Tag Archives: facebook

Will You Lose Your Job Because of Facebook?

This is not about your indiscretions which might show up in human resources. Yes, those are important, but this is about the very existence of the company you work for.

“But I work for a huge, stable company.” If you believe that you are safe then you do not understand how the stock market works.

Several years ago when politicians attempted to buy stock with social security funds, liberal cried, “risky scheme.” The current Social Security has no risk factor at all. Politicians spend the money as fast as it is collected. It guarantees that the money will not be there when it is needed.

The United States is in a desperate financial condition. If you do not understand that, the rest of this blog will make little sense to you. The federal government has borrowed more money than it can possibly repay. Private funds have nothing valuable to invest in. Unemployment is far higher than the government will admit. The government has to cook the books to hide the reality of the situation. The same is true for inflation.

Desperate to make a profit, large Wall Street investment firms are taking immoral risks and getting caught. With the failures of the Federal Government and traditional Wall Street investment firms, investors turned to a non-traditional source of income to seek profits in Facebook.

Investing means taking some of your money and saving it. You can do one of two things with your savings; hide it (put it in a mattress, safe deposit box, buy gold, etc.) or attempt to make more money. This attempt to make more money is known as investing. You can put your money in a traditional savings account with lower returns but relatively safe investments. You can also buy bonds, another traditionally safe investment with low rates of return.

But the largest and most common long-term investment instrument is a stock certificate. Both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking were told by their publishers that they would lose half their audience every time they used a formula. Following that sound advice, there will be no accounting here.

A stock certificate is legal ownership of a company. While there is a lot of hoopla surrounding an IPO (Initial Public Offering), you must realize that an IPO is selling the company. Most people understand selling a car or house. When the deed or title is transferred, they have the money but not the car or house. A stock certificate, however, is only part ownership. Since stocks can be structured so many different ways, something simple might help us understand.

A man gets married. He has lived at home and worked on a farm his entire life. He wants to move out of the house and start his own farm. He convinces ten people with money to invest in a very small, completely equipped farm. They are not just giving him money. They are lending him their retirement funds. They need the money back but not for a few years. Each of these ten people gets a single stock certificate. To make the illustration very simple, whatever profits the farm makes when it harvests and sells it crops will be split 50/50. The farmer will keep 50% and the ten investors will each get 5%. So in this example, if the farm made $200,000 the first year, the farmer would keep $100,000 and each investor would get $10,000. This is similar to the way the real world works. The capital equipment, such as the land and tractors, would be purchased with original investment funds. Ongoing expenses, such as tractor repairs and diesel fuel, would be paid for out of the farmer’s share of the profits. As long as the investors keep their stock, they will continue to get 5% of the profits.

The risk is that if the farm does not make money the investors do not get paid. Every day companies fail and the investors lose their investment. Most people invest in some type of mutual fund where they buy shares in a lot of different companies. If most of the companies you invest in are profitable, it does not matter if one or even a hundred companies fail. If those profits more than offset the failing companies, you still come out ahead.

This is where Facebook comes in. We have a failing economy, a failing federal government, and failures on Wall Street. Facebook was the largest IPO ever. Though the IPO took place 5 days ago, there is still disagreement as to exactly how many billion dollars Facebook raised. The price per share was based on the number of shares issued and the amount of income Facebook is expected to generate. Unlike a farm, which harvests and sells a tangible product, the only income Facebook has is advertising revenue. It makes estimating income very difficult.

The billions of dollars invested and lost in Facebook were taken from other companies. Where did the money go? On a farm, money is spent on tractors, land and seeds. In a tech company, the buildings and equipment often have little value to anyone else. The capital investments are often in salaries of tech savvy employees and highly specialized equipment. However, in Facebook’s case, the money the original investors lost is not gone until the investors sell their stock. Facebook as a company has spent some of the initial investment. If Facebook uses that money wisely and eventually pays large dividends, then everyone who invested in Facebook will be paid back. The only people who lose money are the ones who sell while the stock price is low.

Facebook is pointing out Amazon.com as an example. Amazon’s IPO opened at $18 per share and fell to around $1.50 per share. Amazon went public in 1997 and failed make a profit until 2001. It is now up to $217 per share. However, Amazon sells stuff. It is easier to evaluate how well Amazon is doing by looking at what and how much Amazon sells. Facebook has a huge audience, but how much of that audience buys products Facebook advertises?

