Websites for Authors

When I speak to author groups, I am often asked my opinion on websites for authors. The question is typically, Should I have one author website that has information about me and my books or is having a book website to highlight and sell my book(s) better? Like many things related to writing, I believe that the answer depends on the individual. I’ll briefly break down my perspective below and you can decide what will work best for you.

Keep in mind that a lot depends on your reason for writing in the first place. Some common motivators for authors include:

  • Wanting to share a message or ideas with others.
  • Desire for fame and fortune.
  • Wanting to leave a legacy for family and friends.
  • Opportunity to creatively express oneself.
  • Interest in helping others by sharing knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • Joy received from writing and seeing your message in print.

Your purpose for writing will often determine whether you have an author website, book website, or both.

Author Website

Many authors who are also speakers, trainers, consultants or professionals in other areas choose to have a website where they can highlight their background, expertise, services and products (e.g. books and derivative items).

The idea behind an author website is that there is a single location where clients, peers, professionals, friends, family, potential book readers and others can go to learn about you and what you provide. This includes people looking for:

  • Biographical information.
  • Photos of you and your product(s) and book(s).
  • Testimonials about your accomplishments.
  • Connections to any blogs that you host.
  • Media page where interested parties can download press releases, images and other information for publication or articles.
  • List of products and services offered.
  • Listing of articles that you have written.
  • Sales page where people can buy books and any other products you offer.
  • Links to all your social media connections, such as, LinkedIn groups that you host or a Facebook author page.
  • Resources that you offer visitors.

It is also a good idea to offer an opportunity for site visitors to opt in to mailing lists that you can use for marketing and informing followers. You can offer a free article, eBook, or chapter download as an incentive for people to sign up for your list.

Make sure that you link any book website(s) to your author website to increase the chance that search engines will find your sites and drive traffic there.

Book Website

As you would suspect, the purpose of a book website is to highlight and sell your book(s). By having a dedicated site with a domain name that mirrors your book title, you potentially increase the chance that search engines will find your book. This can increase sales. It also reduces the chance that someone else with a competing book on your topic will buy a domain name with your title to drive people to their book.

  • Typically, on a book site you want to include at least the following information:
  • Cover image photo.
  • Back cover content.
  • Author biography and photograph.
  • Testimonials and reviews.
  • Table of Contents.
  • Description of the book and the benefits that buyers will derive from reading the book.
  • Sales page where you sell your book(s).

You might also want to offer a free chapter download as an incentive to get people to opt in to your mailing list. That list can later be used to send updates and information about:

  • Your current book.
  • Upcoming new book releases.
  • Newsletter.
  • Information about blog postings.
  • Announcements pertaining to author appearances.

Other things that might interest current and potential readers.

Make sure that you link any book website(s) to your author website to increase the chance that search engines will find all of your sites and drive traffic there.

Author and Book Websites

Personally, I have multiples websites. In addition to having a personal/author website (http://www.robertwlucas.com/) that promotes my company, services and books, I have other active websites. In addition to three blogs that I write (http://www.thecreativetrainer.com/wordpress/, http://www.customerserviceskillsbook.com/wordpress/, and http://www.robertwlucas.com/wordpress/), I have purchased numerous domains that are active or “parked” (not active websites at the moment). These dormant site names are for future use and to prevent someone else from grabbing domains with my titles. My three blogs offer content in book categories on which I have written and do consulting and speaking. On each of the blogs, I regularly promote books that I still have in print on related topic areas.

Websites provide another vehicle for getting the word out about you and your books, products, and services. By being more visible, you potentially increase reputation and revenue streams. All of this is part of building an author platform.

For more ideas and information on increasing visibility, personal branding and letting the world know about what you have to offer, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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Write Effective Back Cover Sales Copy for Nonfiction Books

As a nonfiction author who self publishes, one of the most important tasks that you will have to tackle is how to write effective back cover sales copy for nonfiction books. This cover content is one of the most important aspects of your new book. That is because after your title captures potential reader attention, the next thing that typically happens is that they flip to the back cover to learn why they might want to read what is inside. Similarly, on the internet, this information will help snag their attention in a similar manner.

