What is Self-Publishing?

I did not plan on doing an IAB today, but a question on Twitter sparked a thought.

We talk about Self-Publishing, but what is it?

That sounds like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many writers with questions about Self-Publishing don’t really know what it is.

Let’s start with what Self-Publishing is not:

Vanity Publishing

Vanity Publishing is not the same as Self-Publishing, and it is not the same as Traditional Publishing. When you pay a publishing company to publish your books, this is Vanity Publishing. Although not popular, I will not speak badly about VPs as this is an option for some authors. To each his own.

My only job is to help you understand what Self-Publishing is and what it is not. And at any time you pay a fee to a company to get your book published, this is not Self-Publishing

Also, if you are signed with a publishing company, this is not Self-Publishing.

Read your contracts thoroughly.

Self-Publishing is also not a “backup plan.” It is not something you do because you think it’s easier or faster. While an author can get their book published faster with Self-Publishing, this does not mean the author should aim to do so. If you rush your book, it will look like it.

Self-Publishing is when you are your own publisher—the end.

Now, what does that mean exactly?

Traditionally, a team of people works to get the manuscript ready for publishing, whether with a major publisher, small press, or vanity. They cover everything from editing to cover art and get paid in royalties.

This is what separates Trad from Vanity. Traditionally, publishers do not charge fees to publish. They get paid from the royalties of the book. However, there has been a lot of controversy about that, but we do not have time to discuss it. Let’s just say it is why many choose to go the Independent route.

Moving on…

Just like it’s the traditional publisher’s job to get the manuscript of their authors ready for publishing, it is your job as your own publisher to get your manuscript ready for publishing. 

This might mean hiring someone to assist you with the process, such as a self-pub assistant or coach, outsourcing for editing, cover art, and formatting.

With Self-Publishing comes total creative control. This can be both liberating and daunting. Essentially, Indie Publishing is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, you are in control of the look and feel of everything about your book. This can be a lot of fun.

But creative control does not mean doing everything yourself. You still need help. And because you are the publisher, you are responsible for hiring this help.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I will leave it here.

Self-Publishing in its most basic form is that you are your own publisher. You are not signed onto a publishing company or paying a publishing company to publish you. You hire your own people, outsource for what you need, and publish in your own name.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Happy National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Details on Yecheilyah’s 5th Annual Poetry Contest are pending. For now, here are some of my favorite quotes.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

“If I didn’t define myself, for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

– Audre Lorde

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

– Gwendolyn Brooks

“I’m still learning to love the parts of me that no one claps for.”

– Rudy Francisco

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.”

– Amanda Gorman

These bitmojis are hilarious, lol.

Things You Don’t Need to Self-Publish a Book

A Massive Social Media Following

You do not need to have a million social media followers to publish a book. Your community will grow as you do. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

A Fat Bank Account

You do not need to spend your rent/mortgage money to publish a book. This is not to say you won’t have to spend any money to publish your book. But, there are ways of investing in your book projects without going broke. I remember setting up a GoFundMe to pay for a book cover years ago.

To Be an English Scholar

You do not need to be an English Scholar to publish a book. This is not to say you should not care about English. It is to say that you don’t have to be an expert at it to begin. That’s what editors and proofreaders are for. This is also not to say that there aren’t experts and scholars who became such before writing a book. This is to say that if everyone waited until they knew everything before publishing a book, there would be very few books to read.

An LLC

We talked about this already in another post. However, I include it here because everybody on the internet says you need an LLC. You don’t. Whether your business structure should be a Limited Liability Company depends on the kind of business you have, and self-publishing doesn’t require one to get started. (And this is not to say you won’t want to create a business structure around your writing later on. Click here to read up on that in a previous post.)

24 Hours a Day

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to write all day to finish your book. You do not need to sacrifice time with your family or take days off work to write a book. You only need to manage your time wisely. A good 15-20mins a day dedicated to writing is enough to write a first draft manuscript. (Remember that your draft does not have to be 400 pages long).

You do not need more time. You need more discipline and consistency.

Remember…

Publishing the book is the easy part; the first step in a long process that gets better as you learn and grow.

Everyone’s journey is different, and the truth is the real work happens after the book is in print. Becoming an expert happens AFTER you have taken the first step, not before.


