You still need good author photographs for marketing your books!
Sometimes you just get in a rut. I have been using the same author’s photo for all my marketing efforts. It is the picture I had taken in 2017 for the back cover of Serpents Underfoot. As the sequel, Montagnard comes together, I decided I needed to get a new back cover author’s picture and perhaps a few for other marketing purposes.
This is my second time using Thumbtack. It allows searching for and receiving quotes from professionals in different areas including photography. While I have been happy each time, it is fair to say that Thumbtack has had mixed reviews.
The majority of positive Thumbtack reviews come from customers who have used Thumbtack to find service providers to fit their needs.
Many of them, including me, seem extremely happy with the service they have been provided. I gave my contractor, Ian Courtright, a five-star review and would definitely hire him again.
About Ian Courtright
Ian is from Charlotte, NC. He took the time to ask me a lot of questions to get a feel for what I was doing, why I was doing it, and what kind of a person/author I am. I was pleased with several of his observations and suggestions based on his questioning.
I also learn a bit about Ian. What began as a hobby for him in his early years slowly but surely evolved into a career. Traveled abroad, he worked for a veritable who’s who of internationally known clients including VANS, NEFF, NAUTICA, ESPN, PBR, and others. He has traveled across the U.S. as well, shooting photos at events such as the X Games.
Ian also has a great personality and a charming demeanor, making the photoshoot easy and fun. Having somewhat of a severe nature myself, I have always had difficulty “forcing” a smile on my face for pictures. It usually comes out sort of like a “painful grimace.” Ian actually got me to smile a few times.
Anyway, I ended up with several great shots, one to use on the back cover of Montagnard and several for other marketing and promotional purposes. And I will definitely contact Ian for any additional photograph needs in the future.
Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking right here!You can also sign up to receive my monthly newsletter by clicking here!
If you are a self-published author like me, you will soon understand the importance of establishing your author platform. This can include building an author’s website as well as social marketing through vehicles such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Another vital part of your author’s platform is an author’s newsletter. This is especially important as a self-published author because most of your interaction with your readers can take place through Amazon.com. This is not really a bad thing, just a statement of fact. However, if you were to leave Amazon.com or, while it is quite unlikely, Amazon was to go out of business, they would have the list of your most loyal readers … not you.
It is vital to maintain an accurate and growing list of readers. An author’s newsletter allows you to do precisely that.
Benefits of an author’s newsletter
There are many benefits to creating an author’s newsletter, and they are worth the bit of extra work needed to set one up and keep it going.
Perhaps the most crucial benefit is that regular email contact with your readers helps you create an additional connection with them, a relationship that goes beyond your books and your social media presence.
A regular newsletter keeps you in your readers’ minds and provides insight into who you are as an author and a person. After all, who doesn’t love to ‘meet’ the person behind the books they like to read and get a peek into the author’s life and creative process?
Your author newsletter is also one of the most valuable book marketing tools you have. It helps you get the word out there about your current and upcoming books. It also provides a natural path for readers to click through to purchase your novels.
How frequently do you send your news letter?
I started out with a quarterly newsletter and have published three to date. However, experts say that monthly is the safest option and really hits the sweet spot. Too often and you are spamming your readers. Not often enough, and your readers will lose touch with who you are. Starting in May, I am shifting to a monthly newsletter schedule.
I use MailChimp, but there are several platforms out there that make it fairly easy. Just do a little exploring and see what best meets your needs.
A word on content
You should try to include an exciting balance of content in your author’s newsletter. It shouldn’t be all about you. Of course, your readers want to know about what you are doing if they’ve signed up, but a bit of variety is better and more enjoyable.
Try to include things your readers might find helpful, entertaining, or insightful. Draw on your own interests and expertise to diversify the content you provide.
Recent goings-on: An update on what’s happening in your writing and personal life.
For the fans: A section for fans and readers of your books.
For the Dreamers: A section on tips about writing and publishing
Upcoming Events: A calendar of author events
You can also do things like:
What you’re reading
Writing advice and insight
Freebies and bonus content
Promote you newsletter
Promote your newsletter with links on your website, in your social media marketing, and in other ways. Are you having a book signing? Have a newsletter sign-up sheet and a pen on your table.
