Author Caution: Be careful putting all your eggs in one Basket

 

Since B&N was sold (no panic neccessary….related article links below) and since Instagram went down (again), the time is right to repost this message. It’s long but I recommend reading all the way through. It was originally published December 5, 2018 after Facebook went down. Since then both Facebook and Instagram have had continual glitches, Google Plus is no more and Createspace is now Kindle Direct Publishing.
 
 
After experiencing multiple problems with Facebook the other day, amazon admitting to accidentally sharing people’s personal information, and reading Derek Murphy’s email about hacks, author websites and updating passwords, I think it’s time to publish a post that has been sitting in my drafts (and in my heart) for some time. It has also been a while since I’ve dedicated significant time to this blog and as we come upon the end of the year; I think it’s a good way to get us thinking about potential changes in 2019.
 
Be careful putting all your eggs in one basket.
 
 
When the stock market crashed in 1929, it shocked people. They couldn’t believe they couldn’t get their money out of the banks. It was like in the movies when there’s a natural disaster or alien invasion. Right before it all comes crashing down, life is perfect. A family is sitting at the table eating breakfast. Soccer moms are dropping their children off to school and dads are hoping for that corporate promotion. And then it happens, right there. You are at the breakfast table eating a bowl of cereal and your kitchen floor splits in half with your toddler on the other side of that half.
 

This is how quickly things change.

Life before the crash was great. People were doing well. People bought stocks with easy credit. During the 1920s there was a rapid growth in bank credit and easily acquired loans. People encouraged by the market’s stability were unafraid of debt. People were comfortable. So comfortable that they weren’t prepared when it all came crashing down. Not everyone was as affected though. The great depression didn’t affect poor people as much as those who had wealth because poor people were used to having nothing. Many of them were also already growing their own food, and already self-sufficient. They had to be innovative and entrepreneurial to survive.

There is a bitter and yet wry statement which was made by blacks about the depression. They said in the south that the depression had been going on for ten years before black people even know about (laughs)… knew it existed.”  – Maya Angelou
 
 

Social Media has made it possible to make millions with online-only businesses. No longer do you need a college degree or fancy training to start a business online. Social media and e-courses changed that. Writers can now publish their own books without a traditional publisher. Independent Publishing has been around for a long time, but Print on Demand took it to another level. Print on Demand services are platforms where authors can upload manuscripts easily and quickly online and order print copies of their books. Platforms such as Lulu, Kindle Direct Publishing and Bookbaby are examples. Not only is it easier than ever to publish books, but it‘s easier to make millions from social media alone. Professional Instagrammer or YouTuber are legit business titles now. College kids are dropping out to become YouTube stars and Insta-celebrities. Because of advanced technology you don’t need to understand code to build a website yourself or need a fancy camera to shoot a movie anymore. With a basic understanding of video editing you can do this with your iPhone.

Life is good.

But remember how quickly things change.

Social Media is changing. People are more outspoken about privacy and data use. Facebook is being more strict about limitations so it’s difficult to do any promotion without buying ads (and although we do it anyway, we’re not supposed to use our personal pages as business pages). Algorithms don’t show everyone‘s post and Facebook is losing readers because of problems like the one I faced the other day (where I couldn’t log in). Facebook is constantly down and Google+ and Createspace have already closed down. Although Social Media looks good now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it, like the stock market, drastically changed so that users have to either pay for accounts or it unexpectedly closed down completely. Poof. Gone. Tragedies often happen suddenly.

gold

“By the mid-1800s, most countries wanted to standardize transactions in the booming world trade market. They adopted the gold standard. It guaranteed that the government would redeem any amount of paper money for its value in gold. That meant transactions no longer had to be done with heavy gold bullion or coins. It also increased the trust needed for successful global trade. Paper currency now had guaranteed value tied to something real.” (Amadeo, K. 2018, 17 April. History of the Gold Standard.)

The history of paper money is worth the research and is too extensive to go in depth here but in short, the dollar began its decline on being backed by gold when the Gold Standard was suspended and even more after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Paper money was only receipts that represented a certain amount of gold. When the Gold Standard was suspended more receipts were printed, printing receipts caused hyperinflation and money hasn’t been the same sense.

What does this mean / have to do with authors?

“This isn’t 1955 where we can use a typewriter and write a book every year and a half and make money to live off of while we do book tours. Might as well get in the horse and buggy business.” – Kristen Lamb
 
Putting your eggs in one basket is a phrase which means that one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area as one could lose everything. For Authors, putting your eggs in one basket could mean many things.

Holding onto Outdated Information about Book Publishing

I know you see celebrities going on book tours and all that but don’t let that make you look down on Self-Publishing because it has changed the game. Traditional Publishing is not the giant it used to be. Sure traditionally published authors still get tons of publicity but the digital era is here and while huge bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble are struggling, Indie Bookstores and Indie Publishers are thriving. The key to Self-Publishing is in the ebooks big publishing companies thought would never work. “In a dismal twist of fate, NY helped self-publishing transition from ‘shunned last-ditch of the hack wanna-be writer’ into a viable and respectable publishing alternative.” (Kristen Lamb) Don’t let your perception of success cloud your judgment. The Big Six (or is it 5 now?) is not all it’s cracked up to be. And since we’re talking about not putting our eggs in one basket, nothing is as it’s cracked up to be. Amazon can be in the same boat as Barnes and Noble.

