Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Evergreening Your Links

Friday, September 25th, 2015

What Is Evergreening Links?

Evergreening a link means making sure the destination of a link always lands the user in the correct place, even when the correct place changes. (P.S I will probably be tweaking this page for a bit, but as of this original writing, there were a lot of people who wanted to know quickly.)

TL;dr :: use a plugin such as Redirection, or a link shortening service such as (likely the paid version) or an installed application such as YOURLS to manage updating the destination of links inside your books.

I am writing this in the context of eBooks where authors include links to the books they’ve written in the back of the book. However, the concept applies to any link you make.

The Basic Problem for Authors who write More than One Book

The more backlist you have, the more books you end up republishing with updated links for books that have been published since you wrote the previous ones. It’s a problem and can end up being a lot of work. But what if there was a way change the destination of existing buy links without having to edit and update books you have already published?

There is. You need to create evergreen links for your books. You do this by creating a type of link in your book that goes to an external page where you can then send the user to the updated location, a redirection, if you will.

There are Three Ways To Create Evergreen Links

There are 3 basic ways to achieve evergreen links. Some of the methods have more than one approach. Don’t worry, I’ll explain each of them. Also, some people do better when they can see a demo or a video, so don’t give up if a written explanation doesn’t quite do it for you. (Sorry, making an interactive demo involves more time than I have right now.)

  1. A plugin if you’re on WordPress or Blogger (SUPER easy!! Install the plugin and you’re done!)
  2. Build redirects at your website
  3. Use a link shortening service that allows you to update the destination of the link

Important Concepts

I assume you already understand how html links work. Even if you’ve only encountered them in the Word document you will upload to vendors, you should have encountered the need to create a link a user will click on to go someplace else. Other books you have written, for example, that you hope your readers will buy.

I also assume you are producing books customized for each of the major vendors such that in the version you upload to iBooks, all your buy links go to iBooks purchase pages. The version you upload to Amazon contains links that go to your Amazon buy pages. If you’re not doing this, you are losing sales.

I feel like I should repeat that. Backmatter links sell books. Vendor-specific links sell more books. You should have buy links in your books, and they should be vendor-specific for Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and Nook at the very minimum. You will also need a generic version of your links. Those can go to your website.

No system is perfect (yet) but evergreening your links saves a lot of time and work.

Note: If you’re on the hosted, free version of WordPress, my understanding is you won’t be able to use plugins. Personally, while I realize that money can be an issue, this is an excellent reason to have a self-hosted WordPress install.

This is a business. Don’t leave money on the table because you’re too busy or don’t want to deal with the horror of tech. I get that, I really do. But if either of those things describe you, you can outsource the work. If readers loved your story, they WILL click those links to get more of your work.

Case Study

Assume you have written a three book series called Animals Who Talk.

Animals Who Talk Series!

  • Fred the Cat, Book 1
  • Suzy the Giraffe, Book 2
  • Roberta the Chicken, Book 3

Because you are a super fast writer, your production schedule looks like this:

Month 1: You write and publish Book 1.
Month 2: You write and publish Book 2.
Month 3: You write and publish Book 3.

The common situation is that at the time of publication, Book 1 will not contain any buy links to Books 2 or 3 because, of course, those books do not yet exist. On publication, Book 2 can contain links to Book 1 but not to Book 3. Book 3 CAN contain links to books 1 and 2.

On publication, without an evergreening system, the best you can do for Books 1 and 2 is send your readers to a webpage you set up about the series and/or each of the books. Sadly, the more clicks you put between your fans and your books, the fewer books you will sell. Commonly, this means an author will publish Book 2, wait for the vendor links to go live, then republish Book 1, which has been updated with the correct links for each vendor version of  Book 2. Then, when Book 3 is published, Books 1 and 2 are republished with updated links to Book 3. For each vendor.

An evergreening system means that all three books contain links to all the other books at the time you publish them. As vendor links go live for each of the books, you update your evergreening system (remember there is more than one way to do this!) once and only once without having to reupload ANY of your Animals Who Talk Series books.

Really Long and Detailed Explanation

You might want to skim or skip to the more technical explanations of the method below. Or you might want to read on to understand the use cases.

