Sunday, August 28, 2016


Taking my own photos of my own products isn’t as easy as it looks.

Rip’s Picks, the store, they allow one photo for each product listed. The thing is,
people who buy collectibles of any sort need more than one photo. They want to
see the top, all four sides, and the bottom. That’s where Rip’s Picks the blog
comes in.

Rip’s Picks, the blog, can have twenty different pages with all the photos needed
to highlight each product. I can put the product’s listing at the bottom, and link to
the store so folks can actually purchase something.

That’s where I’m at now. I’m working on the photographs for all twenty products,
working on writing the listings, which include measurements, and getting things
ready for what I would call my grand opening. As soon as I get everything
finished, hopefully without mistakes, I’m open for business.

One thing about taking the pics is, I need a different background depending on
what color the product actually is. The idea is to make the product more appealing.
My three base background colors are white (bed-sheet), red (wine-red bed sheet),
and brown (diningroom table). I can stack books under the sheets to raise things
up for a display.

Like working with a live model, I have to work the item from all angles, and play
with the lighting, which consists of two table lamps and the overhead light of my
diningroom table, and/or letting the camera do its thing with the flash.

Glass can be a bitch.

I have to take three to five photos from each angle, making subtle adjustments to
lighting and distance, and look for that one good shot from each angle. I want
people who come to buy, understand that what you see is what you get.

Nice patina or not, flawless or with flaws, dusty or dusted, what you see is what
you get.

Because this isn’t my first rodeo (I did eBay years back, and hated the auction
format. I didn’t have enough sales to open my own store, plus those outrageous
listing fees sucked all the fun out it.), I get to take my time to do things right. I
may outgrow my storefront, but it might take a year, or maybe
even two.

The whole idea behind this is to find cool products and collectibles, pay as little as
I possibly can for them, and double my money with each sale. That’s the only time
an auction format works to my advantage.

$100.00 in products, becomes $200.00 in sales. $200.00 in products becomes
$400.00 in sales. $400.00 becomes $800.00, and on and on and on and on.

If I can get a 300% return on a product, I’m going for it.

I once bought a black-leather Harley jacket, young toddler size, patched, pined,
and flagged, and it came with a set of small, black, fingerless gloves. I bought it at
a garage sale for $13.00, and I sold it for $65.00.

You can figure out the profit margin yourself. My prices will be competitive with
other products of similar quality, but now you see what’s really possible.

Imagine what’s unique to your home decor. Ireland, France, India, anywhere in the
world you live. Who out there would buy your stuff.

There are things that you could sell, things you could make and sell, or even buy
and sell other’s crafts.

If you can read these words, have a phone camera or other digital camera, products
and the funds to ship them with, by yourself or with help, you too can start a store.

What I’m doing is handing you the keys to the kingdom. Most people, even when
handed the keys to the kingdom, don’t bother to open the door. No shit. They
would rather feel sorry for themselves than open that door when real opportunity

It’s so much easier to collect a paycheck, than to make your own paycheck. With
this store type shit I’m blogging about, you can do both at the same time. It takes
work. A lot of hard work. Are you up for the challenge?

Sure, I’m a little slow getting thing up and on, but I’d rather take my time to do
things right.

Christmas is coming up, in less than four months. My shopping is already done.
That’s just me. Is your shopping done? Maybe I’ll have something you need?
Like? Or want?

My next post will be in a few days to a week, because I’ll actually be getting
things up and running. All twenty products up and on with descriptions, purchase
links included. Lots of work to do. In the meantime become a follower, buy me a
cup of coffee, read my story on Wattpad, vote, leave a comment, buy a book.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I’m Blogging As I Do This

Or, what am I NOT doing right now!

The Buy Me a Cup of Coffee link is up, and to your right. I can now (also) do, yet another way for artists and creative people like myself to gain
income (other than being held hostage to my fixed income) we need to buy
equipment, software, ads promoting our books to readers, and for me, to help
launch Rip’s Picks more properly.