Using Social Media to build your business without a website

Investing in a business website is one of the most basic ways of running a successful business. Instead of just create a Facebook page or Instagram account, consider also creating a website. It’s not expensive and can even be a one page website but it’s good to have. You can also use your blog as your website as we discussed before (because it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a full website if you have one or no books out). Using social media without a website is putting your eggs in one basket because social media is not stable. Likes does not mean sales unless you have somewhere to direct people to purchase your books. Social media is not the final destination or at least it shouldn’t be. Social media is a doorway that must lead to a place. Your website is that place.

❌Only marketing and promoting your books online

“Social media is an important part of your business but it shouldn’t be the ONLY part of your business.”
– Cici aka The Six Figure Chick
 
By only focusing on promoting and marketing and selling books online you are leaving money on the table and I don’t mean to sound like it’s all about money. It’s obviously not but for writers who want to make a living out of publishing books, money is pretty important. Although people talk about the death of print, radio and traditional media is still a big deal. There are still many people who aren’t tech savvy, still many people who prefer to visit libraries and bookstores, still many who prefer print books, and still many who want to see you in person or hear you speak. If you are already outspoken, this is an extra good thing for you. You’ll have no problem networking at events and meeting new readers. If you’re an introvert (like me), events help you come out of your shell and meet new readers who can follow you online. My social media pages don’t have many followers but my numbers go up after every event. While I don’t think requiring your presence to make your money is wise (because I mean, the technology is here), scheduling at least one public appearance (such as a book signing) every now and again is a good way to meet your readers face to face.

❌Only publishing books. (Neglecting other ways of making long-term sustainable income as an author)

I recently attended the inaugural We Buy Black Convention in Atlanta where hundreds of black-owned businesses convened to support one another. There, I met Real Estate Super Agent Lisa Puerto, one of the featured speakers during one of the business talks (Jay Morrison was another speaker and Dr. Boyce Watkins was another speaker but I missed them). Long story short, my husband and I loved her passion so much that although we aren’t into real estate, we were ready to buy her book when she finished and got to chat with her after the segment.

Here’s the thing that surprised me though: her table was basic. Black table cloth, books and business cards. It looked similar to my table at the signing at Nubian books earlier this year! (see pic) There weren’t any fancy fixings but her line stretched down the hall and her business cards were getting picked up like candy. She had wowed us with her passion alone and her voice was big enough to outdo any banner. I say all of this to say I’ve learned that public speaking is how we as authors get the message out about our books. Instead of promoting the book, we could promote the message of the book and help people to understand why it’s worth their time to read our stories. It’s why celebrity authors go on book tours where they get to speak to the audience and despite how we feel about her, Omarosa sold the mess out her book just by talking about it!

The book is important, but it is not the only way of making money as an author. Once you’ve established yourself as an author and have made waves with your books (please do this first), you can expand into other things such as teaching, coaching, and public speaking, as additional income sources. Only writing books is another form of putting your eggs in one basket because you’re limited to just one income stream. If you write full time (no day job, spousal support, no side hustle, e.g.) this is especially important. In striving to make a living from writing alone (once you’ve been established for a while), it’s a good idea to expand your brand beyond just writing books.

❌Not having an email list

Email lists aren’t for everyone (and certainly not before you have built some kind of audience to send them to), but could be useful if there is no more social media (blogs included). This will make the email list of great value alongside your website. It becomes another way for you to connect to your audience on a personal level. While I don’t have many subscribers, I can say with the integrity I have more subscribes than unsubscribes and I am learning more and more how to better manage my team. Every business has an email marketing to accompany their business. I don’t know why writing has to be any different. Do you want to know why people don’t take Indie writers seriously? Because we assume the basic rules of running a business doesn’t apply to us. Yes, you can opt not to do certain things as there are no rules, technically. However, there are basics and you can‘t opt out until you fully understand the basics. A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business. Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart is how you get paid. These are the basics.

❌Publishing on Amazon exclusively while neglecting other retailers

I think relying too heavily on Amazon is a mistake. I think a smart person would definitely have their books on Amazon but that they will also explore other retailers. It‘s about balance. Say what you want about them but having books on Amazon is just good business sense (you have to look at it the way readers do…they will search for your book on Amazon first before anything), but that doesn’t mean we have to only have books on amazon. One of the most valuable ways to sell your books is through your own author website! The reason Amazon is winning is that mostly we are promoting it. Our books may be present on other sites but if we aren’t promoting those links alongside Amazon, we cannot expect to see sales through those channels. How many times do you promote links to your book on Kobo? Barnes and Noble? Smashwords? Your own author website? If you’re honest with yourself your answer would be like mine, very little. If something were to happen to Amazon, do you know of any alternative ways of publishing? Have you educated yourself or are you only sticking with the zon? Publishing only on Amazon is putting your eggs in one basket because if amazon suddenly crashed it will take your eggs with it.

