Category: Writing / Authors

How to Create an Audiobook

Sell your audio book on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.

One way to do this is through ACX, and this is the vehicle I am using to create an audio version of Serpents Underfoot, which will be released at the end of this month.

audiobooks

ACX makes this easy to do and puts you in charge.

audiobooks


Here is an outline of the first 6 steps of the 10 step process for authors on ACX

Step 1: Confirm

Confirm you own thee audio rights for your book by checking your print book contract. If you own the audio rights, then for purposes of ACX, you are the legal Rights Holder.

Step 2: Create your Profile

Create your Title Profile by describing your book and the type of narrator best suited for it. You’ll then post a 1-2 page excerpt from your book to serve as the Audition Script for any potential narrators.

Step 3: Find your ideal producer

Listen to the auditions you receive. You can also listen to sample narrations and invite a handful of producers to audition for your book.

I took three scenes from different sections of my book totaling about 2 1/2 pages and uploaded it. I received 10 or 12 auditions from narrators to read Serpents Underfoot.

A few did not even read my sample, instead sending me links to other books they had read. I discarded them immediately. I wanted to hear my work being read in their voice.

A couple of others sent lists of their accomplishments and highlighted their experience, but again, I wanted to hear my work being read, so I discarded them as well.

Step 4: Review Auditions

This left about 6 or 7 who actually read my sample, and I carefully listened to the auditions they provided. It was a tough decision because several were really darn good.

Step 5: Make a Deal

Finally, I settled on Doug Greene. I checked and Doug had done about a dozen previous projects in various genres.

Doug had the voice “authoritative or military” sounding voice I was looking and really seemed to enjoy reading the sample I had provided.

We came to an agreement on schedule, payment, etc.

Doug is doing a great job and I am very pleased with his work.

Step 6: Get Started

Doug recorded and upload the a 15 minute test read of the audiobook, which I listened to and approved, providing my feedback. Of course, when your sample is approved, the producer will record the full project.

How you complete the project is decided by you. Doug is uploading each chapter as he completes it. This was actually Doug’s suggestion. This way, I can listen to each completed chapter to see if any edits are needed.

So far, there has been very little editing that needed to be done. And, I must say it is pretty exciting to see (and hear) this project unfolding.

I like this method, especially since this was my first time doing doing an audiobook.

You could certainly also just have the producer complete the entire audiobook, and review it all at once.

The Remaining Steps Will Soon Follow!

The remaining 4 steps are

Step 7: Approve the Final Product

Step 8: Distribute

Step 9: Promote

Step 10: Earn Royalties

I will follow up with an additional post outlining these last 4 steps once I have completed them.

For now, I will just say that ACX makes this process easy and while there is certainly an investment in both time and money, it looks like the process should allow for a good ROI if you have a good product and stick to the program. We shall see shortly!

Serpents Underfoot is currently out in Kindle, paperback and hardcover. I am excited to announce that it will, very soon, be available as an audiobook through iTunes, Audible, and Amazon as well!

Click here for other interesting blog posts!

Egad! Deer Flies in North Carolina?

Let me just say up front, I hate Deer Flies!

If you’ve read my collection of short stories called Adirondack Bear Tales, you probably know I grew spending my summers at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. I made my first camping trip at all of 6-mos-old. I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, my mother made my first sleeping bag out of an old flannel blanket and a paper bag.

Summers at Raquette Lake were filled non-stop adventures that many boys only dream about. Fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, swimming, exploring, and even getting lost in those deep North Woods.

However, there are just one or two things that could be a bit of a pain when spending time in the Adirondacks. One of those is Deer Flies!

You can avoid the worst of the black flies and mosquitoes by waiting until mid-summer or early fall before venturing into the area. By then, the black flies are about gone and the mosquito population has been reduced to a tolerable level. However, deer flies are quite another story.

As you walked up and down the sandy dirt roads of Burketown, the deer flies would circle your head incessantly, looking for an opportunity to swoop in and nail you. The only positive was that, since they did continuously circle you, you could often snatch them out of the air and squish them … which always gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Of course, wearing a hat helped. But I have always really hated wearing hats and only do so now when there is really no choice.

deer flies

Meet the Deer Fly!

A deer fly looks like a cross between a horsefly and a yellow-jacket. While their bites do hurt, fortunately they are nothing like a yellow jacket sting. Note the swept back delta-type wing. I always thought with a wing like that, they should be able to fly so much faster. Of course, that would make them harder to snatch out of the air and squish.

So, what prompted this post on the deer fly you might ask (or you might not, but I will tell you anyway!). I thought I had left them behind (other than for the occasional trip back to Raquette Lake). I moved to Tennessee at the age of 19 and lived there 36 years, and never saw a deer fly.

