The Gift of Giving Is a Gift in Itself

August 28, 2016

The act of giving a gift can elicit a multitude of positive emotions to the giver, that indeed it is quite possible that they experience more pleasure than the recipient of the gift. It has been found that giving gifts is an important interaction that strengthens bonds between family and friends. Giving to others strengthens one’s feelings for these people, and also makes one feel more loving and caring.Pursuing the ideal gift can be a taxing experience. Once upon a time, one would have to literally travel from store to store searching for the perfect gift. Apart from the time and effort consumed by the travelling, it was never quite easy to compare and contrast the possibilities in one’s mind, as one was relying on memory of the entire details of each potential gift. Now, with the advent and advantage of online shopping, this one daunting part of gift giving is no longer necessary. The requirement of physical travelling has been eliminated as one merely sits in front of a computer or other Internet browsing device and searches for the perfect gift. Alas, the choices are endless, and not always as organized as one would wish. However, once one has narrowed down the choices, one can actually revisit each choice and compare the images of the potential gifts, and eventually make a selection.

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Giving comes from within, and no matter who the recipient of the gift is, the actual selection of the gift should be a heartwarming process. Knowing the person’s likes and dislikes, wants and needs, circumstances, and events in their life deepens the emotion behind the gift selection process. Giving a gift however, should not be a process that comes with a hardship to the giver. An aura of competitiveness and the need to impress has overshadowed the gentle and caring act of gift giving. For instance, if one is searching for a gift for their brother in law who is an avid golf player, the normal search would begin in the world of golf in the universe of the Internet. However, remembering that your brother in law was recently promoted, and his peers all carry classic name brand fountain pens encased in handsome leather cases, would certainly have some influence on your gift selection thought process. Between the golf equipment and the fountain pen and it’s accessories, an instant “astronomical price” headache begins to form.A mistake often made by many is that they set a price tag on the gift they are going to purchase before they actually make the purchase. In the name of budgeting that is actually a great idea, but unfortunately, we are in the times of “competitive” gift giving, and some people feel the need to outdo others in the extravagance of the gift purchased. It is absurd that many people actually spend money they cannot afford to spend on gifts simply because they are trying to create an impression. The heartwarming experience of the giving of the gift has not been experienced, and instead has been replaced by a aggressive and competitive approach. After the gift has been given, there will certainly be an uncomfortable feeling for as long as that charge remains on the credit card.Very few people remain unscathed by these recent changes in the economical status worldwide. To increase one’s debt in order to compete with others, or create an extravagant impression is not only ridiculous, but also makes the giving of the gift actually an unpleasant experience from start to finish and beyond. Returning to the example of one’s brother-in law, let it be assumed that a new set of golf clubs and an expensive fountain pen with a leather case is entirely out of one’s budget. A less expensive and more personal gift would surely make the selection process a much more personal and enjoyable one. There is no rule that dictates we must cater to the indulgent tastes or more affluent means of others. The art of gift giving must come with the desire to please the recipient with the gift, to take pleasure in the selection of the gift, to keep the cost within one’s budget and means, and to select a gift that will be admired and used.

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Unique gifts for the home or for personal wear are always a warm and sincere gift. Many handmade gifts are available for purchase at reasonable prices via the Internet. They range from hand crocheted tablecloths, to custom made jewelry, to silk floral arrangements, and many home décor items. All of these items are ones that will actually be used instead of being a “showpiece” such as a fountain pen that never actually makes it out of the beautiful leather case. As much pleasure as the gift recipient will receive from their gift, the giver will also be pleased whenever they see the gift being worn or used. A set of throw cushions that was given as a gift will always please the giver every time he or she visits the home of the recipient and sees the throw cushions in use. Truly, these types of gifts are those that are described as “The Gift That Keeps On Giving”.

Budget Travel and Hotel Considerations – Travel Industry Making Changes To Compete For Consumers

October 7, 2016

If you are like most Americans, you having difficulty saving money while prices are rapidly increasing; things like college tuition, food and fuel. So, when it comes to traveling you are looking to shave off costs and find ways to travel on a budget, and well, no one can blame you for that. What you may not be aware of or have not considered is that in the travel business; everything from airlines and rent-a-cars to tourist destinations and hotels are trying to find better ways to accommodate the budget traveler.

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For instance, many airlines have had their fuel prices boosted to record costs and many family budget and business travel hotels are making changes in management and in their operations. Recently, Choice Hotels named a new COO and President; Stephen P. Joyce, 48. Additionally they named a new Executive VP of Global Branding. Why, because they know that they must hold their American clientele and find ways to cut costs, while still attracting their overseas travelers who are paying in high valued currencies.There are many ways to cut costs in traveling and staying on a budget and hotels, rental car agencies and airlines are working very hard to compete for fewer travelers with fewer dollars, while still retaining a profit. Easier said than done, especially when jet fuel has almost tripled in cost since 2000 and recently the number of families traveling on vacation is being cut by a good 35% this summer, all due to cash strapped consumers, credit crisis and outrageous fuel costs. Airline Industry analysts are predicting one or maybe two major airlines filing bankruptcy in 2009 and some hotel chains have pulled back construction of new hotels in many locations.

Numerology’s Life Cycles; defining the patterns of your Life

October 24, 2016

Numerology divides your life into three major stages or cycles. Each of these cycles has a general trend or pattern for that part of your life. Want to know what your life patterns are?Calculating your Life CyclesThe timing of your Life Cycles is tied to your Life Path. Your first Life Cycle runs from birth to your first Turning Point; which is calculated by subtracting your Life Path from 36 (four times nine). Your Second Life Cycle starts at that point and ends 27 years later (3 times 9) when your last Turning point falls. Your third cycle runs from the end of your second life cycle for the rest of your life.Each Life Cycle value is calculated based on your date of Birth. Your first life cycle value is your birth month, reduced by fadic addition; your second cycle value by reducing your day of birth; and your third cycle value by reducing your birth year.For example, actor Johnny Depp was born on June 9th, 1963; so his Life cycles are calculated as follows:Life Path = (06 + 09 + 1963) = (1978) = (1 + 9 + 7 + 8) = (25) = (2 + 5) = (7)Life Cycles:(First Life cycle ends) = (36 – 7) = age 29

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(Second Life Cycle ends) = (29 + 27) = age 56(First Life Cycle – birth to 29) = (Month) = (6)(Second Life Cycle – 29 to 56) = (Day) = (9)(Third Life Cycle – 56 and up) = (Year) = (1963) = (1 + 9 + 6 + 3) = (19) = (10) = (1)The various Life Cycle values and their meanings are shown below:Life Cycle (1)This cycle will call for you to be independent and stand on your own two feet. You will receive many new opportunities during these years. You will have to be decisive, self-reliant, and attend to your own needs. Leadership in some task will fall to you during these years, even if you don’t want it.Life Cycle (2)This cycle will hold many opportunities to work with other people, either in teams, or as part of a large group. You will make many friendships and will be sensitive to other people’s opinions in these years. You will crave companionship and may receive public recognition of some kind.Life Cycle (3)This cycle will be pleasant and will allow your creative work to prosper. It is likely that you’ll waste many opportunities in order to enjoy yourself. Your social life will be the dominate factor in your life. You will often be restless and bored in these years. You also will appear to be very lucky to other people.Life Cycle (4)This cycle will demand a good deal of hard work from you. Mundane matters will need your attention. You will often feel restricted or regimented during these years. You will receive opportunities to lay a strong foundation for success at both your work and home life. You will have to guard against becoming depressed and getting in a rut.Life Cycle (5)This cycle will be full of changes of all kinds. Your interests, your career, your circumstances will all tend to change quickly and drastically. Surprising, often unlooked for, adventures will come upon you, challenging your adaptability. Your communication skills will be very important during these years.Life Cycle (6)This cycle will focus most of your attention upon your domestic life. There will be a constant effort to achieve ‘balance’ in your life during these years. You will often be asked for advice and given many opportunities to be creative. You will be forced to take on many responsibilities.

