The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 11 Years of Publishing my Books

The little girl licked the wooden spoon that came with her ice cream.

“Bet you don’t know my mama name,” said Zoey, the five-year-old daughter of my husband’s client. We were relaxing on the couch, watching Netflix, and eating ice cream. Mine was gone, but she was still eating hers in that gross way children do, ice cream residue around her mouth and dripping from her fingers. I hoped she’d hurry and eat the thing before it melted all the way. It was a hot Sunday.

“Krissy,” I said proudly.

“Krissy what?”

Ole snap. What is the woman’s full name EC? Kristina? Kristy? Kristy Anne? Dang. I forgot the woman’s name. I’ve just been calling her Krissy or Kris like everyone else.

“You tell me,” I said playing it off.

Did I just reverse a question on a five-year-old? Yes. Yes, I did.

“Her name is…her name is…hmmm.”

Zoey seemed confused. I should have felt bad. I didn’t.

“My mommy’s name is—-”

“You don’t know it either,” I teased.

“I know she’s mommy but… just call her Krissy,” waved Zoey, licking the wooden spoon.

“Works for me,” I laughed.

This is what I was doing all day. Watching Netflix and talking to five-year-old Zoey and one-year-old Ziggy. Well, Ziggy and I did not exactly speak. There was something about he had to boo-boo and then he took a nap.

This was my weekend a few months ago. I went on a call with my husband. My husband is an HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration) and Maintenance Tech. As a Universally Certified technician, this means he can pretty much work on anything from a home AC system to a restaurant’s refrigeration system. This day, he was installing three toilets for this family, which meant that I would hang out with the wife. I rarely tag along with him on his calls, but he asked me to, so I went. I wasn’t doing anything, anyway.

We were there all day, and the family even made dinner for us. I learned the wife is from Chicago, my hometown, and the husband is originally from Jamaica. I enjoyed the Tilapia and Rice dishes served and had never had a whole fish before! Like, they fried the entire thing, one big slab. Boom. On your plate, ha!

My husband and his client spoke extensively about several things. Somewhere along the line, my book came up, and my husband gave him the link to my website along with links to other things they discussed. (I can assure you I was not an important part of the conversation.)

But when we got home later that evening, the husband sent my husband a text saying that he had purchased a copy of I am Soul.

“Aww,” I crooned. “That’s sweet. Tell him I said thank you.”

Now, for the most important part of the story….

How many times did I ask them to buy my book? Zero.

How many times did I discuss the book with the wife? Zero.

I did not bring up my work at all. What I did was play with the children, watch Netflix, and converse with the wife about food. We talked about why I couldn’t be a vegetarian and other things.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my 11-year journey of publishing books is the importance of connecting with others and building genuine relationships.

People buy from people they have a connection with. This may be an already formed relationship/friendship, similar interests, personality, hobby, belief system, faith, passions, membership in the same groups, clubs, or similar spirits or vibes. These are the people who will support you. You don’t even have to force it, manipulate or chase. This means that relationships (directly or indirectly) is a major factor in selling books.

Just be yourself and let the vibe of that authenticity light the path, drawing the people to you who are meant to be in your presence.

Personal Examples

(because I am really not just talking out the side of my neck)

I met TV Personality Tinzley Bradford through my connection with Lisa W. Tetting. I turned around and sponsored, attended, and performed at Tinzley’s mixer last year and met TV One and Talk show host Chere Turner, CEO of Behind the Beauti Tenisha Bibbs, Singer, and CEO of Advudcate Arts LLC Cami Tippin, and 2x Best Selling Author Oliver T Reid. Then, I attended Oliver T Reid’s writer’s masterclass and met publisher Kelly Cole, also a 2x Best Selling Author and owner of one of the fastest growing Black-Owned Book Publishing companies in the U.S. I met Indie Bookstore owner Nia Damali through Indie Bookstore owner Marcus and through Nia I met Vivica A. Fox. A recent example is my meeting of Founder and Owner of B Infused Natural Detox Waters Brianna Arceneaux. Brianna is more like a niece as she is the sister of my brother-in-laws daughter. She is also the founder of a women’s organization Sagacious Women of Business, dedicated to mentoring young women in business and victims of sexual assault. She has been mad supportive of my work, and we intend to do much business together.

The point here is I have bought books by authors I didn’t know and have had my books purchased by people I didn’t know all due to the power of a single connection.

If you remember nothing else, remember:

Lifting others is how we lift ourselves.

p.s. The mother’s name was Kristina.


Don’t forget to preorder

Keep Yourself Full in ebook below!

