Book Marketing for Airship Flyers – Animated Fun for Patreon Producers

Jessica Halloran is the Ajan Warrior of the Sunrise!

Our Patreon is live, and that means we’ve got a way for nearly anyone to participate in the celebration of 20 years of LadyStar. If you want to see our new animated series and participate in its development, you can become a LadyStar Producer!

If you’re a middle-grade or YA author, publisher or developer, you can participate in the most innovative marketing campaign available today by becoming a Founding Member of Enchanted Airship!

There’s Been A Development…

Enchanted Airship is changing its cruising altitude.  We’ve decided on a rather exciting new direction for our ongoing promotions.  We’re still going to do placements in parenting and mom blogs, but we’re also headed for YouTube and Facebook with an animated TV show, and we’re headed for PCs and mobile devices with a series of video games. 

If you want to be part of the most unique and expectation-smashing middle grade and YA book promotion ever devised, take a look at what we’re about to accomplish

The Shopify Revolution

You’ve likely seen one or more commercials on your favorite video or social media site lately extolling the benefits of opening your own Shopify store and using it as a platform for drop-shipping.

If not, allow me to briefly explain how the drop-shipping business model works.

You open a Shopify store. In it, you can list nearly any product for sale. So, like any retailer, you get products from a supplier and then list them in your store. You add a markup of say, 20%. When someone buys the product, you order it from the supplier.

The “drop-shipping” part is when your supplier ships the product to your customer instead of to you. As the store owner, you provide the shipping information directly to the supplier, and they send the product straight to your end customer.  This means you have no inventory or any of the expensive and potentially burdensome requirements of running a store. 

You likely charged the customer for shipping, so you use those funds to pay the supplier the shipping charge.

Let’s say the supplier price was ten dollars. You charged the customer twelve dollars. You keep two dollars profit.

Now, why use Shopify? Well, they handle all the back end financial details for you. You get merchant-style credit card processing and the ability to collect money from sales at the point of purchase. You pay Shopify a monthly fee plus a small percentage of each transaction and you keep the rest.  A few days after you make your sale, Shopify deposits the money into your bank account.

Shopify also provides you with everything you need to open and operate your store. They give you the site and the tools to set it up the way you want it — all available in your browser. In this respect they are very much like Wix and Squarespace. All you really have to do is plug in your product images, prices and descriptions. In the drop-shipping model, the image and description are provided by the supplier. You set the price.

Throw in some good marketing and you just might have yourself a revenue-positive business.

Sounds good, right? Well, remember that ten bucks you had to pay the supplier to get the product to sell? What if you didn’t have to pay that ten bucks? What if you got to keep all the money?

Who Needs Their Own Bookstore?

In my Million Dollar Artist™ series, I’m going to show you how to open your own bookstore. You might be asking yourself “who needs their own bookstore?” Well, that’s why I picked the title I did, because I’m about to show you the answer to that question.

It’s 2018. With the right tools and an hour of spare time you could have an original product for sale on the web. Anyone in the world will be able to pull out their credit card, order your book from desktop or mobile and have it instantly available for download.

You keep more than 96% of the cover price. All you pay is the credit card processing fee.  The rest is pure profit.

Bookstore owners can take full advantage of crowdfunding, video marketing, blogging, social media and subscription services, and do it in a way that is light years beyond anything a third party retailer will ever offer you. You can publish your work cheaper, faster and more attractively.

But the question remains. Who needs a bookstore?

Bloggers

Take a few minutes and look up the bloggers who have turned their articles and other writing into books. What better way to amplify your message than to put a cover on your best work and make it available for sale? Not only does it add value to what you do, it gives you considerable marketing advantages. The title “author” inspires respect and gives you credibility. Nothing is more important for a journalist or a writer.  

Now imagine having your books promote your blog and your blog promoting your books. Exactly.  That’s your lightbulb moment. 

Video Channels and Hosts

If you run a channel on YouTube, you’ve probably run into problems monetizing your work. You face a lot of the same problems self-published authors have faced over the years. Since you’re building an audience on someone else’s site, you are subject to rules that can damage your relationship with your viewers. You may have even been “de-monetized.” As it gets harder and harder to sustain your income, you’ve likely turned to things like crowdfunding to stay afloat.

Having books to sell and a place to sell them literally changes everything. It fits right in to your current business. You can sell your books directly from your videos and you can offer them as rewards to your contributors.

