The Houston Signing was excellent. It was different from my other signings. We had a small crowd but it felt more intimate and personal. What’s better than talking about self-love to a group of Black women? It reminded me of teaching and you know what they say “when you teach you learn twice.” One of the most important lessons I learned is the importance of telling our stories. I wish I had gone deeper into my background during the introduction. I think it would have added a bit more depth.
I was raised on the south side of Chicago in the Robert Taylor Projects, the largest housing project in the world and one of the poorest urban communities in the United States (second only to Cabrini Green). I’ve seen things most people only read about or watch in hood movies. I know what it’s like to grow up around drug addicts and gangs. I got my own war wounds. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been hungry. I know what it’s like to be depressed and sad. Keep Yourself Fullis not a regurgitation of the latest Social Media Self-love Guru. Keep Yourself Fullexist because I know what it’s like to feel empty.
This kind of vulnerability helps us to be more relatable with others and capable of helping people who are where we were to see living proof that overcoming is not just a word: it actually is possible. If we consider ourselves healed and whole, how did we get that way? What lessons have we learned? We didn’t always know what we know today and preaching and browbeating rarely works…
…but stories do.
Tell your story. Let people know how you got here. Stories help us to connect more with others. It humanizes us and makes people open to hearing our perspective.
I have been MIA on social media lately and I’ll return to my regular blogging soon. In the meantime, the Even Salt Looks Like Sugar is available now in audiobook. If you are a first time audible user this book is free with the 30 day trial.
Texas, I’ll be at the Trill Healing and Wellness Space in Stafford TX (about 40min from Houston) on November 30th for a signing and book reading of Keep Yourself Full. If you are in the area, I would love to have your support. This is our chance to meet/catch up. Don’t have this book? No worries! Grab your copy now from my website by clicking on the link in my bio. See you soon. Special thanks to Trill Monday Night Markets, Enlightened Souls, and B Infused Natural Detox Waters and more.
It’s time for another edition of “Lessons from a Book Signing.” If you have been following, I am coming off two book signings one week apart, and I always write something about what I learned from my signings. I am a believer that everything must teach me something. Everything I do or am a part of must serve a purpose; every relationship and every experience must have value.
You wouldn’t believe the number of times I was asked at both signings (especially at the mall) if I was on IG. This question told me that if you’re a writer, Instagram is one platform you want to be on right now (especially if you’re a black writer, a lot of black readers on the gram). What I loved about both signings is that I gained something even if people didn’t buy a book. Those who didn’t purchase stood by my table and looked up my IG handle and followed me. Not once did someone ask me if I was on Facebook. Facebook is still an excellent platform, don’t misunderstand me, it just didn’t come up much except among the older crowd of authors at the Festival who wasn’t on Instagram. All I know is, I won’t be ignoring this real-time data. If IG is where readers are, that is where I want to be. (Follow me @yecheilyah 🙂 )
Ladies and gents, brothers and sisters, I believe we have hit a technology shift in the way people do business. I have a card reader, but I didn’t have to use it, and I rarely had to give change. Instead, money passed through the air through Cash App. If you’ve been living under a rock, Financial apps like Cash App and Zelle allow people to connect their bank account to an app and send and receive money in an instant. No swiping and no chips. Many businesses are using these apps as currency. “You got Cash App?” was a constant question, and I am wondering how much longer I will need to carry my card reader (I didn’t use it at all). Are you hosting an author/business event? Consider having a Zelle or Cash App account just in case!
Keep Working: The right people are watching
I posted to my SM early Saturday morning stating that a young woman approached me at the venue to meet me. I was setting my table, and someone tapped my shoulder. She said she follows me on SM and wanted to come over and meet me. We hugged, chatted, and took a pic for the gram. She also gifted me a copy of her book. It was an exciting start to the day and caught me by surprise. But even more surprising, this kept happening!
I didn’t post every occasion to SM, but this kept happening throughout the night. Other young women came up to me and said they came to the event because of me, that my face popped up first in Google, and that they had been to my author website.
Even as I was packing up to leave someone ran up to me and bought a copy of I am Soul. She was so excited to have caught me before I was gone. Another young woman went further. She said that she had messaged me through Facebook (which I saw last week but went back to look, and it was gone so I forgot about it), because she wanted me to headline an event next month featuring Renaissance. (I will talk more about this later and how you can support it.)