Need more Indie Author Tips? Check out the archive of posts here.

Let the Words Be Seasoned

Photo by DapurMelodi from Pexels

There are times when Black authors find themselves fighting against those who wish them to edit their soul. Take the salt out the meat. Take the voice out the work, and leave it seasonless. To quote Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, “People still have a white, western idea of how intellect is ‘spose to walk in the world.” 

Let it not be lost that how Black people speak, including how we write, has been under fire since the days they forbade us to read and write. Considering us fools (and hoping we’d believe we were), they told us our language was broken. Told us massa was some jumbled version of master to justify our alleged stupidity and inhumanness. (Note: Massah is a Hebrew word meaning burden or oppressor. We called them what they were.)

The audacity to dilute language rich in culture by “correcting” it is just as brutal as stripping away someone’s name and replacing it with your own. What does your Ph.D. in poetry have to do with my grandmother’s tongue?

The way our slang terms do not always mirror what is heard or written within collegiate circles.

The way proverbs and parables roll off the tongue only to be shackled to some white scholars’ standards of brilliance. He think it’s nonsense how Jay Jay and Man Man ‘nem talk about how they be chillin. Or how Aunt Lou tells one of her grandchiren to go wrench off this spoon. She puts her hands on her hips, waves and says ‘How you?’ (She means it the way she says it, leaving out the ‘are.’) 

The way the world attempted to tuck knowledge away from us, hide from us its secrets. (Though, we already knew them.) 

Black writers do not need to sacrifice their soul or shapeshift into white standards of intellect to create something beautiful. They need only to be who they are and let the words be seasoned.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Author: Mark Manson
Publisher: Harper
Published: September 13, 2016
ASIN: B019MMUA8S
Pages: 212

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“People declare themselves experts, entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, mavericks, and coaches without any real-life experience…they feel they need to be great to be accepted in a world that broadcasts only the extraordinary.”

– Mark Manson

Quickly: If you are not subscribed to any of my emails, you might not know I have been away recovering from surgery. I am feeling much better and in the physical therapy part of healing. After being in the bed for weeks, my body is begging for movement, so I walk and stretch and all that good stuff. I am still not 100%, but much better than a month ago.

32000

Anywho, on to this review..

I knew I would like this book when I bought it. Maybe that optimism is what made me enjoy it so much. Or it could be the title, which is hard not to like. And while I don’t review every book I read for leisure, I felt compelled to write about this one.

You might think this is a book about not caring about anything. But it’s actually a book about prioritizing your thoughts effectively so that those things you care about are the most important and not the trivial. Some things are just not worth giving a hoot about. Or darn. Or flip. 

Side Note: Far as cussin, there are a lot of F*cks in this book if you are highly sensitive about that sorta thing. 

Manson’s chief purpose is that humans are flawed and limited, and instead of trying to be positive all the time, we should embrace the struggle and uncertainty in our lives. He asserts it is the “bad” things that happen to us that help us develop the strength and tenacity to keep being great. But we can’t do that if we try to avoid life’s inevitable pitfalls. 

You don’t always have to try and turn lemons into lemonade. Sometimes, you just gotta stomach the lemons and see what it has to teach you.

That’s basically the gist of this book. 

While everyone is trying to appear polished, forever positive, and put together, it’s sharing how we are overcoming the not-so-good things that are actually the most inspiring.

This is not your typical “try to be happy all the time” self-help book. This is a “learn how to become better at handling adversity and not giving a fuck about trivial stuff” book. Manson is funny, witty, and delivers his message straight–no chaser. 

Mark Manson is the man behind Will Smith’s Memoir, which I am also reading and enjoying, and I can tell. I can see why he was the perfect person to work with Will, and I can hear his voice now while reading the book, which I am halfway through. (But not in a way that takes away from Will’s voice. I don’t think that would be possible with his larger-than-life personality.)

If you are looking for something to help you get out of your own way (or if you are enduring a tough time like me and just want to read something real and down-to-earth), different from the cliche messages you see in these internet streets, this is the one.

“The pampering of the modern mind has resulted in a population that feels deserving of something without earning that something, a population that feels they have a right to something without sacrificing for it.” – Mark Manson

Ratings:

Strong Introduction:

There is no Intro, which is part of what I love. Manson jumps right in.

