Three Vital Tech Tools for Self-Published Authors

Tech tools for self publishing authorsAdvancements in technology have opened up the literary world for hopeful authors. Not too long ago, the only way for writers to get their work published and distributed was with the help of big-name publishing houses. Thanks to the Internet and a variety of tools, self-publishing is now a popular and easy method for individuals to market and sell their books to the masses.

Based on discussions with some authors who have successfully self-published, there are several tech services that make the process easy. Here are the top three they mentioned:

1. Online Self-Publishing Platforms: One of the very first thing someone who wants to self publish has to find is a website that will do the printing, publishing, and distribution for them. CreateSpace and LuLu are two of the largest. Both offer “print on demand” services, which means that books are printed only when someone orders a copy, so neither the author nor the publisher is responsible for unsold inventory.

“One of the greatest benefits of publishing now is print on demand,” explains Jed Diamond, PhD, author of several books focused on helping men live long and well. Jed is the founder of the website Men Alive, and has been self publishing since the 1980s. His most recent book is MenAlive: Stop Killer Stress with SimpleEnergy Healing Tools. “In 1983 I had to buy 2,000 books to get the price per book down to a price that anyone would buy.” Diamond said. ”Now I can literally have one book printed when I need it and the price is not only reasonable, but you can actually make a decent profit.”

2. Social Media: When authors go through the big publishing houses,they get the support of a marketing team to help promote their book. When self-publishing, most authors have to do the selling themselves. Perhaps the best free way to get exposure these days is through social media. Sites like Twitter, Linked In, Google +, and the app Goodreads all allow writers to reach out to potential readers.

Bonnie Nordling is a children’s writer who is currently working on self-publishing her first book series about the time-traveling teddy bear Sir Teddy Bertie. Nordling is fairly new to the industry, and without the backing of a publishing company she had to work on getting attention through social media. ”Social media has helped me finally feel like an ‘author’ because I am linked to other authors and am constantly reading tweets and messages from people in the same industry,” Nordling said. “You get to learn about your competition, but the trick is to not let it intimidate you. Social media is fun and when ‘work’ is fun, then it is even more likely to pay off.”

3. Cloud/Data Backup: Authors don’t write a book in one sitting (at least not most of them). It takes time and effort. It takes several drafts and edits. So what happens if someone is three-quarters finished with their newest book and their computer crashes? That’s where cloud and data backup services come into play. By having their writing backed up somewhere other than their computer, a crash or accidental deletion becomes much less disastrous.

“My computer only had to scare me once with that blue screen of death before I started to back up on the cloud every time,” says Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, self-published author of several self-help books for women and love, including the upcoming Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie. “Using cloud technology also frees up your computer space, which is often needed for authors.”

Conclusion

Diamond, Nordling, and Wish all agree that online publishing sites, cloud, and social media are extremely important for authors who want to self-publish. The beauty of self-publishing is that it allows anyone to write a book and get it published. However, in order for it to actually be purchased and read, authors have to do a little more than just ink their stories.

 

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My name is James and I work for Mozy

We’ve had so much fun introducing our team members to you that this month we’ve chosen someone who has been with Mozy for quite a few years. His tenure with the company has allowed him unique insight to the change that Mozy has gone through – both as a company and the culture within the company. Allow me to introduce you to James Jolley. James oversees our Affiliate and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) programs. He provides support for our Affiliates and ensures they are well taken care of and the partnerships remain positive. As the SEO Manager, James also provides incredible insight and direction for where we strategically place ourselves online.

My name is James and I work for Mozy

I define my workspace as …

After five years with the company you would think I would have dolled up my cubicle but I haven’t. Therefore, I would define my workspace as a place where my computer and I reside for a few hours a day – it’s not much more than that.

A device I can’t live without …jack
The device that provides the world with Mountain Dew.
Author’s note: I can safely say that James has tried every single Mountain Dew product or spin-off, including Mtn. Dew lip balm. Saying that he loves Mtn. Dew is an understatement.

When I arrive at work, I typically start off by …
Answering emails and getting caught up on relevant marketing blogs.

My work routine is …
Get caught up on emails. Then depending on the day I’ll work on one of our five Affiliate programs or our sites for SEO efforts.

I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …
It’s hard for me to focus in a cubicle environment where you can hear every conversation and as a result, I do listen to music. Noise cancelling headphones playing Chopin or Dave Matthews Band and I’m set for the day!

The best advice I can give a recent college graduate looking to do what I do is …
Don’t get frustrated because most of what you end up doing won’t be covered in college. Take one day at a time and build a solid foundation. Allow yourself at least one hour a day at work to increase your knowledge base.