So, here’s my basic system:

I have YOURLS installed at This is not required, you can use one of the other methods, but the concept is more or less the same.

I devised a naming system for short link naming that I can remember and follow.

Using the example of a booklist in the back of books that are on sale containing a link to a book that isn’t available yet:

1. I create a page on my website in the books section of the site, for that specific book, The Adventures of Roberta the Chicken, let’s say. Below is the URL such a page would have on my website.

That page has all the information about the book as I would do for any book page on my website. This is the book’s permanent home at my website. I can update it at will.

2. Over at (or in my browser, either way works), I create links something like this—not my actual naming convention, I’m naming for clarity here:


I tell YOURLS that all the vendor links resolve to

3. In my book Fred the Cat and in Suzy the Giraffe for my Animals Who Talk Series, in which Books 1 and 2 are on sale everywhere, but Book 3 isn’t yet, my backmatter list of books looks like this. These are links, of course:

Animals Who Talk Series!

  • Fred the Cat, Book 1
  • Suzy the Giraffe, Book 2
  • Roberta the Chicken, Book 3

In the Amazon versions of books 1 and 2 my url (link) for Roberta the Chicken is:

There is no www because the point of YOURLS is to have short links, the install process makes that clear enough, so don’t worry about that.

For my iBooks versions of books 1 and 2, my link for Roberta The Chicken is:

Currently, both the Amazon and iBooks links will send the user to my website page for the book.

so, for iBooks:
<a href=””>Roberta The Chicken, Book 3</a>

Again, recall that, currently, all the various links take you to my website page for Roberta The Chicken.

This means that when readers of Books 1 and 2 click on the Roberta link, they will end up at my website page for Roberta the Chicken where they will be told the book isn’t available yet and hey, join my mailing list to get notified as soon as it’s released.

4. Fast forward 6 months and now Roberta The Chicken is done and I’ve uploaded it to all the vendors. iBooks goes live first because they are awesome like that. As soon as I have the live iBooks links:

I go to YOURLS and edit the link so it points to the live iBooks URL instead of my website.

From that moment forward, a reader of the iBooks versions of Books 1 and 2 who clicks on the Roberta link, will go to the iBooks page for Roberta The Chicken.

When Amazon goes live, I go to YOURLS and update to point to the Amazon page instead of my website.

Same for Amazon, as soon as I update the YOURLS link, anyone clicking the links in the Amazon version of books 1 and 2 gets sent to the Roberta Amazon buy page.

You can make your links book-specific so you know not just that your link came from an iBooks reader, but an iBooks reader of a specific book. I advise you to think about this and devise a system that works for you:

For Fred The Cat and Suzy the Giraffe, you could make links like this if you wanted to: <– use that link in the iBooks version of the Fred book for the Roberta link <– use that link in the iBooks version of the Suzy book’s link to the Roberta book.

You need a naming system that makes sense to you. There”s no reason you can’t use really long “short” names, but it’s more opportunities for typos. But longer tends to make more sense. If you use abbreviations, never deviate from them. It’s worth it to spend some time working out your naming system.

YOURLS is also case sensitive, so FredTheCat is different from fredthecat.

It’s more work to track book-specific urls, but then you have more granular data and more data is better! You’d know that iBooks readers of FredTheCat clicked on line to the Roberta book 500 times while iBooks readers of Suzy The Giraffe have clicked on the Roberta link 754 times. Up to you.

This way, I do a lot less reuploading of books in order to update links. As long as I’m using my links, I can repoint my short links to wherever I want them to go. Some reuploading is unavoidable of course. Series you haven’t thought up yet, etc.

But How Do I Achieve this Magic??

1. Plugin

If you have a WordPress driven website, the Redirection plugin is simple to use. I know several authors who are using that plugin. My site is hybrid, so though I have Redirection installed for my WordPress instance, the plugin only redirects WordPress pages, not pages on the non-WordPress portion of my site, so this is not as useful for me as it is for others. But it’s nice to have. If you’re on wordpress, I’d recommend that. You don’t need to read any farther, unless you’re unclear on the timing of the process.