The thought never occurred to me until this morning, don’t ask me why, but
Ripley King can now vlog at YouTube, and the vlog can actually have substance. I
can vlog about what I’m doing to make Rip’s Picks a success, all the work that
goes into starting my own store, but also about Bastard Black, and what I’m doing
here. In other words, what it takes to start with virtually nothing, and work my way
up. I can also link the vlog to Patreon.

What’s a dollar now and again, if I can give you information of real substance?

How to start with jack and squat, with no direction to go but up. That’s me. What
can you do?

Become a follower. Buy me a cup of coffee. Become a patron. Follow me on
Twitter, and when I can make work Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Instagram, and
whatever else that can actually do me some real good with Rip’s Picks and
beyond, be there too.

If all else fails, buy one of my books and read it. Write an honest review. Tell
other people I exist. (I used an before the “H” in honest, because the H is silent.)

I don’t like the idea that I have to lie, cheat, and steal my way to the top. I know
what I said in an earlier post, but that’s my overall frustration talking. When you
have someone like me who is doing everything he can to get out in front of the
reading public with decent books, mind you sixteen decent books, and
continuously failing because of this pay-to-play world us indie authors seem to
live in, the frustration level can get epic.

All my reviews are organic, I never bought an award, I think my books can walk
the walk and talk the talk, and to find out if I’m right, you just have read my
samples at Amazon. Reading samples is FREE!

My problem is cash flow to buy ads for my books, and I have other dreams, too.

I want a hunk of land, a tiny house, my garden back, just like I used to have before
my life went tits up, and I thought it best to take care of my family first, and
everything else became second.

The world of the indie author can change week to week, no doubt about that. Just
ask another indie author. But, there are things that don’t change at all, not really,
and that’s the behavior of the average online consumer. If it’s cool, someone will
want it for themselves. I can sell cool.

Become a participant, not just a bystander.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

If In Doubt, Read The Instructions

Or in my case, read the instructions and then watch the videos. Up first, can I or
can I not upload a suitable picture to headline my store.

First I looked at their headers, and they were as bland as pouring ketchup into hot
water and calling it soup. Yeah, there’s flavor, but no real substance. The crackers
just end up soggy. So, it’s off to see if I can find a royalty free picture to work
with, and use that to headline my store.

I went to for a slim selection of royalty-free images I can use for
whatever I want. I downloaded three I liked, and would work, asked my wife to
pick out the image she liked, and used my own photo editing software (Corel
PhotoHouse) to add the name of the store. I cropped the image, darkened it, and
added the name. Once that was done, I uploaded that finished image to the store.
It’s okay for what I need it to do.

One of the decisions I have to make is what to do about shipping. I have to
configure the checkout price for free domestic shipping within the continental US.
That’s not a big problem. The help video is there.The problem comes with
international shipping rates. Twenty US Dollars ($20.00) isn’t out of line. That
would cover most items to most countries, more or less. It’s the “more or less” that
stumps me. Shipping is by weight, but flat rates make more sense. What I’ll have
to do is adjust that flat rate as I go along. So, I get to get messy, make mistakes,
and find a happy norm as time goes by. More later.

I’ve been live as Bastard Black for thirty days! My one-month anniversary. Now,
over the last month I’ve had 1904 hits, here, and for a brand new blog, one that
actually has something to say, and one that people can relate to and learn from
(because that’s my goal, something real, where I get to figure things out and make
mistakes so you don’t have to), that’s not bad. The US takes the biggest share,
with Germany at 271 hits, Russia at 31 hits, followed by Ireland and France at 13
and 10 hits respectively.

I did sell one book related to Baby Makes Three, when someone bought a copy of
Loney Hero Thing. I hope that they read it front to back, and are motivated to
leave an honest review.

The buyer paid $0.99 cents because I put both Lonely Hero Thing and Ancient
Evil Hungy, books one and two of The Chronicles of Ian Duncan, on sale. LHT is
book one, AEH is book two, and Baby Makes Three is the third book in the series,
and that is what I’ve been posting on Wattpad. No votes as of yet, and no
comments, but I just got started. Join Wattpad and read along as I post fresh
chapters once a week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Word On Wearing Other’s Shoes

I did bump into a blind author (I take it she sees the difference between light and
dark, and that’s about it) the other day . . . who needed help.

