So This Happened

Me at the Nubian Bookstore in South Atlanta where Renaissance has just been stocked on the shelves.

Those of you already following me on social media are already aware of this….but…

I hate to be so dramatic but I have news…

Yesterday it became official.

I’ve been doing some underground work and….

…on Saturday, December 30, 2017, one of my books made it to the shelves of a brick and mortar bookstore for the first time. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is now available at The Nubian Bookstore in South Atlanta and I am organizing a book signing for Black History Month to help to promote the milestone.

Obviously, this is where the real work begins.

And, obviously, I am excited about this new endeavor.

I am looking forward to learning more about book publishing and networking more offline.

What a great way to end the year!

I’ll be away awhile but I wanted to give you the news for sure 🙂

See you around!

Ya’ll be great.

 

Peace and Hair Grease.

 

-EC

 


“Yecheilyah Ysrayl has crafted an outstanding novel that takes the reader on the migration that black elders have described all our lives. Nora has graduated from high school and run away from her Mississippi town to a northern city, Jacobsville, NY, just 45 minutes outside of Harlem. It’s Nora’s intent to pursue a career as a writer during the 1920’s and the height of the Harlem Renaissance. In Harlem, she rubs elbows with the talented elite or, as some would say, literary royalty.”

– Linda Mims

CLICK HERE TO EXPERIENCE THE NORA WHITE STORY

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An Alternative to ACX for Audiobook Production and Distribution – Jane Friedman

Has anyone tried ListenUp for audiobook production? It sounds interesting, though the upfront cost is pretty STEEP. lol. Aside from the service itself, I like what they said about Audiobook sales being dependent on the success of the book in print and digital format. Gave me a new perspective on how to approach audiobooks. My favorite quote:

“Audiobook sales are still dependent on the success of a book in its print or digital format. It’s helpful for authors to think of the audiobook as another edition of their book, extending its presence and reach. So when a reader goes to buy it, every option is available to them. At the same time, when an author promotes a book, there will likely be a spike in sales of all editions. Running an advertisement for a discount on an ebook through a service like BookBub has been shown to increase audio as well as ebook sales.

Much like promoting an ebook or print book, authors should offer review copies to bloggers, reviewers, and social media influencers who have significant reach. For the audiobook, authors should focus on reviewers who regularly review audiobooks and can touch on both the story and the narration.

Check out the interview and entire post HERE. Browse LisenUp’s website HERE.

If any of you have tried it, how is it? Do you like it better than ACX? Does the cost measure up to the service?

Indie Authors and Controversial Posts – Should You? Should You Not?

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DISCLAIMER: This is simply my own opinion. I also stress throughout the post that no one has the right to be disrespectful. Writing is a business and publishing books is a career move. I always encourage you to use wisdom in all that you do. Even if you are speaking truth, don’t put people down. That’s not wise.


I think it boils down to why you write in the first place and what you hope to gain from it. It should be a personal choice, not a commandment.

I understand why people propose you don’t post about super controversial topics. The reasons are obvious and have been stated repeatedly already. I won’t bore you with a regurgitation of the facts (see disclaimer.) But at the same time, I don’t understand why some propose Indies stay clear of it altogether. Even if it can help others. I think about what it means to be a writer. For me, this is not a job. It’s much more.

I know most people don’t take blogs and bloggers seriously, but when it comes to writing, it’s not like the 9-5 you go to every day where there are rules, regulations, and guidelines you must live by. Let me put this in perspective.

I am a part-time teacher as well as an author. I know what it means to go into a place that already has a set standard and to clock in and out.

I blog and I write books but when I am not doing this, I am teaching.

To teach, you have to be certified, have the educational background and follow the governmental guidelines necessary to do so. There is already a schedule, a curriculum, etc. (It is why one day, I would like to open my own school. I try not to do anything without an ultimate end goal.)

When I think about being an author, on the other hand, I think of having a much greater freedom than working a 9-5. The freedom to own my own and to speak the truth. Now, there are some that say that because this is a business (writing is) you shouldn’t talk about things that are controversial because you’ll lose readers. Perhaps it is a matter of perspective because I do not think of it this way.

Losing readers for cursing people out is one thing. Losing readers because you are rude and arrogant and just don’t care is one thing. Professionalism is important. If you don’t know how to talk to people, perhaps you shouldn’t be in business.

On the other hand…

If I lose readers for being real. If I lose readers because they cannot stomach the truth I have to offer. If I lose readers because they do not agree with me, then they were not my readers, to begin with. If I lose these people because I decided to be real and they didn’t like it, then they were not part of my target audience in the first place. I know it sounds harsh, but I see a lot of Traditionally Published authors speaking their minds too  and writing their truths. I see a lot of them using their platform to raise awareness of social injustice and other things. There’s a lot they say that can be considered controversial and it seems that for Independent Artists there should be more freedom.  It is only when I get to Independent / Self-Publishing that I hear this talk about how we should, in short, censor ourselves and I understand the need for it but only to an extent.

