Sunday 26 July 2015

Photographs, reviews, fiverr and some serious editing are improving my Kindle book


I've been looking to increase the income from my first Kindle ebook by improving it in several ways.

How to sell your house: What estate agents don't tell you by Steven Thompson

These changes are coming before I finish my second ebook on the related topic of and then a combined book of The income I receive from this has been modest but steady, and I want to extend this to help when I eventually open my estate agency and have to rely on other income for a short while.

I've looked at the book and the changes I think were needed and the details are below-

Addition of photographs
The book itself flowed quite well in the way it was written but the newer version, to be released soon, will have some stock photos added to the text to break up the words and provide a link between the chapters. They are simple stock images that provide visual clues to the text and make it more easily readable.

Top tips boxes
I found that throughout the text I was highlighting really good ideas of how to make the most out of the process of selling your home. The ideas tended to get lost in the text as there were over 5,000 words. I came across the idea of adding boxes marked with the heading "TOP TIP." This enables the reader to spot the things to make the big changes. In short, it really highlights the really good ideas.

I've started the process of emsing people a copy if the book so that they can give me a review. The Amazon reviews help potential buyers to make their decision in terms of whether to buy something. I've started to contact the top reviewers on Amazon with a copy of the book with a request to read and review. Hopefully this will add to the interest in the book and some reviews (hopefully positive) will tempt people to buy or borrow.

A new cover
I decided that the original cover that I designed myself on Microsoft Publisher didn't really stand up to the competition. It looked homemade. During one of my serendipity trips on the internet I found a website called (See blog - .) The website brings together designers and people who need quick basic designs - all for the princely sum of $5.

My designer came up with the following design first-

Obviously with a website that crosses large parts of the world, there can be small issues with communication. With fiverr, the designers have rules they post in the site when you instruct them to produce work for you. My designer allows one alteration to the design and if you're still not happy after that they refund your money. I asked for a revision to change the notes at the bottom of the picture to UK sterling pound notes as the book is mainly aimed at the UK market.

And this is the final design. The new design is uploaded to the book's profile on the Amazon page. The new design shows another change, albeit sort-term. There are many books called 'How To Sell Your House' on Amazon already, so I've decided initially to make this Kindle book titled 'How To Sell Your Home' to differentiate. The next step will be, however, to order another Kindle book cover and add the title the second time, so it's listed under both 'house' and 'home' on the Amazon website. I hope that this will enable me to reach both search terms.

I love Quidco I love Quidco

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Recurring problem with my back


I've got some problem with my back that started yesterday morning. I've had back issues for over a decade, so this isn't an unusual occurrence. However, it usually happens when I'm overweight or unfit. I've lost 8 pounds in the last 4 weeks and I've started running again (twice a week) so in theory, I shouldn't be having these problems.

But I've got them and it's time to look at how I deal with them. In the past I'd always go into my shell and lie on the settee until it got better. I'd never take pain killers because "I want to know what I'm doing that's causing me pain." Then, after a referral to a physio from my GP after a particular episode with my back, everything changed. I was self-employed at the time and I was invited to a 'back class' for 5 days, where I went into a classroom for the morning of everything day of one week to listen and discuss the things that affect your back. The class ranged from the physiology of the back, diet, weight loss, exercise, sleeping and pain relief. From there, I started to look at things from a different angle.

From that point, it's all become about managing my back whilst trying to carry in with my routine as much as possible. The course kept referring back to the days of cavemen - the caveman that laid down and stopped hunting didn't eat and eventually died. I now take pain relief if I need it, I go to work rather than having a day off and I feel much better for it. And my recovery happens a lot sooner. I find that rather than waiting for my back to get better, I'm proactively doing things that allow it to get better. Movement is better than forcing myself to stay still, pain relief is better than being in pain and exercise is strengthening my back for the long term, rather than testing it in the short term. The immediate goal is to get rid of the pain and to manage my movement to ensure that the back gets better this week. It's then onwards with the weight loss as I'd like to lose another 6 pounds before the middle of August. This will help by taking some pressure and strain off my back. Mix in some exercise and I'm hoping that the worst of the problems are behind me.

All in all in much happier with this current solution and I'll continue to use this method of recuperation.
I love Quidco

Sunday 5 July 2015

Mystery shop feedback - small update!


A short addition to the blog on my new mystery shopping experience from Friday.

I've received the feedback and it states-

  • Your report was a pleasure to read
  • Excellent feedback

So I'm very happy with that!!

New experiences bring a few nerves


It sounds really strange after over four years of mystery shopping for ten different companies that I an nervous about the mystery shop I'm due to complete tonight. I haven't kept an exact count that I can easily lay my hands right now but I estimate that I've completed around 1,000 mystery shops and this is the first one since the very early days that I've felt apprehensive and pressured to get things absolutely exact. That's not to say I'm usually imprecise but many of the mystery shop companies I use ask for general ideas -

*was the floor clean?
*were you served quickly?
*was the server well presented?

Now, of course, there is a degree of personal judgement in answering these questions.

The reason for today's apprehension is that I'm shopping for a new company. As part of the terms and conditions of any mystery shopping exercise, I can't publish details anywhere - including blogs and social media. So I won't go into much detail but I can say that I've signed up with this mystery shopping company and I'm undertaking a new assignment with a new client.

One of the main differences is that this new mystery shop company operates a different reporting system. Just about all of the reports I've filed need an online form completed and 90% of it is tick boxes - yes/no answers to questions along the lines of those I've stated above. This new company is looking for a narrative version of the visit. I'm not afraid of narrative itself, as it is along the lines of what I'm typing right now, but its a clear narrative of the visit stating only the facts that I need to create.

I find it helpful when I'm apprehensive about something, to talk or type it through and just the typing of today's blog has helped me a little. The unknown can be a little daunting but it's just a case of reading through the instructions thoroughly and being as prepared as I can. And there are lessons here for when I start the business. Conducting my first market appraisal for myself or agreeing my first sale on my own will be exciting and nervy experiences but being prepared will get me through it. I've always worked well from a script or structure and I'll make sure that I have this set up for when I start operating as an estate agent.