Stuff like this happened to me all night, and filled me with gratitude. I don’t look for outside validation or anything like that, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to be appreciated.
Your book is always new to the people who have never read it
There is a widespread belief that I am Soul(which I just noticed spiked again and is #28 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List) is a new book, but it’s going on almost two years now since its release in December of 2017. My Stella series has been out since 2016 and Renaissance just passed its two-year mark 7/15. The only new new book is my short story series; Even Salt Looks Like Sugar.
I did not order enough books to cover both my signings. After I sold my copies of, I am Soul at Greenbriar Mall I had to leave an additional four copies with Nia to restock on the shelf, leaving me with only four copies of I am Soul. I also only had two copies of Renaissance, so I put in an order for more of these books. But they told me my books wouldn’t arrive until July 23-24th.
I. Was. Livid.
The Festival was on the 20th; I didn’t need them after the fact. (insert eye-ball roll)
After getting out of my feelings, I stepped back and looked at my inventory. I grabbed the four Soul, two Renaissance, five copies of Beyond the Colored Line, and five copies of The Road to Freedom. These are books two and three of The Stella Trilogy series, but they can also be read as standalone novellas. I also grabbed a handful of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar (which I had plenty of).
To make a long story short, Stella showed out! Beyond the Colored Line sold more than I am Soul. It surprised me because Stella didn’t do very well at last year’s Festival and I intended on leaving it out of this one. Renaissance did sell out as I predicted it would (I only had two copies) but bringing some of my backlist books helped carry me. I guess Stella said shoo, don’t forget about me! (This mix also gave Renaissance, and I am Soul value being they were in limited supply. One reader was excited to have grabbed up the last copy.)
And as for those extra books I bought that will be arriving this week? They will go toward my reading event next month which will save me money.
Lights, Camera, Action
Be ready to talk about your book on the spot, just in case someone sticks a mic and a camera in your face! This is what I walked into returning from the bathroom. The ladies were hilarious and we talked for a good while.
Be sure to check out the photos of both signingsHERE.
Don’t forget to preorder Keep Yourself Fullin ebook. >Free with Kindle Unlimited< *It is #126 in Personal Transformation and Spirituality. Help me make it #1 by preordering today! *
The Poetry Contest is ending! Get involved before August 1st!
CLICK HERE for the original post with all the important information on rules, guidelines, and prizes.
It’s time for another post on lessons from a book signing. I try to learn something new from every event I do. I also enjoy seeing if what we learn online applies when in direct, real life, person-to-person contact. Here’s what I learned from Friday‘s Book Signing.
Practice Makes Perfect
While I am not perfect by any means, consistency and practice really do help us to get better. Cliche as it is now, the saying is true. The more book signings and events I do, the better I get at pitching my books. I am a naturally shy person but author events help me to be more open. It is the chance for me to learn how to communicate what my book is about without being scripted (which is easy to do when you’re behind a computer), but that you only have seconds to do in person. For example, I had the chance to sit and think about what I wanted to say here, how to say it and the words that would best sum up this experience. In person, the time is much, much faster. There is no time to sit and think about what to say. There is nothing but your knowledge of your product and why you think it‘s worth the time and money investment. They even asked me to recite a poem on the spot! I am thankful to Yah I was ready.
It’s also not just about selling books but genuine interaction with the people. There were many people who bought books but did not take pictures because they didn’t want to and I did not force them. Some people didn’t buy books at all, but they sat and talked with me and laughed and we shared some interesting conversation. I met a new poet who told me about some open mic spots to hit up and a young man who referred me to a Barnes and Noble in the area that accepts Self-Published Authors. The best way to get started making change is to begin where you are.
Competing Against Cell Phone Attention Spans
In person, you get to see the distractions we compete with up close and personal. People‘s attention spans are short already but add to it the mobile device and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of the people who walked past my table were glued to their mobile device or already talking on it. This makes me much more conscious of this when doing business online. Knowing that the interest in the smartphone is a big deal is one thing but seeing it empowers me with so many new ideas and thoughts on how I, as an author can keep this in mind when interacting with readers.
Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone (Don’t Sell At All, Connect)
The same thing about finding your target audience online applies to offline as well. While the time is faster and you do have to pull people away from their phones, discernment is important as well. I am starting to pick up on who to reach out to (literally) and who to let walk by. This may sound funny but it’s not just about getting a sale. Some people purposely crossed the street to avoid my table (lol), some people purposely focused on the ground and avoided eye contact, and some people were not on the phone. They just pretended to be to avoid me. These are examples that “I don‘t want to be bothered.” Just like not everyone will want to buy your book online, not everyone wants to buy your book in person. Some things I picked up on from people who wanted to buy my book or was interested in learning more:
They hesitated and stared at the book cover while walking by
They stopped by
They spoke to me
They asked questions
They stopped when hearing what the book was about
There are ways of knowing if you should reach out to people and if you should not. I hope to use the experience from Friday to help me at the Atlanta book signing in July.
Some Writing Advice Does Not Apply Offline
Every time I meet with people face to face it‘s a different experience than being online. What may surprise you is that I find writing advice (not all, but some) we use online does not apply to offline. There’s no screen, no script, no hashtag, nothing but good ole fashioned communication between two people who may share a genuine interest. In real life people do want your business card to learn more about you, they do ask about your website, and they want to know if they can follow you online. This means that while some advise against business cards, author websites and social media, this is not true when you are face to face with the people. In my experience, no one asks to follow your blog or if they can sign up to your email list (unless there’s already a sign-up form present and you ask them). While I think both are important and are necessary for Indie Authors to have (and both have helped me tremendously), in my experience when talking to the people in person who don‘t already know me, the basics they want to know is:
Do you have a card?
Do you have a website?
Can I follow you online?
Can I pay with my card?
Applying this means:
Having business cards with me
Having a website for people to go to
Being present on social media
Having a card reader on hand
If you did not get to stop by or you are not in the area, remember that I am Soul, my latest collection of poetry is 99cents in ebook through the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month. Also, if you are in the Atlanta area this summer, I’ll be at the Atlanta African American Book Festival in July. I’ll be premiering my first Non-Fiction release, Keep Yourself Full (of course I’ll still have my other books present as well) and other author swag. Don’t miss the chance to connect. See you soon ✒📚📸
Don’t you just love being surprised by new reviews? Yes! I am Soul has a new review and it is just in time for the next signing. If you are in Georgia and have not yet grabbed a signed, paperback copy of this book, I’ll be at the Nubian Bookstore on Friday, April 12th in Morrow, GA. The signing will take place from 5-8:00p Eastern Standard Time. This means you good people can stop through on your way home from work. See how I consider you fam? Lol
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.
I am celebrating another mini milestone. On Sunday, October 7th, I got two of my books approved to be carried at another bookstore, making the 3rd Bookstore in Atlanta carrying at least one of my books (Nubian Books and the Medubookstore are the other two.)
For those of you who do not have the new book, I am offering you an opportunity to come out to this event and celebrate with me. I will have signed paperback copies of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar and I’ll also be reading from the book. This is also a great time for a Q&A session. Is there something you would have liked to see happen in the story? Do you have a favorite part? Least favorite part? Ask me all the questions you want!
There will be light refreshments available so you can get your snack on too while I tell you a story (and then we can go out to dinner afterwards for some real food…. tee hee). Get a picture with me, or bring another book of mine you have to be signed. Either way, come on out and show some love! If you have not been to one of my signings yet, this is your chance! You know they be lit! It doesn’t matter which of my books you have, bring them to be signed!
Not Subscribed to my email list? You may want to go ahead and do that before December. In our December issue, I am revealing my strategy for getting my books into stores as an Indie Author. We’ll discuss consignment, distribution through Ingram Spark or other platforms, and the review process if the store requires one. CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP. You will get an automatic welcome email. Please check your Spam and Junk folder for it.
ATL, don’t forget to stop through next week for Tinzley Bradford’s 4th Quarterly Settle-free Mixer! The time has come and I am honored to be among such talented professionals. Self-care and self-love is soo important and we are talking about that and so much more.
If you have read Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, please remember to leave a review if you’re feeling so obliged! Thanks so much!! As usual, your time and attention is most appreciated.