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Life Cycle (7)There will be a great deal of soul-searching and self-analysis during this cycle. You will crave solitude for your thoughts and will tend to be confused in crowded or noisy environments. You may achieve a great deal of personal growth. Worldly wealth will come to you at its own pace. Opportunities will occur suddenly in these years.Life Cycle (8)This cycle will bring you slow and steady progress in your personal goals, if the needed work is done. You will sow what you reap during these years. Good or bad, you will get your just deserts. You will need to fight against a tendency to be overly ambitions. Goals will be set and tasks will be performed all in good time.Life Cycle (9)This cycle will bring you endless possibilities. These years will be highly emotional for you. You may find it difficult to start new projects. Frequently, sudden or unusual endings of things will occur. The practical side of life will need more of your attention during these years. This cycle will be a good time for creativity, especially in artistic endeavors.

World’s Top Golf Resorts: Train and Play for Your Vacation!

September 11, 2016

The finest golf resorts in the United States, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean can be your choice for your next vacation. Make it a train-and-play golf vacation! So many package deals are available to make your trip much more than a break from your routine. A golf vacation will be a practical experience of improving your golf game, enjoying a phenomenally peaceful and luxurious setting, and visiting a different state or a different country! This planning guide will point you to some of the best-rated golf resorts in the world.Whether you ultimately book for yourself or through an experienced golf travel specialist, begin your research online where you can find premium golf courses and travel bargains. Rates, resort amenities and golf course details are available. But look further for the packages that include airfare, hotel accommodations and green fees to get your best value. The typical packaged Golf Resort Vacation will include most of these features:Airfare
Resort Accommodations
Confirmed Tee Times
Prepaid Green Fees
Shared Cart for 18 Holes
Equipment Rental
Golf Lessons
Meals at Exclusive Restaurants
Transfers to the Course
Transfers to the Airport
All Taxes and Service ChargesGolf courses are planned in lovely surroundings where you can take in sea breezes or views of lush vegetation, and you can combine golf with other resort amenities to provide a well-rounded vacation.For instance, try one of the many glamorous Club Med Golf Resorts with beautiful fairways in the most unforgettable, inviting locations around the world. Club Med offers deals including the best equipment and golf lessons for all levels! Its locations include Cancun, Mexico, as well as Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Other locations span the world: Turks and Caicos, Mauritius, Portugal, France, Italy, Brazil, Thailand, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, and in the United States–Sandpiper Bay, Florida.

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Scotland has some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world and there are approximately 100 resorts, called “golf hotels,” among the 500-plus golf courses throughout the country. Best known are Turnberry, Gleneagles and The Old Course Hotel St. Andrews. Each of these has spa, leisure facilities, excellent restaurants and “golf tuition” packages for all levels.Mexico has numerous golf resorts perched in luxurious coastal locations. There are golf resorts at Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. Also, Mexico has its championship Baja version of California’s famous “Pebble Beach” golf resort, called Bajamar, only a few hours’ drive from San Diego in Ensenada.For the United States, check online for some of the golf resorts suggested by key magazines such as Golflink’s which publishes The Top 100 United States Golf Courses. This issue ranks the best out of more than 21,000 public and private golf courses across the country. However, within that one hundred courses, you want to search for the resorts with package programs and golf lessons. Among the top hundred, you will find that the main vacation-destination states with golf resorts are in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas. Let’s review these states for their best locations:In sunny, always temperate Florida, Club Med’s Sandpiper Bay Golf Academy offers 2-day and 3-day golf courses. The Academy includes all aspects of the game, such as Chipping, Putting, Bunker, Pitching and Lob Shot, Full Swing with Irons and Woods. A video analyzing your swing is provided, as well as an optional video comparing your swing to that of a pro player. Also, the area within and around Miami has regional golf resorts for year-round vacationing. Each resort offers on-site amenities and services, both on and off the course, and minutes away from major Miami attractions, like South Beach and Miami MetroZoo. You will have a multitude of options during a golf vacation here.
Arizona has a climate that is suitable for many months of the year and Scottsdale has nearly 200 golf courses, many with the picturesque backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. It is a golf destination with golf schools and pro shops. Here, many resorts offer high-quality accommodations and championship golf courses. Most golf resorts offer packages where hotel guests can have discounted green fees. Also, Sedona, Arizona, offers numerous golf resorts with a mild year-round climate and spectacular red-rock scenic views.
In California, Pebble Beach has been known for being a small coastal golf destination nestled in beautiful Monterey County. It is home of the prominent Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Pebble Beach Lodge and the prestigious Inn at Spanish Bay. Each year, golfers return to rub shoulders with golf professionals and experience nature at its finest on the magnificent golf course laid out by leading golf course designers. The harmony of golf layouts and the majestic coast are awe-inspiring!
Another golfer’s paradise is conveniently located along the south Atlantic coast at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It combines natural beauty and world-class golf on a barrier island 12 miles long and five miles wide. Nicklaus, Palmer and other golf legends have frequently played these championship courses. Since the first course opened at Sea Pines in 1961, there are now emerald links at Harbour Town and outstanding courses in Bluffton, as the Hilton Head area has become a major golf center. It is legendary for its spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, scenic marshes, and maritime forests with abundant wildlife. The temperate climate and year-round sunshine also makes Hilton Head Island the perfect place to tee off.
Las Vegas, Nevada, is quietly emerging as one of the United States’ fastest growing golf destinations amidst the glitz and glamour of its casinos. The city’s huge convention center and innumerable hotel rooms make it a natural haven for large-scale golf events. With the year-round sunshine and mild temperatures, and plenty to do after a full day of playing golf from gambling to seeing entertaining shows, this golf destination will continue to grow.
CNN ranked Austin, Texas the No. 1 city for golf in its Golf.com of 2010. Framed by the Texas Hill Country, Austin’s golf courses are among the best in the United States. The region is highlighted by the Wolfdancer Golf Club which was named No. 56 in Golfweek’s top 100 resort golf courses in 2009. In addition to being a great contemporary music city, and home of numerous celebrities, Austin offers vacationing golfers great barbeque, an idyllic, year-round climate and luxury accommodations.

