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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #335

Taking Care of Business

I’m trying something new with this Mailbag. I’m only including the one photo. I am not including videos. My hope is that HP will leave this article alone and not send it to the niche sites, and thus people will be able to comment on it. Let’s see how it works!

I was hoping I could announce the publishing of my new novel on this Mailbag, but at this exact moment I’m trying to get a glitch fixed with regards to the cover. It’s not a major problem; just one which prevents me, at this moment, from making the announcement.

At this moment – one hit wonders – Billy Vera and the Beaters – check it out on Youtube if you have a spare three minutes. It’s actually a very good song, and a great story behind it.

And that’s what I hope you’ll find in my new novel, Shadows Across the Pond, a good story you can sink your teeth into, which reminds me of the steak I broiled last night, and that was delicious, which is how I hope you describe this Mailbag when you finish it, a delicious treat.

How was that for word association? LOL

Let’s do this thing!

The Mail Room!

The Mail Room!

The Start of the Mailbag

From Eric: “I can't remember why and what impetus got you to do the mailbag. Can you let us know?”

It was all pretty innocent, Eric. For months prior to the first Mailbag, HP writers would email me questions about how to do this, and how to do that, and so I thought I would toss all of those questions in an article so everyone could learn from it.

Little did I know that the questions would keep coming, and coming, and coming and, well, here we are, six years later and still going strong.

I had no intention of writing a series. None! Zero! It just goes to show how very little I know.

Book Cover Designer

From William: “Bill. it was a great mailbag this week, but I have to say, I really love the cover of Shadows. Who designed your cover (did you?) and how can they be contacted?”

Mike, the guy who designed the cover to this upcoming book, and all of my covers other than “Resurrecting Tobias,” is Mike Friedman, a writer here on HP. You can find him under his HP name by following this link. I don’t feel right giving you his email address, but drop him a line through HP and I’m sure he’ll be glad to chat with you. Great guy, great writer, and I’m proud to call him a friend.

Google and Niche Sites

From Liz: “I was interested in the lower regard Google has for HP compared with the niche sites, as this confirms something that I had suspected for a while. Do you think the absence of comments on the niche sites is in some way linked to this? Are active comments seen as bringing down the value of an article in some way?”

Evidently, they are, Liz. Honestly, I have not followed this whole debate at all. I’m probably a horrible source of information on this, but I have heard rumblings from other HP writers and they have said that’s the reason for this upheaval. It’s a real shame it’s happening. HP was always attractive to me simply because the community of writers is so great. Take that away, the ability to communicate with other writers, and HP holds very little appeal to me.

But, truthfully, the HP staff pays practically no attention to what I say or think, so there you go!

Dan Fogelberg

Many of you said you liked the lyrics by Dan Fogelberg I shared last week, so here are some new lyrics from his song “River of Souls.”

“I take my place along the shore
And I wait for the tide
It seems I've passed this way before
In an earlier time
I hear a voice like mystery
Blowing warm through the night
The silent moon embraces me
And I'm drawn to her light

I follow footprints in the sand
To a circle of stone
Find a fire burning bright
Though I came here alone
And in the play of shadows cast
I can dimly discern
The shapes of all who've gone before
Calling me to return

There are no names
That fit these faces
There are no lines that can define
These ancient spaces
The spirits dance across the ages
And melt into a river of souls”

Scroll to Continue

Improving Credibility as a Writer

From Joel: “I know you’re been around awhile, so I thought I would toss this question your way. I’m wondering about the millions of writers out there. The internet is flooded by articles and novels and blogs, and it just seems to me like an impossible mission to gain credibility in such an impersonal stage. Any suggestions? How can a writer, who faces such overwhelming odds, actually become credible and significant?”

Oh, my goodness, Joel, how much time do you have? I don’t think you are going to like my answer to this question, simply because there are so many factors which go into credibility among the writing community.

I do think it’s important that you work at your craft and present a good product to readers. It won’t take long for the online readers to determine whether you have game as a writer. Bad writers will sink from sight very quickly in this highly-competitive field. Having said that, I know a few very good writers who still have not established credibility in this field, which brings us to marketing. Like it or not, if you don’t play the social media game, your chances of success diminish greatly.

I also think your online persona counts for something. I know quite a bit of my “success” is due to the fact that people trust me and they like me as a person. I know I follow several writers, either their articles or their blogs, because they seem like a genuine person, someone I would like to know and have coffee with. It takes time to establish that kind of rapport with your readers, which brings me to the last point I’ll make on this question: time takes time! You have to painstakingly built your platform and your brand. I’ve been doing this since 2011. For nine years I have consistently published articles, interacted with other writers, and become an active member of this community. Nine years!

Credibility does not happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen by accident!

New Hp Changes

From Yvonne: “What do you think of the new changes at HP? If you don’t comment in the first couple hours, you can’t comment at all. I don’t like it! How about you?”