Private Business Social Media Pages

Setting your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook author pages to private. I simply don’t understand this. Not only is nothing private online, but you are losing out on potential readers. Unless your goal is not to sell books or reach readers, it is a good idea that your author pages are public. They don’t necessarily have to be business pages but it’s not a good idea if they are private. Here’s why:

A reader comes across your page from whatever source. Someone has referred them to you or they liked your bio. They go to your Instagram page to see more of your work and get a feel for who you are but your page is set to private. They go to your Twitter page, it’s set to private. They go to like your Facebook page and hit the private wall. Few people will send you a request. Most people will leave and not come back. Why? Because if you’re using social media for any kind of business (and if you wrote a book, you are in business) potential readers/clients shouldn’t have to follow you to see what you offer.

Private business pages force people to follow you just to see what you are about. If you are that afraid of scammers and trolls then you should probably not be on social media. I’m just being real with you here. If your social media pages are business pages, if you are trying to connect with readers and clients, why is your page private? That is just not good business sense unless your goal is only to reach the choir. 

❌Wasting time arguing about whether Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing is better.

These debates are a waste of time (this is coming from the person who thinks nothing is a waste of time) and forces authors into putting their eggs in one basket. Publishing Independently works for me but I won’t sit here and say I will never traditionally publish a book if it came time for it. There’s a time and place for everything and I am at a place where Independent Publishing works well for me. (Indie Publishing is also thriving right now). I cannot say this won’t change because I cannot predict the future. There’s nothing wrong if you suddenly went the traditional route or if you decided to self-publish because the value doesn’t change. You are still worthy no matter how you publish. By making this out to be some competition we lose sight of what really matters and create self-imposed limitations. This bullet point differs from the others and may seem out of place but that’s why I must mention it. It’s a low-key way of putting your eggs in one basket. Self-Publishing is one basket and Traditional Publishing is another basket. You are not limited to just using one. It’s okay to keep your options open.

This post will be too long to cover every single area of how we leave money on the table by putting all our eggs into one basket but here are some additional areas:

Neglecting audiobooks

Not developing a business plan for your writing business / not legalizing your writing business

Not listing your books on Goodreads or creating an Amazon Author Central Page

Discounting your books / products online so much that it undermines your business

Not discounting your books / products at events and conferences. (People aren’t going to pay $20 for a Self-Published book from an unknown author. Unless you’re already a celebrity or very good at persuasion, most people won’t take the chance. Discount your books when you sell them in person!)

Consider not relying on one way of doing things. People say that you don’t own social media but that is true for everything online. You don’t own that blog no more than you own that email list, no more than you own those social media pages.

I have to say, when Facebook tripped, as it often does, I was so happy that I at least have a website and email list to direct people to. If I had to rely on my Facebook page only, it would have caused me to panic as Facebook not working would mean losing all my contacts. Social media is an excellent tool as I can sit here and write to people all over the world from my computer. But traditional media still holds weight and that face-to-face “old stuff” still works as an option to connect you to your readers. People thought farming was old too until it was the poor black farmers whose homegrown food fed them during the depression. The same thing for social media. Those who neglect digital are doing themselves a great disservice as well. Balance is the key to all of this.

The eleven sons of Jacob survived and flourished because their brother Joseph, who had become second in command to Pharaoh through his gift of properly interpreting the Pharaoh‘s dream, had created storehouses throughout Egypt where the people could come and buy food. When his brothers left Canaan for Egypt, they could find refuge. Could we learn from this? Could we be the Joseph’s of our day? Or will we wait until the famine wipes out all we have?

B&N Articles
 
 
 
 

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A Word of Encouragement for Independent (Indie) Authors / Publishers

Let’s just say May was a trying month for me. I had a birthday but otherwise inwardly, mentally, I struggled. And while I am not ready to talk about it, I want to use this as an occasion to lift you in case June is that month for you. In case July is that month for you. In case August is that month for you, and so on.

This is the story of a boy, his father, and a donkey. The man and his son went to town with the boy riding the donkey and the father leading it. They came upon a group of people who criticized them, saying, “hey, what are you doing? How could you let your father walk? He should be on the donkey!” Listening, the man and his father switched places. Now, his father rode on top the donkey and his son walked. They walked and came to another group of people who criticized them, saying, “how dare you have your son walking!” The boy and his father then tied the donkey to a pole, and both carried the donkey. They came to another group of people who laughed, saying, “that’s so silly! Why would you carry the donkey? Haha.” Eventually, the donkey fell off the pole and it exhausted both father and son.

I have summarized a story many of you already know or have heard before. Sometimes it is not the father and son but the husband and wife. The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone and if you try by listening to everyone, you will find yourself confused. As an Indie Author, I want you to remember your journey is and always will be unique. While I can give you an insight into my experience and while your experiences can be very similar, it will never be exactly the same. If everyone did things the exact same way, there would be nothing original. Your purpose differs from mine so your experience will be different. I’ve heard so much about Self-Publishing and I just have to shake my head because I have lived the complete opposite of the advice I read. If I heeded everything I read I would be just as silly as the father and son who thought it would be wise to carry a donkey on a pole. While this is a fictitious story it is also real. How many of us are carrying donkeys because people disagree with everything we do? All the father and son had to do was keep moving and block out the noise. And that’s all you have to do.