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Your best package deal will be at all-inclusive resorts, where air flight, lodging, meals and golf activities are rolled into one price. On the other hand, consider traditional hotels and resorts in the locations suggested. With a little online planning, one of the finest golf resorts in the world can be your affordable choice. Enjoy the location, the exploration of the region while you improve your golf game and provide a joyful, well-rounded vacation for your family and loved ones!(c) 2012 Elizabeth McMillian

Use of Drones in Aerospace/Defense

October 9, 2016

The development of unmanned aerial systems, or drones was initially for military purposes. As these aerial systems did not require an onboard pilot, they were seen as a useful weapon on the battlefield. Not only does a drone decrease the mortality rate of the soldiers, it also provides the military a chance to spy on the enemy in a discrete manner.Drones have become an important component of national defense for the following reasons.· A drone is an unmanned vehicle, that is, it does not require any one to be on it to be controlled. This is possible because it can be controlled using a remote control. Though it is mandatory that it is still controlled by a trained pilot, it does not require the pilot to go with it.

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· The US military has been using drones to search for terrorists in Afghanistan and have proved how useful they are for conducting covert military operations.· Drones can be used for various purposes such as searching for hidden terrorists, gunning the terrorists down in their own areas and searching for the hidden landmines using hyperspectral imaging sensors.· Keeping an eye on the air space of the country.· Keeping a check on the borders of the country without threatening the lives of the most precious soldiers.The use of the US Army’s Global Hawk in the combat field of Afghanistan has already made news. This has triggered a race between countries to own and develop this technology as soon as possible. Countries like UK and China and India are already way ahead in the research and development of drones for their respective defense forces.The use of drones even by the army is not only for combat and espionage purposes. This technology is largely being developed for the times when a crisis hits the nation. The military is trying to use drones in areas that have suffered fire or earthquake where the military and air force is called in to rescue people. This is the humanitarian aspect of the use of drones. Drones are sent in difficult to reach places to search for survivors. When the images from a drone shows the presence of any survivor, special teams are sent in to carry out rescue operation. This has saved many lives and is sure to save a number of lives in future too.

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The countries that are trying to be the controlling factors in the world need to have this technology soon. UK has started by bringing together all of its top engineers to develop homemade UAVs and there were news about the flight of their first UAV named Taranis.The use of UAVs cannot replace the fighter jets or the satellites, however, they can be used for surveillance missions that can’t be performed by fighter jets as they are too big and therefore can be spotted quite easily by radar. Drones are definitely one of the “must haves” for any good army in the future.

Web Directories – Performance, Purpose, Problems – A General Guide to Web Directories

August 18, 2016

The path to building a successful web directory is far from a simple task. It requires a certain amount of devotion to take a web directory script and transform it into a heavily used directory. Web directories contain more complexities than meets the eye, and I have learned first hand that the development of a quality web directory is no walk in the park. But a good web directory is worth its weight in gold, for both webmasters & internet surfers alike. Let us enter the world of web directories.A web directory acts much like a search engine, but on a much smaller scale. Web directories are essentially a categorized index of websites that have been submitted by website owners. Directories normally have search features, allowing users to search through the entire index, just like a search engine. The main differences between a directory and a search engine is that very few directories contain the amount of links that a search engine does. Search engines also collect data from websites, which is used to categorize and rank them. Directories lack the ability to “crawl”, or exam websites as search engines due, therefore the only information a directory contains on a particular website is the information that was submitted by the website owner. Most directories use meta tags and keywords to search for websites, where as search engines use complex algorithms that take into consideration much more than meta tags (the value of meta tags in search engines has actually declined). Web directories are not the most popular internet search tools because huge search engines like Google and Yahoo are much more convenient to use and contain a vast amount of resources available to be searched. The largest and most popular web directory is the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), whose links are indexed by Google, Yahoo, and the majority of other search engines. Google and Yahoo both have their own web directories as well. Though independently owned web directories may not be so popular for internet searchers, they do have their benefits for webmasters & surfers alike.Web directories can have several purposes, it all depends on what the administration’s intended goals are. Some web directories are purely advertising hot spots, while others focus on driving targeted traffic to the directory. Some directories are free, some paid, others both. Directories can have broad topics, or specific topics. Lets start with the different types of web directories.First, we have what is commonly referred to as a “niche” directory. Niche directories have a specific topic, or niche, and the links found within the directory reflect that. Examples of a niche would be automotive directories, sports directories, shopping directories, web promotion directories, etc. Niche directories are most beneficial to internet *searchers; they have a specific topic and therefore *surfers and *searchers have a better chance of finding what they want. In a human edited niche directory, you are very unlikely to find spam sites as well.We will label the next kind of web directory as a “Free for All” directory. Free for all directories have no specific topic. They are very broad in their category selection and links are usually hidden behind several sub-categories. Free for all websites can benefit webmasters so long as the “no follow” tag is not applied (page rank increase), however it is in your best interest to avoid free for all directories for several reasons. Using a free for all directory to search for a website is more likely than not going to require you to sort through heaps of spam. A lot of free for all directories are not human edited due to the massive amount of link requests they receive, and websites are not carefully examined before being approved into the directory. The link quality of some free for all directories is extremely poor. Also, a lot of free for all directories extract data from other directories; how original. No sense in supporting the lack of creativity or devotion in such web directories. Despite a flood of low quality free for all directories, there are some very good ones available. A well organized, human edited (human edited = higher quality links) free for all directory is a great place to search for websites. It also serves webmasters with increased website exposure and if they are lucky, the directory is indexed by Google and other search engines, therefore improving its ranking on search engine result pages.

