Do Not Ask What, Ask Why

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We’ve known “What” since stepping foot off slave ships. We’ve known “What” since the crack of the whip. We’ve known “What” since Lynch mobs and sharecropping. We’ve known “What” since overseers, paddy rollers and colored signs. We’ve known “What” since the back of city buses and Jim Crow. We’ve known “What” since crack, ghettos and foster homes. Indeed, if there is anything black people are familiar with, it is what. The question is therefore not what, the question is why? Why the haunting images of public executions of black men? Why does the protests of Black Lives Matter mirror that of the Civil Rights Movement when we should have moved passed this? How is it that what happened 50 years ago and DIDN’T work, will somehow work today? Have we not marched? Have we not protested? Have we not already sang freedom songs and willingly gone to prison? Why are black people at the bottom of every single ethnic group and society there is? Why have we been here for nearly 400 years and have yet to produce the economic standing of nations who have been here not even half that time? The question is not what, the question is why? Why are things always so black and white? Why is it always black against white?

In the book of Exodus there is a story. This story is about the Israelites. Pharaoh said to kill off the Hebrew boys for fear that the Hebrew population would grow and that they would overrun the Egyptian population (Ex 1:9-16). More so, they will do unto the Egyptians what the Egyptians have done unto them. Fears of uprisings among African Americans can be traced back to the days of Nat Turner. To think this fear has been lost or has gone away is not to have been alive.  You see “Why?” has been around for centuries and on the tongues of every prophet. “Why?” is in the blood of every black man and woman walking this earth today. It is in every breath we take, and every move we make. “Why” is in our very DNA, our living souls breathing proof of the covenant we made so long ago. Do not tell black people that they should not be angry when our sons blood cries out to us from the ground. Instead, ask “Why?” Do not ask What, Ask Why because why is the key to everything. Why is understanding that what is happening out there is bigger than any man. “Why?” is understanding there is a reason black lives do not matter in this land. “Why” is understanding the story of Israel, the covenant they broke, and its connection to the black man and woman in America today. You see, “Why” is the key when you are the people of the book, when the police is Pharaoh, and America is Egypt.

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Self-Publishing: The Business of Writing 101 (6 Basics)

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When I published my first book, I didn’t see my writing as a business. It was just me doing what I’ve always wanted to do. However, as I began to learn and as I continue to learn, I quickly discovered why Self-Publishing requires so much work: It’s a business.

That doesn’t take away from the fun of it, but the realization did help me to become more organized. I quickly learned why no one was buying: I wasn’t working! Writing is working, technically, and I was doing plenty of that. However, I was not working on the skill of writing, researching my industry, understanding tips to help me to write better books, promoting, marketing, and everything in-between. I was writing, sure. But the business of writing? I didn’t even know it existed. I was a writer and that was all. When I got into the business of writing however, that’s when I  became an author.

From The Online EC Dictionary:

Writer – (noun) a. a person who writes b. a person who writes stories, letters, books, manuscripts, manuals, c. a creative person who enjoys writing things down d. an artist who paints pictures with words

Self-Published Author (noun) – a. a person who finances, publishes, markets, and promotes their writing; b. a writer whose job is to publish books, may include attending book signing events, interviews, applying for grants, entering contests, etc., c. entrepreneur d. writer who paints pictures with words and then sends them out into the world.

The Business of Writing 101: The Basics

  • Author Platform – This is by far the most important part of your journey. BEFORE you publish your book, make sure you have either a blog or website that showcases your writing and personality to some extent. This is the most powerful way for people to get to know you. Why should people get to know you? Because you are not just a writer. You are going from Writer to Self-Pub Author my friend. No longer do you just paint pictures with words, but you are about to send them out into the world. But first, you need to introduce yourself to all of your potential readers. (I suppose you don’t need to start a blog but in my experience this blog plays a critical role (more so than a website and FB) in helping me to run my writing business by giving me a platform where I can receive instant feedback and constructive criticism on my work before I publish. I mean, look at all those faces subscribed to The PBS Blog, we can’t let them down now can we?) Below are the 10 Best Blog Websites of 2016:

Top Free Blog Sites

  1. WordPress (Yes, we’re number one baby!)
  2. Tumblr
  3. Blogger
  4. Medium
  5. Svbtle
  6. Live Journal
  7. Weebly
  8. Postach.io
  9. Pen.io
  10. Ghost
  •  Social Media – Set up your social media pages BEFORE publishing your book, not after. Primarily, set up a Facebook Page or Group, Instagram,  and Twitter account. These are the 3 basic social platforms but do not be deceived by the hype: They may not all work for you. Play around with what’s out there and stick to the one that works for you. YouTube is another platform, and Pinterest is another. I’ve found Twitter is my best home base. By Home Base I mean that place where I receive the most interaction. For you that may be Facebook or Instagram. Find the right platform for you, not for others. In fact, you want to be on the platform your readers are on. This means identifying your Target audience and then placing yourself in the places they are. In any event, start your social media craze before your books is born.  This will give you another easy way to share your writing and also connect with others.
  • Newsletter – Place a newsletter sign up form on your blog or website and start to collect emails early on. How to ensure people are actually reading your emails is a separate post. Right now we’re focusing on the basics and basically, get that newsletter up and running early on. Some people say not to worry about the newsletter if you have a blog. I say do worry about it. Look at it this way: Your email list is a permanent tool because if your website goes down or your blog or your social media pages you still have access to the group of readers who love your work. By collecting emails, you can reach people on a most personal level (Tip: Don’t sound all businessy (< Yes, made up word) in your emails. Let your personality shine. People like to connect with other people so be yourself). The link below is a good start for researching the email newsletter service that is right for you:

The 25 Best Email Marketing Newsletters and Apps

  • Investment – Save your money. I know, not a lot of people talk about this when it comes to Self-Pub and it was the furthest thing from my mind when I set out to publish my first book but you can do better than I did. It’s a mistake to think about the financial aspect of book publishing during the publishing process. Everyone remember the 6 ps? Say it with me: “Proper Planning Prevents Pissed Poor Performance.” There’s nothing like a strong foundation and so yes, save your sheckles. Investment doesn’t have to be a scary term. It’s not like you’re buying stocks. Investment just means to put money toward a product, or service for profitable or material gain. I don’t like fancy smanshy words so let’s keep it simple: You’re saving money to go toward your writing to increase the chances of you making a profit because as with any business you have to be willing to invest in your work.  You will need to pay for book cover design, editing, formatting, and the cost of print books, business cards, book marks, and promotional items (all of which increases the books chances of selling and i.e. you making a profit). While there are tons of free ways to produce all of these to some extent, for a truly professional outcome it’s going to cost you some investment. Let’s face it, no one wants their books to look bootleg. Createspace’s available book cover freebies? I don’t think so. There’s just too many Self-Pub books to read to take the easy route. Cover design is the difference between me deciding to read your book and make a sandwich. (The most important investment is time. At the end of the day the books that sell are the books that are well written. At the end of the day it is still about the story so make sure you’re putting time into your writing).

The most important investment is time. Make sure you’re putting time into your writing.- Tweet This

  • Streams of Income –  Authors aren’t rich. Well, most of us aren’t (Can’t speak for you six figure Indie Author makers. Y’all better work!) So, for this reason, if you’re deciding to quit your job and write books, first you need to take the time to invest the money you have into your book publishing business. Yes, I said publishing business. No, I won’t explain, we’ve been over this. Writing is a business. So, back to the point, before you throw in the towel you may want to  seek grants or enter contests where the prize is large sums or even small sums, of money. The most wise thing however, is to take the money you’re making from your 9-5 and invest it into your writing. (I think those with jobs who want to write books are in a great position. You have the financial resources to save!) Writing a book doesn’t mean you can’t get a part time job or offer other services that is going to put money in your pocket to dedicate to your books. One of the first things you’ll notice as you begin your journey is that the money you do make from writing books is going to often go back toward your work. Everything made is going to go back in and it’s going to be many years before you start to see some real profits. However, you can avoid the feast of famine with proper planning, investment, and multiple streams of income.

Cover design is the difference between me deciding to read your book and make a sandwich. – Tweet This

  • Less Talk, More Action – I’m a workaholic for a reason. In fact, many entrepreneurs are. There’s a saying I try to always keep in mind as I work. It helps keep me motivated and planting seeds: “Bad boys hit hard, but move silent”. Self-Publishing is the “IT” thing right now. Everyone wants to show that they’ve written a book even though the reality is that not everyone has the skill. While it’s exciting to boast of having written a book, make sure you’re also sharpening your writing skills, and doing the hard labor on the back end that ensures proper presentation and production of the end product. Make sure  that your books are actually reaching people. I’m not saying to quit because no one read your book because that’s not the reason (I’d hope) that you write in the first place. What I am saying however,  is that I love to write, but I refuse to keep pushing out work without also monitoring the growth and development of that work. As part of the Self-Publishing process, I do not just write books and neither should you. I also study the writing field, calculate the financial cost of publishing a book, surround myself with professional men and women who could help me, surround myself with family members and friends who will support me, and write books that will expand conversations and start discussions.

Bad boys hit hard, but move silent. – Tweet This