For a short stint in High School, I tried out for the track team. My gym teacher begged me to do it because she admired how I ran. What I learned is if you start out fast, look behind you or beside you it will slow you down and burn you out before you make it to the finish line. You got to stay in your own lane, keep your eyes in front of you and pace. Start off steady and pace, breathe. This is how you win. You gotta find the pace right for you and ignore what other people are doing or saying because it can discourage you from what you are doing. It is the equivalent to starting a race by going fast. Starting too fast is a common mistake. When someone runs at a pace that is faster than his or her capabilities, it’s entirely counter-productive. Fatigue will set in and force the athlete to slow down later. This is how you lose. At the end of the race you are moving slower when you should run faster. If you paced and stayed the course in the beginning, you would win.

 

Independent – Free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority.

 

Think about that.


The Lit Mag is out!

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*We need help with promoting this year’s contest! If you would like to help me to promote, comment below and I will send you a copy of the flyer. I prefer to send it to you so that it’s not pixelated or grainy from screenshots. You can also reblog the original post (Click link above) Tweet or Facebook out the link.

Blog Break

I am scheduling one more interview that will go live before taking a break from this blog but you can still send your questions in so they can be scheduled for when I return.

Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

Prepare for your Success Part 3

Location: Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Marietta, GA. Copyright©2019. Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Read part one HERE.

Read part two HERE.


If you follow my social media (my personal accounts) then you know why I was excited yesterday. I am Soul got approved for stocking at Barnes and Noble at its Marietta, Georgia location, making this the fourth store to carry one or more of my books. This may not mean much to you but, briefly, here’s why these things excite me:

  • Poetry is not like other books, it’s hard to sell and yet I am Soul has been selling since its release in 2017. I don’t mean selling a lot. I mean consistent sales over time. (Much like consistent book reviews. They may not all come in on the day of release but if they trickle in every now and again for months or even years, that’s still good!)

 

  • I am Soul has remained relevant for two years even though I’ve published other books, something I have not been as successful with before. (No matter how long it’s been since publishing your book, it is always relevant. It can never be unwritten or go out of style. Make sure it doesn’t. Keep promoting it. Keep it fresh.)

 

  • I am not backed by a publisher. I am my own Publisher.

 

  • I don’t have a lot of money. Everything I make goes right back into the work. (In the beginning, you will have to invest in yourself. Although I’ve been publishing awhile, this is still the beginning for me).

 

  • I don’t have a lot of social media followers (if that’s important).

I gave a short testimony on my socials on being prepared but I will go in more detail here since we have the space (no worries, I’ll keep this short).

When I walked into Barnes and Noble yesterday and spoke with the manager, a few things she said stuck out.

“Oh, you have books.”

She seemed surprised.

When I shop my books around I carry the container you see here. It’s just something I got from Walmart many years ago. It only looks new because I cleaned it off. Don’t wanna embarrass my mama by going outside with something that looks like who did it and why did they do it. In this plastic container box are books, bookmarks, business cards, a PayPal Here card reader (because you never know if you meet someone on the street who might wanna buy a book. No cash? No problem! I can scan you right here lol), my author seal stickers, and a writing pen.

Eventually, after some convo, the woman asked to see one of my books so she could look me up.

“Most Self-Publishers come in here and they’re not in the system,” she said.

We’ll go into detail about what this means and how to get in the system later (I am putting something together to help Indies with that). For now, just picture walking into a B&N and picking up a book. You carry it over to the counter. Well, when the ISBN is scanned, what happens? If the book is in the B&N computer the information about pricing and everything comes up. This makes things easier on the store. How so? Because they can easily scan the book when someone picks it up, just as they would with any other book. (You can Self-Publish books with no ISBN but then you can’t sell it at stores.)

After going over the details and her agreeing to stock my book, I signed the copies we would leave there.

Me: “I’m gonna go ahead and sign these.”

“Yes, please do. We sell a lot of poetry. It’s making a comeback.”

Me: “Excellent.”

“You have stickers?”

(she meant something that lets the reader know the book is signed….Queue my author seal!)

Me: “I do.”

“Got a pen?”

Me: “I do.”

Everything she asked me for, I had on my person. I am not saying I am always this prepared. I am not perfect or special. And it’s not like she wouldn’t have given me a pen if I didn’t have one. But by already having one I presented myself as an organized professional serious about her work because…

Proper Preparation Prevents Pissed Poor Performance.

…and I am not just talking about physical preparation. I am also talking about mental preparation, spiritual preparation (faith), and time.

Time is part of the preparation. Time to research. Time to learn and understand. Time to ask questions. Time to write, publish, revise, improve, write and publish again. Time to make mistakes and learn from them. Time to put things in position so that when the time comes, you are ready.

At the recent signing, I had to recite a poem on the spot. I prepared for this. I knew one day it would come so when it happened I was ready. I was nervous, but I had a couple of poems in my head I knew by memory just in case. I was only prepared this time because I’ve dealt with not being prepared. Years ago, at a conference, I was asked to recite a poem. It was one of my audience favorite poems. I stood up there, said a few lines and forgot the rest! It was an old poem. A poem I should have never forgotten the words to. I was so embarrassed. I wanted to run out of the room. Instead, I quietly returned to my seat, ashamed. Prepare!

I’ve been publishing my books since 2008 but it took six years before I really got my books seen by people outside of my immediate circle. Six years to realize how much I didn’t know. Many of you are already way passed where I was when I started. You are much further along than you think. I’m just catching up.