I hope you found this useful …
If you are interested in seeing what my newsletter looks like, click here to sign up. My next newsletter will be out on May 25th.
In a thrilling adventure of brotherhood, warfare, and treachery, Giles Kristian takes us into ninth-century England, a world of darkness, epic conflict, and an unforgiving God served by powerful priests. On ships shaped like dragons, bristling with oars and armor, Jarl Sigurd and his fierce Norsemen have come in search of riches. And riches they are promised, by an English ruler who sends Sigurd and his wolves to steal a holy manuscript from another kingdom. Osric, an orphan boy, sees beyond the terror of these warriors, and somehow knows the heathens’ tongue. Renamed Raven, rechristened in blood, he will join them. They are his people. And they will be his fate.
The Story …
Set in England during the late 800s, “Blood Eye” is the story of Osric, a fifteen-year-old carpenter’s apprentice in the village of Abbotsend. Osric has no memory of anything before the Saxon villagers found him left for dead near a burial mound with a bone-handled pagan knife hanging around his neck. To make matters worse, Osri’s left eye is blood red (probably from an injury), so the Christian priest accuse him of being a servant of the devil. This makes Osric’s life in Abbotsend difficult. Things change dramatically when two Viking long-ships arrive on shore.
The Vikings are led by Jarl Sigurd who claims to have come peace to trade, However, the village priest attempts to poison Sigurd with mead laced with hemlock. Osric cannot simply standby and let this happen, so he warns Sigurd about the priest’s treachery. The Vikings take their revenge, and leave, taking Osric and the old carpenter with them. Sigurd believes Osric’s “blood eye” is a sign from Odin. Osric soon discovers he has much more in common with Sigurd and his men than with the English who adopted him.
Sigurd renames Osric “Raven,” and the boy finds himself admiring the Norseman and their way of life. He has discovered he can speak their language, and with the pagan knife, this presents a clue to his forgotten past.
The story begins to take off when a Wessex Ealdorman offers Sigurd a fortune in silver to steal a book, a bejeweled Gospel of Saint Jerome, kept in the fortress of the king of Merica. The Norseman agree and set off on this mission accompanied by a fierce Wessexman named Mauger and an Christian priest named Father Egfrith.
In Mercia, Raven helps save a young woman named Cynethryth, who becomes Raven’s love interest for the remainder of the tale. While there exists a thread of romance, this is not a romance novel. It is a Viking saga of honor, courage, battle, and blood. It is the story of Raven and his return to his origins, and discovering himself in the company of Viking warriors.
My thoughts …
The story moves at a fast pace from one exciting battle scene to the next. It includes several good plot twists and a large dose of betrayal and comeuppance.
Giles Kristian ends his tale in a way that sets up the sequel, Sons of Thunder perfectly, and I look forward to reading that tale next.
The interesting thing for me is that I read the Rise of Sigurd series previously, which is clearly a prequel to this Raven series, and was written a few years later.
As a new author myself, it was interesting to see how Giles Kristian has grown as an author over time. It looks like there were about three years between the release of Blood Eye (Raven 1) and God of Vengeance (Sigurd 1). The growth of Kristian as a writer between the two works is readily apparent. God of Vengeance is much smoother and better written.
I find that inspirational because it means there may actually be hope for me as a writer. And, indeed, I learned a great deal writing my first novel, Serpents Underfoot and already see differences as I continue working on its sequel, Montagnard.
I found “Blood Eye” to be a very worthy read, and I do recommend it (with the understandings mentioned above) as a very good read. I think it would be interesting to re-read them in the order they were released, and enjoy the great stories while seeing Kristian’s evolution from good new author to excellent seasoned author unfold.
To read additional blog posts and book reviews by D.C. Gilbert, click here!
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
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, heand his dog, Ajax, raceto 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.
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.
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.
A top Navy SEAL. A deadly terrorist plot. Can one man overcome a network of fanatical terrorists to stop America’s annihilation?
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.
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?
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
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!
I first became acquainted with Cristina Pugh a few months ago. Cristina’s late husband, Johnny F. Pugh, is the author of Through Smoke-Teared Eyes: The Vietnam War I Fought. Cristina contacted me through Authors.com. She asked if I’d read her late husband’s book and perhaps post a short review of it online.
