Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contest: Closing for Submissions Midnight!

First, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the Florida fam and anyone in the eye of the storm or who has been affected by Hurricane Ian in any way.

https://www.yecheilyahsannualpoetrycontest.org/

Today is the day!!


If you want a shot at winning one of the top four slots for this year’s poetry contest, be sure to email your poem to me at yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com by midnight tonight.

That’s 12a EST, 11p CST.

The rest of ya, figure out ya time zone, lol.

I know we can get a bit anxious as we wait for the results, so please take the time to review the following:

  • Poetry submissions close at the end of the day on September 30, 2022. I don’t read any poems until after the contest ends, and neither do my fellow judges. Feedback on entries will not be provided until the winners are announced.
  • We will announce the winners on November 1, 2022. I am an advocate for questions. Asking questions is how we learn. However, do not ask if I liked your poem or how I feel about it before the winners are announced on 11/1. 
  • Winners will be notified by email of their win at least one week before the public announcement to prepare them for their promotions. Our first-place winner also wins a personalized frame of their poem that must be customized, so the artist will need these details ahead of time.
  • It is imperative that the email you have on file is active and that it is the one you check often. We will need to pick another winner if we cannot contact you about your win in time. Not only do you not want this, but it also creates more work for us, so please be diligent. Start paying attention close to the end of Oct. Check your spam and junk folders. If we follow each other on IG, check your DM’s. Know I will do everything in my power to contact you, but if I have to call the FBI you’re gonna miss out.
  • If you submitted a poem, you should have received a reply saying your submission has been received. If you did not get this email, please resend it ASAP. 
  • We are giving away cash prizes this year, so when contacted about your win, we will ask you how you’d like to receive your money electronically. The other gifts will be shipped off to you.
  • You will be promoted on my blog, main author newsletter, Twitter, and IG pages @yecheilyah and @yecheilyahbooksllc.  Be sure you are following both (especially @yecheilyah, as it gets the most engagement).

What if I didn’t win?

We are only contacting the four winners. If, on November 1, you do not see your name among the winners, your poem has not been selected. 

I want to take the time to thank each and every one of you for participating in this contest. Putting yourself out there is not easy, and I am humbled that you’ve trusted me with your creative work. Make no mistake about it: without your support, there is no contest, so I am grateful, humbled, and excitedddd to read what you’ve blessed us with.

How Can I Read the Poems of Previous Winners?

You can check out the poems and interviews of previous winners at the links below.

**2020 was skipped per Covid when none of us knew what to do next.**

*FINAL CHECK* The little things can sometimes get away from us so remember: get your poem in BEFORE the deadline. Make sure it is on the topic of FREEDOM in some way. Double check you’ve sent it to the CORRECT email and that you are 18+.

My Pet Peeve with Entrepreneur Advice on Social Media

It’s that time of the year again when ya’ll start telling people to quit their jobs and start a business.

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Entrepreneur advice on social media is leading a lot of people astray. Here are my top pet peeves.

Telling People to Quit their Jobs

Please stop this.

There is nothing wrong with people working a traditional 9-5 or working in corporate America. Starting and running a business has a lot to do with lifestyle more than anything else. We all have different ways of life, and some of our lives aren’t conducive to the entrepreneurial arena. It can also be a mental thing. Some people are stressed out mentally from their 9-5s and want to try something new. But at the same time, some people love their jobs.

There is also the misconception that entrepreneurs work for themselves. But, the truth is even entrepreneurs depend on other people to make money. If people didn’t want to read my books/writings, there would be no one to buy them. If the hairdresser doesn’t have people who want to get their hair done, there is no business. There is no business if people don’t want to listen to your music. There is no business if people don’t buy your products/services.

“Six Figure Earner”

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This really grinds my gears.

First, when did it become cool to tell people how much money we make? I thought people who had money didn’t talk about it? Now, everywhere you look, people are talking about being six and seven-figure earners. It’s giving elitist vibes. Like ya’ll can’t sit with us type.

People are even screenshotting their PayPal and Stripe accounts and posting them to the gram. Like huh? Before you call me a hater, ask yourself if this is good business sense. Heck, is it safe? The same thing applies to taking pictures of your house keys. Congrats on the house, but it takes nothing to copy a key. My husband works in the apartment industry so I know. Post something else, but not your house keys, baby.

