Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tribute to Shep, My Favorite Dog Ever

Shep and Jason Matthews in Reno Nevada
Shep, my German Shepherd Doberman mix and best friend
It's been just over 5 years since Shep passed away. I was thinking of him today, which is pretty normal.
It doesn't surprise me how many kids like the free bedtime story at Amazon about him. He was and still is a winner.
Shep was an unwanted puppy that lived in my neighborhood. His owners weren't married, just dating, and decided to rescue him from the pound as a "thing to do." He was about 8 weeks old when they got him. Over the next several months he spent most of his time outdoors in the deep snow of Squaw Valley during the huge winter of '94-'95. How a puppy spent that much time in the snow is beyond me--good thing he had a thick coat.
As his owners grew apart, Shep may have sensed his need for a new home. When he was 9 months old I got a call from a friend asking me to take him. At first I refused, saying I hadn't gotten over the death of my previous dog, another puppy who had been hit and killed by a car right in front of me.

Shep the dog in snow at Alpine Meadows
Shep in deep snow at Alpine Meadows
Finally I gave in and went to his owner's apartment to pick him up. To my surprise, Shep jumped right into my truck and drove off with me. Later he plopped down on my bed a crashed asleep.
He never once looked back to his old home, and for the next 10 years he became my very best friend.

If you're thinking about getting a dog, I recommend rescuing one who needs it. They might just rescue you in return.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Charleen's iPhone Picture of the Sun at Carlsbad

Amazing photo of sun and lighted objects over ocean at Carlsbad California
My good friend, Charleen Buriello, took this amazing photo while walking near the beach in Carlsbad, California. She said the sun just looked different, sort of "hexagonal," and so she snapped this image with her iPhone. She also felt something, like a powerful presence about the whole situation.
Later when she looked at the photo, she noticed... it just looked incredible. The sun and the smaller well-defined white light to the right, the circular and transparent image behind that light. It all kind of gave her goose bumps in a good way.
I really love this photo and could stare at it for a long time. Plus it's a lot safer than staring at the sun.
What do you think? Other energies at play here or just some lighting effects on an iPhone?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Google Editions, Pardon Me, Google Ebooks is Here at Last!

Article first published as Google Editions, Excuse Me, Google Ebooks is Finally Here! on Technorati.

Google Ebookstore logo
Google Ebooks, not Google Editions
We expected it as announced for the summer of 2010. We also expected it to be called Google Editions. Neither of those turned out to be accurate prophesies for the highly anticipated ribbon-cutting ceremony when the world’s largest search engine would open its ebook store for business, but I guess nothing like keeping your word really matters when you’re sitting on a gazillion dollars and have a strangle-hold on the most cherished aspect of the internet.

So, fast forward from summer to the near winter of 2010 and Google Ebooks is actually here and functioning (sort of, see below). It’s good to see they abandoned the original concept of Google Editions, a term that likely would have left a few scratching heads, and went with the impossible-to-misinterpret-but rather-boring-storefront-name of Google Ebooks. Maybe they’ve finally been taking my advice on SEO tips.

A few interesting things to note:

* Google doesn’t have a dedicated reader, like Amazon’s Kindle for example.
* Google makes ebook files readable on any electronic reading device, except Amazon’s Kindle.
* Google is openly against DRM (digital rights management, an encryption code) for the intention of allowing one download to be read on several devices throughout the day. DRM was made famous and still used by, you guessed it, Amazon’s Kindle.

See a theme here? Fortunately for Amazon, it has a loyal customer base, a fine-working and inexpensive product plus a plethora of other ways to make money just in case the combination punch of Apple’s iPad and Google Ebooks eats up too much market share.

One thing that bugs me an as independent author is that Google Ebooks is not anywhere near as user-friendly a place to publish as is Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes&Noble. At those other retailers I can simply fill out the info for my ebook, upload a jpeg cover file, upload a pdf or MS Word doc, review my uploads and presto, it’s done and ready for sales.

Last night I attempted to upload some of my ebooks with Google. I tried and failed with two different methods and currently am waiting on technical support along with several other (from the help forums) independent authors. Surprisingly, Google walked me through a long-winded tutorial on how to rename your cover and content files instead of just loading them up like filling out a form. After I did so, their program had trouble recognizing my user name and password which I painstakingly made sure to type correctly about ten times. Then during an alternative approach the program would not recognize the very file names it asked me to create. And I’m a pro at this! What about all the newbies who’ve never done this before? Those User-Interface guys are mostly Stanford grads, right? You’d think they’d be smart enough to streamline a platform when they have perfectly working examples to go by.

So for now I’m happy that yet another free vendor exists to sell my ebooks, but I’ll look forward to the improvements to their system coming in the winter… maybe spring… hopefully by summer of 2011.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Obama's BCS Promise, We're Still Waiting for Change...

USC college football fans spell out the word playoffs with crimson and yellow body paint
(Article first published as Obama's BCS Promise, We're Still Waiting for Change on Technorati.)

I'm disappointed with President Obama, the candidate of "change." It's not because of the Wall Street bailout, although that really did suck. And it's not because of health care reform or the troops still in the Middle East or that the economy continues to plunge into depths even lower than the Bush administration.
No, it's because of what he said on Monday Night Football in 2008 (just before he got elected). ESPN's Chris Berman asked Obama, "If you could change one thing in sports, what would that be?" Obama's sure answer, "'s about time we had playoffs in college football. I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other... get eight teams... top eight teams right at the end... you got a playoff... decide on a national champion." He spoke with conviction, a smart answer mere days preceding the election.
That got my vote and probably plenty more from sports fans, both red and blue still on the proverbial fence. I whimsically thought, "Here's a candidate for the average American who can relate to want we really want, and he's willing to take on the corruption of powers that be."
The BCS is about as un-American as anything I can think of. How did they ever get the reigns over this sport? Like a Czarist-regime, it ensures only teams from chosen conferences have a chance to content for the top spot. If you ask college football fans what they want, they'll almost unanimously ask for a playoff system, and they'll likely have a design in mind. Like Obama, I can think of a few; it isn't that hard.
Fast forward a week later from MNF in 2008; college football fans voted in record numbers, Obama got elected and a party like never before happened. Obviously nothing materialized that season, and we understandably watched Tim Tebow lead Florida past Oklahoma, but we had hope for '09. A year went by. The next season Alabama destroyed Texas at the status-quo BCS finale, suspiciously with little said about Obama and his "election promises."
Yeah, there were some measures taken in 2010 involving the Justice Dept, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) looked into some "anti-trust" laws on how the BCS has taken over NCAA football, but I haven't seen much beyond a show for good measure and face-saving. At first we all thought, "Sweet, it's Hatch, a Utah guy who has as much beef as anyone about the unfairness of the system." That was then.
Months have passed and nothing that I've seen is promising "change" as the college season is ever-nearer a fitting end with another controversy brewing. We believe we know how it will play out. It appears the good folk of Boise State and TCU are destined to watch either Oregon and Auburn or some 1-loss team from a power conference play for the national championship, even if Boise State and TCU continue their undefeated ways in typical blowout fashion. No disrespect to deserving teams like Oregon or Auburn, but how would those kids feel if they played for Boise or TCU? March Madness is unquestionably the best thing in sports. January Madness could be pretty cool too.
So do we have to wait for the government to file a serious anti-trust suit that truly pushes for change? Can we, the American people and average-Joe-college-football fan, file one for them?
A recent Sports Illustrated article on the subject said, "We are stuck with an inexact, capricious, widely despised system." Were they talking about the BCS or politics?

What are your thoughts?
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lesson in Truckee Pride

Truckee Pride girls soccer and coach Jason Matthews
I had the good fortune to coach a group of kids in soccer this past fall. I've been playing the game for 30 years and coaching for about 4 at the AYSO recreational level. We called our newly formed team Truckee Pride since we live in the small town of Truckee, California. It was our first season playing in the competitive division of club soccer, and we went into it more than a bit unprepared for the challenge. A few of our kids had little to no experience against seasoned teams, and nearly half of our kids were young enough to be in the U12 league instead of the U13 which we played in. A result of these factors led us to play older, larger and much more experienced teams.
It wasn't fun or easy enduring a 14 loss, zero win season. Many of the early games turned into drastic blowouts. A few times the other goal-keeper never once touched the ball as we had trouble maintaining possession enough to move down the field and get off any shot, if even a weak one. Our first loss was 8-0, another was 7-0, another was 12-1 and another was 10-0. This was not only tough but disheartening as the kids gave it everything they had until the final whistle even while facing sure defeat. It felt like life was saying, "You can't win no matter what."
There were tears, plenty of them. There were temper flare-ups and sleepless nights before and after games. And I'm talking about me, not the kids.
For whatever reason they never gave up, though I wouldn't have blamed them. Even after the last game when they played their hearts out and took a very strong team well into the second half holding onto a 2-0 score and getting lots of shots ourselves, they never quit. We ended up losing 5-0 but from the amount of chances we had to score and the number of times their goalie was forced into great saves and the realization that we were making such strides, you'd of thought we had won the game by the look on their faces.
We plan on playing a lot of indoor soccer (futsol) now that the fall season is over. We want to come back in the spring and show those teams how much better we've become. We want to win at least one game in the spring and hopefully a few more. We also want to show life, "We can win no matter what."
Thank you, kids, for never quitting on the game, on me as a coach and on yourselves. If anyone's doing the coaching here, it's you kids coaching me in life and in true Pride.
Truckee Pride girls soccer and coach Jason Matthews
What do you think?
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hey California, Legalize Hemp While You're At It

marijuana hemp leaf, prop 19, legalize industrial hempWhen Californians enter booths this November, many will vote to legalize small amounts of marijuana, both hippies and the fiscally conscious. If Prop 19 passes, allowing personal marijuana (up to one ounce) to be cultivated and used by those over 21, then a slew of questions will arise: most notably if the federal government will do much about it.
There's another question flying under the radar: when to vote on legalizing hemp? In effect, Prop 19 would legalize hemp in amounts up to an ounce. The problem is that you can't do much with an ounce of hemp. Maybe make a pair of earrings or some lip balm.
Hemp is a cousin of marijuana; both are strains of the plant, Cannabis Sativa L. Like Shepherds and Chihuahuas, they're selectively cultivated for different needs. Marijuana comes from the flowering tops of strains potent in THC while hemp, or industrial hemp, is grown for its seeds, oil, food and fiber. It's not for getting high but hemp has thousands of uses.
Many argue that hemp is the real reason marijuana was made illegal in the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Hemp was heavily grown in backyards, a cash crop that was difficult to tax by the government. "Yellow journalist," William Hearst, a newspaper mogul owning timber fields and paper mills, teamed up with Andrew Mellon, the wealthiest American and investor in DuPont Chemicals. Each stood to lose millions at the prospect of hemp producing paper, nylon and medicines.
Some interesting facts on hemp:
  • It's been grown by humans for over 10,000 years, the oldest known crop for textiles. Anything made from cotton, timber, petroleum and plastics can be made by hemp. (In most cases hemp can make them better.)
  • George Washington grew hemp. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on its paper.
  • In WWII the Japanese cut off our supply of Manila hemp and the "Hemp for Victory" campaign was promoted in the US to support the war needs.
  • Ironically, it was legal to pay taxes with hemp from 1631 until the early 1900s. Refusing to grow hemp during the 17th to 19th Centuries was against the law and even punishable by jail-time in Virginia from 1763 to 1769.

Henry Ford was such an advocate he built a car with hemp plastics that was much lighter than steel and ten times as strong. The car also ran on hemp oil. See this video and others on hemp uses.
Californians will vote on legalizing marijuana. If Prop 19 passes, maybe some election soon they'll vote on legalizing hemp. Does this seem backwards to anybody else, or is it just me?


What are your thoughts?
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Monday, October 11, 2010

New Age: The Free Lunch

Article first published as The New Age: Free Lunch on Technorati.
Remember the old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” or “You have to spend money to make money?” The lunch saying began when saloon owners gave away “free” food to anyone purchasing drinks, an effective marketing ploy that was noticeably not without cost to customers. Spending, or investing, to make money was demonstrated beautifully by George Steinbrenner though the recently deceased Yankees owner was merely quoting a traditional adage.
To me, these phrases go hand in hand. The concepts are that nothing is without cost, and those who want more money must use some money wisely to make it happen. While it appears these dogmas are ingrained in the American psyche, the fact is these beliefs contradict the American Dream; opportunity exists for anyone with ability and effort regardless of their means. Thankfully, these outdated concepts are also changing before our eyes.
The internet is the true champion of all things free. I’m continually amazed at the plethora of free online resources and how much they’ve impacted my life. To name just a smidgen, how valuable are Google, Facebook and Twitter? Hard to put a price tag on what those services would be worth if I had to pay for them.
Here’s a fun headline that you’ll read someday soon (or maybe already have); Homeless Person Creates Empire with Free Tools at Library. Imagine a homeless guy; let’s call him Hal, visiting the public library daily to use the computers. Hal makes a website at a free web design venue with hosting included. He writes articles and uses public domain images to bring attention to the homeless in his city. He asks for donations. Personal checks and PayPal clicks start coming Hal’s way. He adds video and interviews to better demonstrate the plight of his friends. The website booms. Months later he’s the CEO of an upstart company that assists the poverty stricken in his city. Years later Hal’s company has gone worldwide. He raises billions and aids countless people from a venture that began with absolutely nothing invested and services available for free.
I just imagined this scenario, but there’s probably an example of Hal already in action. The naysayers clinging to tradition might argue, “Our tax dollars paid for the library, the computer, the internet connection and the electricity.” Well, sure, that’s right. Naysayers are good at that.
Do they recognize what’s happening to the price of music or video rental? Do they see the possibility of a virtual MBA from Harvard professors at the lower class home of a student in the near future?
The naysayers can stick with whatever money mantra that makes them feel secure. I firmly believe we’ve entered a new age that’s being ushered in by the internet. The Free Lunch is the latest chapter of the American Dream. Will it be prosperous for everyone like it is for Hal? Probably not, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

Thoughts or comments?
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feeling Stuck in the Tangled SEO Web?

google spider, seo spider, search engine optimization
Article first published as Feeling Stuck in the Tangled SEO Web? on Technorati. As a relative latecomer to most things internet, I still don’t manage the firmest grasp on the subject of SEO (search engine optimization). Yes, everyone knows it has to do with how website owners can assist the search engines like Google/Yahoo/Bing to find their sites, and yes, SEO is important for driving traffic. So it seems this would be a pretty clear-cut thing to do, like making sure the phone book lists your business in both the white and yellow pages.
Being a DIY type, I do what everyone does and input search terms to study the subject. Turns out the more I research SEO; the more I realize this entity is not so clear-cut. There are many variables that go into how the search engines work and what factors of your website they determine to be important. In no particular order, a partial list of the factors search engines look for are: keywords and metatag info, quality and quantity of links that point to your site, page content and that of neighboring pages, size in data of your site, duration in months/years that the site has been around, and much more. In fact, Google claims to use over 200 variables in their page ranking algorithm. (Reminds me of how the NFL quarterback rating is determined, and even though nobody claims to understand it completely, we all know that a 107% rating is a lot better than 83%.)
Fortunately there are simple things everyone can do to make their sites more revealing to the indexing spiders who work incessantly for the search engines. Namely metatag data can be added to web pages, and URL’s can be directly submitted to Google, Yahoo and Bing since the largest three internet search engines should be the best places to start. Click on those hyperlinks to go directly to their departments for submitting sites. For submitting metatag details, either check with your site designer or follow the tutorials for places like WordPress, Blogger and with site-building programs like Dreamweaver and FrontPage.
Additionally one may find dozens of alternative search engines and index companies that promise assistance with this SEO enigma. Because many of these companies charge money or require email address with no reassuring privacy policy, I’d rather not use them. I did find one company that’s been around since 1996 and seems to have an excellent free program as well as paid services for those that want to maximize results. Check out ScrubTheWeb for their free SEO test. It’s a lot of fun to see how they rank your website on a scale from 1 to 100, and if they find glaring errors that aren’t in your favor (e.g., the title has more than 60 characters) they’ll let you know.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Want International Readers? Use Translation Widgets

Article first published as Expand Your International Blog Readership with Translation Widgets on Technorati.
If you want people from all over the world enjoying your blog or getting the most from your website, it makes sense to add a translation widget for those who don’t prefer reading in English. Seems pretty obvious so why did I just recently stumble onto this concept? I’d like to appeal to people who speak Chinese or Spanish as much as possible, not to mention Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, etc.
It’s true that English is both a common first language and the most popular second language with an estimated 600 million people that know it even though it’s not their native tongue. However, there are several billion people that don’t speak, let alone read, English. Why not enable your website and blog to additionally cater to the preferences of several billion people?
Yeah, I’m a bit slow to most things internet. It’s great to discover the amazing world of technology has nifty widgets one can add to any site to handle this translation gap. Google Translate is one that I’ve just added to my sites, and it currently works for 53 languages. 53, huh? That should cover the needs for most of those several billion people. This HTML code can easily be placed in either the sidebar area or main body of any site (see example). Free bloggers can’t use JavaScript so their implementation needs a “walkaround” which I found here and was happily surprised to see it work at my blog.
There are plenty of other translation tools. Since some of them cost money and others are free, I chose to list those from the later group. A partial list of venues for free translation widgets includes: Microsoft Translator WidgetConvey This, Kwintessential, Free Website Translation and Virtual Language. I still haven’t tried most of these so maybe others can comment on pros and cons.
So get your sites and blogs multilingual and network with several billion new people.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Future of Web-designers, Extinction or Evolution?

Article first published as Future of Web-designers: Extinction or Evolution?; on Technorati.

Often times I wonder, is the future of web-designers extinction or evolution? Extinction is probably a harsh word. After all, we don't hold web-designers in the same boat with accident attorneys, IRS collection employees or oil and pharmaceutical executives. Evolution is really a better term for web-designers, as in they'll likely need to evolve to stay afloat. I say this because their services are similar to others that are destined to be obsolete in the near future, like video rental warehouses and brick and mortar bookstores. You might ask, however, why is the future uncertain for web-design? Well, because it's incredibly easy for anyone to build their own website and to do it for free. Part of this is really my own much needed therapy; it's a rant of pent up energy after spending several thousand dollars on four different web-designers over the past few years, especially after learning, to my painful amusement, that I could have built the sites myself for free. Now that so many web and blog hosting services offer both the space at their venues and the site-building software included, absolutely anyone can make his/her own website and edit it to hearts content for no cost. Don't believe me? Check out these dot coms: webs, yola, wordpress, blogger, weebly, wetpaint, webstarts, viviti, forummotion and so many others. Most of these companies didn't exist when I first hired out for a site, and you can bet on it that many more are popping up all the time. The competition will only increase to give users more flexibility, bandwidth, applications and ease of use when it comes to making their websites. Oh, and of course it will absolutely have to be free of cost. Yes, a pure dot com domain still costs a bit, about $10 per year, but does it really matter anymore if your domain name ends with the extra suffix as in Hardly anyone manually types in a URL these days; they click on links to go everywhere. Wouldn't surprise me if you could get the pure dot com for free pretty soon. That would be a nice feature for a fledgling free web-hosting company. I can see it soon, custom domain names included for free! So what are these $120/hr web-designers going to do in the not so distant future? My guess is they'll either work for the rich and lazy or specialize in increasingly complex sites. Today the average Joe has plenty of options for getting a name, business and online identity happening at absolutely no cost. Read more:
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Ebook, How to Make Your Own Free Website: And Your Free Blog Too

How to Make Your Own Free Website ebook by Jason Matthews
This ebook is brand new and scheduled for Amazon Kindle release on Sept 21st. If you want to learn how to make your own free website, then look no further. Especially designed for those without knowledge of HTML coding, the guide highlights free web hosting and blogging sites that come with easy to use site building software. See examples at and

Easy to follow and packed with no cost methods, tips and online programs that will help anyone make a free website. It's written by Jason Matthews, author of The Little Universe, Jim's Life and How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

CreateSpace and the $39 Pro Plan

CreateSpace logo
I get occasional emails from readers of my ebook with questions on CreateSpace like “Does this cost money?,” “Where's the $39 Pro Plan” and so on. per the free question; it all depends on you. It can be 100% free if you can do it yourself. Can you format a document to fill pages of a book? If so, then you can do it. You can also make a book cover with a graphics software like Gimp or Inkscape or use one of their custom templates. I opted to do it myself. and had major and minor hurdles with Microsoft Word for the interior files and Inkscape for the cover design, but I did get past them. I've done three books this way and now feel much more familiar and efficient with the process.
If anyone's interested, this is what I said to a friend recently about it;
CreateSpace is Amazon’s print on demand company. They offer a range of services for writers to make books in print. It can be a totally do-it-yourself and 100% free experience, or it can also be catered to your needs with a lot of bells and whistles (and far from free). I chose the free version and have done 3 books this way. But when it came time to actually order a proof copy (something required by them before your book goes live and usually costs me between $6 and $9 and includes shipping), I also chose the $39 Pro Plan which allows me a significant reduction on cost per books that I buy and a better royalty payment when others buy the paperback through Amazon or CreateSpace. But you won’t get prompted (or have any need) for the $39 Pro Plan until you’re at that stage of ordering your proof copy. This will only be necessary after you have filled in all the pertinent information about your book and after you have uploaded both the interior files and the cover file and submitted it for publishing (which is a review by them) and it has been accepted and a proof needs to be ordered. Then it makes sense to get the Pro Plan which they will give you prompts for.
First go to Click on the link for Authors – Make your books available. Under Book, click Create One (or Learn More if you want to read it from them).
It will then ask you to either sign in with an existing Amazon account or to create one.
Afterward there will be a series of prompts and items to fill in which should be self-explanatory.
They also have an excellent community support forum that can do an even better job with instructions, and in some cases you’ll find detailed answers for the exact same questions that have been asked by others in the past. Here’s the link for the community support forum
For much more information and advice on free methods to sell ebooks, please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free. You can also contact me by email without any of the following spaces, jason @ the little universe (dot) com
Home Page of author Jason Matthews.
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Monday, August 16, 2010

You Can Make Free Websites and Sell Ebooks Anywhere

I'm continually amazed how easy it is for anyone to sell ebooks these days. You can sell ebooks in so many ways: from your own sites with PayPal buttons, from online ebook stores like Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Barnes&Noble and more. You can also sell ebooks via eBay and other auctioneers.

How much do you think this has to cost you? Zip, it's all 100% totally free. And if you want to sell physical print books, you can do that for free too with CreateSpace from Amazon. And the best part is this, you can now sell ebooks and make a name for yourself and hopefully make lots of money. You know the old saying, "you have to spend money to make money?" Well, it's just not true in this case.

Now is the best time ever to be an independent, self-published author. If you'd like to sell ebooks and do it with no cost methods, just contact me or read my ebook on selling ebooks, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

What do you think? Comments?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Google Alerts, an Invaluable Online Tool

 I seriously love this program and use it everyday.
 Google Alerts are simply wonderful. If you want to know about anything online that has to do with you, like your name, ebook, URL for a download page or something else, Google will tell you as soon as it’s online. It happens within a day of any posting. That goes for a blog entry, comment at some obscure forum, a written article or a page on somebody's site. It’s great tool and free of cost.
Here’s an alert I just got, and I was happy to know that someone posted this.
Or if there's an illegal sharing of my ebooks or download page, I can find out about that too.
To be aware of anyone online who could be talking about you or something you care about, Google Alerts are the way to find out about it.
For those who intend to sell ebooks, Google Alerts is a mandatory tool.
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Battle for Ebook Supremacy Rages On

Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, recently announced that sales figures for Kindle ebooks passed those figures for hardcovers. He commented for every 100 hardcover books sold, 143 Kindle ebooks were sold for a three-month period and 180 Kindle ebooks last month alone. He also said three times as many Kindles were sold in the first half of this year than for that of 2009. Some people question these numbers but it’s clear that ebook sales are accelerating much faster than paper sales.
It's also true that the iPad is selling by the hundreds of thousands. Steve Jobs has a hit with Apple fans as the iPad is capable of doing many things. Web-browsing, watching movies, checking email, playing games and other activities make the iPad the choice for people who want to do much more than just read.
Barnes & Noble slashed the price of its WiFi only Nook to $149 and the WiFi plus 3G Nook to $199. These prices are lower than the Kindle at $189 and Kindle DX for $379. Barnes & Noble may be forced to take drastic measures now that they’ve fully entered this battle. They are the largest physical space bookseller and may have finally recognized their survival depends on selling ebooks en masse.
Besides that, Borders has the Kobo, Sony's got the Reader, Google Editions unveils itself soon and many other devices like one from Sharp are in contention to sell ebooks. So with all these providers and gadgets in an ebook market, is there room for everyone?
Probably not. But at least some things are evident:
1. Apple has no real competition. Because the iPad does infinitely more than just read books and because their fans are loyal until death, that product is a guaranteed winner. I wonder whether Indie authors will do better by selling ebooks through their iBookstore or if it's necessary to create an App.
2. Amazon has been in this game for a long time. The Kindle is highly preferred by people who just want to read. One problem with the Kindle is its .mobi format, primarily unique to Amazon and not compatible with most other devices. Though Bezos is firmly committed to lowered costs for ebooks and since Amazon does much more than just sell ebooks; it seems that Amazon will surely be around for many years.
3. Barnes & Noble could easily lose the most as it must stay afloat in this ebook battle. Since they didn’t take charge early on, I’m curious if that hesitancy will cost them. Enormous physical stores are expensive to operate, and all B&N does is sell books. Perhaps they can stay afloat but it will more likely happen if the Nook is simply perfect and they continue to drop prices for ebooks. To me, theirs is the most precarious position.
4. As for everyone else, there may or may not be room for a dozen other sellers and devices. Google Editions will be a winner because… well, because they’re Google and they’ve got gillions to cushion any mistakes. For the others it may come down to who can make the best device that sells for the least amount of money. We saw Sony die in a battle with Betamax versus VHS many years ago, but we also know that Macintosh can comfortably exist next to the domination of the PC. Mergers and acquisitions also loom large here, so who might get in bed together? Google and Barnes & Noble? Seems possible.
5. The only absolute certainty… it’s never been a better time to be a writer, Indie author or a self-publisher. Of course the odds are against success, but with persistence and a good product the chances improve dramatically now that there are so many means of making a writing career into a reality.
To learn more about How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for FREE, please visit ebooksuccess4free.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Can Make Free Websites with

Not long ago I didn't realize one could have free websites with free hosting. While waiting for a design outfit to build a site for me, I started surfing online and searching terms like “free websites.” Soon I found and began playing around with a design to sell my novels.

While expensive professionals were building my site, I started building a free version called I couldn’t believe how easy it came together and that it accomplished what I needed it to do, plus it was about as nice as the site the pros built.

Since then I’ve tried other free website hosting companies. I believe is the best and still recommend it to people looking to create their own site for both personal use and business use. There’s another free site of mine at

For any questions, contact me.
Click here for the home page of Jason Matthews, spiritual fiction author.

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+Jason Matthews

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Little Universe Published with CreateSpace

CreateSpace is really terrific. I still can't believe it’s free to create a book with them. It's a do-it-yourself format, but if you're comfortable with that then it's the way to go. There's only one thing I have to pay for, one proof copy must be made and shipped to me. Then I have to approve that before it's live (for sale), and that’s it. Surprisingly, the proof just costs $9 to make and ship, which is less than going to my local printing store and making a copy of my manuscript. Crazy! Publishing a book is less than copying the manuscript?

CreateSpace makes a webpage for my physical book and also Amazon makes a webpage for sales, and much of the profits go to me. It's the best option for POD (print on demand) publishing (as long as you're okay with the DIY format).

Of course both of the ebooks are still available at Amazon. That's free as well. I really can't believe all these options are out there for free.

Any questions? Just leave a comment or contact me at one of my websites.
Click here for the home page of Jason Matthews, spiritual fiction author.

add me to your Google Plus circles.

+Jason Matthews

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Toying with the Idea of a hosting a Writing Contest

A friend suggested I should host a writing contest based on the teachings in my book, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks - All for FREE. I thought, "Hey, maybe yeah."

The first thought was prize money. I'm not sure how much actual cash I could give away, but there are a lot of benefits to winning this. Besides cash, what would the winner get for prizes?
- A free website with free hosting.
- A free blog with free hosting.
- Your manuscript published as ebooks.
- eBook cover design.
- eBook interior formatting.
- Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple iBookstore and other major retailers selling your ebooks.
- A completely automated system that sells your ebooks and puts money in your PayPal account.
 - publicity/advertising/marketing complements of Ebooksuccess4free.

What are the contest rules?
- Contestants must follow the advice within the book, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks - All for FREE. They must make, market and sell ebooks by only using free methods and especially those outlined in the book. Methods that are not included in the book are only allowed if they are also free of cost.
- Contestants must be 13 years of age or more or have signed parental consent.
- Writing for ebooks and websites must be available in English.

