Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 2: Not Preparing Financially

I once paid $300 for a book cover. At the time, I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money on a cover. Not only did I not have the money, but even if I did, I couldn’t afford to invest it into a book cover when there were, as I saw it, much more severe priorities in front of me. But, I was young and excited, and I wanted to publish this book, and I wanted that cover.

But I was broke, broke.

So, what did I do?

I set up a GoFundMe.

I went around to people I knew and explained my vision and why I was raising the money. I (and get this) talked to people.

And I don’t like talking to people.

Not only did I make enough to purchase the cover I wanted, but I also made that money right back at a Book Signing in Chicago.

It was 2014, and we were at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. I had just released my first screenplay, which, interestingly enough, is the book that inspired The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen.

I made that $300 back and then some.

You might be thinking, “But, EC, if you couldn’t afford to pay for a book cover, how did you cover editing?”

I didn’t. I had a friend edit the book, which is why it is retired today.

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Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash

Self-Publishing is an area where the term, Proper preparation prevents pissed poor performance holds much weight. We don’t talk about it enough, but financial planning is part of the basics of Self-Publishing.

Self-Publishing requires a mindset shift regarding how you feel about yourself and how you look at your finances. One of the first things I’ve noticed in my journey is that most first-time Self-Publishers haven’t decided if they are publishing this book for themselves or publishing the book for others to read.

Did I confuse you there? Read on.

Publishing for Yourself vs. Publishing a Book that Sells

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Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Publishing a book for yourself means you fulfill your dream of becoming a published author and want to give copies away to family and friends. It means you are not selling the book or wanting to create a business out of it; rather, you want to satisfy a desire for something you’ve always wanted to do.

In this case, it would not be necessary to put a lot of money into this project, mainly because you are not getting the money back through sales since you are not selling the book. You may decide to get your book cover made using a cover template from KDP or Lulu or a homemade cover from Canva. You might choose to have a friend edit the book for you or use free software for formatting. This would be sufficient for a book you don’t want to sell. There are tons of economical ways to publish a book for this purpose.

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But, suppose you are publishing this book because you want to leverage your business, spread your message and get it into as many hands as possible. Suppose you are a speaker and want to sell copies at your event, see your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or get the book stocked at bookstores, libraries, and schools.

What if you are writing this book because you want other people to read it?

In this case, you must prepare for this journey from the mind of a business person and not only an author.

When you publish a book you intend to sell, you consider other factors outside of what you want from the book because this book isn’t only for you. You think about building a platform, the market, and you consider the financial obligation necessary to bring the vision forward. 

This isn’t to say write a book that doesn’t speak to your soul. It means you publish a book that speaks to your soul and the soul of others. It means you are publishing a book you see is needed in your community.

“You may have a robust knowledge of quantum computing but if everything the audience wants from you is how to use Microsoft Excel, give them just that. You write no book about quantum computing until you are able to build an audience around it.

Most self-published authors don’t do this. They do the exact opposite. They write what they like and try to figure out how to shove it down people’s throats.”

-David O, Entrepreneurs Handbook

Publishing a Book You Want to Sell Requires A Financial Investment

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Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Spending money on your book is only an investment if you have put a strategy in place designed to ensure how you will sell this book. This, in my experience, is the difference between publishing for yourself and publishing a book for other people to enjoy as well. Many authors who venture into Self-Publishing ignore the market, so the book doesn’t sell outside of close family and friends because they have written a book no one wants to read. 

When was the last time you bought a book by an author you have NOT been following for some time, on a subject you really don’t care about?

This is called Indie Author Basics because we focus on laying a strong foundation (a well-written and packaged book) to make it easier to build everything else on top of it. Too many new Indie Books are not attractive, not well-written, poorly produced, and is about topics no one cares about. As a result, the average self-published author makes less than $1,000 per year, according to a survey by Guardian in 2015, and a third of them make less than $500 per year.

What does this have to do with preparing financially?

When authors publish books they intend to sell for reasons outside of themselves, they are mentally prepared to invest the time and money to produce a high-quality product because they know they will get a return on their investment if done right.

