404 Speech & Essay Topics – Book Trailer

PDF printable versions are available for purchase on http://www.howtopassanessay.com/buy-the-books/.

404 Speech & Essay Topics for Under 4 Bucks

The ebook versions sold the site are formatted as PDFs for the greatest versatility and use on multiple computers, tablets, smartphones, and eReader devices and software.

Purchase of ebooks in the 101 Speech & Essay Topics series from this site allows you access to both the PDF version formatted for easy reading on various computers, devices, and eReaders and access to the Print and Cutout version of the ebook.

PDF eReader Version  Deck of Topics from Print and Cutout Version

Each ebook is also available on Amazon.com under Sherry Snider’s author page on Amazon.

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The Best Pens for Book Signings

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00BYSTL3Y” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XhAYwm7GL.jpg” width=”312″]Now available for purchase on Amazon.com, Best Pens for Book Signings answers the question…

“What’s the best pen to use for book signings?”

Sooner or later, a conscientious author will ask the question – when she knows in her gut that just any old pen won’t do.

Do you know the differences and significance of pen and ink specifications and quality?

  • Water-based ink
  • Oil-based ink
  • Gel
  • Ball points
  • Felt tips
  • Markers
  • Indelible ink
  • Archival ink
  • Smudge
  • Transfer
  • Bleed
  • Usability

Information and lists of desirable qualities, step-by-step testing instructions, and illustrated test results for the top pens recommended by authors and artists are all compiled into this quick and easy reference guide.

This book is for the conscientious writer who is well aware that handwriting in a book deserves a little care. With Best Pens for Book Signings, authors arrive at book signing events confidently assured that they have good quality pens that work well specifically on the paper/pages in his or her specific book(s).

  • The factors and specs for picking a quality pen for book signings
  • Detailed results and sample images from the tests
  • Test results for various paper quality and texture in paperback, trade paperback, coloring and text books (with slick, glossy pages)
  • Test results for the top pens and markers recommended by authors and artists
  • Cumulative scores on a 5-Star rating system
  • Step-by-step instructions for testing your favorite pens on your own books
Testing data from the following pens is included in the book.

  • Zebra Sarasa™ 0.7mm
  • Pentel RSVP® Comfort Zone™ Grip w/ Cap Black Fine Tip
  • Pilot® Precise V5 Premium Rolling Ball Extra Fine 0.5mm
  • Sharpie® Pen Stylo Fine Point with No Bleed
  • Standard Sharpie® Extra Fine Point
  • Standard Sharpie® Fine Point Permanent Marker
  • BIC® Round Stic™ med and Swag Pen with Cap
  • Swag Pen, Retractable
  • Prismacolor® Premier Art Marker

Written by the author of What Do Ebook Authors Sign?, Best Pens for Book Signings is dedicated to the authors and readers who love the printed page and those who are keenly aware that there is no magic Undo button with pen and paper.

 

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How to Disable Java for Security Purposes

Why Disable Java?

…’cause there’s a security hole in the current version.  Until it’s patched, you’ll want to disable Java.

From Regina Smola of http://www.wpsecuritylock.com/

“URGENT! Yes you! Homeland Security even says so – Disable Java on all your machines (yes, even Mac’s). Hundreds of millions of business and consumer users are vulnerable to a serious flaw. I’m just driving this home again in case you missed it http://www.zdnet.com/homeland-security-warns-to-disable-java-amid-zero-day-flaw-7000009713/ Please Please do it.”

Ok.  I trust Regina Smola.  …dunno about Homeland Security, but I know Smola keeps my virtual hind end out of the fire all the time, so I read the article, Homeland Security warns to disable Java amid zero-day flaw.

I even read the “Read more” link on how to disable the plug-in.  Use these links to follow along with screenshots and instructions for older versions of Windows, Macs, and within browsers to disable Java.

For Windows 8 users, you’ll need to tweak a bit, so I thought I’d save you the trouble and list the instructions here/below.

To Disable Java from Running in the Browser on a Windows 8 PC

1.  Locate the Control Panel through one of the following.

    • Hover on the side of the screen to open the Charms menu and select Settings.
    • Press the Windows Start button on the keyboard + C to open the Charms menu and select Settings.
    • Right-click the bottom left corner of the screen (where the Start button should be).

