This weekend I had the pleasure of joining RRBC for its debut show on BlogTalkRadio “Bring on the Genres” with host Jan Sikes, and authors Balroop Singh, and D.L. Finn. We discussed the process of creating poetry. Click on the link below to hear the show. Join us as we explore this genre.
I am getting book one in The Stella Trilogy ready for its March 24th release. Preparing this book led me to notice the one thing about my books I had neglected and the one thing Self-Publishers overlook when publishing print books.
Not all Self-Published books look mediocre because of poor cover design and editing. Lots of Self-Published books have excellent covers and are packaged well on the outside.
But there is one thing that separates most Self-Published paperback books from Traditionally Published paperback books in terms of quality.
I am talking about typesetting.
“Typesetting is the process of setting text onto a page. In this stage, which occurs towards the end of book production, the typesetter arranges the book’s interior to create the best reading experience.”
The key is to have a Self-Published book indistinguishable in quality from high quality Traditionally Published and Independently Published books. The way the author or book designer arranges the text on the page has a lot to do with this.
Here are some suggestions for improving typesetting (if you are not paying someone to do it):
Don’t space your words out so much. You don’t need to double-space to that extent. You will know you have too much space if the text looks light. But also, don’t squish them together too tightly either. You will know this if the text looks too dark. (Try maybe 1.5 spacing).
There’s no need to double-space after periods. This practice came from the typewriter when characters were the same width, but with modern computers, there’s no need to do this.
The first paragraph of a chapter should not be indented. Subsequent chapters in a fiction book can be indented. Nonfiction books use a block style instead of an indent, where there is no indentation on the next line.
Don’t forget to add page numbers.
In fiction writing, the dialogue starts on a new line every time a new person is speaking, should be enclosed with quotation marks, and with each new line indented.
“Oh my gosh, Nora, really?” Lisa rolled her eyes. “I’m just saying,” debated Nora, “that word gets you lynched where I come from.”
“Oh my gosh, Nora, really?” Lisa rolled her eyes.
“I’m just saying,” debated Nora, “that word gets you lynched where I come from.”
If you are not sure about font, serif font is a good choice.
Set your paragraph alignment to justified. Justified means the left and right edges are straight. This looks neater and is easier to read.
Make sure your trim size is appropriate for the size book you want to publish. The size of a typical novel is 6×9, but you may want your book to be shorter in size. Change the trim size in word by going to Layout > Size.
Adjust your chapter headings (you do have chapter headings, right??), so they are not too far down the page.
A new chapter starts on a new page.
When uploading your document to KDP, consider uploading a PDF copy of the MS, not a Word Doc.
Make sure your paperback book is not just edited but also formatted. You can use formatting software or pay someone to arrange the text for you. I prefer to pay a professional to do all this for me after the book has been edited.
It may seem small, but if you are Self-Publishing a paperback book, good typesetting makes for easy reading. This is one of those behind the scenes things that readers only notice if it’s done wrong. No one would have paid attention to the man, eating, and drinking air in Tyler Perry’s A Fall from Grace if there was food on his plate and water in his glass.
The same applies here. Readers care about the story. They are not going to pay attention to the typesetting unless it is so out of sorts it becomes distracting.
If I open your paperback book and there’s enough space for me to write a whole diary entry between paragraphs, or it looks like a DIY your little brother put together, I am going to notice it.
It is not always a bad book cover or poor editing that brings down the quality of some Indie books. It is the typesetting or the way they print the text on the page that gives the book away.
I hope you are all doing well amidst this Coronavirus mess and that you are safe. I had an emergency to take care of this morning that did not allow me to access my computer and my phone died, but for those of you wondering, yes! LitMag 2020 still releases today!
LitMag is the Literary Magazine for poets I established to feature, promote, and highlight the winners and contributors of “Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contests.” It grew out of a desire to give the poets another platform to use to showcase their work outside of this blog and social media. The mag is still in its early stages of development but who knows what it can become.
LitMag 2020 is Volume 2, it is out in digital and print and available on the site (link below). This year we are featuring winners and contributors from our 2019 contest. Inside: Poems from Chanelle Barnes (she’s on the cover!) BuddahDesmond, Dondi Springer, Kiyana Blount, Jahkazia Richardson, Zerahyah Ysrayl, Karen Abah SoFloetic Jones, Ivy Mae Tolentino, and Michelle Stevens. Special thanks to Lisa W. Tetting and Tehilayah Ysrayl for their assistance with last year’s contest.
Historical Fiction (specifically Black Historical Fiction) is my favorite genre to read and to write. I have to specify “Black” because I am not a fan of all Historical Fiction. My interest lies specifically in fiction stories that explore black history in some way.
Historical Fiction is the past recreated around the stories of people who seem real to us, including actual historical figures at times.
As we witness how fictional characters we care about interact with our ancestors and navigate a world now gone from us, it allows us to experience the past vicariously. Through the stories of the characters we can “visit” history and get a feel for what it was like to live in that time. But why is this important? I think a quote from the Toni Morrison Documentary “The Pieces of Me” (Hulu) sums it up:
“You imagine the past because the past has been ruptured. The record of the past of your people has been degraded. It’s been burned up, it’s been taken away.”
