Dear Author: Stop giving everything away for free if you are trying to run a Business

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 tryna 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 as my contribution 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 myself, I feel it is my responsibility to do my part to help others. I truly 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 so that they can also do what they love. I am passionate about writing so it doesn’t feel like work and I am happy to help no matter the circumstance. In addition to my free services and tutorials, I also give away the first chapter to my latest book (whichever is the most recent) to new subscribers to my email list.

However, I keep my freebies to a minimum because I do run a business.

Would you go to work a 9-5 for free? So why do we expect entrepreneurs to do everything 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 good, keep them to a minimum. It’s okay (and I would even recommend it) to give stuff away for free every now and again but if everything you do is free, you are teaching your audience not to take you seriously and they will get so used to you doing everything free. Set a few things aside as freebies (maybe they get a free book when they sign up for 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’m sorry but no, my ebooks are not 99cents (except for preorders on new releases and when there is a sale..I also don‘t think there‘s anything wrong with giving away books to your email list or ARC team). This is not a game, I did not come to play and neither should you. YOU are important. YOU are special, your work is special, and in 2019 you simply deserve more.

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

This isn’t about the love of money but let’s stop acting like you 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 is the backbone to 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 just so you can give it away for free. Not everything that is free is valuable. Paying for something of good quality creates more of a commitment to follow-through. Meaning, 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.


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LeBron James Opens a Public School in Akron | LA Times

The I Promise School is in a renovated brick building that sits between a McDonald’s and a convenience store. Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 

LeBron James just opened a public school in Akron Ohio and I’m here for it! Since LeBron is an entrepreneur, my hope is that the school will educate the students on how to be entrepreneurs even if they don’t attend college (as very few schools do).

 

“They settled on a program that helped teach the skills children need to handle trauma they see in their daily lives, combined with a hard math and science curriculum that would help further their education.

The school’s “wraparound” services help reduce stress kids might feel when their parents are struggling financially. That includes job and family services, a GED program, a food pantry from which they can shop and choose their meals, and help with housing if needed. They have a seven-week summer camp program to help avoid the trouble that comes with too much free time.

Every student gets a bicycle because when James was growing up, he used one to get away from the more dangerous parts of his community. The students also get a Chromebook to complete their homework.”

 

READ MORE AT THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE SOURCE HERE

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Black Wall Street and the Power of Community

On June 1, 1921, in Tulsa Oklahoma, occurred just one of the worst catastrophes to ever grace the communities of Black people. It was then that the systematic destruction of years of building had made manifest in less than 24 hours. Also known as “Little Africa”, the black business district of north Tulsa lay fuming—a model community destroyed, mansions melted down to the ground, hope stretching its mournful arms forward in a desperate attempt to hold on to its dear Greenwood.

Greenwood is a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” due to its financial success that mirrored Wall Street. During the oil boom of the 1910s, which gained the town such titles as “Oil Capital of the World”, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished, including the Greenwood neighborhood. Home to several prominent Black businessmen, the neighborhood held many multimillionaires.

Greenwood boasted a variety of thriving businesses that were very successful up until the Tulsa Race Massacre. Not only did blacks want to contribute to the success of their own shops, but also the racial segregation laws prevented us from shopping anywhere other than Greenwood, forcing us to be in support of our own people and thus contribute to the success of our own people.

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Due to the fact that Blacks could not shop anywhere else, Greenwood became the mecca of opportunity to build up what they had been shut out of. Instead of complaining that they were not included in the all-white Newspaper, they created their own (two). Blacks were discouraged from using the new Carnegie Library downtown for example for whites, so they built their own smaller all Black branch libraries instead. Not stressing over being left out of restaurants, grocery stores, and public schools, they simply built their own on the backs of a drive toward honest entrepreneurship.

Clothes bought at Elliot & Hooker’s clothing at 124 N. Greenwood could be fitted across the street at H.L. Byars tailor shop at 105 N Greenwood, and then cleaned around the corner at Hope Watson’s cleaners at 322 E. Archer. The dollar in this community rotated 36-100 times, taking as long as a year before it left the community (today the dollar leaves the black community in less than 15mins).

