Throwback Thursday Jams – Mary J Blige, No More Drama

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

 
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?

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.
 

❌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 IG account, consider 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.” (The Six Figure Chick) The Six Figure Chick IG account is one of much value and she’s right. By only focusing on promoting and marketing and selling books online you are leaving money on the table. 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 to 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 you 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 started making 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, no side hustle, e.g.) this is especially important. In striving to make a living from writing alone (once you’ve been established for awhile), it’s a good idea to expand your brand beyond just writing books.

❌Not building an email list

Email lists aren’t for everyone but in the event there is no more social media (blogs included), the email list becomes 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. 
 
One of the many criticisms of the email list is that people don’t like to be emailed often. I have found this to be only a half-truth. Yes, people don’t like being emailed often but that is dependent on the kind of emails they are getting. I sit back and watch people send emails almost daily and I am not talking about struggling writers. I am talking about authors and business people with millions of dollars, people who have proven their value who send emails out very frequently. Dr. Boyce Watkins himself sends emails out it seems like every day and I open every last one. It’s not about how many emails you send, it’s about the quality of the emails you send. Spam is junk mail. Don’t send your readers junk. Your readers want to hear from you, they just don’t want to be spammed with useless information that means nothing to them and offers nothing.
 

❌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.

❌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 doesn’t think anything 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 that 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. I cannot say this won’t change because I cannot predict the future. There’s nothing wrong if you suddenly decided to go the traditional route or if you decided to self-publish because the value doesn’t change. You are still worthy no matter how you choose to publish. By making this out to be some type of competition we lose sight of what really matters and create self-imposed limitations. This bullet point is different 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 if we covered 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 so much that it undermines your business

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 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?

In the Atlanta area? Join me for a book signing / poetry recital celebration in honor of the one-year anniversary of I am Soul! The event also features other authors as part of a Co-Advertising Campaign and takes place at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall from 2-5:00p EST on December 22nd.

Authors, Are You Forgetting to Introduce Yourself??

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I host weekly author interviews but you may have forgotten because it’s been months since we met a new author. I do know there are some people a bit confused on the process so I am reiterating the steps below. Usually, I publish author interviews on Monday’s but since it’s been awhile if you can get your information to me this week, I’ll post it this week. First, a recap of what this series is about.

About Introduce Yourself

In my ten years of publishing, I have come to understand that relationships sell books. By learning more about YOU the author as well as your writing style in general, your readers will be interested in other things about you, such as your writing and eventually, your books. It cannot be ignored that we are most likely to buy books from people we know. It’s why we support celebrities whose names we are already familiar with.

Introduce Yourself is a promotional opportunity for new authors I started back in 2016, hosted on The PBS Blog. It is an interview conducted by Yecheilyah (that’s me) with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better. Inspired by a song introduced in a children’s bible study class I helped coordinate, the song is meant to “break the ice.” With this feature, I hope to introduce new authors to my audience for an opportunity to learn more about them and their work. They say team work makes the dream work and I hope to do my part in making the dreams of authors come true.

The Process:

Participation is easy.

  • Choose at least 10 questions from the list below and email me your answers at yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot)com) with your social media handles, photos, book covers, a brief bio, and a link to your website or blog. Please attach everything you would like me to promote along with the links. Also, please be as thorough in your answers as you canand be yourself.
  • Once I receive your email, I will respond in 3-5  1-2 business days. If I have any follow-up questions for you, I will ask you before setting a date for your feature.
  • The interviews that do the best are those in which you help me to promote you by reposting it to your social media pages and blog. To date, we’ve promoted 28 authors on this blog! Join them!

The questions are below. They are not in any particular order. Start with question 30 or question one. Your choice. Just make it an interesting mix!

