Friday, April 27, 2012

Can You Make Money Self-Publishing?

Self-Published Books
There is still a lot debate about whether an author should go the traditional route with publishing, or should instead self-publish. One of the arguments against self-publishing is that you incur all the expenses of writing, editing, designing, printing and distributing your book. That is all true. But you also get to keep most if not all of the book sales, depending on your method of distribution. Here is a compelling post by Joe Konrath about how he has done after leaving the traditional publishing world and embarking on the path to self-publishing. Works for me!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bloggy Boot Camp St. Louis

I've been absent from this blog for the past couple of weeks as I helped my daughter move out to Los Angeles. If you are curious about what it is like to move your baby 1,900 miles away, you can check out my personal blog here. Being a true empty nester now should provide me with plenty of time to blog, right?

Bloggy Boot Camp St. Louis
Over the weekend I attended Bloggy Boot Camp St. Louis. Other than the fantastic Show Me the Blog conferences put on by the, we do not usually see blogging conferences in St. Louis. So I was excited when I noticed on Twitter that the SITS Girls were headed our way. Even though I began my first blog on researching house history back in 2008 while I was writing my book, there is still so much that I don't know about search engine optimization, marketing blogs and using all the great plugins available.

The conference began on Friday night with a social mixer, and I have found that attending the pre-events always makes me feel more comfortable going to the conference the next day. Held at the Millennium Hotel downtown, Charmin was the sponsor for the evening. I always think about Mr. Whipple when I hear the word Charmin, and I suppose that shows my age. Patrick Rich of MSL New York was on the go at the event, making sure that all of us were aware of the phone app Sit or Squat. With the app on your phone you can view and review bathrooms that you visit. It pulls up a map of the area where you are located, and identifies bathrooms in the vicinity. A green roll of toilet paper tells you that the bathroom is safe to sit in, a red one lets you know that you might want to find a new stop. I wish I would have had the app on my phone for the 1,900 mile drive to LA. At certain points even a red roll of toilet paper would have been welcomed!

On Saturday morning the meeting room was packed with approximately 140 bloggers. I appreciated the fact the conference organizers assigned us to tables in the morning and for lunch. It really forced everyone to mix it up and meet new people. The opening remarks by Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci were loaded with gems. I particularly liked the comments about embracing other bloggers successes instead of being critical out of jealousy. It follows my life motto about surrounding yourself with positive people. Glass half full folks will only bring you down with them. They will never rise to your level.

Laurie Turk was up first. She suggested that we have one main purpose for our blogs. While hers is a craft blog, her purpose is to promote successful crafting women. I love this quote from Laurie, "A blog is just a resume to make your dreams come true." Up next was Cynthia Wheeler who shared some great insight on how to make your blog inviting enough that readers not only come to your site but also stay to look around. She was followed by Dali Burgado who spoke about SEO and ways to help readers find your blog. Dali did a great job and for once I did not feel as though I was listening to someone speak in tongues about the topic. I'll be checking out for sure.

After lunch there was a choice of two breakout sessions. I chose the writers workshop, discussing turning your blog into a book. I didn't approach my book this way, instead writing the book first and using my blog as a way to build my platform as an author, but I do know a few authors who have turned the content of their blogs into a book. Meagan Francis shared her experiences of the blog to book road. In this age of e-books I suspect that many bloggers have a real opportunity here.

Annie Schultz then offered up some insights into utilizing StumbleUpon and Pinterest to build up traffic to our blogs. While I have posted a little bit on Pinterest (and love that you can direct the photos back to your blog posts), I have never even looked at StumbleUpon. Okay, that is about to change. The day wrapped up with Danielle Smith advising us on how to use video to tell our stories. I know that I need to create some videos. House history research lends itself easily to how-to videos. I even knew that Youtube is the second largest search engine. I have a tripod and a video camera, so what is the problem? I am going to take Danielle's 7 day challenge, where she suggested that we shoot a 1 1/2 to 2 minute video of ourselves every day for a week. We are not to look at the videos until the end of the challenge. She says we will be surprised at how much we improve by the end of the week. The challenge is on!

And just when I thought the day could not get any better, Mirassou Wineries hosted a wine tasting event for us. I was excited to hear that local grocery stores here carry these great California wines, but ecstatic to find a new favorite wine in their Moscato. Often referred to as a wussie wine drinker by my friends and family, I think I have finally located a wine that will satisfy my tastes and not be deemed "too sweet" by others. Thanks Mirassou!

Mirassou Moscato Wine
To say that the day was a great learning experience is an understatement. It is hard not to be energized when you are surrounded by so many bright, enthusiastic and diverse women (and a couple of men) with so much to share. I encourage any blogger to try to attend blogging conferences. The information you walk away with is worth the price of admission. But the new friends you will meet there? Priceless!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The 1940 Census

If you are a genealogist, you know all about the release of the 1940 federal census. Genealogydom has been buzzing for months about it. Census records are not released until 72 years after the census was taken - sort of a nod to privacy. Because I am working on my Crusham line in an effort to write a family history book about that branch of my family tree, I looked up my grandparents last night to see if I could find them. The census records are not indexed yet, and probably won't be for months as there is an army of volunteers taking on this immense project. But if you know the enumeration district for your ancestor, you can slowly make your way through the records. The National Archives website walks you (easily, in fact) through the process of finding the enumeration district as long as you know the address.

So I found my grandparents and their 8 children in their house on Rosemont Ave. in Cincinnati. What is interesting about this census is that they not only asked what the person did for a living, but also how much they made! While it is interesting 72 years later to see the figures, I'm sure grandpa wasn't too excited about revealing the number. My then 19 year old mother worked as a sewer for a sporting goods manufacturer for 26 weeks in the previous 12 months of the date of the census and made $520. Her father worked for 50 weeks as a printer for a label company and made $900. So you can really see how much working children were able to help their families financially in the time period coming off the depression.

Another interesting thing in the 1940 census is the fact that they asked the person where they lived in 1935. For those of us conducting house history research, we can now see if the current homeowner (assuming they owned the house and were not renting-and this is asked on the form) also lived in the house in 1935. This takes the house research back another 5 years. Pretty cool!

When time allows, it will be fun to go and look at my other family members who will be making guest appearances in my book. Maybe after the indexing is done!