These were not people who started out wealthy; they were neither businessmen nor businesswomen, but being locked out the whole of society (stripped from employment in the oil industry and from most of Tulsa’s manufacturing facilities), these men and women toiled at difficult, often dirty, jobs. They worked long hours under trying conditions, but nonetheless, it was their paychecks that built Greenwood and their hard work that helped to build Tulsa. In fact, following the massacre, the area was rebuilt and continued to thrive until the 1960s until integration came along and allowed blacks to shop in areas that were restricted before.

Let this be an example of the power of support, not just for black businesses, but entrepreneurship in general. While liking social media posts is nice, it is financial support, dedication, and consistency that ultimately helps small businesses to grow into larger businesses, to support and hire its own, to thrive and to possibly, empower an entire community.

Just Leap

One of the most distracting things about being an entrepreneur is wanting to do right so badly that you fear doing anything at all, especially if everyone is pulling you in a lot of different directions or telling you why you shouldn’t do this and that. But as I said on one of the podcast episodes, I often do what I am afraid to do, so much so that people don’t think I am shy. Even my own blood sister said I was outspoken. This had me thinking. ‘Surely, my sister would know me enough to know.’ And sometimes you do need someone outside of yourself to reveal the truth of who you are, a truth maybe even you couldn’t see. The truth is that I am a very private person but no one ever changed the world sitting at home in the dark. So, though afraid, I step out to try things that disturb the fear in me. Things that make me go, “I don’t know”, are the things I strive to do. That’s courage. Not the absence of fear but the presence of it while you act on whatever it is that’s making you afraid. Being afraid, but doing it anyway.

I was so nervous at my last signing and I wanted to use being late as an excuse to leave. In fact, I was going to walk in and reschedule. That was my intent. I had literally made up my mind that I would just do the evening signing but guess what? Most people came to the morning signing, the one I was too afraid to do. The one outside of my comfort zone. Had I just did the evening signing, I would not have sold many books. The people just did not show up in the numbers I’d anticipated.

So what am I saying? What is all this about? It is about leaping.

Do what you are afraid to do. Jump. Take risks. Don’t wait until you got it together to put yourself out there. Remember, faith is the expectation of what you can’t see because if you can see it, then what is there to expect? So go. Take the first step even though you can’t see the whole staircase. Publish that book even though you don’t know if people will like it. Start that blog even though you don’t know what to write about. Record that first podcast or YouTube video even though you don’t think you will get much support. Start that business even though you don’t know how successful it will be. The joy is in the not knowing! If you know you’re going to win then your dreams are too small. Why would I race a 4-year-old? I know that I am going to win. There’s no challenge. So leap. In the words of Lisa Nichols, ‘leap afraid and then gather your courage on the way down.’

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Coed by James Fant

Title:  Coed

Author: James Fant

Print Length: 188 pages

Publisher: James Fant Books, LLC

Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B01N9SH36I

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

Coed is a romantic comedy about a man and woman who invests in a barber-beauty shop business called Coed. In a scene reminiscent of the movie Barber Shop, men cut hair on one side and the women do hair on the other. Owners Travis “Trap” Barber and Sade Styles are best friends whose friendship is put to the test when Sade’s lease is up and she moves in with Travis. Being “besties” is one thing but can Trap and Sade maintains a platonic relationship while living under the same roof? The novel seeks to answer this question in a hilarious way.

I loved this book mostly because the author had me rolling. Make me laugh like that and you’re a winner in my book. When Sade moves in with Trap, they each fight to control the feelings they have for one another like Sidney and Dre from the movie Brown Sugar. It is obvious they are attracted to each other on multiple levels but Sade has a man and Trap’s a playboy. Eventually, Sade breaks it off with her boyfriend and Trap insists on attending Myrtle Beach with her to see Lalah Hathaway. What he doesn’t know is how deeply the trip would impact them both.

