How to Choose the Right Outdoor Patio Furniture for You

When buying patio furniture you should always first take into consideration the quality. Cheaper is not better when it comes to furniture that is left outside regularly with the constantly changing weather. If you go cheap you will be buying new furniture more frequently than just getting the higher end and higher quality furniture the first time around and it will be more comfortable too. Think of it as investment and it just may be well worth it.First you should make sure whatever you choose should fit in the space you have for it nicely. Second find a material you like and something that will be durable such as wicker, teak, or die cast aluminum. You want to have something that allows you to be comfortable and also something that will last a long time. Of course it should be UV protected and weather resistant too. Remember, this is the place that will be your sanctuary to sit and relax, read a book, listen to the birds, watch sunsets, and enjoy socializing with family and friends.


Wicker RattanPatio wicker dining and seating sets with colorful cushions and multiple different colors of wicker such as white, dark brown and beige offer a great way to decorate your outdoor area. Good quality wicker rattan will last much longer and look better than going on the cheaper end. The cushions won’t fade as fast either. I also recommend covering your furniture too when you are not using it as this will extend the life of your nice furniture. Wicker also comes in many different styles like classic, contemporary, or even have a very tropical feel if you like to feel like you are at the beach in your back yard. If you choose a contemporary design then it will have a more sleek and modern look to it. Some people prefer the classic look as it can have more of a country feel to it. Wicker furniture is also lightweight so pretty much anyone can move it around.TeakTeak is also a great selection as it looks natural, has a beautiful appearance and is incredibly tough! Teak can also come in many different styles as well as different colors. Teak also has dense, hard grain and repels insects because it has a natural resin in it. These are nice advantages for outdoor use. It is high in natural oils to so it reduces how often you would have to varnish, finish, and seal over other woods.


Die Cast AluminumDie cast aluminum is a casting method that makes it easier to create more detailed surface textures of many different shapes and styles. This makes it easy to find a dining or seating set in the style that you love. Aluminum is also lightweight and it does not rust which is important when considering anything metal that is left outside especially in areas along the coast where there is a lot of salt in the air. It is low maintenance, weather resistant, and sturdy so you will love your furniture for years to come.

Cleaning Out The Clutter – 7 Steps To Sell Or Donate Used Books

It’s a good feeling to get your house cleaned up and the clutter removed, disposing of things you don’t need or don’t use any longer. And books — those dusty relics taking up space on your bookshelves or squirreled away in boxes in the attic — often become the target of most house de-cluttering campaigns. How long has it been that you’ve read that book? Do you really need it any longer? Why not get rid of it?

But, before you haul those used books off to the dump, take a little time learning about how to sell or donate used books to help local charities raise money, to recycle resources, and even earn some extra cash for your family.

Used books are hot sellers online. Websites like Amazon.com, eBay.com and CraigsList.org are filled with listings of used books. Some popular titles are no longer in print, so their value keeps skyrocketing. Some niche titles are collectible or hard-to-find. Some titles contain in-depth ‘how-to’ information people are searching for online. And, some titles simply help people save money by buying used over pricier new books.

In any case, take the time to follow these 7 steps to check typical pricing of used books before you dispose of them.

Step 1 – Gather your books you want to get rid of in one space, preferably one that has a large table for your to work. Your dining room table will do just fine.

Step 2 – Separate out fiction from non-fiction. The best titles to sell online are non-fiction, ‘how-to’ titles.

Step 3 – Sort the fiction titles into two boxes: Keep and Yard Sale. In the “Keep” box, I would put early or first editions of famous writers like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling. In the “Yard Sale” box, I would put popular fiction by authors like Dan Brown, Nora Roberts, Stephen King or Sandra Brown, plus anything from book clubs, slightly damaged books, recipe and cooking books, weight loss books and the stacks of magazines you want to get rid of fast.

Step 4 – Sort the non-fiction into two boxes: Keep and Yard Sale. In the “Keep” box, I would put biographies, history, how-to, pet, religious, UFO alien and crop circle books (big sellers!), relationship books, travel books, homeschooling topics, and any other books which look to be of a limited press run or contain unique content. Sometimes even small booklets on health topics sell very well online. In the “Yard Sale” box, put in Time-Life, Rodale Press, or Reader’s Digest books (these seldom sell online for enough to cover your shipping costs), books that are heavily marked up with writing or highlighting, outdated college textbooks, and heavily used children’s books, dictionaries, or self-help reference books.

Any damaged books, moldy books, or those titles that have torn, crinkled covers or are missing pages, throw them away now.