Since there is very limited space on the back cover of your book, you must carefully and concisely describe the book, emphasize its value and what benefits the reader will derive and include crucial information like your barcode and ISBN. Another element that I like to add is a QR code that will drive readers to the book’s website where they can discover more information, preview content, and buy the book.

Once you write the internal book content, you are ready to start creating the text for the back cover. Before you do, I suggest that you pay a visit to your local store and scout out books in the same genre and topic area. Look to see how other authors have approached the copy on the back of their books to get your own book cover ideas. Identify key words, benefits and the format that they use. Note similarities between competing books and emulate those. There is no reason to recreate a process that might be working well for other authors and publishers. Pay particular attention to books produced by large or major publishers. These companies have been in the business for a long time and have a professional staff that creates their sales copy. Use this expertise as a guide for your own book.

When you are ready to write your back cover copy, consider how you will grab attention. You can do this in one of the following ways.

Ask a thought-provoking question related to your book topic. For example, for a book on  handling difficult customer situations, you might ask a question, such as, Have you ever dealt with a customer who were resistant to whatever recommendation that you made as a sales person?

Offer a statistic. For example, in a book for entrepreneurs who want to start a new small business, you might say something like, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were ______ new small businesses started in the past year. Depending on the type of business you want to start, many of these companies will be your competitor.

Provide solutions to a problem.  Building on the last tip, you might add, If you are the type of person who is ready to take action on your dreams of starting your new company, you will find a step-by-step process for establishing a successful business that includes…

In addition to securing reader attention, you have a couple of more things that the back cover copy must provide:

List a short list of benefits that readers will gain from the book. Using the entrepreneur book idea above, you could include:

In this book, you will learn how to:

Identify important resources that can help make your business a success.

Create a business plan that will guide you through the establishment of your business and be used to approach potential investors and financial institutions to raise capital.

Select the right type of business structure for your situation.

Issue a call to action. Once your potential buyer has read the content of your cover, you need to persuade her or him to buy the book. Do this with a call to action. Here are a few possible approaches:

Ready to make your dream of owning a new company a reality? Buy this book today and get started!

In eight short chapters, this book can show you how to create a path to your own success – so what are you waiting for?

Don’t waste another minute – get started on the road to business ownership by buying this book now.

Additional Back Cover Elements

Two other elements that are often included on the back of a book include endorsements from well-known or successful people and a short author biography. Depending on the size of your book cover, there may also be room for a small photo of yourself. This helps readers put a name with your face. Doing so is important when you are working to develop a strong author’s platform and want to use the book as promotional material that can drive business to you or your company.

For additional ideas on how to effectively market your book once you publish it, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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Three Tips for Writing Effective Nonfiction Books

Like every other book genre, non fiction books appeal to a certain type of reader. Depending on your focus, you might be sharing a personal memoir, providing self help tips, giving guidance on a specific topic or skill, or offering numerous other bits of information that readers might use to enhance their knowledge. Whatever your intent, you should take time to decide content and approach to writing before you begin in order to increase your likelihood for success. The following three tips for writing effective nonfiction books can help focus your efforts.