Not only has the black past been degraded but also entirely and tragically whitewashed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a good example of someone whose humanness has been reduced to the one “Negro” who bridged the gap between blacks and whites. A Civil Rights hero who succeeded in making blacks docile enough to accept that merging with white people was the best version of themselves possible. That, if we integrated, we were better people than if we had our own communities and businesses, and could determine the direction of our own destinies. Not that segregation was wrong, but that integration was better. That blacks were better when mixed with something else; that we could not be the midwives of our own selves.
Although King was known as a civil rights leader and Malcolm X as a “black radical” both men were advocates of oppressed people. King told black people their blackness was beautiful, believed in economic freedom and establishing black businesses, preached on black power, and even owned a gun. King was just as “radical” as he was patient…but this isn’t the version of King we are given.
White America adopted Dr. King and used him as the black friend that is used by some to say, “Hey, I can’t possibly be racist because I have a black friend.” King is that friend. Sadly, we have someone whose name is widely known, but who, as a person, is not very well understood.
Forget about the Civil Rights icon, who was Dr. King as a man? Who was Malcolm X as a man? What could we imagine their persona’s to be like? Those of us born after they lived do not know but we can imagine.
What I do as a writer is to take the part of history not taught in schools, and use it as a tool to invent people who could have lived in a world that did exist. To then take these people and let them show us the truth about that time and place. To give these people real feelings and a voice that is authentic to what they could have said or what they could have done. I love to go back to a time before I was born and, through research and creativity, imagine what it would have been like to live in that era.
Book One Re-releases on March 24, 2020
About Book One:
Cynthia McNair and her boyfriend, Alex, express some racist feelings toward blacks. The visit Cynthia’s grandmother Sidney McNair, who recounts the story of her ancestor, an enslaved woman named Stella Mae. Cynthia has no idea of her African ancestry or how deep this rabbit hole goes. Will she accept the truth about herself?
There are only TWO days left of the $200 Amazon Giveaway! You can enter as many times as you like! Go, go, go! Link below:
I am so excited to collaborate with the winners of the 2019 Kindle Book Awards to award one of you a $200 cash prize, sponsored by Amazon. Please read on for instructions on how to enter. We can all use an extra $200!
For a chance to win a $200 Amazon eGift Card from The 2019 Kindle Book Award Winners, click the link and enter (every day if you want). It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, you’re going to LOVE these BOOKS. Enter now; giveaway ends Feb. 29, 2020. Click here for details ~> http://ow.ly/VlqT50ylWG6
I published my first book in 2008 and the first book I ever sold in 2010. But it wasn’t until 2015 that I learned to define what my author’s voice was, to establish an author platform, to reach people, and to truly understand what it meant to be an Independent Author. In the beginning, my books were poorly edited and formatted. I didn’t know anything about Amazon, reviews, buying my own ISBNs, imprints, nothing. (I wasn’t even on Social Media, so I couldn’t take advantage of this free platform).
I was green, inexperienced, and made no money. It took me five years (2010-2015) of publishing poor quality books to learn, and even now, I am still learning how to publish books the right way. Whatever fruits I reap now are the result of years of work, study, research, and doing it wrong repeatedly until I understood that practice only makes perfect if I am doing it right. It took me years to realize that publishing book after book (the wrong way) was doing nothing for my growth until I was ready to put in real work. It took me years to learn that this was a marathon and not a sprint. My point? It took me years to get here.
Dear Future Author, why do you want to publish a book?
This question seems simple, but the answer is a lot deeper. The answer will require you to first define who you are, who you are writing for, and why what you are writing is important to those people. Are you writing to make a difference in the world? To educate, empower, lift, heal, and inform? Or do you just like the idea of being a published author?
One means chasing the “prestige” that comes with publishing books.
The other means putting in real work even when sales are low when you want to give up, and when no one is clapping, liking, or supporting you.
One means wanting to appear glamorous for the gram…
…and the other means doing the work in private, not just in public.
IF you are willing to do this and IF your intentions are genuine, then the effort will release its reward as long as you do not give up.
The 2020 Lit Mag Literary Magazine for Poets is on its way out! We are proud to feature last year’s Grand Prize Winner Chanelle Barnes on the cover. Volume 2, Edition 2, is scheduled to print Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
This year’s magazine features the winners of “Yecheilyah’s Annual Poetry Contest 2019”: Chanelle Barnes, BuddahDesmond, Jahkazia (Jah-kay-asia) Richardson (our 2018 Champion), Kiyana Blount, and Dondi A Springer. The mag also features the poems of select poets who participated last year.
How can you be featured in the Lit Mag Magazine? Be sure to participate in my annual poetry contests! Rules and guidelines for the 2020 competition to be announced.
Be sure to support this contest by picking up your copy of LitMag 2019 by clicking on the link below. Your contribution helps us to keep this contest going by keeping the entry fee-free or low-cost for participants, allows us to print the magazine featuring the winners, and of course, offers some dope prizes to contestants! Link below: