Episode 179 – WordPress 5.0, Getting Personal, & Creating a Multiverse

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Question of the Week: Would it be as big a story if a major retailer like Amazon allegedly discriminated against LGBT books, or is the story the same magnitude no matter where that discrimination happens?

Happy Labor Day! Jim and Bryan each ran special sales this week (discount book descriptions and reviewer submissions) and chatted at length about tips on sending personal emails, dealing with fear, and changing up your Facebook Ads. After thanking their patrons Thawed, The Hat Trick Series, and The Dragon Rustler, the emperors of entrepreneurship discussed news stories on earning from shorter works, WordPress 5.0, waiting to promote your books, creating a shared universe, and alleged discrimination from Playster. This week’s Question of the Week: Would it be as big a story if a major retailer like Amazon allegedly discriminated against LGBT books, or is the story the same magnitude no matter where that discrimination happens??
What You’ll Learn:
  • How authors can improve their email click rates with a personal touch
  • How authors can recognize and overcome their writing insecurities
  • How authors can improve Facebook ad performance with experimentation
  • Why authors shouldn’t underestimate the selling potential of short stories
  • How a new change to the WordPress framework could have major website repercussions
  • What advice bestselling author Hugh Howey gave to beginning writers
  • How to create a multi-author universe and what benefits writers can expect
  • Why some authors claim that Playster is discriminating against LGBT+ books
Links:

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  • Would it be worse if the New York Times were spreading fake news rather than Breitbart? Definitely, but if the last year is any indication, even a minor player can cause a big problem. It’s the same way with Playster. We can’t allow discrimination in any form without inviting discrimination in every form—the exception, of course, being discrimination against discriminators.

  • Lavie Margolin

    It certainly would be a huge story if Amazon was engaging in such practices. Amazon is smarter than that.

  • Spider McGee

    YUGE news. As far as I know, Amazon only cares about money. As long as it’s legal, Amazon seems to be down with it — as the kids say. I mean, the kids still living in 1991.

  • Spider McGee

    Also, I consider myself hip to the develoments in self-publishing. As you know, I’m very aware of market trends. But, until today, I don’t remember ever hearing about Playster. I thought that was some kind of pre-school TV network that your low-rent cable company put in place of Nickelodeon when their contract negotiations ended with Viacom. Like when they put TV One in place of BET, thinking you won’t notice. If someone puts reruns of The Jeffersons on your TV all day, man — you’re gonna notice.

  • Emma Alisyn

    Ethically speaking, it would be just as big a story if Amazon did it. Practically speaking it only matters that Playster excludes LGBT titles if they have negatively affected an author’s income. I’d think of it as the canary, though—if they show that they are willing to police content (and it isn’t proven that this wasn’t a tech glitch) then I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot poll, because that means they can decide some of the things I write are objectionable. That’s the REAL issue with content policing. Humans with prejudices and soapboxes and agendas make those decisions, and that can affect income in real life. I’d rather just deal with someone who only cares about money. Then I can write what I want.

  • Caro Begin

    Ref WordPress 5.0/Gutenberg: from a quick glance at this article:
    https://kinsta.com/blog/gutenberg-wordpress-editor/
    It looks like it would affect the .org version (unsure about the .com).
    Reviews to date are not looking good! It’s still in Beta, but right now the Gutenberg plugin has an average of 2.3 out of 5 stars
    https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/gutenberg/reviews/
    73 of the 125 reviews gave it a 1-star rating, so maybe it needs a bit more work before it’s ready to be incorporated into the WordPress core files.

    I’m a WordPress developer, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

    By the way, the .com version has come a long way. There’s now a “professional plan” that allows users to upload plugins/themes/custom code. These things were impossible just a couple of years ago, but if users are willing to cough up the money to pay for the most expensive monthly plan, they can now do pretty much everything that can be done with the self-hosted .org version, including uploading a (custom) theme and incorporating Google Analytics.
    See here for more info: https://wordpress.com/pricing/

  • Crissy Moss

    The truth is all companies discriminate in one fashion or another. Some might agree with them on some of it, like Amazon removing explicit books that depict bestiality, but it’s still discrimination. There are a growing number of services out there built around true freedom of speech (as in they do not want to censor anything other than direct threats or illegal activity) but even they are being forced to censor things by their web hosting service.

    Would it be a bigger story if Amazon censored people? Yes, the whole erotica purge from Amazon a few years ago was pretty big. Everyone was talking about it, online and offline.

    The bigger problem is the idea that we should censor things because we don’t like them, and going as far as to get the web hosting service to force companies to censor it. But no one fights back until it effects them. Just because they are silencing people you don’t like today doesn’t mean they won’t come after you tomorrow.

  • I see Facebook ads for Playster, but that’s it so far.

    I think people focusing some energy on Amazon’s competition (no matter how little competition it is at this point) is important. We don’t want Amazon to be the only place that matters. They are big enough already.

  • Being a WordPress author, contributor, speaker and professional, I’d love to assure you guys:

    Gutenberg will be coming to both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

    Gutenberg is more an evolution of the current editor, created under the pressure of various page builder plugins/themes. If you like Divi or Visual Composer (which is being used in great amounts of popular themes), the step towards Gutenberg should be easy for you. It uses the same ideology. It’s actually where the entire ecosystem has been moving towards. The beta plugin has a fairly poor rating right now. However, don’t let this stop you, as this is mostly due to a group of users unwilling to change (and being fairly active in downranking Gutenberg in an organized manner).

    Being active in the community here in Belgium and the Netherlands, I see dominantly positive reactions to Gutenberg. Only a small portion of users don’t like it. And for those users there’s following plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/glutenburg-free/. It’s WordPress, so we have a fitting solution for anyone and everyone 😉

    I’d suggest testing the beta (https://wordpress.org/plugins/gutenberg/). I’ve been using it for a couple of months and it is awesome.

    Jim, as for book creation in WordPress, you’ll probably want to test following plugin: http://anthologize.org/
    This allows you to create a book within WordPress without interfering with your posts or pages.

    Let me know if I can help out with anything WP related.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Brecht. We appreciate the extra WP info :).

  • Laura Martone

    Most of the fine commenters here have already said what I would have: that discrimination and censorship are bad, no matter where they occur. But, yes, I think it’s always a bigger story when a bigger player engages in such anti-freedom practices. That said, I just want to apologize on behalf of me and Daniel (my partner in crime). We’re usually more active commenters here… but even though we’ve been dutifully listening to the Sell More Books Show every week (and loving it, as always), we’ve been a little too slammed this past month to spend a lot of time online. After all, we just published our second book yesterday – this time, a zombie tale in the Big Easy (a slight departure from our space opera) – and even though we’ve only published two novels so far, that’s better than nothing, right? Still makes us feel like “real” indies. Love you, Bryan & Jim – keep up the good work!

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the love :).

  • Also related to the WordPress debacle, I just saw this article: https://wptavern.com/gutenberg-to-offer-new-approach-to-tinymce-in-wordpress-5-0-a-plugin-to-bring-back-old-interface-will-be-available WordPress will be providing a plugin that lets you use the old editor/has legacy support. So it looks like we’ll get to choose what we want to use. Huzzah!

    • Bryan

      That’s great news! Thanks :).