Game Developers

Who better to publish hint books, character adaptations or comics featuring video game characters than the developer? Have you been watching Blizzard lately? Here’s a billion-dollar game developer rushing headlong into both publishing and animation as fast as they can.  Why? Because both of those categories strengthen their core business and produce new revenue streams in the process.

Consider the average role-playing game. Even if the developer publishes a great deal of material about their game online, no medium can go into the kind of depth a book can.  Your players want to know more.  Give them what they want and enjoy the profits. 

Authors

You might be wondering why I put authors fourth. It’s because authors can take advantage of all the advantages in all the other categories in addition to acquiring a supercharged marketing platform of their own. If you are used to publishing on third-party sites, the fact you will instantly increase your income by as much as 30% should be enough of an incentive, but you should also consider the fact you have zero pricing restrictions and zero formatting restrictions on your own store.  If you’ve been publishing for any length of time I’ll leave it to you to imagine the possibilities. 

Oh, and you’re going to be astonished at what you can do at conventions and book signings. 

Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

Every business has a need to communicate with its customers. From marketing to instructional materials to technical manuals, getting good information into the hands of the people who matter most to your business has always been a top priority. Running a bookstore gives you a central place to serve as a communications channel with your clientele. Even if all you need to offer is free instruction manuals, once you get your customers used to the idea of visiting your bookstore to get more information about your business, the potential exists to turn publishing into another revenue stream.

Publishing enhances any business. In an era of entrepreneurs, new enterprises and new ideas, the need for quality documentation, instruction, inspiration and entertainment has never been greater. The tools to make all these things possible have never been more powerful or less expensive. If you’re looking for ways to enhance, amplify and accelerate your work, starting a bookstore is a great next step.

If you’d like to learn more, I recommend joining my mailing list. I publish in a lot of different genres, so don’t be surprised if you get e-mails announcing new releases in my fiction, comic or game series. But do watch those newsletters, because in them you’ll find links to new articles, tips and tricks and some special offers you’ll find quite useful.

Million Dollar Artist™ Your Own Bookstore Open for Business is coming soon!  

The Future of Digital Publishing

Coming soon exclusively from?  You guessed it! My bookstore!

While it would be both entertaining and predictable to say this is a Jerry Maguire moment, the truth is anyone who has been in this business for any length of time knows we’re at an inflection point.  Things are about to change, and as authors and publishers we need to be aware of it and to do our best to influence our business for the better.

By now everyone has heard of e-books. Electronic books have been speculated about since the earliest days of the technology industry. Everyone remembers the ubiquitous devices in television shows like Star Trek that allowed the characters to read documents and technical manuals at a glance and even carry them from place to place. It was the 1960s version of the iPad.

During the 90s I continually predicted (and eagerly anticipated) that Apple would be the company that brought e-books to the marketplace in a big way.  They already had a major presence in education.  It was the logical next step.  I was wrong about who, but I wasn’t wrong about what or how. 

Over the last decade or so, digital publishing has grown up without a lot of fanfare. There were a few big winners in the early days of the early adopter platforms. Some authors sold a lot of books and some even managed to get traditional publishing deals as a result. The industry coalesced around one retailer and grew in relative obscurity.  The average person didn’t know much about e-books and nobody was making any effort to educate them.  

By many measures, digital publishing is still dependent on those early adopters. Genres have become hidebound, sales are stagnating and the innovation that drove the early adoption of enough e-reader devices to make a difference has all but disappeared. In fact, some might contend it is moving in the wrong direction.

I’ve been publishing fiction for almost eight years, and I’ve had an opportunity to not only observe but experience many changes in the market for both fiction and electronic devices. Throughout this process, I’ve become increasingly impatient about the contraction and volatility of a market that should be expanding and becoming more reliable.

It became clear to me not long ago the market for digital books isn’t going to expand any further unless authors make it happen.

Since I make my living writing, the best way I can contribute to the new era is to turn what I’ve learned into a course and a book series.  Since I’ve already written extensively about my experiences in freelancing, I decided the best way to organize my topics was to adapt and re-launch my Million Dollar Artist™ series.

I have some unique viewpoints on these matters because I have not only run a successful publishing business, but I also ran a fairly large indie animation studio and a fairly large webcomic network. Those two previous businesses succeeded largely because of my skills in sales. My goal with this new initiative is to apply those sales skills to my writing and publishing.