Outside of work, I am passionate about …
I’ve recently become an avid road cyclist. I’m fortunate (as well as my coworkers) that Mozy has showers so that I can ride into work during the summer. I also really like learning about U.S. history – from the beginnings of Plymouth and Jamestown to the end of WWII.

My eating habits are …
…getting better. I’m trying to eat out less and making healthier choices besides the annual gorge on Girl Scout cookies.

If I could be someone for a day – I would be …
Curator/Director for Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. I spent a whole day (the guard had to kick me out) at that museum and was only able to get through two of the three floors. Going behind the scenes to see what they have but don’t show would be amazing.

The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …
I guess would be my ability to keep cool in stressful situations. I also try to learn something about everything so that I don’t have to avoid any conversation where I don’t have anything in common with the other person.

Online Careers: What a Workforce of 1 Billion Means

Online Careers: What a Workforce of 1 Billion MeansA new study of the freelance workforce tells us that there are close to one billion freelancers and that number is growing.

And what’s driving that phenomenon? Productivity, competition for high-quality talent, and reduced hiring frictions.

All of this may be paving paving the way for a future full of “yes” when it comes to small-business employers. Freelance professionals are enjoying fresh attention in 2013.

“What is clear is that online freelancing appears to be an answer to worker happiness in terms of increased flexibility and quality of life, as well as to increased financial independence,” according to an annual impact report recently released by Elance. From what’s driving freelance and business choices to how those decisions are affecting bottom lines — here are some highlights of the study.

1. High Quality Talent Is an Attractor: In the past year alone, there has been a 153% increase in freelancers online with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That means that employers are increasingly likely get used to searching for the right individuals with the right skillsets in the digital space. The longer that goes, on the more entrenched the concept will become.

2. Online Workers Like Their Independence: Sixty-nine percent that answered the survey said they were happier when freelancing versus working in a traditional onsite job. The average freelancer estimates they have 28 more personal days than they did working in a corporate environment. This is another recipe for keeping the online workforce of 1 billion at those numbers or better. Appealing work environments bring new participants. That’s just intuitive.

3. Small-business Owners Perceive Online Searches as a Competitive Edge. Hiring freelance talent to fill part-time needs suggests a competitive edge to 85% of companies, the study said.

4. Reduced Hiring Friction Helps Bottom Lines: According to a new measure of Labor Department data, the average hiring time under traditional methods is 23 days. That’s time and effort on the part of HR, and that’s lost or negatively affected productivity when a position is left open. By some measures, the survey suggests that online hiring can shave that turnaround to just 3.3 days. There isn’t a small-business owner on the planet who’d balk at that, if the skills and experience of the candidate selected are as solid as anyone hired under the old way.

If bottom lines go down for the employer, and incomes increase for those freelancers getting hired, then the future of this new way of thinking about workers and job fulfillment stands to become more and more the norm in 2014 and beyond.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – July 1

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features an electric car that can go 186 MPH, video on Instagram, and the FAA considering more lenient rules on using electronics during flights. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Nissan Announces the World’s Fastest Electronic Car


Imagine cruising around in this beauty. It’s the Nissan ZEOD RC, the world’s fastest electric car, able to travel at a speed of 186 MPH. The next stop for the ZEOD RC (“zero-emmissions on-demand racing car”) will be next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race, reports Charlie White of Mashable.The car uses the same lithium-ion batteries as the Nissan Leaf, another electric car made by the automaker. Nissan plans to test out several combinations of electric motors and gasoline engines before the car takes to the race track in 2014.

Good News for Frequent Flyers: Some Electronics May Be Allowed During Takeoff and Landing

The FAA is looking into easing its restrictions on in-flight gadget use, reports Sara Gates of the Huffington Post. This may take some time, however, because current FAA rules state that before a gadget can be approved for use the airline must test each iteration of a device on each type of plane. Last year a panel of experts was assembled to review the current rules and regulations and plans to release its report in late September. Currently the FAA allows certain devices, like tablets and iPods, once the plane reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet. Although the FAA is hopeful that it may be able to ease some of the restrictions, it looks like full use of mobile phones will still be prohibited.

Instagram Launches 15-Second Video Feature


Popular photo-sharing social network Instagram now lets users share video as well.Video On Instagram allows users to create 15-second videos to share on the site. It includes simple editing capabilities and 13 new filters created just for video. Video On Instagram is available on both iOS and Android and is aimed to increase the company’s already impressive numbers of 130 million monthly users, 16 billion shared photos, and over a billion “likes.” The launch comes at the heels of Vine, the Twitter-owned app that lets users share 6-second videos, which launched earlier this year.

