Something that I think we are in danger of losing as our society turns more toward social media and texting for communication is talking to and gaining wisdom from those who came before us.
My Grandfather Klippel was a pretty handy guy. He worked for Remington Arms in Ilion, NY, as a gun assembler, and if memory servers me correctly, he built the prototype for the Remington Model 1100 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun.
As a young man, he’d gone out west to study to be an airplane engine mechanic, but unfortunately, had to give that up to come home and help on his family’s farm. But he could build a camp, drive a truck, pour concrete, raise chickens, or tell you where to dig your well. And he had an endless supply of witty, often whimsical comments and stories to tell.
He played semi-pro football, and I understand he was also quite a dancer and rode an old Indian motorcycle around, at least until he met my Grandmother. He also taught me how to split wood with an ax, which incidentally helped me to embarrass a lot of bigger and stronger guys when it came to ringing the bell with a big hammer at state fairs. Looking back, I am glad they didn’t get too upset by that!
But, most importantly, he had a lot of wisdom and was always willing to share.
Never a borrower be, but …
One of my favorite stories my mother shared with me about her father involves a rusty old saw.
When my mother was a little girl, she was helping my Grandfather repair one of the chicken coops in the back yard. He needed some sort of saw that he did not have. He hated to borrow things but had little choice, so he went to a neighbor and asked to borrow that particular kind of saw.
His neighbor was kind enough to loan him the use of the saw, but the saw was in terrible shape. It was dull, the blade was rusted and pitted, and the handle was loose. My Grandfather made the saw work, and when he was done, he took it into his workshop and began to work on the saw. With my mother watching, he cleaned and polished the blade, sharpened it, and repaired the loose handle.
My mother asked him why he was doing all that. She could not understand why he would spend the time fixing a saw he had borrowed. Clearly, she said, the saw’s owner wasn’t concerned about it.
My Grandfather turned to her and said, “Ardis, always return something in better shape than when you borrowed it. Doing that can only serve you well in life.”
That bit of wisdom had a big impact on my mother, and later, also on me.
We need more people today to think like that!
I hope you will check out some of my other posts 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.
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!
Milan Marko contacted me through Fiverr.com to write a book description for the new English version of his book, FOREX: Proven Trading Strategies For Financial Freedom. Marko published the original in German in 2016. Until I read his book, I had no idea what Forex trading is. His book is very informative and quite interesting. Therefore I decided to share it on my blog. It is available on Amazon.com. Here is the link.
Can you make money as a Forex trader? What is Forex? How do you trade Forex?
Marko answers these and many other questions in his remarkable guide.
This book is a compilation of his personal experiences as a foreign exchange trader. He also combines with his personal experience the information gleaned from working with other successful traders over the last several years. It is a complete guide to the process of foreign exchange trading for beginners. However, seasoned traders can also benefit. This is a book that should be on any foreign exchange traders bookshelf.
What is most important?
First of all, and perhaps most the important question, are you passionate and enthusiastic about your financial goals? According to Marko, these are two critical ingredients for success. That is because, real passion and enthusiasm will keep you on track and motivated to succeed.
What are your Forex goals?
Do you want to become a skilled and profitable foreign exchange trader? Would you like to avoid the mistakes often made by beginning traders? Finally, how about trading foreign exchange for a living? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, this may well be just the book for you.
This book contains a lot of great information!
Everything from the basic vocabulary, analysis, and several proven trading strategies. It contains everything you need to be successful in foreign exchange trading. We know there no surefire guarantees in any investing. However, by learning the processes and techniques outlined this book you are following the paths blazed by many highly successful foreign exchange traders.
Furthermore, you also can learn the methods used by many foreign exchange traders to preserve their capital while they do generate real returns. As a result of becoming a knowledgeable and confident foreign exchange trader, you could increase your chances of achieving true financial independence.
If you are interested in Forex trading, this is a book you should certainly check out. To order your copy now, just click the button below.
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” …
… “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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
With a very long history of owning dogs, often several at a time, I have cleaned up a lot of dog poop in my life! It is simply what you, as a responsible dog owner, do. So, it is frustrating to me how so many dog owners just can’t seem to be responsible enough to do the same. Do we need to institute dog poop police? Or, perhaps task the NSA with spying on non-poop-scooping-compliant dog owners? Do we need Big Brother watching us? That’s a bit scary, so I hope it doesn’t come to that. Cleaning up after your pet is part of being a responsible dog owner. Can’t we figure out a way to promote that message without creeping everyone out?
The Five Rules of Scooping Poop!
Always pick it up
This seems obvious enough, and yet we all know dog owners who choose not to exercise this common courtesy.
One important reason to pick it up is simple cleanliness. Then there is also the fact that parasites like giardia, roundworm, hookworm, and all those other intestinal worms can accumulate in areas where dog feces are not picked up. Pet waste also has a nasty effect on groundwater.
But mostly, I say pick it up because dog crap is disgusting. I don’t want to walk down a sidewalk or trail and smell an offending odor, only to realize I’ve stepped in your dog’s poop and will now have a reminder of your lousy dog poop etiquette for the rest of my walk.
Responsibly dispose of poop
Honestly, most of us will be very happy if you simply pick it up. Where it goes after that is of little concern to many people. One way to dispose of your dog’s doodoo might be to simply flush it down the toilet. But I’m afraid with the amount of poop some dogs produce, you might need to have a plumber on speed dial. However, if it is properly bagged and sealed, trash cans work fine. Also, there are poop disposal stations in may parks today.