Prepare for where you want to be. Get in position because if you are not ready when it comes it will make no difference. If the universe wants to pour into your cup but you are not even holding a cup, it will make no difference how long you’ve been standing there. You weren’t ready when what you said you wanted, arrived.

 


Get I am Soul for 99cents on Amazon through the end of April.

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http://www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/

Start a business that is not only dependent on the people you know to be Successful

Tbt. Greenbriar Mall. ATL. Book Signing, 12/22/18.

If you are a new entrepreneur, if you are just publishing your books or starting your own business, I want to congratulate you! I want to tell you; you will do well and go far. I want to tell you; you are brave and beautiful.

But I also want to warn you:

start a business that is not dependent only on the people you know personally to be successful.

One of the best decisions I made in the past 2yrs was to go out and network with people face to face without worrying whether they believed exactly as I did or worrying about what people would think of me.

Only depending on the people who know you personally to support your business can leave you doubtful and broke because there are people who will project their fears and limitations onto you. This means that once you’ve moved beyond those limitations, once you’ve elevated, these people abandon you because you no longer fit within the box they mentally created for you.

‍There’s a meme circulating that says:

This is all the truth. Most of the people who will continuously support you will eventually become like family. They will be all the wonderful people you meet along the way who will root for you harder than anyone you’ve known personally. Social media is cool, but there’s an entire world outside of the internet.

When you are running a business, the people you know, including relatives, are the icing on the cake. They are the ones in your corner cheering you on and going “Yaass, sis yaass,” or “yams bro!” They are the people there to support you no matter what and we all need some of that encouragement! But we also need longevity in our business which can only come from consistent financial support and there are so many people in the world willing to pay you for your knowledge not just like your posts.

Author Tip: Take the time to discover who your book or business is for specifically and target your content to those people. This is called a target audience, and it helps you to focus on the group of people most interested in your content so that your book, product, or service doesn’t stop selling after your family and friends have bought it.

My 7 Instagram Tips for New Authors

Some ask me about using Instagram. I don’t know if I am the right person to ask; I don’t have a lot of followers (if that’s important). But, I managed to put together something for you. First, I think IG is a great place for writers because there is a huge reader and writing community there. But ya’ll know me and if you don’t here’s the thing: I am not just a writer. I am also a wife, student, and now the co-founder and CFO of my family’s new Non-Profit Heart of the Streets Inc (learn more here), which means I value my time so I don’t invest too much time in anything without researching it. I use IG because it works for my business and the support is better than what I receive from Facebook and Twitter. Below, you will find seven tips I put together for new writers who also enjoy using the gram. Hope it helps.

  • Private Page to Business Page

There are three kinds of pages. Private, Public, and Business pages. If you’re an author or businessperson using Instagram, it’s a good idea that your page is a business page. If you are using IG for business and your page is private it doesn’t make much sense. You won’t be able to track to see if your post strategy is working (assuming you have a strategy), and people who want to visit your website to possibly buy your product or learn more about you as a businessperson will be turned off when they run into the private wall. They may not return. Get out of thinking anything on the internet is private. It’s not and making your profile private does not make it “safe.”

Before you make the switch:

  • You will have to connect to a Facebook page. Not your personal page but an actual page. If you have not already, head over to Facebook and create a Facebook page for your author business. This will make it easier when you switch over. Then, come back to your IG, click on the three bars and go to settings. Click on account. Scroll down until you see the option to create a business page.

If this is your personal account you are switching from, make sure it’s because you’re ready to transform the posts from your personal page into more business savvy content and not just random pictures of your cat. Some say you shouldn’t change your personal page to a business page (because of the cat thing), but I have found I get more engagement and clicks to my website using my personal page so this will depend on where you are already. If you have a separate business page and that page is already lit, by all means use it. As a new author though, you probably are using your personal page for now so you can just turn that page into a business page to make things easier.

Just as author blogs differ from business blogs, I believe author social media pages differ from business, social media pages in some ways. Sharing our interests is part of people getting to know us better and people buy books from people they know and share interests with. The personal page, in my opinion, for new authors is the page people care most about and it makes sense to build on this by transforming it into a business page and publishing content that shows off your persona but is not so personal it’s distracting.

  • Track Progress by Using Instagram’s Insights So You Know What’s Working and What’s Not

Once you’ve decided you are ready, making the switch from a private to a business page will help you to track the actions of your audience and to see which posts are actually reaching people. One of the hardest things to do is to understand what people want. The only way to know is to ask or to track behavior/pay attention to actions.

When your IG page is a business page, you get to see things you won’t see on personal pages. Below are screenshots of posts from my page. If you click on the insights (which you can see under your post but only if your page is a business account) you can see not just how many likes you got, but how many people shared your post,  viewed your profile, or clicked on your website link. These are the things you want to pay attention to because it shows you what people are most interested in. The thing about any business social media page is that it differs from pages that you are only using to connect with family members or hang out. On those pages, likes and shares don’t mean much except maybe to boost your ego. On business pages, though, likes and shares are important to you understanding how your content performs – by tracking metrics over time – and is the key to developing a content strategy that works best for you.

