Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Pet Psychic Diaries

Author: Jeanne Miller
Genre: Paranormal Memoir
How long it's been on sale: Late Jan 2011
Current price: $2.99
Total sold so far: 68
Link to book on Amazon: The Pet Psychic Diaries

Product Description:

Pet Psychic readings from the first year of working Pet Psychic Medium, Jeanne Miller.

Read about Moosie, the horse who hated his name.
Zak, the kitty who was being terrorized by a Civil War ghost.
Krebs, the blackmailing Sun Conure.
Mariah Bayou, a rescued Raccoon and so many more.

These readings with our furred and feathered friends illustrate what we have long suspected; Animals have rich and emotional lives that are much like our own. After reading this book, you will never look at your pet in the same way again.

First 300 Words:

The dream was a pleasant one.  I was sitting on a red and white checkered picnic blanket which rested on a vibrant green hillside.   I seemed to be having some kind of tea party as I saw toy cups and dishes set out along the sides of the blanket.  I looked up and to my delight and surprise; all of my guests were animals.  Dogs and cats all sat comfortably in place looking expectantly at me.  I caught a movement to my left and saw my cat Jessie escorting an orange striped cat up the hill to the blanket.  Leaving the cat, Jessie turned and started walking back down the hill.  I called out to her and said, “Jessie, come back and sit with us.”  She looked at back at me and said: “No.  It is my job to bring the animals to you.”

My cat Jessie was eighteen years old at the time of this dream and was close to transitioning.  From the moment I got her as a kitten, there was an incredibly strong bond between us.  She followed me everywhere I went and hardly ever let me out of her sight.  The thought of her not being by my side was a heartbreak that I knew I couldn’t stop from happening.  I had just recently lost my brother who had passed over unexpectedly and was still reeling from the shock of it. A few months later, my beautiful Jessie passed on and within a year after that loss, my mother became ill and she also passed.  She was my best friend.  To say I was inconsolable is a vast understatement.   All of these losses coming so closely together left me hollow inside.  I was empty and spent most of my days sleepwalking through a life that had become unbearably painful.

Vicki's Comments: First, the cover. I think it can be improved. I like the pretty colors, but it doesn't look like a professional book cover to me. I think the rainbow color scheme is what is holding it back the most. I went to Amazon and searched "memoir" just to get a feel for some of the other book covers out there. My favorites were full photographs with type on top. I think this could be done nicely with the photo of an animal. It might be fun to play with making the photograph a negative image, or black and white, to represent the paranormal aspect. I'm not a fan of the font used either, but that's an easy fix.

The description is all right, but I think it could have a bit more punch. It seems to take the emotion out of it, and from the reviews I gather the book evokes a lot of emotion in the readers who have enjoyed it. I would try to see if I could evoke some of that emotion in the description.

The first 300 words were interesting to me, but I felt as if it could be improved. The dream didn't seem to have a lot to do with the next paragraph, which was about loss. (Maybe the dream does get tied in later, and I just didn't get that far.) But I'm not sure if starting with a dream has the impact it should. In fiction, starting with a dream is very cliched. I don't know if it works here either. I also found a few errors and would suggest an editor.

Now, after saying all of that, I think the target audience for this book is very niche. It's going to be a harder book to sell just because the audience is going to be smaller. I probably would suggest visiting blogs dealing with mediums and pet ownership and get to know the people who would be most interested in this subject matter.

What do you guys think?


  1. I agree with Vicki's comments on the cover. I think a fresh design (i.e., starting from scratch) could help a lot, especially if you look at what works for other successful memoir books if that is the focus, or other pet-paranormal books if that is the focus. I didn't have a problem with the flow of the first 300 words, since it seemed the transition between paragraphs hinged on Jessie. I do agree that this is a narrow niche, and as such I think you're off to a decent start. Improving the cover and thinking about new ways to market your work could improve your sales.

  2. Thank you Vicki and Stuart. I fully agree about the cover. I had to do the oover myself and I have never liked it. I'm hoping to soon be able to afford to have one done for me. One of the problems is the dog has to stay in the picture as it was done to honor him and his owner. It made her so happy, I could never take that away. I hope I can find a cover designer who can work with this.
    I was such a neophyte at writing and publishing, I never even knew regular people could have their books edited. I used to think only published writers got editors assigned to them from publishers. I've learned a lot since then. :)
    The beginning shows what brought me to this work and since the dream was a message from spirit, it makes more sense as it goes on. But I can see where the excerpt wouldn't pull someone in unless they were already familiar with my work.
    And you are right. It is a small niche for sure. :)
    Thank you for your comments. They are valuable to me. I've been thinking about it a lot and I may just pull it until I can afford to have work done on it. :)

  3. Yeah. Cover first.

    The rainbow gradient catches one's eye alright, but not in a good way. The cut out with the ... um ... what is that? A dog on a chair? That's way out of scale for the purpose, I think.