I moved to Cary, North Caroline and lived there 3 years and never saw a deer fly either.

But recently I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and there (while exercising my GSD, Sophie) just the other day, I snatched two deer flies out of the air and squished them. And, while I did get an enormous sense of satisfaction out of squishing them, I am thinking seriously about moving back to Tennessee!

deer flies

Sophie has seconded that motion. She is not overly fond of the deer flies either.

If you are looking for a good quick read, check out Adirondack Bear Tales. I think you will get a real kick out of it. Sophie even stars in one of the stories. She likes to tell how she “saved me” from the mother black bear with her two cubs on our last trip to Raquette Lake.

For more great posts, click here!

Award Winning Author Gives Serpents Underfoot Five Stars!

Award winning Author, Lee Boyland, says Serpents Underfoot is a good first novel.

Yesterday, I noticed that Serpents Underfoot had received another review, so naturally I went to check it out and discovered I had gotten another 5 Star review. This time from an award-winning author, Lee Boyland,  Lee has several books out on Amazon.com. Check some of his titles out here!

Award

Lee Boyland’s Review

I posted Lee Boyland’s review here in its entirety. It really made me feel good to get this review and I am certainly working hard to improve my style in future works. Thank you, Lee, for your honest review. It is certainly appreciated.

Award

The story begins in 1966 in Vietnam and fills the first six chapters, then moves back to the US. A young US Army lieutenant is thrown from a helicopter inserting a patrol, injured, and then rescued by a Vietnamese girl who returns to the US as his bride. At this point the story transitions to their son, a US Navy SEAL. The author does a good job of describing the real Vietnam war on the ground, the inhuman crimes committed, not by the US but by the Vietcong and North Vietnam army. Hope some of the flower children now running the country read these chapters.

Other reviewers have discussed the plot and in a couple of instances the books grammar and style. Monday morning quarterbacks who should attempt to write a novel. I am sure the author’s style will improve with future works. For me, the story is the important thing. Is the plot feasible? Are the characters believable? Is the action realistic? In this novel they all are.

Smuggling ten small nuclear devices across our border is possible, however, the “suite case nukes” in the story would not be 2 KT. Considering their source, a yield of .3 to .5 KT would realistic. This said, a .4 KT nuclear detonation in a city would be catastrophic. Such small devices exist and in the US are referred to as SADMs, small atomic demolition munitions for use by Special Forces behind enemy lines.

Isn’t that an awesome review?

You can get your copy of Serpents Underfoot (Kindle) here, or paperback here. I would love to hear what you think of the book!

It is also available online from Barnes and Noble as well as Books-A-Million

Book Descriptions: Can you write your own?

I have written book descriptions for over 85 different clients on Fiverr.com. Furthermore, while doing this, I maintained a 5 Star rating and a 73% repeat customer rate. I think that is pretty darn good! Therefore, in this post I will share some of the tricks I have learned about writing book descriptions with my readers.

Tips for writing good book descriptions

The purpose of a book description is to get the reader to buy the book. You want to “set the hook” and reel the reader in. And, I mean this in the nicest sort of way possible. Because, that is what you are really trying to do.

In addition, as a bonus, the same process you use to write your book description should also leave you with some good ad copy for Amazon ads or for use on Twitter, Instagram, or even Pinterest.

Finally, again, remember that a book description does not just describe what the story is about. It should “hook” your readers and make them want to buy your book. Consequently, this thought needs to be foremost in your mind.

Writing a good book description is a different skill set than writing the book itself. Therefore, many authors do pay someone else to write their book descriptions. However, if you would like to give it a try …

Step 1: Identify your book’s primary conflict

book desctiption

In this post, I am dealing primarily with fiction. Non-fiction is a little different. In contrast, for non-fiction, this “primary conflict” would be replaced with the “primary takeaway” you want your readers to get from reading the book. Hence, I will write about non-fiction book descriptions in another post.

For now, let’s focus on fiction. What is your story about? For example, in Serpents Underfoot:

The son of a Vietnam veteran and his Vietnamese wife grows up to become a Navy SEAL. On a mission, his SEAL team uncovers a terrorist plot against the United States involving nuclear weapons. Now a SEAL K9 handler, he and his dog, Ajax, race to stop the terrorists from succeeding in their evil scheme.

Develop 15 to 20 different versions of this conflict:

This will become your “hook” and is perhaps the most important part because it is what grabs the readers attention. I have included a few examples below to illustrate what what I mean.

  1. Conspiracy. Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation.  
  2. If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies, and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action and suspense.
  3. When a Navy SEAL K9 handler uncovers a deadly terrorist plot to annihilate the US, he’ll need every bit of his fighting skill to protect what he holds dear.
  4. A top Navy SEAL. A deadly terrorist plot. Can one man overcome a network of fanatical terrorists to stop America’s annihilation?
  5. When the US becomes the target of an inhuman conspiracy, one dedicated Navy SEAL will need more than loyalty to prevent mass murder.