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The final type of web directories that will be examined are the poorest quality ones. Often referred to as “link farms” these directories are not human edited, due to contain high quality links, lack organization and unique features, and more often than not they become blacklisted from the major search engines. Searching these type of web directories is useless, and it’s highly recommended that you do not support such sites. Furthermore, if you are a webmaster, submitting your website to link farms will substantially decrease your popularity amongst search engines. These directories due more harm then good, and consequently give other directories a bad name.Whether you are submitting a website or searching for one, you will achieve the best results with a high quality niche directory. Webmasters, here are the common submission options for most web directories: Free submission: Submit your website to the directory for free. Simply fill out the form and wait for approval. A “no follow” tag is often placed on free submissions. Regular Submission: A small fee is usually necessary for regular submissions. Regular submissions can sometimes use the “no follow” tag. The main benefit is that submission approval times are significantly faster for regular submissions. Reciprocal Submissions: Free submissions that require a reciprocal link of the web directory to be placed onto the website you are submitting. Reciprocal submissions sometimes use “no follow’ tags, but often do not. Cost is free with reciprocal submissions. Featured Submissions: Paid submissions that grant you premium listing (websites listed in special section of category, generally above regular links), fast submission approval, and paid submissions do not place “no follow” tags on your links, meaning you gain a back link for search engine ranking benefits. Featured and regular submission fees are generally charged per year, and prices vary depending on the directory and the traffic it receives.Web directories have benefits for both webmasters and internet users. For webmasters, web directories main benefit is website exposure. Webmasters submit their websites to directories to increase their exposure. Not only can they receive traffic from people using the directory, but they can also benefit from a back link; a link to their website indexed by Google. Google ranks pages in several ways, but back links is one of the most important. A quality back link to your website increases your Google page rank. Enough quality directory back links, and your on your way to the top spot in Google search results. Bottom line: Web directories can increase your websites exposure by sending targeted traffic your way. For people using web directories as a search tool, web directories can offer you a big advantage over search engines. Search engine indexing is a big contest between website owners and therefore a lot of high quality content gets left out of the search engine result pages. Top results often go to corporations, big business, or highly devoted marketers. What about the little enthusiast and personal websites that contain valuable knowledge otherwise unavailable on the web?Well, a lot of these quality content websites can be found in web directories. If you are having trouble finding what your looking for in search engines, try searching for a niche directory and I bet you will find what your looking for. Furthermore, using web directories supports smaller businesses and helps the little guy out. Not everyone has the time or money to spend on internet marketing or website promotion, and web directories are a great way for these small websites to gain some exposure. Big search engines have monopolized the internet search market, and it makes the relationship between big search engines and website owners way to critical. Google doesn’t like you, and your sales drop 75 %. Now that does not seem right, does it? If more people frequented web directories, directory owners would gain a larger slice of the search engine market.There is a large number of web directories on the internet today that have been blacklisted by Google. It is best to avoid these directories at all costs; having your link listed there will most likely negatively affect your search engine rankings. But how do you know which directories to submit your URL to and which ones to avoid? These guidelines in rating web directories may help:1. Organization- Web Directories should be well organized and categorized.- Categories should be, neither, too broad nor too narrow. Category organization is important, but a directories search feature holds more value for finding links.- Links should be easily accessible.- Links should be posted into the correct category. If they are not, this is a sign of automated link approval, which should never be used in a directory. (Even the largest, most powerful of web directories are human edited).

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- Poor quality and spam links should not be accepted into any decent web directory.2. Advertisements- A quality directory should contain a free submission option, so it is necessary for directories to offer sponsored listings and sale advertisement space. However, the page should not be cluttered with ads. This is a sign that the directory administration is too focused on making a quick buck than enhancing the internet experience.- If the directory has a specific topic, or niche, than the advertisements should pertain to that topic. Off topic and irrelevant ads do not belong on niche directories.3. Page Rank (PR)- Rumor has it that it’s possible to fake some page rank indicators. Make sure your page rank comes from a reliable source when examining the PR of a web directory.- Page rank is important factor in website popularity. However, directories that boast high page ranks, or have their page rank in the directory name or slogan typically use the page rank factor to compensate for their downfalls. It’s like bragging…and you want a modest web directory. Find a directory that shares and uses their page rank to the benefit of directory users, not a directory that clearly lacks in features but boasts a high PR.- Directories that display website links within a category in descending order of PR are less desirable than those that display links based on popularity (unique hits). Most desirable first, not highest PR; very beneficial to new websites attempting to build initial PR.4. No Follow Tag- A web directory that uses “no follow” tags on all links is useless.- “no follow” tags are acceptable on free submissions. Reciprocal & featured submissions should not be tagged as “no follow” links. This gives value and meaning to featured (sponsored) & reciprocal links, while controlling the amount of links indexed by search engines to a reasonable number.- In a quality directory, do not fear a “no follow” on your free submission. A good directory brings in targeted traffic, and though you may be missing out on that back link, there is still a lot of potential for increasing traffic.5. Reviews, Marketing, & Promotion- Search around for reviews and recommendations on web directories. There are some really good resources when it comes to choosing quality directories.- A web directory should be marketed to both webmasters & internet surfers. If a directory only attracts webmasters, what kind of web traffic is it likely to bring? Look into how the web directory is promoted and marketed.
These 5 guidelines can help you distinguish between low quality link farms and high quality, effective web directories. I hope this information helps you in your website’s marketing and promotion campaign, in terms of website directory submission.Teal Reid, SYC Automotive Directory Administrator

Insurance Law – An Indian Perspective

October 25, 2016

INTRODUCTION”Insurance should be bought to protect you against a calamity that would otherwise be financially devastating.”In simple terms, insurance allows someone who suffers a loss or accident to be compensated for the effects of their misfortune. It lets you protect yourself against everyday risks to your health, home and financial situation.Insurance in India started without any regulation in the Nineteenth Century. It was a typical story of a colonial epoch: few British insurance companies dominating the market serving mostly large urban centers. After the independence, it took a theatrical turn. Insurance was nationalized. First, the life insurance companies were nationalized in 1956, and then the general insurance business was nationalized in 1972. It was only in 1999 that the private insurance companies have been allowed back into the business of insurance with a maximum of 26% of foreign holding.”The insurance industry is enormous and can be quite intimidating. Insurance is being sold for almost anything and everything you can imagine. Determining what’s right for you can be a very daunting task.”Concepts of insurance have been extended beyond the coverage of tangible asset. Now the risk of losses due to sudden changes in currency exchange rates, political disturbance, negligence and liability for the damages can also be covered.But if a person thoughtfully invests in insurance for his property prior to any unexpected contingency then he will be suitably compensated for his loss as soon as the extent of damage is ascertained.The entry of the State Bank of India with its proposal of bank assurance brings a new dynamics in the game. The collective experience of the other countries in Asia has already deregulated their markets and has allowed foreign companies to participate. If the experience of the other countries is any guide, the dominance of the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation is not going to disappear any time soon.
The aim of all insurance is to compensate the owner against loss arising from a variety of risks, which he anticipates, to his life, property and business. Insurance is mainly of two types: life insurance and general insurance. General insurance means Fire, Marine and Miscellaneous insurance which includes insurance against burglary or theft, fidelity guarantee, insurance for employer’s liability, and insurance of motor vehicles, livestock and crops.LIFE INSURANCE IN INDIA”Life insurance is the heartfelt love letter ever written.It calms down the crying of a hungry baby at night. It relieves the heart of a bereaved widow.It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night.”Life insurance made its debut in India well over 100 years ago. Its salient features are not as widely understood in our country as they ought to be. There is no statutory definition of life insurance, but it has been defined as a contract of insurance whereby the insured agrees to pay certain sums called premiums, at specified time, and in consideration thereof the insurer agreed to pay certain sums of money on certain condition sand in specified way upon happening of a particular event contingent upon the duration of human life.Life insurance is superior to other forms of savings!”There is no death. Life Insurance exalts life and defeats death.It is the premium we pay for the freedom of living after death.”Savings through life insurance guarantee full protection against risk of death of the saver. In life insurance, on death, the full sum assured is payable (with bonuses wherever applicable) whereas in other savings schemes, only the amount saved (with interest) is payable.The essential features of life insurance are a) it is a contract relating to human life, which b) provides for payment of lump-sum amount, and c) the amount is paid after the expiry of certain period or on the death of the assured. The very purpose and object of the assured in taking policies from life insurance companies is to safeguard the interest of his dependents viz., wife and children as the case may be, in the even of premature death of the assured as a result of the happening in any contingency. A life insurance policy is also generally accepted as security for even a commercial loan.NON-LIFE INSURANCE”Every asset has a value and the business of general insurance is related to the protection of economic value of assets.”Non-life insurance means insurance other than life insurance such as fire, marine, accident, medical, motor vehicle and household insurance. Assets would have been created through the efforts of owner, which can be in the form of building, vehicles, machinery and other tangible properties. Since tangible property has a physical shape and consistency, it is subject to many risks ranging from fire, allied perils to theft and robbery.
Few of the General Insurance policies are:Property Insurance: The home is most valued possession. The policy is designed to cover the various risks under a single policy. It provides protection for property and interest of the insured and family.Health Insurance: It provides cover, which takes care of medical expenses following hospitalization from sudden illness or accident.
Personal Accident Insurance: This insurance policy provides compensation for loss of life or injury (partial or permanent) caused by an accident. This includes reimbursement of cost of treatment and the use of hospital facilities for the treatment.Travel Insurance: The policy covers the insured against various eventualities while traveling abroad. It covers the insured against personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss of checked baggage, passport etc.Liability Insurance: This policy indemnifies the Directors or Officers or other professionals against loss arising from claims made against them by reason of any wrongful Act in their Official capacity.Motor Insurance: Motor Vehicles Act states that every motor vehicle plying on the road has to be insured, with at least Liability only policy. There are two types of policy one covering the act of liability, while other covers insurers all liability and damage caused to one’s vehicles.JOURNEY FROM AN INFANT TO ADOLESCENCE!Historical PerspectiveThe history of life insurance in India dates back to 1818 when it was conceived as a means to provide for English Widows. Interestingly in those days a higher premium was charged for Indian lives than the non-Indian lives as Indian lives were considered more risky for coverage.

