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April 21, 2014

How to Build an Email List

Email Is Still the Best Marketing Tool

This post is for anyone who needs to build an email marketing/subscriber list. I’m an author, so it is written from that point of view.

I think that most authors are finally seeing the light and are starting to wonder, “how do I build an email list?” And that’s a good thing, because an email list is far more valuable than a few thousand Facebook fans, or tens of thousands of Twitter followers. Better even than a horde of crazed picture fanatics on Pinterest or the tech community on G+. The problem most authors have is trying to figure out…

How to Get Subscribers

I struggled with this for a long time mostly because I shy away from anything that might come across as “pushy.” I abhor the popups that many people use on their sites, and it doesn’t much matter whether they appear the instant I enter, after I’m 90% through an article, or when I’m about to leave the site. I don’t like them in any form.

And I’ve never felt that “buying” subscribers gets you anything. When you give away a tablet or any kind of prize, the vast majority of the entrants are there to win the prize, not because they’re interested in your books or you as an author. They’ll go away with the prizes and the summer wind.

That left me with few options. I tried the back of the book link, and it helped a little. And of course I have a visible subscribe form on my website, prominently placed on every page. But neither of them did much. My list was slowly growing, but slowly was the key word in that sentence.

And Then I Found Digioh

I was looking for an easy way to deliver files to readers without wasting a lot of time. When I looked into Digioh, I discovered they offered everything I needed and a whole lot more.

  • Digioh will securely store and deliver my files while keeping track of every download those files get.
  • Digioh can detect if  the file/s have been forwarded and they will prompt a new user to join the mailing list before they are able to download the file.

Here is a screenshot from the settings area on the site where you determine which security option you want to assign, when (if ever) you want to suspend downloads, and how many downloads per customer you want to allow.

list grower security

 

Membership Security makes sure that only your subscribers get access to your download, if it gets forwarded to friends or posted on Twitter they will see a “No Access” page.

What Does This Mean For You

I’ll tell you how I use it. I upload a file to their site and set the preferences I want for that particular file.

If I want to get more reviews for a book, I can send Tweets, or post on Facebook, or G+, or send a newsletter from my blog. If I include a link to the Digioh file anyone can go there and download it. I can post one link for a Kindle version and another one for epub. The best part of this, is I can set preferences on Digioh as to whether I want to restrict this to existing members of my mailing list, or set it for “list grower” security. That means if someone tries to download the file, and they are not on the list, they will be prompted to join the list before they can download it.

You can use this anyway you want. For my mystery/suspense books, I give away a novella in exchange for a new list member. And on my career site, I give away a couple of checklists I made up for resume and interview preparation.

You have the option of using the links any way you like. You can put a link on Facebook, in an email or a Tweet, or you can put buttons on your site. All of them geared toward lead capture. And Digioh can track them all. You’ll see who is downloading your file, and how many times they download it. (You control that in the settings)

You can also set it up with an auto responder (with MailChimp and others) so that a “welcome” email is sent to new list members at a specified time.

Customization

Depending on what plan you have, Digioh also offers levels of customization. You can have your own logo as a background for the download page, customize the download buttons and many other options. Here’s what I use for my mystery site, and the one below it is for my career site.

Here is a screenshot from Digioh’s site regarding customizing.

 

Customize Your download Pages

customize menu

 

You can take full control of your brand by adding your own logo and any other marketing text to your secure download page. Here are a few samples from my mystery and career websites.

 

Digioh logo GG Digioh NMR logo

 

 

 

 

 

PayPal Integration

Another great option is the ability to integrate Digioh, MailChimp, and PayPal. If someone buys a book on my site, Digioh will automatically add the customer to the appropriate mailing list, and I will also receive a notification that someone bought the book. Furthermore, MailChimp will send an auto response with the download link for the book they purchased, and/or a welcome message. And this is all easy to set up.

Cost of Plans

Digioh has several plans, ranging from a Pro plan at $10 per month to a business plan that runs $30 per month. They also offer a 30 day free trial. The table below will show you what you get/don’t get with each level.