2. Redirects on a non-WordPress or non-Blogger site

Depending on your webhost, you can do your own redirects, either directly in the htaccess file (assuming you’re on a Linux flavor server) or via a tool your host provides, or by building a redirect page.

If you don’t know what an htaccess file is DO NOT not use the htaccess file method. You don’t know enough to do this safely. A typo or wrong setting could disable your entire site, and really, just don’t if you haven’t mucked around in this file before.

If you’re on a windows server, well, I doubt your webhost would give you direct access to IIS. If you don’t know what IIS is, then this is also not something you should expect to do.

Most people are going to be on a linux server and if you have a good webhost, there will be a website tool that allows you to set up redirects. Mine has one that is OK enough, and I use that tool from time to time, depending on what I need to do. I explain more about this below.

2A. HTML redirects

If you have a regular website, you could also build web pages for your redirects. This is probably more work and the reporting would depend on how good your website analytics tools are. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site already, get it set up (Google “Google Webmaster Tools” and you should find all the info you need.) That will help with overall analytics. Plus, if you ever have a malware issue, having access to Webmaster Tools can get your site cleared faster.

This method requires that you know now to create a webpage and upload it to your server AND realize you have to test that you did it right. Typos happen, people.  It’s not hard, but honestly, why would you want to learn to do this when you could be writing instead? Outsource it.

Here’s an example of an html redirect page:

This will display the information about an updated page, then take the user there. For evergreening, you wouldn’t want the page to wait. I built this page when I switched my site from html to php and certain files needed a manual redirect. The page “about.shtml” redirects users to “about.php” so if someone out there on the web is linking to my about.shtml page they’ll end up at the new page.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN”>
<title>Carolyn Jewel – About Carolyn Page Redirect</title>
<meta http-equiv=”REFRESH” content=”5;url=about.php”>
<p>This About Carolyn page has been updated. Please wait while you’re redirected to the spiffy new page!</p>

This line is the key one:
<meta http-equiv=”REFRESH” content=”5;url=about.php”>

The number 5 tells the page to wait 5 seconds then take the user to the url listed after ;url (that is, about.php)

You can set the number to any integer.

0 would be no wait. You’d still want to have the header and paragraph just in case someone’s browser or settings disallow redirects. Additional considerations go into deciding how to style the page and whether to provide a URL in the body, but I won’t bore you with that. For some pages where I do this for one reason or another, it looks just like my regular website.

If you elect to do this, I assume that you already understand at least something about what considerations go into building and styling a redirect.

3. Roll Your Own Short Links: YOURLS

YOURLS is free software that you install on your own domain that allows you to create and manage custom short links. Since the point is a short url you’ll need to register and host a domain then install and configure the software. I blogged earlier about installing YOURLS

Most of the process details for using YOURLS are explained above. When I needed to install an update to YOURLS I hired someone from Odesk. He was a Polish college student and did a great job for $22.00. It was totally worth it.

YOURLS comes with reporting so you can see how many times a link has registered a click, where they came from (IP address or country, and what time, etc.) There are other graphs and charts. Another advantage is that some vendors or sites have an issue with links because they can be used to obfuscate malware. Technically, so could a roll your own solution, but your short link domain wouldn’t be flagged unless you were a really bad person or got hacked. (Please don’t use a stupid password to secure your domain or the login to administer YOURLS.)

The advantage to a link shortening service (there are several such services) is that you can use them anywhere you want to, including Facebook, Twitter, etc, and for reasons other than book links. YOURLS includes a nifty tool that allows you to create short links from your browser. There is also a WordPress plugin that will create YOURLS short links to posts.

YOURLS is free, but I recommend you donate an amount you can afford. That would be super nice.

If you have questions, let me know in the comments and I can clarify or what have you.



Book Updates and News

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

I’ve been really low profile these days, but here’s some book updates and news.  I ended up working on multiple projects at the same time, which isn’t always the best thing for me. I can’t really lay things out linearly because they didn’t happen in a straight line. I have personal issues that are taking up more of my writing time, but I have managed to figure out how to adjust to that. The adjustment involves the word  “ruthless.”  Woo-hoo?