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About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

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Atlanta African American Book Festival 2019

Just a quick note to invite you to join me at Georgia State University for the second Atlanta African American Book Festival this summer. Last year was amazing and I connected with a lot of new authors. I’ve come to truly enjoy live events. It gives me a chance to discuss this blog with authors face to face, take photos I can look back on for years and network with professionals face to face. So, if you are in the area around this time, I’d love to meet you. The event takes place on Saturday, July 20th, from 10:00-5a at GSU and is free and open to the public. For instant updates on things like this, be sure you are following me on Instagram.

web. http://yecheilyahysrayl.com/

Establishing Boundaries

Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash

I’ve learned to establish boundaries. To understand that if I don’t feel good about something, it’s OK to say no, turn it down or cancel a commitment and not feel guilty about it. Establishing boundaries is a form of self-respect. You are honoring your integrity and taking responsibility for who you are. And when you allow people to treat you in ways that disrespect your boundaries, you are not being true to yourself.

Although having boundaries is not a bad thing, it may feel like rejection to other people. You will still lose those who feel you are no longer for them and that’s OK. We cannot continue on with relationships that no longer serve a purpose. But because we may lose people, it is our responsibility to be clear on what our boundaries are, to tell people when they have crossed it or when we can’t cross it ourselves, and to have patience with those who forget and need to be reminded. Although you will lose people, if you are clear and consistent the people who are meant to stick around will and they will understand that there are lines that you simply cannot cross and places you simply cannot go and that it really has nothing to do with them. They will understand that you are capable of loving them and staying true to yourself at the same time.

Before The Week Ends: Quality Connections

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It’s no secret. I pretty much blog like a madwoman so I actually have days I take off, which is the weekend pretty much with only very few exceptions. And although I should really be cleaning right now, I’d like to share something before we dig in for the weekend. Something that is on my heart, and that I also think is very important both for Indie Authors as well as anyone running a business or trying to run a business. This subject matter is concerning social media connections. And as always there is the disclaimer that this post is based on my experience and is not necessarily professional insight. For the record.

I would be very careful playing the numbers game with social media. Obviously you want more interactions, but don’t get frustrated, embarrassed, or beg if you do not have lots of Twitter followers, IG followers (I am staunchly against that app where they promise you thousands of followers. I want my connections genuine)  or Facebook Likes. The reason I would not force these connections is because you just don’t want a whole bunch of people following you, but what you want is quality connections. By quality, I mean people who could really help you in achieving your goals. What is 4,000 Twitter followers worth when 3,000 of them are family members and friends? Don’t get me wrong, family is very supportive but they are also a conflict of interest. Since they’ve known you since forever and they love you so much you cannot count on them to really be honest about your work because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They also want to see you make it, which is great, but you need more than mom and dad on your bandwagon to really make some noise.

You need a community of support that is more than just your family members. What is 2,000 email subscriptions worth when you only have a 2 percent open rate? Open rate, it’s the percentage of people who actually open your emails. This is easy to track using Mailchimp. I don’t have a lot of subscriptions to my email list personally and I love that. Not that I do not want it to increase, but I want it to increase with quality and value. For now, I’m OK with not having many email subscribers (by subscribers I do not mean to this blog, I mean to my personal email list). I enjoy the close knit family I have currently signed up (by family I do not mean blood related, I mean those who support me. I call them family because they are. If you signed up, you would be family too. Not shameless plugging, just saying) because the open rate of the emails is still in the 30-40 percentiles which are great for only about fifty or so subscriptions. This means that most of the people who are signed up are actually opening and reading the newsletter as opposed to 1,000 subscribers of which only ten are engaged.

This same thing can be true of social media across the board. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook and I don’t get overly excited about the numbers. The reason I don’t get overly excited is because though people are there and obviously find something worthy because they like the page consistently, the interaction is low. This I can compare to the email list. If my Facebook Page was an email list I would only have a few opens. For this reason, Twitter is my favorite place right now. It’s my favorite place not because I have tons of followers. It’s my favorite because the interactions are high. People are actually engaging and the people following me are either readers, authors, editors, or professional business people (Note to Authors: Careful befriending JUST authors. Authors are not going to buy your books, readers are).

We live in a world where people ravish in the idea of being Internet Famous. But  what we have to understand is that bragging is not branding. Having lots of followers and likes doesn’t mean anything if they are not coming from the right sources. What you want, more so than numbers is quality connections in an ethical / professional atmosphere. This means you want to leave what your sister in laws baby cousin Tracey did at the club last night out of your business accounts.