Again, an investment isn’t just putting your money into something. Investing is putting your money into something you know will yield a return, either financially, mentally, or spiritually. It is the act of allocating resources with the expectation of generating an income or profit.

That’s why we had to talk about if you want to even publish this book to sell it first because not everyone wants to publish a book to sell it, but for those who do, financial investment is necessary.

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My dope $300 cover for my first screenplay

My books do not sit on the shelves with major traditionally published books (and sell) because I’m the best writer or because I have the best books or even the best marketing strategy. I also put good money into producing my books, among other things. I wasn’t going to say this, but it needs to be said that I practice what I preach.

It also needs to be said I am on a budget just like most of us, but I prepare early for this so that what I do invest into publishing my book isn’t coming from the money I need to grocery shop or pay bills. It is coming from the money I have saved and put away specifically for this project since I first decided I will publish the book. That’s how seriously I take my writing.

I am not saying spending lots of money on your book will guarantee sales. It won’t. You first have to publish a book people want to read.  (Although I got my money back from what I spent on the cover from the screenplay, the book did not continue to sell after that.) But, after that, making sure the book is well packaged plays its part too.

I am also not telling you to sell a leg to publish your book. There is nothing wrong with finding economical ways to publish (premade covers are cheaper than custom made), but if you try to find the cheapest way possible or skim on editing because you don’t want to put in the work, it will only cost you more in the end.


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INDIE AUTHOR BASICS WITH EC!

Why I Say “Thank You” (and why you should too)

Image Cred. Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

This post is longer than I would like, but I think the message is necessary.

If you’ve been following me online for any significant amount of time, you know I am always saying thank you or reintroducing myself to new readers. I do this because of my firm belief in the phrase, “people don’t have to support you.”

Let me tell you a story.

My husband was driving, and I was looking out the window of the passenger’s seat as we passed by the brick houses, mansions, and condos of downtown Atlanta. “This probably where most of the celebrities live,” I joked. We talked about how movies never show the city’s complete image by filming movies in less wealthy areas. Since we are both from Chicago, we talked about Chicago films where we didn’t recognize the city because it was on the side of town we have never lived.

As we drove, we passed by a fancy-looking hotel where a man stood. He leaned against his suitcase, a white sign on its top with black ink that read: “I lost everything.”

My smile faded, and my heart felt heavy as I realized he was homeless. He didn’t look like those fakes that try to scam people out of their money, either. Something about his vibe told me he was not joking. He had really lost everything.

The US economy was already bad, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, things have gotten worse. People are out of jobs, out of money, out of homes, and out of hope. Any little they scrape together is reserved for only the most essential items. If someone spends money buying books or t-shirts, or anything that is not greatly essential (okay well, books are essential to me but I mean, like food), it means so much more to them, and they deserve a thank you.

Why EC?

Because they didn’t have to do it and sometimes, they couldn’t do it, but they invested in you.

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

Entrepreneurship has been on the rise a lot lately, and as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a good thing. I have always stood for the underdog and will still rally around the concept of Independence. There is a humility about small, independent businesses that I love. Plus, every large company started as a small business. And since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the countless black deaths, it has encouraged more people to support black-owned businesses and independent businesses.

This awakening means that while many people are struggling, many people are also thriving even amid this Pandemic. However, I am disappointed to see a lot of bullying among entrepreneurs, both large and small. Some people are shaming people with 9-5s when truth be told, most entrepreneurs in this economy have 9-5s, and their business is the real side hustle. That or their spouses have 9-5s. There’s nothing wrong with this, but some people think there is. People also throw shame when they try to bully people into supporting them.

Bully others into supporting them?

It means making people feel small and insignificant for not buying your services or product. It means threatening to cut people off because they didn’t support your business. It means neglecting to consider all the other things people have going on in their lives right now and that maybe they don’t have the extra money to spend or perhaps don’t have the time.

Image Cred. Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash.

Ignore social media posts for a second and think about what someone may go through behind the scenes.

  • Maybe they cried their eyes out this morning.
  • Maybe they prayed on their knees, drowned in tears.
  • Maybe they were going to lose their home or apartment or children.
  • Maybe they lost their job, career.
  • Maybe a family member died.