Our little business advertised on Facebook. Our tracking showed zero results from our Facebook advertising. GMC just canceled Facebook advertising last week for similar reasons. Facebook advertising does not work. Of course, Facebook can turn things around. But at this time, Facebook stock is worth less than half of its IPO opening price.

Most people are realizing that Facebook was oversold. The IPO price was inflated. No one can explain how the price came to be what it was. This is still being analyzed, but whispers of impropriety, dishonesty, and serious misconduct are becoming shouts.

At this time, Facebook is looking more like Netscape. The browser with more than a 90% market share in the mid 1990s now has less than a 1% market share. Netscape was sold and investors lost almost everything.

The difference between Facebook and Netscape is that Netscape failed in a strong economy. The money invested in Facebook was pulled from other businesses. If Facebook fails, or even just loses a lot of money, other companies will not have the money to meet their payrolls.

Combined with the other problems the US has, it just might be the perfect storm to bring down the US economy.

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The Prayer Networks

“Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

When we first joined Facebook, it was simply to keep in touch with our children in their far-flung adventures (and ours). Eventually we began to make friends there, usually people we knew in “real” life and in some cases hadn’t seen in many years. It was nice to reconnect. Gradually we made other friends, what I call “digital-only” friends. We haven’t actually met them or had any live communication. We are Facebook (or Goodreads, or blog post, or Twitter) friends only.

I had one Facebook friend who for awhile felt a little like a stalker. It was really just that she knew very little about something we were both interested in, writing and publishing, and I knew more, so she asked a lot of questions. In no way did I feel threatened by her, or worried that she would try to kill me if I didn’t get right back to her when she messaged me.

Yesterday I read an article about a couple murdered in their home. When they arrested two suspects, the Sheriff said that these people were killed because they had “unfriended” the daughter of one of the suspects. The other suspect had an “attraction” for the daughter of the man he assisted in committing murder.

The Sheriff said this was not the first time this woman “could not handle it” when she thought she was being ignored or slighted. She had been accused of stalking and harassing another woman who failed to pay attention to her on social networking. Her father said she “lived” on Facebook. It was all she did.

A previous complaint against the woman, who apparently got her father and a wannabe boyfriend to commit murder for the sake of her bruised ego, was made by a woman she stalked online and by phone. The complaint said that the woman being stalked didn’t even know the stalker personally.

Instead of lashing out in anger or stalking people in my social network when I don’t hear from them, or hear from them a little more often than is comfortable, I pray for them. I pray for those who need jobs, those enduring separation from family because of military service, those struggling to get a book published, those with ongoing medical problems, those struggling with disobedient children or unsaved spouses. We have friends who are missionaries, short term or long-term, around the world. We have others having marital problems. We have met people in countries where it’s difficult to get books, to figure out where to buy them from, even online. I even pray for people who don’t believe prayer does any good.

One of those friends recently seemed to be having a very bad time with family and health problems. She cried out on several sites we both belong to, and the answer was almost universally, from whatever site, whoever responded, “We are praying for you. God comfort and help you. Please know that we care.” Nobody was angry with her for pouring her heart out in near-despair. Everyone has problems, but everyone who knows Christ knows that even though we call it a Social Network, we can make it a Prayer Network, anytime, anywhere.

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Filed under Current Issues, Politics, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Part Two: Make It Clean, Get It Out

So many people have said writing a book is the easy part. Still, it can’t be repeated often enough. New writers are cropping up all the time, while the traditional publishing contract including a marketing machine to get your word out is fast becoming downright mythological. “Do it yourself” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to new author/new book self-creation and promotion. Check out our previous post on the hows and whys of e-book production for more on the production end.

First step after you think your book is “finished” is to realize it’s not. You have to make your book technically clean before you can seriously try to publish it. Whatever your financial abilities, get the best vetting you can to get rid of the errors. If your editorial staff consists of you, your mom, your oldest kid, and a co-worker you bribed with lunch for a week, so be it. Many author-oriented sites have sections, often called workshops, devoted to getting help from other authors, editors, or those who will take on the task free or cheap if you help them in some way. Avail yourself of them if you can, but remember that everyone, especially unpaid volunteers or friends, will take time to get through your work. They might give up and never finish. In the end, you must get someone you can depend on. Goodreads, Kindleboards, “Indie Writers Unite” and “Indie Author Group” (the last two are facebook groups) all have editors or at least people willing to exchange a read and comment in their ranks.