I think it sucks, Yvonne, but what’s worse is I don’t think HP cares what I think.

Note: If you want to comment on a particular article, and it has already been spirited away to a special site, you can still comment on it by finding it on the "feed" page.


It’s raining cats and dogs right now, and who in the world ever dreamed up that funny little saying? What does raining have to do with our pets?

Where is Waldo hanging out these days? I wonder who he voted for? I wonder where he lives when he’s not hiding from us? This is how my mind works, so welcome to my world. Someone on tv last night said they were sitting on pins and needles, and my mind when to “Needles and Pins,” a song by The Searchers, which was also covered by Stevie Nicks, and ain’t that a weird howdy do?

Enough for today! Thanks for visiting the Mail Room. You’ll find us here every Monday about 6:30 a.m. PST, unless it’s the spring or summer, and then it will be 6:30 a.m. DST, and I’m very tired of the time change thing.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

That's okay, Meg, it's all good, and I appreciate you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 24, 2020:

I really should let North Face know that, Meg. Good suggestion. As for the dogs, it's a mystery to me how they stay warm, but they do, and they love it. Weird dogs! lol

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 23, 2020:

Whoops, I have commented on the wrong Hub!!!!

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 23, 2020:

Another great hub Bill, How come the dogs don't feel soaked through? I suspect their coats keep them warm and the puddles help them cool down? What a great coat. I like to keep my own coats from year to year but I have never kept one 25 years! That must be some kind of record. Maybe you should write to North Face and tell them about it?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 23, 2020:

My pleasure, Jo! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving in Tennessee!

Jo Miller from Tennessee on November 21, 2020:

Thanks for another interesting hub, Bill. And thanks for the info on how to submit comments on new hubpages.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 20, 2020:

Thank you Devika! Hopefully comments will return to HP.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 20, 2020:

Meg, I am as confused by it all as you are, and annoyed. I miss communicating with everyone, and I don't have the time for treasure hunts each morning. Thanks for taking the time to find me.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 19, 2020:

Hi Bill your work is informative and most helpful to as writers. I wish ou more comments. I learned lots from your hubs.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 18, 2020:

I am glad I found this article before it got spirited away. I have not been able to comment on some of your recent articles because they even seem to have disappeared from the feed, no matter how far down I scroll. You would have thought that Google would love comments on articles - as showing that it creates interaction!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 18, 2020:

I do understand, Devika! No worries! We are all experiencing the same troubles with HP.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 18, 2020:

Hi Bill missed your recent hubs. You understand the circumstances and hope to share your hubs.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 18, 2020:

Thanks for hanging in there, MizB! This change is definitely problematic for those of us who don't catch an article right after it is published. It's making me a grumpy old man. :)

Happy Hump Day, my friend!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on November 17, 2020:

Glad you or somebody said we could still comment in the feed. But you know what? By the time I read your mailbag and then come back to the feed to comment, I forgot what I was going to say. Dang, I guess that comes naturally with age. I just remember that I thought it was a good mailbag this week and wanted to say hi. So better late than never. Have a good week, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2020:

Thank you Mary! I'm waiting for your next article so I can help you. Since you can't walk in that wind, how about you sit down and write an article? :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2020:

Brian, it's good to hear from you again. I hope you are well, my friend. The quick answer is yes, this is the new HP reality and yes, you can find articles in the feed. I'll give you a better answer in next week's Mailbag.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2020:

Honest to God, Rodric, I don't know what the key is on HP, and I've been here a long, long time. I wish I knew exactly what it takes to succeed here monetarily. I'll go into it more in next week's Mailbag. Take care, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2020:

Mr. Happy, just one more reason why I like you. My truck's clock will remain incorrect until April, and I'm fine with it. I kind of like doing the math every time I look at it. Makes me feel productive. lol

Sooner or later, my wife will grow tired of it, and change the time for me, over my protests. Maybe I just won't let her ride in the truck so I can enjoy my little protest against time change.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2020:

Well, Alyssa, I do love steak, so thank you for that compliment. I am not a fan of these HP changes, but there is very little I can do about it, other than just shut up. lol Have a great week, my friend.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 17, 2020:

Our weather is changing here, too. I went out a while ago, but the wind was strong; it could blow me away, so I came back. Change is always with us, and we adjust to it. Your nine years of writing have helped so many of us. Thank you.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on November 16, 2020:

Bill, today I browsed hubbers whom I follow after being away for some weeks or months. When I went to comment on articles, I couldn't see how, even though I was logged in. It used to be easy to comment. I finally came upon the information in this hub. So, is my understanding correct that now HubPages niche-site articles have no comments and that HubPages articles can be commented upon only within two hours of publication, except that hubbers can comment on articles in the "feed"? I'm too new to that new policy to have an opinion yet. I'm glad there is still a roundabout way to submit a comment. Do all hubs appear in the "feed"? Is there a time limit after which a hub can't be found there? At Medium, in contrast, reader engagement and cultivating a following of readers are everything.