This is just the first thought ramblings. I'd love to hear from anyone interested.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Use StatCounter to Keep Track of Visitors logo

There’s so much value in knowing how much traffic your websites are experiencing and which online advertising efforts are working best. For some sites, like my WordPress blog, built-in stats are included that are relatively basic in what they tell me. For other sites, like my main site, I have terrific in-depth stats through cpanel, stats that show exact IP addresses of visitors, countries of origin, time spent at site, etc. And for the rest of my sites I have nothing and all, no built-in stat monitoring.  That’s when alternative means are needed to figure out how the traffic is doing.
In those cases, I use a free service called StatCounter. What is StatCounter? A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats. Insert a simple piece of code on your web page or blog and you will be able to analyze and monitor all the visitors to your website in real-time.
Most of my sites, this one too, have a little StatCounter icon somewhere on the page. That tells how many visitors per day/week/year are visiting. Then I can do experiments to see what helps boost traffic the most. Maybe one week it’s concentrating on promoting my books on Facebook. The next week utilizing Twitter or Ezine articles or forums on my subjects. Then it’s time to watch the response from traffic, whether it’s staying flat or experiencing sharp spikes, and I get a sense for which efforts are paying off with increased traffic.
For example, as soon as a blog post goes through with WordPress or Blogger, a quick rise in visits are almost guaranteed as people around the world get a glimpse of any post. Conversely, if I spend a bunch of time on Authonomy (a writer’s forum) and get little results at a webpage I’ve attempted to bring traffic to, then that says Authonomy forum isn’t a great place to spend time and effort.
How to use StatCounter? Visit the site and follow the prompts to create an icon widget for your desired URL. Also make sure to check the box that excludes your own IP address so it doesn’t count your own visits. Then insert the widget with its code somewhere on your desired webpage. You can make it invisible or visible, allow people to see your stats or not; all choices are up to you.
It’s also fun, especially when more people start showing up.
Click here for the home page of Jason Matthews, spiritual fiction author.

add me to your Google Plus circles.

+Jason Matthews

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Team USA Advances in World Cup in Breathtaking Style!

Landon Donovan and team USA advance in 2010 World Cup in dramatic style
Speechless. I'm utterly speechless after watching Landon Donovan's goal in stoppage time to propel team USA to win their group and advance to the knockout round of the 2010 World Cup.
Another controversy was brewing as the USA suffered another disallowed goal on the linesman's call against Clint Dempsey for being offside (as the replay showed he wasn't). That would have put the US up 1-0 in the first half.
Then came the entire 2nd half with chance after chance that had our boys constantly knocking on the Algerian goalie's door but unable to put the ball in the net.
After 90 minutes of play, team USA was 3 minutes away from being eliminated from the World Cup.
Finally, in the 91st minute, into stoppage time, our boys gave a great run and shot on goal which was blocked but not cleared... and Landon Donovan scored the biggest goal of his life!
Cardiac kids, last minute miracle makers, very very fortunate... call them what you will. I just know how much I love this team USA and wish them further success in this great World Cup of 2010.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Amazon, Barnes & Noble Slash Prices to Sell Ebooks

Barnes&Noble's Nook e-reader

Barnes & Noble has added a half-ounce, Wi-Fi only Nook and lowered the price of its e-reader by $50 in a move to encourage sales. The device will retail at stores like Best Buy for just $150. The world’s largest brick and mortar bookseller also dropped the price of its original 3G Nook from $259 to $199. Although ebooks themselves haven’t dropped much yet; Barnes & Noble still prices ebooks primarily in the $9.99 to $14.99 range which, to me, still seems pretty high. Both Sony and Kobo (Borders) have e-readers for $149 but neither currently has Wi-Fi capabilities.
So how did Amazon respond? The world’s largest online bookseller dropped the price of its basic Kindle from $259 to $189. The 3G enabled 10 ounce device has tremendous sales numbers and loyalty from consumers. Amazon still offers ebooks primarily in the $9.99 to $14.99 range though they have fiercely pressured the big six publishing houses to lower prices on all ebooks.
Obviously both of these moves are in response to Apple’s iPad, which retails for a starting price of $499 but does much more than just read books. Amazon and B&N are wisely doing whatever it takes to keep the book reading consumers in their camps while Apple easily runs off with the app-lovers.
What’s next on this front? Clearly the prices of ebooks will drop, and they’ll likely drop dramatically in just a few years. I can’t see how they can remain high for much longer, especially when more and more authors are willing to sell ebooks directly to customers without getting trapped by publishing house standards of old.
What’s the best way to sell ebooks? Drop the price of your e-reading device.
What’s the next best way to sell ebooks? Drop the price of the ebooks.
Another victory for Independent authors.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Uploadnsell for selling ebooks

One of my readers informed me about Uploadnsell, a website and program for selling electronic files (or to sell ebooks). Normally I’m a “more the better” fan for things like this, as in the more places to sell ebooks the better, but in this case I’m not convinced and have decided not to upload and sell my ebooks with them.
Definitely the strongest selling point they have is that there are no fees or commissions with Uploadnsell. They guarantee 100% of the profits (after PayPal’s cut) to the authors and claim to make their money entirely through advertising. That’s the good part.
The rest is what makes me not so interested. For starters, there is no bookstore for anyone browsing. A customer needs to already know about your ebook, want to purchase your ebook and have the direct link to buy your ebook, and that is information they’ll have to get from you. To sell an ebook this way, you will have to do all the marketing and get someone to want to buy your ebook, then they’ll click on the Uploadnsell link and the process goes through PayPal and then a download page. Well, that’s funny because that’s exactly what I recommend doing for the times that you sell from your own website and blog. You don’t need a third party to do this when it can easily be accomplished for free on your own.
Uploadnsell requires you to give your PayPal account information to them to handle transactions. Now even though they are likely ethical businesspeople, I really don’t enjoy giving out my banking information to anybody unless I have to. Especially considering that their website is somewhat basic, still in Beta mode without much evidence of customers, and it contains more typos than I’d like to see (feels as if English is a 2nd language). Currently it just doesn’t feel professional enough to make me want to do that.
So I’d love to hear from anyone who has experiences with them. I could be totally wrong (wouldn’t be the first time), but I’m presently more than a bit skeptical. Can you sell ebooks successfully with Uploadnsell? If so, please share with the rest of us.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Cup 2010 Maybe Best Ever for American Interest

You're probably well aware that World Cup 2010 in South Africa begins this Friday, June 11. ESPN and (partner) ABC will cover it, and they've blasted commercials for months now. I can't remember one event being hyped so much for so long. Clearly ESPN is working the advertising dollars to the max.

