Tag Archives: promotion

Internet Etiquette for Indie Writers

I know what you’re thinking. Internet etiquette? It’s the internet, there is no etiquette.

But see, you would be wrong.

So wrong.

Because everything you post online, every snide comment, scathing retort, and misquided or misunderstood witticism, is there for all the world to see and it stays there until you delete it. And even then there are ways to get it back, or so I’m told.

This means that past, present and future friends, colleagues, partners and employers can all see how you interact with people, and what kind of person lurks behind that cool exterior. Oh, and you can add the government to that list. Not just yours, but more than likely several, and even your great aunty Zelda. You didn’t think she used Facebook? Best think again. Even regular Joe’s who you don’t notice lurking online and don’t give much of a shit about anyway can pose a threat.

The DO’s are quite simple: DO use the Internet however you see fit, DO surf to your heart’s content, DO find some of its hidden corners, DO look up those old friends and flames, and DO find new ones. In short, have a blast. Just be aware of a few DON’T’s.

By the way, this (non-exhaustive) list is aimed primarily at indie writers and other internet marketers, but with a little improvisation, can be applied to just about anyone’s daily life. It is designed to help, not hinder.

DON’T post book links, or any promotional material, direct to people’s Facebook wall.

DON’T send book links, or any other promotional material, in the form of direct messages. This topic is particularly prickly amongst the Twitteratti. They fucking hate it.

DON’T tag people in political posts or rants about Lady Gaga, football, the environment, the refugee crisis, veganism, or anything else that could be construed as even vaguely divisive or controversial. The post likely reflects YOUR opinion, not that of the people you are tagging, and by tagging them you are associating them with your views against their will.

DON’T add people to groups without their permission, even if you think you’re doing them a favour. Just don’t.

When commenting on other people’s threads, DON’T see that as an opportunity to drop your book link. That, my friend, is spam, and it tastes like shit.

Similarly, when people ask for book recommendations, DON’T recommend your own book. Show some humility, you pretentious asshole.

Listen, I get that some people just aren’t very savvy. They might mean well, and just don’t know what they are doing is annoying the shit out of people. But the vast majority of social network users know exactly what they are doing. They know they are taking liberties and being annoying. They just don’t care. That’s just disrespectful.

Do yourself a favour, follow these unwritten rules, and make social networking less painful and awkward for the people who know you.

This post was first published on the Deviant Dolls  website.

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2018 in Review

2018 was a busy writing year, though I feel I didn’t really achieve much. Isn’t that always the way?

In the first quarter, I focused on writing some short stories and flash fiction, thrashing out over a dozen pieces ranging from an apocalyptic 100-word drabble to an 8000-word zombie splatterfest. Then I turned my attention to my Joshua Strange series of YA adventure books and wrote a third installment. That took all summer. I also went back and edited the first two books. I’m happy with the series so far, but still trying to find the right agent to rep them. I’ll be taking a step back from that project and waiting to see how things develop.

I released two books in 2018 – X3, the latest installment in my on-going series of short fiction collections, and a revised version of a novella called Dead of Night, which was first put out by Damnation Books in 2010. As both books were pretty much already written, they weren’t very time-consuming. I just had to polish them a little, format them, and commission some cover art. I also had short fiction published in Crimson Streets, Indie Writer’s Review, TwentyTwoTwentyEight, Deadman’s Tome and The Horror Tree, as well as the anthologies 100 Word Horrors, Digital Horror Fiction, and Terrors Unimagined. Perhaps best of all, from my perspective anyway, on the back of a Bookbub promotion I managed to scrape into the Top 40 of Amazon’s list of horror writers for the first time.

Finally, bringing you right up to date, I just finished my latest novella, Tethered, which explores the phenomena of Internet rituals. More news on that coming soon. Until then, I just want to express a heartfelt THANK YOU for all your support. I truly appreciate every like, comment, share and insult. If you’ve ever read any of my books, please think about leaving a short review on Amazon or Goodreads. It would really mean a lot.

Have a great 2019.

dead-of-night-reissue


The Bookbub Experience

People have reported mixed experiences with the book marketing company Bookbub. There are both success stories and horror stories. For what it’s worth, I’m going to share mine.