She asked for ideas to make money with, while she got her first offering up and
running. She’s under the impression that pay-to-play is the only way to go. There
was, of course, a couple of condescending remarks that got immediately deleted by
the moderator (Take that! you asshole fuckers!), but I chose to read between the

I’m not blind, but I take care of a disabled person, and live well below the poverty
level for a family of two.

I know what it’s like to want help, need help, ask for help, and get nothing.

How we who have the least, get excluded from just about everything. You can’t
pay to play if you have no money to spare.

What she was really doing was asking the largest community of online writers for
real help. Someone who could help her understand formatting, and verify her
work. Maybe a beta reader or two. Someone to look over her editing choices. Real

I told it like it is. What it’s like for us to live on squat and food stamps. I didn’t
hold back.

I get ripped on for standing up for the little guy now and again, only this time I
decided to head that off at the pass. The last time I got ripped on by a pack of
millionaires, with a few hundred-thousandaires thrown into the mix, and I
reminded folks of that.

They remembered.

Needless to say, she’s getting her help. She’s getting help formatting, getting help
editing, a beta read or two, help with a cover, and help in actually making money
with real ideas that could work.

I’d like to thank those Kindle Board members, here and now. They decided they
could and would help, and are doing just that.

Part two, or the second chapter has been posted of Baby Makes Three. Read it,
vote for it, and leave a comment. The Wattpad link is to your right. You have
nothing to lose.

I’m also working on my web store today. Time to start understanding my store,
and getting my products on it, and those products offered to the public at large by
using social networking. I can now use Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, as well as
Twitter and G+ to their fullest. I can use Facebook, too. If I forgot one, I'll get to it.
I can now use social networking to its fullest.

I’ll be writing the next post as I’m working on the store. How hard or how easy my
dashboard actually is, and the results. I have to make notes, too, while I’m doing
this. It’s so easy to forget a thing or two, things that need to be done.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Signing up to was amazingly easy. The first thing I was asked
to do was pick out a look for my store. Yes, your selections are somewhat limited,
but I found one that had a simple black and gray classic design, because I thought
it would help showcase my home decor collectibles, and some of those products
are white.

Then I was asked to fill out my name, address, and input a password. I confirmed
to activate my account by email, and was brought to a page that proudly proclaimed
I’ve joined 350,000 other store owners from around the world. So, if you have a
PayPal account, have the products, and can ship your products to your customers,
you can have a store.

Now I have to answer a couple of quick questions.

The first question produced a map that let them know where I was based within
world. No secret there, I’m based in central Iowa, so I said okay. The next page
said the following:

New Designs added all the time

Optimized for Mobiles and Tablets

Full CSS Control

Customize as little or as much as you like

The next question asked me where did my store want to live, the web address and
domain name choices through them, including an option to list my own domain. I
chose their domain.

To produce a store on my own, using Weebly as an example (and I will use
Weebly when I’m able to), with my own domain and full cart service connected to
PayPal . . . that costs about $360 USD per year. I have yet to spend a dime for this

I had to confirm if my store was family friendly, so my nudie drinking glasses
from thirty years ago might need a black bar or two in all the right places, but now
I know to save those products for my proposed Weebly store, being careful to
properly word the listing (not use the word nudie), so I don’t upset PayPal’s moral whatever.

The next page took me to this, concerning Search Engine Optimizations:

For Beginners

Automated SEO

Let the experts handle your store optimization

No action required

For Advanced Users

Full control over all aspects of SEO

Custom URLs, Page Titles, Meta Keywords and Descriptions

I’ll read it, and probably let them do their thing. Hey, no action required is a good
thing. Next page.

Payment options were then flashed before my eyes, but I’ll go with PayPal. It’s
trusted and secure, people like it, I never had a problem myself, but you don’t want
to bank money with PayPal, or use their debit card option.

You have a specific PayPal account with your bank, and once money is transferred
from PayPal into that account, you then transfer that money into another account
that PayPal can’t possibly freeze (because it has nothing to do with them at all) to
safeguard your own ass, and your hard-won assets.