The biggest problem with relying on someone else’s store is they make all the rules: Rules which will inevitably infringe on your marketing plans.  Only a fool builds on someone else’s land. Why do you think Apple opened their own retail stores?  Because putting their product in someone’s hands in their own building was the right way to sell technology, and they have a trillion dollars worth of market capitalization to prove it.

When I combine my business experiences with my work in children’s television and interactive, it provides me a lot of unique knowledge I think will be very useful.  Along with several other authors, I’m spearheading an initiative called Enchanted Airship, which will do for middle grade and YA fiction what other companies should have done ten years ago.  If you happen to be a middle-grade or YA author, Enchanted Airship goes with “your own bookstore” like three jacks go with a pair of aces.  

I started my first online business in 1995 (live in 95!) selling shareware through a service called SWREG.  I opened my own bookstore in 2015.  I’m happy to report things have gotten a lot easier.  I’ve decided I should make the knowledge I’ve gathered in the last 23 years available to my readers.

In short, I’m going to teach you how to open and run your own bookstore.

You might be tempted to think a bookstore is only useful for authors.  I will show you how having a bookstore can help any business.  Books are venerated in our society like nothing else.  The title “author” carries with it considerable respect.  Think blogging is a great way to get the word out? Having your own bookstore and your own publications is blogging with rocket engines! Bookstores and blogs are complimentary.  One strengthens the other.  For writers, marketing doesn’t get any better, or easier.

When you see what I’ve done and what you’ll soon be able to do, I think you’ll agree this is the beginning of a new era in digital publishing. The industry is growing up, and this is the next big step. The “feature list” of your new store will astonish you if you’ve been relying on third-party retailers up to this point.  Plus, you can simply add your store to your retail network without interfering in your current distribution plans. 

If you happen to be crowdfunding-minded, and you’ve wondered how to do for your books what all those enterprising folks on YouTube do with their video channels, running your own bookstore is going to provide you with a number of inspiring and lucrative answers.  Yep, I have the key to crowdfunding for authors too.  

If you’d like to learn more, I recommend joining my mailing list. I publish in a lot of different genres, so don’t be surprised if you get e-mails announcing new releases in my fiction, comic or game series. But do watch those newsletters, because in them you’ll find links to new articles, tips and tricks and some special offers you’ll find quite useful as you build your new and improved publishing business.

The future is here, and you’re going to be a part of it. Stay tuned. 

Fleet Commander Recon Elite Officer Edition Released!

My eighth full-length novel Fleet Commander Recon is live! The Elite Officer Edition is available on my bookstore until August 24th.  The standard edition will be available soon wherever fine e-books are sold.

The Elite Officer Edition is compatible
with all mobile devices

Fleet Commander Recon is the first book in my new Starship Special Forces series, featuring the adventures of Commander Jayce Hunter and her action-packed battle to reclaim the initiative over an interdimensionally trapped planet. 

The story of the starship Argent and her heroic crew continues! If you are looking for military science fiction with non-stop action, snappy dialogue and plenty of meat and potatoes tech, you’ve found your new favorite series. 

Read a sample chapter from Fleet Commander Recon!

DSS Constellation vs. Atlantis Seven-One

Fleet Commander Recon Elite Officer Edition by Shane Lochlann Black
20% off Pre-Orders for a Limited Time!

This is a sample chapter from my new book Fleet Commander Recon Elite Officer Edition, available for pre-order now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore!

“Unidentified contact. Bearing zero five mark three five. Oblique course. Fusion emissions. Battle computer designates Atlantis Seven One.”

The captain looked back over his shoulder from the conn. The tactical officer met his gaze.

“Hostile.”

Flynn rolled his eyes and whispered a curse. As formidable as his weaponry was, Constellation was only one ship. If the enemy vessel was escorted or part of a picket squadron, engaging it could lead to problems. At range, a Tombaugh missile destroyer was very tough to handle, as she was easily capable of overwhelming individual ship point defense with all kinds of complicated targeting problems. As that range closed, however, the strategic options became exponentially less inviting. Constellation’s energy weapons were minimal at best. She was designed to operate in a battle group with a vessel like DSS Ajax or DSS Jefferson to provide screening, remote targeting and close-range firepower. On her own, if she ended up in a running firefight, the absolute top priority was to maintain range so she could use the widest possible variety of weapons at optimum effectiveness.

“Range.”

“Three point seven million miles.”