But I digress.

Here is why I think someone calling themselves a six figure earner can be misleading:

  • Are you making six figures consistently or did you make a mil one time and started calling yourself a millionaire?
  • How much taxes are you paying out of that six figures?
  • How much of that do you have to pay to employees or put back into the work?
  • How much of that goes toward bills and household maintenance?

The next time you feel discouraged by somebody you see on the internet, remember that social media shows us very little about how people live their lives. Many entrepreneurs still work a 9-5 to fund their businesses, and there’s nothing wrong with this unless you pretend you don’t for clout.

Missy – “Ooh. I have one.”

EC – “Missy. I’m trying to talk to the people.”

Missy – “But I’m your pet and I have a pet peeve.”

EC – “Go ahead girl. What’s your Pet Peeve?”

Missy: “Okay, okay. Okay.” *wags tail*

EC –  “Missy…”

Missy – “Okay. Okay. What gets under my fur is how there aren’t any pictures of me on this blog. Not one single photograph.”

EC – “Missy, that doesn’t have anything to do with entrepreneurship.”

Missy –  “But you are gonna let me get my own Instagram right, right?”

EC –  “No.”

Missy – “Why not?”

EC –  “You don’t have a purpose for an Instagram. All you wanna do is post selfies all day.”

Missy –  “What’s wrong with that?”

EC –  “I said what I said.”

Sorry about that. She thought because this was called “Pet Peeves,” I was supposed to talk about her.

Yes, I am an entrepreneur. Full time. But I don’t believe in shaming other people into becoming one if it’s not something they are really passionate about doing.

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What about you guys? Any pet peeves you have with advice floating around social media? We haven’t even talked about all this bad financial advice. Whew chile.

Yecheilyah’s Self-Publishing Checklist

You are gonna wanna bookmark this one!

1. Professional Edit

Editing is first for several reasons, one being that I can’t get the book formatted before it has been properly edited. I determine my production schedule on the date the book comes back from editing.

2. Digital and Print Formatting

Now that the book has been edited, it can be formatted for digital and print. Formatting for digital ensures that it flows properly when you read it on your kindle, phone, and other e-devices. 

Print formatting is vital to ensure the intended finished size of the book is how I want it. The most common size is 6×9 for a standard paperback. Poetry books tend to be smaller, 5×8, and workbooks are larger, maybe 8×10.

When I published my first poetry book, I chose 8×10. Imagine a poetry book the size of the 8×10 picture on your wall. Yes, it was a mess.

Oh, and Microsoft Word will not take care of your book formatting for you. Converting an MS word document to PDF and uploading it as is, is why many Self-Published books look messy and all over the place on digital devices. It can also make the printed book look poorly done, such as having too much spacing that makes your novel look like a College Essay. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.

Don’t skip on formatting. How your book looks inside is important.

3. Professional Cover Design 

Technically, the cover can be worked on as the book is being edited. A finished cover can be used to help promote the book if it’s done early and even kick off early preorders.

However, there’s a reason cover art is not right under editing. 

To complete the entire cover (front, back, and spine), the artist needs the exact number of pages and the book’s trim size. Usually, the number of pages changes after formatting. Also, some books are too thin for a spine. If I give him/her the wrong size, it can affect how the book prints, and then I’ll have to get it redone, which can cost more money.

While I can get away with a finished cover, I cannot complete the full artwork before steps one and two are accomplished.

As you can see, I have a strategic reason for publishing in this order.

4. Buy / Assign ISBN

I buy ISBNs in bulk, so this part is usually already done. If it’s not, this is around the time I get them.

5. Upload Files to KDP / Ingram Spark / Draft2Digital

This part requires its own post to fully explain. I’ll do my best to keep it short but clear. 

I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing and Ingram. KDP for Amazon and Ingram for wholesale distribution to bookstores and libraries.

How it works is I upload my files to KDP per usual, but I DO NOT select expanded distribution. The reason is that if you are making your title available in both self-publishing systems, that makes the title available to Ingram and will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload it into IngramSpark.

Although Amazon works with Ingram, publishing with Ingram separately makes it easier for your book to be ordered by bookstores. And bookstores hate Amazon, by the way. The thought of carrying a book published by Amazon gets their blood boiling. That’s another reason it’s good to have your own ISBN. It can make it easier for the store to carry your print-on-demand title without being distracted by the fact it was published independently by Amazon.