2.  Select Control Panel.

3.  Click Programs.

4.  Click Java (32-bit).

5.  Under the Security tab, Uncheck Enable Java content in the browser, then click the Apply button.

6.  Reboot your PC to make sure the settings stick.

Once the hacked hole in Java is repaired (probably in an upgrade), you can always go back to the Control Panel and Enable Java again.

For iPhone, iPad, and Smartphone Users

I’m not sure if this will help, but you can open Settings on your phone, locate the browser settings (Safari, Chrome, etc.) and turn off Javascript.

Book Review – Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing

I’m thrilled to offer this book review of Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing by Cheryl Butler Stahle.

As a technical writer and indie author, I get all kinds of questions about writing and publishing in various genres.  As a southerner, I also tend to get a lot of questions about writing memoirs.  (Let’s face it.  Southerners do tend to lean toward storytelling and a wealth of inspiration in our own family history.)

As much as I’ve written across multiple genres, however, I have not (yet) written a memoir.  The opportunity to review Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing offers me the special bonus of a solid reference for all those memoir questions, now.  🙂

Format and Gist of the Book

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B008EY7JSK” locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51P84MJfJTL.jpg” width=”327″]Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing follows the instructional expertise of the author, a memoir writing teacher, as she walks the reader through each step of the process with information and exercises/writing prompts – all the way…

…from the early stages of remembering events and getting them roughly written on paper…

…and all the way through the polished, finished manuscript.

My Recommendation

The author graciously allowed me to read and review a copy of Slices of Life as I was getting more questions from friends and colleagues about ghost writing memoirs and writing one’s own memoir.  Since I have little experience in “memoir writing,” I’m thrilled to recommend Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing by Cheryl Butler Stahle to newbies to memoir writing.

I certainly feel much more knowledgeable about the genre and best practices after reading the book…at least enough to understand their questions and to point them in the right direction with Stahle’s guidance.

As a side note, again, I’ve never really had an interest in writing a memoir, but as I read through the exercises and prompts used to walk writers through the process, I truly did start recalling fond memories and stories.  I can only imagine how powerfully effective these same exercises are for memoir writers that are already focused and excited about the topics.

…big Thumbs Up on the exercises and writing prompts used to support each major section and for nudging folks to putting those memories on paper.  It’s a very interactive process that will keep newbies writing and moving forward with the project.

Favorite Part of the Book

The author brings a beginning writer into a full-length memoir writing project by immediately segmenting the tasks into manageable steps.  Under the Take The Plunge section, the author prompts readers to remember events – both big and small – to craft/write vignettes (or tiny stories) that will eventually comprise the finished memoir.  Working on a large book project in small, manageable chunks is the best advice for ANY new writer.

What’s Inside?

Using the Look Inside feature or download sample option is a good way to see an excerpt from the book before you buy it.  Since I’ve read the whole book, I can offer a little more insight regarding what’s actually inside.

The book begins with assurance to the new memoir writer that you can write your memoir.  You can complete the project.  The author also explains a bit more about memoirs, defining memoirs and general expectations of a memoir.

The next section explains how you’ll use the book (Slices of Life: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing), advice for setting your own ground rules or parameters to keep you working on the project without overloading, ideas to help focus your intention for the book, and various methods of organizing your book project.

Note that each major section of the book includes exercises and writing prompts to help you follow each section in a step-by-step manner.

Taking the Plunge

This is the section where the memories are recalled and drafted on paper (or computer file).

Don’t worry.  All the exercises in the book are designed to prompt specific memories …which can further prompt associated memories and other stories.

The author also offers pen to paper methods that may work best for the memoir writer such as memory lists/checklists, pre-writing, free writing, etc.

After a section on writing pace, challenges, and the need to keep writing, the author offers specific writing tips for memoirs on topics such as dark topics or issues, emotional memories, using sensory imagery, keeping the reader engaged, and using photos to evoke memories.

Additional guidance follows on revising, sharing, responding, focus, style, voice, tense, structure, peer editing, theme, and character.  Writing groups and press releases are suggested, too as the final draft comes together.

Hmmm

Memoirs are starting to sound more like a viable project.  🙂

Book Review – Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? and The Benefits of Writing Nonfiction

[easyazon-block align=”right” asin=”1884956173″ locale=”us”]As a member of several writing groups, I’m often asked about my favorite/most useful book on writing.

