Writer’s World Episode 123: Robots Attack!

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I hate this presidential election. If I had to be pigeon-holed into a political stance it would be, as I may or may not have mentioned somewhere, into so-called classical libertarianism. Which is only to say I cherish individual freedom except when the expression of that freedom subjugates, appropriates or otherwise tyrannizes anyone. We don’t have to agree. We don’t all have to get along. Utopia is just that. And a silly waste of time, energy and money to pursue. Read the history of utopian ideals. They fail. So what? Meanwhile, it’s worth a try if it’s your thing, if it’s your zeal, if it’s your VAPM.

Meanwhile, conflict is part of life. It’s mostly a play-of-opposites. Read the myths. Likewise, write a novel and if you fail to include conflict nobody will read it. In a sense, a certain reasonable amount of conflict is, well, healthy. It’s the part of us that resides, perhaps, within the third chakra if you’ve read anything about Kundalini yoga, for instance. Survival, security, sex/domination – those are the first three in the hierarchy. Elsewhere they have other names but the idea of chakra, its essence, is my point. The heart – our humanity – begins only at the fourth. Up till then, we share everything about our nature with the animals, so be it. You think you’re different and special and you don’t hate and don’t desire and don’t suffer? Let’s just say that this presidential election, and then I’ll say no more about it, revealed hatred and righteousness at its worst on ALL sides. The American political machine, as it were, is ugly and it brings the absolute worst out of everyone, including me who tries to participate in it, not matter your intentions. I hereby reiterate to myself the advice I failed to heed: stay the fuck out of it, let it go. It’s not my job let alone my vocation. Done. I’ve got editing to do and I’m happy to have a day off with nice weather and the prospect of a fire pit evening with drinks, the moon and the stars.

My website suffered a so-called “bot attack” this week. I’d noticed what appeared to be dubious purchase failures for the eBook and as it turned out, after querying WooCommerce (WC), it was a significant situation. They shut the thread down to limit the redundant “it happened to me too” stuff and, after I’d re-queried their help desk I received this:

Thanks for contacting WooCommerce.com support. Please note that you’ve reached the support channel reserved for customers of our premium products which means the help we’re able to offer is a bit limited. While you’d normally have to find support through other channels, I do want to address the query you’ve raised given its importance:

My site crashed yesterday, no front or back-end access, I had to appeal to Dreamhost for assistance, they tested my index.php file, woocommerce apparently the problem, they disabled woocommerce on my site and I’m back up. Please advise regarding your reliability otherwise I cannot risk enabling the plugin.

I’m very sorry to hear that your site crashed due to WooCommerce. My first thought is that this may be related to a recent bot attack on WooCommerce stores, which exploited any vulnerabilities found in a site’s code. We’ve release a fix for that issue in the latest version of WooCommerce, which you can read about here….  Please update to the latest version of WooCommerce and let us know if you have continued issues with your site crashing.

It’s worth noting that, although WooCommerce was used as a vehicle for the bots to probe a site, the bots were reliant on vulnerability in other plugins to cause damage. I’d, therefore, also encourage you to make sure all of your other plugins are up-to-date.

If you’re still seeing issues after updating to the latest version, I’d recommend running a conflict test to see if you can pinpoint any that are conflicting directly with WooCommerce. Here’s guidance on how to do that…. I hope this gets you started with finding a solution. If you need additional assistance, please make a post on the community forums. Many of our team members help out there as well. If you have purchased a product on WooCommerce.com, please reply here with the order number for your purchase so we can look this up and help further. Please note that we will not reply further to you through this channel unless an order number is provided. Thank you for using WooCommerce and being part of the open-source community.

S. | Happiness Engineer | Automattic | WooCommerce

Okay. “Happiness Engineer.” Well, they made me happier by responding that’s for sure, right on. Despite that, I did a quick web search to see if I could replace WC quickly and easily but it’s not that simple for anyone like me with limited IT acumen. It’s all I can pretty much do, after all, to keep my Dreamhost-Wordpress-WooCommerce-Boldgrid patchwork quilt of a website ecommerce capable, reasonably priced and marginally professional. DIY. Ugh. But with the BookFunnel promo running and my desire to have all cylinders firing for sales with the holiday’s coming up, for what it’s worth, I just went ahead and updated the WC plugin and things, so far, are green.

All this because, well, it’s another Writer’s World Episode I suppose, by way of theme at least. The subtext of all this blogging (and journaling), after all, is to document the experience of authorpreneurship. My experience. Which is common enough, certainly, but hey, there’s conflict hence there’s a story! For what it’s worth. At best, my story may help somebody. At worst, I’m merely puking into the void. I don’t know. The feedback is…., well, there pretty much isn’t any. I soldier onward like any other writer, come what may.

That said, I checked my Findaway Voices account yesterday and was thrilled to see SALES! Yes, sales. Well, records of sales. Which is to say, after my shock and awe diminished because I briefly thought I’d perhaps sold six more copies of the audiobook that I didn’t know about… sadly, no. It was just Amazon finally reporting my to-date sales, sans the last two in this month, of course. Nonetheless, YIPPEE… DATA! It goes a long way to blending some external legitimization with my routine self-legitimization. You are selling copies, brutha, keep it up. The Cosmos, yes, speaks in colloquialisms.

BookFunnel promo results to date (it runs through Nov. 15th): 10 shares, 27 clicks. Zero sales. Even at $3.99. But then how far beyond my existing little audience do promos go? We’ll see. Ten shares is good because from what I’ve learned that’s the limit of acceptability to keep your “reputation” such that you can enter other promos. Otherwise you’re deemed a slacker and a bad bet. I get it.

I’ve also got a Chirp and Apple audiobook promotion going via Findaway – $1.99 OMG such a steal! I thought, no way, that’s too low but when I discovered First Sister on Chirp with her audiobook at that price, well, I just figured go for it. But I’m not going to any great effort to promote that craziness. No. I’m not in this to give things away. And as devoted readers will recall, my AuthorsDirect storefront has offered the damn thing at $6.75 from the beginning. And no takers! If you’ve read this far and you like Chirp or Apple, then, check out these links to get a deal:

https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/time-crime-by-carnegie-olson

https://books.apple.com/us/audiobook/id1526817948

And I’ll remind folks that if you’d like a giveaway code for the audiobook via AuthorsDirect, you’ll have to email me for it.