Let’s Stay in Touch

Hey ya’ll, hey.

With yesterday’s social media shenanigans, I want to drop in to give some tidbits about how to join my author list for those of you who might not be subscribed but thought you were.

First, you should know subscribing to this blog is not the same as subscribing to my author email list.

  • Subscribing to this blog ensures you receive email notifications every time I publish a blog post.

  • Subscribing to my author list means you receive email notifications whenever I have author news to share for myself and other authors. These emails go out about once or twice a month.

“I Thought I was Already Subscribed But I Don’t Get Your Newsletters”

Due to excessive spam emails and inactivity, I deleted all emails from the first list and started over. If you remember my emails, but noticed they have stopped, it means you are not subscribed to the new list.

Because I want to make sure those who signed up want to sign up, I am not re-subscribing people manually. You must click on the link below to add your email back to the list.

When You Subscribe to my Author List:

  • You receive a free ecopy of my award-winning poetry collection, I am Soul.

  • You get first dibs on book reviews and other services I might offer. My review registry is currently closed for 2021, but my email members get the first chance at registering early. I will pick books from authors on my list first.

  • You get an inside look at what’s going on behind the scenes of my work, a summary of any blog posts you might have missed, and links to writing resources I might have discovered since we last connected.

  • If anything happens like yesterday’s outage, you are not left in the dark about what’s going on with me or the services I provide.

Click on the link below to connect with me. You will know you did it right when you receive a welcome email.

Ready???

Click HERE to Join My Community

See you soon!

What Indie Authors Could Learn from the Instagram + Facebook Outage

Today, October 4, 2021 Facebook and Instagram went down in the US.

This is nothing new. Facebook and Instagram have had outages before. I have no doubt everyone will be back online soon.

That linked article said this happened this morning, but I was on Instagram and Facebook, and it was working fine, so the outage is relatively recent. (I noticed it afternoon-ish.)

The interesting thing about all of this is it wasn’t until I sent my fourth quarter email out to my list that I noticed these platforms were down. I got an alert from the news app on my phone just as soon as I pressed send.

“Oh. Okay.”

Short story: I wasn’t panicked.

This message is simple:

It would be best to have other ways of engaging with your readers outside of these two major platforms. Instagram and Facebook might be the most popular, but they are not the only social networking sites available, nor are they the only places authors should look to when engaging an audience.

If anything permanent happened to these social media sites, I’d like people to know they can still visit me online at yecheilyahysrayl.com, contact me using my contact form and sign up to my email list and blog for updates.

Many Indie Authors depend solely on Instagram and Facebook for sharing content. This isn’t even just for Authors. Many new entrepreneurs operate solely by way of Facebook pages and Cash App. 

Not good. 

If Instagram and Facebook were to be down indefinitely, people would lose contact with most of their audience.

How so?

Well, my language is poetry so to quote Najwa Zebian: “The biggest mistake that we make is that we build our homes in other people.”

Indie Authors and new entrepreneurs make a mistake when they build their businesses solely on temporary social media platforms with no means of staying in contact with people beyond that social media site.

Consider:

You have 8,000 Instagram followers, but someone hacks you or Instagram dies. You have 12,000 Facebook followers, but FB’s dead too. Now thousands of potentially eager clients no longer exist. Well, they exist, but they have no idea how to contact you because:

  • You don’t have a website they can visit to support you. 
  • You don’t have an email marketing strategy for them to keep up with you. 
  • You don’t have a blog to continue to share your content. You know, the content you usually share on the Instagram that no longer exists.

Heartbreaking stuff.

Other Ways of Connecting / Interacting with Your Readers Outside of Facebook and Instagram

Every Author Should Have a Website

Not to beat a dead horse here, but you should really have an author website. We’ve talked about this guys. Your website is your home. It is where people can go to learn more about you, buy your books/services, and contact you. This is your main hub, a summary of all things you, the author. Websites demonstrate professionalism, and every professional business has one. Serious Indie Authors should have one too.

Blog

Your blog (which should be easily accessible from your website) is where you provide content. Blogs perform better traffic-wise than static websites because they are updated regularly with new material. I think having a blog and static website is a great balance.