And my guess is... it's going to work. The Beckham Experiment (to raise soccer's popularity in the US) may not have done all it was meant to do, but this World Cup may come at just the right time and have just the right ingredients. Let's look at a few reasons why:

Placement. In 2002 the South Korea/Japan hosted World Cup was 13 to 16 hours time difference from the US and suffered limited viewership because most of the prime games started around 2am or 5am in the states. Even thought the US squad exceeded expectations by reaching the final eight teams left, it still was a huge challenge to watch live games. South Africa is a mere 6 to 9 hours difference for American viewers living between the East and West coasts. This means fairly reasonable hours for Easterners (10am and 2:30pm with a few games at 7:30am in the first round only) while people on PST are able to watch most games as well at 7am and 11:30am. This was also the time difference in 2006 with Germany as the host, although America didn't play well in a tough group and had no chance of advancing into the 2nd round. (The US squad did, however, nearly do the unprecedented by almost beating eventual champion Italy with only 9 American players and a late goal taken away from US for a controversial goalie interference along with 2 horrible red cards by poor reffing.) It's certain that more US viewers than ever before will watch these games. We watch March Madness during the workday, we can watch World Cup.

For 2010, a favorable US group draw means America's best chance to advance to the 2nd round. Although England is a heavy group favorite, the US should secure points against Slovenia and Algeria. Not to take them lightly, but we are predicted to advance and Americans have trouble supporting those who don't do well in sports. Let's hope we do advance where anything can happen in the single-elimination format of the 2nd round, and American sports fans can easily cheer for a squad with a chance to pull an upset over a team like (probably) Germany. And we all know how the US is genetically programmed to love a chance at beating not only England but Germany too.

Recent success in South Africa at the Confederations Cup 2009. The US had its most impressive performance last summer on the same soil with late heroics that enabled a left-for-dead squad to miraculously reach the 2nd round where we shocked the world by beating heavyweight Spain 3-2 to advance to the finals. The US then had a 2-0 lead over Brazil at the half but eventually gave up 3 goals and lost to the powerful Brazilians. The US did impress many last summer in South Africa, including building confidence for themselves. Let's hope our boys can run with that memory.

The popularity of soccer is rising here big time. It's estimated that 20 million youths play soccer in America, easily more than any sport. The professional league is also hugely successful as the MLS is now in its 15th season. It started at 10 teams in 1996 and has expanded to 16 current teams which will evolve to 18 teams in 2011. Attendance and money are good despite a troubled US economy that has many other sports teams suffering badly. The women's league, the WPS, is now into their 2nd season and hopes to continue with success where few professional leagues for women have found any. With the ever-growing rise in popularity, a good showing by the US squad under excellent ESPN coverage should do much to bolster new fans.

Since 1930 there have been 18 World Cups held (for men's teams). Like the Olympics it only comes every 4 years, but in contrast teams must qualify for a chance to play and it is viewed by a billion more people. This is the world's most popular sport by far and judging from youth participation, that's also true in the US. In 2018 the US is likely to host its 2nd World Cup. By then I believe we will not only have embraced the event but we may even have a chance at winning one.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Paperback Version Available with Amazon and CreateSpace

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE is now available as a paperback via Amazon and CreateSpace. Guess what it cost me to publish there? Nothing, not one penny, because it’s all free. Well, that’s not entirely true. CreateSpace does require that authors order a physical copy first, which they call a proof, and have it in their hands before they sign off and allow it to be live. Printing and shipping the proof cost 6 bucks. I also opted (optionally) to upgrade to the ProPlan for $39. That allows authors to get a better price on their own books as well as make a better royalty on any sales. However, I immediately ordered 15 copies for myself to give to reviewers and received them all delivered for just 46 bucks which is basically 3 bucks apiece. Nice.
Reminds me of the days I published with Authorhouse and literally spent thousands of dollars on editing and marketing bells and whistles, plus I had to pay about $9 for each book I ordered before shipping. What a waste of money that was. Never, never again.
The only complaint I’ve heard in the CreateSpace forums over product quality is occasionally large orders will have some scratches or flaws in the cover. Not to worry because I also hear CreateSpace will honor any rejects with replacement copies. So far my experience has been entirely positive with the minor exceptions of learning the ins and outs of interior book formatting and cover design. Since it’s a total do-it-yourself experience that’s what makes it free. Their forum help is really valuable and got me past my minor issues.
If you want to sell ebooks and if you want some physical copies on hand, then please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE to get some tips on doing this without breaking your piggy bank.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Apple Reports 2 Million iPads sold in just 2 Months

While some dispute the number, Apple claims to have sold 2 million iPads in less than two months as fans and critics alike weigh in on the pros and cons of iPad. If the sales figure is inaccurate, it’s still a safe bet they sold a boatload anyway for a tablet device that critics said nobody needed and doesn’t play flash. And if it is the right number, at a starting point of $500 apiece, over a billion dollars worth of sales in two months is good business by any standard. Remember sales were first introduced in the US while much of the world has just gotten their chance or are still waiting. Apple predicts over 7 million units will sell in the first year. And even though some competitors like Microsoft and HP are dragging feet to get their own products on the store shelves, it appears that room exists for everybody. Even though I’m stoked for this device and the ones to follow for what it means to self-publishing, I still have some questions that typically keep me holding out for several months before leaping in with a purchase. One question is how many first generation issues and/or bugs will need resolving? And while that happens, how will the updated versions of Google’s Android and other competitors evolve and lower prices even more?
What I don’t question is the giant step the iPad, Android and other devices are doing to help us Independent authors sell ebooks. Sure, most people prefer movies and music on their tablets but Apple has reported 1.5 million books sold in just the first month. I haven’t heard the recent tally but it should easily be over 2 mil.
While time will be the ultimate factor in the apparent success of the iPad, for now I’ll just focus on yet another platform to work from and sell ebooks. Thank you, Kindle, for getting this whole ball rolling.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pubit by Barnes & Noble lets Indie Authors Sell Ebooks Directly