That made things a little better. Even the fastest warship would need time to close range from almost four clicks out. During that time, it would be required to maintain a drive field, push power to battle screens and reserve enough to operate maximum envelope electronic warfare systems and point defense. For most non-capital ships that was a lot to ask. Inevitably, one or more of those priorities would have to be sacrificed in favor of the other three. It was Flynn’s job to figure out which one and pick the weapons from his arsenal that took maximum advantage.

“Any sign of Revenge or Exeter?”

A pause. “Negative.”

Flynn swore again. Engaging a single enemy warship was a risk. Banking on it being unescorted was a potentially disastrous risk. If a second ship popped up somewhere, it could cause all kinds of hard-to-navigate problems for a single destroyer. Captain Flynn wasn’t completely without options, however.

“Tactical, spin me up another LECWAR drone. Configure it to broadcast false emissions for a frigate class warship. Launch to a position point one clicks off the starboard perimeter. Activate on station.”

“Affirmative. Jets request in 30 seconds.”

The captain waited and watched his enemy. Atlantis 71 appeared to be navigating some kind of survey course, as if looking for either a disabled ship or following some kind of emissions pattern only it could see. The vessel was still on an oblique course and opening range on Constellation’s position, which only made things better for Flynn’s strategy. The further away the enemy contact maneuvered, the more options the captain had.

“Probe away.”

“Now we see if our opposite number takes the bait,” Flynn muttered. “Look sharp, pilot. We may need to run like hell in a few seconds.”

“Standing by, sir.” Constellation’s pilot was harnessed to his shock couch and had his controls set to react quickly to any potential emergency. The destroyer’s engines were set for standby, but had maximum power reserves available. One of the unsung advantages of missile technology was the fact few of the Tombaugh-class weapons required reactor energy. Destroyers could operate with a full flight envelope while firing their most powerful weapons. That gave them two of the three sides of the warship iron triangle. The part they were missing was defense. This was the reason ships like Flynn’s needed range. Their only viable defense was to run if they had to.

The “frigate” winked to life on the bridge tactical display. Flynn’s first watch crew waited as it wandered along right at the edge of the unidentified ship’s estimated tactical envelope. It wouldn’t be long before they detected it. Then it would be a question of how good Flynn’s tactical officer really was. The more convincing the drone looked, the more likely it would pull Atlantis 71 out of position and give Constellation her shot.

The tactical officer pulsed the dead man switches on both Hemlocks again. Their clocks reset. The deadly missiles floated in space, waiting for their orders.

“Emissions delta now four percent over amplitude. Possible aspect change in target position.”

“Look sharp, ensign.”

Everyone waited. The frigate continued to drift. It was now more than a million miles from its launch point and was about to break two million miles range to the hostile contact. Flynn felt a pang of regret and frustration. Normally Lieutenant Cooper would be running the show for a maneuver like this. He knew it would be so much easier if she were here. Talent and experience made all the difference in a life or death situation where seconds were the difference.

“Hostile target Atlantis 71 altering course. On intercept track for LECWAR contact beta.”

“Hooked them. Now we land them. Weps, give me three flights of RAM 600 warheads. Set Alpha to track on emissions. Beta to track on signature and Gamma to track on acquisition. You are cleared to arm.”

“Aye, captain. Transferring combat control to autolaunch racks. Weapons at your command.”

“Helm, give me a broad pass. Two zero five mark three ten, all ahead flank three.”

“Affirmative. Helm answering two zero five–”

The sound of the destroyer’s engines coming fully to life filled the bridge. The deck rolled to port as Flynn’s ship went to maximum safe acceleration.

“Weapons fire! Weapons fire!”

The tactical avatar for Atlantis 71 shifted from yellow to red. The proximity alarms went off at both the navigational and tactical stations.

“Signals, sound battle stations missile. Tactical bring us up nice and quiet. Passives only until further instructed.”

The destroyer’s bridge lights shifted red. The alert klaxon sounded, galvanizing the vessel’s decks and crews to maximum readiness. Constellation’s rotary mounts deployed above and below the wing launchers amidships. The ventral racks spun rapidly until they were fully loaded with sleek white-tipped rockets.

The LECWAR drone went into evasive spirals, trying to avoid the angry beams of explosive plasma energy spearing space around it. The hostile contact bore in, employing a fairly reckless approach. Constellation’s tactical officer did his best to make the tiny drone behave like a Skywatch frigate-class warship, despite the fact it was a tiny fraction of such a vessel’s mass. It was important to maintain the illusion as long as possible. If Atlantis 71 was focused on the drone, it wouldn’t be as well prepared for what Constellation was about to unleash.

“Arm Hemlock one.”