Hands down, Marc McCutcheon’s Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? is always at the top of my list.  (Please forgive the title.  I didn’t write it, but despite the title, it’s a darned helpful book, especially for nonfiction writers.)

It’s a little “dated” since the latest publication date is 2006, which precludes the ebook publishing revolution.  That’s okay.  Authors still need to decide if self-publishing or traditional publishing is the best route for their purposes.

McCutcheon’s book explains a lot about how the traditional publishing world works with a lot of fun, forehead slapping revelations.  The central forehead slapper, of course, is Duh!  Why didn’t I write that?  The traditional sales and market examples are just as applicable for indie authors as they are for traditionally published authors.

Why Pursue Nonfiction?

McCutcheon’s book inspired me most because I read it at just the right time.  Friends and family had advised me for years to write a novel, but I was frustrated with the prospect.  I’m a technical writer by trade.  I write nonfiction.  I like writing nonfiction, but it seemed like the only way to become a published author was to write fiction.  Wrong.

Just the fact that McCutcheon was able to make a living writing nonfiction in the traditional publishing world opened my eyes to the possibilities.  It also prepared me to dive into the ebook publishing world with nonfiction.  Armed with the stats from the traditional nonfiction world, I had a guide map for self-publishing nonfiction, too.  The same stats apply.

From the book:

Of the 50,000-plus books published every year, only about 3,500 are novels (including genre titles), and poorly paying, short-lived paperback romances account for a whopping one-third of the total.  Not counting genre titles, only about 120 fiction releases each year are first novels, according to Publishers Weekly.  Of these, three out of four will not earn out their meager advances of under $10,000.

In the traditional publishing world, nonfiction has 15x greater odds of publication, and in both the traditional and indie publishing worlds, nonfiction has a greater possibility of staying in print and earning royalties longer.  People NEED nonfiction.

Know Your Market and Research the Competition

McCutcheon gives us real-world examples and details his own experiences with initial sales, payments for updates, and royalties over the years.  His primary advice is to know the market and try writing something new, unique, or needed.

Titles and sales figures from Publisher’s Weekly, publishers’ catalogs, etc. are especially motivating and inviting.  McCutcheon also explains some of the publishing industry buzz words (niche, backlist, etc.) and how they relate to evergreen topics.

Notable Statistic – 70-85% of book buyers are female.  Even if your book’s reading audience is primarily male, your sales and marketing material should include female buyers.

Hot Topics and Categories

The lists of hot topics and nonfiction categories are just as useful for indie authors as they are for traditional books.

Hot Topics – highest odds of sales – might hit the best seller lists

  • Dieting/weight loss
  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Career and Leadership
  • Health
  • Computer and Internet
  • Spiritual
  • Low-fat cooking
  • Sex
  • Money/finances
  • Cats

Basic Nonfiction Categories

  • How to
  • Self help
  • Biography
  • Cookbook
  • History
  • Business
  • True Adventure/True      Narrative/True Crime
  • Occult/paranormal
  • Religious/spiritual
  • Personal memoirs
  • Science
  • Humor
  • Reference
  • Travel guide
  • Children’s nonfiction
  • Medicine
  • Sports

Miscellaneous Tidbits

Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? includes other tidbits of incredibly useful information, but they’re primarily presented with the traditional publishing route in mind (agents, book proposals, book contracts, etc.)

Indie authors may not need to know all this information in the beginning, but I find it very useful to know if you’re trying to decide between indie and traditional publishing.

Too, even if you prefer indie publishing, an incredible offer from a large publishing house may be hard to pass up.  It’s best to know the traditional publishing world, too, so authors can make informed decisions.Damn! Why Didn't I Write That?

  • Will it sell?
    • Checklist of items and considerations
    • Prep your book proposal
    • Check Books in Print for similar/competitive titles
  • Authority/Credibility/Qualifications
    • Establishing
    • Resources – info and experts
  • Agents
    • Not necessarily – less of a problem for nonfiction
    • Pros and cons
    • Q&A to prospective agents
    • Sample agency agreement
  • Rejections/Query Letters/Proposals
  • Book Contracts
    • Presents the typical expected figures
    • Rights
    • Sample contract/agreement – author explains each section
  • Promotion/Tips and Advice/The Author’s Bundle of Rights

Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That?