  1. What is your name and where are you from?
  2. What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
  3. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
  4. Are you employed outside of writing? Is so, tell us about your job.
  5. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
  6. What job do you think you’d be really good at?
  7. How many siblings do you have?
  8. What was your childhood dream?
  9. What skill would you like to master?
  10. What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
  11. In your own words, what is humility?
  12. In your own words, what is love?
  13. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
  14. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
  15. What’s your favorite drink?
  16. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
  17. What songs have you completely memorized?
  18. Does blogging help you to write? If not, why so? If so, how so?
  19. What’s your favorite food?
  20. What’s your favorite color?
  21. Who is your favorite writer?
  22. If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
  23. What kind of music do you like?
  24. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
  25. If you could live in a movie, which would it be? Why?
  26. Who is your best friend?
  27. Are you married? How long?
  28. Are you single? Would you like to be married?
  29. Do you have children?
  30. Would you like to have children? Why?
  31. What takes up too much of your time?
  32. What do you wish you knew more about?
  33. What small things makes your life easier? What makes it difficult?
  34. Who’s your favorite Historical figure?
  35. What do you think of the world we live in?
  36. What are your thoughts on Race?
  37. In your own words (not Google’s) define racism.
  38. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
  39. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
  40. What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
  41. Are you religious? Explain.
  42. Are you political? Explain.
  43. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
  44. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
  45. Why is writing important to you?
  46. What do you love about yourself?
  47. What don’t you like about yourself?
  48. If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be? Why?
  49. What genre do you write in, why?
  50. In your own words, what is truth?
  51. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
  52. What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?
  53. Are you a spiritual person? (please explain how this is different from being a religious person)
  54. What do you think of police brutality in the black community? How can we do better?
  55. What do you think of the bullying in our schools? How can we do better?
  56. What do you think of the current political climate? What needs to change?
  57. If you could choose a city, state, or country to represent you, which would it be? Why?
  58. If you could, would you visit the past?
  59. If you could, would you visit the future?
  60. What advice would you give your younger self?
  61. Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
  62. What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
  63. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?
  64. What was your favorite subject in school? Your least favorite?
  65. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

UPDATE: AUTHORS, PLEASE NOTE: This segment is not new on the blog but has been going on for two years now. Be sure to check the Introduce Yourself page (HERE) to make sure you have not already been interviewed. If you have already been interviewed but you have new books out / updates, email me so I can update your page. yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot)com

I am at your service!

You Are Somebody

Someone gave birth to you. Pushed you out into the world like they knew you were somebody. Wrapped you in all the passion that led them here and anointed your body with a name fit for royalty. Do you know your name? Have you sought its meaning? Do you know your own somebodiness? And even though you made mistakes, consistently proving the universe wrong (like you aren’t worthy of this name), it is still yours. No matter how many times you fell, your somebodiness didn’t leave you. It was there all along, far before you were formed in your mother’s womb. And even when you were so depressed that you ain’t think you were fit to live, you did it. You did it because you are somebody. Your value does not fade just because you are a little scarred, a little blue. You are still somebody. We only work within the confines of how we perceive ourselves. We cannot be successful until we believe that we are truly worth it. We cannot be successful until we believe that no matter how insignificant we feel, we are still somebody.

“Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that your nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.” – MLK

Your Books in Independent Bookstores

When 2018 started, I told myself that I would step outside of my comfort zone by trying to get my books accepted into bookstores, a challenge for an Indie Author with no large following and no large publisher backing her. But I did it and now I am making it a goal to get my books into libraries and in schools. And if it’s Yah’s will, I hope to do some public speaking. Before this year ends, I’ll be sending my email list my personal goal-setting chart and they will get to see exactly how I set my goals and the action steps I implement to achieve them. Today, I am taking the time to reveal some basic things you can do to prepare your books to be accepted at bookstores and how to go about the process and it’s yours free. All you have to do is subscribe to my email list HERE to access the PDF. You will get a welcome email and the document will be in that email. Please be sure to check your spam / junk folders if you do not see the welcome email in your inbox.

Some of the things covered in the document.

  • Know Your Why

Unless you are already famous, people aren’t gonna be checking for your books at bookstores in the same way they do online. In order for people to walk in and not look over your book, they must have some prior knowledge about who you are (more on this below). Be sure you know why you are doing this. Getting in bookstores and libraries is not some fast track to fame or money maker. That’s not what it’s about. Getting into bookstores is only a big deal to Indie writers because many of us aren’t backed by a big publisher so getting onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores gives us a greater opportunity for the possibility of hosting book signings at those stores, meet new people (who we probably would not have met online), and expanding our brand far and wide.

  • Get Your Name Out There

As you’ll see in the document, it’s not very difficult to get into small, local, Independent bookstores on consignment which means that’s not really the challenge. The challenge is selling those books which is difficult to do if people don’t know who you are. I am still trying to get my name out there and I have identified some areas where I could do better. However, you don’t have to be a celebrity or famous to start. You can start with social media and drive traffic through your blog and social media accounts. The most effective thing, though, is to get out and attend local events. Is there a book festival in your hometown? Go. Is there any event that matches what your books are about? Go to those events. Here, you’ll meet people who may be able to help you, work with you, recommend you, and help you to get your message out.