You get the idea? Each of these is a different restating of the primary conflict in the story. Similarly, this can also provide good copy for a Facebook ad.

Conspiracy. Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation. If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies, and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action and suspense. Click the link to buy the book today!

Seems like it’s not too hard. As a result, it is easy to rush through this process. Therefore, be careful not to be fooled. It can take some time and lots of trial and error to come up with 15 to 20 good versions of your story’s main conflict. As a result, you should not rush through this! Give your ideas time to simmer.

Now ask your readers!

Finally, when you have your hook ideas ready, run these 15 to 20 ideas by your target readers, and put it to a vote. It is as simple as that. The #1 choices by your target readers is your hook! Then #2 thru #5 (or maybe a few more) can be ad copy.

Now, a bit more on book descriptions!

Remember, in writing the book description, you are acting as a publisher or marketer, not as the author.

  • Therefore, try to make the rest of your book description about your main character’s emotional journey. Help your readers identify quickly with the main character.
  • Also, use transitional phrases at the beginning of sentences to maintain good momentum. Transitional phrases include words like before, when, after, however, rather, while, or despite.
  • Another key is to include a cliffhanger at the end of each paragraph.
  • Above all, remember to place a call to action at the end!

Sample book description from Serpents Underfoot.

Conspiracy. Terrorism. One SEAL stands between freedom and nuclear annihilation.

JD Cordell believes in freedom, honor, and hard work. The son of a Vietnam veteran and his Vietnamese wife, the Navy SEAL is proud to serve as SEAL Team 5’s K9 handler with his dog Ajax. But when his team uncovers a deadly terrorist plot in Afghanistan, he never expected a cover-up that could reach as high as the White House itself.

As JD gets drawn in deeper, he unmasks a mastermind hell bent on detonating nukes on U.S. soil. When an assassin working for the terrorist strikes close to home, JD’s fight to save America gets personal.

Can JD protect the American way of life, or will sadistic terrorists turn America into a nuclear wasteland?

Serpents Underfoot is the first novel in a nail-biting military thriller series. If you like patriotic heroes, fanatical conspiracies, and action-packed adventure, then you’ll love D.C. Gilbert’s tale of SEAL action and suspense.

Buy Your copy of Serpents Underfoot today!

Can you identify the parts as described?

If you can, you are off to a good start. Following the guidelines provided in this post can help you turn out good book description if you choose to. I hope this helps with any book description projects you have in your future. Of course, if you want help, I can be reached through Fiverr.com

Also. for more interesting post and book reviews, click here!

Twitter Marketing for Aspiring Authors

Self-published indie authors are always looking for new ways to market themselves and their books. There are several social media tools available for this purpose. Instagram is one such tool that I covered in an earlier post. Twitter is another.

Can you use Twitter to market your book(s)?

Like with Instagram, the short answer is … yes. You certainly can. However, again like Instagram, you do have to understand a few key things going in to it.

Unlike Instagram, with Twitter, your post can link directly to your book’s page on Amazon.com or any other web page you choose. You will probably still not generate a lot of sales tweeting away on Twitter, but you will generate some. However, like Instagram, Twitter is a valuable tool for establishing yourself as an author and networking with other indie authors, publishers, or editors … sharing ideas, experiences, and writing tips as well as promoting your book in those same circles.

While Instagram is more visual, Twitter is about crafting a clever message in 280 characters. You can include images (and I usually do) but the real trick here is to try to get the reader to click the link in the tweet. Below are a few sample Tweets I created and sent out into the Twit-O-Sphere!

Note the hashtags …

twitter

Again, it is about putting your name and your work in front of a growing audience in a way that builds your brand recognition and establishes you as an author to be remembered. And, like I stated earlier, you may actually even sell a few books.

twitter

Other aspects to consider on Twitter

  • Hashtags – Use hashtags before relevant keywords in your tweet to categorize tweets and help them show up in Twitter searches. Clicking or tapping on a hash-tagged word in any tweet displays other Tweets that include that hashtagHashtags can be included anywhere in a Tweet. Examples: #SerpentsUnderfoot #AdirondackBearTales #writingcommunity #amwriting
  • Tags – You can also tag a specific Twitter handle to ensure that user gets the Tweet in their feed. Examples: @darrencgilbert @AdirondackAlmanac.

    This is very basic. There are some other, trickier aspects to using the @ sign in a Tweet. For more information on using the @ symbol in Tweets, just click this link here!

