Quality over Quantity: Why I Pulled My Trilogy from Amazon

These books may still show up but they will be completely removed (out of print) soon. They will be relaunched with new edits and covers.

The Stella Trilogy put me on in more ways than one. It was the first time I got reviews on amazon for my books (I knew nothing about amazon when I started) and the Stella Trilogy book signing made me enough money to pay my bills and then some. It was the first time I saw real money from my writing and it was all from selling paperbacks (I always sell more paperbacks than ebooks. Unconventional for some, but this is how it has been for me). I also won my first award, an appreciation award given to me by my readers.

The Stella Trilogy changed lives.
The Stella Trilogy changed minds.
The Stella Trilogy is how I widened my readership.
The Stella Trilogy helped me to level up and step outside of the box.

The Stella Trilogy was groundbreaking for me and it is precisely for this reason that I am pulling her from Amazon and my website… for further editing.

The books are undergoing makeovers, a fresh edit, and new covers. For those of you who’ve read it, you know the books are short and as my #1 priority outside of the coming poetry book and Lit Mag Magazine; I hope to have them back up by the end of this year. I am not slacking on this. Stella made a big impact, and she needs to be back up soon.

The year is 1864 in Louisiana and the story slips back in time introducing Grandma Stella’s Great grandmother, Stella Mae, age nineteen years. Stella Mae begins her story with a memory of how as a child she was forced to use the facilities designated for “niggras only.” Young Stella Mae tries to reason out why her Mama can’t walk into the front door of the general store and why they can’t use the restroom everyone else uses. Even at a young age, Stella Mae could sense the inequality in her existence. – Colleen Chesebro

I have come a long way since 2015 when the first Stella book released. As a historical series it’s important to me that the book is as superior as I can afford to make it. Now that I have my foot into the schools, I hope to one day have the series taught as part of the curriculum. I have so much hope for these books and so many visions for what they can become.

The sky is not the limit. There are no limits.

I was different. It might give you a slow start but being different is gonna carry you a long way.” – Master P

I am not a fan of most rap music and never was. I like a few old school tracks from Talib Kweli and Common, but I’ve never really been into rap marketed to my age group (although I danced to it in my teens at parties lol). I was always an R&B type of person. I still remember the days my sisters and cousins used to record music videos on VHS and fall asleep watching them. We also recorded songs from the radio on cassette tapes so we can listen to it repeatedly. Despite not being a fan of the music, I admire Percy Miller aka Master P more than any other rapper. I admire him because I think people underestimate him which is precisely why I think he does so well in his business endeavors. I admire him for his commitment to being Independent and using his faith as a catalyst to propel him forward.

Indie Authors, Don’t Be Afraid to Revise Your Backlist

With great authority comes greater responsibility. As we grow and mature in our understanding of this publishing thing, more will be required of us. I know that a poorly edited book could damage my reputation not only as a writer with influence for excellence but also as a teacher and as a lecturer.

I published the first book I ever sold in 2010 and I knew nothing. The book was not edited and had never been available on Amazon. This taught me two lessons:

  • Begin where you are. Take the first step “even if you can’t see the whole staircase” (MLK).

 

  • After you have taken the first step and put yourself out there, make changes as you see them. If your first book was poorly edited, take it down and get it edited. You didn’t know better at first and that’s okay. But then, once you know better, do better. Do the best you can, until you know better, to quote Maya Angelou. “Then when you know better, do better.”

Do not think for a second that we are not responsible for the knowledge we have. Do not think we are not responsible for changing our behavior as we learn and grow. The quality of the books we put out shows readers what we think of ourselves and also what we think of them. Quality must always supersede quantity. I temporarily removed these books because the quality of the work I put out is more important to me than feeding my own ego of having “published x amount of books.”

It was exciting at first to publish book after book. Like anything we do for the first time it was fresh. As I have grown and as I grow, I value more where these books are going and how they are influencing the world much more than how many of them there are.

Now, for my Stella fans:

I am not changing the core of the story. I am editing the books for better readability and understanding. I am also changing the covers so all the books in the series look the same.

About.

Stella is a work of Historical Fiction and is distinctive in its focus on one woman’s road to self-discovery, against the backdrop of the African American fight for justice, racial equality, and freedom.

The 3-Part series focuses on the history of one family in their struggle for racial identity. Discover in this Trilogy how three individuals living in separate time periods strive to overcome the same struggle, carefully knit together by one blood.

  • Between Slavery and Freedom (1)

We deal with enslavement and freedom both physically and psychologically.

  • Beyond the Colored Line (2)

We deal with passing, self-love, and racial identity. If you were a Black woman living in the Jim Crow era and light enough to pass for white, would you? 

  • The Road to Freedom (3)

We deal with the Civil Rights Movement, Freedom Rides, and the impact our choices make on the next generation.