  • Target Stores that Match Your Audience

I approach black-owned bookstores because my books are about black history. There are exceptions where I’ll take a chance on a non-black-owned store (such as Tall Tales Book Shop…I love their store set-up), but for the most part my target is populations where the majority of the readers are Israelites (Blacks) and women. Why? Because my books are about the lives of Blacks in America and the lives of women. It has nothing to do with “race” and everything to do with positioning myself to be at the places where my ideal reader is.

  • Technology is Still King

Don’t overthink it with the bookstores though and forget why the Indie Revolution started in the first place. It’s good to attend events and get out and network with people face to face but don’t forget technology is still king. You don’t want to create a situation where your presence is needed to make you money as perfectly put by Cici aka “The 6 Figure Chick” on IG. That is, you don’t want to only bring in income when you do an event. Keep that online presence going. I am of the opinion that Indies with books in the store should do so as a supplement to the online business, not as the business itself.

A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business (and if you’re an author with books on amazon be sure to have an Amazon Author Central Page set-up. You can learn how to do that here). 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 (including amazon) is how you get paid. If you meet people in person, it won’t mean anything without a way for them to keep in contact with you. Update your blog and social media pages regularly and continue to be consistent. Remember that your success is not the same as everyone else’s and being authentic doesn’t have to mean doing what everyone else is doing. Be you. Be disciplined. Be consistent.

Read more by downloading the entire PDF Document when you subscribe to my email list HERE.


Pictures from Friday’s signing at Tall Tales Book Shop are now available on my website HERE. Thank you to everyone who came out. If you’re in the ATL area, my next signing is December 22nd from 2-5p EST at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall.

Thank You

I’ve been away a while so I just wanna say I appreciate those of you who continue to support this blog. Even if you haven’t been around or liked/commented / shared in a while I still appreciate you. I don’t trip about that. I know how busy things can get and in that process, how easy it is to forget but you all are still here and I appreciate that. It is not lost to me how central The PBS Blog has been in helping to advance and shape my career. It wasn’t until I started this blog in 2014 and when I released the first book in The Stella Trilogy in 2015 that people really caught onto my work and that I met many of you and for that I am thankful. (Probably should have done this sooner right? Technically, I’ve had blogs before but none of them as successful as The PBS Blog). I mean, over 2,600 subscribers ya’ll! Sounds good to me. Not nearly as much as some of you but I’ll take it. Even when we make it to 10,000 subscribers, I never want to be so big that I can’t be grateful. I hope to maintain the same level of humility no mater the “numbers.” I’ll still thank you.

Funny thing, so I saw the movie Downsize. Far as action I thought it was pretty boring but putting my entertainment eyes away and using my spiritual eyes I get what the writer was trying to convey. Basically, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives to get small and move to a new downsized community after learning that a scientist discovered how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation. So yes, by downsize they literally mean downsize as in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!”

I enjoyed the beginning of the movie but as we get into Paul’s life as a small person it loses my interest. I won’t say more because I really could just give away the movie. But from a more spiritual (less entertainment only minded), perspective, I can see the potential. The grass is not always greener on the other side and we should appreciate what we have. (I‘m kinda stretching it though to make my point here on how I appreciate you all…movie was boring…sorry lol).

Anyway, thank you!

p.s. I’ve talked about Grammarly before to help you edit your blog posts but if you use it AND ProwritingAid? Sheesh. Yass. It has gotten rid of plenty of those extra words I use. (Like “that” and “so.”) I can‘t afford a professional editor to edit my every blog post but using Grammarly and ProWritingAid together is a great help. Try it people!


Join me THIS Friday, November 30, 2018 from 12:00-1:00p EST for a book signing and reading from Even Salt Looks Like Sugar at Tall Tales Book Shop in Atlanta. If you’re in the area I would love to have you. Enjoy snacks, laughter, reading, conversation and of course, you can get you a pic or two for the gram 😉 Don’t have this book yet? Get it here for just $2.99 on Amazon and thanks so much!!

(Yes, I am still trying to make this book free eventually and proceeds still go toward helping to fund next year’s poetry contest!)

Don’t forget to visit my author website and sign up for my email list at https://www.yecheilyahysrayl.com/