While Coed is funny, I enjoyed the important messages throughout the novel as well and how it took on a more serious feel toward the end. We get to understand more deeply about the past of the main characters and what contributed to them being the way that they are. It was refreshing and I appreciated this because it is not something we often think about in relationships period. That is, why do people do the things that they do? What makes them tick? So, they are exhibiting off behavior, but why? Have we sought to understand or did we write them off? Instead of casting one another off, see people through the eyes of love. Usually, when someone is being nasty it’s because they are going through something. If we thought of this more, I think the world would be in a much better position.

My least favorite part was that there were instances where the author inserted himself into the narrative. I found this distracting and unnecessary. I also think the “He Said, “She Said” at the beginning of the Chapters is not needed. The author is talented enough to capture whose perspective we are reading without it.

However, none of these took away from the story. At the end of the day I was still laughing my butt off and Trap and Sade’s past revealed was really the final touch this novel needed to bring it on home. I stayed up late just to see what would happen. If you’re a fan of Brown Sugar, Barbershop, and The Best Man, you’ll want to read this book.

I recommend it for lovers of romance, comedy and drama. It has it all.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

COED is available now on Amazon

 

Be Sure to Follow this Author Online!

Website: http://www.jamesfantbooks.com/

3 Reasons Working for Yourself is Harder than Working for Someone Else

Book Signing at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, downtown Chicago, circa 2014

It is more challenging to work for yourself in my opinion than someone else. My husband and I both run our own businesses. Here’s why it’s more of a challenge:

  • You Can’t Be Lazy

I know, you work for yourself, why can’t you? The truth is that though it’s more freedom, this freedom is a doubled edged sword. Having and running your own business is different than working a 9-5. When you work a 9-5 you’re expected to be there every day and on time and you can have paid times off or vacations or just decide not to come into work today. Pull that when you’re your own boss and it’s the difference between buying groceries and going hungry. The truth is that when you work for yourself you can’t be lazy. Instead of getting paid per hour, you’re getting paid per client and it is how you pay your bills and provide for your family. Not putting in work means to literally not get paid that day.

  • More Discipline

This goes hand in hand with not being lazy. Working for yourself requires more discipline. The reason is because when you work a 9-5 you have days off. When you work for yourself, however, you have to create those days and it’s tempting to procrastinate or put things off. Even though I work from home I still must discipline myself to get up early. There are only so many hours in a day and the earlier you get up the more you can get done. First of all, I need to get a good workout in to get the juices pumping and then I have to get to work which works well if I get up early enough. For my personal business, it’s more so building. Since I don’t have any “clients” yet what I don’t spend in money I spend in time. Researching, writing, blogging, sending off packages, marketing, promotion, and organizing.

However, since I am also the Vice President for my husband’s contracting business, I only have a certain amount of time to do certain things so I do not neglect any key responsibilities. My husband calls it “clocking in”. I call it walking into the office with a cup of coffee in my PJs. Though liberating, I have to constantly remind myself to take breaks and because I make my own schedule I have to incorporate my own vacations. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because when you work for yourself you’re never off. Your phone is constantly ringing from clients, your email and text messages are overflowing with new messages, and you’re just overall always locked in. My husband had to literally talk me into writing last weeks Black History Fun Fact Friday article. If it was not for him you all would not have had a BHFFF article for real. After grocery shopping, putting up food, and cleaning the kitchen I certainly didn’t feel like researching on the computer. But my husband’s work ethic is amazing and he does not let me slack off.  Truth is, people think that not having a “job” means you have all the time in the world and that you spend your days staring at the wall. In reality, I rarely have time to watch TV. (My version of TV is CNN as background noise). So, breaks such as movie night is something that we create.

  • Taking Breaks

10603772_720596317976228_4749338203801196478_nSince I mentioned breaks, I figured I should go ahead and list this one for the last bullet point. When you work for yourself you must schedule your own breaks. This sounds simple, but it’s not. Entrepreneurs are largely made up of what people call workaholics. The truth is not everyone is a workaholic, it’s just that when you make your own money you’re constantly working (as I’ve just mentioned) because nothing is guaranteed and every cent is earned. Therefore, business owners must create schedules to ensure they don’t lose their minds. We must create our own days off and vacations (mine is coming up, whoo hoo!) When we return, we’re reminded of why working for yourself is so much more mentally challenging. Everything we put off has piled up and so the grind continues but….

