Productivity Tip: Have a Monkey Week

Two months ago, I started a new way of handling my monthly calendar that worked well over the holidays and I thought I'd share it with you, Dear Reader.

(That link reveals my Franklin Covey planner, I've used one of their planners for years.  Along with my online calendar. I like having stuff online, but I can't give up the paper and pen.  It's too much fun.)

Monthly Scheduling Time Tip

The tip?  It's my Monkey Week.

I schedule things that I have to do during the month for the first three weeks, leaving that last week of the month blank.

Everything that has to be done gets stuck somewhere.  This can can be anything, from a work project (e.g., revised outline to client) to getting an oil change for the car.

But nothing gets stuck into that last week.  Nothing.  It's pure.  That block on the calendar has nothing entered into it.  Zip. De Nada.

Then, when that last week hits -- whammo!  I have a week to get all the month's tasks finished before month end.

If I am swinging around from tree to tree like a monkey because I've procrastinated during the first three weeks (or I was sick, or I got bogged down in client emergencies, or I fell behind binge-watching Major Crimes) then so be it.

And I did.  Monkey-crazy in both in November and in December.  (Though it got better.)

Fresh Start in the New Month Feels Great

Here's the thing, though:  this means that I have hit two months without that burden of knowing I've got stuff on my plate from the prior month that still has to be done.

In my little Reba World, that has been an amazing feeling.  I like it.

So, I'm going to keep having my Monkey Week each month in 2016.  And I'm looking forward to discovering what the heck I will do with myself if I hit that last week, and I don't have a bunch of stuff to do because I already got it done.  Wowzer, that's gonna be great.

Maybe this will work for you too, if you tend to procrastinate like me.


Publish Your Book: Self-Publishing or Using a Publishing Service

Today, you can publish your own book. Opting out of the traditional publishing route, you become your own publishing company. Or maybe you hire a publishing service to help you. Here’s some information that I’ve collected which you may find helpful if you’re ready to share your writing with the world.

(Oh, and congratulations to you if you are ready to publish! I think it’s a big (HUGE) accomplishment to write and finalize a book, any kind of book. Getting tens of thousands of words down on paper (well, on the screen) and then editing, organizing, and finalizing that work product is a big deal. No one appreciates that more than those of us who have done it. Kudos to you! I wish you much success!)

1. Self-Publishing 

Once you have your content ready to go, it is possible to take that Word document (or Scrivener file) and turn it into a book on paper or in an electronic format. E-books, of course, are sold in several different formats that depend upon the e-reader that will be used.

Kindles will not read e-books sold on Barnes & Noble, for instance, because Amazon sells the Kindle e-readers and Amazon wants you to buy e-books from Amazon, not its competitor. Of course, Amazon also offers a free downloadable software program so you can read their e-books on other devices.

All this because Amazon e-books are published in one kind of proprietary format. For Barnes & Noble, another format is used. Apple, ditto.

A. The Four Major E-Book Sellers in the United States 

(1) There are four major e-book sellers right now. These are the websites where you want to place your e-book for sale. They are:

(2) Each of these online e-book sellers offers their products in a different format. So you have to provide your book to them in the electronic format they require. Yes, this means that your book will have to be formatted several times, in different ways, if you want to cover all the major selling sites. 

Fortunately, these sellers will guide you through this process for free. Kobo will take your Word document, for example, and convert it to its preferred sales format as part of the steps you take to upload your book to their site for sale. Kindle Direct Publishing guides you through the process as well, converting your document into an .AZW3 format for placement on Amazon.com. Apple really holds your hand, helping you to add images and graphics as you build your e-book for their sales site.

B.  The Four Big e-Book Formats 

1. .AZW3 

This is the format required by Amazon.com (Kindle Format 8 aka .AZW3). It is used on all Kindle e-readers, and with the new reading apps provided by Amazon, these .AZW3 formatted e-books can also be read on smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc., via the free software provided by Amazon.

2. .iBook 

This is the format used with the free iBooks Author software. It’s based upon the .ePub format but it’s proprietary to Apple Inc. You agree to sell books in the .iBooks format through Apple exclusively.

3. .ePub 

This is an open software format. E-books formatted as ePub works can be read in e-readers like Kobo Readers and Barnes and Noble’s Nook as well as on iPhones and on PCs with things like the Firefox add-on, “ePub Reader.” Sony has changed its e-reader formatting from its proprietary BBeB format to .ePub. Barnes & Noble sells e-books via NookPress in an .ePub format. Kobo will take your content and publish it in an .ePub format, too.

4.  .PDF

This doesn’t mean that you cannot offer your ebook in a published, professional way that is outside these sales formats. Portable Document Format (.PDF) is a popular format for e-books that many people use because PDFs are so easy to view on so many different devices and platforms. Most e-readers, smartphones, and tablets can display .pdf formatted e-books. You might choose to offer your e-book as a .pdf on your website, for instance, and invite your readers to upload it to the e-reader, smartphone, or tablet of their choice.

C. Print on Demand for Paperbacks and Hardbound Books 

Some of your readers will want to read your books in print, not on a screen. You can do this without printing an inventory of books (and incur that expense) like traditional publishers do by choosing to “print on demand.”

Amazon.com provides this service with CreateSpace. You can also choose to print your work as a paperback or hardback through Barnes & Noble’s NookPress or through third-party services like BookBaby, IngramSpark, Lulu, or Blurb.

These are not necessarily services where a buyer requests a printed product and then the book is printed for them so much as avenues for you to print your work as a hardbound or paperback book which is then sold on the various web sites. Read the fine print on each site to learn more — and compare the costs! These services aren’t cheap!

2. Publishing Services 

If this seems complicated or overwhelming to you, there are businesses out there ready to help. They will take your raw word count in its Word format (or Open Office, or Scrivener, whatever) and they’ll do everything necessary to convert it into a finished product.  They will also help with marketing your work to readers in various ways.

Some will also submit your work to all the different sales sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) as a distribution service. Some stop before distribution, but still offer help on things besides publishing the book, like marketing your work.

For instance, Lulu.com offers support for things like helping you market your book, including things like press releases and business cards.  Popular publishing services that include distribution, etc., include Smashwords, BookBaby, IngramSpark, and Draft-2-Digital.  

3. Royalties: How Much Profit for You? 

Different places offer different royalties to you. If you are writing these books for profit, then you need to analyze how each seller takes their cut and how much profit you can make at each site. Royalties are the buzz word here.

Compare royalties that are offered both for e-book sales through Amazon.com (and other sales sites) to you directly as well as royalties offered via these publishing service companies.

Remember, if they are helping you with marketing tasks or distribution jobs, then they will need to be paid for their work and you’re choosing less profit here for not doing these things yourself as an indie publisher. So, it’s important in your analysis to keep track of the costs you may have incurred in hiring an editor, paying a designer for the book cover, and other costs you’ve incurred in getting your product ready for sale.

These costs need to be tallied alongside any publishing expenses as well as marketing costs and monies paid to get the book into the marketplace. The hard thing about writing books for sale is that you start at that keyboard as a creative artist, but at the end of the process, you evolved into a business owner dealing with a bottom line.

That’s the choice you’ve made by going the independent route: being both (1) a writer and (2) an independent publisher of books.


Legal Stuff

This is boring legal stuff that applies both to my RebaKennedy.com web site as well as this blog.  Just so you know ….

It’s All Me.

I own both this web site and blog and I am the only person who contributes to them.  If you visit or shop here (should I ever sell anything here, haven't so far), then you accept the following terms and conditions.  Please read this information.


I am in Texas.  The laws of the State of Texas apply to all that I do here, and by visiting my site or my blog, you agree that the laws of the Lone Star State apply, as well, should any controversy arise between us.  


I am providing information here that I think may help you because it’s helped me.  Information regarding writing, especially writing that is published on the web, and related legal issues with all that entails.

Everything provided on my web site and blog is provided on an “as is” basis, and I’m not making any representations or warranties, expressed or implied, about the operation of the site or blog or any of the information, content, or products included or referenced here.   

If you use my site or blog, then I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful to you as you simplify your life.  However, I’m not giving you any guarantees here.  By reading my site or blog, you are expressly agreeing that your use of the blog or site is in your wheelhouse and at your own risk.  I’m not your doctor, your lawyer, your therapist, your editor, or your grandma.

Insofar as all applicable law allows, I disclaim all warranties, express or implied, that this site, or its servers, or any email sent by me, is free from viruses or other evil and harmful things.  I will not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the use of the site or the blog.

Now, as for as the substance of the stuff found on my site or blog, I research things and try to be as accurate as possible.  Still, we’re all only human and so here’s my legal lingo on this issue:
I do not represent nor do I endorse the accuracy of any of the information found on my site or blog, and this includes the information that can be found on any site or blog that is linked in my content.  
The information contained in or accessed from any hyperlinked location is out of my control and I am in no way warranting what those site owners or bloggers are doing or may have done with their stuff.  Anyone reading my site or blog acknowledges that if they rely on the stuff that they find on third party sites as hyperlinked in my content is at their sole risk. 