As a business page on social media, the formula is typically:

Engagement = Likes / Comments

____________

Followers

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shared
  • Saved to collection
  • Profile Visits
  • Reach (Impressions)

My personal testimonies are a favorite for readers. Although the first picture got more likes, the second picture did just as well if you look at the other components. The first picture was saved six times and four people visited my profile. The second picture got three saves but two shares. This tells me my audience really enjoys the testimonies, but there are other things to see…

There is so much to see here, where the views came from, reach, profile visits, website clicks, e.g. And while I did not get new followers, six people did take action (viewed my profile or went to my website) which is what every authorpreneur wants! Other things you can track include:

Chicago (my hometown), Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Charlotte are where the bulk of my support comes from. I am happy to see ATL at the top since I live in Georgia and to see the Chi representing. My biggest audience is made up of women which is always good since I am a woman, and the age group is between 25-44. Let’s move on.

  • Your IG Bio

I just changed my bio again because I wanted it to reflect what I do and what I offer. Rather than my usual: Author, Blogger, Poet, I wanted to be specific. With limited characters, this isn’t easy. I decided on:

“I write Historical Fiction novels and novellas, Inspirational Non-Fiction, and Poetry | Restoring Black Historical truth for the freedom of all people.”

Following this is a link to my website (see pic) directing people to the specific page I created for this purpose. Also, I do not (at this writing) have many followers but that doesn’t matter to me much if those numbers don’t match the support. I have an arrow pointing to publisher because under the business account you can choose what best represents your brand. Notice I have an arrow pointed toward my highlights. Once you create a story you can add it to your highlights if you want to keep it at the forefront of your page. My highlights include my book signing pictures and events. This helps people get a feel for the work I do. Lastly, notice the call to action button (Email), which further encourages people to take action. What I want is to add a buy button as well.

It may not seem like a big deal to put all this work into an IG profile, especially with such limited space but as authors we are the whole package. Everything must represent who we are.

  • Use Sharp, HQ Images

Instagram’s focus is on photos so if the pictures you’re posting look grainy and pixelated it won’t attract many readers. Try to use sharp, high-quality images in your post. You can brand yourself by creating lovely images using Canva or PosterMyWall. It’s also good if the images have something to do with your books or show off your personality in some way. A good practice is something I saw someone post about looking at your last 9 posts. Can someone understand who you are and what you offer by these posts alone? I’ve been doing this (looking at my last 9 posts) and it has been a helpful reminder to publish content that is relevant to my books or services or who I am as a person. People will see the image before they see the caption so it’s important that the image speaks first.

  • Include Text with Images

Make good use of the caption area where you can add text. It is a good idea to always use text when posting images on Instagram. I have noticed that some celebs don’t do this, but that’s because they’ve already built their audience. David Banner doesn’t have to include text on his images and he will still get over a thousand likes and hundreds of comments and shares, but you are not David Banner. You are a new author at the beginning of an exciting journey and you are introducing people to who you are for the first time. Use text to explain the images you post. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy. Something as simple as a sentence is good. Nothing to say? Just use hashtags. Anything is better than leaving it blank.

  • Hashtags

Going back to this screenshot, it appears my hashtags are working on this post, reaching 45 people alone. Hashtags don’t exist just so you can be cute but they work just like the tags you’ll use on a blog post. They are searchable on social media. If you click on your hashtag, it will take you to all the posts relevant to that hashtag. They help categorize content and track discussion topics based on keywords. You can Google the hashtags that are best for your business. It may even be necessary to research your hashtags (I did because I’m a nerd lol). There are tools available like Hashtags.org or HashtagDirectory.com that can help you. You don’t really need 50 hashtags. The most important thing is that the hashtags you use are trending and apply to your business.

Website Link or Linktree in Bio

Where are you directing people to? What do you want people to do once they’ve seen your post? Do you want them to like, comment and move on with their lives? Do you want them to research something? Do you want them to buy something? What do you want people to do when they come across your page? That answer is the link you promote in your bio. As stated before, social media should not be the end of the road. If you’re trying to sell books, you should be directing people to your author website, the place where they can learn more about who you are, what you offer, and how it is beneficial to their lives.

In your bio, you may also want to include a special website link. This link is special because it can be created specifically for Instagram. Instead of posting the link to the site alone, you can create a landing page with buttons specific to where you want people to go. Chances are you have more than one link to promote which means you can do one of two things:

  • You can use linktree to compile link buttons
  • You can create your own version landing page on your website

If you don’t have a website, I recommend Linktree, which allows you to promote more than one link at a time. When people visit your site they can choose where they want to go. You can also see how often people are visiting your sites. I used linktree for awhile and it’s excellent. What I love most is being able to see how many clicks each button gets and it increased traffic to my author website. I only recently stopped using it  because I have a website.

If you have a website of your own, it doesn’t make much sense to use linktree unless you use the paid version. While recommended, using the free version of linktree can compromise your branding a bit. How so? Linktree, is all over their free version so it was in the URL in my Instagram bio, at the top of the landing page, and at the bottom of the landing page in logo form. To get the best out of Linktree would mean using the paid version but if you have your own website (that you are paying for) it may be a good idea to use your site. This saves money, points people directly to your website, and promotes you and not Linktree. You can also get creative with your link. I used ecreads as the special page for my IG. Something simple and to the point. (If you’d like to check out what I’ve done, visit my IG page and click on the link. You won’t find this link just by going to my website since it’s created specifically for my ig page).