You can purchase Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? from Amazon in print or Kindle formats.  It is still one of the most useful books on writing I’ve read, and it’s definitely a fun, motivating read.

 

Page Rank for Resume My Alma Mater

So, I run a page rank tracking plugin on my sites that sends me email updates.  Frankly, I do this because I’m just not dedicated enough to manually check rank data on my sites regularly.  I know.  I should track rank data more often, but it’s just not in me.

Sherry Snider Resume PageUsually, these rank updates come in for blog posts since I tend to do technical “how to” posts.  I still teach.  It’s just more online and in print/multimedia rather than a physical classroom these days.  When my resume page ranked, it kind of caught my interest.

A Page on SherrySnider.com Ranks for Resume Jacksonville State

Imagine my surprise tonight, though to get an email that one of my pages on SherrySnider.com ranked for “resume jacksonville state.”

Sherry Snider Resume Page Ranks for Resume Jacksonville StateI’m quite proud of my alma mater, so I’m thrilled that my site is ranking in association with the school, but I didn’t even try targeting such a keyword.  Considering that JSU has several pages associated with the word, “resume,” I’m even more surprised.

The page that ranked is http://www.sherrysnider.com/technical-writing-services/resumecv/ and even stranger, yet…the text that ranked is the listing on my resume under Education.  It’s under Work History, when I taught adjunct English courses at JSU for a while a million years ago (ok…15 years ago, but it seems like a long time).

The Mystery of Ranking Algorithms

Yeah.  I still can’t figure out the constantly changing algorithms to rank on Google or other search engines.  I’ve learned a good bit over the years, but the game always changes.  As such, I’m particularly happy to see this result.

…anyone else see any particularly good news in the ranks these days?

Oh, and… Go Gamecocks!

🙂

How to Add Social Media Buttons to Your Site

First, let’s clarify. There are two separate objectives when folks talk about adding social media buttons to a site.

  1. You want to add one-click easy buttons to share a page or a post.
  2. You want to add buttons to social media sites where readers can connect with you or your company.

I recommend doing both.

Adding Social Media Buttons to Share Pages and Posts

These are pretty easy, especially if your site uses WordPress or a similar framework.  You just need a plugin.

Of course, there are plugins and widgets to add social media buttons.  I actually use a couple of them on my sites to encourage sharing (Sharing is Caring and Sociable).

At the bottom of each of my posts and pages, readers see quick links to share similar to this.

That’s a combination of using Sharing is Caring and Sociable.

Once the plugins are installed, configuration is pretty simple. You pretty much just check the buttons you want included and select an icon size.

Example screenshot configuring Sharing is Caring:

Example screenshot configuring Sociable:

Remember that most of these plugins are for one-click sharing on social networks, not for following someone on a social network.  For that, I recommend adding those manually to your site using basic HTML.

Follow Me Buttons

This is actually what many folks mean when they talk about adding social media buttons to a site.  They want icons that readers can click to FOLLOW someone on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I’m sure there are probably plugins to do this, too, but since the links are going to your specific social media accounts and the icons need to match the look of your site, I highly recommend taking full control of these social media buttons through some basic HTML.

How to Add Social Media Buttons to Your Sidebar

You can add this HTML code anywhere on your site.  The examples below are just using a Sidebar on a WordPress site as an example.

Collect your icons.

Go to http://www.iconfinder.com/ or your favorite resource for icons and images to search for “social media” or a specific network like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Find a style that complements your site and make sure the icons are free for commercial use or available for purchase.  Usually, you can find a set of social media icons with the same style.

Examples of Icon Sets:

Note that these examples are sets that are available for free under Creative Commons attribution requirements or are simply free for commercial use.  Make sure you only use freely available icons or that you purchase other icons for use on your site.

Once you find or purchase icons to use on your site, download the icons for the social media links you’d like to include.  If you can, download the original icon files in your preferred size (32×32, 64×64, etc.)  You can resize icons if needed, but the originals in the optimal size are always nice.

32×32

Follow Sherry on Facebook Add Sherry to your Circles on Google+ Follow Sherry's Boards on Pinterest Follow Sherry on Twitter

64×64

    

NOTE:  JPG or PNG formats work best online.

Save/Copy and upload the icons to your site.

Do this however you are most comfortable.

  • You can upload images through the blog or site’s built-in tools like WordPress’s Media Uploader.
  • If you’re using a self-hosted site, you can upload files through your host’s CPanel interface.
  • You can also use an FTP application to upload images to a specific folder on your site.