 

Business $29.99 ProPlus $14.99 Pro $9.99
Files 500 50 10
Downloads 25,000/month 1,000/month 200/month
Bandwidth 150GB/month 25GB/month 5GB/month
Max File 5GB 1GB 100MB
Tracking
List grower
Mbr. Security X
Exp. Dates X
Dwnld limits X
Custom Pages X
Logo X X
Signup Fields X X
CSV export X X
Folders X X

 

 

If budget is a concern, and it always is, look hard at the $10 version. It offers the most important options—list grower security and tracking—and it gives you 200 downloads per month.

Saving the Best For Last

The best feature, in my opinion, is the lightbox. You install this code on your website and then put download buttons where they will be noticed the most. When visitors click on the buttons, a screen pops up asking them to register for the free download (or whatever you’re giving them) and they don’t even have to leave the site. You can check it out on either of my sites by pressing the green or orange buttons. One is for a novella I wrote and the other is for a few checklists for interviews and resumes. This is what the buttons I made look like, but there is a lot of flexibility in how you design them.

Finding Family button NMR website button

 

 

 

 

 

Try out the links, and sign up for the mailing list. The worst that can happen is you get more good articles with tips like this.

Here are the links:

http://giacomogiammatteo.com

http://nomistakes.org

 

There are a lot of new ways to build email lists, but I like what Digioh has put together. It’s simple and it’s classy. And best of all, it works. To check out what Digioh has to offer, click here.

 

Ciao,

 

Giacomo

 

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

April 14, 2014

Animal Rescue

Dennis the wild boar

Dennis, the Great & Wonderful

Wild Boars and Animal Rescue

Any of you who have been following my blog for a while are familiar with Dennis. Today’s blog is dedicated to him because…today is Dennis’ birthday—kind of. It’s the day we celebrate because we rescued him on April 14th, 2010. We estimated him to be about 2-3 weeks old at the time.

Below and to the left is a picture of Dennis a few minutes after I saved him from the dogs. And to the right of that is a pic of him when Mikki was bathing him at the vet. (Yes, the vet allows her in the back room.)

Despite the fact that he appears healthy, his future didn’t look so bright that day. The vet told us he’d never make it. He was bleeding internally. He had broken ribs. And other complications. We decided he would make it, so we took him back to the sanctuary.

rescured wild boar getting a bath

Dennis at vet.

animal rescue of wild boar

Dennis, day one

Mikki nursed him for weeks, and then he came down with a terrible fever. We remained optimistic and hand-fed him for days, ensuring he had plenty of liquids. When the fever rose to 107° we started to worry. After another week, he showed signs of improving, and within two weeks he seemed to be in full swing.

Bonding

It wasn’t long after we got Dennis that Mikki required surgery on her hand. That left the chore of feeding and tending to the animals to me, which meant I fed Dennis every day and I was the one taking care of him. The result was he ended up bonding with me.
When I go to feed him, he gets excited and runs in circles. And he loves going on walks with me, as this video shows.
But it is more than just a bonding. He has come to be a companion and, dare I say it, a friend. He has a personality that is—like all people or animals—all his own. He runs with me. Goes on walks. And even plays “hide-and-seek,” when he’s in a particularly playful mood.

Wild Boar Facts

Dennis is not a feral pig; he’s a true wild boar. You can tell by the snout, the teeth, the bristles of his hair, the coloring, length of legs, and many other features. Wild boars are often misunderstood, so for the record, here are a few facts.
• Wild boars are very fast! You can’t outrun them.
• Wild boar tusks are razor sharp and can cause extreme damage, even death to the largest predators. One swipe from a wild boar can slice your femoral artery wide open.
• Wild boars’ skin is unbelievably thick. (Think football) And the males grow an extra layer of padding on their shoulders as they mature. (Think of a tank)

Whenever you see things on the Internet about wild boars, it is usually someone hunting them, or complaining about how they destroy crops and tear up the ground, or how they do any number of horrible and atrocious acts. What you don’t see, however, are stories about how clever they are, or how playful, or how loving. Or how loyal.
You might think I say “loyal” with no degree of forethought, but that’s not so. If I’m in Dennis’ area he will not let anyone else come in. He protects me from anything. And he shares. Yes, you read that right. He even shares his food with me. I can reach into his mouth and take food from him with no fear. I dare you to try that with any other pig.