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The Bombay Mutual Life Insurance Society started its business in 1870. It was the first company to charge same premium for both Indian and non-Indian lives. The Oriental Assurance Company was established in 1880. The General insurance business in India, on the other hand, can trace its roots to the Triton (Tital) Insurance Company Limited, the first general insurance company established in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British. Till the end of nineteenth century insurance business was almost entirely in the hands of overseas companies.Insurance regulation formally began in India with the passing of the Life Insurance Companies Act of 1912 and the Provident Fund Act of 1912. Several frauds during 20′s and 30′s desecrated insurance business in India. By 1938 there were 176 insurance companies. The first comprehensive legislation was introduced with the Insurance Act of 1938 that provided strict State Control over insurance business. The insurance business grew at a faster pace after independence. Indian companies strengthened their hold on this business but despite the growth that was witnessed, insurance remained an urban phenomenon.The Government of India in 1956, brought together over 240 private life insurers and provident societies under one nationalized monopoly corporation and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) was born. Nationalization was justified on the grounds that it would create much needed funds for rapid industrialization. This was in conformity with the Government’s chosen path of State lead planning and development.The (non-life) insurance business continued to prosper with the private sector till 1972. Their operations were restricted to organized trade and industry in large cities. The general insurance industry was nationalized in 1972. With this, nearly 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four companies – National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company. These were subsidiaries of the General Insurance Company (GIC).The life insurance industry was nationalized under the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Act of India. In some ways, the LIC has become very flourishing. Regardless of being a monopoly, it has some 60-70 million policyholders. Given that the Indian middle-class is around 250-300 million, the LIC has managed to capture some 30 odd percent of it. Around 48% of the customers of the LIC are from rural and semi-urban areas. This probably would not have happened had the charter of the LIC not specifically set out the goal of serving the rural areas. A high saving rate in India is one of the exogenous factors that have helped the LIC to grow rapidly in recent years. Despite the saving rate being high in India (compared with other countries with a similar level of development), Indians display high degree of risk aversion. Thus, nearly half of the investments are in physical assets (like property and gold). Around twenty three percent are in (low yielding but safe) bank deposits. In addition, some 1.3 percent of the GDP are in life insurance related savings vehicles. This figure has doubled between 1985 and 1995.A World viewpoint – Life Insurance in IndiaIn many countries, insurance has been a form of savings. In many developed countries, a significant fraction of domestic saving is in the form of donation insurance plans. This is not surprising. The prominence of some developing countries is more surprising. For example, South Africa features at the number two spot. India is nestled between Chile and Italy. This is even more surprising given the levels of economic development in Chile and Italy. Thus, we can conclude that there is an insurance culture in India despite a low per capita income. This promises well for future growth. Specifically, when the income level improves, insurance (especially life) is likely to grow rapidly.INSURANCE SECTOR REFORM:Committee Reports: One Known, One Anonymous!Although Indian markets were privatized and opened up to foreign companies in a number of sectors in 1991, insurance remained out of bounds on both counts. The government wanted to proceed with caution. With pressure from the opposition, the government (at the time, dominated by the Congress Party) decided to set up a committee headed by Mr. R. N. Malhotra (the then Governor of the Reserve Bank of India).Malhotra CommitteeLiberalization of the Indian insurance market was suggested in a report released in 1994 by the Malhotra Committee, indicating that the market should be opened to private-sector competition, and eventually, foreign private-sector competition. It also investigated the level of satisfaction of the customers of the LIC. Inquisitively, the level of customer satisfaction seemed to be high.In 1993, Malhotra Committee – headed by former Finance Secretary and RBI Governor Mr. R. N. Malhotra – was formed to evaluate the Indian insurance industry and recommend its future course. The Malhotra committee was set up with the aim of complementing the reforms initiated in the financial sector. The reforms were aimed at creating a more efficient and competitive financial system suitable for the needs of the economy keeping in mind the structural changes presently happening and recognizing that insurance is an important part of the overall financial system where it was necessary to address the need for similar reforms. In 1994, the committee submitted the report and some of the key recommendations included:o StructureGovernment bet in the insurance Companies to be brought down to 50%. Government should take over the holdings of GIC and its subsidiaries so that these subsidiaries can act as independent corporations. All the insurance companies should be given greater freedom to operate.
CompetitionPrivate Companies with a minimum paid up capital of Rs.1 billion should be allowed to enter the sector. No Company should deal in both Life and General Insurance through a single entity. Foreign companies may be allowed to enter the industry in collaboration with the domestic companies. Postal Life Insurance should be allowed to operate in the rural market. Only one State Level Life Insurance Company should be allowed to operate in each state.o Regulatory BodyThe Insurance Act should be changed. An Insurance Regulatory body should be set up. Controller of Insurance – a part of the Finance Ministry- should be made Independent.o InvestmentsCompulsory Investments of LIC Life Fund in government securities to be reduced from 75% to 50%. GIC and its subsidiaries are not to hold more than 5% in any company (there current holdings to be brought down to this level over a period of time).o Customer ServiceLIC should pay interest on delays in payments beyond 30 days. Insurance companies must be encouraged to set up unit linked pension plans. Computerization of operations and updating of technology to be carried out in the insurance industry. The committee accentuated that in order to improve the customer services and increase the coverage of insurance policies, industry should be opened up to competition. But at the same time, the committee felt the need to exercise caution as any failure on the part of new competitors could ruin the public confidence in the industry. Hence, it was decided to allow competition in a limited way by stipulating the minimum capital requirement of Rs.100 crores.The committee felt the need to provide greater autonomy to insurance companies in order to improve their performance and enable them to act as independent companies with economic motives. For this purpose, it had proposed setting up an independent regulatory body – The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.Reforms in the Insurance sector were initiated with the passage of the IRDA Bill in Parliament in December 1999. The IRDA since its incorporation as a statutory body in April 2000 has meticulously stuck to its schedule of framing regulations and registering the private sector insurance companies.Since being set up as an independent statutory body the IRDA has put in a framework of globally compatible regulations. The other decision taken at the same time to provide the supporting systems to the insurance sector and in particular the life insurance companies was the launch of the IRDA online service for issue and renewal of licenses to agents. The approval of institutions for imparting training to agents has also ensured that the insurance companies would have a trained workforce of insurance agents in place to sell their products.The Government of India liberalized the insurance sector in March 2000 with the passage of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Bill, lifting all entry restrictions for private players and allowing foreign players to enter the market with some limits on direct foreign ownership. Under the current guidelines, there is a 26 percent equity lid for foreign partners in an insurance company. There is a proposal to increase this limit to 49 percent.The opening up of the sector is likely to lead to greater spread and deepening of insurance in India and this may also include restructuring and revitalizing of the public sector companies. In the private sector 12 life insurance and 8 general insurance companies have been registered. A host of private Insurance companies operating in both life and non-life segments have started selling their insurance policies since 2001Mukherjee CommitteeImmediately after the publication of the Malhotra Committee Report, a new committee, Mukherjee Committee was set up to make concrete plans for the requirements of the newly formed insurance companies. Recommendations of the Mukherjee Committee were never disclosed to the public. But, from the information that filtered out it became clear that the committee recommended the inclusion of certain ratios in insurance company balance sheets to ensure transparency in accounting. But the Finance Minister objected to it and it was argued by him, probably on the advice of some of the potential competitors, that it could affect the prospects of a developing insurance company.LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA ON REVISION OF THE INSURANCE ACT 1938 – 190th Law Commission ReportThe Law Commission on 16th June 2003 released a Consultation Paper on the Revision of the Insurance Act, 1938. The previous exercise to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 was undertaken in 1999 at the time of enactment of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDA Act).The Commission undertook the present exercise in the context of the changed policy that has permitted private insurance companies both in the life and non-life sectors. A need has been felt to toughen the regulatory mechanism even while streamlining the existing legislation with a view to removing portions that have become superfluous as a consequence of the recent changes.Among the major areas of changes, the Consultation paper suggested the following:a. merging of the provisions of the IRDA Act with the Insurance Act to avoid multiplicity of legislations;b. deletion of redundant and transitory provisions in the Insurance Act, 1938;c. Amendments reflect the changed policy of permitting private insurance companies and strengthening the regulatory mechanism;d. Providing for stringent norms regarding maintenance of ‘solvency margin’ and investments by both public sector and private sector insurance companies;e. Providing for a full-fledged grievance redressal mechanism that includes:o The constitution of Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) comprising one judicial and two technical members to deal with complaints/claims of policyholders against insurers (the GRAs are expected to replace the present system of insurer appointed Ombudsman);o Appointment of adjudicating officers by the IRDA to determine and levy penalties on defaulting insurers, insurance intermediaries and insurance agents;o Providing for an appeal against the decisions of the IRDA, GRAs and adjudicating officers to an Insurance Appellate Tribunal (IAT) comprising a judge (sitting or retired) of the Supreme Court/Chief Justice of a High Court as presiding officer and two other members having sufficient experience in insurance matters;o Providing for a statutory appeal to the Supreme Court against the decisions of the IAT.LIFE & NON-LIFE INSURANCE – Development and Growth!The year 2006 turned out to be a momentous year for the insurance sector as regulator the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, laid the foundation for free pricing general insurance from 2007, while many companies announced plans to attack into the sector.Both domestic and foreign players robustly pursued their long-pending demand for increasing the FDI limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent and toward the fag end of the year, the Government sent the Comprehensive Insurance Bill to Group of Ministers for consideration amid strong reservation from Left parties. The Bill is likely to be taken up in the Budget session of Parliament.The infiltration rates of health and other non-life insurances in India are well below the international level. These facts indicate immense growth potential of the insurance sector. The hike in FDI limit to 49 per cent was proposed by the Government last year. This has not been operationalized as legislative changes are required for such hike. Since opening up of the insurance sector in 1999, foreign investments of Rs. 8.7 billion have tipped into the Indian market and 21 private companies have been granted licenses.