Maybe people have other things on their mind that take precedence over buying your bar of soap.

And if you think someone’s being fake for wearing a smile through their storm, then you need not look passed the smile of Chadwick Boseman, who battled cancer while filming movies and never complained.

Image Cred: Creative Commons License | Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Black Panther”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. | Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, US

I watched my sister-in-law battle and eventually perished from cancer. My dad, too, so I know what Chadwick did was not easy from personal experience. And while everyone is praising his silence now, that is not how we treat the “regular everyday people,” we know in actual life who battle in private. We call them phony for not opening up as we think they should. Sometimes people don’t talk, not because they are being fake or secretive, but because it’s just none of your business. Let’s allow people to give their testimony in their own time.

My point in all of this is that no one is obligated to spend money with a business only because it exists. Anything that anyone chooses to give, including time and information, is a gift. I always say “thank you” because people don’t have to support me.

People support businesses that offer something they need, whose message or value system aligns with their own, helps them solve a problem and companies they trust. Someone might enjoy eating bread, and you may launch a bread business, but that bread lover is still not obligated to support you. Maybe over time, once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve sampled your product, they may try it and when they do, say thank you.

Why EC?

Because they didn’t have to do it, so show some gratitude.

To better conclude this point, I will again turn to Tyler Perry as an example.

For the record, this isn’t about Perry’s personal life. I will not comment on him dressing up as a woman, Madea, or his elite status because its none of my business. I am commenting on some basic business practices I see from him as an outsider looking in that many newer entrepreneurs can learn from. Everything else is for an entirely different conversation.

Image Cred. Creative Commons License | AMFM STUDIOS LLC | Filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry being interviewed in 2016.

From a business perspective, you see the same stories and the same actors in Tyler Perry’s films because Perry has a good understanding of his targeted audience. He knows the persona of the people who like his stuff, and he focuses on giving them what they want. Many beginner entrepreneurs can learn from this. Instead of guilt-tripping people into supporting your business and trying to sell to everyone, find your targeted audience or that specific group of people you want to reach based on shared interests and market and direct your attention to those groups.

This means that if only five people like your post, that’s a good thing because chances are those five people are genuinely interested in what you offer. Listen, I’m a damn good writer. I know this to be true. But I also know it to be true that everyone doesn’t want to read what I write, and that’s cool because I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. I work to serve my audience no matter how small, and I appreciate all the support and time my people invest in my writing.

And for that, I say thank you.


My Soul is a Witness is Available

Check it out below. (thank you!

Tightening Up the Business Structure of Your Writing

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since October 2019. I didn’t want to publish it until I had tightened up my own business structure and then Corona hit and I thought, “Maybe this isn’t appropriate right now” and I put it off. I have a habit of meditating on what I have to do throughout the day before I get up from the bed. This morning I thought, “Wait a minute, this could actually be the perfect time to present this information.”

Even though there aren’t many people working and the world is sick, this could be the perfect time for us to plan, organize, and restructure some things. The other day we cleaned out a closet that had served as the junk closet since we moved in, and Moshe (Husband) organized the garage. These days, we are paying attention to things we have neglected to give much attention to. Why not include our writing business too? Whether you will use this information now or later, this is an excellent time to give it some thought.

In the Beginning

For Self-Publishing a book, things are relatively easy in the beginning. You create a KDP account, connect your bank account (so you can get paid your royalties) and you are set. You can also create a PayPal account to collect funds from books bought through your website or blog and get a card reader to accept payments on the go, such as at book signings.

UPDATE: Card readers are becoming more outdated as apps like Cash App and Zelle become increasingly popular. I highly recommend authors to have a Cash App for book signings and festivals.

Next Level

Depending on your financial situation, it may be necessary to level up if you’ve been at this awhile.

How do you level up from this basic structure? How do you go from author to authorpreneur?

Author + Entrepreneurial Practices = Authorpreneur

An authorpreneur is an author with entrepreneurial practices. 

If publishing a book is like opening a business, you can do things to make sure you are running it like one.

It’s not 2008 and Self-Publishing is not what it used to be. The standards are higher.