Website Link + Call to action button helps direct potential readers to your books, blog or wherever you want them to go. Remember, social media is not the end of the road. If you want people to do more than like a post, be sure to lead them somewhere they can learn more.

The only time your IG shouldn’t have a website link is if you are not using it for business and are just on there to socialize and hang out.


To summarize:

  • Switch your account from Private to Public and then create a Business page. Change up your content to reflect your business profile and use the metrics you see overtime to improve your strategy and increase clicks to your website
  • Write a bio that targets what it is that you do and what you offer
  • Use hashtags strategically, researching the ones that best apply to the kind of writer you are
  • Include the link to your website in your bio or use linktr.ee for multiple links
  • Use sharp, high-quality images
  • Use text to describe images

Be Authentic: Message to New Indie Authors

In, building connections as a writer on social media, it’s important that you are authentic in those interactions. What does this mean? It means to be genuine and true, to be real but what does this mean? To be genuine and true is to be yourself in a way that does not force others to accept you, but brings together those who share the same passion as you do. People can tell if you are sharing something just to sell your books or sharing something because you deeply love it and you care about sharing that love with others for their benefit. You genuinely want to educate people, inspire people, empower people, or you want to make them laugh, or help them to heal or evolve. What people get out of getting to know more about you? What value do you offer that helps to make their lives better? This is what building relationships are about. It’s not so much about the book itself, it’s more who you are, who we all are and how your book seeks to make us better. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, in what way are we better from reading your book? This answer is revealed in your genuine interactions with others. People can tell if the information you are sharing is not authentic. We can tell if you’re sharing something just to sell your book versus sharing something because you want us to be better.

The problem is not that “artistry” doesn’t sell. There is no debate to be had about writing as an art and as a business. It is both. Integrity is everything and I personally believe no one should ever compromise that. Even more so, I believe it is this very integrity that makes us interested in an artist in the first place whether that artist is an author or musician or painter. There’s this debate about wanting to make real money from writing or treating it as an art I do not understand. There is no competition to be had. It is possible to be a serious businessperson and artist at the same time. The problem is too many new Indie authors aren’t authentic about the art enough to build trust among readers to the extent that we care about supporting that author’s work.

This isn’t about trying to find anyone to read our books. You are in search of people who share your passions, goals, and belief system. You aren’t here to force people to share those passions and beliefs but to connect with those who do. This isn’t about trying to make people like you. This is about genuinely connecting with those who do. These are authentic connections. It doesn’t matter how many times you talk about your book if I know nothing about you or share your vision or if I don’t care about what you are bringing to the table, I am not buying the book and I am not the reader you want. You don’t want me. You want the reader interested in the value you are bringing. To get here is to start with offering value where being yourself is not a gimmick.


If you would like to take the step toward helping your potential readers to get to know more about you and your passions and how you can help to make us better through your writing, be sure to take part in my Author Introduce Yourself Feature, specifically designed to help us to get to know you better. Learn how to do so HERE and stay tuned for tomorrow’s featured author.

Also, don’t forget that FOUR of my books are on sale for the month of February. If you are into Black Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or poetry, choose your favorite book by clicking HERE and pay just 99cents from now through 2/28. 

What to do when people unsubscribe from your #author email list and why it is OKAY

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Email unsubscribes. Yup. I’ll be that one. I don’t care what anyone says, if done right and if it’s your cup of tea, author email lists work. At the end of the day, everyone’s journey is different so none of us are in the position to say for absolute certainty what works and what doesn’t work for someone else.

That said, IF you are a fan of the email list (I don’t refer to them as newsletters….I prefer email list), check it.

Not everything about being an author is peachy. Email unsubscribes feel like silent rejections and sometimes confusing because you don’t always know why the person left. Unsubscribes can leave authors feeling abandoned, especially if the person was a long-time member of the list. All kinds of thoughts go through your head.

“What did I do wrong?”

“Am I providing value?”

“Does my writing suck?”

“Do I suck?”

Did I email too much? Too little? What happened?”

The good news is that whether someone leaves your email list or your blog, it is not a bad thing. In 2019, we are not taking losses, we are taking lessons and there are tons of lessons we can learn from email unsubscribes. I hope this list encourages you and motivates you to push past that feeling of confusion and rejection.

  • Don’t subscribe people to your list without their permission.

I’ve personally never done this and I don’t understand it but please don’t let this be you. There are laws against doing things like this. Never, ever add anyone to anything without that person’s permission. I don’t care if it’s a Facebook group or email list, get permission first. When you let people subscribe on their own, they can unsubscribe whenever they want and do it all without you being sued. But if you subscribed someone without their say so, you can be sure they will unsubscribe. While there’s nothing wrong with compiling a list of supporters and emailing the old school way (directly), we live in a different time. You need a track record that shows proof this person agreed to get emails from you. You need permission. It is illegal to add people to your list and email them without permission. Do not grab emails from blogs and websites. Choose an email opt-in form and let people subscribe on their own or create an opt-in form of your own using google docs but just get permission. Don’t get sued. I recommend using one of these opt in forms:

  • Mailchimp
  • Mailerlite
  • Convertkit
  • Don’t take it personally.