First, a bit of background. Bookbub is a service which provides readers with free or heavily discounted books. Writers pay to have their books included in ‘Featured Deal’ email blastings which can reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers. The details vary, depending on the genre and package you select (which again varies according to your selected territories and size of discount you are offering).

Lots of other book promotion companies use a similar model, but with Bookbub being the biggest, it represents the best results. It’s also the most expensive. But most writers look at the fees as a necessary expense. You have to spend money to make money, right?|

To even qualify for a Featured Deal, your book also has to fulfill certain criteria like have a set number of reviews and a professionally-produced cover. It also has to undergo a quality check. It isn’t easy to be accepted. My book Sker House was rejected several times before finally being selected a few months ago. Upon acceptance, I chose my package, paid the exorbitant fee, and waited anxiously to see what would happen.

At first, things didn’t go to plan. It was entirely my fault. Long story short, when I dropped the price of Sker House to qualify for the Featured Deal I misjudged the currency conversion rates in the US, Canada and Australia, which resulted in the book not being the price I said it would be on the dates I said it would. Bookbub rightly pulled my promotion for not adhering to the rules. To their credit, they were great about it, and after I emailed them to explain my mistake and did a bit of begging, they reluctantly agreed to reschedule my promotion at no extra cost.

Phew.

As an indie writer with a dozen or so books out there, unless I do some kind of promotional activity, I consider myself lucky to sell a handful of books a day. I am under no illusions. I know a lot of writers sell more than me. Some sell less. You can imagine my surprise when I got up the morning my Featured Deal went out to Bookbub’s subscribers, checked my KDP account, and found Sker House had sold close to a hundred copies in just a few hours. Every time I hit ‘refresh’ it showed more sales. At its peak, I was probably selling around a book a minute. Sker House has done reasonably well since it came out. I did a successful blog tour to help it along, and it picked up some decent reviews. But nothing I’d done previously came close to this.

I logged into Author Central and checked my author ranking to find I was suddenly sitting pretty at number 71 in the ‘Most Popular Horror Writers’ category. By some strange twist of fate, I was also number 72, because Amazon evidently thought C.M. Saunders and Christian Saunders were two different people.

Screenshot_20180526-203808

The sales kept coming, and my alter-ego and I kept climbing the charts. Later that evening, a couple of hundred sales later, I peaked at numbers 37 and 38. I might have gone even higher. I like to think I took the Number one slot from some befuddled old bloke called Stephen King at some point whilst I slept.

Of course, it couldn’t last.

After the initial sales flurry subsided, Sker House continued selling in double digits for a few days afterwards. By then, it had gone back up to full price, so I received a higher royalty percentage. By my calculations, taking into account the reduced promotion price and the associated royalty percentage in each territory, I needed to shift around 800 downloads to cover my costs.

That’s a lot of books.

I didn’t really expect to sell that many, and I didn’t. At the final reckoning I got close, maxing out at just over 600, but there were other benefits. On average, my daily sales remain higher than they were before. Over the promotion period I also sold more copies of my other books than I usually do, which I didn’t factor in, and my KU ‘pages read’ went through the roof. I usually get several hundred a day, but since the promotion that has increased to several thousand and has remained consistent ever since. One day, I had over 7,000, probably my highest ever. Over a month later, and those numbers are still holding. I’m optimistic that all these sales and reads will translate into a couple of new reviews in the not too distant future. Also, my blog hits increased exponentially, more people have followed me on Twitter and my Facebook author page, and then there was the small matter of cracking Amazon’s Most Popular Horror Writer list for the first time. I feel like I’ve finally reached then next level.

So the all-important question everyone wants to know, did I make a shit load of money?

No. All things considered, I’ll probably just break even. But I certainly don’t regret doing it. Between the hundreds of sales, the extra exposure, and the thrill of it all, it was a worthy investment.

Long live Bookbub.

sker house cm saunders cover 1

 


Sker House and the Angry Reader

So I managed to upset a couple of people last month when I ran a free promo on my novel Sker House. How can giving something away piss people off? Because in the run-up to the free promo, Sker House experienced some weird inexplicable sales spike. It happens. Not nearly often as I would like, but it happens. And the book sold a few copies at full price, $4.99/£3.99.

Then, the free promo kicked in.