Bottom Line

I hope you’ve gotten to know Dennis a little better. He’s a real character, and a good friend. And now that he’s been with us for four years, I can’t tell you how happy we are that we saved him.

For his birthday I wrote this Haiku.

Dangerous wild boar
Remembers being rescued
Now his bite tickles

If you enjoyed this please share.

Ciao,

Giacomo

April 7, 2014

Talking Dogs and Good Storytelling

Talking Dogs and Good Storytelling

What Makes Good Storytelling

No matter the media, good storytelling requires good material. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book, a movie, or a joke—the material has to be good. But even good material isn’t enough. Any comedian can tell you horror tales of jokes that fell flat or audiences that didn’t respond.

The same goes for a book. Your story might be great, with a complex plot full of unexpected twists, but if the other factors aren’t there and if the storytelling isn’t smooth, you won’t be receiving a lot of five-star reviews.

And for a joke to work, you not only have to have good material, but the cadence, timing, and punchline have to be perfect. The same applies to the storytelling in your novel. You have to be able to control the way the plot unfolds with flow, pacing, and dialogue, all leading up to the punchline climax.

our talking dogTo give you an example, let’s listen to a joke.

Analysis

I don’t know about you, but that joke is one of my favorites. It starts out simple enough, but soon builds until you’re wondering what the big deal is about a guy buying a dog. And then, when it’s revealed, you really wonder where it’s leading. Until the end.

That’s the way I like my books, too. I don’t much care if they start out with a bang, as long as something interests me, and as long as each chapter continues to keep my interest. Good storytelling is like a drive along a long winding road—up and down, twists and curves. Think how boring it would be to drive a long, straight, flat road for five or six hours. Now imagine doing the same thing with a book. Reading page after page at the same pace, knowing what’s coming next.

Bottom Line

A great plot, even great characters, can’t propel your book to the top of the lists without a lot of help. Millions have tried and failed. Good storytelling is one of the only things I know of that can transform an ordinary novel into a bestseller almost by itself.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

April 3, 2014

Launch of New Interview Book

New Interview Book

No Mistakes Interviews

I’m writing to announce the launch of my new book: No Mistakes Interviews: How to Get the Job You Want. It is the second book in the No Mistakes Careers Series.

Far too often the people who should get the job, don’t. And the reason they don’t is because they aren’t prepared, or, they make mistakes during the interview process. This book will teach you about preparation, and about the three keys to make any interview successful.

The book is available at Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Google, and most any online retailer. It is also available on the following subscription services: Scribd, Oyster, and Inkbok. Print versions will be available at Amazon and B&N. And of course, you can purchase it on my website.

When you finish the book I’d really appreciate it if you could leave an honest review. Reviews really do help. Even if it’s not a five-star review, it helps. But even more important than reviews, is telling someone about the book. Word of mouth is still the #1 reason why books are bought. So if you enjoy the book, please tell somebody else about it.

Short description for No Mistakes Interviews: 

The best candidate doesn’t always get the job—the candidate who interviews best does. 

No Mistakes Interviews…

…will teach you how to:

  • Prepare for the interview.
  • Identify the company’s primary need.
  • Assess your skills as they relate to that need.
  • Sell yourself as the solution.

No Mistakes Interviews will help you get the job you want.

careers, job hunting, interviewing, resumes,

 

Buy the eBook here:

| Amazon| Apple | Barnes & Noble | Google | Kobo | Smashwords | Scribd | Xin Xii |

Buy the Print Version here:

| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million |

 

 

 

 

Please share

Thanks for your time, and don’t forget to let me know what you think,

 

Giacomo

March 31, 2014

The Story of Mamma Cat—A Sanctuary Tale

The Story of Mamma Cat—A Sanctuary Tale

This happened about 18 months ago. Mamma Cat was one of the invisible animals that I wrote about in a post last month.