  1. Choose a topic on which you have expertise. Unlike fiction books, nonfiction book content is typically based on factual information and research presented in a logical and informative manner. For readers to select your book, instead of a competing one on the same topic, will often require that you have identified yourself as an expert on your chosen subject. Think from your reader’s perspective. If you are looking for a book on an historical event, or information that will help you to enhance your subject knowledge or skills, what would you want the writer to know or be? In most instances, the answer is someone who has experience and a passion for the topic and who has put time into gaining knowledge and expertise that they can then share in a book.
  2. Plan your message. Give thought to what you want to say and how you want to organize your book content. By doing a competitive analysis of books on similar topics, you can get ideas on how other authors have handled their content. Putting together a working outline and assigning tentative topics can aid you in staying on task and including things you think are important as you write. You can always go back and add, delete and rearrange content after you capture your thoughts in writing. Some writers actually create their outline (e.g. chapter titles and key concepts for each) on sticky notes which they paste on a wall. After they get them posted, they step back and read through the notes, often reorganizing or repositioning key concepts in different chapters. This editing can continue as you write your book.
  3. Develop a readable style or voice. Depending on your topic, it is okay to use humor or share personal stories that make the content more readable and personal. Also, make sure that you consider the level of reader who will likely pick up your book. Use a mixture of longer and shorter sentences and consider the words that you choose to deliver your message in order to hold reader interest and increase comprehension. Also, once you determine your audience, you can check for readability by doing spell-check in Microsoft Word or other software that you are using to write your manuscript. At the end of the spelling check phase, a chart will pop up showing the level to which the material was written. This is called Flesch reading level. While there is conflicting opinion on use of such readability scales, it is not a bad thing to at least consider the ease at which your message can be read and understood.

For additional ideas on writing an effective nonfiction book, read my earlier blog posting.

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Selecting a Marketable Nonfiction Book Title

With almost 40,000 books a year published in the U.S., and the millions that have gone before, your book title is a crucial piece of your writing success. The title and subtitle that you select will serve to stop readers and encourage them to either open a link on a bookseller website or take the book off the shelf to explore further. Unfortunately, many authors who write how-to, self-help and educational books do not give adequate thought to selecting a marketable nonfiction book title.

The following are important points to consider related to selecting a book title that is going to grab the attention of potential readers and make it stand out among competing titles in the same genre.

Choose a Title that Is Concise. Short is better when it comes to selecting a marketable book title. Generally, successful titles are better when they do not exceed seven words. Pick a title that catches reader attention, informs, solves a problem, makes a promise or otherwise shows value. Consider past best-selling books on the New York Times Best Sellers list:

  • The Sleep Revolution
  • Shoe Dog
  • Boys Adrift
  • Race and the Conspiracy of Silence
  • 100 Questions & Answers for Women Living with Cancer

One thing to know about titles is that they cannot be copyrighted. With all the books in publication now and in the past, the chances are good that a title you like has been previously used. It is often subtitles that differentiate books and helps readers tell them part. Still, you probably should not use a title of a book that is already published because readers might become confused. Also, you would not benefit by promoting your title only to find that a bookseller is offering an alternate publication with the same name to customers. They might do so because the profit margin is higher on the competing book, they already have that one of those books in stock, they personally know the author, or for myriad other reasons. It is probably better not to waste time and money competing when you do not have to.

Even though words cannot be copyrighted, they can be trademarked. So, if the exact wording or phrase you plan to use as a title has been trademarked, you should avoid it due to potential legal issues that will likely arise. You would not want to pay to print a thousand books only to receive a cease and desist letter from a trademark owner who then wants all copies of the book recalled and destroyed and likely demand some sort of compensation as well. It is relatively easy to check trademarked names by doing a Google search and visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. If you are in doubt, it is best to consult a lawyer familiar with copyright and trademark laws related to publishing before using a title.

Add a Descriptive Subtitle. Create a phrase that appropriately lets readers know what the content is about and provides insights into the benefits or what they will gain by buying the book. Subtitles should enhance the reader’s knowledge of what to expect in the book. A well written one helps increase the potential that a potential buyer will select the book from a bookshelf and look at it.

Here are the subtitles for the best-selling books listed above.

When trying to decide on a subtitle, you may want to jot down a list of all the key benefits that readers will gain from the book and then categorize these. Select key words from each category and incorporate some of those into your subtitle.

