By Nicholas Grabowsky
I’ve been in web development since around 2001, when I figured out how to design my own website back then with Earthlink tools and Microsoft Frontpage HTML software. Then I found Myhosting.com as a good place to host Downwarden.com, which was my personal website domain.
When I became a book publisher I at first wanted my publishing half separate from my own online stuff, so for a year or so Black Bed Sheet Books was at a place called Goshopper.net, which kind of worked on a simplistic level but there was no living entity behind it and I imagine there’s an abandoned supercomputer server in an Arizona
desert somewhere running the damn thing ‘til Kingdom Come. I mean, there has never been anyone there, you were all on your own with that thing.
So I decided to bring everything over to Downwarden.com, my domain with Myhosting.com as its host/server.
I dove into Zen Cart very heavily once I decided they were the way to go, so over the years that became our online store, which separated into two parts: one for print books and one for digital books. Then I turned to Joomla as a sort of main site page that led you to the print and digital stores, and then I built a community message board with PhpBB, and over all that time I learned php and html and all sorts of everything, albeit in a layman’s way. I’ve never been a developer for anyone else, it’s all been out of necessity to have the best web presence I can for both my own books and the books of the authors I publish. I’m a do-it-yourselfer for sure, and my budget hasn’t really had room to hire web developers. Normally.
But this year, 2018, marks the tenth anniversary of Black Bed Sheet Books, and just before the year began, I had to sit myself down and seriously evaluate how I should move this huge monster of an independent horror press forward. We have a big reputation to live up to and made a true impact on the industry over the years. No time to toot horns here, you can look us up online. But….heck, as much as our presence at Downwarden.com has been a labor of love, I just couldn’t see a good future ahead for BBS if our own website stagnated in 2008 technology with a few feeble upgrades.
I decided to totally reinvent it, take it to its own separate server, and spare no expense to create a modern, all-device-responsive, much simpler site that blended our print store, digital store, community, children’s line, and main site all into one. After a lot of research around the beginning of the year, I decided I really REALLY wanted to use the Magento ecommerce website application, and my web hoster Myhosting.com had that application built into my website option on my control panel there. So I bought a new domain, blackbedsheetbooks.com, and hit up Myhosting.com to help me get this puppy done…….
Magento is Created by Satan to Confuse Mankind into
Yes, I suppose it’s true. Allow me to explain….
When I had a problem installing Magento to Myhosting.com, they told me I needed to upgrade for a couple hundred bucks a year. I did, and I still couldn’t get Magento to work. I couldn’t get anyone at Myhosting.com to help me with a solution, they just kept wanting money and for me to pay developers to help, and it became so useless that I transferred blackbedsheetbooks.com to 1and1 Hosting.com and signed with them for a year for a few hundred bucks, and started developing my Magento website there instead. I hired a few developers to save time, found an excellent site theme, and things looked like they were going well until the site became disfunctional and no matter what anyone did, nobody knew how to repair it and I already spent several hundred dollars on this.
But then, heck, I came across A2 Hosting as an alternative, and what pulled me in was that they specialized in Magento hosting! They were, like, rated number one! So I made the decision to abandon 1and1 Hosting and write off all the expense there, and signed up with A2.
I took a few weeks while waiting for the domains to transfer focusing on my own Downwarden.com itself, and utilized and learned Mobirise at redesigning my personal website there. Considering everything said and what I’m about to say, taking three weeks learning a new website builder program and completing it all in that period of time…..Mobirise is a work of awesome. It’s just a shame it’s not yet built for a fully functional online store.
It looked like Black Bed Sheet Books was going to have a pretty incredible new site and location by the end of June until the same problems started happening as they did at 1and1: the need to hire developers due to rushed time and the fact I couldn’t wrap my head around all the plugins and functionality myself, and when there came a brick wall each developer (who I hired separately to solve problems in their specialties) started blaming the other and wanting more money that just before July approached I was going out of my blooming head.
Now comes the point while writing this that I want to say nothing but f*ck words a thousand billion times. That’s right. I said f*ck and a thousand billion times. You would too, no matter how Presbyterian you are. I mean, all this effort and expense since the end of last year, with my family business hanging in the balance and stagnating with authors not knowing what the hell is going on, and here I am at my end with a family struggling with enough Alzheimer’s problems for me to write a horror novel over, and with our tenth anniversary coming up for what’s supposed to be a grand Halloween event!
By July 4th I had no idea what to say to my authors, I was going out of my mind, but I already decided on an alternate solution, and it really helped that for the first time in several years, my parents actually stepped outside to see our fireworks (they normally don’t go outside at night).
One thing I decided by then, is that my problem the whole year so far was that I was stuck on Magento, and that Magento was created by Satan to confuse Mankind into total destruction and that it involved an endless stream of developers to constantly throw money at and unless you’re a big corporation with lots of money you’re screwed, because that’s how their developers make a living……by always resolving new Magento problems that never…..get…..resolved.
I say that tongue-in-cheek, I think. But speaking of cheeks….
Hamsters Say Woo
A handful of years ago, I was driving my car with my fiancé Francy in the passenger seat and I turned to her in a very Andy Kaufman kind of way and said “Cats say meow. Pigs say oink. Cows say moo. Hamsters say woo. And since then because we like hamsters, we say “woo” to each other and to everything else all the time. At the end of last year before I got hooked on Magento, I came across Woocommerce, but since it was associated with WordPress, and I already had a blog with them, I didn’t realize they had a fully functioning ecommerce thingy going on that not only rivaled Magento but surpassed it to the extent that it did everything I wanted it to do, but then some. By the end of July when I had enough of everything, I revisited Woo and slapped myself in the head just like in the old “I could’ve had a V-8” commercials.
Of course, Woo. Of freakin’ course. I just didn’t know before.
Woo was like a breath of fresh air, and I knew I had a lot of work to do, what with starting all the funk over again from square one. That’s another thing was that I couldn’t just make an announcement with that kind of news, so I set out with Woo and invested in all the plugins and worked the whole thing out all summer long without a real break. From week to week I kept telling myself, “If I can only finish the authors pages, I can let everyone know what I’m doing and they can all go and check it out.” And then I’d be finished with the authors pages and tell myself, “The authors need to see more. If only I can wait until I finish the product pages, then I’ll make a big announcement.” One week fell into the other, but at the tail end of it all, with endless determination, I finally have a brand new website at a new secure domain and it functions like a dream, enough to carry my business and my authors well into the future.
You can view it and join our thousands of readers, our authors, artists, associates, and the whole bag of chips at https://www.blackbedsheetbooks.com .
And our tenth anniversary shindig here at Black Bed Sheet Studios for Halloween 2018 is going to be legendary!
BTW: Hamsters say Woo.