We have a lot of animals on our sanctuary—dogs, potbelly pigs, a horse, wild pigs, and even a wild boar. We rescued one cat, but because of the nature of a few of our dogs, we didn’t feel it was safe for him to stay here, so our grandson has him. My wife has wanted a cat for a long time, and I even admitted I wouldn’t mind one as long as it slept in the barn and took care of the rats.

an animal sanctuary feral cat

MC — Hands Off

feral cat on our animal sanctuary

MC glaring at me

Then Along Came Mamma Cat

We don’t even know how long she was here before we realized it. My wife, Mikki, first spotted her late at night while we sat on the side porch enjoying a glass of wine.

“Look at that cat,” she said, and we watched the cat surreptitiously make her way into the barn.

For several weeks after that, we’d see her now and then, but she resisted all attempts at contact. She wouldn’t even eat the food my wife left for her. One night Mikki said, “I think she’s pregnant.”

It was the last thing I wanted to hear, but, as usual, Mikki was right. We found the kittens tucked into a dark corner of the barn under the tool shelves the following week. MC (Mamma Cat), as we had come to name her, stood by and watched as Mikki pet the kittens, but MC didn’t seem happy about it. The next day the kittens were gone.

It took Mikki a week to find them, this time MC had them hidden behind a fence we built as an enclosure for storing extra corral boards. The kittens were well protected, tucked between stacks of 1 x 6’s. We found remains of squirrel and rat tails, and a few feathers. Obviously MC had been busy.

finding safety on the sanctuaryMaking Friends

Mikki took food to them every day, and by the end of the week they had actually started eating it. Pretty soon, the kittens were running around the barn. The crazy thing was that when MC went out hunting, she deposited the kittens inside the fence where Dennis lives. (Dennis is our wild boar.)

I was shocked to see this, but it was apparent that Dennis didn’t mind them being with him, and they seemed to feel safe. Before long MC began taking the kittens hunting with her, at least for the small prey in our gardens. Occasionally she would sit off to the side while the kittens ate food we put out for them. If we tried to get too close, though, she would pick them up and haul them away.

Things Happen For A Reason

The following week I had to go out of town. Mikki called me shortly after midnight. She’d been sitting on the side porch watching the kittens play with their mother. Suddenly, they froze, and then the kittens ran toward Dennis’ pen. Seconds later Mikki saw why.

A coyote had come out of the woods and raced toward them. MC stayed to fend him off. I’m assuming she did it to give her babies enough time.

Mikki grabbed a stick and ran toward the coyote, but by the time she reached them the coyote had her in his mouth, shaking her. As Mikki approached, he dropped MC and ran. Using a towel, my wife scooped MC into a box and rushed her to the animal hospital. It didn’t take the vet long to arrive at her diagnosis. She was beyond help.

wild boar rescue on the sanctuaryPanic

When Mikki got home, she searched for the kittens, but couldn’t find them. After about half an hour, she heard a tiny meow coming from the house where Dennis sleeps. And there she found the kittens, curled into a ball together and sleeping next to Dennis. It was amazing to see this huge wild boar lying next to the tiny kittens.

For the next month or two, they slept with Dennis every night. One morning I even found one of them sleeping on top of him.

Out of all of the animals on the sanctuary, I don’t know how they knew to choose him, but they made the right choice. There isn’t anyplace they would have been as safe as they were with him. No coyote in its right mind would try and enter his fence.

safe at last Kittens safe at homeNew Friends

By the end of those two months, Mikki had made friends with the kittens. We had even given them names, which meant they were staying. So we had them spayed and neutered, and made arrangements to build them a proper home in the barn.

Bottom Line

Mikki never did get to pet Mamma Cat; in fact, the only time Mikki touched her was the night she died. But as you can see by this picture, she’s getting plenty of love from her babies.

And as you can see from this video, the cats are doing their job of keeping the barn free of rats.

PS: Mamma Cat was buried on the sanctuary on January 25, 2013. We buried her deep so no coyote would ever get her again.

 

Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,

 

Giacomo

 

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

March 24, 2014

What If My Dog Is Gay

Is Your Dog Or Cat Gay? 

Do you know?

I did a post a few weeks ago about the haters. Much to my surprise it did not solve the world’s problems. So I started thinking about these issues again.