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The involvement of the private insurers in various industry segments has increased on account of both their capturing a part of the business which was earlier underwritten by the public sector insurers and also creating additional business boulevards. To this effect, the public sector insurers have been unable to draw upon their inherent strengths to capture additional premium. Of the growth in premium in 2004-05, 66.27 per cent has been captured by the private insurers despite having 20 per cent market share.The life insurance industry recorded a premium income of Rs.82854.80 crore during the financial year 2004-05 as against Rs.66653.75 crore in the previous financial year, recording a growth of 24.31 per cent. The contribution of first year premium, single premium and renewal premium to the total premium was Rs.15881.33 crore (19.16 per cent); Rs.10336.30 crore (12.47 per cent); and Rs.56637.16 crore (68.36 per cent), respectively. In the year 2000-01, when the industry was opened up to the private players, the life insurance premium was Rs.34,898.48 crore which constituted of Rs. 6996.95 crore of first year premium, Rs. 25191.07 crore of renewal premium and Rs. 2740.45 crore of single premium. Post opening up, single premium had declined from Rs.9, 194.07 crore in the year 2001-02 to Rs.5674.14 crore in 2002-03 with the withdrawal of the guaranteed return policies. Though it went up marginally in 2003-04 to Rs.5936.50 crore (4.62 per cent growth) 2004-05, however, witnessed a significant shift with the single premium income rising to Rs. 10336.30 crore showing 74.11 per cent growth over 2003-04.The size of life insurance market increased on the strength of growth in the economy and concomitant increase in per capita income. This resulted in a favourable growth in total premium both for LIC (18.25 per cent) and to the new insurers (147.65 per cent) in 2004-05. The higher growth for the new insurers is to be viewed in the context of a low base in 2003- 04. However, the new insurers have improved their market share from 4.68 in 2003-04 to 9.33 in 2004-05.The segment wise break up of fire, marine and miscellaneous segments in case of the public sector insurers was Rs.2411.38 crore, Rs.982.99 crore and Rs.10578.59 crore, i.e., a growth of (-)1.43 per cent, 1.81 per cent and 6.58 per cent. The public sector insurers reported growth in Motor and Health segments (9 and 24 per cent). These segments accounted for 45 and 10 per cent of the business underwritten by the public sector insurers. Fire and “Others” accounted for 17.26 and 11 per cent of the premium underwritten. Aviation, Liability, “Others” and Fire recorded negative growth of 29, 21, 3.58 and 1.43 per cent. In no other country that opened at the same time as India have foreign companies been able to grab a 22 per cent market share in the life segment and about 20 per cent in the general insurance segment. The share of foreign insurers in other competing Asian markets is not more than 5 to 10 per cent.The life insurance sector grew new premium at a rate not seen before while the general insurance sector grew at a faster rate. Two new players entered into life insurance – Shriram Life and Bharti Axa Life – taking the total number of life players to 16. There was one new entrant to the non-life sector in the form of a standalone health insurance company – Star Health and Allied Insurance, taking the non-life players to 14.A large number of companies, mostly nationalized banks (about 14) such as Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, have announced plans to enter the insurance sector and some of them have also formed joint ventures.The proposed change in FDI cap is part of the comprehensive amendments to insurance laws – The Insurance Act of 1999, LIC Act, 1956 and IRDA Act, 1999. After the proposed amendments in the insurance laws LIC would be able to maintain reserves while insurance companies would be able to raise resources other than equity.About 14 banks are in queue to enter insurance sector and the year 2006 saw several joint venture announcements while others scout partners. Bank of India has teamed up with Union Bank and Japanese insurance major Dai-ichi Mutual Life while PNB tied up with Vijaya Bank and Principal for foraying into life insurance. Allahabad Bank, Karnataka Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Dabur Investment Corporation and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc have tied up for forming a non-life insurance company while Bank of Maharashtra has tied up with Shriram Group and South Africa’s Sanlam group for non-life insurance venture.CONCLUSIONIt seems cynical that the LIC and the GIC will wither and die within the next decade or two. The IRDA has taken “at a snail’s pace” approach. It has been very cautious in granting licenses. It has set up fairly strict standards for all aspects of the insurance business (with the probable exception of the disclosure requirements). The regulators always walk a fine line. Too many regulations kill the motivation of the newcomers; too relaxed regulations may induce failure and fraud that led to nationalization in the first place. India is not unique among the developing countries where the insurance business has been opened up to foreign competitors.The insurance business is at a critical stage in India. Over the next couple of decades we are likely to witness high growth in the insurance sector for two reasons namely; financial deregulation always speeds up the development of the insurance sector and growth in per capita GDP also helps the insurance business to grow.