Tablet Shipments to Increase by 68 Percent this Year

A recent study by Gartner shows that the tech industry is alive and well, with shipments of tablets, smartphones and PCs expected to increase by 6 percent worldwide this year. According to CNET, the main reason for the increase in shipment percentage is due to the massive amount of tablets being sold. Tablet shipments alone will jump 68 percent to 202 million–plenty of make up for the lag in PC shipments (desktops and laptops), which will drop 10.6 percent to 305 million. Meanwhile mobile phone sales are still huge and will increase by 4.3 percent to 1.8 billion.

Are your irrational fears holding you back?

Believe it or not, 84% of us admit to holding onto fears that we know are irrational – and the workplace is a hotbed for those insecurities.

Are you one of those people? Like the kind of person who writes an email and thoroughly checks and double checks the addresses you’re sending it to, only to experience that awful sinking feeling that by chance you’ve sent it to the wrong person? Even though you could swear you’ve addressed it correctly, you can’t stop yourself from frantically checking your sent items for validation.

What about making coffee in front of the boss? Are you worried that your normally steady hand will inexplicably turn into a quivering coffee-sprinkler, designed to spill as much of the brown stuff on as many people as possible. And does that worry keep you from even trying to make the coffee in the boss’ presence?

Irrational Fears at the Office

It seems that nearly all of us have some irrational workplace fears that prevent us from doing things. If that means not having a cup of coffee, it’s probably not a big deal. But if it prevents the implementation of a new project that could bring cost savings and time efficiencies, that’s a different matter.

Sound extreme? Well, according to our Mozy survey 37% of IT managers said that they’d had projects rejected because of managerial fears. And 55% say their company perceives the adoption of technology as a risk.

The ability to recognize risk is an essential business skill, but automatically dismissing projects as risky – irrationally – means that companies can really miss out.

The IT managers surveyed highlighted just how arbitrary decision making can be by revealing which buzzwords invoke an irrational fear from their bosses. If you’re pitching Mozy to your manager, does it matter whether you call it “online backup,” “cloud backup,” “backup on demand” or “backup as a service”?

The Great Cloud Security Myth

The answer is “backup on demand”! 53% of IT managers say “on demand” helps their proposals compared with 15% for “as a service.” It’s true. And conversely, 17% say “as a service” hinders their pitch compared to just 5% for “on demand.”

Want to know more about the best and worst buzzwords to use if you want budget sign off? Or do you want to know how many people secretly think the photocopier is plotting against them? Read the full findings of Mozy’s research here.

Crowdsourcing a Job Online: 3 Tactics on the Cutting Edge

Crowdsourcing a job onlineThe in-house project has become an online event. Global crowdsourcing has arrived.

If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in on the state of online crowdsourcing, you may remember it as a realm mostly dominated by graphic-design competitions. But these days, the new frontier for the competitive crowdsourced project includes building mobile apps, websites, architecture, and engineering.

What does crowdsourcing promise however? And how can small-business owners best take advantage of the professionals who’ll respond to a job once it’s posted at one of the many online platforms that serve as networks for these projects?

To find some answers, we turn to one expert in the industry, and break out a trio of tips to bring your crowdsourced-project dreams a whole lot closer to coming true.

Resources on the Cutting Edge: Crowdsourcing for SMBs

“More and more businesses are turning to crowdsourcing to build their infrastructure and complete jobs online, removing the often prohibitive barrier of hiring full time,” said Nikki Parker, a regional director at Freelancer.com. “For many, however, the growing world of crowdsourcing is uncharted territory — until you complete your first job, it can appear quite daunting.”

Here are three key steps to keep in mind as you plan your first crowdsourcing project:

1. Have a Solid Plan and a Clear Project Brief: Before you post a job to a freelance community, it’s vital that you have a clear idea about what your project is and what needs to be done. Refining your brief and running it under the eyes of some friendly freelancers, offline at first, will help you to set ensure a solid foundation when you take the posting live. This dramatically increases the chances that your work will be executed to your exact requirements. Your freelancers will, of course, have some suggestions and opinions of their own, so collaborate with them and make the most of hiring an expert.

2. Get to Know the Candidates: Each freelancer has his or her own expertise, skill sets, and work habits. It’s important to establish what those elements entail before working together with any individual or team. Choose your freelancer(s) based on his or her advertised skills, work experience, and customer feedback — don’t rely solely on their hourly rate or bidding price.

3. Be Upfront with Payment Details: Set up a third-party payment process to protect your business (and provide security for the freelancers you hire). Consider milestone payments — which work in a way similar to an escrow service. With milestones in place, money will only be released once the work has been successfully completed, each step along the way. On both ends of the relationship, transparency and security in payment processes is paramount — it goes a long way toward ensuring that you get the most out of crowdsourcing your job online.