Email

Your email list (which should be easily accessible from your website) is a way of nurturing relationships with new readers who aren’t following your blog but bought your book and providing updates to loyal readers who want to engage with you more deeply. 

Collecting emails to a list is important for Indie Authors because POD services like Amazon’s KDP do not tell you who the people are who bought your book. You see the sale, but not the name or anything else about the customer. This means if I buy your book from Amazon, you won’t know unless I tell you. This makes it challenging to keep track of me as a new reader and build a stronger relationship with me.

This is also why you should be pushing book sales from your author website too because you have a better connection to the people buying your books. Oh, wait, you don’t have a website. See how that works?

Some readers will do you the favor of posting about your book on Facebook and Instagram. But, wait, there is no FB and IG in this scenario.

Other Social Sites

Believe it or not, other social media sites exist. Places like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube for video, and maybe even LinkedIn can be good alternatives to communicate with your audience if the others are gone.

The point is, there are other ways of being visible online outside of Facebook and Instagram.

I hope this outage helps us to rethink our social media strategy and develop ways of moving those loyal Insta-friends over to our own platforms.

Update: All those random emails ya’ll sent out the blue yesterday to people who probably forgot they signed up to your list is like rushing out to the grocery store to buy food during a shortage rather than just stocking up before the shortage happens.

Moral: Just having an email list is not enough if you don’t use it. It can hurt you more than help you.


Meet and Greet Book Signing 11/13

On 11/13, I am hosting my first book signing since Covid. My last signing was in 2019, so I am nervous and excited to be around people again.

Please be advised we are still fighting this virus, so there is very limited space and vaccinated or not, you must wear your mask. I am also not putting in a large order of books, so first come, first served. COME EARLY.

It’s Okay to Talk About Something Other Than Your Books

At its core, businesses are built on the foundation of relationships. This is especially true in the Self-Publishing world, where authors do not always have access to the exposure traditionally published authors receive.

When it comes to social media, it’s about being social and making connections with others, so it’s okay to talk about things outside of your books. It helps people get to know you on a deeper level and feel comfortable shopping with you.

Some basics to start with is sharing a little about you and maybe throwing in your thoughts on current events.

What are some things you like to do when you are not writing? What’s your favorite color? What are you passionate about in life? What do you think about the Covid-19 pandemic and the vax/non vax wars? What about what’s going on in Haiti? When is your birthday? What exciting things did you get into this weekend?

And so on…

I’m going to make this short because the message is pretty straightforward. No one wants to be inundated with “Buy My Book” messages all day, not on social media and not in their inboxes. I know it sounds kinda funny, but people only care about how what you are saying is relatable to their lives. You really do have to care about people, which sometimes means stepping outside your comfort zone and opening up a little about other things that may have nothing to do with your books. The great thing about this is you can still come back around and tie it into your brand.

New Film Documents Mamie Till-Mobley’s Fight for Justice for Her 14-Year-Old Son, Emmett Louis Till

I remember learning about Emmett Till as early as third grade and then again, in about sixth grade.

Now, Whoopi Goldberg and Danielle Deadwyler will star in Chinonye Chukwu’s upcoming film “Till,” about Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight for justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Louis Till. All American star Jayln Hall has been cast to play the role of Emmett.

“Till” chronicles Mamie’s decision to have an open casket at Emmett’s funeral and to allow Jet magazine publish David Jackson’s funeral photos, in order to ensure people everywhere saw the true horrors of her son’s murder. The decision from the grieving mother was a galvanizing moment that led to the creation of the civil rights movement.”

https://variety.com/2021/film/news/whoopi-goldberg-emmett-till-movie-danielle-deadwyler-1235026380/

Emmett Till was brutally murdered early on August 28, 1955, one month and three days after his 14th birthday, after being falsely accused of whistling at a white woman. His mother, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley, showed his body in an open casket so the whole world could see what they did to her son. “Let the world see what I’ve seen,” she said, which became a call-to-action after Jet Magazine published the photos.

Emmett Till was in Money, Mississippi, visiting his relatives when he encountered Mrs. Bryant at a store for the summer. There are multiple variations of what supposedly took place. I’ve been following the story of Emmett for a long time, and I’ve seen pretty much every documentary made of him.