For example, three of my books are a compilation of fun and creative ideas, strategies and techniques. Trainers, facilitators, presented and adult educators can use them to add pizzazz to their learning environments and actively engage learners. The ideas and techniques that I incorporated include the latest brain research related to how adults learn and assimilate information. Since there are literally thousands of ideas in each book, I organized the books into chapter categories and then we looked for key words to address the actions or benefits offered. Those categories were ultimately grouped together into a subtitle that focused on the total outcome of what they would help readers accomplish when applying concepts learned. The titles and subtitles that my publishers ended up selecting were:

Your title and subtitle are crucial element in the success of your book and you should give it careful consideration before choosing it. Like any other phase of the developmental process when creating your book, a simple way to help decide what works and does not is to prepare various versions of potential titles and subtitles. Send these out to as many friends, relatives and other writers as possible and ask them to pick their top three favorites. You might want to use the free services of SurveyMonkey to conduct your survey. Use the responses that you receive to narrow down options and help decide what your final book title and subtitle will be.

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New Resources for Authors and Self-Publishers

I learned a lot and got many ideas for book publishing, writing, and marketing self-published books at the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) conference. It was great getting to network with hundreds of other authors and self publishers and vendors who offer some useful services to help in the publishing process.

Two useful resources for authors and self-publishers that I found at the expo are http://hummingbirddm.com/ and www.bookgrabbr.com. Both have potential as revenue generation vehicles for authors ad publishers.

Hummingbird allows authors, self publishers, independent bookstores and others to increase revenue by selling their audiobooks and eBooks by using a branded storefront and app, and appearing in the company’s catalog. Unlike Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iBooks, with lower profit margins, this company suggests profits up to 23%. Sounds like it is worth checking out, so I have added this to my to-do list.

A second interesting company representative that I spoke with at the vendor exposition explained their revolutionary system for generating more contacts through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can accomplish that by offering free eBook chapter downloads through your social media accounts. You start by setting up an account and uploading your book file to Bookgrabbr. You then designate how much of the publication to share with readers. If someone on your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages grabs (accepts) your offer of a free download and then shares with his or her network, the offer spreads freely around the Internet. This seems to have more value that Facebook ads that I have been using because I can promote a book as an author for $25.00 per month.

What useful tools have your discovered recently to help in writing and publishing your books?

For more useful ideas related to book development and marketing, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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6 Nonfiction Book Writing Tips for Authors

Writing a nonfiction book differs from creating fiction books. Nonfiction authors are typically subject matter experts and spend a good deal of time researching to find or validate information that they plan to address in their books. On the other hand, fiction authors have more flexibility and have more latitude to use their imagination as they create dialogue, characters, settings and other pertinent aspects of their books. The following are six specific nonfiction writing tips or strategies to consider when you write your next non-fiction book.

Build Your Author Platform. Before you even decide to write your book, spend time identifying potential readers. One you have done so; spend time developing a known personal reputation. As a nonfiction writer, people will expect you to be a subject matter expert (SME) on your topic. They will buy more books if you are a known entity. Here are several ways to help build your author platform in advance:

  • Write articles and/or blog.
  • Develop a website.
  • Create an online social media presence (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).
  • Give presentations or deliver training programs to various groups.
  • Write white papers.
  • Conduct research and publish your findings.
  • Get customer testimonials.

Identify Your Subject Matter. If you are a subject matter expert who has  experience and knowledge, you likely have a lot of material and content already developed in articles, reports, blogs, training materials, or other materials that you have created. Capitalize on these, reword and organize the content for your book.

Research Your Topic. Before you start writing, spend time reading articles on your topic, visit websites that focus on your subject matter, and visit libraries and bookstores to identify competing books. Determine what is already in existence and decide how your content will differ and appeal to your readers. Taking this time up front to identify other content can assist in helping you decide the approach you will take with your writing and ensure that you write in an original voice. Just remember that if you decide to reference existing material written by someone else, copyright law requires that you follow legal guidelines and appropriately reference the owner of the material.

Create An Outline. To help organize your thoughts, spend some time drafting out potential chapter topics and a sentence or two about what might go into each. Use this as a guide to keep you focused as you move forward and remind you what you want to include. As an alternative to this approach, some authors will write chapter ideas or topic titles on sticky notes that they paste in order onto a dry erase board or wall, along with individual concepts or subtopics that they might include in each chapter. This allows them to adjust content insertion as they move forward with their first draft of the book. For example, they might discover as they get into the flow of writing that a specific sub-concept makes more sense in a different location or chapter. They simply move that sticky note to the new chapter heading area and then start writing. A nice aspect of this approach is that if you do not feel like addressing a specific topic one day when you sit down to write; you can simply skip is and move to another chapter topic that you have thoughts on or prefer.