Anyone can publish a book today (even if they aren’t good writers), by uploading a Word Document or PDF to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. In the past, this has brought down the quality of the prestigious process of book publishing and, specifically, Indie Book Publishing. Today, though, the stigma attached to Self-Publishing is fading, and authors who publish top-quality material are being separated from those who do not.

With the current Pandemic ravaging the world, realizing the value of Indie Publishing, social media, and doing business online is apparent now more than ever. A lot of brick and mortar bookstores are closed, and some will not reopen.

The basic system I started this post out as is good initially, but the Indie Author who goes beyond the bare minimum will set themselves apart from the pack.

Create a business name/structure that is legal and connected to a business bank account.

When your business grows, you will discover how important it is to have a legal business structure. It has done wonders for me and helps me keep up with how much is coming in and going out, which helps me have a realistic picture of my ROI or return on investment.  You work hard to write these books, publish them and spend good money to get them out into the world. Don’t let all this hard work go to waste.

You can get away with using a Pseudonym or creative business name at first, but if you are serious about using that name for specific projects, you will need it to be legit. What happens if someone sends you a check in your fake business name and you have not made it legal? Without a business bank account in that name, you will not be able to cash it.

    • Decide if you want to be a Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation, Non-Profit (if you publish books for charity) or any other structure that suits you.

* Most people do not recommend a Sole Proprietorship, but it will work just fine. I am all about keeping things simple.

  • Set up a business bank account – You can set up your bank account once you have your business structure in place and monitor just how much is coming in from your book sales and other author endeavors separate from other forms of income. You will get a business debit/bank card and checks to use for your business. You can even establish a line of credit.
  • Creating a business structure can motivate you because you get to see your writing as a real business and not just a fancy play-name. You can get logos made if you want and do transactions under this name which comes in handy when completing W-9 forms and other paperwork that may be required for you to get paid.

Stay Legally Compliant

  • With a business structure, you will need to keep your business compliant with state and federal business laws. The requirements will vary based on your business structure. (For instance, the conditions are more strict for corporations than LLC’s). An example is that you may have to file once a year with a filing fee of maybe $30 to stay in compliance. The process is not tedious, and you may even be able to do it online. For details on staying compliant, you can visit the small business administration website here.

If you don’t stay compliant your business will fall into an inactive status.

Publish Your Books Under Your Own Imprint

Once you have your legal business structure and business bank account in place, it is time to publish your books like you own your business.

  • Buy Your ISBNs – The ISBN is a unique identifier for a book issued by an ISBN registration agency. In the US, this agency is Bowker.* In some other countries, the ISBN is free, but in the US they are not. They are expensive, so it’s best to buy them in bulk if you can. You can buy a block of ten which would cover ten separate paperback or hardcopy books. KDP, Lulu, and other POD (Print on Demand) companies do provide ISBNs for free if you absolutely cannot afford to buy one

But…

Free assigned ISBNs belong to the company that issues it, such as KDP or Lulu. This means they (KDP/Lulu/Other said company) are listed as the publishers of that book, not you.

*There are tons of fake ISBN companies out there. If you are in the US, be sure you purchase your ISBN from Bowker.

Once you have your own company, you will want to have your books listed under your company name. If you are the publisher, you should be listed as the publisher. If ownership is important to you, buying your own ISBNs is something you might want to look into.

With your company name legalized, your business structure secure, your EIN in hand, your bank account set up, and books under your ISBN, you have positioned yourself as a serious business person. It is now easier than ever for high-profile people to do business with you.

It’s easy to go the free route, but free is limiting, and it does not always set you apart. Creating an actual business complete with the necessary paperwork makes it easier for you to stay organized, file taxes, rise above the crowd, and stand out as a professional author.

Extra Tips

  • Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created. Don’t let scam publishing companies fool you by saying “Keep 100% of Your Copyright.” This means they are promising you something you already have. For publishing rights (different from copyright) all you have to do is buy your own ISBN. If you want to go the extra mile and register a copyright with the copyright office you can do that inexpensively at copyright.gov.
  • When tightening up your writing business, be sure you have both a paperback and a digital version of your book available.