I’m allowed 20 products at a time, with one photo each, so the old blog will
feature all the photos I have to give buyers a good look at each product from all
sides, with descriptions.

Advertising and new opportunities in social networking will lead customers to
my old blog, and then to my free store.

That post on social networking IS coming.

I was then told my store was ready, and they had a support staff to help me every
step of the way. Okay!

Now I’m at my control panel, and will have to make that a whole ’nother post.
Lots to read, with some experimentation, mistakes to make and correct.

I don’t mind getting messy. I’m stacked, packed, and loaded for bear. I can walk
the walk, and talk the talk. So. I imagine I’ll need all the help I can get.

The good thing is they have a nice help section, with videos. In fact,
their YouTube channel  has about 70 videos that can help me understand
my new store and my dashboard interface.

Now that’s what I call sweet. I'll see you again Monday, because I want this weekend off.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bounce Baby Bounce!

Baby Makes Three - The Chronicles of Ian Duncan - Book Three, is the next
story I’m posting at Wattpad, chapter one is up, see the link to the right. It’s part of a
three or more book series, with the first two novels available for purchase for the
whole sum of $0.99 USD each, under my Ripley King pen name. I might become
Bastard Black for all my past books, just so you know.

The prices will change, just give them some time.

KindleUnlimited subscribers can download and read both books (Lonely Hero
Thing, Ancient Evil Hungry) right now, and the link to get there is
right here, right now, and you can look up for another link next to my slide show.

Lonely Hero Thing - The Chronicles of Ian Duncan - Book One by Ripley King

Urban Paranormal

Ian Duncan. Millionaire. He owns a brew pub and a restaurant.

He’s also Earth’s paladin. A man with a named sword, magical powers, and a little
voice in his head only he can hear.

Beneath the deepest roots of Des Moines, Iowa, there exists a city of the dead and
damned. In this necropolis is a little girl yet to be born. Her blood, once shed, will
open the gates of Hell.

Ancient Evil Hungry - The Chronicles of Ian Duncan - Book Two

The action never stops in this thriller second installment of The Chronicles of Ian
Duncan. Avatara. The Earth Father. An immortal soul in a mortal shell.

Old Ones have appeared in the city, Sheena is still healing, Olympian gods and
goddesses are thrown into the mix, and the baby needs a name. That’s when Fate
appears, bringing with him Pukey the cat. His daughter’s cat. It always has been,
and always will be her cat. Is there such a thing as a cat god?

Did Lovecraft have it right? Are we doomed?

I would have a blurb for Baby Makes Three, but I don’t know how the story ends
yet. Hey, it’s how I write. My characters and their actions determine the course of
the book. I’m a (seat of my) pantser. My overall reviews and ratings say I must be
doing something right.

That’s it for now. Lots of work to do.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

If It Isn't Working

My Wattpad story isn't working, even for me. That means I stop wasting my time, and I'll post something else. I need to do a little thinking. Frankly, I sounded like a pretentious twerp. To the round file!

I did sign up to the other day, and this was a (fellow KBoards member's) recommended choice, but also a limited choice. I'm allowed only so many products at one time, which doesn't really bother me, but what does, I'm limited to only one photo of the product. Twenty products, twenty photos. That's it.

My collectibles need more than one photo in order for buyers to see fully what each item is, any possible flaws, or the overall condition of the product. They'll want to see its patina.

That's why I took the Ripley King failed blog that did nothing but truly waste my time, and changed it into Rip's Picks.  My idea is to stop wasting my own time.

This blog, this is the place where I tell the truth as I see it, and I'll do my best to help find solutions to MY problems that even you can use, anywhere in the world. If you can see my words, you should be able to make things work for yourself, with a little direction.

The work never ends.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Working On Cash Flow!


Give me a week or so to pull the social networking post together, because this is
more important in the grand scheme of things, and ties into the social networking

I took the old book blog, and completely reworked it into an extension of my
coming online store. Let me tell you what I’m doing, and why.

My books need money to market them effectively. That’s it.

For all the readers I’ve had, I can safely say they’re the cheapest, and quietest pack
of people on the entire goddamn planet. I’m not selling books. I’m the best kept
secret on the web. I can be borrowed and read if you have a KindleUnlimited
subscription, and even that ain’t happening. How fucked up is that?