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 5/5


Note: I was not paid for this review. I bought the book, read it on my own time, and these are my thoughts. To have your work reviewed through my paid service, you must register your book here and it must rate 3-5 stars to be published on this blog. Reviews of books I read on my own are published regardless of rating. 

Yecheilyah’s 5th Annual Poetry Contest 2022: Apply to Help

As many of you are well aware, I host an online poetry contest every year. The purpose of the competition is to give back to the poetry community by spotlighting the next dope poet. I also host the contest to shine a light on the power of poetry which can often be underrated. 

We are in our fifth year, but I will need some help.

To help me coordinate this year’s contest, I am putting together a team by choosing people to join me behind the scenes.

If you would like to join me in organizing our 5th Annual Poetry Contest, please click on the link below and submit your application. 

This year’s theme is Freedom.

Do keep in mind that if you are on the board to help, you cannot enter the contest. So, if you are a poet looking to submit a poem for this year, do not sign up.

You also do not need to be a poet to help. I am looking for people in all areas right now, from help with promotion to prizes.

https://tinyurl.com/yecheilyah

Building Your Reader Community

People don’t tell new Indie Authors that publishing a book does not mean people will buy it. That is why the moment you decide you are writing your book must be the moment you also start building your community.

Building a reader community is important because it is the first step toward getting your book noticed by the people who want to read it.

Put plainly: when you focus on connecting with people, you attract a tribe of people ready and excited to buy your book when it drops.

This is critical for Indie Authors, in particular, who do not always have access to the same kind of exposure as authors who publish with publishing houses or small presses with bigger budgets.

No, people will not buy your book just because you posted the link. 

No, people will not buy your book just because you’re their favorite cousin. 

And no, people will not buy your book because you tell them to. 

Please also consider that even if your favorite cousin does buy your book, it doesn’t guarantee that they will:

  • Actually read the book
  • Review the book
  • Join your email list
  • Subscribe to your blog
  • Engage with your social media
  • Be repeat customers

Your real tribe, primarily strangers interested in what your book is about turned avid readers you have built a relationship with, will move differently than the family members you are begging to buy from you. 

Here are some things you can do to help find your tribe :

  • Share your writing process. 
  • Give updates on where you are in that process (draft, revisions, editing)
  • Talk about your inspirations and motivations
  • Talk about your challenges
  • Post excerpts from the book to social media
  • Start a blog
  • Start building your email list
  • Educate people about the book you are writing
  • Share the book cover when it’s ready
  • Talk about life outside of books and writing. What are your other interests?
  • Talk about your favorite books and authors

I agree. Building community is not about working tirelessly trying to convince people to read your book who would rather spend that $5 at Starbucks. That’s exhausting and is the frustration of many Indie Authors. That’s that pulling teeth part of the game everyone hates. Suppose building your community feels like you are pulling teeth. In that case, it is probably because you are begging people to support you who are not interested. Do them and yourself a favor and let them go in peace.

What it is about, as Jenn stated, is letting the people already interested in your book know it exists.

I am not trying to get people who are not poetry readers to read my poetry book to put this into perspective. That is not to say I won’t convert some people (tee hee). Still, I am looking for people who are already into poetry, black poetry by black women to be precise.

By sharing our likes, dislikes, challenges, and experiences and connecting with people of like mind, we find people with similar interests as our own. Then, we make the added effort to show up in the places where these people may hang out so we can connect with them on or offline. Maybe your tribe is on Facebook a lot. Maybe they are on YouTube, Instagram, Clubhouse, Twitter, and so on.

It’s 2022, and Indie Publishing has come a long way. Gone are the days of posting links to social media hoping someone will bite. This is known as “Hope Marketing,” or the hope for a sale. This doesn’t help us build community, sell books, or establish meaningful relationships. 

Focusing on people who are already into what you are writing will have a tribe of people waiting to buy your next book and save you a lot of time and heartache.

Remember, it is much easier to market to an already interested audience than an audience who you have to convince.

And most important of all, have fun!

Connecting with people is not supposed to be tedious. Building a reader community doesn’t have to feel like work. That takes the fun out of it. Just be yourself and share your journey. The people who are meant to be part of that journey will notice.


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