You actually could use the direct URLs/links to the images somewhere else rather than uploading them to your own site, but it’s risky. I suggest uploading the images to your own site rather than relying on some other site to keep them online, in the same spot, and in the same format.

Keep a list of the URLs/online locations of the images you upload.

In the html code you’ll need a URL/path to your uploaded icons and a URL/link to your social media accounts.

Example of the HTML Code for One Social Media Button

Notice that the pink highlighted text is the URL/path to the image you uploaded for the Facebook button.

Go ahead and make a list of the exact image file names and locations as you upload them to your site.

Example paths to uploaded images:

  • http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/uploads/icons/facebook.png
  • http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/pinterest.png

Make a list of the URLs/Links to follow you on various social media sites.

Again, you’ll need to specify the URL/link where you want the reader to go when he or she clicks on a social media button.

Example of the HTML Code for One Social Media Button

Here, the yellow highlighted text shows the link readers will follow to your social media account when they click the button.

Go ahead and make a list of the links to your social media accounts.

Examples:

  • https://www.facebook.com/yourname
  • http://pinterest.com/yourname/

Note that you can use the Pretty Link Plugin or some other URL shortener if you’d like.  (Some of those URL paths can look a little odd.)

Create the HTML code for your social media buttons.

You can do this manually by typing all the HTML code for the images and the links, but you can also create the HTML code in a temporary blog post.

If you want to write the HTML code manually, I did create a shortcut for you.  Click here for a Word file with sample code you can copy, paste, and modify.

If you want to create the HTML code with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) like WordPress, start by creating a new, temporary blog post.

Add an image of the first social media icon you want displayed. You can upload it through WordPress in the post, or if you’ve already uploaded all your icon images, you can insert the image by using Add Media > From URL.  (This is why you needed the URL/link to where you uploaded the image.)

Add the relevant information for the image/icon including:

  • URL
  • Title
  • Alternate Text
  • Link Image To

Link Image To is where you paste the URL/link to follow you on that social media site.

Click the Insert into Post button and your first button is ready to go.

Key in a space and insert the next image until you have them all in a row.

Periodically click the Save Draft button to save all the images and information you’ve been adding for your social media buttons. You’ll never need to click the Publish button for this temporary post.  It’s just a means to create the HTML code you need to paste elsewhere.  In fact, you can delete the temporary post when you’re done if you’d like.  I tend to keep mine (in draft mode only) just in case I want to make changes in the future.

HTML Code NOTE:  Essentially what you’re doing for each image in the blog post is creating simple HTML code to display an image and link it to your social media account page.  The code for one of your buttons would look something like the following.

It’s totally up to you whether you prefer to create the HTML code through a visual interface (like a blog post or HTML editor) or to create it manually by typing the code.

Copy and paste the HTML code where you want your social media buttons to appear.

When you’re done adding buttons and links to your temporary blog post, click the HTML tab.  Select all the HTML code and Copy it.  (Shortcut:  You can use CTRL+A to select all the HTML text and use CTRL+C to copy it all.)

Yes, the actual code is smudged out on the image.  Click here for a Word file with sample code you can copy, paste, and modify.

To put your buttons on the Sidebar of a WordPress site, Select Widgets under the Appearance menu.

Drag a text widget over to the Sidebar and enter a title like “Follow Me.”  Then, paste your HTML code into the text box.  Click Save, and your buttons will be live on your site’s sidebar.

That’s it.  Your “Follow Me” social media buttons are good to go on your sidebar.  SImilarly, if you’d like these buttons in your header, footer, or some other spot on your site (like the Contact page), just paste the code and click Save.

Example Social Media Buttons on SherrySnider.com:

Now click the buttons below to share this post with all your friends on social media sites.  🙂

 

Book Review – Marketing Your Book On Amazon

Shelley Hitz’s Marketing Your Book On Amazon is essentially an insider’s guide for Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Author Central.  It’s like a bag of 21+ golden nuggets of book marketing wisdom.

Amazon Tools

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B009SGXWM0″ locale=”us” height=”320″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51L-9YbxzEL.jpg” width=”236″]Through various resources, authors have figured out the basics of KDP, and if they’re lucky, they’ve found and figured out the basics of Author Central.  Hitz gives us months’ worth of deep research and testing in Marketing Your Book On Amazon, so we can not only USE Amazon tools, but also OPTIMIZE them for our books.