Step 5 – Sit down in front of your computer. Log onto Amazon.com with your “Keep” box on one side of you, and your “Yard Sale” box on the other side of your chair. Take the first book from the “Keep” box and set it next to your computer keyboard, face down. Somewhere on the back cover you should see an ISBN (“ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number,” which since the mid-1960s has helped the publishing industry keep track of millions of books).

Type that book’s unique 10-digit (sometimes a 13-digit) ISBN into the search bar at the top of the Amazon.com webpage. If you cannot locate the ISBN on the back cover or on the book publisher info page, then simply type in the title of the book, as you might very well find it that way too. Scan through the results until you find the book that matches the front cover of your book.

Now, click on the image or the book title, find the correct format (hardcover or paperback) and then select “Used” pricing. Your used book results page should deliver several pages of book listings for sale right now.

Don’t be surprised if the first few books are priced a $.01. Scroll down the page. If by the 5th or 6th listing you start to see pricing rise up to $6, $7, $10 dollars, keep it and list it for sale later. You’ll earn anywhere from $3 to $7 each when these sell. If you see the first two pages containing nothing but $.01 books, then place your book in the “Yard Sale” box to the side of your chair. Click back to the Amazon homepage. Pick up the next book. Repeat until you’re finished.

Step 6 – When you’re done, your “Keep” box stack will be quite small compared with your “Yard Sale” boxes (yes, you will have more than one by now!). Pack those boxes tightly, tape them up well with packing tape, and store them in a closet or corner of a room in your home that is dry, out of the sun, and has low humidity. When springtime comes and you hold a big yard sale to dispose of unwanted items, unpack all your “Yard Sale” fiction and non-fiction book boxes, set them out on a long table, spine facing up, and sell them for 25 cents to $1 each. On the final day of your sale, offer up a “bag sale” — that is, let people stuff a shopping bag full of books into a bag for $2. You’ll be amazed how many books will fly off that table!

Step 7 – When the yard sale is done, take the remaining fiction and non-fiction books to your favorite local non-profit thrift store or church charity shop to donate them. These old books often have a long lifespan, kept alive by browsers who frequent these stores looking for bargains and wanting to help support the non-profit. Ask the store manager if you can get a donation tax receipt before the books get unloaded. I have done this in the past, and I’ve gotten a generous tax deduction on books I would otherwise have had to haul off to the recycling center. Remember first to dispose of any soiled, moldy books, otherwise you’ll be burdening the charity shop instead of helping them.

Now, somewhere in the steps between when you checked the online price for your used books and you haul the unwanted old books off the charity shop, you’ll want to keep busy in your spare time by listing the books left over in your “Keep” boxes at online websites to raise extra cash.

I recommend listing on the Amazon Marketplace, then expand to other websites if you need to. Start slow, learning how the system works, and price your books competitively to move them quickly.

By considering the sales rank of your book, you’ll have a fairly decent idea of how quickly it will sell. If it is in the top 100,000 of Amazon sales, it should sell within 1-3 months. If a title is selling used for $7.50, price yours at $6.99. If a title is selling used at $20 or more, drop yours to $12-$15 for a quick sale.

My advice is that you not list your “Keep” books at less than $5.99, as you won’t earn much more than $2 each, and you’ll be running yourself ragged running back and forth to the Post Office. Likewise, I would not bother posting a book that has a sales rank above 5 million, as this book likely will add to your clutter forever, instead of leaving your home more open and less crowded — your ultimate goal in your home improvement housecleaning exercise in the first place.

E-Books: Value and Price

For the last several years, the debate has raged over e-book pricing. What is the best price? What is the customer willing to pay? What should the government and courts do to monitor the situation? It can all be confusing and put authors into a tailspin.

While the courts, online retailers, and large publishing companies continue to argue and battle it out, what is the independent author supposed to do? No one has all the answers, but some common sense, a little experimenting with prices, and some knowledge of the industry can help you determine an appropriate price for your e-book. Remember, there is no perfect price for every book; what is a good price for one book may not be the right price for another.

Here are some questions to consider when determining the price for your e-book:

What is the value of your book?

You need to determine your book’s value before you set the price. Did you write a short erotic novel to compete with the other one million out there that you spent maybe a month or less writing? Then its value is probably fairly low because it may not be in great demand. Are you writing a specialized thesis on a topic that has never had a book published on it before-then the value may be very high, although your reading audience may be small. Did you spend ten years writing and researching your book, or did you write it in a week? Can your readers easily get the information in your book elsewhere?

I once told an author her one hundred page history book was overpriced. She replied, “What do you think my book is worth when I spent five years writing and working on it?” Obviously, she perceived her book’s value as high, but her readers, seeing a slim volume that won’t take long to read, may not see it as so valuable. Consider also the value of your reader’s time. Will your reader think it worthwhile to pay $9.99 for something that takes an hour to read? Perhaps time is more valuable than money to your reader so he won’t want to pay $9.99 for what he may perceive as ten hours of work reading your book but he would pay $2.99.