I have a historical novella A Seduction in Winter for the   upcoming Christmas anthology Christmas in Duke Street.  It was rough going. My initial idea seemed great. I really liked it. But when I sat down to  write, a different story showed up and it wasn’t the story I had prepared for. Long story short  (Hah!  That’s a writer joke!)  It took a lot longer to write and then rewrite than I anticipated. Involved at least one night of staying up until 2 AM and getting up at 6 AM to get in the final edits. However, I really like the story. It came out great.

Now I’m back to working on  My Demon Warlord which is on track and going well. I am targeting a December release date, which is well beyond what I’d originally hoped.

After that, I’ll start on Sinclair Sisters Book 3, Emily and Bracebridge.

Once all my fast writing was done for A Seduction in Winter, my hands were sore and achy so I’ve started dictating as much as I can.  It speeds things up considerably.

And now, back to the writing cave.


Christmas In Duke Street – The Cover!

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

For your enjoyment, here is the cover of Christmas in Duke Street.


Cover of Christmas in Duke Street, handsome couple against a snowy background with a building and a very small christmasy-tree in the backround

Christmas in Duke Street


Dancing Dukes! Get Yer Dancing Dukes! Also 3 prizes

Saturday, June 27th, 2015
Cover of Dancing in the Duke's Arms, anthology. Cover is a dude in a brown coat and a pretty lady in a burgundy gown which is really pretty. They are dancing and falling in love. You want this book.

Dancing in The Duke’s Arms

Dancing in The Duke’s Arms is on sale now!

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | All Romance | Print

Click here for more information about the stories and for links to excerpts etc. Order now while it’s $3.99. The price goes up July 7.

The Prizes

I have three unclaimed prizes from a previous giveaway:

For each prize(s), I will spend at least $15.00 US. If you hang out here, you probably know that I have impeccable taste except when I am odd or just plain weird. There’s just no telling.

The Rules and How to Enter

To enter, check out the rules below and follow the instructions. Three prizes. Three winners.
Void where prohibited. Must be 18 to enter. No purchase necessary. All prizes will be awarded. If a winner does not contact me within 10 days of notification, an alternate winner will be selected. Relatives or employees of Carolyn Jewel are ineligible. Winner chosen at random using the contest plugin “And The Winner Is.” International OK! Multiple comments disallowed. Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM Pacific on Tuesday June 30, 2015. Make sure you leave a valid email in the email box for your comment.

To enter: Leave a comment to this post in which you tell me the best book you’ve read recently. (I’m looking for recommendations!)



Dancing in The Duke’s Arms

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Sorry for the long silence. I’ve been working hard on two projects with colliding deadlines.

Cover of Dancing in the Duke's Arms, anthology. Cover is a dude in a brown coat and a pretty lady in a burgundy gown which is really pretty. They are dancing and falling in love. You want this book.

Dancing in The Duke’s Arms

My novella for the historical romance anthology, Dancing in the Duke’s Arms, is edited, revised, copy-edited, proofread three times, and all the files sent to our formatter. My story is titled An Unsuitable Duchess.

Pre-Orders are live here:

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Click here for more information about the stories and for links to excerpts etc. Print will be available so no worries. Pre-order now while it’s $3.99. The price goes up afterward!

I’m also working on My Demon Warlord, and it’s just about ready to send to beta. So……. close.


Sale at Kobo: Lord Ruin 35% off (Other books too!)

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Are you in the US or UK? Kobo has a sale!! 35% off select books, including my historical, Lord Ruin.

Cover of Lord Ruin, super sexy Regnency dude looking at you like, yeah, I'm hot.

Lord Ruin.

Here’s the directions for this unlimited use coupon, good from May 15-18!

Kobo Buy page for Lord Ruin

To look for other titles that are 35%:

Promo Code: MAY35

Detailed Instructions:

If you already have a Kobo account
–    Follow the instructions outlined here:

If you do not have a Kobo account
–          Create a Kobo account.
–          Go into the My Account section and click on Payment Information.
–          Input your billing address and credit card info.
–          Save.
–          Return to the homepage.
–          Follow the directions in the “If you already have a Kobo account” section above.