Book Ghost Writing As a Process

September 5, 2016

It’s an interesting relationship between a book ghost writer and her client, the book author. The client has the original ideas for the work, and the ghost writer is there to bring them to full fruition. In other words, they work on the book together, with the book ghost writer being a professional who does most of the actual writing of the book, while the client only assists with the ideas.Well, not exactly. There’s more to it than that. In fact, the client or original book author is an integral part of the process, and in fact is writing his own book through the book ghost writer. Book ghost writing is a process, which I’m going to try to break down for you my way, fine-tune experienced after over a decade of book ghost writing. It begins with the client, and is finished through the work of the ghost writer.The client starts the process, after contacting and hiring the ghost writer, by signing a book ghost writing contract with the writer outlining everything important, such as the legal rights of both parties, who exactly keeps the copyrights, who gets the credit for the book or shares it, etc. Then the client makes a small deposit, such as $5,000 to start, for keeping the professional writer’s time open to work on the book. This can be a completely non-refundable deposit, or half of it can be refundable under certain circumstances, such as the client cancelling the project or the book ghost writer being unable to begin work on it.Once the project begins, a great first step is for the client to create a book outline and a time line laying out the book’s contents in chronological order. These documents can be sketchy at first, worked on more and filled out later, even being expanded into a table of contents as a further guide for working on the manuscript. Each document only needs to be about one page long. They engrave nothing in concrete, and each can be altered to suit the needs of the overall project.

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Next, emails containing attachments in Word or Word Perfect documents, and in my case I prefer to work in Word, are exchanged between the client and the writer. The client starts this by typing out from the beginning of the book until the end, in gradual stages as needed, the book’s contents as envisioned. This can be added to later, and fully edited and rewritten by the ghost writer. Basically, the client at least needs to lay out the ideas of the book as expressed by him, and then flesh them out somewhat for the writer to have material from which to work.The book ghost writer can do light to heavy research and add related new material by using the resources of the Internet and the local library system. The emails and phone calls between both parties assist the professional writer in shaping, creating, editing, rewriting, proofreading and fully completing the book manuscript. Along the way, the client or book author shares ideas, tells the book ghost writer how he wants his manuscript laid out and written, gives the writer details of the book, and supplies more general ideas and guidelines about the book’s materials.It is best if the client sends all of the actual information to be worked on with his ghost writer in several email attachments, rather than sending them over the phone or in the bodies of emails as written copy. Some background materials can be on real paper, but generally ghost writers can’t work from handwritten notes, and while some ghost writers use scanners and can scan in typed documents, it’s easier to already have the documents in electronic format. MS Word is the most common software.Phone calls can be made on a regular basis; you can also arrange Skype conferences and IM or instant message meetings. It’s best for a book ghost writer to always have written records, albeit electronic ones, of everything, so I try to avoid phone calls except for using them for info about the project, not the project itself, or to bring each other up on what’s going on in general. I like to have everything in emails and attachments whenever possible. It’s something solid and reliable in front of me, which I can check on all throughout the project.The client basically lays out the book’s ideas and overall structure, and the ghost writer fleshes everything out and edits it into a professional, readable, polished book, also properly formatting the manuscript and preparing it to be presented to a literary agent and then a commercial, independent, boutique or self-publisher. The book ghost writer may only ghost write the work in progress, and a separate copy editor and even a separate proof reader may be hired to go over the finished manuscript; or the ghost writer may offer included editing and proof reading services. I do this myself when I ghost write, including the price of editing and proofing the manuscript within the overall book ghost writing price. However, if you can afford this, it’s always wise to hire another outside book editor for a second set of eyes.The client may ask questions or raise concerns with the book ghost writer at any time during the book ghost writing project. This should be encouraged by any professional writer in order to facilitate the process of creating a solid, well thought out and well written manuscript that reads smoothly, has few typographical or other errors, has been thoroughly fact checked by both parties, and is otherwise ready to present to an agent and then a publisher. The writer’s job is to help the client, the original book author, to craft a book that reads if needed as though it was written by the author client, or at least one that reads professionally well. The ghost writer may work in either the client’s voice, which should come through in the client’s original writing, or in her own voice if the book author doesn’t mind some added creativity in the process.