Rodric Anthony from Surprise, Arizona on November 16, 2020:

It did not work Bill. You writing is too entertaining. Don't change. We will find you in the feeds and comment and ask our questions.

I noticed my hub score go up as I am writing articles almost daily. Is that the key on HP? Write well and often?

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on November 16, 2020:

"Credibility does not happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen by accident!" - I would say that honesty helps. I mean, if I feel dishonesty in writing then, I'm out.

"I think it sucks, Yvonne, but what’s worse is I don’t think HP cares what I think." - Haha!! No they do not. They are running a business. I am running a ... what am I running here? God knows. So, You see our Intent is not the same: we want comments, Hub-pages wants professional sort of writing, which will draw-out readers and advertisers. Those different kinds of intent do not really mix well.

"I’m very tired of the time change thing" - I'm not changing the clock in the car. Everywhere else it changes on its own but in the car I have to do it manually so, not changing it. It'll be okay when the time changes back again ... whenever it does.

Anyway, crossing my fingers I don't have to move back to I never liked the lay-out of that site but I am pretty sure I still have an avatar there with articles from a dozen years ago lol There are always options in Life.

Alrighty, You have yourself a fun week ahead! Say hello to the furry ones for me. Cheers!

Alyssa from Ohio on November 16, 2020:

Well, it's a good thing you added the tip about finding articles on the feed. Your mailbag has already made its way to the niche site. :) I must say, these mailbags are definitely like a delicious steak and I look forward to them every Monday. Have a wonderful week Bill!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Happy Monday, Mary, and thank you! I doubt my trick will work, but it's fun trying to trick them. :) Have a great week ahead. I wonder, are you going to stay on the farm now?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

I'm with you about HP, Denise. I'm a bit cynical by nature. Actually, more than just a bit. lol

Wet and windy here. Miserable day, and there is no cynicism in that statement. Just fact!

Blessings always


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Hi Zulma! They are taking their time over at Amazon. I expect to have the green light on publishing today, but usually they are much faster at approving them, which is making me a bit nervous.

Taking a deep breath!

Happy Monday my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Brenda, I will gladly accept that compliment. My writing and a delicious steak - thank you for that.

The quick answer to your question is yes, I self-publish all of my novels. Thanks for asking.

Mary Wickison from USA on November 16, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I always liked playing word association games with my kids while we washed the dishes. It can go off on a tangent quite quickly.

It will be interesting to see if your ploy to keep this article on HP has worked. Still, it is good to have a work around if needed.

Have a wonderful week.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Thank you Ann! It is a bit strange. I have gone in and found old articles written by friends, and I can still comment on them. I have no clue what criteria are used, and I don't have the time to find out about it. I am, after all, just a writer. :)

Have a brilliant week, my friend.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Peggy, it will all work out, I'm sure. Probably not in a way which will please the HP writers, but that doesn't seem to be HP's priority. Sigh! I'm just going to keep on writing, and see how it all shakes out.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Thanks Bill! Honestly, I'm not sure HP cares to find a fix for this. I don't think commenting is a priority for them. We shall see, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Heidi, I knew you would have valuable input about Google and niche sites. Thanks for that. I really am chill about all of this. It is what it is. Sooner or later it will all work out, and I'll adjust or fall by the wayside. Enough said!

Miserable weather here. November is officially my least-favorite month in Olympia.

And with that I will wish you a Happy Monday!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 16, 2020:

I always love your mailbags. You are beginning to sound a bit cynical though about the powers that be not paying attention. We are little fish in a big pond and I never expect to be heard anyway. So that doesn't bother me much. I have learned to be content with what I can do. They let me write here and as long as they still let me, I will. I love the feedback but I won't gripe too much if I don't get as much. The truth is that I know that there will always be a way forward. I appreciate knowing about "the feed" so I can still comment for a while. Keep safe and dry, my friend.



Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Thanks Linda! I don't know what the criteria is, and I don't have the spirit to investigate. Perhaps it is set up now so all articles are spirited away, darn it!

Stay dry this week? I don't think that's possible. I'm already dreading taking the dogs for a walk today.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Eric, I'm sorry to hear they snagged your crappy article that quickly. That fills me with dread about this mailbag. Darn it, they just might win this battle, buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Time will tell, William! I hope it works. It's time-consuming to go through the feed looking for new articles by my friends. I'll do it if necessary, but I wish for an easier solution.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

I will do my best, Chitrangada Sharan. Thank you for the encouragement, my friend. Stay safe out there!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Manatita, it certainly gives us an incentive to quickly comment, doesn't it? I hope my little solution works. I would gladly publish a bare-bones article if it will prevent it from going to a niche site and I can enjoy comments.