What issues? You ask.

Prejudice against people of color, against different religions, and against people of a different sexual persuasion. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became. Let’s take color as an example.

Whites don’t actually hate the color black. I know because I see lots of whites wearing black clothes and driving black cars. And the lack of hate isn’t reserved for inanimate objects either. Whites have no problem owning black dogs. Black people don’t mind owning brown dogs. And plenty of brown people own gray or white dogs. In fact, the color of a dog or cat or any animal doesn’t ever seem to come into play. People love their animals no matter what color they are.

So why does it matter with people? 

I don’t have the answer to that.

And let’s take a look at religion. I’ve seen people who were friends with someone right up until the time they discovered which religion the friend practiced. But we’re safe with animals because we have no way of knowing their beliefs. I know that most of you will scoff and think, animals don’t have religious beliefs, but I might argue that point. I’m quite certain our horse follows the teachings of Buddha. I do not, however, hold it against him. 

That brings us to the big one—sexual preference. Men, in particular, seem to have a difficult time accepting another male who is gay. I have read articles where parents worried themselves to death wondering ‘what if my child is gay?’ But do they ever wonder, ‘what if my dog is gay?’ In light of that I have to pose the question…

Wild pigs on sanctuaryWhat If My Dog Is Gay?

This might be a ridiculous question, but imagine for a minute it isn’t. We have enough animals on our sanctuary for long-term observation, and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I think a few of our animals have different persuasions than others. But don’t take my word for it, look at the picture of Angel and Morgan. I also have strong reason to believe that Mollie, our boxer mix, is gay. She hasn’t come out yet, but I have my suspicions.

What should I do about it?

Our Boxer mix, Mollie

Night of Destruction

  • Should I hate her?
  • Should I turn her out and not let her sleep with the other dogs?
  • Should I stop petting her?

Or…

  • Should I continue loving her because she’s so sweet and kind?
  • Should I admire her because she is such a good dog?
  • Should I reward her because she never does anything wrong? (I have stretched the truth on this one.)

What Do You Think?

Mollie a dog on our sanctuary

Because You Left Me Alone

I’d like to know.

On second thought, forget about it. I’ve made up my mind. I’ve decided to love her. She’s a damn good girl.

ciao, and thanks for stopping by,

Giacomo

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

 

March 17, 2014

Why Indie Authors Fail

Why Indie Authors Fail

I’m not saying indie authors aren’t making it; in fact, some of them are doing amazingly well. Every day it seems as if another success story is in the news, not to mention that indie authors have staked permanent spots on the bestseller lists. It has taken a few years, but the stigma once associated with being an independent author is quickly disappearing. Despite that newfound success and acceptance, tens of thousands of indies can’t sell more than a handful of books.

Why Is That?

Visibility, of course, is one huge reason. If readers can’t find your books, they obviously can’t read them. But let’s talk about the books that readers do find…and then decide not to continue reading that author’s other books. Why does a reader stop?

Is it plot?

You might have the best, most complex plot in the world, but not every reader will agree. Some will love it and others might think it’s bad.

Is it your characters?

Your characters might be real, deep, bursting with emotion, but some people might despise them and think they’re one dimensional.

No matter what you do, no matter how good your storytelling, or how clever your point of view, or how pitch perfect your dialogue—you will encounter readers who disagree with all of it. They’ll become bored with your storytelling, claim your POV is distracting, and your dialogue is off. But there is one thing that everyone agrees on, and there can be no disagreement.

Mistakes

Readers cannot disagree on mistakes. It’s not a subjective decision. It either is or isn’t a mistake.

• If a word is misspelled, it’s a mistake. 
• If a word is used wrong, it’s a mistake. 
• If words are repeated, it’s a mistake. 
• If words are missing, it’s a mistake. 

Mistakes are the one thing that readers can, and do, agree on. Not all of them will trash a book because of a few mistakes, but many readers will. Here are a few comments taken from reviews I found on the Internet.

“I purchased this book based on the number of 5 star reviews. They must have been relatives because this book was riddled with errors. It’s the last book I’ll read by this author.”

“Had a good plot, but the mistakes distracted me so much I couldn’t enjoy it. I stopped halfway through.”