My so-called readers (the other blog hit almost 4000 readers per month for many
months, and you can see how many readers I’ve had the twenty or so days this
blog has been up), they came and drank every word I wrote like it was mother’s
milk, but they didn’t buy. They didn’t borrow. And if they did talk, I never saw it.
I looked.

You can’t get ahead on jack and shit.

Not that you care, or have to care, but I suffer from Fixed-income Blues, so once
the money for my entire month is gone, it’s gone. There is no more. I take care of
my wife, who is physically and mentally disabled, like a good husband should.
Married 29 years next month. None if this means a damn thing to anybody else,
but it means something to me.

It means something to me. I care.

The Internet is all I got. This is all I have to make a better life for myself and my
family. The Internet, and 16 published e-books at Amazon. I’m “all in” but one
story, so I can get the borrows and reads through KindleUnlimited on 15 of the 16.
I’ll talk about “all in” and “going wide” in another post.

I need software and hardware and capital to expand into print books and audio
books. I need to market my books in the right places. That’s the big one. Market in
the right places.

Time to do things different.

I plan on using three different ad services. I don’t need reviews, there are no
gatekeepers allowed, they’ll take my money no-questions-asked, and I’m not
really choked by other writers.

Each takes about $100/month to start, and using all three will need $300/month.

My books are not failures, people, they’re just unknown. I need readers.

I have some great reviews, great samples, you should read them, and I have
confidence in my ability to tell a good story.

The fact of the matter is simple to understand; I have to buy my discoverability.
The one wall we all must now face as indie authors. Climb it, go around it, or
smash it. The one thing you can’t do is ignore it.

Many writers do buy their discoverability each and every month, and their sales
reflect their efforts, so I’ll be in good company.

My online store also needs advertising dollars to boost its discoverability, even
though I can rely on more, and different types of social networking, with good
photos of my products to back me up. They see what I have, they think, they buy
or they don’t, but they remember, and they may come back to see what’s new, over
and over and over again.

I’ll reach a whole new and different crowd, ordinary people, not writers, with the
same basic goals. Ultimate Discoverability.

And, I’m not done yet. More to come.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Do You Know?

Not true. Most authors make less. A whole lot less. Anywhere between $100 to $1000 UDS per year. And once you get to that $1000/year, not only are you extremely grateful, you've spent most of that on ads in the hopes you can make more than that next year!

Any author would kill for 50 reviews!

Damn, people, why do you think some authors lie, cheat, and steal, just to get more than ten reviews per book. I would need 145 (give or take a few) more reviews on all my books, just to get 10 reviews per book. If I could afford to lie, cheat, and steal, I'd probably do it.

It sucks when you know for a fact you have good products, and almost zero visibility. That even when you do get a read, they don't even bother with a one word review, much less a three word review. What I wouldn't give just to get even one review from the few readers I've had this year.

KindleUnlimited Subscribers can download my books right now, read my books right now, and they have the ability to write reviews, right now, today!

For those that want to buy, go for it. People who pay for books and write reviews, tend to actually write better, more detailed reviews on the story itself. What was right, what was wrong. Characters. Dialogue. The story is everything.

A lot of authors want to pretend this is bullshit, but it's not. I'm busting my ass each day, working on books, working on my cash flow, figuring out what ads I can afford that have the most reach for my hard-won nickles and dimes.

I plan on a donate - buy me a cup of coffee - button before the next few days are up.I'll get my online store running. I'll add more to my list of things I need to get done now, just so I don't miss even one opportunity for a sale. This is the reality for most of us authors. Especially us Indie Authors. For every Writing Star you hear about, there are 100 to 300 more authors, struggling to be seen and heard. And a lot of these authors have some pretty good books.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

This Is Not News

Authors Need Publishers Less than Ever - Read the article first.

Read it? Good. To the average indie author, book distribution isn’t our main
problem. Far from it.