Some people depend on an auto-editing program. White Smoke is one I have heard praised. I have not personally used one, but I have read three modern self-published books recently in which I found, consistently, the following types of errors. I will paraphrase to avoid picking on or identifying a particular work. One had, at the end of a piece of conversation, “said Robert quietly said.” The word “shudder” appeared where “shutter” should have been, referring to a window’s protective covering. The word “peak” appeared where “peek” or pique” should have in two different books (“I took a peak in the bag,” “this will peak your interest”) instead of, “I took a peek in the bag” or “this will pique your interest”). This is what an auto-editor will do for you. Not only will it not catch/fix everything, it will introduce new things. In the immortal words of Captain Kirk, “Spock, we’re all human.” An auto-editor is only human. It makes mistakes.

I asked the author of one of the books I read about her editing process when I found errors like these. She described shared/workshop readers, her own many years of experience, her training under a professional editor, and the fact that she used an auto-editor. She said she couldn’t afford or justify $5,000 for professional editing services. Another writer said she couldn’t afford such services either, that she had herself, one or two other people, what she could get from the workshop volunteers, and White Smoke. I noticed a pattern even in just these two authors. The auto-editor came last.

I am a former English teacher, editor and proofreader, and these things disturb me. I don’t want to read them in your works, please. So, from my tiny sample and admittedly narrow experience, I am going to dogmatically state, Survey says, the auto-editor should not come last. Reel ayes shield bee lest (Real eyes should be last), lest you put out wrong stuff. That being said, if you do use a “professional editor,” understand that there’s a limit to what you should let other people do to your work. One of the published authors I spoke to went self-published because she had bad experiences with editors. No one is saying editors are always wrong, either, but be careful when the changes become extensive and substantive.

It’s your story. Let them fix the typos, the grammar, the punctuation, maybe, but don’t let them say that they can tell your story better than you can, unless you or someone you trust actually agrees on the “improvement.” Editors can be very intimidating people. Don’t let them change what’s vital to your tale for the sake of marketability, not offending people, or because they disagree with what you’ve said and think they can bully you with their “professionalism.” But you have got to get the book clean, or you will annoy and chase off people even less picky than me, based on what I’ve seen. I read a book in which I am sure I found, conservatively, 5% of the content to be errors. That is oh so very much too much.

I am devoting another full post to covers, (yes, you have to have one, yes, it has to be stunning) but, once you feel your book is as clean as you can make it, refer to the earlier post called “The Hows and whys of E-Books” and get your book up on Smashwords, on Amazon, on whatever other sites you can. There is a program called Calibre, and there are others, that, if you can figure out how to use them, can convert your book to multiple formats. There’s no limit to the number of sites you can upload to if you can do your own conversions. But Smashwords premium distribution does get you on most of the major ones, B&N, iBooks, etc.

Once you are up, the sales do not, alas, automatically begin pouring in. This is when you start running the gamut of promotional possibilities. First some of the free ideas. Join forums and talk to people. I’ll use Goodreads as an example. Set up your author page(s) according to directions. Put up books you have read and review them intelligently and honestly, and keep doing that. Then go join some groups, say hello in the welcome areas, and join some conversations. Talk like you are paying attention to what people are saying. Address them by name. Quote from their posts so they know you actually read them. And read the entire post before speaking.

Meanwhile look around for other forums, appropriate groups, lists and subject areas where you can add your books. Try to engage the readers as well as fellow writers. Try to make the readers like you as a person, a thinker, maybe even a friend, and then they might make friends with your books. Don’t just spam your book or blog links at them. You might mention a blog topic if it fits in with the discussion and post a link, or they might ask you for it. Goodreads has the ability to insert a book cover with a link into a post. Do that with your book when you post. If you want to stick your post onto all the threads that say “Share your book (or blog) here” go ahead, but you’re likely to get lost in pages of the same.