If you insist your book’s value warrants a higher price, you could be right, but you will need to convince your reader of that value through your marketing efforts.

What is the most and least you can charge for your e-book?

Never should you price your e-book over $9.99. While a few major publishers can get away with higher prices for best-selling authors, $9.99 is the limit for most of us because Amazon decided that $9.99 was the cut off for paying out higher royalties. Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will receive 70 percent royalties from Amazon, while those over will receive a lower royalty of 35 percent, meaning your $15.00 book will earn you only about $5.00 as opposed to $7.00 for your $9.99 priced book. I won’t speak to every e-book retailer’s pricing model here; you’ll want to look at them individually, but $9.99 is definitely the highest you should go.

The advantage to pricing high is more money per book, but it also means you will likely sell less books. That said, lower priced books might be seen as of less value-being from unknown authors, poorly written, or simply short. To me, anything priced under $2.99 I automatically think must be of lesser quality and that even the author doesn’t perceive its value as high.

If you’re an established author, a middle price of $3.00-$6.99 is reasonable for an e-book and probably will not dissuade most readers from buying your book. Only if you have a book the reader will perceive as having high value should you price it in the $7.00-$9.99 range. A book in that price range should have the value of information worth buying, or you should be a well-established author with a large following-meaning thousands of readers.

How many books do you want to sell?

If you price your book at $0.99, you’ll need to sell ten e-books to equal if you had priced it at $9.99. Possibly, the lower price will make your book attractive enough that you can sell ten times as many books, as if you had left the price at $9.99. If you can sell ten books at $0.99, wouldn’t you be better off because now you have ten readers more likely to read your future books so you can price those higher?

What does the competition charge?

Look up other books in your genre. If you’re a new romance author, what are other new romance authors charging? If you’re writing your third business book and your first one became recognized in the industry, you can probably afford to price your business e-book higher. Price at or slightly lower than the competition for books in the same genre or similar to yours. If a reader sees two books about Lady Jane Grey, and yours is a dollar lower, unless the other book appears to have more information, yours is the one likely to be bought.

Where are your readers buying their books?

While I doubt many of the e-book sellers out there are spending time comparing what you’re selling your e-book for at various online stores, you probably want to be fair in charging the same price across the board. That said, just because your book is at Amazon doesn’t mean that’s where your readers are going to buy it, so make sure you sell it at many sites-Barnes & Noble, Kobo (the Canadian e-book seller), and Google Play (where people with Android phones and tablets are buying). Are you selling to the twenty-year old who is likely to buy at Google Play or are you selling to senior citizens who might prefer to buy at Amazon, which is more familiar to them? Make sure your book is at all places and then price accordingly. Your twenty-year old is a college student with little money so $0.99 is a better price for him, but then most e-book sellers will want you to sell for the same price at all their stores.

Do you have more than one book, especially a series?

If you have more than one book, consider pricing one lower. If you’ve written a series, you might want to give away or price low the first book in the series to sell it. Then if you hook readers with it, they will want to read the rest of the series. If you’ve written multiple books but not a series, I recommend pricing the book you and other readers consider your very best book as the lowest because after all, you want your very best to be what people first experience so you give the best impression and win them over as future readers.

Could you serialize your book, or sell it in individual chapters?

Serialized books-especially novels-have been around for centuries, and recently, more and more authors have started to sell their books as chapters or short installments. If you’ve written a short book-up to fifty pages or so-and it works as a stand-alone piece, price it low, such as at $1.99, and then continue the series at the same price or slightly higher. The reader will be more likely to buy four books at that lower price, if he likes the first one, than buy one book for $7.96 when he isn’t sure he’ll like it, and you’ll still make $7.96 if he ends up buying all four.

How good are you at marketing your book?

Marketing is the bottom line. Whether you price high or low, just because you’ve written a book and made it an e-book doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it. Yes, someone might stumble upon it at an online bookstore and buy it, but if you make a true effort to market it, you’re going to sell more books. If you are good at marketing, you will be able to promote your book as having value and being entertaining, and then perhaps you can price it higher because of that perceived value and higher interest. If you’re not going to spend much time marketing, then price low so the lower prices can help to compensate for your lack of marketing efforts.