These were two out of thousands. But neither one of these readers will be buying books from those authors again. That’s a steep price to pay. It’s difficult to attract a new reader. The last thing you want to do is lose them over a few mistakes.

Why Indie Authors Fail

Why Do Indie Authors Fail—Mistakes

You can’t control what readers think of your plot—some will love it and some hate it. You can’t control what they think of your storytelling or characters, or anything else—except mistakes.

They are the one thing that is universal. If your book is riddled with mistakes…well, it’s riddled with mistakes. There is no other way to say it. Out of all the problems that can be found in books—character development, storyline, dialogue, plot, setting, prose—mistakes takes the crown as the number one complaint from readers about independently published books. And the most amazing thing, is that mistakes are easy to fix. It’s tough to redo a plot, or completely restructure a character, but mistakes are easy.

Bottom Line

Work hard at producing a mistake-free book. Hire editors and proofreaders, edit backwards, go to universities, join critique groups, find beta readers, sell your children…do whatever it takes—but get rid of the mistakes. And if some slip through anyway? People will tell you. When they tell you, pull the book down and fix it.

Remember, there are two ways to do things—the right way and the wrong way. You decide.

Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,

Giacomo

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

March 10, 2014

Sanctuary News

Dennis the wild boar

Dennis, the Great & Wonderful

Sanctuary News

It’s me, Dennis. By now ya’ll should know that if I’m doing the post it’s either because there is something funny to tell, or, sad news. Unfortunately, today it’s sad news. We lost one of our own last week. Her name was Pearl. She arrived at the sanctuary long before I did, so I’m going to have to let Giacomo tell you about her.

Pearl

Pearl came to us when she was about five years old. She was big for a potbelly, and we soon discovered she was more than a little feisty. All pigs get quarantined when they come here so the vet can check them out and perform tests to ensure they aren’t carrying diseases. With Pearl, that would have been a necessity regardless; she tried biting anyone who came near her. It took my wife, Mikki, two weeks just to be able to sit with Pearl while she ate. But Mikki had to play by Pearl’s rules—no petting allowed.

Mikki tried every day for almost a month, and she did make headway, but not much, and not in the petting department. My wife loves to spoil her animals—pet them, groom them, make sure their hooves, or nails are trimmed…you get the picture. She is amazingly good with animals, but Pearl was not an easy conquest.

Sanctuary News, PearlIt Wasn’t Just People

We soon discovered that Pearl didn’t enjoy anyone’s company. After receiving the vet’s okay, we released her into the area with the other pigs. It only took her fifteen minutes to pick a fight, and it was a doozy, requiring three of us to break it up. We built a separate pen (about 1/8th of an acre) and restricted her to that while Mikki tried to acclimate Pearl to the sanctuary.

During her third week in isolation, another new pig arrived, and she was put into the quarantine area. That night, Pearl broke through the fence that held her in, went to the quarantine area, and broke through that fence to start a fight. It took us an hour to get her back in her pen.

It was two years before Mikki had Pearl calmed enough to release her into the main area and socialize with the other pigs. Pearl didn’t fight with them, but she was far from friendly. She ate by herself, slept in a section of the barn by herself, and walked around with an attitude that dared any of the other animals to cross her. The dogs were terrified.

Middle Age

Five more years passed. Pearl mellowed some. She occasionally socialized with other pigs, and she didn’t try to attack the dogs when they walked by, but she still ate alone, and worst of all—at least for Mikki—still no pets allowed.

But Mikki never gave up hope. A few times a week she would take treats out to Pearl and sit in the grass with her. Pearl got to the point of taking food from her hands, but she wouldn’t tolerate petting, and she definitely wouldn’t allow any grooming.

Petey, the guardian

Petey

Nurse Petey

A couple of years ago Pearl began limping, and she seemed to have slowed down. This happened shortly after one of the other pigs died, and within a few weeks, Nurse Petey moved in with Pearl. It shocked us all when she allowed him inside her section of the barn.

When Petey moved in we knew Pearl was sick. It’s unexplainable, but Petey knows before anybody, even the vets. And once he takes on a patient, he sticks with it.

