Well, let’s face it, life is just one kick in the pants after the next. I have noticed, however, that life is better with a dog (or three). Dogs are optimal companions, vigilant guardians, perpetual playmates, and even extemporaneous vacuum cleaners. Studies have demonstrated that these generators of joy actually reduce stress levels in their human companions.
The Petsitters Compendium
I hope you will check out the rest of this great post here! And if you like it, let him know!
Yes, people do make a living at this. Or, maybe you just want to supplement your income. And if you love dogs, this may be just what you are looking for. But how do you get started? What do you need to know? Are there pitfalls you need to avoid? So, many questions, so little time!
Well, my friend, Eric, has just the information and experience you need. And, as luck would have it, he has just started a pet sitter’s blog called The Pet Sitter Compendium. I think you should check it out. And, while he is just getting started, there are two great blog posts already, and I am sure there will be more enjoyable, fact-filled posts coming in the future.
I met Eric about five years ago at the Godbold Dog Park in Cary when I moved to North Carolina. I would take Sophie, my German Shepherd, there to exercise.
By the way, this is Sophie, if you haven’t seen her before.
Eric was always there with several dogs like Remi, Rex, and a very lovable white lab I cannot remember the name of. Then there was Nitro, Eric’s dog.
Eric has been a professional pet sitter for much longer than I have known him, and I have known him for about five years now. I would highly recommend him as a person, a dog sitter, and a person from which to seek out information about becoming a dog sitter. So, please do check out his blog … or did I say that already?
What kind of guy is Eric?
By way of an answer, let me say this – this is Nitro, a genuinely great dog who sadly passed away a short time ago. As I mentioned above, Nitro was Eric’s dog, who I have some really fond memories of.
Eric also became the guardian for Rex, another great dog who first taught Sophie how to play catch. Rex’s original human, Bob, became terminally ill and asked Eric to take Rex. Eric agreed. That is just the kind of man he is. So now, Eric has Rex, and Bob is watching over Nitro in Heaven. It seems to me to be the best arrangement possible under the circumstances.
I just pass this along, so readers will know what a great person Eric is and how much he cares for dogs and animals in general. He has years of experience and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the pet sitting business. So, for the last time, I hope you will check out his blog at: https://petsittercompendium.blog/.
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.
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 …
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.
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 hashtag. Hashtags 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!
Learning to market your book as a self-published author is an interesting and sometimes painful journey. There is so much to learn and so much to do. The book cover, the story itself, the categories and keywords, SEO, social media marketing, Twitter, Instagram. BookBub, etc. … and getting reviews. The list of things to do can quickly become rather extensive.
The reviews I get tell me my story is pretty darn good.
Of course, you always get a few bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. That is just a fact of life.
However, most of your reviews have been 4 and 5 stars. Some of the reviews have been absolutely outstanding. So why is your book not selling a little better?
Yes. It does take time. When first starting out, you are not exactly Tom Clancy, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn! At least not yet!
You do have to keep plugging away at finding what marketing ideas work for you. There is no way you can do it all. You have to have a plan and then you have to work the plan.
About a week ago, while on the phone with Jim Kukral, we went through my book’s categories and keywords and at Jim’s suggestion, made some smart changes there. I learned about KDP Rocket and if you are a self-published author, I think this tool is indispensable.
We also looked at the book cover. Jim’s comment was that the book cover looked like exactly what it is … a first cover attempt by a newbie self-published author.
I must admit it hurt just a bit. After all, I was kind of proud of the cover. I mean, I designed it myself. Jim then suggested I take a look at other book covers in the same genre; essentially military action thriller.
I did this and his point became painfully obvious. A lesson learned. Jim explained the concept of “cover to market.” Essentially, this means your cover has to stand out in the market you are competing in. Kind of a “duh” moment actually.
So … back to the cover drawing board we went. And, about a week later, voilà! I must admit, I love the knew cover. It fits the genre and stands out among the book covers of my competitors. It gives clues to the story line with out being a “spoiler.”
In addition, many people I have shown the book cover to really like it. A few have not. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized this is not a genre they read very much of. That kind of clicked as well.