The tips and tricks in this book can only come from repeated experience with the tools and processes.  Veteran author, Hitz shares all kinds of golden nuggets to help us get a jumpstart through all the hoops.  She’s already been there, and it’s always a good idea to heed the advice of those who’ve gone before us.  …sure does save a lot of time.

Favorite Insider Tip

Of the many tips and tricks, one of my favorites was a quirk I’d have never picked up without Hitz’s guidance in the book.  Did you know that you could manually request category changes for your book?  Ok, you probably did know that part, but did you know that it’s a much easier process if you already have one of your categories established as “non-classifiable?”

I didn’t know that.  In fact, it sounds completely counter-intuitive.  Without this insider tip, I would never have assigned a category to my book as “non-classifiable.”

Screenshots

Hitz also includes multiple screenshots and examples, but they’re hosted online (external from the actual ebook).  Make sure to read the book on a computer or device with internet access to view the screenshots.  From there, it’s a quick click on the link (in the ebook) to open and view the screenshots.

Ebook Signing

Since you all know I’m also an ebook signing evangelist, I’m quite happy to note that one of Hitz’s marketing tips is to sign your ebooks.  The service she mentions is Authorgraph (formerly Kindlegraph), but that’s only one of MANY digital solutions for autographs.

Check out my recent book, What Do Ebook Authors Sign? on how to sign ebooks.  Detailed instructions and screenshots are included to walk authors through using Authorgraph, Autography (which lets authors sign actual ebooks just like signing a physical/printed book), and other signing solutions.

 

Spinning Carousel of Your Amazon Books – WordPress Plugin for Authors

How do I put a 3D spinning carousel of my books on my WordPress site or blog?

As usual, when I find an answer, I do my best to share, and there are several options for adding a bookshelf, a slider, or a spinning carousel of your books on your WordPress site or blog.

Bookshelf

Shelfari has a widget for both Blogger and WordPress.  Actually, it’s really cute.  A friend of mine uses it on a blog she uses to review Children’s books (for a school project).  It actually looks like a wooden bookshelf with all your books facing out.

Slider

Of course, there are dozens of plugins and widgets for sliders.  These are the “rolling” or “scrolling” banners that progress through a list of specified images.  They usually have forward and back arrows, too.

Spinning Carousel

Me?  I wanted to visually display the books I have on Amazon on a “spinning” carousel that I could include on my WordPress site.  I’ve seen it done before, and the effect stuck with me.  I just can’t remember where I saw it.  So, I started digging.

Note that many of these fancy-schmancy visuals function on Flash, so they may not work properly on certain mobile devices.

WordPress-Amazon-Associate

I found a few options, but the one that stood out for my purposes was a free plugin called WordPress-Amazon-Associate.   Among other options, it includes an Amazon Carousel Widget that spins specified Amazon books (or ebooks) in a 3D circular motion.  The book covers are clickable (in any position…not just centered) and the links use your specified Amazon Affiliate code.  Whoo-hoo!   Looked good.  Sounded good.  …took a bit to figure it out.

Actually, it’s not that difficult to set up and configure, but I didn’t find any documentation until after I’d searched around the support forum and the developer’s web site.  I didn’t actually open the documentation.  I know.  …shocking for a tech writer, right?   I actually found the answers I was looking for on the developer’s web site before I actually saw the plugin documentation mentioned on the support forum.  Hey, this post was specifically on the Amazon Carousel Widget, and it gave me the answers I needed.

Now, let me save you some digging and show you, step-by-step, how it’s done.

Installing and Configuring the Amazon Carousel Widget in the WordPress-Amazon-Associate Plugin

1.  Find, install, and activate the WordPress-Amazon-Associate plugin.

There are a couple of ways to install plugins on a WordPress site, but the most common is to use the WordPress Dashboard, go to the Plugins Menu and select Add New.

Search for “WordPress-Amazon-Associate” and click Install Now for the plugin by MDBitz – Matthew John Denton.

Activate the plugin.