If you don’t want to input your credit card info
–    Create a Kobo account.
–    Search for the title in question.
–    Click on “Buy Now.” You will be asked to fill in your billing address.
–    Instead of choosing credit card, choose “paypal” and hit “continue.”
–    Input your promo code in the box below the phrase “Have a Promo Code?”.
–    Hit Apply. The discount will be subtracted from the total on the right-hand side.
–    Complete your purchase by hitting “Buy Now.”
–    Proceed to paypal to complete your transaction.


What I’ve Been Reading

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Two books I’ve read recently had quite an impact on me, and so I am sharing them with you.

The Remains of War, Surviving the Other Concentration Camps of World War II
by Pauline Kok-Schurgers
Self-published (iUniverse)

I forget where I read about this book. Someone, somewhere had read it and another iUniverse book and remarked that The Remains of War was well worth reading. The comments were intriguing enough that I bought it and read it. It’s one of the most affecting books I’ve read in a while, and more about that later. I’m sorry indeed that the publisher is iUniverse. It means the author has not made the money she could have or deserves. That said, I’m glad the book is out there to be read.

The story is about a young Dutch girl who, with her family, was interned in a series of Japanese concentration camps in Indonesia. It’s as harrowing and heartbreaking as you’d expect. The family survives, by the way which is what got me through the book, though the power of the words and language would probably have kept me reading. Kok-Schurgers was nine when she and her family were interned and twelve by the time they were liberated. The men, her father included, were sent to a different camp, so she was with her mother, two sisters and a brother.

It’s a powerful story, powerfully told.

At first, the language was just ever so slightly loose, but by the second chapter, Ms. Kok-Schurgers’s story utterly drew me in. Everything was immediate and visceral. It’s not told from a distance, instead we get an astonishing, living, breathing girl on these pages who is both aware of her flaws and learning who she is. The quote below is something said to her by an adult in the camp about a young boy also interned.

“He liked the shadows, which gave him comfort and shelter, because light asked from him more than he was willing to give.”

Voices like that should not be forgotten. I’m glad I read this book. Other reviewers are right. This is an important text.

Kok-Schurgers has a blog here and an uninformative website here. Amazon link (Kindle Version). This is worth the price.

From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme
Maja Kominko, Editor

Open Book Publishers

This work is from the British Library and describes several preservation programs dedicated to, as the title says, endangered archives. The forward is oh so slightly boring until it begins a discussion of the ways in which Western cultures have removed knowledge from indigenous populations, denied them access to their own heritage, and removed the artifacts from the very surroundings and people who gave the information meaning. The descriptions of the collections described in this volume are fascinating. This is wonderful, amazing material. Mind-blown. Myths exploded. Read it. Amazon Link


The Fork is Out!

Friday, May 1st, 2015
Fork against a blue sky with white clouds

The Fork

The draft for my story in the June anthology Dancing in The Duke’s Arms is DONE! And boy, I wasn’t sure I’d hit the deadline. There was a point, on Wednesday, when I realized I was missing 5 chapters of edits [long explanation omitted] and I had to redo them all. ALL. OF. THEM.

My story is tentatively titled, “An Suitable Woman.”

And now, back to My Immortals 7.


Writing Progress and News

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

I’ve been making good progress on My Immortals Book 7. It’s coming together well, which is good news. I’ve told my cover artist to consider My Demon Warlord the final title so there you go. I should have a final cover soon.

Shortly though, I’ll be writing a novella for the anthology Dancing in the Duke’s Arms. I’m hoping to have My Demon Warlord to some trusted readers while I’m doing that.

I’ve changed my mind about the project after that. I was going to start on the Dark Elf series but I have decided I should write Sinclair Sisters Series Book 3, THEN start the new series.

Here’s a picture of some of the tulips coming up in the garden. It looks a little better close up but hey! Spring is coming!

Pink tulips one with the sun on some dew. It's an okay picutre. The pink is pretty.

Pink Tulip with dew



Sneak Peek: Cover of My Demon Warlord

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Here you go, gentle readers: A sneak peek at the 97% sure cover for My Demon Warlord, My Immortals Series Book 7. This is not the final cover, as in there are still some tweaks to do.

A draft cover for My Demon Warlord

Draft Cover for My Demoin Warlord