David Wolstenholm is the author of Combat Ready, and he served in the Marine Corps infantry as a TOW Gunner from 1998 – 2002. He was deployed twice, first in 2000 to the Mediterranean, and second in 2002 to the Middle East and Africa. David served with the 2nd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment.
In 2005, David became a Christian, and in 2009 he began attending Andrew’s University Theological Seminary on a part-time basis. He did this for two years before attending full-time in 2011. David has a passion to reach people who are suffering through life; he has a special place in his heart for fellow veterans and youth. He served as a youth pastor for one year in Virginia before moving to Michigan to complete his studies. David is currently in the process of transitioning to Redding, Calif., where he will be an associate pastor at a church plant.
David recently had a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in Mishawaka, Ind. Here, we talk with David to learn what inspired him to write Combat Ready, and to ask him for advice for his fellow authors to land book signings at their local bookstores.
WestBow Press: What inspired you to write Combat Ready
David Wolstenholm: I was inspired by two sources. First, I heard a sermon where the speaker was using military boot camp in comparison to the Christian life. It was a good example, but the speaker had never been to boot camp. This inspired me to write a first-hand look at the similarities between military and Christian experiences. My second inspiration came from God. I always had a sense that God wanted me to write a book, it just took several years to figure out what it would be.
WBP: What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
DW: That being a Christian isn’t easy. It takes hard, deliberate work to be a Christian, but with the power of God, you can overcome evil. If you happen to be a veteran or in active duty, your experiences there help make you uniquely qualified to be a Christian.
WBP: As a self-published author, it is important to have a strong author platform. What have you done to help your author platform?
DW: When I first published my book I had no author platform, and I quickly realized that needed to change. I already had a Twitter account, but I didn’t really use it too much. I started deliberately following people who I thought might have an interest in my book. Now, I have almost 4,000 followers. Next, I started working on my blog, The Carpenter’s Ministry. I also listed Combat Ready on Goodreads, created a Goodreads Author account for myself and created a Facebook page for Combat Ready. Other social media outlets I use: Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Amazon Author page, Reddit and Stumpleupon.
I realized this too late: you need to have an author platform before your book is published. If you are currently working on your first book, start working on your author platform at the same time.
WBP: Is there one social media site you prefer and highly recommend to other self-published authors? Why?
DW: I would have to recommend two. The first one I would recommend is Twitter. It is the easiest way to meet people from around the world who may be interested in your book; I have sold several books just by meeting people on Twitter. The second one I would recommend is a blog. You need to have your own blog because it is a place where you get to tell people a little more about yourself and what your passions are. I really like WordPress because it allows you to link your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts right to your blog. This means that everyone of your friends and followers on those social media platforms will automatically receive an update for any new blog post.
WBP: You had a book signing back in February, and you had a book signing this past Monday at a Barnes & Noble in Mishawaka, Ind. How did you set those up?
DW: They were both pretty easy. The one I had in February was at my school, so I just cleared it with the Dean and sat out in the commons area and signed and sold copies of Combat Ready. Getting a book signing at Barnes & Noble was just as easy. I called the store and asked to speak with someone about doing a book signing. I called several stores and was able to set up a book signing at two stores. I had a book signing this Sunday at a Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Mich., and then the book signing on Monday in Mishawaka, Ind. Barnes & Nobles created a poster for my signing, ordered the books, and advertised the event in their publication and on their site.
WBP: What advice do you have for fellow WestBow Press authors for scheduling book signings at their local bookstores?
DW: Try to do it on a special occasion, or a time that coordinates with your book’s message. Since my book deals with military, I scheduled mine on Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, you can’t really predict or control the weather, and since it was nice out on Sunday, not many people came to the mall. But, on Monday it was rainy and the mall was much busier. The best thing you can do is call bookstores and talk to them. Don’t be afraid of being rejected.
WBP: What suggestions do you have for hosting a successful book signing?
DW: Make sure people know that there is a book signing going on. Promote it heavily on social media, and try to get a hold of local media to see if they would like to cover it.
WBP: Do you have any plans for writing another book?
DW: Yes, I plan to build off of Combat Ready. I am going to start writing a fiction series based off of it, as well as I would like to write a devotional book based off of it. I also have a different book I would like to write called, Sin and Salvation: Make the Complex Simple.
Combat Ready enables the reader to understand the experience of military life with a spiritual twist. The book comes to life using various stories of David’s and other veterans’ military experience. Combat stories will get your heart racing as life and death are hanging in the balance. Combat Ready will open your eyes to the larger battle being waged between good and evil. It will show you how to be equipped for this battle and how to keep pushing forward in the Christian faith. It shows veterans and active duty personnel how, through their experiences, they are uniquely qualified to be Christians.