2.  Once installed and activated, scroll down the menu options on your WordPress Dashboard to the WP-Amazon menu and select Settings.

wp-amazon settings

Use the checkboxes to activate/deactivate the appropriate Amazon Locale(s); then, enter the appropriate Associate Tag (Amazon Associate Tracking ID) for each.  (Enabling Geo Localization and such required additional steps, so I just stuck with the United States option.)

Scroll down a bit to the Amazon Web  Services Settings.  This is a bit of a pain.  If you don’t already have an Amazon Web Services account, you’ll need to sign-up to proceed.  (No big deal.  It’s a free account…just another hoop to jump through.)   If you DO already have an Amazon Web Services account, this is still a pain.  I couldn’t remember where the Access Key and Secret Key were.  Once you find them, it’s easy enough to enter the codes.  (After logging in, I found them under the My Account / Console dropdown menu > Security Credentials.)

Don’t forget to click one of the Update Settings buttons to retain all the entered info.

3.  With all the settings configured, add the widget or code where you want your spinning carousel.

If you want to use a widget version on multiple pages and/or posts, you can use the WordPress Dashboard > Appearance menu.  Select the Widgets option, then drag and drop the Amazon Carousel Widget to a sidebar, header, etc. as allowed in your theme.

Configure the titles, categories, ASINs, etc., then click Save on the Widget to apply.

If you just want to add the carousel to individual posts or pages, you’ll want to create the carousel settings with short codes, then paste it into the html view of the pages or posts.

Sounds nasty, right?  Not really.

Here’s the visual way… Open the page or post, then click the Amazon Products/Widget dropdown and select Carousel Widget.

Enter the details you’d like displayed.  For this example, I did a Search and Add Widget Type looking in the Kindle Store for Sherry Snider as the keyword.  Once you enter your own preferences, click Preview to check it out, then click the Insert button to paste the applicable short code text into your page or post.

Here’s the code I used for my spinning carousel:

(Sorry.  I know that's an image of the code rather than actual text, but if I paste the text, it just inserts another spinning carousel. :-) ) 

This one uses specific ASINs rather than searching by a keyword.  Just replace those ASINs with the ASINs of your own books…unless you want to display my books, too.  🙂  Just copy the ASIN from your book’s Amazon listing and paste it into the code in place of mine.  Separate each ASIN with a comma.

You can, of course, change the short code settings for the carousel if you’d like.  The parameters are defined on the developer’s web site.   Too, if you really need to make adjustments, the developer’s pretty good about responding to the blog post’s comments and on the support forum.

That’s it!  Give it a spin!

Summary

Specifically, I wanted a spinning carousel to display the books and ebooks I authored and offer through Amazon.  Technically, though, this plugin would work well displaying other people’s books and Amazon items, too.  Hey, it’s linked to your Amazon Associates account, so any sales made from your link could put money in your pocket.

Whether you’re an author, a writer, a blogger, or an internet entrepreneur, WordPress-Amazon-Associate could serve you and your readers well.

A Note About Amazon Associates’s Carousel Widget

Friends have asked why I chose to use the WordPress-Amazon-Associate plugin rather than just using the Carousel Widget available through Amazon Associates’s tools.

First, I’d honestly forgotten about it.  Though I’m a fan of the Amazon Associates program, I’ve never been totally comfortable with the online widgets and tools they provide.

Second, I did test Amazon Associates’s Carousel Widget.  It flaked out on me in IE, but worked fine in Chrome.  After looking at the widget code, however, I decided I liked the short code control of the WordPress-Amazon-Associate plugin better.

For those of you who’d like to try Amazon Associates’s Carousel Widget, here are the basic steps.

Once you’re logged in to your Amazon Associates account, use the Settings dropdown menu on the site stripe to select Options.  On the Options page, select the Widgets tab, then click the Carousel Widget link.  Use the options to add items to your carousel.  (Since I wanted to add my own books, I used the Search and Add Products option and searched for my own name under the Kindle Store category.)  Click the Add Product buttons to add 6-10 items to your carousel, then click the Next Step button.  Select your preferred display options, then click the Save or Add to My Web Page button to copy the code needed to place the widget on your site.

As I noted, I still prefer the short code controls of the WordPress-Amazon-Associate plugin, but if you use a Blogger/Blogspot platform or other non-WordPress site, the Carousel Widget from Amazon Associates should work just as well.  Even if you have a WordPress site, you may prefer the widget.  My personal preference is the plugin with short codes, but now you have step-by-step instructions for both.  🙂