Rarely do I go back and look through those lists. Participation is what gets me friends and followers and response. Don’t stay with groups that are obviously just a bunch of friends chatting and recommending mainline popular books and ignoring the Indie authors who try to interact. Don’t stay with dead groups. Pick small but active groups with opportunities to talk to living, breathing people who talk back. Talk to readers, not just writers. Writers are as broke and desperate as you are, and may be helpful, friendly, supportive and full of information you need to know, but readers are looking for books. Make them want to look for yours.

Kindleboards is a rather strict, well-policed but respected forum. They demand that you participate by posting and that you post in the right places about the right things. They also have beautiful author and book pages and active link signatures and banners for you to set up. I am still intimidated by Kindleboards, but I keep trying.

Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, StumbledUpon, Book Junkies Library, Author’s Den, Breakthrough Bookstore, and a host of blogs like Kindle Author give you free space to promote. Absolutely make use of those and any others you can find. Almost all forum sites additionally have opportunities to purchase paid advertising. The costs vary widely. Kindleboards is frequently called the most expensive. Other sites are internet-promotion oriented but not specifically for writers or writing. FeedShark, Pingomatic, Technorati and other blog search engines and other pingbacks can drive free traffic to your blog, where your book(s) better be linked.

Try to get people to write valuable reviews of your books. I have requested and been promised several, but so far only one result. That may be something you will just have to pay for. Not sure on that one. The article from the Wall Street Journal circulating about the Indie author who has sold over 400,000 copies of her e-books says she spent under $2000 advertising and that included one paid review from a company respected in the industry. She also charges only 99 cents for her book. How you price your book is something you have to decide. You might have sales or giveaways but I am still not sure people value something they can get cheap or free. Pricing is a promotional tool, but make sure you aren’t just selling to be selling, unless that’s really all you want to do.

There is a theory going around among Indie authors that if we add likes and tags to each others’ author and sales pages we will be more visible to potential customers. Getting reciprocation on this is difficult, but if you wish to do it or set up to have it done, here’s how.

People can like your Facebook author page. Beware of going around liking a bunch of fb pages if you don’t want their blood and guts horror titles (or smarmy romances) showing up in your feed. Do what you can to support other authors, but be realistic, honest and responsible. People can like most any other author pages you have. How to do that is to find a like or thumbs up sort of button and click it. Tags are a bit trickier. You should have set up tags when you first uploaded your book, but if you didn’t, your Amazon book page is set up as follows: The book’s cover near the top, next down is editorial reviews, next is product details, next is Customer Reviews, next your Shelfari extras if you have that set up, next your author page link, and ‘way down the page, “Tags Customers Associate” with this Product. I have tried hard to have at least 15 tags. I keep a text file saved with them ready for all the sites that ask for tags.

These are picked up by search engines as subjects and matched to customer searches. Just having yours set up is a good idea. Type an appropriate subject in the box and click “add.” Once you have one in place, you will see the word “edit” beside the box. Click on edit and you will be given a larger box into which you can cut and paste or type a list of all the tags you want, separated by commas. When finished click “add” and all the tags will appear at once. If you wish to participate in tagging, other people can click in the box beside the tag word and add to its number of uses. Tell them to make sure they are logged in as an Amazon customer, to be sure that the click actually increases the number beside the word, and that they click all the tags.

It’s difficult, it’s complicated. If you belong to an author group with 700+ members and you try to tag all of them, then get a dozen or so in response, that’s the way it is. I try to tag people when I see them post and put links up, but that means nobody’s even trying to tag mine because We have a round dozen now and I can’t put them up every time I post. And I don’t give likes to things I haven’t read. But if you can, and think it helps, at least try to reciprocate.

You can create video teasers for your books using the free moviemaker programs that come on your computer. Record a soundtrack of a reading excerpt, music, sound effects, whatever you are able to do, but make sure it’s good quality. Ever see a TV commercial where the image was fuzzy, the voices and music were almost inaudible or way out of balance, the text was hard to read? Maybe you haven’t, but they do exist and they are painful to see. Don’t do that.

Do add an author image (a good, clear, and preferably casual-appearing one) and bio. Do add book descriptions. Do add cover images, and in all this image uploading, pay attention to size requirements. They vary a lot. Create banners and whatever else you can, business cards, postcards, bookmarks (this is why you should keep an image file with the elements separate).