Have a brilliant week, my friend, and blessings to you always.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on November 16, 2020:

Hi Bill.

I think your plan may have worked as I can still comment. Sorry to hear about the glitch. I hope it gets sorted soon as I am soooo eager to read the next 'Shadows' instalment.

Have a great day.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2020:

Thank you Rosina! I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Have a wonderful November week.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 16, 2020:


I wonder if this will work...time will tell.

But I wanted to be sure to get my comment in here.

Do you self publish your books?

I hope to actually read one of them before long.

I love the way you used your words in the beginning. Yes, to savor my delicious tender steak and your article is just as good.

Ann Carr from SW England on November 16, 2020:

Glad I got here in time! Great stuff as usual.

I find that some of my articles that haven't been moved to discover or to niche sites are very similar to the ones that have - I can't see any method in their madness!

Oh, well, who am I to understand their ways?!

Glad your mailbag is still functioning though, bill, and long may it continue.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 16, 2020:

We can still comment on articles if we don't catch them in time before they are moved. It is a bit more time-consuming. We have to read the article first, and then go to the HP feed page. Under the article, it is there that you can comment. If the feed page is long, you may or may not find it without a lot of scrolling down the page. I hope that they simplify it, as it was in the past.

Google does like to see engagement, as Heidi mentioned. I would think that also increases income. So we will wait and see what happens.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on November 16, 2020:

Nice mailbag, Bill. That’s a great tip about still being able to comment on an article by going to the “feed” page. I agree that the inability to comment diminishes the site and the HP community. Hopefully they can find a fix for this as it seems to be universally disliked. Have a great week.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 16, 2020:

Jumping into the Mailbag early just to make sure I can comment. But if that commenting goes away, you'll be hearing from me on email.

Re: Mailbag Origins. This has been a delightful part of my HP experience. I remember the first installments. So that makes me an HP Mailbag OG I guess. Proud to be a member of the Mailbag. Is there any Mailbag Swag we can order? ;) Seriously, thank you for your service to our HP community and the writer community at large.

Re: Google/Niche Commenting Issues. In general, Google likes to see comments and engagement on sites. However, Maven's focus is more like media, not blogging. If you look at Maven's Sports Illustrated's site ( you'll see there isn't any way to comment on those articles. What they encourage is "sharing" on social media (icons for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). That's where the commentary will appear. Bigger organizations have better ways of measuring what's called the social graph with more sophisticated ways than us HP writers going to our Notifications or Comments pages to see who's engaging with our content.

So maybe that's how this game will be played in the future. Until further notice, maybe we should encourage readers to share our articles and tag us so we know they've commented. This is a work in progress. So let's all chill and see what develops.

Re: Improving Writer Credibility. You've correctly framed that as "improving writer marketing." 'Nuff said.

Re: Time Change. I'm surprised I know it's Monday.

Anyway, wild windy weekend here in Chicago. Lost power and therefore internet. So catching up. Happy Monday!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 16, 2020:

Bill, I wrote a crappy article and "poof" it went to the HP purgatory called Discovery Hub Pages. You wrote a great one and it's still here. What are the criteria?

I'm happy to be able to see the comments and get my 2 cents worth in.

I will still be publishing an article every Tuesday--just not a mailbox type of thing.

Stay dry this week my friend. I'm glad you're here.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 16, 2020:

Happy me to read another mailbag. I have decided to publish the Sermons on Monday morning from now on. I hope that helps with the limited time frame for comments. We will see.

Nope I wrote a really crappy article by HP standards. Under 700 words lacking focus and very little in capsules and paragraphs. They snagged it in 25 minutes.

You hit the nail on the head with credibility. Maybe just maybe a six year series will do that to you;-)

Now off to learn what "feed" means in HP land.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 16, 2020:

Hey, maybe your idea worked, Bill. Or maybe I'm just early. with the comment. Thanks for the information on your cover. If that's typical of Mike's work (and I' sure it probably is), he does great work. I'll have to check it out. Thanks again!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 16, 2020:

Hello Bill!

So pleased to read and comment on this edition of the mailbag in time.

All relevant questions and I liked your responses very much.

Keep writing and keep spreading your wisdom and experiences. I wish that the mailbag continues, no matter what----.

Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful week.

manatita44 from london on November 16, 2020:

Your word association was awesome, but the humour was impeccable!

Another exquisite piece of writing and you've touched on the ailment that we are all experiencing here on HP. At least I've caught your wonderful piece this time. Have I? I better press the submit button before it's too late. Lol.

Rosina S Khan on November 16, 2020:

A beautiful mailbag, Bill. I liked the new lyrics of Fogelberg's song. And I liked the part about "Improving Credibility as a Writer". Have a great Monday and a good start to the week.

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