Develop a Writing Schedule. Unless you are under a contract to write content for someone else (e.g. ghost writing or agreement with a publisher) you can usually create a writing schedule that matches your lifestyle and personal preferences. This is especially true if you plan to self-publish your masterpiece. Even so, it is wise to be consistent in planning time on a regular basis that you dedicate to writing. Otherwise, you may end up with an unfinished work sitting in your computer or on a desk for lengthy periods of time and in some case may never get it completed. While it is not necessary to write every day for hours on end, you should probably still plan a specific length time of day based on your personal circadian rhythm (your internal clock) so that you can maximize your periods of productivity.

Get Expert Help. At some point, once you have completed your manuscript and believe that you have checked it adequately for content, syntax, grammar and punctuation, call in experts to assist you. One big mistake that many authors make is to believe they are capable of doing it all themselves. Even if you have a degree in your primary language, seek out a professional editor to go through the document to make corrections and point out possible problem areas. This is a good investment and failure to heed this advice often leads to an unprofessional final product that readers may ultimately ignore or give negative feedback on.

Thanks for reading.

For additional book ideas for nonfiction authors and strategies on how to build an author platform, generate revenue and be more successful as a nonfiction writer, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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Independent Book Publishers Association Annual Conference 2016

With only four more days before the 2016 Independent Book Publishers Association Publishing University, you still have time to register if you are an independent publisher or an author wanting to learn more about the publishing industry. There is always great networking, educational sessions by industry experts, and a vendor exposition where publishers printers and other companies offering associated services display their products and provide information. The winners of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Book Awards are also honored at a formal banquet on Friday night.

This year’s event is in the heart of Salt Lake City, Utah, so if you’ve always wanted to visit the area, now is your opportunity. The conference hotel is close by many historic landmarks.

For more information about the event, check out IBPA Publishing University. To learn more about IBPA and the products and services it offers, go to the website for the Independent Book Publishers Association.

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Book Writing as a Profession

Book Writing as a ProfessionMost people have active thoughts daily about various processes, interests, passions, people, places, things and other facets of their life that would make interesting content for a book. What they often lack is the knowledge or skills necessary to turn their thoughts into words that could be included in a book. Gaining the expertise to fashion a readable document that appeals to potential readers takes time and an investment of effort on the writer’s part. Even so, the return on investment that comes from learning new skills, such as, grammar, punctuation, researching, and how to use of a word processor can be exhilarating and satisfying for any writer. Creating a book that will stimulate the writer mentally and potentially live on entertaining or educating readers for years to come can be very gratifying. It is an adrenaline rush seeing your book(s) on the shelf of a major book chain, in a library, or online on websites like Amazon.

Becoming an author can be a big help if your goal is to write books that will generate revenue or provide an entrée to other professional opportunities. If you craft a publication that becomes extremely popular with readers, the potential residual income stream can be unlimited. Think of authors like J.K Rowling (Harry Potter series), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul series), or classic writers like Ernest Hemingway. Their books generate revenue while residual products or items (e.g. amusement park settings, calendars, mugs, t-shirts or museums) make money for them or their estate for years. In the case of Hemingway, books and products based on his life, books, or quotes continue to sell after his death decades ago and his home is a living tribute museum to him.

An important point to remember about book writing is that it is not a get-rich-quick scheme. After you educate yourself about the book writing, publishing, and distribution processes, then hone your writing skills, you will ultimately be responsible for marketing your books. All of this takes initiative, energy, money and a true desire to achieve. You might be the best author alive, but if you do not put all the right pieces of the process into place and expend effort to get the word out about you book it could be short-lived.