Blood Line

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My nephew has my birthmark on his chest. My face has my mother’s nose, and my smile is etched with my father’s teeth. I interact with the world as if on my own. It never occurs to me that I swing my arms like my Aunt. Or that the decisions I make may have already been made before. After all, they say there is nothing new under the sun. I cannot swim. But maybe that’s because the Great Flood has traumatized me, for I can still taste salt water seas on my tongue. Have you ever thought about the make-up of a blood line? The reality that maybe you inherited these ways only to gift them to someone else one day. I smile at the thought. What would a little girl look like with my eyes, my words and my hands on her hips? How do I know my favorite tree in which to rest my exhausted spirit from the soles of the Earth did not bleed with the stench of my ancestors? And have I ever fathomed why Hurricanes take the exact same route as the slave ships? Can it be that suicides still burn like melted ash upon the ocean floor? Its smoke intermingled with the wind as if to intercourse themselves into one before marching out to the beat of Negro Spirituals I could have sworn I just heard on the radio last night. Or maybe that’s just the Harriet in me. Perhaps I may gather a collection of souls in my arms like the wind released of its chains, but only those who are willing to admit that they’re slaves.

#Ronovan Writes #BeWoW Weekly Blog Prompt – Connections

What connects one person to another? What provokes them to inspire, encourage, and to display characteristics of kindness? What makes them care so deeply about the whereabouts and well-being of others as if come from themselves? As if attached at the hip, what makes an individual go out on limbs, what makes them sacrifice?

be-wow-bloggerIn “A Child is Born” a great photographic look on life inside the womb, Lennart Nilson and Lars Hamberger begin their work with love:

“Love is an incredibly strong, enduring force and has been since time immemorial. The pattern is recognized in every culture in our world: two people are mutually attracted and feel the irresistible urge to unite.”

41PF7EZB94LWhen a baby first emerges from his mother’s womb, he is looking for Love. It is the reason he comes out crying. Once safely enveloped in the serenity of his mother’s womb, he emerges into this strange place and must instantly reconnect with love. So he cries, and she cries for it. And in their innocence this love connection is worn like a sacred garment until we reach the age where we are taught to hate. This teaching may take many forms, but we are taught it and eventually we lose our innocence, we lose the ability to love. Maybe we saw something that disturbed us; maybe we were traumatized by an experience. Whatever the reason, when we reach a certain age, a world that is absent of Love eventually teaches us how not to Love, and we thus spend the rest of our lives in search of this connection.

I seek to re-connect with people through love. Despite the stigmatizing of this word, the carelessness in which it is handled, and the abuse it has endured, Love is not just a word. It is not just here for our convenience when we need something or when we think it will be of benefit to us. Love is not just a four letter word we use to justify our wrong, but Love is action. It is not just spoken, it is seen. We see it when people forgive each other. We see it when a homeless man is fed. We see it when a wrong person is corrected. We see it when a hug is distributed. Not only do we see it, we hear it. The beautiful thing about love and how it connects one person to another is that it surpasses language barriers, and culture clashes. If I travel to China and I see that an elderly man has fallen while walking down the street, I will move to assist him so that he stands back on his feet. I have no knowledge of Chinese, but I do know the language of love. Likewise, for many of you good people out there, if you saw that I was in distress, you will move to give encouragement when you see that it is needed. So love is also an interpreter. It has the ability to discern motives and acts as a guide. In this way, we build a bridge of cohesion that makes room for further understanding of one another as individuals. Because there is an absence of Love in the world, it has caused us to disconnect and forget how to treat one another and how to build positive relationships.

So for this week’s Positive #BeWoW Post, I am re-connecting through love. Continuously seeking to better understand what it is, how to distribute it, and how to accept it.

Say Stuff That Make Sense

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We often look for depth when there is none. Everyone has something profound to say. Sometimes what we have to show to the world is indeed profound. Not really because it is insightful, but because it introduces our minds to something we had no prior thought of. It introduces us to something so far beyond our understanding that we can only think of one word: “Wow”. Or it connects to us in some way, it reaches us. You will often notice that when people say that something is deep, it is not always because they understand it, but sometimes it is because they do not. It is so far beyond their comprehension that it is too deep to understand at the moment. The problem is that sometimes, despite how deep it is, it still doesn’t make any sense. That is, there is no truth to it. Sometimes you just need to say stuff that will make sense to people when they hear it or read it (and if you are the reader make sure your not just agreeing with something because it sounds nice, make sure it also makes sense. A lot of people have been led astray by things that are just not truth but it sounds good). Mankind is a logical thinking creation. He processes information and understands things when they make sense to him, and often when he can relate to it. It is for this reason that we are more likely to tune into people’s experiences and those things most intimate to them because it just makes sense. While one thing can make sense to one person and not to the other, it is still not wise to create profundity where there is none. Don’t reach since doing so only makes you look foolish. Just let the words flow naturally, paint the picture people want to see, and be sure to make sense of it all. Connect with them.