Using wisdom is one thing, I understand that. In the words of my father-in-law, “Don’t be a fool your whole life.” However, using your art to expand conversations and to raise awareness cannot be done without some inkling of controversy.  Someone somewhere is going to disagree with you. The whole point of writing, it seems to be, is to ultimately expand the conversation of the book. To not speak about your thoughts concerning the political, religious or social climate of today, to censor this in fear of losing readers, doesn’t make any sense to me. Why are you alive?

If I am going to write then I am going to write the truth and if people feel that it is a truth they cannot accept then they weren’t part of the chosen few I was meant to reach in the first place. I have long given up trying to save the world. I am not that naive anymore. I am only trying to reach those who are interested.

I am not saying to be disrespectful. Be choice with your words. That’s important and I’ve spoken about that a lot on this blog. I am only saying that if you are truly speaking the truth you are going to offend someone somewhere sometimes and that it’s not something you can control. If your job is not to offend anyone, where does that leave you? You may as well go work for someone else.

Listen, my intent is not to offend but it’s inevitable that when telling the truth you will annoy someone. To spend my life writing trying not to do so is to not do my job. In case you haven’t already noticed, I do not write to get rich. I don’t care about being famous, political correctness and offending people who can’t handle the truth and all that. It would be nice for my books to reach a large audience of course, but that is not why I write.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors by Anne R. Allen

Title: The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors

Author: Anne R. Allen

Print Length: 176 pages

Publisher: Kotu Beach Press

Publication Date: December 4, 2017

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B077Y5DKP9

 

*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author*

*Due to the high volume of reads I am behind on, reviews will no longer be restricted to Fridays. I will be publishing reviews on whatever day I get them out until I am caught up*

 

Anne R. Allen is no stranger to the blogging world. Writer’s Digest named “Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris” one of the “Best 101 Websites for Writers”, and the blog made The Write Life’s list of the Best 100 Websites for Writers for 2017. Her advice and suggestions are shared daily by bloggers and authors such as myself. As her book is targeted, I am a busy Author but I also love to blog. Blogging. It has become one of the things I must incorporate into my schedule. I love interacting with the WordPress platform, networking with other authors, readers, and bloggers and being able to share my post on social media. In short, if there was a book out there for busy author bloggers, I am definitely one of them which is why I definitely knew I was going to need this book. I was not disappointed.

This book is extremely easy to understand which I think makes the “Easy” in the title so critical. It helps to guide those authors who are new to blogging in a way that leaves no stone unturned. Whether it is Blogger or WordPress, if you are an author (even if you’re not a busy one) Allen’s book will give you the tools you need to make blogging part of your platform. What I loved most of all is the information on how an author blog is different than a business blog. I also enjoyed the part on writing an author bio, which I applied immediately. What I loved least is some of the information on author newsletters.

While I don’t think everyone should do it at all (and I also agree with the author on some of the focus of some newsletters), I still think the email list can be beneficial for staying in communication with an author’s target audience. While my blog is more interactive and people can subscribe and also get email notifications of new posts, the email list helps me to organize exactly who the people are who are subscribed. I do not think the email list is for hard-selling (it doesn’t work) or anything most people tell you it is for but I do think it can be helpful to know who your supporters are more intimately. I love my blog. I have more interaction, feedback and more subscribers but I don’t know who everyone is, who is actually reading my content or what percentage of them are no longer paying attention. With an email list, I know exactly who is active, who is inactive, who clicks links, who open emails and who doesn’t. People who are no longer interested can also unsubscribe, giving me, even more, insight into the people who care and the people who do not care.

Nonetheless, there are still some really good pointers here so my disagreement with this part didn’t downgrade my thoughts on the book. Allen brings up some good pointers, such as: not using your list to advertise hard sell, promote or spam. How blogs show up on search engines, can be shared on social media and is interactive. I also like that she brings up the Street Team newsletter where everyone is treated as members of the author’s team to help to review and promote the work. I don’t like the idea either and have always thought there should be a separate list for this.

I wouldn’t recommend this book just for busy authors. I recommend this book for author bloggers in general. It’s an easy read and gives all the tools you need to start your author blog today.

 

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors is available now on Amazon. Authors, go get it!