Coming (Back) Soon

5 Ways to Self-Edit Your Blog Post

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a blog tips post. As fun as writing is, there is one thing that’s not so fun: The English language. As writers, though, writing and grammar go hand in hand. Usage of the wrong word or incorrect homophone use can change the meaning of a sentence or an entire poem! Accept/Except are different words with different meanings. Misuse them, and it changes everything. The same with Ad/Add, To/Two/Too, There/Their/They’re. If you are like me, you can’t afford to have an editor to proofread every blog post, but there are free resources we can use to help. Not only can you use these programs to clean up your blog, but you can use them to edit typos on your website or revise a finished manuscript.

1. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a powerful tool the more we learn to use it. Writers can use Word to create book covers, format books for print and so much more. My tip here is to draft your post in Microsoft Word before posting to the WordPress editor. Word will alert you to basic misspellings or grammatical errors as you are writing. You will notice spelling errors by the red wiggly lines and grammatical errors by the blue wiggly lines.

But Word has a bad reputation for not giving the right corrections…

2. Grammarly

Once you’ve written your post in a Word Document, you can then copy and paste it into the Grammarly editor to double-check for what Word may have missed. Grammarly is a software program that corrects spelling, detects plagiarism, and checks against over 250 grammar rules. There is a free version, but I recommend the premium version for more advanced features. Premium will alert you to more advanced grammatical errors to include overused words or misused words. My school gave us a free premium version of Grammarly, and I love it! There is such a significant difference between the free and paid version. The free version works fine, though and I use both.

3. ProWriting Aid

After you have made corrections in Grammarly, you can copy and paste the post into ProWriting Aid as a final run-through. ProWriting Aid is such an excellent program! Like Word and Grammarly, the program is another self-editing tool. ProWriting Aid will pick up even more errors and recommend changes. It also has a plagiarism detection tool for premium users. What I love about PWA is they are not stingy with the free version. The free version checks for repeats, structure, readability, fiction, and consistency. Yes, I said fiction! If you are using it to revise a novel, it will help track pacing and dialogue use.

4. Hemingway Editor

 I can’t say too much about Hemingway because I just started using it and I don’t use it often. The program is okay, and it’s not my favorite, but it’s still an excellent program to use to self-edit. Hemingway does an excellent job at detecting wordy sentences, and overused adverbs. While I prefer the other two programs, Hemingway is still a valuable tool (mainly when used with one of the other applications).

5. Save Post as Draft and Preview as Final Proofread

After you have run your post through Word, Grammarly, ProWriting Aid, Hemingway (or all four) proofreading the post is another great way to self-edit your post. Once I have drafted a post, I save it as a draft and then preview it on the computer and my phone. I find lots of typos this way. Sometimes reading over the post in this way helps to catch even more errors before clicking the publish button.

None of these programs will replace a human editor. ProWriting Aid once tried to correct the word “to” for “two,” but I did not mean the number two. I intended to write “to.” But at least you know you’ve cleaned up the basics enough to ensure your post is clear and reads the way you intended. When I publish blog posts, these are some programs I used to proofread my work and now, so can you. It will take more time, but it’s time well spent.


Want more tips? Be sure to check out the Blog Tips Page! Click Here.

Editors and Beta Readers – Vital for Independent Authors

Excellent post. Indie Authors, take heed.

Author Don Massenzio

Publishing contractThis post focuses on the importance of using an editor and enlisting beta readers if you are an independent author.

Let’s start by comparing/contrasting independent and traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, an author receives an advance (if he or she is lucky). This advance is usually a fairly small amount. The author may then receive royalties for books sold after a certain number. The royalties can vary from pennies per book to dollars if you are a bestselling author. In exchange for allowing the traditional publisher to publish your work, you receive editing, formatting, publicity, and marketing services. The quality and effectiveness of these services can vary depending on how much the publishing company believes it can make from your book. In the end, very few published authors make a living wage from traditionally published books.

Independent authors know that their world is a different one. All of the services mentioned…

View original post 982 more words

Let’s Congratulate Don! Introducing DSM Publications!

Guys, help me to congratulate my author friend Don Massenzio on his new business endeavor. DSM Publications offers Editing and Formatting services to Indie Authors at a reasonable rate with advice and networking with other authors. Don is a big supporter of this blog so I am delighted to return the favor! Be sure to like his new Facebook page HERE and to follow his new blog HERE and subscribe to his email list HERE. (If you sign up for DSM Newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of Don’s book, The Ultimate Guide for Independently Published Authors.) To learn more, visit his post HERE . Remember, we are in this together! Whoo hoo.

New Author Tip: Warning – Do Not Publish that First Draft

You’ve finished your book. This is admirable (because so many people never finish) and worthy of celebration. Congratulations!

But, while this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, you are not done. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing. After you’ve finished writing your book, your manuscript is now considered the First Draft. It’s called the First Draft because it is the first copy of the book ever in existence where no changes have been made. It is a rough draft of the story straight from your mind to the page. According to Innovative Editing:

“In any piece of writing, whether a novel manuscript or a blog post, the first draft is also known as a rough draft. From start to finish, it’s technically a complete piece. It has a beginning that moves to a middle that concludes with an ending. But it’s a messy complete piece. There are still thoughts to ground, sentences to be revised for maximum reader engagement, and spelling errors to fix. Which is why a rough draft should never, ever, ever be your final draft.”