Some people say he showed his cousins a picture of his school in Chicago, an integrated class, and bragged about how he would speak to that white woman. Other accounts claim he grabbed Bryant’s hand while she was stocking candy. “What’s the matter, baby,” he allegedly said, “can’t you take it?” The most infamous accusation is that he whistled at her.

None of these accusations are true, and in “The Blood of Emmett Till,” a book by Timothy Tyson, Carolyn Bryant admits she lied.

Days after the alleged incident, Roy Bryant and his brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, kidnapped Emmett from his great uncle’s home and brutally murdered him. They then tied a cotton gin fan blade to his body with barbed wire and dumped him in the Tallahatchie River.

If you are familiar with the show, All American, you know Hall has a lisp, which could explain why he’s a good fit for the role outside of his acting skills. According to Mamie, Emmett had a speech impediment that made it impossible for him to have whistled at Carolyn.

Black Trauma

Whenever I post this kind of content, I get feedback from people saying I shouldn’t be talking about it. Some have even said they should not make the film.

I get it.

I understand the perpetuation of black trauma by the media, and I empathize with the fed-upness of black death.

I also want to acknowledge people who experience high sensitivity to these sorts of things. This post is in no way dismissive of that, and I understand if you can’t view these sorts of things.

But aside from this, consider the proverb, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”

If we do not tell our side of the story, our children will continue to receive a watered-down version of their history.

Memphis, TN, Wither’s Collection Museum. Photo by Yecheilyah Ysrayl, 2021. Used with permission.

Three months after his death, Rosa Parks communicated with Mamie Till that she thought about Emmett as she sat on that bus and refused to move. This resistance led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the opening of the floodgates for what we now know as The Civil Rights Movement.

But that is not the full story.

Rosa Parks was not some feeble old lady our childhood textbooks make her out to be, and she was not the only black woman who refused to give up her seat in defiance of segregation. Parks was 41 years young and was already working with Dr. King and served as secretary for the NAACP, where her husband, Raymond Parks, was already an active member.

Parks’ cemented her place in history, and I am sure she thought of Emmett, but she wasn’t an old lady. She was tired alright, but not physically.

“Parks wasn’t physically tired and was able to leave her seat. She refused, on principle, to surrender her seat because of her race.”

https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/rosa-parks-journey-as-a-civil-rights-icon

The NAACP was already organizing and looking for a test case about segregation on Montgomery’s bus system, but their first potential test case was pregnant and did not fit the image they wanted to represent the movement. The whole thing was carefully orchestrated in a campaign to end segregation on buses.

“They said they didn’t want to use a pregnant teenager because it would be controversial and the people would talk about the pregnancy more than the boycott.” – Colvin

This in no way dismisses Park’s historical actions (because planned or not, she didn’t have to do it) but seeks to shine a light on the other “Rosa’s” who also refused to give up their seat to support integration. We have forgotten the Claudette Colvin’s, Aurelia Browder’s, and Irene Morgan’s of the world because the writers of his-story never told their stories.

There is an entirely new generation of children who do not know the racist history of this (America) nation and how it is relatable to our current times. They can’t compare Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till because they don’t know who Emmett Till was. They can’t connect housing discrimination with Red Lining because they don’t know what Red Lining is. They can’t connect the crack epidemic of the 1980s with the Iran-Contra Affair because they don’t know history.

How did crack cocaine end up in black communities? How did it destroy black families?

As Furious Styles says in Boyz N The Hood, “How you think the crack rock gets into the country? We don’t own any planes. We don’t own no ships. We are not the people who are flyin’ and floatin’ that shit in here.”

Yes, he’s a fictional character, but a real black man (John Daniel Singleton) wrote the script.

“Why do you think there’s a liquor store on every corner? The same reason there’s a gun store on every corner. They want us to kill ourselves.” (Boyz N The Hood, 1991)

Do I think black people should be inundated with negativity and brutality, constantly subjected to the image of black men and women dying in the streets? Of course not. Black history is not only black trauma.

But no one tells the Jews to stop talking about the holocaust or Americans to stop talking about 9/11.

I believe that we encourage them to be forgotten by not retelling these stories. We can do this in various ways, not only through the display of horrific images on television.

