concrete5, which I think you could use for an enterprise site with a semi-custom template and some coding help for a few thousand, all in. (n.b.: don't use Expression Engine. It's a giant pain, and finding coding assistance or anything else with a budget under $10K is not easy. I have this software, please note, so I know whereof I speak.)

Now, what I'm talking about here is simply #3--the ecommerce side, that tracks your sales, gives you your figures, etc., although that does NOT integrate accounting software; you'll need something like Intuit or Freshbooks for that, bridged to your CMS/E-Commerce site. So...you'll bridge the digital cart to your CMS (it may come with), to your accounting system, and unless you're mad bad with code, you won't be doing it all with free software, or at least, not without paying for coders to make the free software do what you want. The GoDaddy "websites tonight" are fine for basic bloggers, and affiliate-type websites, but they are not really meant for the depth of what you're discussing. Make sure that whatever CMS you settle on already has most of the features you want; read their forums religiously for complaints, comments, feature requests, etc.; make sure that there are lots of coders available to do pick-up work for you for your customizations.

Hope that helped.

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Old 07-10-2013, 01:02 PM   #24
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I can't thank Hitch enough for such authoritative posts!

And CWatkinsNash for directing me to the Baen website. While there, I browsed the site and was impressed by the quality of the writing, so much so that it re-kindled (pun intended) my interest in SF after a long hiatus immersed in other genres (that said, A Canticle for Leibowitz, by William Miller, remains one of my all-time favorites, right up there with Orwell's 1984).

How good the writing is was also evident in the blurbs, which were fresh in my mind from having followed the "red flags" thread - anyone seeking a model for how to write a good blurb, especially for the SF genre, would do well to look here. While in the hands of less capable writers, chestnuts such as "hard hitting" and "edge-of-the-seat' typically come across as overused and hackneyed, when used with flair and verve, as they are here, they work.

Turning to Baen's downloading/sideloading instructions, while clearer and more complete than Smashword's, and while they may be less daunting to presumably the more tech-savvy users of a boutique site such as Baen, they continue to show how daunting it can be for the average prospective purchaser to stray from the Amazon/BN/Apple ecosystems. The sideloading instructions for the Nook, for example, tell you to drag the file to the DOCUMENTS folder on the device, while on the Simple Touch I have, the file is to be dragged to the BOOKS sub-directory of the MY FILES folder, a seemingly minor error, but a perfect example of what Hitch is talking about.

As to his posts, my reaction to his first post was, whoa, here's someone who really knows what he's talking about! and to his second post, I'm WAY over my head here! While I believe I was coming to the same conclusion on my own, his advice has kept me from hurtling any further down the "learn the hard way" path he describes so well. Accordingly, I have printed out both posts and filed them in my "Selling on Your Own Site" folder with a yellow sticky note attached saying, "this is why you don't attempt this." There has been a bright spot to emerge from this effort, however. While not suitable for selling, I do have a convenient way of getting e-reader content to tech-savvy user for other purposes.

Again, my thanks to both of you.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:42 PM   #25
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It helps to proof read your post BEFORE you hit the "submit" button.

In my previous post I should have thanked Hitch for his three posts, having referred to his third post as his second, and omitting any reference at all to his second post. All three are now safely ensconced in my "Selling on Your Own Site" folder.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:27 PM   #26
Hitch
Bookmaker & Cat Slave
Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Hitch ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
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Posts: 2,669
Karma: 15346071
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Device: Kindle2, iPad, KindleFire and NookColor
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyssa Miranda View Post
In my previous post I should have thanked Hitch for his three posts, having referred to his third post as his second, and omitting any reference at all to his second post. All three are now safely ensconced in my "Selling on Your Own Site" folder.
Alyssa:

You are more than welcome. It's a hard-learned lesson by me and my admin staff. I burn though at least one Prod. Mgr. a year, dealing with the clients. (Not really making that up; wish I was). I am always happy if I can save someone some brain-damage, because we ("MR'ers" in general) all think it's so bloody obvious, right? Download a file, plug in the USB or boot up the wifi, and bobs-yer-uncle, but....WE are not THEM. (Does anyone else feel that the "them" should be "they?" Drives me bats.)

As I said, and thanks for the thanks. Always, always appreciated.

Hitch
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