 

One thing should become clear as you consider the above tips, Parker said: “Whilst global crowdsourcing is a relatively new tool for doing business, the tips and tactics for making it a success remain in essence the same as how we have always done business.”

That’s an encouraging note. It means that although the way technology is changing project bids, bringing them to the cutting edge, your already proven skills are still crucial to success — identifying strong candidates and bringing in talent that creates a product well representing your business. New tools, longstanding best practices —  for small-business owners the two combine for a more powerful way to get the next job done.

Mozy Wins Gold in Tech Awards Circle Cloud Backup Provider Selected Among Top Technology Products, Individuals for 2013

Tech Awards Circle Gold Logo 2013Mozy, the world’s most trusted provider of cloud backup and access, has been awarded Gold for the 2013 Tech Awards Circle, in the Midrange Software category – for its MozyPro business backup product. Winners were selected by an independent panel of publication reviewers/journalists.

Tech Awards Circle celebrates the products, vendors and individuals making a difference in the industry today. The winners represent a broad range of achievements, from hardware to software to services for small businesses and enterprises alike.

“Mozy was rated among the ‘best of the best’ for true industry excellence and innovation to be a winner of the Tech Awards Circle finalists,” said Kevin Anderson, awards program coordinator. “Our judges were impressed with the level of submissions from all the vendors entering this year’s competition, so for Mozy to be named a winner of this prestigious award is a testament to the quality and innovation shown. We wish them continued success and look forward to them defending their title during the next awards period.”

“Awards like this help remind us how fortunate we are to be part of the amazing Mozy organization, working together to build and improve this world-class backup service that is protecting our millions of customers – from individuals to Fortune 500 companies – and giving them access to their important data wherever and whenever they need it,” said Russ Stockdale, General Manager, Mozy.

Learn more about Tech Awards Circle. Learn more about Mozy.

Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – June 24

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a flying bicycle, the new PS4, and a revamped version of MySpace. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

E.T. Would Love This Flying Bicycle

Flying Bike

It’s an invention that will surely bring people back to the days they first saw E.T. fly on a bicycle in the classic 1982 film. In a convention in Prague recently a flying electric bicycle was displayed and could be seen taking off and flying with a dummy on board, says Keith Barry of Wired. Known as the “Design Your Dreams Flying Bike,” the invention was created by three Czech engineering firms who have spent the last year making it. The electric bike, which weighs 220 pounds, is lifted into the air by six horizontally mounted propellers. The creators say the finished product could be ready for use by the fall, and it will be as easy to operate as a regular bicycle. It will be able to fly anywhere from three to five minutes using electric power. The bad news? As of now the bike won’t be sold to the public.

Google Buys Popular Traffic App Waze for More Than a Billion Dollars

The mapping service company Waze, whose app is used by more than 50 million people, was purchased by Google last week for more than a billion dollars, reports Parmy Olson of Forbes. Waze’s product development team will remain in Israel and continue to operate separately for now. Google won out in a bidding war that was said to include many high rolling suitors, including Facebook and Apple. No word yet on whether Waze will become part of Google Maps or if it will continue to operate separately. Waze is popular for its community of drivers, who warn one another in real-time of upcoming traffic jams, accidents, and police traps.

MySpace Comes Back as Myspace: Will it Take Off or Crash and Burn?

MySpace is long gone, but say hello to its successor: Myspace. Other than switching from a capital “s” to a lowercase one, the company is also offering a whole new look and all new features, according to Mashable. The recently launched site has been marketed for months now with Justin Timberlake as the face behind the brand. It is now available to users, complete with an iPhone app, and it’s main focus will be on music. The vision of the new myspace, according to one of its new owners, Tim Vanderhook, is “a single place to house a profile, music, videos and fans, and a feedback system.”  Instead of building custom radio stations based on songs and user preferences like Pandora, Myspace is relying on its users— which includes many artists— to create stations.

A Look at the New PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

Sony has just unveiled it’s new PS4 model, wetting the appetite of gamers worldwide. The console actually has a familiar look to past models but a lot of upgraded features, according to Brian Barrett of Gizmodo. Features of the PS4 include improved graphics, games booting instantly from sleep, games can download in the background, an x86 processor, an 8-core combined CPU/GPU, 8 GB of unified GDDR5 memory (PS3 had 512 megabytes), a local 500GB HDD. There’s also a list of games that will be exclusive to Playstation, including favorites like Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. The console will be available sometime this holiday season and will retail for $400.