After that day, Petey and Pearl were inseparable. He walked with her everywhere, and the two of them slept together every night. The past few months Pearl declined rapidly. We thought of calling the vet, but then she found new life somewhere and began acting like her old self, though not as mean.

A Long Goodbye

Potbellied pig on sanctuary

Pearl

Last week, when Mikki went to feed them, Pearl didn’t come. Neither did Petey. She found them lying next to each other in the hay near the horse’s barn. Petey went to eat once Mikki arrived, but Pearl wouldn’t get up, which was a sure sign of something serious. She even let Mikki pet her.

We arranged for the vet to come out the next day. Early in the morning, Mikki cut up a cantaloupe (Pearl’s favorite food) and placed some grapes in a cup, and took them out for Pearl. She nibbled on a few pieces, but not with any enthusiasm. And then she stood up and limped over to Mikki—and lay her head in Mikki’s lap. And she let Mikki pet her for hours.

It was a magical moment.

My first thought was that it was so nice that Mikki was there to comfort Pearl as she made her transition. But that night, while I lay in bed something else occurred to me. Maybe Pearl wasn’t looking for comfort; she’d been a loner all her life. Maybe—just maybe—this was Pearl’s way of saying thanks, and offering comfort to Mikki.

If that was Pearl’s intention, it worked. That one show of affection made the previous twelve years worth it.

PS: Pearl was 17 years old.

Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,

Giacomo

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

March 3, 2014

Do You Need Someone To Hate

Wild Boar, Do you need someone to hate

Dennis

Do You Need Someone To Hate?

I don’t understand all of the hatred and vitriol in the world today. It seems like you can’t read the news or turn on the TV without seeing an example of hate crimes and prejudice. Whites hating blacks, blacks hating whites, Christians hating Muslims, Muslims hating Jews, straights hating gays…the lists go on and on.

When I say I don’t understand this, I mean it. I truly, truly don’t.

How can you hate someone based on color?

I grew up with a lot of Italians. By late summer, many of them were darker than black people I knew. Did we hate them for it? Of course not.

How can you hate someone because of their religion?

My mother was Methodist; we were Catholic. My wife is Episcopalian, my daughter Jewish, one son is Buddhist, and the other agnostic. Do I hate any of them? Of course not.

How can you hate someone based on sexual preferences?

I doubt there is a family (or at least an extended family) in this country who doesn’t have at least one gay person. Maybe you don’t know it, but it’s probably true. Would you hate them if you knew? I hope not.

If you are one of the haters, and if you have an explanation, please share it with us. If you can’t cite a reason, I have to assume that you want to hate. But if you want to hate, really want to, I can give you so many better people and things to hate.

Who Should You Hate

Hate the woman who paid to have her daughter raped by multiple men.

Hate the people in this video on pig abuse—if you can bear to watch it.

Hate the boys from Steubenville, OH, who raped the girl and took videos of it.

Hate the men who poisoned 87 elephants so they could get ivory.

Hate the drug dealers who poison so many of our children.

Hate the child pornographers, who we somehow can’t seem to catch.

Hate the thousands of senseless acts of violence that occur every single day.

And finally, when you run out of people to hate—then you can hate the haters. There are plenty of them.

Bottom Line

I’ve given you plenty of reasons to hate. You don’t need to hate someone because they’re black or brown, or Jew or Muslim or Christian, or gay or lesbian or straight, or anything else. Hate someone for their actions not their color, or religion, or life preferences.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

February 24, 2014

How To Sell More Books

Smashwords Levels The Playing Field With Pre-orders

Smashwords continues to offer authors more tools to help them compete with the big publishers. Pre-orders have long been inaccessible to indies. We’ve been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch with envy while traditional publishers touted their up-and-coming releases. If you’ve ever wondered how to sell more books, that option is now available through Smashwords and it’s easy to take advantage of.