Twitter also has some strong and welcoming communities for writers and readers. These folks are always willing to share ideas, critiques, etc. There are groups that run little writing contests based on “prompt words” that can help you improve your writing skills … especially since you only have 280 characters!

So, jump in and get started! Join the writing community, try your hand at a few word prompts, and mostly … have fun.

One last thought …

Don’t get caught up in the race for followers. You will have offers to grow your following by the thousands … for a fee of course. Let your following grow naturally. It is far better to have 300 followers that are really interested in you and your work, than to have 3000 followers you paid for and who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you are doing.

For other interesting posts on a variety of topics, click here!

Anne Rice … I write like Anne Rice?

I just learned I write like Anne Rice

A fellow writer shared a link on Twitter to a little analysis tool that allows you to paste in a chapter of your work or a blog post, etc., and then analyzes your writing to tell you who you write like. For kicks, I thought I would give it a try. I pasted a section of a chapter from Serpents Underfoot in the field, clicked analyze, and held my breath. A few second later, my results came back and I was informed I write like Anne Rice.

So, who is Anne Rice … in case you don’t know

rice

Anne Rice was born on October 4, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her first novel, Interview With The Vampire, was published in 1976 and went on the become one of the best-selling novels of all time. Her many books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history.

I admit I am not sure what to think about this. I was sure I would come back with Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, or Fredrick Forsyth … but Anne Rice? To be sure, I am not knocking Anne Rice. I have read several of the books in her Lestat series and enjoyed them immensely. I just didn’t imagine that military thriller writers would compare to a writer of metaphysical Gothic fiction, Christian literature and erotica!

If you would like to check out this little writing analysis tool, click here!

I wonder if a sample from my book, Adirondack Bear Tales, would also come back as similar to Anne’s in style? Interesting question. I may need to check that out.

By the way …

If you happen to check out one of my books, please leave a review to let me know what you think. I would certainly appreciate it! Click here to read more of my blog posts.

Question: Why did you choose to write?

Is it for the money?

An important question. Writing is not a get rich quick scheme. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with seeking to earn a few buck from your writing. I must confess that it was a pleasant surprise when people began to buy my books and actually enjoyed the stories I’d written.

I just like to tell stories. So, the question for me was, how do you know people are enjoying your books? It is one thing to tell the tale! It is quite another thing when people truly enjoy your tales. Probably for me, a reader’s enjoyment is the biggest motivation behind why I write.

Question #2: How do you know people enjoy your writing.

I think this question is answered in several ways. Talking to your readers and asking them for their thoughts on your book is one thing I have done.

There is a real difference between, “I thought it was good” …

and,

… “Dude! I loved it. That part where JD spent the night trapped under the NVA tank rocked” or “that barroom fight scene was totally awesome. I loved that line … ‘my mother taught me!’ “

Reviews can also answer this question …

When a reader takes the time to write a review for something you wrote, that really means something.

1) Either they hated it (I had one reader who hated the fact that I had some adult scenes in Serpents Underfoot so much that he never finished the book and gave me a 1 Star review just so he could vent his outrage.)

2) Or, they liked your story enough to take the time to say so.

The Few, the Proud, the Marines!

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I really loved this review of Serpents Underfoot because it is from a USMC veteran. Getting a 5 Star Review from a USMC veteran for a book that includes all branches of the U.S. military including the Coast Guard, really meant something special to me. Marines are not noted for lightly giving out praise which is why this review does mean so much!

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Thriller

Definitely a five-star adventure. I was hooked from the first page and read it in one sitting. The plot, which revolved around a conspiracy to detonate nuclear bombs in the U. S., includes many unexpected twists and turns. JD quickly becomes the dominant character with Ajax a close second. I’m looking forward to the next book. ~ usmc – mike



Warning: Bears ahead!

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This 5 Star Review of Adirondack Bear Tales made me chuckle. This reader obviously enjoyed the stories and even took the time to write a carefully crafted and entertaining review! Very cool! And, very much appreciated.

Reviews like this are one of the main reasons I enjoy writing. This reader clearly enjoyed this short collection of bear tales from the Adirondacks!

5.0 out of 5 stars Could not stop reading these tales


Adirondack Bear Tales is a first-class collection of gripping encounters with Ursus Americanus. Gilbert enjoins readers with the inviting and entrancing aspects of the Adirondacks, only to rapidly transform each tale into a suspenseful and terrifying experience! Suitable for all ages, I could not put this 42 page book down. Adirondack Bear Tales is a superlative blend of family, nature, humor, and fright. ~ Eric Ewald

Pursuing reviews for the sake of pursuing reviews is probably not the best use of your time as a writer. Above all, you need to be writing. However, it doesn’t take too many reviews such as these to give you a good feeling about what you are doing! In addition, reviews such as these can be very motivational!

To read other posts on DC Gilbert’s blog … click here!