Don’t Be Left Behind

No hard rules exist for e-book pricing. Every author needs to determine what works best for his or her individual situation. Try pricing high, and if your books don’t sell, try pricing lower. Be aware of trends or reasons why your e-book might be more popular one month than another-if you’re writing about the American Revolution, you might sell more e-books in June and July around Independence Day than you will in February-so maybe you lower or raise the price accordingly at such times. Develop a strategy, stick with it for a few months, then reassess and readjust your prices accordingly. Whatever you do, remember that e-book sales are now starting to outpace printed book sales, so don’t be left behind by ignoring the e-book pricing question.

Promoting Your “Amazon Published” Book or eBook Online

You’ve just gone through the work and the excitement of completing your first book or e-book and you are ready to showcase it to the world. Now, you have to get the word out and try to get some buyers for it. This by the way, is just as strenuous if not even more so than writing the book in the first place. You will realize soon enough that you have to dig deep within yourself to market what you have created to others to make the sales. One author I know when once asked how his books managed to sell so well said. “It’s easy. Write it, put it in a place where people can buy it, and then promote the heck out of it for about 3 years.”

In this article I don’t plan to discuss the myriad of things you can do outside of the Internet to promote your creation such as book signings, getting a table at trade fairs to showcase your book and give away autographed copies, trying to get retailers to sell it (if you’ve created a bound version of it), etc. The tips provided below are written to help you get maximum publicity for your book or e-book online.

Let’s start with building your online selling strategy. Where will you put your book to sell it?

The most popular choice on the Internet is Amazon. This is a very good first step for many books, particularly e-books. Amazon owns Kindle Books, the defacto leader in E-Book marketing and distribution. The whole world has heard of Kindle and there are literally millions of Kindle Readers out there that people can use to read your e-book not to mention that Kindle book reading software is available for computers, tablets and even mobile devices – so it is very easy to distribute and make your creation accessible to others. Amazon also owns “Create Space”, a second entity that can turn your E-book into a bound book that can also be sold on Amazon-Kindle and through distributors globally. If you want to “pay-market” your book through Amazon? You can do that as well through building one of their economically priced advertising campaigns.

Going through this process also gets you an ASIN number for your book or an ISBN number for your book if you wish to go that route (needed for selling hard-copy books through Create Space but not for e-books just sold on Amazon-Kindle). You can enroll your book as well into the Kindle KDP Select program which is like an online library that people pay a monthly subscription to and you can get additional royalty payments for your book from here – based on number of pages read. You can also get promotional banners from Amazon that you can put on your website or blogsite and even send in e-mails to people to further promote your book.

Bottom line is that starting out, Amazon – Kindle has a lot to offer a new self-publisher. You can literally get your book out there in under a week and start making money from it if people purchase it.

But you will need to do further work to get your book to actually sell and start earning you revenues. Your book will get onto Amazon OK, but it has to be seen and desired in order for you to make sales. There are books that have sat there for years without any sales at all so don’t think your done once you get your book published and onto the site. You have to help the sales happen by promoting it. So below is a list of things you should also be doing yourself online to get people to your Amazon purchased page to buy your book.

  • Be sure you build out your Author profiles on Amazon Central and on book review sites such as “Good Reads”. On Good Reads, also be sure to get your book into their “Listopia” program – so learn how to do that. Find other similar Author sites and get your name out there as well.
  • Consider getting out an online press release on your book as well. Make sure it has back links to where people can view and purchase your book. Take a look at “Reddit” as one possible site for this.
  • Promote your book on different social media platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc.
  • Consider building a YouTube channel and creating a promotional video for your book with linkbacks to where your book can be purchased.
  • Create your own “Author” blog-site to further promote your book. Traverse the Internet to get linkbacks to your site or book through guest posting, article writing, etc.
  • Get an automated e-mail marketing and autoresponder system in place and use it to help promote your book – build your e-mail subscriber lists!
  • Consider getting a podcast series going on iTunes where you can have “podcast discussions” about the content of your book. FYI – Once you get some of these built, stick an image of your book in front of them and upload these to your YouTube channel as well as “Video Podcasts”.
  • Keep posting and guest posting and getting yourself out there with people. The more people that know about you and your book, the better your sales will be. Build relationship bridges with other authors (EzineArticles and Good Reads are good places to do this), with book reviewers, people knowledgeable in your “book space”, etc. Get known out there.
  • Build a Facebook business page for your book and put your author “Good Reads” button onto your Facebook pages that can bring people back to your Author page at GoodReads. Promote your book on Facebook using the “Boost Post” feature – this is a very economical marketing platform with great targeting capabilities.
  • Be sure to get on Google+ and build out your profile there. Then, search for and join several communities relating to your topic area and also relating to other authors – become a positive content contributor to these communities.

In summary, if you can get through all the above steps for promoting your book online, you will be well on your way of starting to build the base needed to start earning revenues for your book. Best of luck to you in your writing career.