Anne R A

Anne R. Allen is the author of nine comic novels. THE GATSBY GAME, FOOD OF LOVE, and THE LADY OF THE LAKEWOOD DINER are available singly or in a boxed set called BOOMER WOMEN. She’s also the author of the hilarious Camilla Randall mysteries: THE BEST REVENGE, GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY, SHERWOOD, LTD., NO PLACE LIKE HOME, SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM, and THE QUEEN OF STAVES. She is currently published by Kotu Beach Press.

She also has a collection of short stories and verses called WHY GRANDMA BOUGHT THAT CAR.

She’s the co-author of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…A SELF-HELP GUIDE, written with Amazon #1 seller, Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Her latest book is THE AUTHOR BLOG: EASY BLOGGING FOR BUSY AUTHORS.

Writer’s Digest named “Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris” one of the “Best 101 Websites for Writers”, and the blog made The Write Life’s list of the Best 100 Websites for Writers for 2017.

Anne is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and spent twenty-five years in the theater–acting and directing–before taking up fiction writing. She is the former artistic director of the Patio Playhouse in Escondido, CA and now lives on the foggy Central Coast of California with an imaginary cat and a lot of fictional people.

Premade Book Covers: 2 Things to Keep in Mind

There’s a quote floating around somewhere that says:

“Don’t go broke trying to prove to broke people that you ain’t broke.”

Exactly. The reality that many authors are on budgets has created an entirely new source of income for graphic designers, many of whom offer premade book covers as well as custom made. These artists have made our life a little easier by offering professional covers at lower rates than custom covers. While custom covers are preferred, not everyone can afford a new custom cover for every book (the exception are those who make their own covers) so consider this post for those of us “balling on a budget.” I believe in investing in your best and if you can afford to pay for a custom cover and high-priced editing, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, just know you don’t have to go broke to publish your book. The same way we can find reasonable editing prices is the same way we can find reasonable book cover prices for covers that won’t look generic.

But Premades have a unique struggle.

All of the factors that go into articulating your story to a designer in a way that will help them to design a good cover is internal. By internal I mean that if you are choosing the premade, you have to make these decisions for yourself. You have to understand your target audience, your genre, and identify the key features enough mentally to know if the cover is a right fit for you.

Many people have asked me about the cover for Renaissance. The truth is that it was premade and I am blessed to have stumbled on this gem. All the artist did was edit the text. Here’s what a reader said when leaving a review for the book on Amazon:

“The first thing that drew me to this novel was its beautiful cover. A deep blue sky fading into a sunset which bakes an old country road golden brown.”

Guys, I didn’t spend a lot of money on this.

As soon as I saw the cover I knew it was the right fit for Renaissance. Though it’s a premade, there are some things that made it unique:

  • The photo is a real photo taken by Brittany Cox and then sold to designer Najla Qambers to be used for a premade book cover.
  • The elements fit the context of my story.
  • The book matches other books in it’s genre.

I looked at other covers and thought about purchasing a complete custom cover but my money wasn’t agreeing with that so I just went back to that same image, praying no one had taken it. It’s not out-of-this-world beautiful but it was perfect for me. The use of a real country road photo really set it apart. It was also the only of its kind being sold so I was anxious to get it as it was literally just one available. When I was ready, I contacted Najla Qambers of Brick-a-Brack Photography, and secured my cover.

So, two things to keep in mind:

  1. Watch Out for Overly Used Stock Photos

One of the things that made the Renaissance cover unique is the use of a real photograph. There are some great premade design covers out there but many designers use the same stock photos. All designers will have a message that says the book cover is not sold after you buy it, which is true. The same cover cannot be sold again but this doesn’t mean other designers won’t use the same stock photo in a different design. That particular cover may not be sold again but the same stock images can be used again. Keep this in mind when looking for your premade. 

Joshua Jadon sums it up pretty well:

“You also may get less attention from a generic cover because it may be a little easier to ignore. Readers are looking for something interesting and exciting that grabs their attention, and a book that might have the same cover—or at least the same images—as several others often won’t get that kind of attention. A unique style or look can influence readers’ selection process. If your cover doesn’t reflect that … well, it may not get noticed.”

But, your premade does not have to look generic.

It is possible to find a stunning premade that looks custom made. I got tons of compliments on this cover and requests for who designed it. People thought it was custom made.

When choosing your premade (which is great for those of us on budgets and timelines as they are usually both cheaper and delivered quickly), choose premades that are as set-apart as possible and preferably, premades that look custom made. (And speaking of timelines, once you are sure you want to publish a book, it helps to start saving for editing and book cover design months ahead of time. )

2. Watch out for Bulk Premade Deals

Book cover design is a skill. Period. Even though there are designers offering bulk book covers at discounted prices you can edit in Photoshop, it won’t do you any good without skill. I made the mistake of falling for this and while some are nice (and I am competent in editing covers in Photoshop), it is not something I will do again.  A clever move by designers but not too good for authors. Unless you are Photoshop Savvy or have someone on your team who is Photoshop Savvy, it will do little to benefit you. Unless you’re a Graphic Designer or you have a Graphic Designer on your team, you don’t want to put yourself in the position to edit the cover yourself IF YOU ARE NOT COMPETENT IN USING THE SOFTWARE NECESSARY TO DO SO.