“Affirmative.”

Encrypted commands flashed through the defensive perimeter. The enormous anti-matter missile came to life and pivoted in space, preparing itself to carry out its lethal mission.

“Range to target now 2.8 million miles and increasing. Optimum firing envelope T plus two. The board is green.”

“Alpha wave armed.”

Flynn hesitated. Once he gave the order, Atlantis 71 would have to be destroyed or his ship would be lost. This was a fight to the death. “Fire all weapons.”

Constellation’s ventral racks went into full speed deployment. Every 0.8 seconds, another sprint missile screamed into space from each of six launchers. Within moments, more than 75 warheads were hurtling out of the destroyer’s defensive perimeter at more than 18,000 miles per second closure.

“Start the clock, tactical. Give me the count by tens.”

Captain Flynn watched the track carefully. Missile combat was all about timing. The goal was to overwhelm the enemy’s defenses while making them shoot at the least dangerous incoming birds. In this engagement, the most dangerous were the two Hemlock monsters waiting patiently for their orders. Anti-matter impacts were rarely survived, regardless of the class of the target vessel.

“Take the LECWAR dark.”

A moment later, the “frigate” Atlantis 71 was so doggedly pursuing vanished into the darkness like a candle flame going out. There was a brief moment of hesitation on the part of the enemy vessel Captain Flynn was quite accustomed to. It took most ship captains about ten seconds to realize what was happening, which was why Flynn had timed his first attack wave to hit his enemy’s active electronics perimeter at exactly that moment.

“Twenty seconds to impact.”

“Fire Hemlock One. Arm Hemlock Two.”

“Beta wave armed.”

“Fire all weapons.”

Another wave of 75 RAM 600 missiles blasted free of their mounts and streaked into the distance, trailing blue energy blooms.

The enemy warship’s point defense came to life like a nest of virulently poisonous snakes. Kinetics exploded to its starboard side, filling two hundred cubic miles of space with fast moving debris. The guidance systems aboard each of Constellation’s alpha wave RAM 600s did their best to avoid the spinning metal flechettes, but without drive fields or onboard defenses, their speed was both their weakness and their strength. They could close range quickly, but they could not avoid obstacles very well. Impacting something the size of a nickel coin at such speeds often created energy releases equivalent to a half-kiloton explosion. Spherical energy blasts rippled through the oncoming wedge of missiles. The discharges caused Constellation’s tactical display to freeze and then stagger as Flynn’s passives tried to fight their way through the interference to get some idea of what was happening.

While Atlantis 71 was busy with the first formation of RAM 600s, it wasn’t watching its high port approach. Had someone been paying attention, they would have seen the dark distant form of the fourth Horseman charging over the electronic horizon at a full run. Hemlock One broke 200,000 miles and accelerated, bearing down on its hapless target like a cheetah sprinting towards an unaware gazelle. The enemy vessel’s point defense reacted with sudden violence, but with the wrong weapons and way too late. Kinetics screamed into the approach track of the gigantic warhead, but made no provision for the fact the Hemlock SRAT 108 wasn’t a sprint missile, and operated with a full drive field. The missile’s navigational screens vaporized Atlantis 71’s projectiles with contemptuous ease. It broke 180 miles just before its proximity fuse activated. A blinding white-hot explosion lit up space for six million miles in all directions.

“Impact. Hemlock One.”

“Stand by, weps. Tactical, get me a damage assessment from our Type III. Helm, easy turn starboard X plus ten. Slow to two-thirds.”

“Aye, sir. Coming about.”

“Maintain oblique course, helm. Report on re-acquisition of Atlantis 71. Stand by Hemlock Two.”

The advantage to the big anti-matter bombs was their effectiveness. Even against full battle screens, a proximate gigaton-magnitude explosion was devastating both in terms of damage and its effect on electronic warfare systems. Like the electromagnetic pulse effects of old-style fission warheads, the disruption effect of an anti-matter explosion was considerable. Skywatch ships were equipped to compensate, to a point, but it remained to be seen if their enemies were.

What Flynn was counting on was his notoriously good timing. He knew exactly how long it normally took to re-acquire a target after a proximity explosion, and the clock was ticking on his beta wave of track-on-signature birds, which were at that moment rocketing into their terminal approach.

“Contact! Atlantis 71 bearing nine seven mark negative five. On evasive course! They are powering their primary weapons!”

Right on time. The moment Constellation was able to broadcast its enemy’s position to the offset relay, beta wave was twenty seconds out.