I would do it all again in another lifetime.

When you own your own business, you don’t just have more control but you gain so many more valuable skills, such as being more accountable for your actions and being more attentive to your surroundings and the behavior of people. You learn to do things like take the initiative (doing what needs to be done without being told) which is a great leadership skill. There’s something about doing the work yourself that gives you a different way of looking at the world, a new perspective, and a higher level of discipline and responsibility. In addition, the reward for all of this work is well worth it. The benefits of entrepreneurship certainly outweigh the challenges.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release summer, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release (coming soon) for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

7 Ways to Create a Book Business Plan for Each Book

7-ways-to-create-a-business-plan-for-each-book

While I’ll be writing, I’m not participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrMo) but I bet you are!

Congrats. If you are, perhaps this post is of double interest.

This summer, I wrote a blog post on:

8 Simple Ways to Go from Author to Authorpreneur

In it, I gave a few basic bullet points on how to transform your writing into more of a business model. Since many of you enjoyed it, today, I’d like to follow up with preparing to publish the actual book.

In my first post, I defined an Authorprenuer as:

“A play on Entrepreneur, an Authorprenur is an author who has turned their work as a writer into a full-blown business.”

While every writer should adopt some elements of business (since writing is a business after all), Authorprenuership is distinct in that as an author you are interested in more than writing and publishing books alone, but that you’d like to incorporate other business models as well, either based on your book or that utilize other skills that you have. It means that you are interested in merging elements of writing with entrepreneurship, which is another definition of Authorprenuer.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan, in brief, is a written document on the plans, goal, and overall creative vision of the business. It is what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. It includes an Executive Summary, Market Strategy, Company Description and so on.

Of course, you don’t need all of this for your book. What I’d like to share is not for you to create an entire complicated business plan, but for you to take elements of the business plan and apply it to the pre-launch strategy of each book that you write.

Disclaimer. The Book Business Plan has nothing to do with whether you’re a bestseller and nothing to do with how many reviews or books you have. Any writer, even the writer who has not yet published, can create a Book Business Plan. It’s just another way to help to keep you organized.

  1. Name Your Book

Obviously, the first thing you want to do is come up with a name for your book. If it helps, you can skip this part and come back to it later. The Book Business Plan isn’t intended to go by any order in particular, just to help in the process.

Naming your book is very important as industry experts cite the books title as the second most effective way to hook a potential reader (Book Cover Art is the first). It may help to move onto the next point first to help you to come up with the title. Just be sure to come back to this step and to take it seriously. Give it some serious thought.

  1. Write a Log-Line for Your Book

I love log-lines and they are usually my first step to writing a book. Log-Lines help me to get an understanding of what the book is about before I start to write and it is almost always just the push I need to get words on the page. I got into writing them when I was studying how to write a screenplay. Log-Lines also help authors to learn how to pitch. (I like to time myself! Can I describe my book in under 60 secs?)

According to Wikipedia:

“A log line or logline is a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a television program, film, or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story’s plot, and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. A one-sentence program summary in TV Guide is a log line.”

A log-line refrains from using character names (not all, but most) and giving away spoilers. Below are some examples of log-lines from movies:

Logline #1 – The extraordinary story of a thoroughbred racehorse – from his humble beginnings as an under-fed workhorse to his unlikely rise and triumphant victory over the Triple Crown winner, War Admiral. – Seabiscuit

Logline #2 – A 17th Century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow joins forces with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter and reclaim his ship. – Pirates of the Caribbean

Logline #3 – After segueing from a life of espionage to raising a family, Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez are called back into action. But when they are kidnapped by their evil nemesis, there are only two people in the world who can rescue them… their kids! – Spy Kids

Logline #4 – Toula’s family has exactly three traditional values – “Marry a Greek boy, have Greek babies, and feed everyone.” When she falls in love with a sweet, but WASPy guy, Toula struggles to get her family to accept her fiancée, while she comes to terms with her own heritage. – My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding

Logline #5 – A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea. – Titanic

  1. Write Your Book Summary

 “A book summary is a brief written piece describing the main points of a book. For non-fiction works, the summary usually briefly describes each main point covered in the book and the author’s conclusions. For fiction works, the summary describes the plot, main characters and theme.”