Quite rightly, a few people (okay, one person) contacted me through Facebook and voiced their displeasure because they’d paid for something that was then made free days later. It’s probably fair to assume that if this one person felt cheated, others probably did too. I would. So maybe I should explain a couple of things.

Why do writers run free promos? Why do we work tirelessly for six months or more, then pay for artists to design our covers and editors to make us sound good, only to give the result away for free?

Because we are dumb, that’s why.

Not really. The simple truth is, we do it for exposure. Amazon uses magic algorithms to determine your book’s ranking. The higher your ranking, the more love  Amazon will give your book, in the form of recommending it to potential readers and what-not. Of course, writers also want to attract new readers, in the hope that they’ll like our work and perhaps buy another of our books at some point. We hope this works by the same principal as a drug dealer giving away the first hit for free. It doesn’t work like that at all, but that’s what we hope.

And then there are the reviews. Indie writers like me can never get enough reviews. The good, the bad, and the indifferent. We love them all. Reviews sell books. Most of us would beg, steal, kill or maim for an honest review.

The Sker House free promo was probably the most successful promotion I’ve ever done. In four days it was downloaded a total of 1,012 times. It peaked at #14 in Amazon’s Top 100 free horror books, and #3 in it’s sub-category (occult). Judging by the habits certain other indie writers display, I’m pretty sure that practically qualifies it as an ‘Amazon bestseller.’ So in that respect, even though I gave away about four grand’s worth of free books, the promo was a resounding success. Yeah, I know the majority of people won’t read it. It’ll sit on their Kindle, phone, or computer unopened for all eternity with all the other free books they’ve collected. But if only 1% of the people who downloaded Sker House read it then left a review on Amazon, the exercise would be more than worth it.

Be special. Be the 1%!

Weirdly, immediately after the promotion ended, Sker House enjoyed another unprecedented spike and sold more copies in three days than it had at any time since it’s release. This is another benefit of running free promos. Your book stays ‘visible’ for a while before sinking without trace again. We’re not talking thousands of sales here, or even hundreds. The harsh truth is that for most indie writers, to sell double figures of one title in one day is considered an achievement. To do it two or three days running represents the height of success.

Anyway, back to Angry Reader, I explained the situation to her and I think I made amends. Now I feel bad for everyone else who might think I pulled a fast one on them and I want to make it right. So if you also bought Sker House at full price between August 1st and August 25th 2016, send me proof of purchase, and I’ll let you choose any of my other indie titles for free. How’s that? Are we good?

Good.


Football Manager 15

Football-Manager-2015

I’ve been playing Football Manager on Windows for about 12 years. Not constantly, obviously. I take breaks for sleeping, eating, and maintaining a career. My obsession might go some way to explaining why I have spent the majority of those 12 years as a single man. Although I’m never really alone, because I have my team. I’m not the only one who thinks like this. Rumour has it that no other game has been named more during divorce proceedings. Every year I eagerly await the new version of the game, and it absolutely kills me that it doesn’t come out until November. It’s been OK the past few seasons because I’ve been able to get my hands on beta versions, which means I can start playing a few weeks early. Bugs and all.

Probably the most important thing you have to do in FM15 is expand your scouting network. Doing so means more players show up in your searches. Whatever club you choose, my advice is to get hold of the scouts Patrik Anderson and Ronnie Rosenthal. Both are available on low wages, will go almost anywhere, and bring a wealth of international knowledge.

When I first started this year’s version I played two games in the Championship with Cardiff City, and got sacked both times. Once during the January transfer window when I was mid-table, and again after seven games of my second season after I had failed to win promotion. Vincent Tan is one intolerant bastard. After that, I decided I needed a different challenge and started a game with Bristol Rovers of the Vanarama Conference, logic being that having just been relegated from the Football League they should have a decent enough squad for the division. Plus, I’ve always liked pirates.

It’s an entirely different game over at the Memorial Stadium. The bookies make you 1-10 outsiders to win the league, but you have a core of decent players. Neil Trotman and Tom Parkes make a good centre-back pairing, and in Jamie White and Ryan Brunt you have two solid forwards (even though Brunt hasn’t scored in real life for about two years). Left wing is also in good shape, with arguably your two best players, Angelo Balanta and Andy Monkhouse, vying for game time. Unfortunately, that’s about it.