Once you’ve finished the actual writing part, it’s a good idea to let the manuscript sit for awhile. Take a few weeks off from the writing and go do something else. In a few weeks time, return to it with fresh eyes to begin your self-edits. A strange but helpful thing for me when self-editing on the computer is to turn my document into a PDF. For some reason, I catch mistakes easier this way. It’s the electronic way of printing the book out (which at some point you’ll want to do with your highlighter and pen ready.)

It may also help to take out a notebook and go chapter by chapter (maybe this week is Chapter One and maybe next week is Chapter Two.) This is what I did when self-editing Renaissance. I looked at each Chapter one at a time and wrote about it in my notebooks (things that didn’t make sense, add up, were inconsistent, contradictory etc. I am preparing to do the same with Book Two, which I’ve let sit a long while so it’s time to get back to it.)

The idea is to take the manuscript through enough revisions so that it starts to make sense and then you can send it in to be big edited but please, do not publish that first draft. It will need to be revised first. It is a rough draft.


I AM SOUL, my short collection of poetry, is now available.

CLICK HERE

Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop: Don’t Forget to Hide Layers You Don’t Want to Show

In May, I wrote a blog post tutorial on how to edit Mock-Ups in Photoshop for a professional looking 3D book cover image. I understand it went over some heads (Photoshop is not for everyone), but for those of you who are familiar with it already, be sure that you are hiding the layers you don’t want to use so your image looks more authentic.

Everyone is using Mark Monciardini’s Mock-Ups (Covervault) because they’re free. While everyone is using them, not everyone is familiar with the basics of Photoshop in ways they can get the most out of the experience. It’s like copying someone but because you don’t really know how to do it, it doesn’t have the same look. Mark is the real artist and we are all copying him pretty much. He has extended his expertise to us newbies by generously giving away his mock-up templates. Now anyone, with just a basic knowledge of Photoshop, can have professional looking 3D book cover images. But, make sure you are hiding layers you don’t need so your images don’t look the same as everyone else.

I’m going to use the wine bottle glass template as an example.

What you have here is everything as it is originally. One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is change the book cover. Most people stop here. Boom, they are done. Save. You can do that but it won’t look very original.

Here’s mine with Renaissance cover. It looks good but not very original. I did change something though. Can you guess what it is? No, not the cover. (Learn how to change the cover HERE) I changed something else.

I hid a layer and took something away. That’s right, there are no sparkles.

To switch things up, all you have to do is hide layers you don’t need or want in your image.

To hide the particles, I went over to the layers and clicked on the drop-down menu next to particles. Next to the sparkles, (I like the word sparkles better. Sounds more girly lol), I clicked on the eye to hide them. That is literally all I did.

You can do this with anything you don’t want in your image. Even the background. Don’t like the wine bottle look? Get rid of it.

If I don’t want the background at all, I can hide the background and upload my own. All I did was click on the eye next to backdrop and hid it (you can also delete layers but I prefer hiding them in case I want to use them again).

Here’s a closer look:

Basically, whatever you don’t want in the image can be hid. You can now use the space to add text, a logo or whatever you want. While all this is optional, remember that if you’re going to add text to a mock-up that has a lot going on, we won’t be able to read it clearly if you don’t hide or delete those layers first. Let’s look at one more:

This is the original but remember, you can completely make it over so it looks more you.

First, you want to get rid of all these leaves (unless of course you want them there which I don’t). To hide them, go over to layers and click on the eye to all the leaves. Light Leaf, heavy leaf and big leaf. Hide them all.

The leaves are gone but that background still makes it look leafy. Unless you want that, you can change the background too or hide it altogether.

To change the background, go over to layers and hide the entire background.

What you have is a blank slate. You can now add text, logo, whatever you want.

You can actually upload your own background but we’ll go over that at a later time.

The point is that if you’re going to pay for Photoshop you may as well get as much from it as possible. To help your images to look more authentic, be sure to hide (or delete) layers you don’t want or need.

Here’s a finished one using one of my WIP:

Wise Ink: At First Draft: The 6 (Minimum) Steps to Revising Your Manuscript before Submission

 

Image Credit: Ten Tremendous Tips for Editing

Wondering how many revisions you should make before submitting to the professionals? Technically, as many as you want but I found this article most helpful. I love how they break it down into steps so it’s not overly complicated. I also like the idea of self-editing / revising twice then submitting the third draft to betas, and then revising once more after that. I also love the rules for Betas. Check out the post at the link below!

(BTW, it’s not a good idea to publish a 1st draft. A first draft is after you’ve finished writing the story for the first time and it has not been revised or self-edited before being submitted to an editor.)

At First Draft: The 6 (Minimum) Steps to Revising Your Manuscript before Submission