SHOW YOUR WORK Controlling What You Can Control   

Lately much of my life feels out of my control, not the least of which is this challenge of releasing a book in the time of COVID.

Today I spent my entire day begging for reviewers on Instagram, WordPress, Twitter, and pretty much anywhere I could find a dog-friendly writer (or bookstagrammer or bookblogger) who might be interested in reading my book and reviewing it on their platform.

100 dogs coverThis frenetic activity was triggered by the news that my books (my REAL books, not just the e-galley) had arrived in Simon & Schuster’s warehouse. This means that I might actually (finally) see a copy of 100 Dogs & Counting!

This is monumental. Maybe it doesn’t seem so to you, but for me, well, it means something is finally going my way. In a normal world, I would have had print galleys in my hand at the beginning of March, and actual hardbacks a month ago. But, I’m sure I don’t have to remind you, it is not a normal world. And in my weaker moments, I worry it never will be.

The news that the books are available meant that I could finally offer them to reviewers. Up until this point, I’ve been offering e-galleys to reviewers, but many (many) reviewers will only read hard copies. And some of the reviewers who agreed to read the egalley still haven’t read it. (Which I totally understand because I hate reading on my screen too.) Only a handful of reviews have straggled in by the most dedicated of souls (thank you, thank you, thank you).

While I haven’t been able to offer print copies of my book to reviewers, I have been gathering their information and stalking them, reading their blogs and/or following their Instagram.

To keep all the names from blurring everyone together, I developed an index card system (I’m old-school like that). On each card, I put the name, info, contact info, a few notes about who they are, how many followers they have, their dog’s name (important), writing style, etc.

I keep them grouped:

QUERIED: people I’ve already asked for help/reviews

HARD COPY QUERY: people who I had to wait for hard copies to query

MAYBE Q: people I need to stalk longer to be sure it’s a good fit

YES!!!:  people who’ve said yes to reviewing and I’ve sent an e-galley to

POSTED: the people who have posted a review or promotion

NO: the 2 people who said, no thank you – one is afraid of the subject matter and the other is too busy with grad school


Each stack is organized in alphabetical order and the stacks fit nicely in this little box I found. It all feels incredibly under control. Perhaps the only thing that feels under control for me and this book launch at this point.


I think having a system for system and being intentional about this process of promoting will keep me from letting ideas and people fall off my radar as the launch approaches. Even still, I feel like I’m trying to wrap my arms around a gigantic blob of ooze, holding it together and knowing so much is slipping out.

This is all new territory for me. I’d much rather be planning a book launch party and book tour, stuffing my calendar with signings, and designing swag to hand out. Hopefully, those things will happen. I’m trying to stay hopeful and positive and not allow myself to go down the ‘why me-why now’ tunnel.

Asking for help all day is making me feel vulnerable and scared, but also grateful to the strangers who are stepping up to help me.

Yesterday I zoomed with another author who is also being published by Pegasus. Her book comes out in October. We shared what we are each doing to promote our books and she invited me to be a guest on her Yappy Hour at the end of this month. Teresa is the author of the bestselling, The Dog Lived (and so Will I) and her new book is Poppy in the Wild. I’m excited to read both (and the one in between).

I think releasing a book in the time of COVID is hard, but one thing (among many things) it is teaching me is that most people are generous and kind, and strangers can be your best allies.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.


Cara Sue Achterberg with pupCara

If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website,

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this county, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at

COMING JULY 2020 from Pegasus books (available for preorder):

100 dogs cover

Available now:

Another Good Dog cover

Find out more about fostering dogs at!




Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

One thought on “SHOW YOUR WORK Controlling What You Can Control   ”

  1. Cara, contact Marilyn Armstrong at She reviews books from time to time and is known as a book blogger. She also loves dogs and rescues them. I also contacted my friend Lois who follows you on Facebook and loved Another Good Dog. Maybe she’ll get in touch with you.

    I love all those notecards. I did a spread sheet when I was doing this — pretty much the same but less attractive and literary.


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