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


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.


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Don’t Judge Your Year One by Someone Else’s Year Ten

One complaint I hear from new Self-Publishers (a lot) is how much they wish they could do what they see other authors doing.

Usually, these are authors they perceive are more successful. I say perceive because you really don’t know what that person is going through, has gone through, or what they sacrificed to be where they are now.

But know this:

You are doing yourself a disservice when comparing your progress to others.

If you’ve published your first book, it is not fair for you to compare yourself to someone publishing their third or fourth book. Your journey will not be the same. Never measure your year one with someone else’s year ten.

My first few books were duds. I’m talking bootleg covers and crappy editing. The only people who bought them were members of my organization at the time—like someone whose church family buys their book.

The problem with this is that I wasn’t reaching anyone else. No one outside of my spiritual family and genetic relatives knew who I was.

It wasn’t until The Stella Trilogy (books 6-8) that I found my voice, and people became aware of who I was. Starting this blog and the support from the blogging community also helped. People interviewed me on their blogs, let me guest post, re-blogged my articles, and helped me to cast a wider net.

I miss those days!

But this was five books in.

Five published books before I saw some ripples. That’s five years.

I share my process and my journey to be an inspiration to aspiring and new Indie Authors. I share to raise awareness about the difficulties and perks of the self-publishing industry as I’ve experienced it and to spark hope for those seeking this path.

I do not share these things for you to look down on yourself, your journey, or your process.

Don’t give up on yourself too quickly. You have your own lane. A lane that will lead you to so many great endeavors and opportunities. Walk in it.

Own the space you are in.

PS. This message can also apply to life in general.


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The Power of Systems and Consistency

I’ve been Self-Publishing my books for twelve years now. Usually, after learning I’ve published fourteen books and counting, people are astonished. They want to know what the secret is. There’s only one problem.

I don’t have a secret.

But, I do have a system. 

System: A set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized framework or method.

Every time I publish a book, I follow the same 5-7 steps. 

Call it a schedule if that’s easier, but this timetable helps me to publish with ease every time. 

Cover by Yocla Designs

This is the new book cover for my first novel, The Aftermath (2012), which I revealed years ago. I had planned to launch a second edition but still have not finished revising it. However, I won’t have to worry about a cover when I get around to it. It is bought and paid for.

As you can see, I don’t always keep my steps in exact order, but I am never too far off track because I have a blueprint to follow. 

Tip: Always get your book edited and formatted before your artist designs the entire book cover because the book’s trim size determines the book’s dimensions. A cover design (just the front) is okay if you’d like to use it to promote and build excitement, but for an accurate width of the spine, for instance, your artist will need your exact number of pages which you won’t know until the book is edited and formatted. Getting the text formatted before the final cover is complete is part of my system. 

What I am saying to you is I do the same thing repeatedly. No magic. No secret sauce. Just systems and consistency. 

I call this series Indie Author Basics because I genuinely believe simplicity is king. All you have to do is find a way that works for you and repeat it. That’s a system. A collection of parts working together. 

If you have not written your book, what can you do every day to move you closer to finishing? Could you write it every morning while drinking coffee? Could you write it before bed? During lunch? What system works for you?

If you’ve written your book but have not published it, click on the link below and schedule a call with me. If you are looking to Self-Publish, you don’t have to figure out a system. Just use mine!


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Dear Self-Published Author, Don’t Overpay to Play

“Don’t Overpay to Play”

– Vivica A. Fox

I low-key don’t like this picture because that black shirt was cuter in my mirror at home, lol.

I met Vivica in 2018 when she released her book Everyday I’m Hustling, which I read and reviewed. In it, she talks about not overpaying to play. When applied to Self-Publishing, this kind of advice can save us tons of money and wasted time.

The scammers are getting clever by the day, and they gear their tactics toward Self-Published authors. One thing we can do to arm ourselves is to understand the difference between investing in ourselves and our books and paying to play. 

Investments

An investment in your book is anything that will help with the publication, promotion, and marketing of your work in a way that brings value. These are usually services offered by well-known, reputable people and organizations that produce quality. It is when you vet and hire a competent editor, when you pay for a dope cover design, when you buy ads, when you pay for web design, coaching, and so forth. These are investments that can take you to new levels. It’s an investment because you get a return.