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Also, credit for the work may be shared, with the book ghost writer’s name being featured on the cover under the famous “As told to… ” method underneath the book author client’s name. Or the ghost writer can be not mentioned, with all credit, royalties and success going to the author client. In either case, the advance payment made to the professional writer is her main resource, as the thrust of writing a book for someone else is to make a living at helping you to produce your book project. The writer deserves the relatively high pay, as the book project often lasts from three to six months or longer, and the client is supposed to receive a well written, beautiful, awesome new book, one which hopefully will sell to its selected markets.At our company, we have many resources at our disposal which involve assisting you in finding an agent and publishing your book, and methods for marketing, promoting and selling your book. We can also guide you to our partners and other networks outside our company which will assist you in arranging book advertising and sales. You may already have business or personal sources you can also use to promote sales.One last thing: remember that you aren’t writing a book only for yourself, or even just your family and friends. You’re creating a wonderful work of art for both its readers and your long-term posterity, so you should aim for capably reaching out to its audience. Keep your readers forever in mind, trying very hard to write more for them than merely for you, your dreams and your book ghost writer.

Publishing Choices For Writers – Self-Publishing Print on Demand, Introduction

November 3, 2016

Under the self-publishing umbrella, there are many options for writers when they are considering how they want to get their work out into the general public. Traditionally, authors were limited with either working with a traditional publisher, or finding someone to help them self-publish their work. As discussed in other articles of this series, there are many different ways for authors to get their work out there depending upon each author’s individual needs.In the past, whether an author worked with a traditional publisher or self-published, hundreds of their books needed to be printed at any one time. With the advent of new technology, writers can now actually see their work in print prior to printing without sticking them with too many unsold copies of their book. In addition, they have the option to print a copy of a book only when one is sold. Authors can do this through Print-On-Demand (POD) technology.

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Print On Demand, as the name implies, allows an author to print as small a number of copies as they want, whenever they want, through a digital printing process. Because the book is being printed digitally, there is no need to set up the traditional offset printing presses, which would be cost prohibitive for a single or a just a few copies of a book. Once the set up is done for the digital format, it is done and can be used repeatedly whenever the need arises.Print On Demand solves many issues for new writers not being published by a publishing house. For example, prior to getting their work out to the general public, authors may want to have an advance review copy of their book for either their own review or to send to a book reviewer. Having an established book reviewer give a good review of a book prior to full printing is a good indication as to ultimately how many copies should be printed. In the alternative, a bad review might indicate the need to go back to the drawing (or in this case writing) board to clean up the work.Also, Print On Demand solves the storage issue for books for both a publisher and an author. In the past, whether published traditionally or self-published, when a book was done, there were copies hanging about until sold. Both publisher and author would have to warehouse them which could get expensive, although the author usually ended up with hundreds of books on their kitchen table or in their basement. With Print On Demand, a book is only printed when needed.

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At the same time, in order to see a copy of their book in print prior to printing the larger number of copies, an author would have had to pay an absorbent amount of money to a printer to get the single copies. Now, it is usually just a small set up fee to the digital printing company and an author has a book in print.All the above are some benefits of Print On Demand. However, it is not the answer to all publishing ills. In the other parts of the POD series I will discuss some negatives that may be deciding factors on not going with Print On Demand publishing.

7 Easy Steps to Conducting Your Marketing Research Plan!

September 9, 2016

Marketing research is a process used by businesses to collect, analyze, and interpret information used to make sound business decisions and successfully manage the business. In other words, it links the consumer to the marketer by providing information that can be used in making marketing decisions (i.e. B2C or B2B). This can not be implemented without the use of a MIS (Marketing Research System) to gather, sort, analyze, evaluate, and distribute needed, timely, and accurate information to marketing decision makers.Here are the steps to implementing a marketing research process.1. Ask yourself if there is a real need for marketing research. It’s not only the first step to take but a very critical one as well! Research takes a lot of time due to the overload of secondary information available on the Internet. It’s ideal to think that it takes months or even a year to completely finalize a marketing research agenda. The other factor you will need to consider is the cost of doing it, especially if you hire an agency to do it for you. What you want to compare is the value of the information vs the cost of the information. If the value of the information is worth the cost and time of doing it, then by all means, go for it buddy!If you’re still unsure, here’s a few quick guides to go by to determine that marketing research is not needed:a) The information is already available

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b) The timing is wrong to conduct marketing researchc) Funds are not available for marketing researchd) Costs outweigh the value of marketing research2. Define the problem. This is the most important step (assuming you’ve decided to do marketing research). If the problem is incorrectly defined, all else will become wasted effort! Keep in mind that the need to make a decision requires decision alternatives. If there are no alternatives, no decision is necessary. For example, let’s say your sales are down by 30%, therefore becoming a problem with your revenues. Your alternatives may be to see how well ads #2 does compared to ads #1 in terms of sales. Use secondary data sources to develop ideas further into the research.Here’s a powerful technique to use in order to pinpoint important problems and receive information all in one: create a focus group! Here’s why:a) it generates fresh ideasb) allow clients to observe their participantsc) understand a wide variety of issuesd) allow easy access to special respondent groups3. Establish objectives. Research objectives, when stated effectively, can provide the information needed to solve the problem you have from step 2. All of your objectives should be what you want to study in your market research and specific as possible.Here’s a quick checklist of what to include in each and every objective:a) specify from whom information is to be gatheredb) specify what information is neededc) specify the unit of measurement used to gather informationd) use the respondents’ reference to re-word the question4. Determine research design. There are 5 different designs you can choose from to get the information you need, such as descriptive, exploratory, causal, and diagnostic research. Descriptive research describe market variables. Exploratory research allows you to get information in an unstructured way. Causal studies is to try to reveal what factor(s) cause some event to happen. Diagnostic research focuses on the sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.5. Choose method of assessing data. Secondary data is more easy to access than primary data, such as online surveys. However, if you are into the traditional way of doing data collection (i.e. telephone, mail, F-2-F), they all still have a place in marketing research. The questionnaire that you present to the respondents must be worded clearly and unbias.Here’s a few pointers you want to remember when creating the forms for your questionnaire:a) use nominal, ordinal, interval-Likert, interval-S-D, interval-Stapel, and ratio measurementsb) questions pertaining to each research objective (step 3)c) questions pertaining to attribute, attitude, or behavior

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d) have 1 open-ended question (I would definitely keep this at a minimum, if I were you)6. Determine sample plan and size. Your sample plan should describe how each sample element is to be drawn from the total population. The sample size tells how many elements of the population should be included in the sample. In other words, the purpose of the sample plan is to give you representativeness, while the sample size gives you accuracy!Here’s a small but important task to take to prevent or minimize nonsampling errors from occurring: validate your participants by re-contacting!7. Analyze and report the data. It’s always good to go back and run tests on the information you have to screen out errors that may occur. Once you have all that you need for the research (pie charts, bar graphs, statistics, survey, etc), you want to be sure to create a report of it. Carefully present the research report in a way that communicates the results clearly, yet accurately to the client.Remember marketing research is all about connecting the dots. The more information you know about your consumers, the more you bridge together with your consumers. The more closer you bridge together with your consumers, the more miles you create for long-term customer relationships. Go for it!