I talk a lot about paperbacks because a). I have personally done better with paperbacks and b). authors can sell paperbacks through their own author website along with cool author swag and things instead of relying only on Amazon. However, that doesn’t negate the importance of having digital versions of your book available too. We are living in a digital age, and with everything being online, authors without digital books will be left out. Brick and Mortar bookstores without an online presence are struggling right now.

For those who sell paperbacks, consider lowering your print book price if you do not see sales. I love buying paperbacks from Indies, but a lot of them are also costly. I am not saying you can’t raise your price (I have a separate post about that here), that there aren’t people who will buy at that price, or that your book isn’t quality enough to sell that price.

I am only saying to be realistic.

Who is buying a $30 (plus s&h) 100-page paperback from an unknown first-time Self-Published Author?

Do what works for you, but make sure you are being practical.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

When I first drafted this post, I watched a video of Tyler Perry advising entrepreneurs. I am not a big Perry fan, but when people are advising about business, I listen. Perry talked about entrepreneurs learning when to let go. Here, he meant letting go of business practices that no longer serve you once your business grows. He spoke of not being so used to how it has always been done that we are not open to change. For example, Perry’s sister used to keep receipts in a folder, but as Tyler’s business grew, that kind of accounting system no longer worked for taxes. Not when you have over 400 employees.

As professional Indie Authors, we must have the same mindset. This may not be ideal for everyone, but if you fit one of these categories a legal business name and account may be worth it:

  • You’ve been publishing awhile and you are making a significant income from your books and services.
  • You want to separate your personal funds (finances from your day job or other income) from your book business.

Want more Indie Author Tips? Visit the Indie Author Basics with EC page here!


My Author Presence online now looks like this. Please take note of the new twitter handle and Facebook Page.
👉Instagram: @yecheilyah
👉Twitter: @yecheilyah

“But My Family Don’t Support my Writing”

Popular Complaint: “My family don’t support my writing.”🤷🏾‍♀️

Umm. How can I put this, your family and friends will be the least supportive of your writing (as is the case for most businesses). That’s not a bad thing entirely because they are not really your targeted audience.

New Writer:  *Smacks lips, rolls eyes.* “Okay, so what that mean?” 🙄

It means you have to find those people who are most likely to read the kinds of books you write and often, they are not family members. This specific group of people is called a targeted audience. You are not targeting everyone but focusing on one specific kind of reader. Here’s an example from words from Tyler Perry:

“I clearly believe that I’m ignored in Hollywood for sure and that’s fine. I get it. My audience and the stories that I tell are African American stories specific to a certain audience, specific to a certain group of people that I know that I grew up with and we speak a language.” – Tyler Perry

Say what you want about Perry but he has a keen understanding of his Target Audience. That’s what he is speaking of here. A specific group of people who his films/movies/TV shows are specifically for. That’s why his movies are all along the same lines in the theme. We can see that Tyler Perry makes the same movies because he is targeting a specific audience.

Personally, I am not much of a Tyler Perry fan. There are only a few of his movies I like but that’s not the point.

We can agree or disagree with his movies, but he is an excellent example of someone with knowledge of his Target Market.

When you are targeting a specific group, you are not trying to reach everyone or garner everyone’s support. Your purpose is to appeal to that specific group.

(Feel like I’m saying “specific” a lot but that’s kinda important). 

How many people at Michelle Obama’s book signing were related to her?

New Writer: “What? But those was her fans tho.” 🧐

And you have fans too if you look beyond the praise of family members who will probably never buy.

New Writer: “So you saying my mama can’t buy my book?” 💁🏾‍♀️

Your mom will probably buy your book first, but she’s not the seventeen-year-old black boy with peer pressure issues you wrote it for is she?

New Writer: “I mean naw but…”🤨

…and she’s probably not gonna leave a book review on Amazon, follow you on Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, or subscribe to your email list and if she does, she probably won’t remember to read it.

New Writer: *smacks lips* “Dang why you gotta be all negative for?” 😒

Because the truth will set a lot of writers free from unrealistic expectations about what it means to be an author.

Loyal family/relatives may buy a book or two and they may be there to cheer you on, lift you, and support you in various ways. Families are good at heaping praises.