If the subscriber was legal, and the person decided to leave, the most important lesson you can learn from this is not to take it personally. We don’t know why that person is no longer interested, and it doesn’t always have to have anything to do with us. People have their reasons for subscribing to a list/blog and not everyone is clear what that reason is. If someone mistakenly thought your list would offer something that it doesn’t, they may unsubscribe because it’s not what they thought it would be.

  • Never respond to an unsubscribe.

Resist the inclination to ask people why they left. Unless they have reached out to you, do not send them follow-up emails. If they unsubscribed from your main list, they probably don’t want to keep receiving emails from you. Again, don’t take the unsubscribe personally. One apple don’t stop no show (and that’s grammatically incorrect on purpose), just keep grinding.

  • Quality over Quantity: You don’t have to have a gazillion email list subscribers to be relevant.

With email lists, remember it’s more so about the quality of your team. It’s better to have 30 or 40 committed people who are eager to support your work and read your books than 2,000 who won’t lift a finger to give you so much as a piece of advice. You ask a question and hear crickets. I have only about 172 subscribers to my email list. (I say email list because I don’t like to refer to them as newsletters *yawn*), and I am more than okay with this. Of course, I’d like to grow (who wouldn’t?) but I am in no rush. It’s challenging enough managing the subscribers I already have. I’ll wait patiently. Always remember quality over quantity. It’s probably easier to manage 30 or 50 subscribers than it is to manage 200 and 300 starting out.

  • Resist the urge to vent your rage on your favorite social media platform

Again, don’t take it personally. Email unsubscribes are like bad reviews that only you see. Just as it is not recommended to discuss the bad review, it is also not recommended to discuss the unsubscribe. We are all human but venting about these things on social media (this includes the blog) makes you look like an amateur. Accept this person has decided they are no longer interested in your content (for whatever reason) and move on. People come in and out of our lives for a reason and we just have to accept when the season is over. Don‘t make it bigger than it is.

  • Remove and Renew

Don’t be afraid to lose people. It may even be necessary to unsubscribe people yourself that you see are no longer interested. Sometimes people subscribe to email lists for the wrong reason. Maybe they believe they would receive something, and the emails turned out not to be what they wanted. But there will also be people who won’t unsubscribe. They’ll just ignore you and delete your emails or they may just ignore it without acting. In any event, it’s a good idea to do a good ole cleansing occasionally. Delete some people. Don’t be so thirsty for high numbers to your own detriment. If they aren’t active, it doesn’t matter, and you are deceiving yourself. Every 2-3 months I clean my list. I go through and delete people who have not been active. Have not been opening emails, clicking links, responding to questions or participating in any way. Their presence is irrelevant. I love them, but my emails are clearly not their cup of tea and they shouldn’t be forced to drink it. They must go.

  • It takes time

Writing is a business and like all businesses, it takes trial, error, consistency and time to build. We may have been born with gifts but no one was born knowing exactly how to execute them. No one woke up with the skills to hire a team or produce excellent products. Similarly, you don’t know how to manage an email list except through practice and hard work and even still people will unsubscribe.

This woman makes enough money to know what she’s talking about. If you aren’t following her on IG, you should be.

 

I used to transcribe to the same practices of some “gurus” who said to only email once a month. While I understand why you wouldn’t want to email too frequently, you have to do what works for you. It’s a personal journey first. So I followed my own path and now email whenever I have news. The truth is, it’s hard to stay connected to anyone you don’t speak to for months at a time. The email list can be an important source of support if you want it to be. Or, the email list can be just another social media account you update to tell people about your new books. *Yawn.* Truth is, there will always be someone to unsubscribe. The real question is, who cares? People unsubscribe from our lives all the time but we can’t stop working just because people leave. People unsubscribing from the list can be a blessing as it teaches us what works, what doesn’t and how to better connect with our audience. People unsubscribing from our list is not even the real problem. The real problem is learning how to connect with our audience. If we do our jobs well, we don’t have anything to worry about.

  • One door closes, one door opens

Every time someone unsubscribes from my list, someone new subscribes. That’s the fun thing about it. When one door closes another always opens. Just because a few people unsubscribe does not mean more won’t come. I’ve been successful in keeping my numbers steady because I am always blessed with a new subscriber whenever someone else leaves. When unsubscribes do happen, now I just smile knowing someone new is on their way and hopefully, they’ll find value where the other person did not. The end of one relationship is the beginning of another.

Helpful Tips:

  • Ask your email list questions to discover what they want.
  • Let your readers in a bit on who you are. Write stories, give updates not shared anywhere else, showcase your personality, e.g.
  • If possible, use a domain email address as your from address instead of gmail. Ex: yourname(at)yourdomainname(dot)com.

Reminders:

1. Don‘t take the unsubscribe personally
2. Don‘t subscribe people without their permission
3. Never vent your rage about it on your favorite social media platform
4. Quality over quantity
5. Recognize the growth that comes with removal and renewal
6. Remember that it takes time to build anything of substance
7. and that when one door closes, another always opens

For more email list building tips check out one of the most popular posts on this blog:

7 Things I Learned About Email List Building.