There are many publications, such as, Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors, available that can provide information on creating an author platform, aid in developing a personal brand and help guide your marketing initiatives. An important step in your journey to be a successful author is to start out with a plan in mind before you begin writing. This includes factors such as, what the book will address, how it will differ from similar competing books, who might want to buy it and book marketing strategies.

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known, award-winning author of thirty-seven books and regularly speaks to writers and authors on the business of writing. For more information about Bob, his books, and services that he provides, please visit www.robertwlucas.com.

 

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4 Things To Know About the Best Nonfiction Books

4 Things To Know About the Best Nonfiction BooksThe best nonfiction books, and the ones that are memorable, are written with a goal in mind. Many authors dream of fame and glory when they write a nonfiction book. Others just have a message that they want to share with people. Whatever your reason for writing a nonfiction book, you might want to do what successful writers do…have a plan. Ideally, you should start developing a book marketing strategy before you even start working on your book. This gives you a template of sorts to stay on tasks.

To help improve your chances of success, you would be wise to ensure that the following factors exist before you even begin to put your words into a computer or on paper.

Have Personal Interest in the Topic. As a writer, passion for what you do is crucial. Too many people just go through life doing things they feel they have to do (e.g. a job) without having a burning desire to be successful and make a difference. As a nonfiction writer, such complacency will hinder any chances of success that you might have. If you are not truly passionate about your topic or subject matter, you will likely procrastinate when writing and producing your book. Later, you will probably postpone or ignore important marketing initiatives once the book is in print or in eBook format. All of this will undoubtedly lead to failure of the project.

Be An Expert on the Topic. Like anything else in life, those who succeed invest time and effort gaining knowledge and expertise in their chosen venture.  It is no different as an author. Good nonfiction books are written by authors who have a depth of subject knowledge and expertise in their topic. As a nonfiction writer, you will need to demonstrate how what you know and are capable of is superior to all the other writers on the topic. An important way to demonstrate expertise is to continually do things that will help build your author platform and expand your personal brand.

Offer Something of Value to Readers. You will have to show potential readers that what you have to say will be beneficial to them and either improve their lives or provide knowledge or resources that they can use to help them in some way. Your words and ideas must add value for them if you expect them to part with money to buy your book.

Identify Your Target Market.  One of the biggest mistakes that many non-fiction authors make is to fail to do a marketing analysis before they write. Take some time to visit libraries and peruse Amazon and other book sites for similar titles and topics. Also, check out the Internet for articles and blogs on related topic areas.  Look for similar books that have already been written. If you find a topic underserved with content, you may have some unique opportunities to fill a gap. If you are writing on a crowded topic with a lot of competition, your chances for success potentially decrease.

By studying what else is available, you can research what has already been said and the approach that others have taken. There is no need to repeat the same thing that others have already said. You need to have a unique approach to the topic. This is especially crucial if you are going to approach an agent or publisher with your manuscript. Two things they will ask you are, “What competition exists?” and “How does your product differ from what is already available?”

With a bit of preplanning and some thoughtful application of your knowledge, there is no reason that you cannot be successful in your writing efforts.

For more ideas on improving your success as a nonfiction author, take a look at other topic postings on this blog and check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

Posted in author platform, Book marketing, ideas for authors, Non-fiction writing, personal branding, Success tips for authors, Tips for Authors, writing a nonfiction book | Tagged , , | Comments Off on 4 Things To Know About the Best Nonfiction Books

2016 Book Fairs and Writers Conferences

2016 Book Fairs and Writers ConferencesIn my presentations to authors and publishers on how to capitalize on their books and generate revenue, one of the points that I stress relates to authors and publishers attending book fairs and author and writer conferences regularly. By getting and staying in front of people and networking, any author improves his or her chances of making valuable contacts, identifying useful resources and selling more books.

The following is a list of some potential events that you might want to consider in order to learn more about the book writing and publishing trade and get more exposure:

Attending professional events is just one way to build your author platform and promote your books. For more ideas and strategies on how to better position yourself and books to generate primary and residual revenue streams, check out Make Money Writing Books: Proven Profit Making Strategies for Authors.

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