The club are properly skint. But you do start the game with about £70,000 in the bank, which you are better off converting to wages so you can offer prospective signings better deals. Upon arrival, I cancelled the pointless loan signing in midfield and sold Mark McChrystal and young goalkeeper Kieran Preston. He’s a good prospect, but I thought I might be better off cashing in. An SPL club will pay in the region of £130,000 for him, and I inserted a substantial sell-on clause. I factored that money into my wage budget, too, and offered some existing players new contracts on reduced terms. I find giving them impossible bonus incentives is a good strategy, like telling a centre-back you will give him £12,000 for hitting 20 league goals, or a £1,000 bonus for every cap he wins for his country, knowing he is about as likely to win international honours as I am.

Then it was time to go shopping. By that, I mean, it was time to go rooting through the free transfers. A problem area is centre-midfield, which I addressed by snapping up ex-Man Utd prodigy Jack Rudge. He’s only 19, but has great potential, and is worth his place in the team just for his corners and free kicks. Other options are Damien Mozika and Tim Jakobsson. A decent right-sided midfielder is also required, Johnny Gorman can do a job out there. In defence I brought in Slovakian U21 right-back Kristian Kostrna and utility defender Daniel Boateng. Kostrna went straight into the first team, being a dramatic upgrade on Daniel Leadbitter, and though I originally got Boateng for cover because he can play in a few positions, he soon forced his way into the team. 28-year old Spaniard Manuel Ruz is a fantastic option at full-back and would easily be one of the best in the division. The thing is, he isn’t cheap. If you sign him it will fuck up your wage budget.

The U21 team also needs some love. I replaced Preston with Alex Gott, another young Scot who has even better attributes, and brought in Emmanuel Monthe (LB), Billy Simpson (CB/DM), and Heath Harrison (CM). You can pick up all four for a combined £500 a week or so. The object here is not to find players for the first team, but talented youngsters who can fill a gap in an emergency, with the ultimate aim of improving them and selling them on at a profit.

This being the lower divisions where the onus is more on kick and rush rather than technical ability. I started with an attacking 4-4-2 formation with a defensive forward playing off a more advanced attacker, two wide midfielders (one in attacking mode and the other supporting) and a ball-winning midfielder. After some experimentation, when I had the luxury of choosing from a full-fit squad, I settled on this first XI:

Steve Mildenhall (GK)
Lee Brown (LB)
Tom Parkes (CB)
Daniel Boateng (CB)
Kristian Kostrna (RB)
Andy Monkhouse (LM)
Ollie Clarke (CM)
Jack Rudge (CM)
Johnny Gorman (RM)
Jamie White (ST)
Ryan Brunt (ST)

Bench: Puddy (GK), Trotman (CB), Lockyer (CB/RB/CM), Balanta (LM), Taylor (ST)

So how did it go? Pretty fucking well, to be honest!

By Christmas I was top of the table, with White banging in something like 22 goals in 25 games. Brunt also got into double figures before getting injured. Boateng, Kostrna, Rudge and Gorman all established themselves in the first team , and by that stage were worth a cool £500,000 between them.

However, my squad needed to be slimmed down a little, so in the January transfer window, out went Leadbitter, Lee Mansell and Jake Gosling, all on free transfers to get them off the wage bill. I also tried to get shot of Stuart Sinclair and Ollie Clarke, but I wanted fees for those and nobody was interested. In came forward/right-winger Alex Nicholls and defensive midfielder Gary Deegan. Both the optimum age of 27 and with experience of having played in higher divisions,

In the second half of the season I won the FA Tropy, beating Southport at Wembley, and finished second in the league behind Gateshead (who?). I had led for long stretches before falling away, but was secretly glad to qualify for the play-offs as even that exceeded all expectations. There, my team beat Woking 3-1 on aggregate in the semis, and Kidderminster 4-2 in the final. Promotion and a return to league football was the prize. At the end of the season, White was the highest scorer not just in the league but possibly in the known universe with 45 goals from 55 total games and Rudge topped the assist chart with 17. Brunt and Monkhouse also did well. All things considered, it was a successful season. Though I was a bit peeved at not winning the Manager of the Year award. What does a man have to do?


