What Will You Leave Behind?

When the dust settles, and the maggots hug your flesh. A flesh that is no longer yours. No longer powered with your personality, characteristics, flaws, successes, laughter. A flesh that can no longer see through your eyes, hear with your ears, or feel with your heart. A lifeless corpse of talent now rusting away, intermingling itself with the dirt and gravel. What will you leave behind? When your talents are but mud in the earth, will your name linger on the edge of the people’s tongues? Even so, in what capacity? For names have a tendency to stick around for better or for worse. What will you be known for? Will your children grow to benefit from your works? Will you stretch your arms forth in the breath of yesterday and kiss them with creativity? I wonder if my children will live to cherish my books one day. If they will become heirlooms on the shelves of memory. Will my offspring reminisce on an existence that did not include them and yet somehow influenced their decisions still. I am myself obsessed with the mentality of my ancestors. Both the righteous and wicked works of their past and how they have shaped the world before me. From the healing instrument of the music, the perfection of the Afro, or the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four little girls in Birmingham, where I can still taste the stench of mourn. The nostalgic images of yesterday and the way they Underground Railroad themselves into the future. I am forced to ponder the thought, what kind of tracks will I leave behind for others to follow? Will the sweat of labor coddle my children’s tears, or will it just become moisture for the worms of the earth when the dust has settled, and the maggots hug my flesh. I wonder.

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Just Write the Damn Book Already #MayChallengeDay23-24

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I really debated on whether to publish this or not. I definitely wanted to, but I was not sure I wanted to hear anything else about book publishing, let alone you. Of course, this is what I do so that boat has sailed for me. I opened my email this morning and there was confirmation that I needed to indeed hit this publish button on this. In that email was this quote:

“Book writing tip: For every 1 hour you spend marketing your book, spend 100 hours writing something worthy of being marketed.” —Jon Acuff

The secret is this: Good books market themselves.

I didn’t have a plan for The Stella Trilogy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, you definitely should. But to be honest, I didn’t! And yet, these books have turned out to sell more and to be my greatest work to date (far as reader interest is concerned). Sure, I could use more  reviews, but the big picture is that I did it and in my humble opinion, it has been successful so far. Not by way of numbers. I didn’t make Amazon’s #1 spot (I made #17 though!) let alone NYT. What I did however is make an impact on peoples lives. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve worked very hard (your not getting off that easy!), but almost everyday there’s a testimony from a reader about how the books changed them. One European woman messaged me to say that before reading Stella she didn’t know what the NAACP was (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The young woman doesn’t live in the United States by the way so before you judge understand that whats prevalent over here isn’t in other places. The point is that the books have touched people and that’s what has made it succeed. Though I didn’t have much of a plan, the books are genuinely good stories so they market themselves.

Everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing. Funny thing is that most of what you read about Self-Publishing is not entirely the case, no longer accurate, or just completely untrue. Advice itself is subjective. Personal. It “could” be true or maybe its not. Maybe the moon is really made of cheese.

The Industry is changing faster than you can finish writing one book, let alone several. By the time you finish that book, chances are the research you did will have a different face to it. What works for one author may never work for another. Interestingly enough, this means we really only have our experiences and expert opinions which is a fancy word for “I tried this and it worked. Maybe it will work or you too”. Like I said, there’s LOTS of advice out there, and while some of it is awesome, at the end of the day you have to write a good book. What I love about Self-Publishing is that with each new project I learn something new. This year, I am learning the value of writing a great book. Whether marketing, promotion, or whether or not there are green men on mars, at the end of it all I need a story that will keep readers reading AND keep them talking about it. (Maybe the men aren’t green. Maybe they’re grey. Or maybe they have skin suits).

Authors across the board, Indie or Traditional, simply must produce engaging content. When I review a book I read, for instance, its as if I’m a reader because I am. Meaning I’m not a grammatical geek with glasses on the tip of my nose saying a series of “Ah ha”, “Hmmms” and “Isn’t that Interesting?” I’m just a reader looking for a good story. I’ll leave the editing (OK so maybe you do have one too many sentence fragments) to the editor. For me? I just want to enjoy what I read and you know what? This is the mind of the reader as well. The sob story for Self-Publishing is not Self-Publishing. The sob story is that people are not writing good stories. It (SP) got its stigmas because with the increase in technology, people became so fascinated with the idea of book publishing than producing a good book. Everyone wanted to know what it felt like to hold a book in their hands that they wrote. Everyone forgot that writing is still a skill and we had people to enter this industry who never knew how to write but saw On Demand Publishing as an opportunity to publish a book. This can’t happen in other fields. You can’t walk into a doctors office and start to diagnose people. You don’t have the skill.

Indie Publishing is the IT thing right now. All of the cool kids are doing it but writers are driving themselves crazy with all the information out there. “What should I do?” “What should I not do?” “What’s fact?” “What’s fiction?” “Should I outline?” “Should I not?” “Should I promote this way or that way?” “Should I pay?” “Should I not pay?” “Am I doing it wrong?” Just write the damn book already!