Privacy Policy

I do not collect information here like some other sites or bloggers choose to do, using services like FeedBlitz, for instance.  I do not provide newsletters.  I do not collect personal information and I do not have any kind of mailing list database.   If you send a comment that may have too much personal information from my perspective, then I may edit that personal stuff out of the comment before it’s published to protect your privacy. 

Using Content Found on my Site or Blog


1.      Copyright

All the content placed on either the website or the blog – and this means the written content as well as the graphics, images, data compilations, you get the idea, is my property.  I own it. 

It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States as well as those copyright laws established in other countries.  It’s exciting to think I have readers in other countries and therefore need to mention international copyright laws.  Love that. 

If I have released something into the public domain, then this will be clearly stated and explained in the blog post, or on the web site page. 

2.     Licensure

I’m fine with your personal use of the content on my web site and blog and I officially grant you the limited license to access my site and blog and read the stuff and maybe even save some of it for your own self.  That’s cool, I like the idea that some of this stuff will help you and you want to save it!

However, I have been the victim of thieves taking my stuff and then selling it as their own stuff and that’s not right.  Even worse, I’ve had scoundrels take my content and then put it into pdfs and send those puppies out to try and entice people to download those things, which are traps for their malware or other evil plans. 

So, here is the official legal lingo that points to that sort of evildoing:  I do not grant a license to anyone to take my stuff and modify it, even a part of it, unless they have my written consent on a paper document and my official pen and ink okey dokey to do so.

I do not license anyone to reproduce, copy, duplicate, sell, resell, or in any other way use or exploit for their for-profit or commercial purpose anything on either my web site or blog.  I do not license any downloading or copying of anything found on the site or blog for your own commercial use, period. 

Comment Policy

Comments are great.  Love them.  However, I hate spam and trolls, too.  So I have things set up so I have to approve comments before they appear on the web site or blog.  Anyone is welcome to comment, submit suggestions, reviews, ideas, new info, etc. and questions are always great. 

However, I reserve the right to edit the stuff that appears on my web site and blog.  This means that I reserve the right to omit and not publish anything submitted that is illegal, vile, obscene, threatening,  hateful, or objectionable, and this includes submissions that are or may be defamatory, invasive of someone’s privacy, possibly infringing on someone else’s copyright or trademark, or in some other way potentially harmful to third parties.

This reservation of my rights also includes the right not to publish on my site any submissions that have or may include software viruses, political stuff, advertising aka commercial solicitation, mass mailing, or other things that you might consider to be “spam.”

If I think you are using a phony email address, then I reserve my right not to publish your submission.  In fact, if I think that your submission is in misleading in any way as to your real identity and purpose, then I reserve the right not to publish it. 

As for comments that do get published, by submitting your stuff you are allowing me an irrevocable, non-exclusive, free, and perpetual, right to use that submission on my site and blog, which includes my ability to publish it, modify or change it (for instance, to remove personal information and protect your privacy), translate it, distribute it, and display the content throughout the world in any media. 

This includes the right to use your name as you submitted it with your comment.  You are warranting that the stuff you submit is your stuff, and that you own the rights to that comment’s content.  If you have been sneaky and it’s not really yours, then you will indemnify me for any and all claims that might result from your bad acts here. 

Bottom line, I cannot and do not take responsibility and I assume no legal liability for any comments or other submissions that are posted and published here that come from any third party.

Same goes for trying out any products (software, keyboards, etc.). that you read about on my site or blog.  Try this stuff and use it at your own discretion and after you’ve done your own research.  I will not be legally liable for any harm or injury suffered by someone using a product recommended or discussed on my site or blog, whatever the cause. 


If you have any questions on any of these things – or about anything else related to my web site or blog, then please feel free to get in touch with me and ask!  The current contact information will be located in the Contact information sections of the web site and blog.  (Same stuff in two places.)

Changing Stuff

I reserve the right to change my mind.  I may change anything on the site or blog and that includes this Legal Stuff from time to time.  (Legally, I’m reserving my right to modification.)

And if anything here (including the Legal Stuff) is found to be invalid, void, or otherwise not legally enforceable for some reason, then that specific part of the site or blog, will be severed and removed but everything else on the site and blog will not be affected and will still be cool, i.e., it remains valid and enforceable.