Black women are putting this film together because they understand what it means to lose black sons, not only in 1955 but also in 2021.

I know black mothers don’t raise their sons to be murderers just as much as I know they don’t raise them to be murdered.

Jasmine Mans

About That Last Post

Hey Family, 

So, every now and again, I will accidentally publish a post from my phone. This is because the preview and publish buttons are right next to each other in the WordPress app. I always preview my posts at least a thousand times before posting. 

I removed the last post with the title “Why Are People So Hard on Self-Publishers,” because I published it by mistake. I would let it slide, but it’s not even halfway finished. 

I realize these posts are going to your emails, and it can be frustrating to get that error message. If you tried clicking on the link and you received an error message, I apologize for the inconvenience. Those links are broken because I have removed the posts. 

That author post will be ready soon, and I appreciate your patience.

It’s Okay to Begin Again

I have not been as active on this blog as I need to, but know if you see me less, that’s because I’m doing more!

Although I have not published much, I have a bit I am working on, including a new potential author client preparing to release her book (throws invisible confetti), part two to #TWWBE (Yep. Surprise), the anthology for Black History Fun Fact Friday, and tons of articles sitting in my drafts, waiting to be picked to go next.

Poor babies. Mommy has not forgotten you. I hope to get part two of Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish out this week, time permitting.

Today, I want to give you an update remixed with a lesson I’ve learned in the process.

I am starting over with my email list, and I am deleting my Business Facebook page at the close of this year.

I have had the same author email list since 2015, and hard as it was for me to accept, I don’t have the same audience. Much has changed between then and now.

I received good email opens but very little engagement. It started to feel like people were watching me, although they were no longer interested in what I had to offer. I got little feedback which made drafting and sending emails less fun. I was also getting a lot of spam sign-ups. That’s when I knew it was time for a change.

This morning, I deleted everyone from the old list* except for the two people who emailed me a reply to say they are interested in being on the new list.

*This is not my poetry list, but my general author list. If you are subscribed to the poetry list, you are good!

I started to backtrack, though. Building an author email list isn’t easy, and neither was deleting over four hundred emails I’ve worked hard to accumulate over the years. I started to send one final email asking people to reply if they are interested in being added to the new list.

Then, I realized this was an excuse to hold on a bit longer.

The truth is the interested people had already told me as such, and I had to accept that.

It is also true quality will always be better than quantity.

In the end, it didn’t matter how many people were signed up. What mattered was who was engaging. How is it only two people replied to me? I decided this was unacceptable.

I also decided to change my strategy. It is not lost on me my part in this. I’ve struggled with my list for some time, and I hope to become better at it.

And instead of deleting my email list altogether, I am starting over. I still believe in the value of the author’s email list, especially in light of how many people have their social media pages deleted.

The lesson can be summed up in the following quote:

“You get to change your mind about things that are no longer aligned with or supportive of your growth.”

– Alex Elle

Simply put, it’s okay to begin again.


How You Can Help!

  1. For Author Updates subscribe to my Email List at the link below. This is a new list. If you did not respond to the last email, you were removed and will need to resubscribe to continue receiving updates from me.

http://eepurl.com/c7VtGj

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You Don’t Have to Do What Everyone Else is Doing

I like following authors on Social Media who post about things other than their books. I wanna know that you are human and alive, that you laugh and experience pain and joy and all those other emotions.

I don’t care for how neat your Instagram page is or how color coordinated you can make it. I don’t care about every post being your book cover or matching your book cover. Yayy for your book, but after a while, that gets boring without a balance.

What’s your favorite food? What was the last movie that made you cry? How did you get into writing? What books are you in love with? How ya mama doing?

If you like to joke, joke. If you a nerd, be a nerd. Do what works for you, not what the self-proclaimed guru says is important. (Personally, I can’t stand the fun police 😒.)

This post came randomly as I am supposed to be taking a break, but ya’ll know I can’t sit still. The point of it all is you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

Now, let me go back to watching Soul Food. I’ll have an update post for you soon. It’s been a while since we’ve had a coffee date anyway.


BTW, the last day to enter this year’s poetry contest is tomorrow! Click Here for details on entering.

Unless you live in Chicago, it can be nice one day and then cold and rainy. In this case, stay warm smh lol.