I did so and a few weeks later, posted my review of her late husband’s book on Amazon.com. This is a wonderful and amazing book. In addition, it is a winner of several awards! I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. You can read my review here if you would like to.
Yesterday, I received a wonderful surprise!
Cristina wrote a wonderful Five Star review of Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com calling it
“An intelligent current-day spy novel with a love story that dates back to the Vietnam War.”
You can read the entire review here. I have included an excerpt:
In summary, Serpents Underfoot is a very well-written novel that exhibits Gilbert’s passion for and extensive knowledge of military history, martial arts and spy sagas. It quite effectively blends these themes with terrorist threats from well-financed middle-eastern extremists and current-day foreign government meddling into controlling and financing United States presidential campaigns. Any reader who loves spy novels combined with an exotic love story that goes back decades will certainly enjoy this book. D.C. Gilbert is currently working on a sequel to this, his first work of fiction, and I am looking forward to reading more by this very talented and skilled author.
All I can say, Cristina, is thank you for the wonderful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book.
To read other interesting posts on a variety of topics on this blog, just click here!
Thank you, DD Gott, for the fantastic five star review of Serpents Underfoot.
What did I like? This is the first book that I have read from this author, but I was struck with the realism of the storyline. He truly knew his subject and characters and brought them to life with the stroke of his pen/computer. The reality of the storyline hit me like a ton of bricks. It seems like this was written as an episode of today’s life. Being an animal lover and knowing a little about working dogs, I was very impressed with the information and the use of his K9 partner, it was awesome.
What will you like? Extreme action, passionate characters, powerful storyline, well written, strong and yet touching with many lives put into action and learning curves. Well thought out and shows the intense research in every page from the martial arts to the life of the military. Action and reality make this an explosive action thriller for your next read.
~ DD Gott
How’s that for a great five star review! You can read the whole review here.
Adirondack Bear Tales
In addition, keep an eye out for my upcoming new release! It is a wonderful collection of Adirondack Bear Tales based on real life encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. These delightful family stories are enjoyable for adults and suitable for all ages. They would even make great bedtime stories for young children. It is not a long book … 11 short stories … but the stories vary between humorous, exciting, and even sad. Above all, they are very entertaining.
Likewise, if you have the time, I would love to get your help on selecting the cover for this book. I have two versions and like them both.
Please click here to tell me which cover you like better.
Will you please help me with this cover contest by picking which cover you like best for my next book. It is a collection of family-friendly tales about true encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park! I have two cover designs and both of them are pretty good.
Below is the link to the poll. Thanks, in advance, for your help!
Click here to go to the contest page and make your choice.
Again, thank you for your help with this. Also, if you like military action thrillers, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, available in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover from Amazon.com!
It gets dark early in the Adirondacks. The night’s fire was just about burned out with only a few glowing embers left in the stone fireplace. The two young boys had already brushed their teeth and were ready for bed. They unzipped the mosquito netting and entered the large canvas cabin tent their father had pitched on a wooden tent platform followed by Donny, their 35-lb Spanish pointer. Zipping the netting behind them, the boys crawled into their sleeping bags. They had air mattresses underneath the sleeping bags and were comfortably settled in for the night. Donny settled down between them. Soon all three were sound asleep. Full days in the crisp Adirondack air made for good sleeping.
A little while later, their parents entered the tent and prepared for bed. Their sleeping bags were laid out on canvas folding cots and air mattresses. It was also a very comfortable arrangement. Soon all five were contentedly sleeping away. Tomorrow would be another new and glorious day. The boy’s grandfather was going to take them fishing over in the northern part of Raquette Lake in his beautiful Thompson Chris-Craft boat. It promised to be a grand adventure.
Sometime during the night, Donny awoke and let out a terrible growl. The two boys and their parents instantly sat up in their sleeping bags.
What was that?
There was another growl from Donny, and he was up like a flash. A second later he had torn through the mosquito netting and took off like a shot; snarling and growling like a wild animal protecting its young. Suddenly, there was another growl, and it wasn’t Donny. The boy’s dad was now up with his flashlight unzipping the mosquito netting to see what was going on while the rest of the family dug for their flashlights. Everyone kept a flashlight handy just in case. They could hear the dog barking wildly just a few yards away from the tent.