The 2014 Out of Time Blog Tour

In the third quarter of 2014, to support my new release Out of Time, I went on my first blog tour. This is when you do interviews or write posts for several different blogs and/or websites and schedule them so it runs like a virtual ‘tour’ to gain maximum exposure across a number of platforms. If done correctly, it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby the owner of the website or blog gets some free content, while the writer gets some free publicity. It’s much more cost-effective than heading out on the road and meeting folk the old-fashioned way!

I’m not going to lie, it was extremely hard work, but I met some great people, discovered some new places on the net to hang out, and sold a few units, so all-in-all it was a worthwhile exercise.

Thanks to everyone who asked me probing questions, edited my long, rambling answers, let me post crap in their lovingly-crafted domain, or otherwise humoured me.

Here is a quick summary:

The Books of Blood:

http://thebooksofblood.com/2014/09/21/author-interview-c-m-saunders/

The Horror Tree

http://horrortree.com/author-interview-christian-saunders/

Kev’s Blog:

http://kevs-domain.net/2014/09/19/presenting-c-m-saunders-assuming-i-have-enough-time/

Rainstorm Press:

http://www.rainstormpress.com/blog/-the-h-word-by-chris-saunders

Wag the Fox: Gef Fox’s Den for Dark Fiction:

http://waggingthefox.blogspot.ca/2014/09/yore-out-of-touch-im-out-of-time.html

Stuart Conover:

http://www.stuartconover.com/2014/10/22/author-interview-christian-saunders/
DeadPixel Publications:

http://www.deadpixelpublications.com/blog/how-to-survive-a-zombie-apocalypse

Morpheus Tales:

Out of Time is out now:

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Time-C-M-Saunders-ebook/dp/B00NJZ8MZ8


Cardiff City’s Summer Spending Spree

So, after endless play-off heartache, Cardiff City have finally made it to the Premier League. It was obvious to all that certain areas of the team would need strengthening if they weren’t to be relegated by Christmas, and with last season’s top scorer Heider Helguson and midfield stalwart Stephen McPhail both being released, gaps needed to be plugged. A transfer kitty in excess of £25 million was promised by big-spending owner Vincent Tan, so all eyes turned to Malky Mackay to see how he would spend it. Over the next couple of months, the existing transfer record for fees paid was broken on three separate occasions.

The first capture, 6’ 4” striker Andreas Cornelius, arrived in a £7.5 million deal from FC Copenhagen in late June and instantly handed the number nine shirt. He was top scorer in the Danish Superliga last season, with 18 goals from 32 appearances, and has also played seven times for Denmark. No doubt he comes highly rated, but personally I have my doubts and fear another Etien Velikonja scenario. The Slovenian international cost us £1.5 million last summer and played only three times, not making much of an impression in any of them despite scoring goals for fun in the development squad. A closer look at his overall record may go some way to explaining this. For Gorica and Maribor he played a combined total of 152 times, scoring 52 goals. Not that remarkable, especially in one of the weaker leagues in Europe. His scoring record was boosted by a record of 14 goals in 17 cup games, where the opposition was generally very much inferior. In short, Velikonja flattered to deceive. If he can’t cement a place in the Championship, he has no chance in the Premier League.

The problem with Cornelius is, as talented as he may be, at just 20 he is very young and untested. Just like Velikonja was when he arrived. Personally, I would have preferred to have signed a more experienced man for that role, to compete with Nicky Maynard and Fraizer Campbell. England internationals Marcus Bent and Carlton Cole were both available, and for considerably lower fees (Cole on a free!). It is likely, however, that they would have commanded higher wages. Not that paying sky-high wages seems to phase Malky or the current owners too much. It is rumored that City are in the market for yet another striker, to add to the considerable options already at the club. If we continue playing one up front, which seems likely, that would probably be an unnecessary expense. Even with injury concerns over Maynard and Campbell and doubts over the ability of Velikonja, Rudy Gestede, Joe Mason, Tommy Smith, and Craig Bellamy are also vying for places, with Rhys Healey banging on the door.

