Self-Printed 3.0 Splash: Essential WordPress Plug-ins

Catherine Ryan Howard is a self-published author and blogger. When I first started thinking about self-publishing, her blog helped get me up to speed. She’s also written a book on the subject, the third edition of which is now available. Since she’s given me so much help and advice, I decided to take part in the Self-Printed 3.0 splash, to help her launch her new book (and, yes, the chance to win a prize helped).

Self-Printed 3rd edition cover

I asked, “What WordPress plug-ins are absolutely essential for an author website/blog?” Her answer is below:

Catherine’s Answer

Well, here’s the thing Russell: I don’t use WordPress.org, so I don’t use plug-ins. (For those of you who don’t know the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, the first is the self-hosted one you have to pay for and the second is the free one you don’t.) I have never paid for anything to do with my website – or, to be more specific, the blog I make look like my website – except for the €18 a year or something for the URL upgrade which allows me to take “wordpress” out of my website name, i.e. http://ift.tt/ZKVQQc. I absolutely adore WordPress.com and think they have everything you need to make a great blog and/or website, and that since self-publishers should be trying to save money where they can, that’s what I’d recommend other self-publishers use. Bonus: you also don’t have to worry about plug-ins!

If we’re talking the features of an author website/blog, I’d say keep it simple, functional and professional. You’d want a section all about your books, obviously, plus an “About” page, plus a way for people to contact you in private (a “Contact” page with either your e-mail address or a contact form, which you can easily insert in WordPress.com). Telling people they can get you via Twitter is not acceptable; you never know who might be trying to get a hold of you and chances are, one day it’ll be someone who doesn’t want to have to do it in public, like a radio show producer or a publisher. A newsletter sign-up and links to your other online homes (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is essential. I’m against having fifty different flashing widgets in your sidebar just because if you paid to have your website professionally designed, the design wouldn’t come back looking like that. Cohesiveness is best. Above all else, don’t distract from the content.

About Catherine

Catherine Ryan Howard is a writer, self-publisher and caffeine enthusiast from Cork, Ireland. SELF-PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON’S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING (3rd edition) is out now in paperback and e-book and available from Amazon. Follow the #selfprintedsplash on Twitter today (Friday 24th) and/or visit http://ift.tt/ZKVQQc for the chance to win an amazing prize that will get your self-publishing adventure started!

“SELF-PRINTED is my self-publishing bible. It taught me how to format, create and upload my e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. It showed me practical things such as how to build a website/blog and how to promote my books. More importantly, it taught me how to compete with the professionals. Just look at the results – The Estate Series has sold nearly 100,000 copies and following that I got a traditional book deal with Thomas & Mercer too, so I’m now a hybrid author. Jam-packed full of hints and tips all in one place, I’m always referring back to it. In a word, it’s priceless.” – Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate Series and DS Allie Shenton Series.

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AFV Alphabet: C is for Carden Loyd tankette

Carden-Loyd Mk.VI Strängnäs 12.08.11 (3a)

The term “Carden Loyd tankette” actually refers to a series of vehicles which were developed in the inter-war years. The Mark VI was the most successful, being built under licence in many countries.

In 1925, Carden-Loyd Tractors Ltd, a company owned by Sir John Carden and Vivian Loyd, created the Carden-Loyd One-Man Tankette. The idea was developed, and from the Mark IV onwards, became a two-man vehicle. The vehicles showed enough promise that Vickers bought Carden-Loyd Tractors in 1928. The Mark VI tankette became a great success, with over 300 seeing service in the British army, and more sold abroad. In the British army, the tankette saw service primarily as a machine gun carrier, but it was also used as a light gun tractor and mortar carrier.

It later formed the basis of the British Universal Carrier. Several other countries used it as a basis for development of their own tankette designs. Five Dutch Carden Loyd tankettes saw action in Crete, fighting German paratroopers in May 1940.

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Pink is for Girls (and the SAS, Spitfire pilots…)

Pink Panther Land Rover

A “Pink Panther” Land Rover – not just for girls

Recently, I mentioned my AFV Alphabet series of posts to my wife and son, and they asked what I was going to write about next. My reply, “The Carden Loyd tankette”, confused my wife. Thinking she hadn’t heard correctly, I repeated the “Carden Loyd”, but apparently it was the “tankette” label that confused her. As she pointed out, the -ette suffix tends to mean feminine as well as diminutive, and has connotations of soft and fluffy. “It sounds like it should be bright pink, possibly with a bow on top”, said my wife. The Carden Loyd tankette is small, but it’s neither soft nor fluffy. It’s a serious military machine.

This got me thinking. I have a six-year old son and a two-year old daughter. My wife and I are constantly frustrated that the whole world seems to think that our daughter should wear bright pink dresses and play with dolls and toy kitchens, while our son should wear blue and play with trains and cars. Both children play with all those things, and if they enjoy them, why shouldn’t they? Why should pink be a girl’s colour and blue a boy’s colour? When she grows up, my daughter will be able to get a job driving a train, a heavy goods vehicle, or an attack helicopter, so why shouldn’t she play with the toy versions of those things? Equally, my son could become a chef, a nurse, or a care worker, so why not play with dolls and toy kitchens?.

The idea that pink is only suitable for girls is ridiculous, and this becomes even more obvious when you look at the use of the colour pink in the military. Back in WWII, some low-altitude photo reconnassance Spitfires were painted pink. Apparently it provides effective camouflage against cloud, and given the hazardous nature of the mission, anything that helped the pilot survive was a good thing. Until the 1980s, when the SAS operated in the desert, they painted their Land Rovers pink (they’re still known as “Pink Panthers”, even though the colour scheme has changed), because it was considered an effective camouflage colour. These same Land Rovers bristled with machine guns. Pink or not, there is nothing soft or fluffy about a Pink Panther Land Rover.

Photo: Army pink land rover by Paul brown, via Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

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AFV Alphabet: B is for Bishop

IWM-E-17430-Bishop-SP-gun-19420925.jpg
IWM-E-17430-Bishop-SP-gun-19420925” by No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit : James (Sgt) –
This is photograph 17430 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.
. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

During the western desert campaign in the early part of World War II, the British were impressed by the German self-propelled guns, and decided that they needed something similar. A requirement was issued for a self-propelled 25 pounder gun-howitzer. By August 1941 a prototype was ready, which had a simple boxy superstructure on top of a Valentine tank chassis. An order was placed for 100 vehicles, although the vehicle didn’t impress crews in theatre. The superstructure was very large, making it an obvious target, and the gun had limited elevation, limiting its range to about half that of the towed version. The choice of an infantry tank hull meant that it was also rather slow.

No further orders were placed, and all the existing vehicles were replaced with M7 Priests and Sextons as they became available. Despite its limitations, the Bishop did provide a useful capability to the British in North Africa in the period before better self-propelled guns were available.

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Large Print, Free Books, Translations

I have several news items to pass on.

Damn Close-Run Thing (large print)

A Damn Close-Run Thing is now available in large print. This is something of an experiment – if sales figures suggest that large print is in demand, then I’ll look at making other books available in that format. If you would like to see one of my other books available in large print, email me and let me know.

This We'll Defend cover

This We’ll Defend is now available for free from most vendors (and direct from this website).

FIB-PT Acero Rojo

A Fleet in Being is now available in Portuguese, and will be available in German soon. Red Steel is now available in Spanish. I’ve set up a new mailing list for announcements of translations. If you are interested in translations, you can sign up at http://ift.tt/1DQU8wT.

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