Paying to Play

Paying to play is paying an obscene amount of money for hype that offers no real value. They usually package these as opportunities to take your business to the next level. It could mean paying 10K to a vanity press to publish your book only to come out with a crappy cover and poorly edited book slapped up on Amazon or paying 2K to attend a pointless conference. 

Vivica explains it this way:

“When you get a little bit of success, you start getting invited to these big dinners and awards nights that on paper look like a great place to network. These invites can cost three hundred dollars and up! After you go to a few, you realize that you really just get the cocktail hour to network, and then it’s hard to see anyone once you’re seated for the presentation.”

Anytime you are paying tons of money to “get in the room,” you are overpaying to play. It doesn’t have to be literally in the room, as in Vivica’s example, but it could be anything that promises luxury but is not worth it in the end. Here are some examples from Anne R. Allen’s Bogus Agents, Phony Communities, Fake Conferences, and Pay-to-Play Anthologies: New Scam Warnings for Writers:

  • Republishing your book to send to “investors” or “get you a traditional publishing contract.”
  • Filming a pricey book trailer
  • Book-to-Film “licensing” (See my post on this heartbreaking scam And here’s Alli’s warning, including business names the book-to-film scammers use.) I hear from people every day who have been snagged by this scam.
  • High-ticket, useless marketing services.
  • Buying you an interview on a podcast or radio show nobody listens to.

And I will add to that:

  • Paying to be featured in an article no one knows exists or reads
  • Paying thousands to a vanity press only to receive poor editing and crappy cover art
  • Paying to speak at an event in exchange for “exposure” (seasoned speakers should get paid to speak)

Let’s say someone offers to promote your book to their 20K followers. What you want to look at is their engagement, not followers. No one will see your book if they have tons of followers, but no engagement. Engagement is likes, comments, saves, and shares. If they charge you money to promote on their page and they have 20K followers but 0-3 likes on a post, this is a red flag. It means chances are they bought their followers. (Buying followers is also a form of paying to play.)

Note: There’s nothing wrong with not having much engagement for the everyday social media user who is learning. I am talking about the people charging you money to be featured on their platform and using their millions of followers as bait.

Paying to play can also look like being offered a chance to be featured in an article in Forbes for the low price of $500.

Umm. Why would I pay to be featured in an article if I’m for real dope? Shouldn’t Forbes reach out to me?

This is the stuff we have to pay attention to. Many of these features in articles and media have been bought, not earned. This is paying to play the game.

I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this book tbh, but Fox drops some great gems.

Everything is Not a Scam, But Vet People

I am not one of those “everything is a scam,” type people. Some businesses are new to what they are offering and we all know to become an expert, you must start. Everybody was a newbie at something at some point. You will know the scammer by the services offered in relation to the price tag. Why am I paying 5K to attend a conference for you to tell me to have more faith? Not when I can take that money and pay for professional therapy.

AJC Book Festival

I’m passionate about sharing my experiences as a Self-Published author because there are so many scams aimed at us. They mainly target the novice Self-Publisher. I do not mean the novice writer. You can have written before and be a master of the English language and still get scammed because you know little about Self-Publishing a book. Or, you can have Self-Published and still get scammed. It can happen to any of us.

That’s why our greatest weapon against it is knowledge and experience.

“I always tell people to educate themselves with real experience.” – Vivica A. Fox


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5 Lessons I Learned from In-Person Networking

Owners / Founders of Upscale Foot Spa

With back-to-back events, it’s been a busy few weeks. Here are some networking lessons I learned so far:

Wear Your Brand

One of the first things I noticed at the AOD (Accountability on Demand) Live business conference was that many people wore their logo, slogan, or tagline on their shirts and clothing. At Poet Fest, one poet even had her name written down her pants leg.

It was a great marketing technique that I had missed. Here I am with a Calvin Klein shorts set on, and everyone else is wearing their own name brands. I went home vowing to get some t-shirts done.

But then, I realized this is not about t-shirts or wearing your name on your clothes.

I probably won’t do that.

Whether you wear your logo figuratively or literally, this is about intentionally showing up for yourself.

Message received.

My shorts set was still cute, though.

