Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Critique Competition for Article Writers in the SquidU Forum

I am running a contest over in for the most best and awesome critique-giving person.

I am bribing people with prizes.

Basically, I want you to go critique three or more articles/pages/lenses/leafs/hubs and/or post your own stuff up for other people to critique and/or nominate (via a private message on the forum to me) your top picks.

You can get an overview of the forum here on this lens I wrote about it, and you can follow the thread with the full rules and discussion here.

Whether or not you're interested in taking part, this is a great chance to get your stuff critiqued if you're looking for useful feedback. There are prizes for the top two critiquers, and a random draw prizes for somebody who sends in a nomination.

Prizes are funded entirely from my art commissions, so thank all those nice people that have commissioned me at some point.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

 A dark and historical dash through Victorian London

Dodger is an alternate historical story set in Victorian London. Written by the ever amazing Terry Pratchett, it features international plots, a dashing working class hero, strong minded women and many of the amazing people that inspired some of his most memorable Discworld characters.

You can buy Dodger here or read my full synopsis and learn about some of the real people that show up!

Buy Dodger from...
If you've never read anything by Terry Pratchett, then this is a good one to start with (if the genre is to your taste).

 Otherwise, check out:

Munchkin: The parody card game: Guides to the amazing silliness that is Munchkin

Munchkin is one of my favourite games - it's silly, full of backstabbing and co-operation and comes in a dozen different flavours! You can pick any of the variants to start playing and buy expansions for each - or mix them up! (If you've played Fluxx, it's like that... only more complicated and D'n'D flavoured).

Check out my shopping and playing guides to get started with an awesome game (or decide which version to pick up next).

There's the basic Munchkin Fantasy
Some guides by other people
Some extra stuff by me
And then there are all these awesome variant versions

Gerald Durrell, Writer and Animal Collector

The witty and wonderful Gerald Durrell dedicated his life to animal conservation
Gerald Durrell was an amazing conservationist who collected and studied animals from childhood, went on collecting expeditions for zoos all over the world and finally established his own zoo dedicated to conservation on Jersey.

He was a bestselling author, writing wry, enchanting tales of his animal adventures and is probably best known for the autobiography of his childhood, the Corfu Trilogy.

I grew up reading his books and they had a huge impact on me; not only did they introduce me to so many strange and wonderful creatures but they instilled basic principles of conservation and animal care.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Not So Stupid Squidoo Answers: How Does the Pending Money on Your Dashboard Work?

 I'm running an informal Stupid Questions thread over in the forum, for all those questions that start off "this is probably a stupid question, but...". The following answer is really long and something that confuses a lot of people, so I figured it was worth its own blog post.

GreekGeek (of this far more useful Squidoo SEO and Analytics blog) asked:

Explain how the $$ column works. When does money get listed there, and when is it removed?

The $ column on the dashboard shows a pending estimate of confirmed money earnt by each lens. Lensrank money doesn't go there because a) it's not 'confirmed' and b) it makes sense to have sales and ad earnings reported separately anyway.

This money shows up as soon as the third party site passes the information to Squidoo; so as soon as items ship for Amazon, once a month for eBay and Cafepress/CJ. It will then sit there until that money gets paid out, which can be up to two paydays/months later for Amazon (cause that shows up straight away), but is usually the next week for eBay (cause it doesn't show for so long) and I think Cafepress is the same as eBay.

We do get accurate sale and earning reports in the stats of each individual lens, but we didn't used to. The stats have improved, the dashboard hasn't changed in years. When I started, Squidoo still wasn't reliably in the top 8.5% Amazon tier; or people weren't sure it would be. These days it always is. The estimate on the dash dates back to (I assume) before Squidoo could guarantee a higher commission, whereas it knew it would get the lower one (e.g. 6%).

The actual amount is 67% of what is really sitting in the 'earnt' tab. Or really close to that. Which may be random chance, but it comes pretty close to the difference between 3% and 4.25% (i.e. our share of Amazon commissions under the 'easy' to get 6% and the current 8.5%). The other sites don't really count, because it was built around Amazon and Amazon is the one that reports reliably enough for it to matter. It doesn't entirely make sense, unless the estimate proportion changed historically (or they brought it in when Squidoo could guarantee 4% so people could be happily surprised by 6% (or rather, 2% and 3%) - which does exactly match). It's definitely built into the algorithm somewhere, because it does it for all money that is attributed to a lens. 

And any monies paid out on payday will disappear from the dash. So the only reliable estimate is noticing how much it drops by the next day, and deducing that the remainder is mostly the last months earnings that are still pending.

So, $$ column: 
  • pending royalties that a) Squidoo knows about and b) have been confirmed/shipped/paid out by site to Squidoo
  • does not include ad money cause that's calculated independently of your lens and won't happen for another month after this one anyway
  • Amazon sales will sit there about two months, other monies will sit there about a week, depending on when payday is
  • the actual time of sale/time of commission clearing may not match up perfectly to the payday times. Usually Squidoo's paydays are a little bit further apart than the 'clearance' times so you'll get the commission whether it was at the beginning of the month or the end, but it's a little messy. Also the payday month is not the same as the calendar month, cause it's 15th to 15thish rather than 1st to 1st.
  • So, dash = rolling snapshot of current confirmed earnings that have not yet been paid out.
  • Will include upcoming payday earnings which will disappear from the total (and the lenses) once paid.
  • Will also include recently earnt monies that won't be paid until next payday. Checking your total right after payday will give you a good prediction of the following payday (and you know that if it goes up before that payday arrives, that money will be for the FOLLOWING payday yet again). 
  • Prediction won't include the monthly reporting sites like eBay, but you could write the number down and then add however much it jumps by when the eBay update arrives and that's probably not worth tracking closely (cause you'll be about to get paid then anyway), but you can certainly estimate it in your head.
  • Used to be the main way of tracking sales before updated stats tabs/points. The earnings column used to not show shipped earnings.
  • Was built to track Amazon sales, doesn't work so well with the other sites, at least for our purposes. All monies get treated the same when they show on the dash.
  • Estimate is based on either a random amount or the Amazon tiers and probably dates back to when Squidoo only got 6% (or only wanted to promise that, even though it was getting 7 or 7.5%)

So if you look at your pending total, you can know:
1. It's just Amazon (unless it's right after eBay updated and you had a bunch of new $$$ appear)
2. Half (or whatever) was earnt last month and will be paid out to you in the coming payday. Whatever is currently rolling in will be paid out the payday after.
3. That, barring returns and weird stuff, that money is confirmed, shipped, sales.
3. That you can add half again to the total for your actual earnings.

You Should Also Probably Read:

Birdwatchers are out to get us, and Bird Drawings from Melanesia and Norfolk Island

While travelling I realised that birdwatchers are actually deadly assassins and I drew a lot of birds from my photos.

Both of these are now up as lenses, so if you like sketches of albatross and robins, or want to know why you should be wary of birders, check them out.