Most of you are probably thinking—I have no time for pre-orders. By the time my book is ready, I want it up. I understand that, but this is a case where you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Think About This

What happens when you launch a new book? Are you organized? Do all of your followers rush out to buy it, or just a few? If you’re like me, and about a million other indies, it’s just a few, followed by a trickle of sales over the course of the next couple of weeks. In order to obtain a boost in sales ranking, some authors beg readers to buy their books on a certain day, even down to a specific time, hoping to get that boost. I am loath to do such things. My readers are special. I’m thrilled if they buy my books, and I’m certainly not going to ask them to buy at a certain time or from a certain retailer. So while I would enjoy a boost up the charts, I’m not about to resort to these tactics.

This is why I like the pre-order option. It does everything I’m looking for, and more. But the thing I like most about this option is it makes purchasing a new book easy for the reader. That’s what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned.

But I Still Want To Launch My Book Now

Okay, I understand. But how many of you are truly prepared for a launch?

  • Is everything ready on launch day?
  • Do you have your email campaign ready?
  • Have bloggers lined up, ready to post interviews of your book?
  • Did you arrange for guest posts and/or interviews with some of the big blogger sites?
  • Are your tweets written, and scheduled? And do you have the key influencers on Twitter signed on to help push your book?
  • Facebook posts prepared?
  • How about Google+ and/or Pinterest?
  • Ads placed and coordinated?

If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding no. I’m lucky if I get the book listed at all the retail channels on the same day.

This, to me, might be the biggest benefit of pre-orders. Being able to put my book on pre-order will allow me time to prepare properly.

Pre-orders will let you…

  • Announce to the subscribers on your newsletter that the book is coming soon, and they can order it at their convenience.
  • Build interest through social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.
  • Arrange for early readers to post their reviews once the book goes live.
  • Line up bloggers willing to review your book, or do an interview with you, or a guest post.
  • Allow you time to run giveaways or contests, all with links to the pre-order page, of course.
  • Allow pre-order customers to purchase the book at a reduced price as an incentive.

Slideshare

Here is the Slideshare from Smashwords’s site.

The following is from the article Mark Coker posted:

The presentation provides an introduction to ebook preorders, and then reveals specific recommendations for preorder timing and preorder marketing. Most of these ideas were inspired by my observations of what worked and what didn’t work for your fellow Smashwords authors.

There are several points Mark Coker makes about the advantages of using pre-orders that are irrefutable. Let’s look at a few of them.

  • Advance listing at major retailers.
  • Allows readers to reserve a copy in advance, and credit card isn’t charged until release date.
  • Capture readers’ interest on the spot.
  • Pre-orders record all at once on Apple and Kobo, allowing for the chance of a boost in rankings.

Even if no one buys your book while it’s offered for pre-order, you still had an extra two weeks of exposure that you wouldn’t have had without it. In the book business, exposure is what it’s all about. When I evaluate a tool or a service, the first thing I ask myself is,

Can this help me?

Assuming it can, then I ask,

Are there any drawbacks? In other words, can it hurt me?

In this case the answer is no it can’t hurt me. So I’m planning on setting up my next book for a pre-order. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I recently finished No Mistakes Interviews, the second book in my career series.

I’m sure Smashwords has a lot of examples on their site of how to do this, and what steps you can take to make it easier. I know several indies have already been successful using the pre-order strategy.

This is the thing I like most about Smashwords. Mark Coker is continually improving, and even more so, everything he does is in the best interest of the author. Remember, out of all the distributors out there vying for your service, to my knowledge, Smashwords is the only one that relies 100% on you, the indie author, for their success. In other words, if you aren’t successful, Smashwords isn’t successful. If you don’t make money, they don’t make money.

That gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in my gut.

If You Enjoyed This Post Please Share It.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of:
Career advice books and Gritty crime novels
He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”




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  • This blog will be a little different from many you see. Contrary to the characters in my books, I don’t really kill people, or catch those who do, so the blogs might be about reading, or writing, or animals. These are the things I have great passion for. It might also contain posts about food, or ancestry, or substance abuse. My oldest son is a great cook. My daughter is a genealogist (rootsintheboot.com) and my youngest son is a recovering drug addict. He has been clean for three years, and runs a rehab center (intoactionrecovery.com).

    I hope you enjoy the posts, and please let me know what you think.

    Ciao,

    Giacomo

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