 

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App Profile: Power People’s Presence Aims to Recycle Old Mobile Apple Products into Home Security Hardware

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce some of the new programs seeking the way we live and work. This week, a Presence breathes new life into old Apple products.

Presence AppThe public’s decade-plus enrapture with Apple products has left millions of old iPods, iPhones, and even iPads sequestered to dusty drawers and closets everywhere. Yes, these products–in their heyday–were expensive and awesome, but now that they’ve been supplanted by a new generation of the product, they’re more or less useless. Instead of letting them collect dust, or worse, giving them away to someone who would actually use it, Presence by People Power, has an alternative suggestion: turn it into a remote, home security camera.

Turning a seemingly defunct mobile Apple product into a security system might appear to be an odd hack, but Presence’s inspiration actually exposes the commonplace, expensive hurdles involved in securing our homes.

“My mom’s house was burglarized twice last year. The thieves took her jewelry, laptop, and some cash, but even worse, they took away her belief that she was safe in her own home,” said Gene Wang, CEO of Power People. “After the second break-in, I helped my mom buy a security system, which cost us about $1,800 upfront, plus $48 per month.”The installation wasn’t just expensive, it was time consuming. “I watched as the installer took 1.5 days getting the system working and thought: There must be a better, cheaper, simpler way to make people feel safe in their homes.”

With Presence, Wang believes he can offer people an inexpensive (free, in fact) alternative to a usually expensive problem. Unlike most home security systems, Presence can be “installed” with a free download via the iPhone app store.

Some of the key features of Presence includes:
- A camera with two-way audio and video
- Motion detection with notifications
- Seamless dispatching of video clips to your personal email
- Security and privacy controls
- A variety of “if-then” rules
- Home and away mode
- Front or back camera remote control
- Multiple cameras per account
- How-to videos as well as online help

And while the competition is deep, Presence has one substantial advantage: it’s free. On the big brand end, companies like AT&T and Comcast have entered the home security market with Digital Life and Xfinity Home, respectively. But unlike Presence, the services are not free (i.e. setup charges and monthly fees), and involve heavy installation. Wang also mentioned startups like SmartThings and LogMeIn, as well as other small companies like Nest and Dropcam–however, again, their services are not free.

In regards to what to classify Presence as, Wang prefers to call it a “platform”–not an app. The CEO created a developer portal to the site, which offers the platform’s API so that developers can add their own hardware and software creations.

“By making Presence a ‘platform’ instead of just an app, we’re going to do far more to bring the ‘Internet of Everything’ to everyone.”

To download the free Presence platform application, visit the iTunes Store.

 

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The Big Data Business Bookshelf

The Big Data Business BookshelfBig data is everywhere these days, and many of us are trying to come up to speed on the technology. There are several books out now on this topic, and here are some tips for figuring out which ones are worth reading or best for newbies.

A good place to start is Frank Ohlhurst’s Big Data Analytics: Turning Big Data into Big Money. This is a business process and workflow treatment of the topic: you won’t find any code samples or URLs of open source repositories here. Ohlhurst, who worked with me at CMP and still writes numerous product reviews for the IT trade press, talks about ways to secure your data, structure it, and mine it for value and insights. It is a great book to give your boss.

Next is Big Data Analytics: Disruptive Technologies for Changing the Game by Arvind Sathi, a data architect for IBM. This is another great book for beginners, and identifies use cases, goes into more detail on the business processes and shows some of the main architectural elements of Big Data.

If you’re looking for something short and sweet and also free, try What Is Data Science? by Mike Loukides. You get some concrete examples of different kinds of data analysis tools and techniques and practical, real-world examples galore.

Then there is Enterprise Analytics: Optimize Performance, Process, and Decisions Through Big Data by Tom Davenport and several other authors. It covers a wider ground than some of these other books. It addresses topics including Big Data topics and a variety of other analytic techniques.

A more general overview of the major players behind Big Data is The Little Book of Big Data by Noreen Burlingame. It is a short read but a quick way to see who are the vendors making waves with this technology, including Hortonworks, Cloudera, Datameer and Karmasphere.

If you want to get more down and dirty into the technology, then the Hadoop: The Definitive Guide by Tom White is for you. White will take you through building your first Apache Hadoop cluster, the ins and outs of the Hadoop file system, how to set up MapReduce jobs, and using some of the other tools such as Pig, Zookeeper, and Hive. White works for Cloudera, one of the main commercial forces behind Hadoop.

Once you want to get more training, check out Cloudera University and Hortonworks University: both vendors have extensive programs on a multitude of topics relating to Hadoop and its offshoots, some paid and some for free. And Big Data University has dozens of courses all for free too.

 

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