After publishing with Amazon, I go through the process of uploading my files to Ingram Spark.

If step three was not done properly, this is the part I can get stuck on. The cover must match the size of the book and the artist must provide a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.

Lastly, I upload my files to draft2digital for distribution to all online retailers, from B&N, to Kobo, to iTunes. 

6. Order Proof Book 

Order the proof copy of the book from Amazon and Ingram. Check for errors. 

7. Start Production Schedule / Publish Book

Now that the book is complete, I can kick off the production schedule. 


Wanna Use this System for Your Book? Click Here to Schedule a Personal Consult with Me


Takeover Tuesday: The Invisible Woman: Black Women and Infertility by Yecheilyah Ysrayl

The number of women coming forward about how they can relate to this is truly humbling. Check out my guest post on Navigating the Change blog and if you can relate, be sure to drop a comment on the post (if you feel obliged), so other women can see they are not alone. 

Click the link below to read the article.

Stigmas die when we speak up about the things that matter.

The Invisible Woman: Black Women and Infertility

Dear Self-Published Author, Reinvest in Yourself

The financial part of Self-Publishing is not talked about enough. Lack of funding can get in the way of an author producing a high-quality book which can get in the way of that author selling that book.

One solution you can employ is to reinvest in yourself by taking the money you make from your book to publish more books!

I’m a slow writer. By slow, I mean I only publish 1-2 books yearly. I have no plans of publishing a book this year. But here’s the twist:

The money I made and saved in 2022 will help me to publish in 2023.

I have the privilege of speaking at Griffin High School again this year. As you know, teaching, children, and writing are all passions of mine, so whenever I can combine them is a plus. This will pay for editing my black history book. The money I made from book signings will help to cover the cost of the cover and other things.

See where I’m going with this? I knew you would.

If you think about it, by reinvesting, you are not spending your own money!

It’s about changing your perspective and putting those creative skills to work.

No. I did not publish a book this year.

I’ve been stacking my coins so I can publish two books next year.


Need more Indie Author Tips?

Check out the IAB archive here.

Need deeper guidance? Schedule a free discovery call.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – 5 Things You Didn’t Learn About the 1963 16th Street Church Bombing

Yesterday marked the 59th Anniversary of the bombing of the sixteenth street baptist church that killed four little girls on September 15, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama. After revisiting revisions for the book, I realized I hadn’t included a chapter on this story. You’ll have to get the deeper details later. For now, here are five things we didn’t learn about that tragedy.

Bombings Were Common in Black Homes and Churchs At That Time

Part of the shock and awe factor was the audacity of someone to bomb a church. But, this wasn’t the first time a bombing had taken place. African Americans lived in constant fear as bombs and riots erupted during summer. On December 25, 1956, the KKK bombed the home of civil rights activist Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Fifty dynamite explosions occurred in Birmingham between 1947 and 1965, giving the city its nickname “Bombingham.”

Campaign to End Community Integration

The bombings started as a campaign by white people to stop Black people from moving into all-white neighborhoods. Governor George Wallace and Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Conner went the extra mile in their fight to keep the south segregated. The starting point of many marches, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was a target because it was where civil rights activists held many meetings during the 1960s.

The Fifth Little Girl

A fifth little girl was injured but survived. We don’t hear much about Sarah Collins Rudolph, but she was the sister to Addie Mae Collins and was present in the basement with the girls during the explosion. She was blessed to survive, though she lost her right eye.

The Two Little Black Boys

Sadly, the four girls weren’t the only tragedy that happened that day. Shortly after the church bombing, someone killed two black boys, Johnny Robinson Jr. and Virgil Ware. In the book, we’ll dig deeper into their story and what led to their deaths.

A Separate Service

With over 8,000 attendees and Dr. King giving the eulogy, Carole Robertson’s family opted out of the joint funeral and held a separate, private funeral for her. I can’t say that I blame them. What’s worse than seeing the small casket of your now deceased daughter but also having to see the three coffins of her friends?

Black History Facts You Didn’t Learn in School

Coming 2023

Throwback Thursday Jam – You by Jesse Powell

Yep. Throwback Thursday is baacckk.

It’s so sad that Jesse passed a day after his birthday at just 51 years old. This is another example that life is short so live it and dance to this jam while at it.