They love to like your posts, root you on and tell you repeatedly how they intend to buy your book and how proud they are of you. This is helpful from an encouraging point of view and it feeds the ego, but praise doesn’t sell books. How many of these people follow up? Every year the same family member asks, “where can I buy yo book?” But they never buy.

It is those non-relative readers who your book is specifically written for who will buy with consistency and read your every release, becoming avid readers and fans.

(…and I hate to use the word “fan,” by the way. *Shudders* Be a fanatic for no one.)

👉🏾How many of your genetic relatives have bought your book?

New Writer: “Lemme see, my mama got one, my cousin, boo boo nem, lil Chris…”

So what, all five of them..?

New Writer: “Oh, so you being funny?”🤔

No. I’m being real. Put it this way, would a company whose buyers don’t watch TV, make a commercial to push their product?

New Writer: “Naw that’s stupid.”🙄

🤷🏾‍♀️ So why would authors focus the bulk of their efforts on trying to sell to people who don’t read the books they write?

New Writer: “I guess I see what you saying.”😩

Now, take out some paper. You’re gonna have to write this down.

…wait, what are you doing? Put your phone down this is important. 🤦🏾‍♀️

New Writer: “Imma type it in my notepad.”

Okay but don’t be on Instagram this is important.

New Writer: I’m not dang. 🤳Go. I’m ready.”

Okay, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you find your readers. 

  • Who are my current readers/Who am I trying to reach? How old are they? What do they like? Where do they hang out?
  • What’s the #1 thing my readers love/need the most?
  • What problem does my book solve? What are my readers’ pains/issues/struggles/challenges?
  • What do readers gain from reading my book? What do I have to offer?
  • Who would benefit most from reading my book?
  • What makes my book unique?

My Responses to Common Complaints from New Writers is something new I am adding to this blog based on common writing and publishing questions from new Indie Writers. I thought it would be fun to answer them here in the form of dialogue. You will know the posts by the quotation marks around the complaint to differentiate it from other posts.

Did you like this first post? Do you have a common complaint I should address?

Find more articles under the Writing Tips and Resources page here.

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

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

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

But I also want to warn you:

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

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

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

‍There’s a meme circulating that says:

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

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

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

Dear Black Entrepreneur: You Are Enough

I was sitting here drafting a Black History Fun Fact about the first black-owned TV and radio stations but as I read I noticed a disturbing trend. A trend we can still see present today. To start, I was researching WGPR-TV, first black-owned television station in the U.S. and W.E.R.D., first black-owned radio station in the U.S. WGPR-TV was run and operated in Detroit and W.E.R.D. was based in Atlanta. We’ll go deeper into their history in a separate post but both stations became a platform for black artists, from Jazz and Blues musicians to Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. using it to broadcast his sermons and later, Civil Rights announcements. There are two things I noticed associated with each of these companies as the inspiration to today’s post:

  • Jesse Blayton, founder of W.E.R.D., also taught accounting at Atlanta University and tried encouraging young black people to enter the field. He was unsuccessful because the students knew that no white-owned accounting firms would hire them and Blayton’s, the only black-owned firm in the South, was small and had few openings.

 

  • WGPR-TV was successful from my perspective but because it failed to reach a wider audience, it was eventually sold to CBS. WGPR-TV ran from 1975 to 1995 under its black leadership.

With, black-owned businesses, I notice a disturbing mindset among many of my people in the African-American community that success is synonymous with white support and that, without it, we aren’t as successful as we could be. Society has deceived many of us into thinking unless they have included us in the mainstream public eye, we are unsuccessful. I compare it to publishing in the sense that Traditional Publishing is still seen as a more successful route than Independent Publishing. It is still seen as a sign of prosperity to be signed to a publisher than to be your own publisher through the Self-publishing route because of the exposure. Although many Self-Publisher’s are making far more money, unless the Self-Publisher can look like a celebrity, he or she has not made it (whatever that means). This is flawed thinking and causes many to chase the temporary pleasures of money and fame over integrity.