I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this new book cover.
I think there are several good lessons in this post. Self-publishing is an interesting new venue for aspiring authors. It is very cost effective when you are just getting started. But being self-published does not mean that you have to remake the same mistakes as everyone else.
You most certainly can if you want to!
And, we will all make our share of mistakes. However, there are legitimate experts out there who really love helping authors succeed and it does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Talk to a few people who know. Check out the competition. Learn about concepts such as “cover to market.” Check out tools like KDP Rocket. And always remember, it is not a sprint to instant success … it is a marathon where endurance and training count.
Family reunions and joint camping trips to Golden Beach Campground on Raquette Lake were a big tradition for our entire family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins getting together in adjoining campsites for a week or two. These are some of my fondest memories growing up. One such particular camping trip also involved a couple of guys from New York City, and setting a trap for a mischievous black bear.
My grandfather, Irwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner Klippel, had two campsites that were not quite adjoining. A couple of younger men from New York City occupied the spot separating their two camps sites. The two men had driven up to spend a week in the Adirondack Park. Being very friendly, and since they were camping between two contingents of our family, they just naturally kind of joined in. They’d brought all the best camping equipment money could buy, as well as a great selection of food including steaks, hot dogs, ground beef and bacon. They were set for the week. It was late in the day, so we all sat around a campfire and visited a bit. When the fired died out, everyone headed off to get some sleep.
The mischievous bear …
That next morning the two city men arose to discover that during the night, a bear had raided their cooler. They stored the cooler under one end of the park-provided picnic table. The cooler’s mangled cover was now laying a few feet from the cooler, which was quite empty. The bear ate everything. Everything, that is, except the hot dogs, which now lay discarded near the cooler’s cover. It must have been a very hungry (and stealthy) bear. Amazingly, nobody had heard a sound! We had a lot of fun joking about the fact that the bear would not eat the hot dogs.
After the initial excitement wore off, the two young men took off Indian Lake to restock their supplies at the Grand Union. They also decided that it would be better to put their new cooler in the trunk of their car when they went to bed at night. While the two men were off getting groceries, we sat around talking about the bear. The focus of the discussion was what could be done to discourage this bear from conducting future raids on our campsites. By the time the men were back from the Grand Union, we had devised a plan. The two city guys thought our scheme was a pretty slick idea as well.
The spaghetti trap!
That night after supper, we gathered up all the dirty pots and pans from cooking the various family supper meals. We then stacked them up, one on top of the other, on the picnic table in the two younger men’s campsite. With several large family units, the supply of dirty cooking pots more than adequate and they made a quite an impressive, however slightly unstable, tower. My grandmother (we called her Nanny) had made spaghetti in a big metal pot (much like the turkey fryer pots of today). That big pot, with the left over spaghetti and grease from cooking the ground beef (used to make the spaghetti) went on the very top.
Then, my Uncle Wagner tied a length of twine to the handle on the bottom pot and strung the cord all the way over to his car, where he planned to sit and wait. His idea was to turn on the car’s headlights after pulling the string at the opportune moment. All the kids gathered up flashlights and climbed into cars. We all planned to stay awake and see what happened when the bear came!
The trap is sprung …
All of a sudden, we heard a loud crashing, bashing sound. We had all fallen asleep, but the horrible noise woke us up quickly. Several flash lights snapped on and pointed toward the picnic table. Uncle Wagner flipped the headlights on in his car. There, right in the beam of the headlights, sat a big black bear with a very befuddled look on his face. There were pots and pans scattered all around him. Greasy left-over spaghetti covered his head and hung from his ears. The bear let out a bawling kind of grunt and took off running into the trees. Our bear trap had worked!
My grandfather later told me that he had talked to a park ranger at the campground sometime after that, who had told him that they did not see that particular bear in the campground for at least six months after we sprang our trap.
If you liked this Bear Tale, check out this story, and check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com.
Serpents Underfoot just received another outstanding 5 Star review on Amazon.com. Thank you, DeeDee, for the wonderful review. It really means a great deal!