Between Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, CreateSpace (for paperbacks-
free), Ingram Spark (for ebooks and paperbacks - not free), and Authors Republic
(audiobooks), with other recommended (or not recommended) services, many
discussed to death and then some by KBoards (the renowned Kindle Boards)
members in the Writers’ Café, you can get all the distribution available for your
books, no matter what, and all you have to do is be careful not to overlap your
distribution nodes.

Most of these distribution services are free, but a few do charge for processing
your words and possible inclusion fees. Ingram Spark has a $49.00 processing fee
for each book, but depending on additional *services, *additional fees may apply.

You can buy content editors, line editors, have covers done, formatting done, and
whatever else you need, and that might cost around $1,500 USD or less per book,
depending. A little more than that is okay, but not a lot more. Scams are
everywhere for authors. They lurk behind every bush. You can pay a lot more, but
it still doesn’t guarantee your book will do better than other indie books.

Mainstream publishers (the Big 5) suck for the newbies, unless you’re considered
prolific and exceptional, both at the same time. Six to ten books written per year,
with a large measure of competence is what they want. There is no real reason to
turn down a contract with advance for a first novel (if you even get lucky enough
to be offered a contract), shitty as that contract may be. Not really. Some authors have
built very lucrative self-publishing careers by starting out as a mainstream
published authors, heavily marketing themselves and their mainstream published
book(s) with their own time, on their own dime. That title as a mainstream
published author can and does open doors closed to indie authors.

When you do move into an indie author career, you can take your fan base with
you, and if you keep them happy, you can make enough money to live on and then
some (or so I’ve noticed). Which reminds me, I need to get my new personal
newsletter up and running.

None of this is new news within writing circles.

Our main problem as freshly minted indie authors is DISCOVERABILITY! 


There’s nothing after that! If people don’t know you exist, and you have books for
them to buy, download and read, you might as well shove your thumb up your ass
and spin circles in your chair.

There are so many threads on the KBoards, the Writers' Café, writers helping
writers understand the process of a launch, and the marketing needed to keep your
indie career moving forward, that it would be deemed foolish not to learn from
those that came before.

Marketing can be done for free, and it can cost. Marketing can cost a lot,
depending on what you want to spend each month. There are strategies to learn,
and learn from, and yes you can expect failure.

And to drive that point in just a little deeper, my next post will delve into another
(2) online tidbits I found concerning social media, and my new yet experienced
(read more years than I care to count) thoughts on that.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Hello, Germany!

Yes, once again I seem to have German fans. Lots of them. I keep wondering if you would spread the word among your friends. Maybe ask a question or two, read my samples over at Amazon, or even participate over at Wattpad or this blog. Maybe even buy a book. I got cheapies.

Life is not a spectator sport.

Friday, August 5, 2016


I put the Wattpad (read this) widget up to the right, and of course it doesn't fit the frame, but it's there. The cover art I did as a quickie, and the title is only the working title, but it will do while I work on the actual story.  I'll post a new chapter once a week. With 17 novels under my belt, this is the first one to be crowd-sourced. I'm asking readers for insight into the monsters she'll face, and the world she'll live in.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Love This!

I found this at the Passive Voice, and love it! It gives new writers an idea about how to verb boldly, or edit, turning two words into one.

And for every word listed in the light blue section of this chart, there are alternatives that are more correct, depending on what you want to say. So, know your words! Know what works, and why.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Grimdark Musings

I heard about book vloggers, and decided to check out a few by name, which was
cool, but then I did something I probably shouldn’t have, and just typed Grimdark
into the YouTube search bar.

I never in my life realized how much Ponyville seems to be grimdark, setting what
I would think of as the My Little Pony world on its ear, or perhaps ass over
ears. Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie done got dipped into a vat of pure
evil, and there’s nothing like evisceration and dismemberment to brighten your
darkest day. Maggots coming out of where? Anyone?

Wow! is about the only word I can and should use at my age to describe this
phenomenon, where the distorted and rabid frolic freely on the outskirts of
Ponyville with every beloved figurine ever made.

Secret Wish Horses and Fantasy Fillies take on a whole new meaning. It’s actually
kind of cool.

Whatever happened to hardcore Smurfette porn? Maybe, 50 Shades of Smurfette?