Email / Text Marketing Is Prime Real Estate

More than selling books and gaining more social media followers, I have increased my email list substantially over a month.

But why is this important?

Keeping in touch via email and/or text marketing helps you to stay connected to readers you might have otherwise never seen again.

During your book signings, speaking events, and other things, keep either a notebook and pen on your table or a tablet.

Write Email List Sign-Up somewhere and put name and email so they know where to write it.

If using a tablet, have the spreadsheet already open where people can type their information.

People will walk by and just write their name and email, sometimes even before talking to you or buying a book. How is this a good thing?

It gives you the chance to build a relationship with them later. And then, they might just consider supporting your work.

This is also why I encourage Indie Authors to sell books from their author website, to stay connected with readers: because you have no idea who bought your book from Amazon unless they tell you or leave a review you can see.

Social Media is Still King

In 2022, people do not ask for your business card. They ask for your IG handle.

The first draft of this said, “Business Cards Are Still Useful,” and that’s still a lesson I learned as it made it easier for me to give out my contact information and served as a great conversation starter.

And, while I wouldn’t say business cards are dead, they are used differently in the age of social media.

If you are old school, you can take all your social handles and put them on a card. And although people will probably stash these bad boys away in their office drawer like I did when I got home, not before they follow your Instagram, Facebook group, and Twitter.

Social media is not only King but essential considering the current pestilence situation we got going on with Covid and Monkey Pox.

I don’t take pictures wearing my mask because I think it’s weird, but I always have it and my mini hand sanitizer. Please believe it.

The bottom line is, people are online all day, every day more than usual.

This means not being online and using social media is tragic for anyone looking to grow a business in 2022.

How to Actually Network

First, I am introverted. Walking up to strangers and talking to them isn’t my thing. However, I learned that is only a small part of real networking. The other part is to discern how (or if) we can best serve each other.

How can what you do and what I do become a bridge? How can we build on what we build?

That’s what networking is, making connections and building relationships.

Practical example: You are a writer, and there’s someone in your social circle who edits. It would be a good idea to connect with that person. 

But it doesn’t have to be someone who does something similar to what you do, either.

Michael Q. Lau helps you on your journey to health by optimizing your relationship between fitness and food.

Let’s say you have been trying to lose weight, work out and eat better. There is a nutritionist specializing in fitness in your midst. It would be best if you connected with that person and tried to see how to combine your personal goal of being fit with your business goals.

How can ya’ll turn this collaboration into something more?

Follow-Up

Communication is the cornerstone of all good relationships, so keep in touch with people.

Engage with their social media, follow their blogs, check out their services, ask them questions, subscribe to their email list, and so on.

Be present.

Stay safe folks


Don’t Let Your Self-Published Book Rust Away on Amazon

I won’t keep you today, but I want to share this short message.

Most Self-Published authors publish a book, do a happy dance, and then let it rust away on Amazon, never to be seen or heard from again.

That’s because most Indie Authors are still waiting to be Amazon Best Sellers, rack up on thousands of reviews, and wait for Amazon to send them royalties.

And there is nothing wrong with any of this.

Except, sometimes those royalties don’t be royal if you know what I mean.

And getting new reviews can be like pulling teeth.

Both are important, but I want you to know you don’t have to pull your hair out waiting. There are people who have few reviews on Amazon and still do very well and it’s because they stepped outside the box. They did something different.

And so can you.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is that the book is only the beginning. It is a foundation, an open door, a ticket…

But into what??

Whatever you want.

Your Self-Published book is the beginning of a fresh course, community, even a movement for political and social change.

Writing a book sets you apart as an expert in your field. You are now equipped to speak on the topic of your book (yes, fiction writers, you too), teach the themes of your book, or advocate for the message of your book.

You can sell signed paperback copies of this book from your own website, sell them in bulk at schools, libraries, and bookstores.

You can build an entire course and online school from your book, or vend at large events, conferences, and workshops.

Strategic Self-Published authors see the book, not as the end, but the beginning of a journey into more.

And why is this important?

Because a Self-Published book lost in the sea of Amazon does not produce more fruit.

Think about it.


I hope this helps someone. Stay safe folks!

Need more Indie Author Tips?

Check out the IAB archive here.

Need more in-depth guidance? Book a consult with me.