Less fanfare surrounded the arrivals of Goalkeeper Simon Moore and fullback John Brayford, who were brought in from Brentford and Derby County respectively. Third in the pecking order behind established number one David Marshall and his back-up Joe Lewis, it is unlikely Moore will make much of an impression this season, but at just 23, he has time on his side. More is expected from Brayford, generally regarded as one of the best defenders outside the Premier League. At £1.5 million he could prove to be one of the bargains of the season, and is sure to challenge Kevin McNaughton for the right-back slot, leaving Mathew Connolly to push for one of his favoured centre-back positions.

Malky broke the transfer record for the second time in July with the £8.5 million capture of centre-back Steven Caulker from Tottenham. This transfer raised some eyebrows, with the 21-year old being widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the Premier League. He already had two seasons of top-level experience behind him, one on loan at Swansea where he won rave reviews. He had also been a shoe-in in the 2012 Great Britain Olympic team and scored on his full England debut against Sweden. It is believed he agreed to move to Cardiff in order to play more games, instead of being a bit-part player at Spurs, and should go a long way toward shoring up the defence and giving it a more mobile and dynamic look. His centre-back partner is likely to be either Ben Turner or club captain Mark Hudson, neither of whom are exactly blessed with pace to burn.

Then followed the most eye-opening transfer to date, is the £11 million transfer of Chile international Gary ‘El Pitbul’ Medel from Sevilla. The combative defensive midfielder comes with a little baggage, having been sent off seven times in 90 games for Sevilla, but the 26-year old’s pedigree is undoubted. He has been a mainstay of the national team since 2007, racking up over 50 appearances, and is generally regarded as one of the country’s best players. Whenever a new signing is made, a good gauge of their true ability is the reaction of the fans at their old club. In this case, the consensus is that Sevilla should have kept El Pitbul. They didn’t want to lose him, which is encouraging. He looks set to battle Aron ‘Iceman’ Gunnarsson for the holding role in midfield. And what a battle it should be!

El Pitbul didn’t appear to have been one of Malky’s top targets. Negotiations only began after talks with Victor Wanyama and Etienne Capoue fell through, and were eventually finalized while he played for his old club against Manchester United. A game the Spaniards won 3-1, by the way. Let’s hope that’s some kind of omen. The only concern is that, as with Cornelius, it might take El Pitbul some time to adjust to the Premiership, and to learn English. A safer bet may have been ex Cardiff loan star Gary O’Neil, who signed for QPR after being released by West Ham. Or even Scott Parker, who seems to be in the process of being edged out at Spurs. With their Premier League experience, either one would have been a great addition to the squad.

A few more eyebrows were raised with the capture of 20-year old defender Maximiliano Amondarain from Uruguayan team National for an undisclosed fee following a successful trial. Mainly because nobody has ever heard of him. No comment. Less of a gamble was the £2.1 million arrival of lavishly named 23-year old full-back Kevin Theophile-Catherine. This is a player Mackay, and others, had been tracking for some time and comes with no little experience, having played over 80 games for French League 1 side Rennes as well as representing France at U20 and U21 levels.

The drama continued. On transfer deadline day City paid West Brom £2.5 million for their Nigerian forward Peter Odemwingie, snatching him on a three-year deal from under the noses of Swansea. This one really divided the supporters. At 32, and with over 50 caps for Nigeria, Odemwingie has both experience and ability in spades, but has been frozen out at West Brom because of infamously trying to force through a transfer to QPR in January. I think it’s fair to say that he comes with a fair bit of baggage, but on the plus side he arrives at the CCS with a point to prove.

If we shed a little dead weight (Simon Lappin, Filip Kiss, or Etien Velikonja, anyone? Going cheap!) the squad looks in decent shape. Maybe we could also afford to lose either Tommy Smith, Craig Noone or Craig Conway and add a quality winger in their place. I think that was the reasoning behind City’s failed approach for Thomas Ince over the summer, though Odemwingie could conceivably fill that role. With Mackay sticking to a 4-5-1 formation so far this season and a clutch of strikers already at the club, it could be the only place for him in the team. Personally, I would have preferred someone else, but still, mustn’t be greedy. This team looks much better equipped to survive in the top flight than some.

Croeso y Cymru, boyos!

My new book, From the Ashes – The REAL Story of Cardiff City FC, is out now on Gwasg Carreg Gwalch.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1845242130

This blog was originally published by the Huffington Post UK:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/chris-saunders/cardiff-citys-summer-spen_b_3857067.html


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