Outstanding! A Definite Must Read for Lovers of History, Action and All Military Folk … Past & Present
I loved this book — a lot! I got this book a couple of months ago but just started reading it last week. Result was I wished I had put it at the top of my book list when I got it. Literally once I started, I couldn’t put it down and I can’t remember the last time I not only could say that, but actually read a book well into the night. Reason was it was so interesting. I just had to see what would happen next. I found Mr Gilbert’s character development and overall story integration amazing. This book and what it was about just was so well done it gripped me. So I very strongly recommend this book!! ~DeeDee
While chasing reviews should not become an end to itself, a good review certainly means a great deal to an author. It certainly does to me. I still remember just how much it meant to me when I got that first review from a stranger who enjoyed my book, and I realized that people (who, shall we say, were not biased in anyway) were actually enjoying what I had written.
There is also no question that the more good reviews a book has, the more other prospective readers will be inclined to purchase and read the book!
If you like a good counter-terrorism, military action/thriller with a touch of romance, I hope you will consider checking Serpents Underfoot out! I really don’t think you will be disappointed. When you’re finished reading it, please leave a review! I would really love to hear what you thought.
Self-publishing is a great opportunity for anyone who wishes to become a published author to get their work into the hands of readers. But, understand! Just because you publish a book does not mean it will fly off the shelf at Amazon.com! Self-publishing is not easy. It takes a great deal of work to do it right. Looking back, I made a great many mistakes publishing my first book. Many of them could probably have been avoided with a bit more patience, but hey … as long as you learn from your mistakes and do not keep repeating them, things can only get better.
This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I will share the lessons I learned from self-publishing my first novel. These lessons-learned will certainly be applied in publishing my sequel. If you find anything in this series of posts helpful to you, then I will be happy. And, if you do … I would love to hear from you.
Have the Patience to do it right!
Not only did I rush to finish my book, Serpents Underfoot, itself, but I had no platform in place to successfully market it. While Amazon does help authors promote books, your book won’t fly off the charts on its own. Their algorithm does not pick up your book until a certain level of sales is reached. Having the patience to take the time to have a marketing platform and plan in place before publishing your book will be a big help in reaching that level.
This does not mean I am not having success. My book is selling and has gotten some really great reviews along with a couple of not-so-good reviews. But hey, not everyone will like your work! That is life.
However, there is nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others if you can. Here is a list of things you might want to consider PRIOR to releasing your book:
An author’s website.
Author promotion and help sites such as BookBub, AuthorsDB, Author Connections, Alliance of Independent Authors, Authors Marketing Club, etc.
Building a customer list.
An email service such as Mail Chimp and a newsletter.
Social network marketing such as a Facebook Author’s Page, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, and how too best utilize them.
Advance Release Copies for reviews.
Have a long term plan and stick to it.
Success will not just fall into your lap. These things take time and patience to understand, set up, put in place, and achieve results. There is no “one magic bullet!” Success is built around a lot of small steps and there is so much to learn. As you can probably see, it will take a good deal of work. Having some patience will be a real asset.
Voices from the past … from World War III … telling tales for today’s children.
It looks like John Purvis over at John’s Notes came up with another little gem on his blog! I certainly would have enjoyed something like this when I was in school. I like the fact that this work of non-fiction shares stories from soldiers and civilians from both sides … Allies and Axis.
John gave it a 3.8 out of 5! I think this was mostly because, according to his review, some of the stories began to get repetitive toward the end. I bet a great many of the stories are very moving. The cover is vintage WWII recruitment poster-type artwork. I have a feeling I will be checking this book out … maybe on Audible.
A Great Review for Serpents Underfoot by blogger, John Purvis!
Check out the great review of Serpents Underfoot by John Purvis on his bog, John’s Notes! John had some great things to see about the background and character development, and her gave me a 4.5 out of 5! Awesome!
This novel starts with the deep background story of Cordell’s father when he was serving in Viet Nam. It carries forward to JD Cordell’s SEAL Team and other major characters in the plot. Far more background is developed in this novel than you would normally find. I also liked that the characters are down to earth with no “over the top” scenes of heroic combat.
While on his blog, please also take the time to check out the many other great posts! Especially if you are a Mac user.