“All power to starboard battle screens! All ahead flank three!”

“Weapons fire!”

The destroyer surged forward moments before enemy fire control obtained a partial waveform lock. Long range plasma lance weapons erupted angrily against the vessel’s starboard leading edge. Energy discharge tore and flashed through space. Then Constellation was away.

“Damage report!”

“Battle screens holding! Our drive field is fluctuating, but it’s still intact!”

The tactical officer spoke up. “Enemy vessel emissions indicate a destroyer-class warship in the 300,000-ton range.”

“Acknowledged. Engage evasive pattern. Wing-heavy. Stand by gamma wave.”

By now Atlantis 71 was back on its feet and ready to throw hard punches. Unfortunately, the moment its targeting horizon cleared, all it revealed was another angry swarm of highly destructive beta wave warheads seconds from impact. Once again, the vessel’s kinetic point defenses exploded to life, but by now their ammunition reserves were low. Only half were effective. Sixteen of Flynn’s birds reached their target. Lightning-like discharges strobed around the vessel’s strained battle screens as warhead after warhead slammed into its port-side drive field. The ship staggered in space, but somehow righted its course before veering towards the last known position of the Constellation.

“Damage assessment. Quickly.”

“Enemy screens down to no more than 28%, captain.”

“Maintain course and speed, pilot. Signals, open a hailing frequency. Engage automatic translation protocols.”

“Aye, captain. You’re on.”

“Attention unidentified vessel. This is Captain Raymond Flynn aboard the Skywatch Destroyer Constellation. We have you under our weapons. You are ordered to withdraw from Gitairn space or we will re-engage.”

The bridge crew waited patiently. If there were any kind of intelligent response, the auto-translator would pick it up and make some effort to synthesize a voice to represent it.

“Anything?” Flynn asked, looking back towards his signals officer.

“Negative. No response.”

“Go active. Get me a hard waveform lock on hostile target Atlantis 71.”

The rest of Flynn’s officers recognized the tactic. When employed by a missile destroyer, it was basically the equivalent of a room full of people pointing guns at the target. If Atlantis 71 was as bad off as Flynn suspected, the provocation just might be enough to get them to acknowledge the hail.

The missile lock tone jangled. The sound was rather unsettling, even for the ship aiming the weapons. A click away, Hemlock Two waited patiently, its own targeting systems updating Atlantis 71’s position moment by moment.

A new tone sounded at the signals station.

“Captain, we are being hailed.”

Pre-order your copy of Fleet Commander Recon Elite Officer Edition today at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore!

The Essential Uselessness of Google Analytics

I am frequently distressed by the total failure of technology in a world where the average person cannot escape breathless announcements about how some genius is about to upset civilization once again with some kind of mobile phone gew-gaw.  

Take Google Analytics for example.  This is the tech industry’s great shrine to itself. How brilliant are we that we’ve created this massively complicated tool! Behold the torrential flood of data! The pie charts! The exacting categories! Surely mankind has ascended to a new state of being! Look at how much more corporate we are than you! 

The only problem is nobody knows how to use Google Analytics, including Google.  Remember this is a company that is quick to remind us they are building artificial intelligence into our everyday lives. They are leading the charge for turning automobiles into 70-MPH two-ton runaway mayhem machines controlled by apps.  Yet when I try to filter a fake hostname out of my analytics report on Google’s recently re-launched “marketing platform,” it just ignores the filter and keeps displaying the false information.

To be fair, the only information Google Analytics has ever provided me is the semi-entertaining knowledge of what city my readers come from.  Other than that, it is a gigantic wad of tangled nonsense that tells me nothing useful at all.  Could Google perhaps write some instructions? What exactly does all this babble mean?  

Well no, they’re not going to do that for the same reason they don’t have customer service.  This is an $864 billion company that doesn’t have a phone number.  If you have a problem or question about one of their products, you’re out of luck.  How many entry-level tech jobs could Google provide if they competently staffed a customer service center right here in the land of the free?   Of course, that would require work and thinking.

And let’s not forget Google took away the one useful piece of information Analytics used to tell you, and that was what keywords your site showed up for. 

“Well, you’re just not doing it right!” the so-much-smarter will shout.  The problem is I shouldn’t have to do it right.  The filters should work in a straightforward way without me needing to know all the extra little tricks. Fake referrals have been a problem for years and years and YEARS. If Google really had artificial intelligence, it would have filtered them out on their own before I ran the report.