A few seconds later all four flashlight beams were shining in the direction of the growling and snarling dog. Donny was at the base of an old rotten beech tree about 30 feet from the tent. He was growling and barking ferociously at something up in the tree. Raising the flashlights beams a bit revealed a big black bear. The bear had scrambled up the old rotten trunk to get away from the crazy dog. The tree and its bark were rotten enough that the bear’s claws could not get a good purchase. The bear would begin to slide down the tree which would cause Donny to renew his barking and growling frenzy. This, in turn, would cause the bear to scramble a bit higher; only to start slipping again.
The bear, much bigger then the dog that was barking at him, could easily jump down and deal with the barking dog. Fortunately for Donny, the bear did not decide to do this.The barking, scrambling, and slipping went on for several minutes. Suddenly the bear completely lost its grip on the tree and tumbled to the ground. Rolling over the bear jumped to its feet and took off into the north woods with Donny right behind him, barking and growling as he went. The boys and their parents called after Donny.
Donny, Come! Donny, Come here!
But it was no use. Donny, chasing the black bear to who knows where, was long gone. Eventually, the two boys and their parents went back to bed. They wondered if they would ever see their dog again.
Donny was not back the next morning when the boys left to go fishing with their grandfather. He was not back that afternoon when they got back from their fishing trip to the northern part of Raquette Lake. That evening, the boy’s Dad finished patching the hole in the mosquito and still, Donny had not returned.
But later that evening, as the family sat down for a supper of Ravioli, bread and butter, and some of Mom’s homemade raspberry cobbler, Donny came trotting up to the picnic table with a delighted look on his face. In fact, it looked like he was grinning from ear to ear! Donny was utterly covered with Adirondack marsh mud, pieces of twigs and leaves, and he smelled like Adirondack swamp water. Donny had also worked up quite an appetite during his chase and was darn hungry! But, he was undoubtedly a hero … having saved the cooler from being raided by the prowling black bear.
You are a self-published author and you have published your first work. Unfortunately, it is not flying off the shelves at Amazon.com. You are selling some books and getting some great reviews, but real success seems to be so slow in coming. Establishing yourself as an author takes time and hard work. Now, is when the real work begins. You have to begin promoting your book. There are a lot of ways to do this. Amazon.com offers promotion tools. You can join Goodreads, BookBub, AuthorsDB and other online book promotion communities. I am sure you have a website. a Facebook Fan Page, and a blog. You do book signings when you can.
What else can you do to promote your book?
Have You Thought About Promoting Your Book Through Libraries?
People who read often go to libraries. I have been donating copies of my book to any libraries that are interested and so far, they have all been. What I am after here is name recognition. You want people to check your book out from the library, read it, and enjoy it. Then you want them to tell their friends how much they enjoyed your book. This library idea is something i am currently trying. And, to be honest, I am not sure how well it will work. But, it certainly can’t hurt! If anyone else has tried this, I would be happy to here their comments or suggestions.
So far my book, Serpents Underfoot, is in four libraries and will very soon been available in several more. It is currently available at the Inlet Public Library in Inlet, NY, the Raquette Lake Library in Raquette Lake, NY, and the Old Forge Public Library in Old Forge, NY. It is also in the Southern Regional Library in Durham County, NC. In addition, it will soon be available in the Wake County Library system, the Knoxville Public Library system in Knoxville, TN and the Clinton, Oak Ridge, and Norris public libraries also in Tennessee. Getting your book placed in the “Local Authors” section of your local library can’t hurt either!
Another Benefits Of Using Libraries
Another benefit I can see is that many libraries purchase books through Ingram Spark. I used Ingram Spark to produce the hardcover version of my book. If your book gets good circulation, I think you can be pretty confident that these libraries will be open to purchasing future works by you as they are published.
Any Experience With Libraries You Want To Share?
Again. this is basically an experiment on my part and I am not sure how well it will work, but I believe it has real potential if you can handle donating a few books now for success later. I will keep folks posted on whether or not this works out for me. Also, I am interested in hearing of your experiences if you have tried this and you are willing to share. Promoting a book as a self-published author takes time and effort. Anything you can do to help is probably a good thing. I believe it is a lot of trial and error to find out what works for you. You try a lot of ideas over time and some of them work. If you throw enough mud at the wall, some of it surely will stick!