While it may start off looking professional, your lack of skill can make it look generic  because graphic designers are skilled in typography, colors, blending colors, and anything else that may require a keen eye. You can mess up a nice cover not knowing what you’re doing which will lead you back to square one. If you go this route, choose covers that do not require much change.

So, two things to be aware of:

  1. Overly used stock photos

  2. Bulk Premade Deals

Here are some websites with some unique premade book covers. There are more, I am sure, but these are ones I’ve investigated myself. I rarely see the stock photos from their covers used by other designers.

For more posts on Indie Publishing, be sure to visit the new Writer Tips page.


Be sure to pick up your copy of Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) HERE.

Easy Blogging for Authors: 10 Tips for a Successful Author Blog, Anne R Allen

Anne is at it again with a most excellent article on Blogging for Authors. If you’re an author and you’re looking to learn more about how your blog differs from a business blog, check out this post. She talks being true to your brand, not defining your blog success by numbers, networking and not sacrificing your WIP (work in progress).

My biggest mistake was that I didn’t see that an author blog has a different purpose and goal from a business blog. Author blogs aren’t about making money directly with ads or sales.

Instead, they provide a platform for your writing and a way to communicate with readers and fellow writers. An excellent one. In fact, a blog is still the best platform-building tool for authors, according to agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, (Laurie will be visiting us in January.)

Good writers don’t need gimmicks. We only need to entertain and inform: content really is king. Be accessible and be yourself. Nothing else matters. (Well, correct spelling and grammar help too. 🙂 )

Click through to the ORIGINAL POST HERE to read the entire article.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Southern Horror Stories by Lisa W. Tetting

Title: Southern Horror Stories

Author: Lisa W. Tetting

Print Length: 68 pages

Publication Date: October 26, 2017

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

ASIN: B076WW49KN

*I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author*

Almost 400 years ago, the first enslaved Blacks, arrived in the Virginia colony at Point Comfort on the James River. Spanish records suggest that the enslaved were captured in the Portuguese colony of Angola. At first, the number of enslaved taken was small. In about 1650, however, with the development of plantations on the newly colonized Caribbean Islands and American mainland, the trade grew.

But what if things had turned out differently? What if the enslaved could exact immediate vengeance on their oppressors and gain their freedom with help from the ancestors? That is essentially the theme connecting six short stories in Lisa W. Tetting’s short story collection, Southern Horror Stories.

Each story begins with a tragedy familiar to that of Chattel Slavery. In Barren Plantation, Pansy witnesses the death of her baby girl immediately after giving birth. Afterward, the woman bathes in the child’s blood, soaking up the energy and begins to hear chanting in a foreign language. She essentially becomes possessed and starts chanting along with the voices until an entity arrives to give her word on her next move. She is to save the other children on the plantation in a most chilling way.

In Caleb’s Stitches, children of the enslaved go missing, in Mind of Hope a girl witnesses the beating death of her mother and shooting of her father and is instructed by the ancestors on how to get revenge for her parents. And in Underground Hell Road the slaves have overtaken the plantation in an intelligent plan to create a portal to freedom. All of the stories involve the enslaved receiving guidance from the ancestors on how to strike back at those who hurt them.

I loved most the connection between the stories. Linking Barren Plantation and Caleb’s Stitches was brilliant and so was the connection between Slave Island and Pirates of Slavery. I would also love to see Underground Hell Road fleshed out into a full-length novel with elements of the other stories possibly weaved in. I love the idea of the plantation being a way for the slaves to transition their way to freedom and would love to read a full novel on the concept.

I loved least some of the familiarity between the names. In Caleb’s Stitches, it seems the Master and Mistress has the same name. I got confused between Masa Henry and Mistress Henry. I also found Caleb’s knowledge of the science she needed to do what she did a bit hard to believe. Caleb became an expert from reading Dr. Vulcavick’s research but I would think she would have needed a lot more training to successfully remove body parts and would have needed to know more than most of the words to comprehend the complexity of scientific research (which is different than recreational reading.) What she did with these body parts was hilarious though if I must say. You’ll have to read the book to find out more.

Southern Horror Stories is an easy and entertaining read that is not recommended for children (though with the author’s talent, I can easily see a PG version of the stories to help youth understand about the horrors of slavery). Lisa’s writing style is lovely and easy to understand.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

Southern Horror Stories is Available Now on Amazon

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