Deal with diarrhea by preventing it
The best way to deal with loose doggy stool is to prevent it to begin with by keeping your pet on a healthy diet. However if it is already too late for that, you can certainly sprinkle a little dirt, sand or mulch on it before scooping it up.
Pick up and dispose of poop even in the great outdoors
When you’re out communing with nature, that old adage “if you pack it in, pack it out” still applies … even to pet waste. And, please don’t just hang the full poop bag on a tree branch like some people do. That’s just plain crude and disgusting.
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight,” is an ancient Japanese proverb that relates to our attitude towards failure. Master Tatutso Shimabuku, the founder of the Isshin-ryu Karate system, was fond of saying this to his U.S. Marine Corps students. It means to not to let ourselves be beaten by failure. But to see failure as just another chance to stand up and try again. It expresses the idea of sticking to a task with tenacity until it is completed. You do not always have to win, but you must never quit.
This tenacity is a quality found in many of our military members, both men, and women. It is a quality that JD Cordell, the main character in my novel, Serpents Underfoot, shares with both his father, Curtis and his mother, Mai. Several who have reviewed the book say that one of the things they really like is that many of the characters, both good and evil, stand on their own two feet as individuals. They meet life on their terms. Sometimes I feel like our society today has lost that sense of individual strength and personal responsibility. These days, it seems like it takes a village to cross the street! But, I digress. Let me get back on track! This post is about never quitting and never surrendering. It is about seeing your endeavor through to the end. Perhaps it is a bit extreme, but I used to ask my karate students this question about the Samurai Code.
If you approached every task in your life as if your life depended on it, how often would you fail?
The answer I most often got was, “Not too often!”
So, whether you want to be a successful blogger, mechanic, author, chemical engineer, teacher, welder, artist, or hamburger flipper, if you pursued that goal as if your very life depended on it, and … if you fell down seven times, but got back to your feet eight … what would be your chances of success?
Where do we find the wisdom to achieve success? For me, one source was listening to the wisdom of my elders.
I spent many wonderful hours as a child with my grandparents. During those times I learned many valuable life lessons, tidbits of wisdom, and humorous stories. My grandfathers were very different, but each had a great deal to offer their grandsons. This should certainly not be taken as to make light of the influences my grandmothers had on me as well. They were both incredible women who worked very hard and sacrificed so much to get their families through a very tough period in our country’s history. Their influences were very strong as well. However, this particular post is about one lesson from one grandfather.
The experiences of my grandparents, growing up and raising families during the Great Depression and World War II gave them a unique view of the world. They had a real down to earth wisdom that seems to be so often lacking today. It saddens me sometimes to see intelligent people make serious miscalculations because they simply don’t take the time to look twice.
I remember working on a project with my grandfather that involved cutting 2 x 12’s for floor joists. My grandfather was supervising my work. We were in the early stage of building our family camp in the Adirondacks. My grandfather had a lot of practical life experience in building projects, and had also built their camp down the road. He was a jack-of-all-trades kind of man.
Measure twice, cut once …
The actual circumstances are a bit fuzzy. This was many years ago. But, I remember that I had just cut a 2 x 12 to fit as the next floor joist to be put in place. Unfortunately, I had cut too short. So short, in fact, that it could not be used and the 2 x 12 had to be discarded. If you have been involved in any building projects, you just might know how expensive 2 x 12’s are. I don’t remember my Dad saying anything, but that meant another trip to the lumber yard for one more 2 x 12. My hope is that we were able to use the “now too short” 2 x 12 some where else in constructing the camp. I am sure we did, but really don’t remember. It would have been pretty expensive to use it as firewood!
Surprisingly, I was allowed to continue in my “saw man” job. Maybe they figured I “needed to get back up on that horse that had thrown me.” As I picked up the tape measure to cut another 2 x 12, my grandfather quietly commented, “Measure twice, cut once.” I followed that advice and the next joist fit perfectly … success!
I know this phrase did not originate with him, but it was the first time I had heard it. It stuck with me my entire life.
Save your self some grief.
So, the next time you are tackling some kind of a problem or working on a project, or you reach for that saw, you might remember the phrase, “Measure twice, cut once,” and take a step back to double-check that what you are about to do … actually fits or corrects the issue at hand. You might find that your success rate indeed goes up!
And, be sure to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on amazon.com! It is getting rave reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads! It must have something going for it. I am busy at work on the sequel. Feedback so far has been terrific and I think it is going to be great!
Do you use reviews to improve your writing? I have an account on goodreads.com, but to be honest, until recently I have not spent a great deal of time on this website. Then, I few days ago, I dropped in on my account to see what was happening only to discover that I had a few more great reviews for my novel, Serpents Underfoot. These reviews are by Goodreads members who have actually read my book and who I do not know! It is one thing when a friend or family member reads your book and tells you how great it is. But, when a stranger enjoys your book and says so … how fun is that!
Therefore, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Garrett Lee and Kevin Keegan for your FIVE STAR reviews and A Standley for your FOUR STAR review. It means a lot to a writer to get some response to his work, good or bad.
Use reviews to improve your writing skills!
Good reviews are motivational and we all love to get them. However, bad reviews, if honest and to the point, can be very instructional. I am sure there are readers out there who will simply not like my work. Such is life. But constructive criticism can go along way toward improving your writing skills. So, instead of getting angry or upset over bad reviews, view them as tools to improve your writing skills. Take the comments and look to see if the review you are upset about is indeed on to something.
You can always just ignore the occasional cranky reviewer with nothing real to add to the conversation.