Next, write a summary of your book. This is your “Business Description” part. Personally, I do this after I’ve written some of the book and have an idea of how the story is coming together, but that’s not usually recommended. The best thing to do according to most people is to write your summary before you write the book, it just doesn’t work that way for me. I’m not going to tell you to do what most people do. I’ll just say to do what works best for you. Writing usually starts pretty much after the log-line for me.

Either way, a summary of your book is a great addition to your books business plan and can help you to start the book if you have not already. This gives you a chance to expand on the log-line and it also helps to get a greater understanding of the story.

  1. Book Marketing Budget

One of the most important things for me to write down and to seriously organize is my Book Marketing Budget because when push comes to shove, how much money it will take me to make this book available is going to be a major determining factor. Why? Because I’m broke. (Why else?) No matter how little it will take to publish your book, it’s going to cost something in the end (even if it’s just the cost of your print books). So, the next part of your book business plan is the marketing budget.

It will help determine your options for publishing and marketing this book.

Open a Word Document or Excel Spreadsheet and document the cost of everything you need to produce this book and I mean everything. How much will the book cover cost, cost of print books, bookmarks, business cards, that PO Box you talked about getting, and funds that will go toward promotional products and whatever marketing you will do.

Total cost of Publishing This Book $_______________

  1. Book Marketing Strategy

Of course, if you have a Book Budget then you need a marketing strategy.

The purpose of your marketing strategy should be to identify and then communicate the benefits of your book to your readers. Your purpose here is to deliver value and to create long-term relationships.

I don’t like to get too technical, confuses me. So, to make this simple (as you want your plan to be as easy to read and understand as possible. Remember, this is for your eyes only after all), begin your marketing strategy by looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This will make your previous plans make more sense.

For instance, if your goal is 50 reviews on launch day but you have not established an author platform yet or you’re already a few weeks from launch (which will make it impossible for people to finish the book in time, let alone review it), then this is a weakness toward you being able to realistically achieve this goal. You can therefore go back and tweak your goal. Maybe you’ll strive for eight reviews or ten.

  • My Strengths
  • My Weaknesses
  • My Opportunities
  • My Threats
  1. Publishing Timeline

My favorite and most exciting one is Publishing a Timeline for my book (because it means publication is near!) Not publish as in post it to your blog or anything, but just something you write down and keep to yourself. In this timeline, you are listing the goal for this book on a month by month or week by week timeline. We’ve all heard that long-term goals are a series of short term goals. Do not try and move the whole mountain, but carry it away one pebble at a time.

Your mini goals can be a lot of things: a title by a certain date, book cover art completion, a certain number of advanced reads, editorial completion. You choose.

When making these decisions, be sure to use S.M.A.R.T. goals here — they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive.

Publishing Timeline

______________

Goal: Write your goal for this book here. Be as specific as possible.

Production Starts By         Review Copies Sent        Book Released By

  1. Executive Summary

In a business plan, the executive summary is first but it helps to write it last. Write down your plans for this book. This is for your eyes only so make it simple. Some questions to consider: Which platform will you use to publish? Will you publish this book in eBook and paperback or one or the other? Will you purchase your own ISBN Number or use Createspace freebies? How much is book cover design for this book?  How will you go about garnering reviews before, during, and after the book releases? What marketing strategies will you do to get the book noticed? When will, this book be released? Will you host a party? Book signing?

When you are finished writing the executive summary, copy all of this in a Word Document and put the Executive Summary at the top of the page, followed by the other bullet points.

Save this as a PDF document and store it away in your files. Edit it whenever you are working on a new book to reflect that book specifically. You can even title your plans after that book so you don’t mix it up with the others.

Refer to your plan anytime you need a reminder or a little push in getting your book published.

UPDATE: This post has been updated. Instead of the form (which I’ve deleted due to issues) simply use the contact page and I will send you a FREE sample Business Plan Layout for Your Book!