    Font choice is not optimal. Placement isn't either.

    I think Vicki is right on in her comments about market niche and blurb, but I'd bet you're losing them on that first impression.

  4. I'd leave it up, Jeanne.

    It's not costing you anything to have it there, is it?

  5. Thanks Nathan. I keep forgetting that just because I like pretty swirly colors, not everyone does. LOL I think I should make sure to drop that from my repetoire from now on. you should see my websites! Oh my! LOL

    I appreciate your comments and yes, I guess it isn't hurting anything sitting there. I'll keep it up. :)

  6. The book probably isn't selling as well as it could because the author isn't marketing it correctly. The audience is niche, but that niche is fairly large: paranormal readers and animal lovers.

    First the cover is ok, but doesn't reflect any paranormal. A professional design could easily change that.

    The blurb was pretty bland. I didn't get any feeling from it.

    First 300 words I'll say were fine. The book reviews have all been great so unless the author packed them with family and friends comments then the book IS good.

    What I'd do- First off I'd probably split the book into three or more volumes and make it a series. The file size is 999kb which is HUGE. If the book is all printed text then that's almost 700 pages. It's just a crazy amount to read and a book that big is harder to target market within your niche.

    Focus one book on cats, another on dogs and a third on the other animals. If you have enough material then split book three into additional books.

    What that will do is let you focus your marketing. Hit some book bloggers, but your best bet will be to try to get reviewed on niche pet sites. Having smaller books that you can focus your blurb to a specific pet audience will be a huge benefit.

    If you insist on keeping it as a single book then at least focus your blurb on to the cat lovers. Cats are a huge market and you need to focus to generate that emotional connection you say your book conveys. Make sure it's listed under some cat categories in amazon too. Let the readers discover the other animals as a bonus.

    The book sounds really cool, but if it is as long as I think it is then it's just too much to read in a single book of that type. Splitting it into multiple volumes will probably help quite a bit.

  7. Thank you so much Charles. Your comments are very helpful.

    Actually, the book is not very long, but I've got 38 pics in it and I'm afraid I didn't know how to size them smaller. I haven't been able to upload to Smashwords because my file is too large. :)

    I like your idea of separating the cats, dogs and other animals. Maybe, I'll do another one and combine them together into that type of format.

    Regarding reviews, I don't really have any family other than my sister and she doesn't do the kindle thing. :) The majority of my readers are my pet clients. I have the book link in my email so as I do readings, they find out about it. A couple are other writers who bought. I've been very lucky with the reviews.

    You are right about marketing. I've a lot to learn. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. :) Jeanne

  8. For what you're trying to do, I think your cover is completely wrong. I'm a dog lover and have three of my own, and I love the cute picture, but you need to convey the sense of mysticism, not cute. You need to convince those who stop by your book that you are serious about this,m and this comes across as almost a comedyish book like Marley and Me.

    IMO, you need a serious picture of a pet, pick the type of aminal you most frequently address, cat or dog, and take a serious picture, and have someone mess with it until there's some sort of double exposure that makes the animal look like it's moving on to pet heaven, or wherever they go. Or anything that's serious, rather than lighthearted. People who are getting along with their pets and who have no issues they're dealing with probably don't seek you out as much as people who are either having serious behavioral issues with their pets, or who are distraught over the loss of a beloved pet. your best bet IMO to draw them in is to catch them when they're at their wits end or at their most despondent. Put up a cover that conveys you're there for them, not paying some cutesy tribute to animals. Yes, they're looking to be entertained, but they're also looking for insight into their pets.

    The blurb seems fine, except I'd include more dogs and cats. That's the predominant pet, and that's what MOST people are intereseted in. When the wife and I tune in to Pet Detectives on Animal Planet, we love all the stories, but the ones that move us the most are the ones about dogs because we are dog lovers and have three. It's the familiarity that breeds the greater degree of empathy. Yes, we weep for the emaciated horses, but the dog feels like family. I'd focus on the animals that feel like family to the most prospective readers out there, and that's cats and dogs.

    I think your book starts out in the wrong place as well. You start with a focus on you, and your story. I'd think about moving that to the back and starting out with some kind of instruction that establishes you as the expert, rather telling your story. The people who pick up the book want to know about animals not you. Not yet, anyway. Tell them about everything EXCEOT yourself at the beginning, instruct them, teach them, entertain them with stories about the animals, and then and only then, when they appreciate the depth of your knowledge, etc...then give them your history, otherwise the book starts out conveying the sense that you are trying to highlight how special YOu are rather than highlighting the miraculous things your abilities shine a light on.

    Good luck.
    Take care.

  9. Thank you for your insights, Fred. I appreciate your taking the time. :)

  10. I like your blurb and I like your first 300 words. The big problem I see is your cover. The pastel just doesn't give off the right feel. As others have pointed out, you need stronger colors, a stronger font and a larger photo of the dog. I understand why you want to keep the photo. If you don't have a larger one, you could use some kind of paranormal or dream theme with the dog either superimposed or as a separator between your name and The Pet Medium.