The Oscars is a great example of this and for the record, I admire Spike Lee and Regina King most especially. The talent comprised in these two people is beyond words. However, the black community’s reaction to their Oscar win is a great example of how we do not often see ourselves as being enough. Spike Lee and Regina King are and have always been two powerful artists. What Spike Lee has done with Crooklyn, Four Little Girls, Mo Beta Blues, Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Malcolm X and more is nothing short of genius work. That Regina King can simultaneously bring to life two characters in Huey and Riley Freeman is nothing short of genius work. Not only did she capture the personas of two little boys but two little black boys. Whether that is Poetic Justice, Boyz N the Hood, Friday, Enemy of the State or Down to Earth, King’s roles are always down to earth. She’s got this skill that allows her to be relatable in any role. She‘s hilarious and you feel she can easily be your sister.

My point here is this: Lee and King did not need to win Oscars for me to recognize their brilliance. Yet, as a community, we champion this as the official ceremony to which we have received a piece of the pie. We have a track record of doing this, in which we do not see ourselves as successful except that we are integrated into mainstream societies expectations of what that success is supposed to look like. Angela Basset does not need an Oscar to be great.

There is nothing wrong with receiving support across all nationalities and nations of people. However, it is important for the black entrepreneur to know and understand that to be young, gifted, and black is also a success by itself and on its own terms.

Dear Author: Stop Giving Everything Away for Free if You are Trying to Run a Business

Booking

Not everyone doing well for themselves have “sold out.” Not everyone doing well for themselves are chasing the American dream. Not everyone doing well for themselves are seeking worldly success. These kinds of self-limiting beliefs will leave you stuck, broke, and dimming your light because, ya know, you don’t want people to think you are trying to get rich or die trying.

Stop giving everything away for free if you are trying to run a business.

I have a few free services I offer to authors to contribute to the writing community and my commitment to putting other writers on. (Author Interviews are one of them, and they are free. Click Here to learn how to sign up.) 

As an author, I feel it is my responsibility to do my part to help others. I genuinely believe in the saying, “do what you love, and the money will come,” so money has never (and will never) be my focus. My focus is on doing what I love while providing as much value as I can to others. I am passionate about writing, so it doesn’t feel like work, and I am happy to help no matter the circumstance. Besides my free services and tutorials, I also give away free chapters of books on this blog or my email list. 

But freebies must be kept to a minimum because I do run a business.

Would you work a 9-5 for free? Would it be more righteous for us to wait for a corporate promotion than to run our own business? Why is working for someone more admirable and respected than someone working for themselves?

While freebies are useful, keep them to a minimum. It’s okay (and I would even recommend it) to give stuff away for free now and again. How else will people get to sample your work? The problem is if everything you do is free, you are teaching your audience not to take you seriously, and they will get used to you doing everything free. Set a few things aside as freebies (maybe they get a free book when they sign up to your author newsletter) but charge your worth in other areas.

Advice is a consult and comes with a price, teaching is a service and comes with a price, and I am sorry, but no, all of my ebooks are not 99cents. This is not a game, I did not come to play, and neither should you. YOU are important. YOU are special, your work is exceptional, and in 2019 you deserve more.

  • Educate yourself to ensure that what you are charging for is valuable (research, research, research)
  • Charge your worth
  • Ask your clients to leave reviews. Reviews are like witnesses that your product/service is of good quality and worth the time / money investment.

This isn’t about money, but let’s stop acting like people don’t need money to live in this world. Let’s stop acting like your children don’t need to eat, your bills don’t need to be paid, and your books don’t need to be edited.

This is about knowing your worth and your value professionally. Financial literacy and management are the backbones of successful businesses. You don’t have to spend hours of blood, sweat, tears, and money, sacrificing your time and energy writing and doing all these AMAZING things so that you can give it away for free.

Not everything free is valuable. Paying for something of good quality creates more of a commitment to follow-through. When someone pays for something, they are more likely to listen to, watch, apply or read it. If they didn’t pay for it, they are more likely to put it off for a better time, and a better time may never come. I can’t tell you how many ebooks are on the Kindle that I got for free. I intend to read them all, but the ones I read first are the ones I paid for. That’s just real.

How serious are you about your writing? Either this is an expensive hobby or a writing business. You choose.