Yeah, it’s here, it’s here at last. Pubit by Barnes & Noble is finally coming this summer 2010 which means Indie authors like you and me can upload our ebooks to the bookseller and sell ebooks. Hooray! Except wait… my ebooks are already on Barnes & Noble. They have been for months (see here and here and here). It’s a little thing called that gets my ebooks formatted into every format (epub, mobi, lrf, pdb, etc) and sells ebooks with 85% royalties to me and they also get my ebooks into Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Sony and Kobo. It’s also a free service.
So should I be excited about Barnes & Noble’s Pubit or just kinda ho-hum? I guess it’s sorta exciting but since I’m already there, maybe not so much.
The skinny on Pubit is that it will sell ebooks in epub format (good for Nook, iPad and many readers but not that Kindle thing from a major competitor). Authors will probably get a 70% royalty which seems to be the evolving standard with major retailers as Amazon moves to 70% this July and Apple is already there. Ebooks will be encrypted with DRM (Digital Rights Management) which fights piracy and has plenty of controversy already. Customers will be able to browse ebooks in their entirety in the store (not at home obviously) just as they would be able to browse a paper book.
I went ahead and signed up for notification when Pubit is ready. What the heck, let’s see if authors can get double shelf placement and determine if the sales and royalties are better with B & N directly or with B & N via Smashwords.
Some final thoughts. What took B & N so long to make this decision? Maybe a little something called Apple’s iBookstore or Google Editions or that darned competitor Amazon Kindle just made them feel like they were missing the boat. Even though they weren’t. Hmm…sorta like a paradox.
Oh well, time to sell the ebooks. As usual.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sell Ebooks Everywhere, Sell POD Books with CreateSpace

Okay, if you’re going to print some physical copies of a book, it’s tough to beat CreateSpace. They’re a free experience and owned by Amazon so you automatically get placement on (the world’s largest bookstore). Even though I sell ebooks and even teach others to sell ebooks, it does make sense to have physical copies available for reviewers, on display when speaking, or just out there in case someone from Zimbabwe really wants my print version book. With CreateSpace, there is the matter of needing to be a do-it-yourself type of person. I definitely ran into painful stumbling blocks with both interior formatting and cover design, but now that those are in the background I’ve just published my first book with CreateSpace and am about to do 2 more. Feels good holding the printed version!
Now, even though it’s free there are a few ways to spend money with them. I upgraded to the Pro Plan for $39 a year. It allows the author to get better royalties on sales and also buy his/her own book a bit cheaper. I just bought 15 copies for reviewers and think I already almost made my 39 bucks back. Wouldn’t surprise me if I order more soon. I got 15 books delivered for $46. Amazing. The only other cost is that they require you to order and approve a proof copy before your book goes live. That means physically producing a book and mailing it to me. That cost 6 bucks. Okay, so I’m in for 45 required bucks which is certainly something I can live with. Beats the hell out of the thousands I spent back in 2004 with Authorhouse.
Fortunately the first couple of reviews have come in at Amazon Kindle for How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE. I was glad to see both reviewers got good info from the book and have since contacted me. Part of selling books is networking and being active in the whole writer/reader/information forum.
Just yesterday this page at CreateSpace appeared. Another nice perk to going POD with them, and it costs nothing.
The Amazon page is still under construction. I have no idea why the CreateSpace page instantly appears when the proof has been approved, but the Amazon page takes 10 to 15 days to appear (and it comes in stages). Great, can I wait ’til all the stages are complete before I start sending people the Amazon link? Maybe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dan Poynter and ParaPublishing are Self-Publishing Must Haves

Self-publishing has a few gurus that have profoundly influenced the field. Dan Poynter is certainly one of them.
From his Amazon bio; Dan Poynter is an author of more than 100 books, has been a publisher since 1969 and is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). He is an evangelist for books, an ombudsman for authors, an advocate for publishers and the godfather to thousands of successfully-published books. His seminars have been featured on CNN, his books have been pictured in The Wall Street Journal and his story has been told in US News & World Report. The media come to Dan because he is the leading authority on book publishing…
There is more, much much more including books on parachuting which can be found at his website, Now that I think of it, jumping out of a plane and self-publishing do bring up similar feelings for those about to take the leap for the first time.
Several years back I resisted reading his Self-Publishing Manual because I still clung to hopes of being discovered traditionally. This is the guide that reviewers refer to with words like “the bible on self-publishing,” “everything you need,” and “the indispensable guide.” I finally did get to it once I realized doing it myself might actually be in my best interest, and the process has become everything I hoped for with the future looking bright.
What I like most about Dan, aside from the massive wealth of information he provides (some of which is totally free if you just visit his website and sign up for his email newsletter), is that he wholeheartedly encourages and empowers others to do exactly what he’s doing: making dreams into realities and being your own boss. He also welcomes the new age of selling ebooks and embraces every form of Social Media, software, internet platforms and devices that are revolutionizing the way we network, do business, share information and ultimately change the world for the better.
Of course self-publishing is hard work that requires realistic expectations and time-lines. If you want to sell books and sell ebooks, then you’ll not only need to check out advice from Dan, John Kremer, people like myself and others, but you’ll also have to work hard to produce the best writing you can and to produce and market it in the ways that have been proven successful by others. You’ll also likely need to create a few of your own unique methods.
If you have any interest in self-publishing, do yourself the favor of getting to know the advice of Dan Poynter. If you want help with goal-setting, to sell ebooks, to write a best-seller, get professional reviews, have a myriad of resources, you name it… ParaPublishing is a must visit experience.
And if you want to make, market and sell ebooks all for free, then see my book and tips for no cost methods of doing just that.