  11. Argh, I lost the first version of this post, and it was super-long. I'll try to recreate it.

    The upshot is this.

    Jeanne, in addition to the advice you've already received, here's what I want you to know.

    Yes, your book is niche, but these are potentially huge niches.

    Your first niche is animal lovers. Huge niche.

    The second niche is "paranormal reality programming." Examples are cable shows like Ghost Hunters on SyFy, Paranormal Challenge on the Travel Channel, and, on radio, Coast to Coast AM, the show Art Bell used to host but is now hosted by, I think, George Noori.

    Anyway, these two segments are kind of unique. They are not always the typical "hang out in Barnes and Noble" book buyers. They are the sorts of people who will, however, pick up books they find in pet stores, or paranormal shops. It's a matter of focusing your marketing.

    So, step 1: instead of general book blogs, or even paranormal fiction book blogs, approach bloggers who specialize in pet-lovers sites. They may not have a lot of authors approaching them, and could be quite willing to do an interview with you, let you guest-post, maybe even review or mention your book in exchange for a free copy. But you have to go directly to those pet-lover sites.

    Same goes with paranormal reality lovers. They will be the second-biggest part of your market, but again, they're not always the "own a Kindle and have 300 books on it" type. They'll buy books that relate to their area of interest. But you need to go directly to them and say, "Here's my book."

    Do that, and those types of bloggers will work harder for you than maybe even you do, LOL!

    Here's another tactic: focus in on media appearances... especially venues like BlogTalkRadio, and real radio. There are hundred, even thousands, of shows out there always looking for interesting guests with stories to tell.

    If you can learn how to tell a story in a way that works on radio, detailing different cases (calling them "investigations" helps) in a brief and entertaining way, with a lot of picture-words, then the hosts will mention your book and promote it for you.

    And if the appearances go well, some hosts will have you back, or even make you a semi-regular guest.

    CreateSpace had an excellent online tutorial on media appearances last month. I attended and still have the support materials, which are full of tips and resource information. I can share that with you if you're interested.

    Also, there's a woman who runs a paranormal book tour service who might be able to help you. Very focused on paranormal books (typically fiction, but paranormal is the most important aspect to her.)

    She helped Katie Salidas get involved with, and she now has something like 4-6 appearances on various shows there.

    The woman who runs it is named Roxanne Rhoads. You can look into her blog tours here:

    Bewitching Book Tours

    You should definite contact Roxie.

    Once you have some BlogTalkRadio appearances in, you should also look into getting booked as a guest on late-night paranormal radio shows like "Darkness On the Edge of Town Paranormal Radio" and "Coast to Coast AM" (The new host there is George Noori, I believe.)

    If you play your cards right and become a solid interview, not only could you end up on big shows like that, but hey, who knows? YOu could end up with your own Pet Pyschic show on Animal Planet or something!

    (Start branding yourself as "America's Top Pet Psychic" ... that's a phrase that will definitely get you noticed as you approach some of these media producers.)

    Hope all this helps, Jeanne. You know I wish you well.

  12. Jeanne, instead of using the picture on the cover, couldn't you create a dedication page with that photo so you can implement some of the great advice you've gotten here on the cover? I do agree that the picture doesn't convey what you're looking for. Good luck! Lisa

  13. Wow! Thank you Craig. I will be getting in touch with you. I actually did appear on two paranormal radio shows a couple of years back. It was fun. But it was because two psychics I knew hosted the shows and they asked me. Being in the public eye is a bit daunting to me.

    Thank you Lisa and Margaret. Great advice.

    Nathan made the pic of the dog really big and did a great job so I'll have a new look soon. Then when things change for me I'll have a cover designer and editor. Something to look forward to. :)

    But sweet Benjamin, the Papillon will always grace my cover. Some things are more important than sales. :)

  14. Hi Jeanne!

    Agree with everyone about the niche business, and think you could use a different cover.

    I like playing around in photoshop, so I downloaded a public domain image and put some letters on it. Only took a few minutes on it, but if you like the cover, you're welcome to it.

    (If you want to download it, just right click and "save image")

    As a fellow cat lover, I think Jessie sounds like a very loveable companion. Good luck with your book.

  15. Oh. Sorry! Just saw your latest comment that you will definitely keep the dog.

    But that's good, because I can say that I meant to say, "Jessie sounds like she WAS a a very loveable companion, and I'm very sorry for your loss."

  16. Thank you so much V.J. That was a very cool cover that you made and it was so sweet of you to take the time. :)

    Thank you for your kind words as well.

  17. Hello,

    Here you provide mice information about Pet Psychic Diaries. Being an animal lover and intrigued about the paranormal the book by Jeanne Miller called The Pet Psychic Diaries appealed to me in an instant. It is a great job at making the reader understand that animals have feelings and deserve our love and respect. Thanks a lot....


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