Twitter seems to get a response, for reasons I am still unclear about. Set up to automatically tweet your blog updates if nothing else, and update your blog often. I mean several times a week. Really. Consider posting on Google Plus. I complained to another author that we joined Google Plus in the latest wave of Facebook discontent but most of our friends weren’t there. He wisely said, “Facebook is to keep track of your old friends. Google Plus is to find new ones.”

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The Greatest Commandment


“Master Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Everything we do, every decision we make must have these two guiding principles. Does it glorify God? Does it show that I love my neighbor as myself? This blog post is inspired by a variety of topics that come across my Facebook page.

People have said in many different ways that they want their Facebook experience to be, in effect, “light and fluffy.” They don’t want to talk about religion or politics. A cute picture or a funny story receives many, sometimes hundreds of “likes,” reposts, and comments. Sometimes we like and repost such things too. But important posts, prayer requests for persecuted Christians or links to important news items, rarely show any evidence that anyone has even seen them.

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are not keeping these two commandments when we keep our lives “light and fluffy.” As believers, we are part of the Church, engaged in warfare. As believers we are faced with daily choices. Are our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit, or are they simply, as the Secular Humanist bumper stickers claim, amusement parks?

The Scriptures have detailed teaching about how a church should conduct itself and what it should expect of its membership, and vice-versa. Failure to follow these Scriptures is sin. A church or an individual needs to condemn failure to follow clear Scriptures or the making up of practices the Scriptures do not teach or allow for.

The Word of God clearly commands us not to fellowship with believers living in open sin. Though it grieves God’s heart, some people in positions of church leadership are living in open sin. Sadder still, unbelievers mock and ridicule the Word of God in the majority of the church buildings of Western Europe and the United States. We can neither glorify God nor love our neighbor in these services. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us discern exactly what type of ministry we should join and support.

But some people say they won’t go to a church service if it does not meet their “needs,” whatever that means. Would you attend a church where men were segregated from women and children? What about a service without pews or chairs, where you had to stand for the entire service? What about a church that met in a different place each service because of threats on the worshipers’ lives?

There are three standards in the word of God for choosing to fellowship and support a local work by joining in membership. First, does it preach the Word of God? This means the whole council of God, not just what I want to hear. Second, is there a place for ministry? If the abilities and gifts God has blessed you with cannot be used in one fellowship, seek out another place where they can be used. Third, can I faithfully attend the services? The perfect fit a thousand miles from your house is not such a perfect fit.

These should not be such high standards. Instead, Christian Churches are filled with people “whose god is their appetites.” Philippians 3:9. These people will only attend a church which meets their appetites. The sad part is, what might be acceptable for one believer, might be a stumbling block and a sin for another believer.

The following is a brief list of some of the issues we have seen which cause people to leave a church. 1) The church is not the right size. These are “Goldilocks” Christians. This church is too big. This church is too small. They go through life forever searching for the church that is “just right.” 2) The music or worship service is not “contemporary” enough. They often tie this to other issues. They say the church is cold, unfriendly, judgmental, sometimes after attending for years and suddenly discovering that all these things have bothered them for years. Do they really mean to say, “I hate this church and I know this church hates me because I hate its music”? 3) The Church isn’t “giving” enough. What they usually mean by this is that other members are not giving them enough. 4) The Church is “legalistic.” This word is so overused that it has lost it’s meaning. In the Bible the word legalism simply means works salvation. Sometimes people simply mean that this particular church has standards they do not like.

So maybe our facebook pages, and our churches, and our lives, should not consist of what is light and fluffy, of what is pleasing to us, but rather of things that fulfill the Greatest Commandment.

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Who Do You Serve?

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:23-25

An oft-stated goal of Secular Humanism is to put every citizen in slavery by debt. They conceal this purpose by such phrases as “loyalty to the federal family.” On facebook some people said they could be both Secular Humanists and good Christians. Either these people are Christians, but ignorant that Secular Humanism is a religion seeking Christianity’s destruction, or they are wolves in sheep’s clothing trying to destroy Christianity from within.

And Elijah came unto all the people and said, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: if Baal, then follow him.” And the people answered him not a word.
1 Kings 18:20-22

“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.”
Exodus 32:25-27

We are not advocating killing anyone. But this is a serious matter. Any time we bring up this matter, Christians ignore it or become angry. We are not trying to make enemies, but “friendship with the world” really does make you God’s enemy.

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